I apologize for neglecting the blog for a few weeks but everything has been busy. This post will unfortunately remain brief. However, I hope you still enjoy the facts presented.
Alexander the Great (Αλεξανδρος ὁ Μεγας; 356-323 BCE) left quite mark on the ancient world. Not only did he conquer a large mass of land, he also dispersed Greek and Macedonian culture and art. His legacy went so far East that there is a type of Buddhist art (known as Greco-Buddhist style) that is based on contemporary Greek statuary! One can not underestimate his true brilliance as a political leader. He was a skilled public relations master, an extraordinary warrior, and an outstanding man. So who was Alexander the Great?
Hellenism and the influence of Alexander are not simple topics to cover in a quick blog post. In fact, you could probably fill multiple Libraries of Alexandria with information just on these two ideas. However, I do want to provide some neat tidbits that quickly delve into the life and power of Alexander the Great.
- Alexander the Great was a god. Well, sort of. When Alexander went to Egypt, he sent out two letters to Oracles: one to the Oracle of Delphi and the other to the Oracle of Siwa. He asked each Oracle if he was a god. The Oracle at Delphi was astounded and quickly replied with a “no”. The Egyptian Oracle however had a different plan. The Oracle replied that not only was he a god, but he was also the son of Amun (Zeus-Ammon when Hellenized). This helped him to establish power in the Nile Valley.
- Alexander’s horse was named Bucephalus (βουκεφάλος) which means “Head of a Cow” or “Head of an Ox”. Makes you think Cabez de Vaca was not such an obscure name, huh?
- One amazing thing that Alexander did was he refused to strictly impose his culture or government on the people he conquered. Studies show that while he was traveling through the Middle East, rather than imposing democracy, the most (read stereotypical) Greek political structure, Alexander kept the same power structures that were already established.
- Now let’s think about that last one. When Alexander entered these foreign lands, he decided to not impose Democracy. Rather, he let them continued to let many of the former rulers (those who agreed with him, of course) continue to rule. In Egypt, he was defined as Pharaoh. In Persia, he was a King, etc. Now, isn’t that quite the opposite of recent history? Now you could easily fight back by saying “Well, Alexander was Macedonian and therefore he would remain a King. He wouldn’t have promoted Democracy anywhere” which is 100% true. But I just like to think that he could and yet did not. Who knows. It’s up to the reader to decide on the truth.
I hope to include further discussion on Hellenism and the influence of Alexander the Great but it is getting late and I must be going.
I really enjoy this podcast on Alexandria and Greek influence in Egypt. Definitely something to check out:
As well, here is some more interesting information on Alexander: