Hellenistic 1

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PowerPoint Presentation800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 Archaic Classical Hellenistic
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Hellenistic Greece – a period of decline?
“The period after Alexander is generally regarded as an anticlimax, a depressing anticlimax” (Bosworth 2002: 1).
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Period
323 B.C.
AD 330
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Alexander’s Legacy #1: A big conquest!
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Alexander’s legacy #2: ‘koine’ Greek
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Alexander died in 323 without a recognised heir. Allegedly Alexander’s dying orders were that his kingdom should go ‘to the strongest’.
His ‘Companions’ (the noblemen) wanted to wait until both his pregnant wives had given birth. Hopefully one would produce a son!
His foot soldiers (the ordinary men) didn’t want to wait for the birth of a half-barbarian child. They wanted a proper Macedonian king and hailed Philip’s son Arrhidaeus as “King Philip (III)”. The problem was that he was not quite right in the head.
After a brief battle between the rank and file and the noblemen a compromise was reached: “Philip” would be joint king with Alexander’s son (if one was born).
After Roxane produced a son – Alexander IV – for the best part of two decades Alexander’s former marshals would squabble over who could be the ‘manager’ of the joint kings. But not one of them could replace Alexander and unify his ‘empire’…
Alexander’s legacy #3 – Chaos!
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Alexander’s ‘Funeral Games’
“There is a story that he went on to say that he knew very well there would be a great funeral ‘games’ after he was dead” (Arrian, Anabasis 7.26).
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Antigonids
282-129 B.C.
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“In contrast [to Alexander], the successor dynasts tended to be more constructive. This was largely because their regimes had originated in individual satrapies. They expanded outwards, but the administrative and military centre remained…Power had focalized. Alexander had been wholly atypical, an absolute monarch without a fixed capital. Ptolemy, on the other hand had his Alexandria, Seleucus his Babylon and later Antioch, Lysimachus his Lysimacheia…Antigonus’ power base was his satrapal capital of Celaenae…The competition for supremacy discouraged grandiose military adventures. To embark on an unlimited programme of conquest was to risk invasion and the loss of one’s home base (as Demetrius was to discover in 288). The practical imperative was to create resources to protect one’s power base without overreaching oneself. For all the glamour and charisma of Alexander, his conquests could not be repeated” (Bosworth 2002: 2-3).
The Successors are different to Alexander
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“The new dynasts proclaimed themselves to be the successors of the previous rulers, blessed by the native gods, whether Ahura Mazda, Bel Marduk, or Amon Re, and the indigenous population to some degree identified with the new regimes” (Bosworth 2002: 3).
Mixed/fused Cultures?
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“[T]he period can be regarded as one of creation rather than disintegration. The successor dynasts had to build their courts, recruit their armies and maintain an adequate economic base. Talented individuals, mostly of Greek origin, were attracted to the new courts to operate as ‘friends’, i.e. as advisers, administrators and commanders. At a humbler level, fighting men were recruited from the entire Mediterranean world, to be enlisted in new armies or settled as colonists with the obligation to serve in person if called upon. Large-scale recruitment of this nature required considerable finance and, apart from booty acquired in war, the revenues were preponderantly gained through fiscal exactions, such as land and poll tax and dues on sales, and for the system to be operative it was necessary for the native population to accept its rulers and support, with resignation, if not enthusiasm, what was in effect an occupation army” (Bosworth 2002: 3)
How Successor Kingdoms Work
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Kings (basileis)
Friends (philoi)
Subjects (non-Greek nations)
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Alexander’s legacy #5 – the Royal Model
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Royal Status Indicators
Association with Alexander
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Diadem
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Divine features
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The Successors Become ‘Kings’
“Upon this, the multitude for the first time saluted Antigonus and Demetrius as kings. Antigonus, accordingly, was immediately crowned by his friends, and Demetrius received a diadem from his father, with a letter in which he was addressed as King. The followers of Ptolemy in Egypt on their part also, when these things were reported to them, gave him the title of King, that they might not appear to lose spirit on account of their defeat. And thus their emulation carried the practice among the other successors of Alexander. For Lysimachus began to wear a diadem, and Seleucus also in his interviews with the Greeks; with the Barbarians he had before this dealt as king. Cassander, however, although the others gave him the royal title in their letters and addresses, wrote his letters in his own untitled name, as he had been wont to do. ” (Plutarch, Demetrius 18).
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The first fifty years after Alexander’s death was a period in which new dynasties in Macedonia, the Near East and Egypt were all vying for dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean.
These new kingdoms put bigger and bigger armies into the field causing more devastation.
