Alexander the Great is a key figure for Macedonian cultural heritage. His legend survived both the Christian rule of the Byzantine Emperors and the Muslim rule of the Ottoman Sultans. His extraordinary abilities and unprecedented military achievements inspired the peoples of the Balkans, Asia Minor, and the Near East as far as Afghanistan before and after the creation of nation-states. However, only the Greeks can argue convincingly that Alexander was an authentic product of the Greek classical era, a king who traced his origin to the Ancient Greek Heroes and shared the culture of the Greek city-states. At the head of a united Greek expeditionary force, spear headed by the elite Macedonian army, he brought the Greek culture to the fringes of India and has justifiably been used for centuries as a symbol of Greek civilisation.