athenas owl wrote: Semiramis, thank you. That's the point I'm trying to make. There was slaughter in war then. Conquest was the norm. Again I don't excuse it, but I do not need to. Those long dead victims do not need my defense. But I am not going to use their dead shades to advance my modern views either.
There is slaughter in war now... And conquest hasn't died.
Did you like the last part of my story? Disgusted by killings.. turns to non-violence... all that cute stuff?
I'm going to come out and admit that I don't believe it's humanly possible to divorce oneself form one's modern views when discussing anything
including ancient history. There is no Archimedean point of view.
I'll also come out and admit that in all honesty, I don't tend to be appalled by the figures of Alexander's killings. The reason is that I believe Alexander is called "Great" is because he took over and extended the the Achaemenid empire.
There is no empire without conquest. No conquest without war. No war without killing. No war where only ones dying or enslaved are those who "deserve" it while the "innocent" are spared. Alexander has been celebrated by empires (and their education systems) from the Romans to the British to the French mostly because of his effective use of organized violence to subjugate people. Now, if one admires his "achievements" one can't be squeamish about his treatment of Indian tribes. On the other hand, if one is prepared to question the entire concept and motivations of empire, that's a whole another story.
The reason why I don't tend to focus on specific acts of Alexander's violence is because they were rarely gratuitous or sadistic for a conquerer
. The vast majority of his actions can be explained as motivated by gaining power, eliminating resistance and spreading terror - the simple day to day workings of an empire.
athenas owl wrote:I hate to disparage the use of the word "innocent" here, because they were defending their territory from an invader. Something I am very sympathetic, too. However, without knowing what you are talking about, someone might read what you wrote and assume that Alexander fell upon a city that had no idea that they were in danger. Well, they were caught unaware, but only because Alexander, as he was wont to do, got there before he was expected.
Not that that excuses Alexande, for those that need an excuser. But it is in some context. He had a specific target, one he viewed as a threat and conveninetly, for him, they were not prepared at that moment.
I'm not sure foreknowledge of an invasion makes the invaded any less "innocent"? To bring a modern day example, one of my Iraqi friends was a child in her home country during the one of the Gulf Wars. She said they could watch the bomber planes take off on TV from air bases in a neighbouring country. From that they could calculate when the bombers would reach Iraq, so when to go down to the basement in expectation of an air raid. Now, had their house been unlucky enough to be destroyed, their owning a television wouldn't make them any less innocent, right?
Paralus wrote:Neat sophistry about Arrian’s numbers does little to disguise the butcher's attitude which pervades the campaign in India. The short list given was exactly that: short. Much more might have been included.
I think the general disregard for human life and the level of brutality that is even more apparent in Alexander's Indian campaigns simply stems from the length of the entire campaign. Possibly the resulting frustration of both the troops and officers. Perhaps, a breakdown in discipline in the ranks? Meaning that even if Alexander wanted to be less brutal, he wouldn't get his troops to listen. But the decision to march through Gedrosia suggests to me that Alexander himself didn't put too much value on human life at this stage, including those of his own troops.