How Tall Was Alexander the Great, Really?

How Tall Was Alexander the Great

Delve into the majestic proportions of How Tall Was Alexander the Great, a historical marvel that leaves us awestruck. Unravel the secrets of his towering presence in history.

Alexander the Great is remembered as one of history’s greatest military commanders. During his 13-year reign, he carved out an enormous empire stretching from Greece to India. His conquests left a lasting impact on the ancient world. Given his larger-than-life reputation, Alexander’s physical stature has long fascinated historians and casual observers alike. So how tall was this legendary leader who stood astride the ancient world?

How Tall Was Alexander the Great

Accounts of Alexander’s actual height vary. Some ancient sources provide tantalizing clues, while modern scholars have tried to extrapolate based on skeletal evidence. However, a degree of mystery remains when it comes to the stature of this towering historical figure.

Accounts of Alexander’s Height from His Time

Some ancient accounts provide estimates of Alexander’s height. The exact height of Alexander the Great is unknown, but he is believed to have been around 5 feet and 6 inches (1.68 meters) tall. Plutarch wrote Alexander was of “short stature,” but mentioned he appeared taller due to his erect posture and habit of wearing platform boots. However, Plutarch likely never saw Alexander in person. Other ancient writers characterized Alexander as short or of below-average height.

Alexander the Great Height

Alexander the Great Height was, as there is no surviving record of his height. However, based on his stature in portraits and sculptures, it is estimated that he was between 5’4″ and 5’8″ tall. This would have made him slightly above average height for a Macedonian man in his time.

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SubjectHow Tall Was Alexander the Great
Height5 feet and 6 inches (1.68 meters)
SourceAncient accounts, armor size, and skeletons of contemporaries
NoteThe average height of people in the ancient world was shorter than it is today, so Alexander may have been considered to be of average height for his time.

Modern Estimates of How Tall Was Alexander the Great

In the modern era, estimates of Alexander’s height have tried to extrapolate from his remains. Alexander’s skeleton has never been found, but the bones of his father Philip II were discovered in a royal tomb in Greece in the 1970s. From the size of Philip’s femur bone, scientists estimate he stood about 5’7”. Since ancient writers stated Alexander was shorter than his father, it’s reasonable to deduce he may have been around 5’5” or so. However, some scholars have argued Philip’s remains may not have belonged to Alexander’s biological father. So ultimately there is still debate around Alexander’s exact height.

how tall was alexander the great

Why Alexander’s Height Fascinated People

So why has Alexander’s physical stature received so much attention over the centuries? There are several reasons his height fascinated both his contemporaries and later generations.

Height Seen as Indicator of Power and Strength

In the ancient world, physical size and stature were often equated with qualities like strength, bravery, and leadership. Standing over 6 feet tall was very rare. Given this context, Alexander’s relatively short height for a famed military leader seemed incongruous with his reputation for greatness. Some saw his conquering of so much territory as proof he overcame his stature.

Alexander Wanted to Appear Taller to Intimidate Enemies

Alexander was surely aware of how his height could undermine his authority. Ancient accounts suggest Alexander took measures to appear taller, likely to intimidate enemies. This included wearing custom armor that lengthened his limbs and elevated boots to gain extra height. Artwork from Alexander’s time may have also deliberately exaggerated his height for propaganda purposes.

Alexander’s Height Compared to Other Leaders

How did Alexander’s stature compare to other famous leaders and warriors of the ancient world? Understanding this context shows he was not unusually short for the time period.

Taller than the Average Man in Ancient Greece

While certainly on the shorter side for a battlefield commander, Alexander still stood taller than the average man at the time. The average Greek man in Alexander’s era was around 5’3” or 5’4”. So even at 5’5”, Alexander was still taller than most people of his day.

Similar Height to Other Famous Military Leaders

Alexander’s height was also comparable to other leaders remembered for mighty exploits. Napoleon measured around 5’6”, while legendary Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi stood around 5’1” or 5’2”. Like Alexander, their physical stature seemed at odds with their battlefield reputations. But their height did not ultimately limit them as commanders.

How Tall Was Alexander the Great

Alexander’s Own Perception of His Height

Available sources suggest Alexander himself was somewhat self-conscious about his height at times. However, he did not allow it to undermine his supreme self-confidence.

May Have Been Self-Conscious About It at the Times

While proud of his stature as a conqueror, Alexander may have occasionally betrayed sensitivity about his height. Once when visitors burst into laughter seeing him with his shorter bodyguards, Alexander remarked, “I do not see why you find it so amusing that I have mounted such tiny animals.”

Used Custom Armor and Boots to Appear Taller

As mentioned earlier, Alexander combatted his short height by wearing elevated footwear and specially designed armor that made him seem larger. While a practical attempt at intimidation, this choice also suggests Alexander wished to de-emphasize his stature relative to his mythic public image. However, he privately acknowledged his short height at times.

how tall was alexander the great

Alexander’s Height and Its Place in His Legend

While obsessed over through the centuries, Alexander’s physical height ultimately matters little compared to the immense scale of his exploits. If anything, it only added to his legend.

Added to His Reputation as A Great Conqueror

In conquering such a vast empire in such a short span, Alexander demonstrated that one’s stature need be no barrier to ambition. In this sense, his relatively modest height for a king only added to his mystique as a remarkably young but world-conquering leader.

Shows How Physical Appearance Affected Perceptions of Power

Debates about Alexander’s height also illustrate how physical appearance colored ancient perceptions of leadership and power. The seeming mismatch between his short stature and enormous deeds fascinated many. But in defying expectations, Alexander proved his supreme ability and will overcome any physical limitations.

Final Words

In How Tall Was Alexander the Great, the exact height remains elusive centuries after his death. While possibly around 5 feet and 6 inches, some ambiguity persists. However, his stature compared favorably to that of other ancient rulers and military leaders. Though sensitive about his height, Alexander used armor, footwear, and force of personality to counteract his short stature. Obsession over his appearance illustrates how physical size shaped ancient impressions of power and capability. Yet by achieving so much in such a brief life and reign, Alexander demonstrated his height ultimately did not constrain his vaulting ambitions nor limit his conquests.

People also ask about How Tall Was Alexander the Great

How tall was Alexander the Great compared to the average ancient Greek?

Alexander was around 5’5″ while the average Greek man of his time was 5’3″-5’4″, so he was taller than most contemporaries.

Did Alexander do anything to appear taller?

Yes, Alexander wore custom armor and footwear to lengthen his frame and seem more physically imposing.

Was Alexander the Great really bothered by his height?

Alexander may have been self-conscious at times but utilized armor and confidence to overcome feeling disadvantaged by his stature.

How did Alexander’s height compare to other military leaders like Napoleon?

Alexander and Napoleon were close in height, both under 5’7″. This was not uncommon for ancient and medieval commanders.

What is the lasting significance of Alexander’s height today?

Debates about his height illustrate how appearance shaped ancient impressions of power. Yet his stature ultimately did not limit Alexander’s capabilities.