Reasons why Alexander was great?

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aleksandros
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Post by aleksandros »

amyntoros wrote:Cutting in here, although I know the following remark wasn't addressed to me.
alexanthros wrote:So unlike you i believe that Alexander wanted to weaken the Persian Empire and after the letter of Darius he made clear to everyone that his goal was to destroy the Persian Empire and to establish the universal Hellenic state Aristotle dreamed about.
Except that after (?) the death of Darius, didn't Alexander send home the Greek participants thus officially bringing to an end the presumed Panhellenic campaign? And he didn't exactly destroy the Persian Empire - he simply defeated its king and armies and took it over for himself! I see no universal Hellenic state, only that it was all about Alexander and all about Macedonian acquisition of territories and Alexander's subsequent rule. My view, anyway. :)

Best regards,
The Panhellenic campaign was completed at Ecbatana before the death of Darius. The campaign was complete and successful. The chase of Darius and the campaigns after his death is a whole different thing. The Panhellenic campaign was over and the goals of Alexander were different after that. That doesnt mean that the whole campaign wasnt a panhellenic campaign with specific goals till Ecbatana. And of cource by destroying the Persian Empire i mean that he simply defeated its king and armies and took over it for himself
If you cant see a Hellenic state theres nothing for me to do. To me its preety obvious. Cause for me Macedonian or Hellenic aquisition and rule is exactly the same thing.
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Paralus
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Post by Paralus »

alexkhan2000 wrote:Do I sense some sarcasm here? I suppose you're one of those types who has to make snide remarks about opinions or interpretations that are different from yours?
Not at all. Just a balancing of the adulatory, near reverential, books:
alexkhan2000 wrote: He set the standard for the ultimate soldier - courageous, daring, brilliant, cool in the heat of the battle, cunning, determined, and physically perfect.
alexkhan2000 wrote:It was obvious that he wanted to create a fusion of nations, races, and cultures. Was this an idealistic and noble pipedream or just a matter of practicality to govern such a vast territory of different peoples and cultures? Whatever the case, the sheer ambitiousness of such an undertaking is truly great in itself. He was simply so ahead of his time that it's truly mind-boggling.
Never mind the Persians had already achieved such.
alexkhan2000 wrote: There's a timelessness to Alexander and his remarkable achievements. It's simply about what the human mind and will are capable of when the combination of a brilliant intellect, physical courage, steely determination, leadership acumen, strategic soundness, understanding of human nature, passion for the unknown, and magnetic charisma are so perfectly molded into one man.
Just a few lines of what might have been many. Not everyone shares the near religious worship of Alexander that is – on occasion – displayed in this (and another) thread. That is all.
alexkhan2000 wrote:I stated quite clearly that Alexander was as much of a realist/pragmatist as he was a dreamer/idealist. He himself was a fusion of both and couldn't have gone as far as he did if he wasn't. What's with the lecturing? Tell me something I don't know.
Read something more than Plutarch?

And, you might well have stated both. It is the dreamer/idealist that you so fervently push though.

Alexander had the education of the Greeks of the day. Aristotle or not, he received that which will have been available to Athenians. Therefore he read Homer, Euripides et al. Your description of him up late of a night, “on campaign” reads like Plutarch’s apology for his drinking: he did not consume much, simply sat talking all night over the cup at the insistence of his companions. Never mind that he slept in until lunch the next day or did not rise at all.

Pardon me for disagreeing with your gestalt of Alexander: I plainly do not share all of it. As well, I wasn’t aware that to point out those differences was “lecturing”.
alexkhan2000 wrote:
Paralus wrote:
There was no "brotherhood of man". That is a wholly modern overlay.
And how do you know this? You know what Alexander was thinking and what really happened back then?
No I do not but, by the way you are writing, you plainly do. This is a concept fashioned by the adulatory Tarn in the shadows of WWI and the failed "League of Nations" which, in large part, killed the Wilson presidency. To peddle this ideal whilst simultaneously ridiculing the similarly extreme "Alexander as cruel Hitler-tryant" gestalt is to demonstrate little, if any, balance.

