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Alexander the Great’s wings

Posted December. 17, 2019 07:41,   

Updated December. 17, 2019 07:41


Alexander the Great and his army overthrew Persian King Darius III and reached the last territory of the Persian empire, located in Bactria, which is in present-day North and Central Afghanistan. Yet, what was waiting for them was a huge mountainous fortress they had never seen before. In fact, Afghanistan is still known for its rugged, impregnable geographical features. Oxyartes of Bacteria was stationed at the fortress on top of a rocky mountain, where its high altitude would allow food for 30,000 people to keep for over two years. Even the legendary Alexander the Great was taken aback by the rocky mountain, saying he would need soldiers with wings to conquer the land. Most would say as such when they are giving up on a challenge, but Alexander the Great was not. He did indeed find winged soldiers. To be more exact, he created them.

The wing he created was an enormous pay for those who succeeded in climbing up steep cliffs behind the fortress. After recruiting volunteers, Alexander the Great promised to give 10 talents to three soldiers who climbed the mountain the fastest. Ten talents were equivalent to a soldier’s total income for ten years considering that an Egyptian mercenary used to receive a tenth talent. Three hundred volunteers drove pipes into the rocks and hung ropes to climb the rocks. Some 30 people fell to death, but the rest succeeded in reaching the top. Shocked by the Greek army turning up at the cliffs, the Bactrian army gave up and surrendered themselves.

German general Erwin Rommel, who served as an instructor at an Infantry School, thought that an army could overcome its inferior state in terms of military strength or geographical disadvantages if it has a commander who puts his flexibility and intuitiveness into action to act boldly and creatively. Yet, it would be no use if soldiers do not follow the commander. Creative behaviors inevitably entail risks, and what serves as the wing, that is the way to overcome the risks, is a reward. In a bureaucratic society, we tend to focus on holding someone accountable while not giving enough rewards. This is why people have an indifferent, self-protecting attitude. With such a manner, we will not be able to cross even a small brook, let alone a steep cliff. For us to join the ranks of advanced countries, we should build a country where failures are met with encouragement and successes with corresponding rewards.