The Instigator
Pro (for)
2 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Leonidas was a better leader than Alexander the Great

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/18/2014 Category: People
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 750 times Debate No: 65401
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Leonidas (King of Sparta) was a better leader than Alexander the Great (King of Macedonia). The challenger will attempt to disprove the claim. No new arguments in the final round, only rebuttals or summation of the debate. First round is acceptance of rules and making any definitions or observations as the challenger sees fit. The second round will be construction of each person's arguments, and ensuing rounds will be rebuttals.


I accept. I also accept any definition of efffective leadership that PRO wishes to contend, where I personally believe Alexander's persona defends well against any leadership model; greek hero, military, political, religious, moral, contemporary ideal, or otherwise.

This should be good. Thanks!
Debate Round No. 1


We'll use military and political.
Thermopylae was a coalition, rather than the Spartans alone, as many believe. Leonidas was chosen as the coalition's leader not because of Sparta's military prowess, but rather because of his charisma and reputation among the ranks. Leonidas hand-selected his troops. He made his ranks of fathers only, so that each of his men would have an heir. Outnumbered 20-1 by the greatest army in the world, Leonidas prevailed in holding off this massive force for three days, long enough for the rest of Greece to rally their forces and evacuate their cities. This was not, however, a suicide mission, as many believe. The forces at Thermopylae were led believe that they would have reinforcements, though other city states failed to follow through on their promises. Leonidas continued to fight despite this. Leonidas also fought in the battles, unlike Alexander.



Actually, Alexander did participate in his battles and even led some pretty spectacular cavalry charges.

And if Leonidas deserves credit for delaying the greatest power of his day, then Alexander deserves credit for conquering it. And if you want to believe the ancient sources, then Alexander at the climactic Battle of Gaugamela was outnumbered 47,000 troops to 1,000,000. Though those numbers themselves are obviously an exaggeration, what isn't an exaggeration is that Alexander fought against some of the largest deployed army formations in human history (Persians, Indians, and Greeks), and inevitably, was nearly always outnumbered. But unlike all other great captains in history, including Caesar, Napoleon, Frederick, Hannibal, and Leondias, Alexander never lost a single battle. Despite being a REAL suicide mission, Alexander’s dreams of world conquest were only stopped when his men became too tired to continue on, which can hardly be noted then as a personal failure on Alexander's part.

Debate Round No. 2


I'll concede that Alexander fought in the battles, my mistake.
When we talk about Alexander's success, we need to remember he was set up for it. He was the son of a king, and tutored by the greatest philosophers and strategists of the time. Leonidas worked his way up the ranks, becoming king with his ambition and charisma.
And though you state that his troops' fatigue was not his fault, in a way it was. Alexander pushed them past their limits. You also failed to include that the incident ended in a mutiny. He tried to get them to continue, and when they revolted, he gave in. Leonidas' soldiers followed him to death, while Alexander couldn't even get his to finish the campaign.
On top of that, Alexander faced another rebellion, which was handled even worse. When men were dissatisfied with the job Alexander was doing, he ordered their execution without any warning, trial or any other such opportunity. A good leader doesn't need to manipulate fear to keep men in line. Sources in comments


The ability to spur the minds and talents of people beyond their innate limitations has always been the hallmark of a great leader, where I strongly disagree that battle fatigue was a result of poor leadership. It may be said Alexander's ambitions bit off more than it could chew, but it can't be said that Alexander himself was not able maximize the skills and efforts of every unique soldier under his command, considering his army accomplished more and conquered more land than any other army in history (Mongols excepted).

If Alex is to be faulted at all, then it should be for attempting to achieve impossible goals with imperfect people. And I’d be weary to claim that Leonidas did not also lead through intimidation. Sparta’s adherence to strict discipline and honor during battle could be especially severe on anyone not up to snuff. Also to consider is Spartan treatment of the helots (who were at Thermopylae). Finally, Leonidas (like Alex) did inherit an army and did marry into royalty.

Debate Round No. 3


I'd like to start by thanking my opponent, this has been a fun debate. Now for the final round. The Spartan culture is not a big part of this debate. Leonidas did not put this into effect, it had been around for centuries before him and lasted well afterwards. Now looking back to round two, we chose to define leader as military or political; I think it's fair to say both of us focused on the former. Therefore, we need to look at how both men exemplify a military leader, but Leonidas does a better job. Leonidas led through his charisma and likable demeanor, Alexander, as shown, would sometimes revert to fear. Alexander pushed his men too far. A great leader would know the limits of their troops. When Leonidas asked his men to jump they said "How high?" but Alexander asked his men to jump higher than physically possible. Leonidas' men followed their leader to death. Alexander's men revolted before he could even finish the campaign.


Strictly militarily speaking; Alexander succeeded at all forms of war, including siege and guerrilla. He conquered the greatest power, and never lost a battle. His army only tired after thirteen years of fighting, and only then was it a plea to return home, which is not the same as wanting to dispose their king. But even so, Alexander still has the record of being a uniter, which is shown most impressively by his policies of cultural fusion with Greek & Persian subjects.

In comparison, Leonidas has not nearly as many accomplishments; where Thermopylae ended in military defeat for the Greeks. Though Leonidas's sacrifice at Thermopylae was commendable, historians also need to remember the limitations of Leonidas's leadership in that battle. The last stand of the 300 was still made in conjunction with a simonataneous last stand at sea with the Athenian navy. And the ultimate reason perhaps why Greece still lost was mainly because Leonidas had failed to persuade Sparta to send all its army.
Debate Round No. 4
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 1 year ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct - Tie. Both had excellent conduct throughout the debate. S&G - Tie. Both had proper grammar and spelling throughout the debate. Arguments - Con. In terms of overall success, Con showed me that Alexander had conquered more lands and had a more impressive win ratio compared to Leonidas. The only thing going against Alexander would be the fact that his men did revolt against him, that's an extremely bad mark for any military leader. With that said, Leonidas was shown to have lost battles and ended up losing his own life due to his inability to convince the leaders at the time that he needed more troops. Ineffective communication is also bad in terms of proper leadership qualities. Overall, I believe Alexanders continued success and expansion in battles and land acquisition proves him to be the better leader. Sources - Pro. Con failed to utilize sources whereas Pro did, but I would recommend Pro steer clear of posting sources in the comment section as that is not part of the debate