alexanthros wrote:So dont ask me if mithraism had an effect on christianity cause the answer is OFC. And i am sure that you will agree that without Alexander mithraism might have never evovlved in Europe. And ofcource Alexander was not the only parameter on that thing either.
I am going to stress again that the main reason of Christianity's spread is Theodosius.
Hi Alexanthros and Ed,
To clarify, I am in now way denying the influence of Greek Philosophy in the shaping of Christianity. What I am doing is inviting you to consider the contribution of the Persian Empire to Christianity, which explains my references to Zoroastrianism, Mithraism or the Greek Philosophers who lived under Persian rule. Of course, I agree with you that Mithraism – despite being named the “the Mysteries of the Persians” – was influenced by Hellenism in the Roman Empire. By the way, what is “OFC”?
alexkhan2000 wrote:The truth is that there was a clear delineation between the West (Europe) and the East (Asia) at that time and Alexander represented the West. On a macro scale, Alexander's destruction and conquest of the Persian Empire cannot be overestimated. For better or worse, this achievement set the tone and structure of the West and East that lasts to this very day. I'm quite sure that the world we see today is not what Alexander envisioned but we can blame those who came afterwards for that!
Now here’s the problem. Ancient history makes so little sense if we try to force it into the iron maiden of modern day identity politics. The problem with going down this path is that divisions must be created where none may have existed, commonalities denied and suggestions cross-cultural influences must be dismissed out of hand. It can rather limit the imagination too.
Myself, I always end up confused as to exactly who is “us” and who is “them”.
With Alexander, we are going back to the days when the modern meanings of the terms “Eastern” and “Western” didn’t even exist. One might say that Alexander helped Christianity spread in an indirect fashion. His conquests, years down the track, allowed the Roman Empire to get started, as there was no all-powerful Persian Empire to put a check on it.
However, I'm not sure it was ever Alexander's intention to break up or even weaken the Persian Empire, let alone to “represent the West”.
Actually, wasn’t his initial excuse for war to “liberate the Greek cities of Asia”? After having fought the Greeks, razed a Greek city and forcing the Greeks to cross into Asia with him?
With Alexander, of all conquerors, it’s particularly hard to argue that he would’ve recognized a division of ‘East’ and ‘West’. The fact that we are hung up on these categories says a lot about us and nothing about Alexander.
IMHO, the important thing to Alexander was that he himself was the Great King of the Persian Empire. He certainly showed interest in preserving the system that ran it. This assertion can be backed up by the facts that Alexander didn't significantly change the Acheamenid system of communication, taxation etc. He even left the obliging Persian satraps to co-rule with the Greeks. He was happy to use Achaemenid symbols to legitimise his rule - he dressed partly like an Achaemenid, tried to introduce "proper" court protocol Achaemenid style. We also have his recruitment of Persians and other Asians as the future of his army, marrying Darius' daughters, paying his respects to the tomb of Cyrus etc. etc. Had Alexander lived, it's entirely possible that a grandchild of Darius III could've ended up on the throne of an unbroken and extended "Macedonian-Persian" empire. Of course, all would be decreed to refer to it as the “Alexandrian Empire” as they said their daily prayers to Iskander, son of god.
We can keep asserting that such and such thing - Alexander, Christianity, my grandmother's chicken - is “Western” or “Eastern” but it amuses me to think that these labels would have made very little sense to Alexander (or Jesus). Given Alexander’s Macedonian cultural background and Aristotelian education, it would be hard to paint a picture of an Alexander who felt more kinship towards Celtic or Germanic tribes to the west of him than the Ionian Greeks in Asia. Perhaps the descendant of Perseus even felt some kinship to the Persians?
This Pharaoh of Egypt certainly took the son of Amun part of his coronation to heart.
If Alexander had ever been told of “Western civilization”, he would’ve most likely calmly assessed its degree of wealth and strength by going through the Achaemenid Royal archives. I would bet he would then do his usual thing – which is to march off with a giant army composed of Macedonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Sogdianans, Bactrians, Indians and other ethnicities I can’t even name. Then, finally, he would’ve made sure that said area was well aware of who their Great King was.