Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

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Asander
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Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Asander »

Hello everybody.

I am doing a small essay about him and I will like to know if his vision includes equality among all people. I do think so, but I'm not really sure and I don't want to write nonsenses; therefore, how do you define this particulary aspect? Was Alexander, a king, equal with his subjects and peoples that he conquered?



PS: This is not socialism, isn't?
PS II: Excuse my bad english
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by bessusww »

Assander Hello

In my view Alexander was very very good at Propoganda and even more so at his own...Its a very nice liberal viewpoint to have on Alexander...But even been an admirer of the mans Genius...I dont think he was an angel and really thought seriously about this human comming together.

To me Alexander was all about Glory and painting his name with glory and achievements...I think its far easier to look at his Real achievements and deeds as written in the sources rather than try to analyse his mind or his thoughts.

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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Alexias »

Asander wrote:Hello everybody.

I am doing a small essay about him and I will like to know if his vision includes equality among all people. I do think so, but I'm not really sure and I don't want to write nonsenses; therefore, how do you define this particulary aspect? Was Alexander, a king, equal with his subjects and peoples that he conquered?



PS: This is not socialism, isn't?
PS II: Excuse my bad english
Hello.

Alexander did not believe in the equality of all men. Aristotle may have taught him that all non-Greeks were inferior barbarians, but Alexander was pragmatic enough not to believe that implicitly. His attempts to integrate the Graeco-Macedonian and Persian aristocracies in the mass weddings at Susa was dictated by the practical necessity of trying to govern and stabilise a vast area with limited manpower. His own marriages were about legitimising his right to be regarded as Darius's successor. His attempts to integrate non-Greeks soldiers into his army was part of the same problem of limited manpower, partly dictated by the need to find a place for the wives and children acquired by his soldiers on campaign as they would not be welcomed back to Greece. Similarly, his founding of cities was not primarily about bringing Greek culture or democracy (the non-Greeks would not have been classed as citizens) to his new territories, but about subjugation and control of his conquests. If Alexander believed in the equality of men, he would not have conquered most of the known world.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Semiramis »

Asander,

The "equality" hypothesis is often inspired by a speech that is attributed to Alexander during the mass weddings of Susa. However, it's a speech that was coined by a Greek diplomat over 2000 years after Alexander's death. If you take this fake speech away and look at the authentic source material, the equality notion is hard to sustain. As you and Alexias have mentioned, neither monarchy nor conquest are compatible with believing in the equality of mankind.

I would further like to point out that near the end of his reign, Alexander decreed to the Greek cities that he be worshiped as a god. Now, this may have been expected of a conqueror in Egypt, where the Pharaoh was long believed to a some form of god. However, this concept of Alexander as a god was a ridiculous notion in Greece and Alexander should have known it due to his upbringing. The record of the ensuing discussion in Athens shows that there was significant opposition following through with this. It is clear that even the people advocating that the city abide by the decree only pointed out that there would be grave consequences otherwise. Again, it is difficult to argue that someone who believes in the equality of mankind would force people to worship himself as a god.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Asander »

Alesias
Semiramis

Yes, I totally agree with you, but I think he wanted to conquer the world because he truly believe in the unity of all mankind. Equal rights, equal judgement, equal treatment for all.



Regarding his wish to be worship as a god.

Well, I think that Alexander was more intelligent and comprehensive and I truly believe in his vision of equality even if he wanted to be venerated as a god. I think he was beyond this silly beliefs and saw the analogy with a god as a political propaganda regarding the egyptians, persians and others, as you say. I have two arguments - ancient sources (Arrianus and Plutarh) says that when the persian queen Sisigambis enterend Alexander's tent, she bowed in front of Hefaistion, not Alexander. But the king replied that "He is also named Alexander." What do you say about that? I think Alexander considered himself equal with his friend, Hefaistion.


Also, Plutarch mentions how in a battle Alexander was bad injured, and he told to those who surrounded him someting like "Look, this is just blood, not gods blood". With other words, I think he sayed: "Look at me, I am only human as you all are."


What do you think?
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Semiramis »

Hi Asander,

I agree with you that the political propaganda in Egypt had long had a history of depicting the royal family as being the sons and daughters of gods. The Persians in their heartland however, didn't really have this tradition. The Persian Royal family officially followed the Zoroastrian religion, which at the time still retained certain monotheistic qualities. So while you have giant reliefs of the Great King being blessed by Zoroaster etc., there was no claim that the Great King was a god in the Persian heartland. However, the Persians kings were happy to adapt modes of political propaganda that were traditional in the other locales they conquered. So we have evidence of Persians Great Kings' claims to divinity in Egypt and Babylon.

Most Greek cities on the other hand, were a different story. Most didn't have monarchies let alone divine monarchies. Many in these areas would've seen the concept as absurd and hubristic. For example, Greek authors it appears misunderstood the Persian tradition of Proskynesis. In Persia, one prostrated oneself before the Great King. In Greek culture, this was reserved for the gods only. The Greeks were quite derisive of this Persian practice assuming that the Persians believed the Great King to be a god. In this context, Alexander's decree to be worshiped as a god seems quite contrary to any declaration of equality.

With regard to Hephaistion - it may have been that Alexander was being diplomatic and sparing Sisygambis further embarrassment with his quick and charming reply. Any legitimate King of Persia would need to take care of the Harem. It's also been reported that Alexander once publicly told him "You are nothing without me". Ouch! :) It was a heated moment where two of Alexander's commanders - Hephaistion and Eumenes (or Crateros?) - were almost starting a physical fight with each other, with their men about to become involved too. However, I don't doubt that Alexander's loved Hephaistion dearly. That's one of the few things about his personality I feel we can be sure about. He also tried to get Hephaistion declared a god after his death.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

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Semiramis wrote:Hi Asander,

With regard to Hephaistion - it may have been that Alexander was being diplomatic and sparing Sisygambis further embarrassment with his quick and charming reply.
Yes, maybe. It's just a theory...

