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To one who asked him the proper time for taking meals, he said, "If a rich man, when you will; if a poor man, when you can."
Diogenes the Cynic
ALEXANDER AND THE CREATION OF A WORLD EMPIRE A Mixed Culture Greeks and Easterners in the Hellenistic Kingdoms
SOCIETY AND ECONOMY The Hellenistic Economy Social Relations
PHILOSOPHY: THREE HELLENISTIC VARIETIES
SCIENCE AND THE ARTS The Pursuit of Science Art and Literature
336-323 B.C.E. ALEXANDER THE GREAT'S REIGN
C. 300-50 B.C.E. HELLENISTIC AGE IN EASTERN
HE NEW STYLE of civilized community and art forms created by the Greeks of the Classical Age is called Hellenism. After the Greeks fell to the Macedonian barbarians in 338 B.C.E., Hellen-
ism in a diluted and corrupted form was spread into the East and Egypt by the conquerors and their Greek associ-ates. This altered form of Hellenism is known as Hellenis-tic culture or civilization. It retained some of the values and attitudes of the classical Greek polis, but it also grad-ually dropped many in favor of the very different values and attitudes of the Eastern kingdoms and empires.
ALEXANDER AND THE CREATION OF A WORLD EMPIRE
After the battle at Chaeronea, which brought him mas-tery of the former poleis of Greece, King Philip of Mace-donia was assassinated, and his young son, Alexander, succeeded to the throne. In his thirteen-year reign (336-323 B.c.E.), Alexander conquered most of the world known
to the Greeks and proved himself one of the most remark-able individuals in world history. His boldness and vigor became the stuff of legend among the Greeks who fought under him. Both traits are attested to by the story Plu-tarch tells in the anecdote in this chapter (see the box "Plutarch on Alexander"). Alexander's break with previous military tradition regarding the status of the conqueror is also memorable, as Society and Economy describes.
At the time of his death, Philip had been organizing a large combined MacedonianGreek army with the an-nounced purpose of invading the huge Persian Empire. After swiftly putting down a rebellion in Thebes, Alexan-der continued this plan and crossed the Dardanelles in 334 with an army of about 55,000 men (very large for the times). In three great battles fought in Asia Minor, the young general brought down the mightiest empire the world had yet seen, the empire of Darius III of Persia, who was slain by his own troops after the third and decisive loss at Gaugamela in present-day Iraq (see Map 9.1).
Conquering an unresisting Egypt, Alexander then in-vaded the Persian heartland and proceeded eastward into
0 300 600
=I Alexander the Great's empire
Boundaries of major successor kingdoms
MACEDONIA Pella -
Granicus River 334 B.C.
Pe unurn Ancy a
Paraetonium Alexandria P
lssus 333 B.C.
Gaugarnela 331 B.C.
MEDIA PARTHIA Epiphaneia
Gedrosian Desert Patala
104 asz CHAPTER 9
The huge area conquered by Alexander between 334 and 324 down after the conqueror's death into regional kingdoms under
B.C.E. was too large to control from a single center. It quickly broke several of his generals.
the unknown borderlands of India. After spending five years defeating the numerous tribal kingdoms of the Indus basin and the wild highlands to its north (present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan), his remaining troops finally mutinied and refused to go farther. In 324, Alexan-der led his exhausted men back to Persia. A year later, he died in Babylon at the age of thirty-three. The few years of his reign and his much-disputed view of the desirable form of imperial government would have a lasting effect on much of the world's history, as outlined in Law and Government.
A Mixed Culture
Alexander the Great (as he was soon called) had founded the largest empire yet seen in history, but it began to dis-integrate almost on the day of his death. He left an infant son by his last and favorite wife, Roxana, but the child became a mere pawn as Alexander's generals struggled to succeed him as sole ruler. (The son was eventually put to death at age sixteen by one of the contestants.) Finally, the exhausted combatants tired of the civil war and split
up the vast territories conquered by Alexander into a series of kingdoms, each originally ruled by one of Alex-ander's generals. Collectively, these successor states in southwestern Asia and the eastern Mediterranean are called the Hellenistic kingdoms.