My opinion only. Lectures come at a fee.
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by Semiramis »

Hi Alexanthors and Ed,
alexantrhos wrote:I agree with you that there was not a west - east distinction at that time. There was a Greek - barbarian distinction. And we all know that the tribes north of Danube, Germania, Gaul, Hispania and Britannia were far more barbaric than the ones of Egypt and Persia to Greeks.
Nicely put.
alexkhan2000 wrote:From what I could gather of ancient history (not only during Greek/Rome eras but in the Far East like China, Korea, and Japan as well), the peoples during that time were just as concerned about nations, kingdoms, territories, races, labels, etc. as people are today. In fact, wouldn't you say they were much more tribal about all these things than they are today (although we haven't made that much progress)? As an ethic Korean who has studied the history of the Far East, I can tell you that there were very clear delineations in regards to race, kingdoms, territories and cultures for thousands of years.
I’m not saying that the ancients were incapable of forming self-identity. I’m emphasizing that their “groupings” were not the same as ours. As Alexanthros said, Greek vs Barbarian would’ve made sense to them, but not Easterner vs Westerner. Of course, just as always, there were grey areas. Macedon to name just one.
alexkhan2000 wrote:As far as the generalizations about Christianity, Middle East, East (Asia) vs. West (Europe), etc., sure we are generalizing, but how many other figures were there during the ancient Greek/Roman era that had the effect or impact that Alexander or Caesar/Augustus had? Also, Alexander did make a dramatic gesture when he crossed the Hellespont and landed on Asian soil. It sure seems he saw Asia as a different land than Europe.
Whether we use terms like ‘East’ and ‘West’ or ‘Europe’ and ‘Asia’, the fact remains that Greeks on either side of the Aegean felt more bond of kinship to each other than to the barbarians in either Europe or Asia. On an even smaller scale, Athenians were more closely related to other Ionian Greeks on Asia than the Greeks neighbouring them. Alexander’s spear-throwing theatrics – is it possible he was more concerned with emulating Achilles?
alexantrhos wrote:I disagree with you about the purposes of the campaign. There were 2 main goals. The liberation of the Greek cities and the revenge on Persia about what had happened 150 years ago. Isocrates have urged Philip 'tous varvarous eilotevein' (its proper for the barbarians to be slaves of the Greeks) and hat was not the case at all at that time since the Greeks were rather slaves of the barbarians (Persians) and that was what Alexander wanted to change. So unlike you i believe that Alexander wanted to weaken the Persian Empire and after the letter of Darius he made clear to everyone that his goal was to destroy the Persian Empire and to establish the universal Hellenic state Aristotle dreamed about.

Concerning the things you said about the destruction of Thebes i disagree with your perception of those incidents. The Athenians the Spartans and the Thebans had killed so much more greeks during the Peloponesian and the Theban wars than Alexander did.
And even though he won that civil war he never entered Athens with his army unlike Spartans. Thats because he respected more the school of Greece than some others...
And of course he never entered Sparta because he respected what had happened during the Persian wars.
I see that we’ve moved into the territory of what motivated Alexander and Phillip to carry out their conquests. I like all of your ideas alexanthros. In my less cynical days, may have even agreed with them. :)

Yes, there were two main goals for the conquest of the Persian Empire. However, IMHO, they were riches and power. Nothing so ideologically motivated as “revenge” and “freedom”. After Thebes, other Greek cities submitted to Alexander out of fear. Not some newly-found desire to entrust Alexander with freeing their Greek brethren in Asia or to Hellenize the barbarians. It would be hard to argue that Greeks were happy with Philip or Alexander’s Hegemony.

