Friends? Romans? Countrymen?
You never know whom you'll have to impress
at your next corporate shindig or keg party.
Whatever the target audience, mental_floss knows staring facedown into the punch bowl isn't the trick. In fact, that's exactly why we're handing you Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets--a totally effective, foolproof guide to starting and sustaining conversations on every topic under the sun. Want to wax wise about barbarians, socialist theory, and jazz musicians? What about Keynesian economics, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and James Joyce's Ulysses? Well, it's all right here in front of you.
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May 30, 2006
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Excerpt from Mental Floss: Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets by Will Pearson
Alexander the Great
Name-dropping: Alexander (pronunciation: um, obvious) (356-323 BCE). Noted emperor who once ruled half the world despite never seeing his 34th birthday. Alexander's biggest regret? Not living long enough to forcibly capture the state of California and prevent Oliver Stone from making a wretched biopic of his life.
When to Drop Your Knowledge: Knowledge of Alexander will come in handy if you ever find yourself at a cocktail party with Oliver Stone. Also, when the party goes late and most people have gone home and you and your friends sit around and try to think of ways to take over the world, your strategizing might benefit from knowledge of the Master.
He lived his life, and fought his wars, more like the game of Risk than anyone before or since: Find an army, beat it, leave a couple board pieces to protect your flank, and move on. Alexander the Great to most, to the Persians he was simply Alexander the Please Stop Conquering Us.
The son of Greek emperor Philip II, Alexander grew up under the tutelage of no less a teacher than Aristotle. (In a characteristic act of ingratitude, Alexander later ordered the execution of Aristotle's nephew.) He assumed the throne at age 20, and when some Greek -cities were slow to swear allegiance to him, he ordered the execution of all his rivals to the throne and then marched off to ensure his control of all Greece.
Alexander enjoyed marching through Greece so much that he went on to invade the Persian Empire. By 332 BCE, he had "liberated" all of Persia and Egypt. His army was the best trained in the world at the time, and he employed a huge cavalry force along with Special Teams Forces-like bands of commandos who attacked at night with javelins. (Although they are now primarily utilized in a universally unwatched Olympic sport, javelins were once considered top-notch weapons.)
After 10 years of constant conquering, Alexander had nearly reached the Ganges River in India when his soldiers decided they were tired and wanted to go home. They mutinied, and although Alexander had the leaders of the rebellion executed, he was sympathetic to his soldiers, forgave most of them, and agreed to stop fighting -- at least for a while. Fortunately for the soldiers and unfortunately for Alexander, the Great Emperor died soon after going to Babylon to regroup and solidify his empire.