Everywhere Alexander led his armies, he founded new cities or towns, several of which bore his name. He then recruited Greeks from the homeland to come and estab-lish themselves as a ruling group in the new cities. He encouraged them to follow his own example and inter-marry with the locals. Tens of thousands of Greeks took up the invitation, leaving overcrowded, resource-poor Greece to make their names and fortunes in the countries now under Greco-Macedonian control. Inevitably, they brought with them the values they had cherished in their native land. As the conquerors, the Greeks could and did impose their ideas on the Asiatics and Egyptians with whom they had contact or intermarried.
The result was a mixed culture that blended Greek and Asiatic attitudes. A major example of this is the fate of the Greek civic community. The conquering Greeks first tried to reconstruct the polis mode of shared government and
SOCIETY AND ECONOMY
Plutarch on Alexander: Parallel Lives
ALEXANDER OF MACEDONIA is known to us through several
eyewitness accounts. The best biography of all, however, was
written by a Greek citizen of the Roman Empire who lived sev-
eral hundred years after Alexander. Plutarch wrote his Parallel Lives to provide the youth of Rome with examples of both
Greek and Roman heroes for them to emulate. It has been a
favorite ever since and includes this famous anecdote:
Philonicus the Thessalian brought the horse Bucephalus to Philip, offering to sell him for thirteen talents of silver; but
when they went into the field to try him they found him so
very vicious and unmanageable that he reared up when they
endeavored to mount him and would not suffer even the
voices of Philip's attendants. Upon which, Alexander, who
stood nearby, said, "What an excellent horse do they lose for
want of boldness to manage him! . . I could manage this
horse better than the others do."
Philip, who was a harsh father, challenged his son to
prove his boast:
Alexander immediately ran to the horse and taking hold
of his bridle turned him directly toward the sun, having, it
seems, observed that he was disturbed by and afraid of the
motion of his own shadow.... Then, stroking him gently
when he found him beginning to grow eager and fiery, with
one nimble step he securely mounted him, and when he was
seated by little and little drew in the bridle and curbed him
so, without either striking or spurring him. Presently, when
he found him free from all rebelliousness and only impatient for the course, he let him go at full speed, inciting him now with a commanding voice and urging him also with his heel. Philip and his friends looked on at first in silence and anxiety,
till seeing him turn at the end of the course and come back
rejoicing and triumphing for what he had performed, they
all burst out into acclamations of applause; and his father,
shedding tears of joy, kissed Alexander as he came down
from the horse and in his exultation said, "0 my son, look thee out for a kingdom equal to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee!"
To read Plutarch's "Life of Alexander," point your browser to the documents area of HistoryNow.
Analyze and Interpret Why might Plutarch, writing in the second century c.r., want
to use Alexander as one of his Parallel Lives for the instruction and entertainment of Roman youth? Besides bravery and
intelligence, what other characteristics of Alexander are hinted at here that would appeal to a patriotic Roman?
interdependent community in their new homes but quickly found that this was impossible. The Easterners had no experience of the polis form of government and did not understand it. They had never governed them-selves but had always had an all-powerful king who ruled through his appointed or hereditary officials and gener-als. Soon the ruling Greeks themselves adopted the mon-archical form of government. Thus, instead of the small, tight-knit community of equal citizens that was typical of the polis of the Classical Age, a Hellenistic state was typi-cally a large kingdom in which a bureaucracy governed at the king's command. The inhabitants, whether Greek or native, were no longer citizens but subjectsa very dif-ferent concept.
Although Alexander never conquered India's heart-land, the Greek invasion of the Indus plains also had last-ing effects. It introduced the Indian Hindu/Buddhist world to the Western world, and from this time onward, there were direct trade contacts between India and the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The invasion also dis-rupted the existing polit