They all needed men and timber. The Seleucids and especially the Ptolemies were interested in men and timber from Greek mainland. The Antigonids were intent on stopping them.
Greece, therefore, becomes a battleground for the new empires.
Some of the Successors also had a bad tendency to fail to learn from past mistakes (as we shall see).
Ultimately their lack of unity left them all vulnerable to attack from outside the Greek world…
The Chaotic Hellenistic World
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The Celts/Gauls/Galatians invade 279 BC
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Celtic Invasion 279 BC
Pausanias (10.20.3-5) tells us that more than 20,000 Greeks from Boeotia, Phocis, Locris, Megara, Aetolia, and Athens assembled to meet the Celts at Thermopylae.
Pausanias also tells us that the Athenian general was Callippus was given the overall command because of Athens’ “ancient reputation”.
Pausanias adds that the Athenians sent all their seaworthy triremes to assist allied army.
Unfortunately for Callippus the Celts were able to find a path through the mountains that would enable them to surround the Greeks! Hellenistic period failure to learn from history moment #1!
Fortunately for Callippus the Celts didn’t have a large navy (unlike Xerxes in 480), and he was able to extract his men by sea.
The Celts then headed for Delphi…where according to the locals they were repelled by the god Apollo himself!
Insert map from Erskine here.
*
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The Greeks were able to repel the Celts.
But the Celts were not the only power who represented a threat to the Greeks.
In the west a new power was rising: Rome
The Romans conquered the Italian peninsula ca. 400-250 B.C.
Traditionally, Greek states in southern Italy called in mainland Greeks for help against outsiders like the Romans.
But from ca. 275 the Romans became increasingly unwilling to accept this, and started to turn their attentions towards the Balkans. Why?
A new enemy on the Horizon
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Pyrrhus of Epirus
King of Epirus 307-303 and 297-272 B.C., and related to Alexander the Great…
Pyrrhus crossed the Adriatic in 280 B.C. to assist Tarentum against the Romans.
Pyrrhus fought the Romans at Heraclea (280), Asculum (279) and Beneventum (275).
Each of the battles was technically a victory for Pyrrhus, but each victory cost Pyrrhus so many men that they were almost defeats – hence the term a Pyrrhic victory
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These Barbarians aren’t barbaric!
When Pyrrhus learned that the Romans were near and lay encamped on the further side of the river Sins, he rode up to the river to get a view of them; and when he had observed their discipline, the appointment of their watches, their order, and the general arrangement of their camp, he was amazed, [5] and said to the friend who was nearest him: ‘The discipline of these Barbarians is not barbarous; but the result will show us what it amounts to.’ He was now less confident of the issue, and determined to wait for his allies; but he stationed a guard on the bank of the river to check the Romans if, in the meantime, they should attempt to cross it (Plutarch, Pyrrhus 15).
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Roman legionaries
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A ‘Pyrrhic’ Victory
The two armies separated; and we are told that Pyrrhus said to one who was congratulating him on his victory, ‘If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.’ For he had lost a great part of the forces with which he came, and all his friends and generals except a few; moreover, he had no others whom he could summon from home, and he saw that his allies in Italy were becoming indifferent, while the army of the Romans, as if from a fountain gushing forth indoors, was easily and speedily filled up again, and they did not lose courage in defeat, nay, their wrath gave them all the more vigour and determination for the war. (Plut. Pyrrhus 21).
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* Only those with an asterisk directly involve Greeks/Macedonians
Pyrrhus’ invasion of Italy*
171-168
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Greeks vs. Romans (215-146 BC)
The long period of conflict between the Hellenistic Successors and the Romans was marked by a distinct lack of unity – had they worked together things might have been very, very different!
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Achaean statesman ca.182-169 B.C.
Friend and mentor to Scipio Aemilianus
Released 150 B.C. and witnessed the sack of Carthage
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Polybius’ aim: the Romans are great!
“For who is so lazy or apathetic as not to wish to know how and with what type of constitution the Romans in not quite fifty-three years [220-167 B.C.] conquered nearly the whole of the inhabited world and subjected it to their sole government – an event unique in history?” (Polybius 1.1.5)
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King of Macedon 221-179 B.C.
Unhappy with Roman involvement in Illyria, Philip made an alliance with Hannibal 215 B.C. when it looked like Hannibal might defeat the Romans.
Philip was opposed in Greece by both the Aetolians and the Achaeans who asked the Romans for help.
Philip was defeated by the Romans under T. Quinctius Flamininus at Cynoscephale in 197 B.C.