To address Ed’s points on motivation, writers like Badian and Bosworth are quite sceptical of this picture of Alexander the dreamer-philosopher who was interested in “fusion” or “brotherhood of man”. I usually find myself agreeing with them. In my reading, these are anachronistic motives modern writers have burdened him with. Some of their “master fusion race” talk has more to do with their own sympathies and cultural miliu than the ancient sources.

To give you an example, here’s Bosworth’s summary on German historian Helmut Berve, who was writing about Alexander in 1938.
Bosworth wrote:The polar opposite is an essay by Helmut Berve, written in the heady days before the Second World War, in which he claimed that Alexander, with commendable respect for Aryan Supremacy, planned a blending of the Macedonian and Persian peoples, so that the two racially related (!) Herrenvölker would lord it over the rest of the world empire. On Berve’s interpretation, the policy had two stages. Alexander first recognized the merits of the Iranian peoples and placed them alongside the Macedonians on his court and army hierarchy. Next came the Blutvemishcung, the integration of the two peoples by marriage.
Bosworth in footnotes wrote:Berve took his view to extreme lengths, even arguing that the concubines in Alexander’s army train were exclusively Iranian.
From – “Alexander and the Iranians, by A. B. Bosworth, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 1980”

Don’t get me wrong. The balcony scene in the movie was totally dreamy. But as Paralus points out, cold hard reality may have been something quite different.

Take care
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Post by Paralus »

Semiramis wrote:
alexantrhos wrote:I disagree with you about the purposes of the campaign. There were 2 main goals. The liberation of the Greek cities and the revenge on Persia about what had happened 150 years ago. Isocrates have urged Philip 'tous varvarous eilotevein' (its proper for the barbarians to be slaves of the Greeks) and hat was not the case at all at that time since the Greeks were rather slaves of the barbarians (Persians) and that was what Alexander wanted to change. So unlike you i believe that Alexander wanted to weaken the Persian Empire and after the letter of Darius he made clear to everyone that his goal was to destroy the Persian Empire and to establish the universal Hellenic state Aristotle dreamed about.

Concerning the things you said about the destruction of Thebes i disagree with your perception of those incidents. The Athenians the Spartans and the Thebans had killed so much more greeks during the Peloponesian and the Theban wars than Alexander did.
And even though he won that civil war he never entered Athens with his army unlike Spartans. Thats because he respected more the school of Greece than some others...
And of course he never entered Sparta because he respected what had happened during the Persian wars.
I see that we’ve moved into the territory of what motivated Alexander and Phillip to carry out their conquests. I like all of your ideas alexanthros. In my less cynical days, may have even agreed with them.

Yes, there were two main goals for the conquest of the Persian Empire. However, IMHO, they were riches and power. Nothing so ideologically motivated as “revenge” and “freedom”. After Thebes, other Greek cities submitted to Alexander out of fear. Not some newly-found desire to entrust Alexander with freeing their Greek brethren in Asia or to Hellenize the barbarians. It would be hard to argue that Greeks were happy with Philip or Alexander’s Hegemony.
Ahh, a voice of reason. Well said Semiramis. Greece indeed suffered Macedonian domination – by main force – exceptionally grudgingly.

The notion that “the Athenians, the Spartans and the Thebans had killed so many more Greeks” than Alexander belies a very poor understanding of events. The comparison is really quite ridiculous. How many years will we go back to achieve comparable figures with those achieved by Alexander in his thirteen odd years as king? How many simply to equal the numbers dead at the Granicus?

Alexanthros I doubt, something severely, that the Greek alliance defeated at Chaeronea ever – for a moment – thought they were fighting a “civil war”. That, again, is a modern rationalisation of Macedonian imperialism.

The reasons for Alexander – and more so Philip before him – not “entering Athens” with an army are far more complicated than the “school of Greece” notion. It has much to do with the fact that Thebes had recently been annihilated and removed from the Greek landscape. In simple speak, it would not do to attempt to parlay a panhellenic cover for invasion whilst investing and/or destroying the “cultural” basis for such propaganda. Philip desperately wanted Athens as a (distinctly junior) partner in this exercise. Such an alliance would seal Greek “goodwill” for the coming Macedonian invasion of Persia. Not to mention the naval resources.

Sparta, I’m afraid, no longer mattered. It was left alone for reasons which had very little to do with the Persian wars. Philip, who’d arranged things very neatly for Macedonia in the Peleponnese after Chaeronea, allowed it to stand as the irritant to any aggrandising state in what used to be its back yard. Alexander saw little reason to change it – if it interested him. After Leuktra Sparta was reduced to second rate “power”; after Chaeronea Philip made it the pimple on the Peleponnese.

As to the Panhellenic crusade, I’ve addressed that on numerous occasions. Nice propaganda and that’s about as far as it goes. The war was conducted by Macedonians for Macedonia. Greeks had occasionally waxed lyrical about the “liberation of the Greeks” and “revenge” but, like Isokrates, always came back to the economics: send the poor and destitute over “there” to populate cities and get them out of Attica. It was to be the Hellenic (Attic) dumping ground. In the end it became Macedonian lebensraum.

The freedom of the Greek cities in Asia Minor? Perhaps Alexander might have addressed that issue with the Spartans – the Spartans that he so respected because of the Persian War – who so absolutely sold them into servitude, not once, but at least twice.

What piffle.
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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jasonxx

Post by jasonxx »

Paralus

As you say the greeks didnt really do as muck banging of heads as the Macedonians did... However it can be stated they had there fair sgare of killing each other. Maybe If Athens Sparta etc were an all year and more focused armed force Im pretty sure they wpuld have nailed each other more. As it was the Pre Macedonian Greek way of war was Seasonal Skirmishes. As we know Macedonain ways were more foreward and a little mopre pressing with its Military Goals and objective.


Each period of Military supremecy I would say was based on just howtough and opresive they treated there losing Advisaries. The Romans were not for been nice to vanquished and they Lasted centuries

but its gotta be accepted the Greeks Prior to Macedon did there relaitive share of hellenes blood letting


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amyntoros
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Post by amyntoros »

alexanthros wrote:
amyntoros wrote: I see no universal Hellenic state, only that it was all about Alexander and all about Macedonian acquisition of territories and Alexander's subsequent rule. My view, anyway. :)

… If you cant see a Hellenic state theres nothing for me to do. To me its preety obvious. Cause for me Macedonian or Hellenic aquisition and rule is exactly the same thing.
Alexanthros, people are going to disagree with one another at times on this forum, and depending upon their viewpoints what's obvious to one member will not be to another.

My reasoning that there is a difference between a universal Hellenic state and Macedonian acquisition and rule is based upon the intent of the campaign. You had written:
So unlike you i believe that Alexander wanted to weaken the Persian Empire and after the letter of Darius he made clear to everyone that his goal was to destroy the Persian Empire and to establish the universal Hellenic state Aristotle dreamed about.
Here you have said that one of Alexander's goals was to establish the universal Hellenic state that Aristotle dreamed about. I'm not arguing that an Hellenic state wasn't the result of the conquest (although Ptolemy's Egypt was the most successful in establishing such) – just that it wasn't the reason behind Alexander's conquest. The spreading of Greek culture was merely a consequence, as happens no matter which nation does the conquering. If Germany had won World War II we would probably all be speaking German, but surely no one would claim that Hitler's purpose in the war was to altruistically impart German culture to the world? Look also at the spread of the British Empire – the reason why much of the world speaks English. We didn't, however, conquer the world because we thought English culture would be beneficial for the natives of all the countries involved. Oh, of course we thought that our culture was superior at the time, but the real reason for our conquests was because we wanted new lands, trade routes and resources. I don't see Alexander's aim as being any different. Aristotle's dream (and Isocrates letter to Philip) just gave him a convenient excuse. Not that he needed one for himself, but it was useful to present that vision to the rest of the Greek world.

Best regards,
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Post by Efstathios »

I'm not arguing that an Hellenic state wasn't the result of the conquest (although Ptolemy's Egypt was the most successful in establishing such) – just that it wasn't the reason behind Alexander's conquest.
Amyntoros hi.

The obvious thing would be to say that it wasnt the reason behind Alexander's conquest. But we dont know exactly how Alexander thought. The comparisson to Germany and Brittain, is not correct in my point of view. Because in Alexander's situation, Aristotle played a good part in many of Alexander's actions.

Alexander learned to love everything Greek since he was a boy. It was his alledged heritage. One of his favorite books was the Hiliad, in which the Greeks of the mainland were united against the Troyans. So the ideals were there. I know Michael will probably disagree with me in this. Alexander may have had the dream of uniting the Greeks into a common goal. And this goal was the conquest. There two things dont cancel one the other. The matter is which was strongest in Alexander's thought. And that probably was the conquest. But it doesnt mean that his initial desire for a panhellenic unification wasnt also there.

His further actions show that. What he did in Asia. He did things, the Hellenic way. He brought the actors and poets and architects from all over Greece. He did try to blend architectures of course. But mainly he provided hellenic education, literature, and training.

These things didnt come as a result. A result would probably be a Macedonian way of things. Alexander did it the Hellenic way.
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Post by marcus »

alexkhan2000 wrote:
marcus wrote:
alexkhan2000 wrote:Well, I don't want to get into the subject of religion too much but Christianity is a Western religion. I'm not a religious person at all, but I've studied various religions of the world from a historical and cultural perspective. Whether Jesus was a Easterner or whether he even existed is an entirely different subject matter. Christianity as we know it now is a decidedly Western-based religion and at the center of the West vs. East conflicts we see in the world today - especially in the region where Alexander himself was at the epicenter.
I think that the Orthodox Christians of the East, and the Assyrian Christians who are still practising in south-western Turkey, Syria, and the Lebanon; and the Armenian and Iraqi Christians to book, would disagree with that statement! :shock:

ATB
Yes, and there are many Christians in Korea and China as well - tens of millions. But the official orthodox Christian religion as we now know it originated in Rome under Constantine. Until Constantine made it Rome's official religion in 313AD or so, there were dozens of different versions of Christianity all fighting each other for supremacy. Eventually the Roman Empire fell and it evolved into the Holy Roman Empire. The Roman Catholic Church became the supreme power of Europe for well over a thousand years and became as much of a political organization and psudo-monarchy as a church. The Orthodox Christians and the Protestants were essentially offshoots of the Roman Catholic Church. They essentially broke off from the Pope's central command. To this day, the Pope says the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church of Christianity and that all others aren't quite the real thing.
But that's not what you said. You said "Christianity is a Western religion", which it isn't; and the Orthodox (Russian and Greek or other Eastern), and Assyrian Christians, would take umbrage at the suggestion that "the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church of Christianity".

ATB
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Post by Semiramis »

marcus wrote:But that's not what you said. You said "Christianity is a Western religion", which it isn't; and the Orthodox (Russian and Greek or other Eastern), and Assyrian Christians, would take umbrage at the suggestion that "the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church of Christianity".

ATB
Hi Marcus,

Don’t forget the Coptic Christians of Egypt. Without the survival of the Coptic language in those churches, the Rosetta stone may have still remained a mystery. There are Syriac Christians in India who claim their ancestors were converted by St. Thomas as early as 52 AD! I’m not sure they’d be happy at the idea of Europe – that relative newcomer to the fold – claiming Christianity as all its own! ;)

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But I concede there are more "Western"-style Chris

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Semiramis wrote:
marcus wrote:But that's not what you said. You said "Christianity is a Western religion", which it isn't; and the Orthodox (Russian and Greek or other Eastern), and Assyrian Christians, would take umbrage at the suggestion that "the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church of Christianity".

ATB
Hi Marcus,

Don’t forget the Coptic Christians of Egypt. Without the survival of the Coptic language in those churches, the Rosetta stone may have still remained a mystery. There are Syriac Christians in India who claim their ancestors were converted by St. Thomas as early as 52 AD! I’m not sure they’d be happy at the idea of Europe – that relative newcomer to the fold – claiming Christianity as all its own! ;)

Take care
Indeed - good call. I was rooting around for other examples of "Eastern" Christians to use, and completely forgot about the Copts.

Interestingly enough, I was listening to an item on the radio yesterday (or the day before) about the Chinese Roman Catholic church - and it made me think that there is one area in which I must agree with alexkhan2000, because pretty much all the conversion and proselytisation since around 400AD was done by the "Western" Christians, and to that extent Christianity is (from a purely numbers point of view) a "Western" religion. That said, it really is only from a numbers POV, and I still stand by my argument that those Eastern Christians mentioned would surely be most unhappy to have their doctrine relegated to such an extent!

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Post by Phoebus »

Paralus wrote:Ahh, a voice of reason. Well said Semiramis. Greece indeed suffered Macedonian domination – by main force – exceptionally grudgingly.
Much as it had suffered the domination of all previous parties--like Athenian democracy, Lacedaemonian oligarchy, Theban federalism, etc.
The notion that “the Athenians, the Spartans and the Thebans had killed so many more Greeks” than Alexander belies a very poor understanding of events. The comparison is really quite ridiculous.
How so?
How many years will we go back to achieve comparable figures with those achieved by Alexander in his thirteen odd years as king?
To the last major war fought between Hellenic powers, perhaps? The main difference between them and Phillip/Alexander was one of capacity. The latter possessed capabilities and an army the former didn't. The main difference where casualty figures are ones of scale--directly related to the capabilities possessed by said leaders. Or do you think less Hellenes would have died regardless had Epaminondas or Agis dreamed up Phillip's military model?
How many simply to equal the numbers dead at the Granicus?
Well, first we have to decide how many Hellene mercenaries fought there. If you take the more conservative estimates, Leuctra alone covers that.
Alexanthros I doubt, something severely, that the Greek alliance defeated at Chaeronea ever – for a moment – thought they were fighting a “civil war”.
I doubt that many ancient Hellenes saw the struggle between Athens and Lacedaemon as a "civil war."
As to the Panhellenic crusade, I’ve addressed that on numerous occasions. Nice propaganda and that’s about as far as it goes.
Much like the precedent itself.

You can call what Alexander claimed he wanted to do "piffle", but let's not try to differentiate between him and his predecessors in such designs. The movers and shakers of Athens had no one else's best interests at heart when conducting their own political and military games. Demosthenes and his ilk were merely being hypocrites when they demonized Phillip and Alexander on the basis of their ambitions and their ethnicity. The latter were doing nothing that the former wouldn't have done in the same position, and they outright ignored the ethnicity of their own prominent citizens of the past.
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Post by Fiona »

Phoebus wrote:
You can call what Alexander claimed he wanted to do "piffle", but let's not try to differentiate between him and his predecessors in such designs. The movers and shakers of Athens had no one else's best interests at heart when conducting their own political and military games. Demosthenes and his ilk were merely being hypocrites when they demonized Phillip and Alexander on the basis of their ambitions and their ethnicity. The latter were doing nothing that the former wouldn't have done in the same position, and they outright ignored the ethnicity of their own prominent citizens of the past.
I think it would be interesting to imagine what Athens would have done in the same position. Suppose Xerxes had swept north through Greece instead of south - imagine a medising Themistocles and a final defeat of the invasion by Alexander I, achieved at the cost of the destruction of Pella and the burning of its temples.
Then fast-forward to an Athens equipped with a splendid army and poised to take over control of the whole of Greece, followed by an invasion of Persia. Would they have bothered to resurrect the League of Corinth? Possibly. Would they have included in their manifesto the liberation of Ionia? Maybe. Would they have shown magnanimity to a weakened and rebellious Macedon, and put revenge for past wrongs done to it by Persia on the manifesto? Can't see it - that's much harder to imagine.
Yet - with the boot back on the right foot - Alexander did just those things. Sure, he may have had an eye to the propaganda value, but that he thought of it at all is tribute to his wider vision of the world. He just didn't think parochially, so his ideas were bigger than other people's of his day. Mayve he didn't dream of a 'brotherhood of man' - that's too modern a way to desribe it - but I bet he thought, there has to be a better way to do things, than the way we're doing them now.

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Post by Phoebus »

Regarding Athens' intentions, I think they showed their colors during the Peloponnesian War. Now, whether they were capable of carrying out an expedition on the scale of Alexander's or not is another question. Personally, I say no.

Bear in mind that, where this topic is concerned, I'm assuming that Alexander's mindset worked along the lines of the lowest common denominator--that he conformed to our basest assumptions about his character. The truth could be completely different, and he may indeed have possesed a certain amount of "idealism" or a set of goals completely different from what we ascribe to him--at least at the outset.
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Post by amyntoros »

Phoebus wrote:Bear in mind that, where this topic is concerned, I'm assuming that Alexander's mindset worked along the lines of the lowest common denominator--that he conformed to our basest assumptions about his character. The truth could be completely different, and he may indeed have possesed a certain amount of "idealism" or a set of goals completely different from what we ascribe to him--at least at the outset.
Now, here I don't understand why conquest for conquests sake should be considered "lowest common denominator" and a "basest assumption" about Alexander's character. Throughout ALL of history conquests (when not purporting to be for a religious purpose, and even then it is/was questionable) have taken place for reasons of acquiring riches and productive territory; expanding the size of one's nation; securing trade routes, etc. What is it about Alexander that makes people want to ascribe a "higher" purpose or credit him with idealistic views about his conquests? Philip did everything that Alexander did (but on a smaller scale) and was set to invade Persia for himself, yet I've never seen him described as idealistic in any shape or form! Yes, I know you said Alexander "may" have possessed a certain amount of idealism, but I find even the need to suggest it quite curious. Of course I realize you are not the only person here who feels this way - yours just happens to be the last post before mine. :)

No, we can't ever know what was in Alexander's mind so his actions must speak for themselves. And after the death of Darius he insisted on going further, telling his men it was in order to capture and destroy Bessus. Then it was the taking of Bactria and Sogdia. Then India. And after his return it was to be Arabia, then the "Carthaginians and the others who live along the coast of Libya and Iberia and the adjoining coastal region as far as Sicily" (Diodorus 18.4.4) and then who knows where else? He reaped the benefits of his conquests and wasn't about to stop. And personally I have no problem with that. I've spent a long part of my life utterly fascinated by a man who lived to conquer. To me, his need to be "the best" was as the best warrior, the best king, and the best conqueror. And to qualify for the latter he had to capture more territory then anyone before him. He succeeded, of course. :)

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Post by Paralus »

Phoebus wrote:You can call what Alexander claimed he wanted to do "piffle", but let's not try to differentiate between him and his predecessors in such designs.


Indeed you can Phoebus. I did not. If you care to re-read the post you might note that “what piffle” related to the notion of “freedom of the Greeks” as propounded by the panhellenists and those that appropriated it. Alexander was hardly the first. His father before him had established the “league” as the framework for this overlay.

The Spartan king Agesilaos had similar pretensions back in 396. That is until the Great King rudely disabused Agesilaos' Spartan masters of notion that Sparta could hold its hegemony without Persian money and support for the “Spartan” navy.

Again, if you re-read the post, you’ll likely note that Alexander is not differentiated from his “predecessors”. The whole point being addressed is panhellenism not simply Alexander’s use of it. The Greek city-states’ actions indicate anything but a devout belief in the liberty of the Greeks of Asia. As I wrote, Alexander might have questioned Sparta as to how it was those Greeks were in the position of having to be “liberated” – again.
Phoebus wrote:The movers and shakers of Athens had no one else's best interests at heart when conducting their own political and military games.
I fail to understand the argument you are raising. As I said, reduced to its minimum, Isokrates’ view is the transfer of all those vagabonds getting about Greece and selling their services as mercenaries as well as the poorer masses overpopulating his own city. They were to be placed into settlements over Asia Minor and the Persian east thus relieving the civilised city-state elites of their presence.

Ironically this is what Alexander did – just not quite in the fashion Isokrates will have been thinking – more with a view to garrisoning the fractious and uneasy eastern regions of the empire. Isokrates, though, will not have agreed with the “exiles decree” one might have thought.

Of course the “movers and shakers” of Athens, Thebes and – especially – Sparta had no interest at heart other than their own. As I pointed out, it was Spartan perfidy that placed the Greeks of Asia Minor in a position to have to be “re-liberated”. It was a sinking Sparta, desperately clutching at the flotsam of its shattered fleet off Cyzicus (“Ships gone; Mindarus dead; the men starving; at our wits' end what to do.” Xen. Hellenica, 1.1.23), which contracted an alliance with the Persians the price of which was the freedom of the Greek cities of Asia. A price the Great King exacted in full and restated in the Royal Rescript of the “Kings’ Peace” of 387.

My view of “panhellenism” is not Alexander-centred. It is also not something simply related to this particular thread. You are new to the forum and will not, I suspect, have read any of the older material. Perhaps this will indicatemy position more fully.
Phoebus wrote:
Alexanthros I doubt, something severely, that the Greek alliance defeated at Chaeronea ever – for a moment – thought they were fighting a “civil war”.
I doubt that many ancient Hellenes saw the struggle between Athens and Lacedaemon as a "civil war."
Well of course not. That being the point of the above sentence to Alexanthros.
Phoebus wrote: The main difference between them and Phillip/Alexander was one of capacity. The latter possessed capabilities and an army the former didn't. The main difference where casualty figures are ones of scale--directly related to the capabilities possessed by said leaders. Or do you think less Hellenes would have died regardless had Epaminondas or Agis dreamed up Phillip's military model?
The main difference is attitude. Epaminondas invaded the Peloponnese with near to 70,000 if we are to believe a mortified Xenophon. I don’t recall wholesale slaughter taking place. Philip, having suffered a defeat in the “Sacred War” at the hands of the Phocian general Phayllus, returned in 352. In the battle of the Crocus Field he defeated the Phocians and slaughtered some 3,000 of them after the battle’s end. More a matter of attitude. The normally excusatory Plutarch sums it up:
…the mercenary Greeks, who, making a stand upon a rising ground, desired quarter, which Alexander, guided rather by passion than judgment, refused to grant, and charging them himself first…
In any case, there seems to have been no shortage of Greeks prepared to line up against Alexander.

With respect to the Spartan disaster at Leuktra, what makes you think that the number of dead here was anything like that at the Granicus? Even if we halve Arrian’s figures, some 8,000 Greeks have been killed at this battle. If we reduce by a factor of four we still have 3,000 (according him the 2,000 prisoners). At Leuktra, the Theban right wing was “refused” and, aside from the opening cavalry actions, played little or no part in the battle. The activity was all on the Theban left. Here the Spartan homoioi were routed and, when that was obvious, the Peloponnesian left retired – along with the Spartans – to their camp. My best recollection is of some 1,000 dead. The figures that do stick are 400 homoioi of 700 who took the field.

This battle is remembered as a disaster, not so much for the number of dead, but for Sparta and the fact that the Spartan homoioi had retired from the field, essentially surrendering. Just as disastrous were those dead homoioi. They were irreplaceable and will have represented something like a third of the remaining population.
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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