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Antiochus was the Seleucid king 223-187 B.C.
Early in his reign Antiochus invaded Egypt. At Raphia he led a wild pursuit of the fleeing Ptolemaic horsemen, and while he was gone his phalanx was defeated by Ptolemy’s foot soldiers, many of whom were native Egyptians!
Hellenistic period failure to learn from history moment #2!
Antiochus then embarked on an anabasis in the east, conquering Armenia, and regaining Parthia and Bactria. These achievements not only earned Antiochus the epithet ‘the Great’, but also allowed him to hope to unite all of Alexander’s empire under his rule!
Antiochus invaded Europe in 196 B.C. one year after the Romans had defeated Philip V. The Romans responded swiftly when some of the Greeks cried for help just like before against Philip V.
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Antiochus’ anabasis
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Antiochus and the Romans
“We are wholly at a loss to know”, he [the Roman envoy] said, “why Antiochus should come from Media bringing such a fleet and such an army from the upper country to the Asiatic coast, make an incursion into Europe, build cities there, and subdue Thrace, unless these are the preparations for another war”. Antiochus replied that Thrace had belonged to his ancestors, that it had fallen away from them when they were occupied elsewhere, and that he had resumed possession because he had leisure to do so. He had built Lysimacheia as the future seat of government of his son Seleucus. He would leave the Greek cities of Asia independent if they would acknowledge the gratitude therefore as due to himself and not to the Romans. “I am a relative of Ptolemy”, he said, “and I shall be his father-in-law, although I am not so now, and I will see to it that he renders gratitude to you. I am at a loss to know by what right you meddle with the affairs of Asia when I never interfere with those of Italy”. (Appian, Syrian Wars 3).
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Antiochus had some allies in southern Greece – most notably Athens.
Because of this he decided to try to stop the Romans at Thermopylae in 191.
Unfortunately for Antiochus the Romans were able to find a way to surround Antiochus’ forces and he was forced to flee with only a handful of men. Failure to learn from history moment #3!
The Romans then invaded Asia and fought Antiochus at Magnesia in 189.
Antiochus led a strong cavalry charge that routed the Roman horsemen. But while he was absent from the battlefield the Roman legionaries defeated his phalanx. Failure to learn from history moment #4!
Antiochus was forced to pay a massive indemnity to Rome and his son Antiochus IV was sent to Rome as a hostage to ensure his father’s future good behaviour.
In 187 Antiochus was struck dead while raiding the Temple of Baal in Susa.
This was the beginning of the end for the Seleucid dynasty, which staggered on for another century before being swallowed up by the Parthians and the Romans.
Antiochus the ‘Great Dunce’?
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He revived Macedonian military strength and popularity in Greece
But when the Romans went to war against Perseus the Greeks and Antiochus IV failed to support him.
Perseus was defeated by L. Aemilius Paullus at Pydna in 168 B.C.
The defeated ‘proved’ that the Roman legionary was superior to the Macedonian phalangite.
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Polybius 18.31: Phalanx vs. Legion
“Now in the case of the Romans also each soldier with his arms occupies a space of three feet in breadth, but as in their mode of fighting each man must move separately, as he has to cover his person with his long shield, turning to meet each expected blow, and as he uses his sword both for cutting and thrusting it is obvious that a looser order is required, and each man must be at a distance of at least three feet from the man next to him in the same rank and those in front of and behind him, if they are to be of proper use. The consequence will be that one Roman must stand opposite two men in the opposing phalanx, so that he has to face and encounter ten pikes…”
“What then is the reason for the Roman success? It is because in war the time and place of action is uncertain, and the phalanx has only one time and place in which it can perform its peculiar service…[and] it is acknowledged that the phalanx requires level and clear ground with no obstacles…sufficient to impede and break up such a formation.”
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Corinth destroyed 146 BC – Graecia capta
Macedon had become a Roman possession (and eventually a province) after Perseus was defeated in 168 BC.
Many Greeks had watched happily while this happened.
Others just failed to help him.
Antiochus III had been unable to stop the Romans partly due to Greek intransigence.
Just at the point that neither the Macedonians nor the Seleucids were strong enough to protect them, the Greeks of the Peloponnese (the Achaean League) risked upsetting Rome.
The Romans swept into Greece and sacked Corinth, and made two new provinces – Macedonia and Achaea.
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Macedon and Greece as Roman Provinces
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Greeks in the Roman Empire
“Captured Greece took her fierce victor captive and brought the arts into rustic Latium” (Horace, Epistles 2.1)
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NB: Hellenistic Art
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Cassius Dio*
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