Regarding my last paragraph about Plutarch - "in a battle Alexander was bad injured, and he told to those who surrounded him someting like "Look, this is just blood, not gods blood". With other words, I think he sayed: "Look at me, I am only human as you all are." - what do you think?

Lane Fox says that one of the elements that make Alexander fascinating, is the lack of informations; and because of that, we all can make unlimited assumptions about his vision and belief. It's very exciting.
Still I believe in Alexander's equality because his actions can be taken from many points of view. Afterall, perhaps he didn’t want to be equal with others, but this fact don’t imply that he didn’t wanted equality for all, except him. This is just an assumption. Alexander believed in equal judgement and law for all, greeks and barbarians. For me, that it's enough.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

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Asander wrote:I am doing a small essay about him and I will like to know if his vision includes equality among all people. I do think so, but I'm not really sure and I don't want to write nonsenses;
Not sure?
Asander wrote:Yes, I totally agree with you, but I think he wanted to conquer the world because he truly believe in the unity of all mankind. Equal rights, equal judgement, equal treatment for all.
Seems like you’re certain.
Asander wrote:I think that Alexander was more intelligent and comprehensive and I truly believe in his vision of equality even if he wanted to be venerated as a god.
Yep! Absolutely certain.

Asander wrote:I have two arguments - ancient sources (Arrianus and Plutarh) says that when the persian queen Sisigambis enterend Alexander's tent, she bowed in front of Hefaistion, not Alexander. But the king replied that "He is also named Alexander." What do you say about that?
Does it matter what we say?
Asander wrote:I think Alexander considered himself equal with his friend, Hefaistion.
Self evidently not.
Asander wrote: Also, Plutarch mentions how in a battle Alexander was bad injured, and he told to those who surrounded him someting like "Look, this is just blood, not gods blood". With other words, I think he sayed: "Look at me, I am only human as you all are."

What do you think?
Why bother asking the question? Any answer not in conformity with your view would be considered irrelevant. That Alexander believed in, and wanted to create, an “equality of all people” is a nonsense unsupported by the source material.

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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Asander »

Paralus wrote:
Asander wrote: Any answer not in conformity with your view would be considered irrelevant.
I'm searching for all possible theories and ideas that are not supporting the notion about Alexander's equality. If you don't want to aswer, please don't make a cheap show.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

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All mortals should live like one, united, and peacefully working towards the common good. You should regard the whole world as your country, a country where the best govern, with common laws, and no racial distinctions. I do not separate people, as many narrow-minded others do. I am not interested in the origin or race of citizens; I only distinguish them on the basis of their virtue. For my part, I consider all, whether they be white or black, equal. Alexander The Great.

Perhaps you know this passage, but I don't know what is his source. Did Alexander said something like this or someone else?
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

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Asander, I am sorry to disagree with you, but Alexander did not believe in equality for all men. He owned slaves; he sold 30,000 men, women and children from Thebes into slavery; he sold the Greek soldiers who fought for the Persians at Granicus into slavery; he sold the inhabitants of Tyre into slavery; he crucified 2,000 men from Tyre for defying him. How is this compatible with your view of him as some sort of messiah? Did he do it for their own good? Or did he do it so that everyone else would be too terrified to resist him? That is quite a brutal way to teach everyone that they are equal.

Neither would Alexander have believed that women had the same rights as men. It is doubtful that he would have believed that an artisan had the same rights as a soldier either. His views of equality only extended to aristocrats who were capable of serving as soldiers. The rank and file of his army would not have had the same rights as the officers.

Alexander’s views on the equality of the adult males citizens of Greece (and Macedonia) and Persia towards the end of his life, were a political gloss designed at re-writing what had started out as a war of revenge for Persian invasions of Greece. He was redefining the war as having the ulterior motive of establishing peace between the two nations.

In doing so, he was attempting to convince the Greeks that he was not taking his booty and going home, and the Persians that he did not want to destroy their country, but was there to stay as a legitimate ruler. This may have been a revolutionary concept in the warfare of the time, but it had nothing to do with the equality of all men as we would understand it. It had far more to do with Alexander’s own self-aggrandizement. He was attempting to stabilise things in Persia before he embarked on his next round of conquests in Arabia. There was no excuse for this except conquest for the sake of conquest.

Alexander in person may have been charming, self-deprecating, and at times noble-minded, but as a king he was ruthless, ambitious, arrogant and implacable. In the incident Semiramis refers to, he told Hephaestion and Craterus, his two closest friends, that if either of them fought each other again, he would kill them. Army discipline was at stake and Alexander rarely let sentimentality impair his judgement.

Alexander’s claim to godhead was based on his extraordinary achievements as a warrior, not, despite Oliver Stone’s claim, as a benefactor of mankind. In asking for the honours of a god to be paid to him, he was asking for recognition as a hero, that the immortality of his fame would be assured, and that he measured up to his ancestors. Ancestor worship and hero worship are closely allied, and in his role as priest-king, offering daily sacrifices to the gods on behalf of his people, Alexander was already functioning as a conduit to the divine. It wasn’t too big a step up to divinity, and Philip, I believe, had, before his death, placed himself among the twelve Olympians.

As for the Hephaestion/Sisygambis incident, saying your closest friend is your equal is not the same as saying all men are equal. Alexander may not have even said the “He too..” quote. It may have been something he, or the historians, embellished the story with in later re-telling. But the incident isn’t about Hephaestion; it is about Alexander’s public image. I’ve said this before elsewhere, but in being charming and unthreatening instead of being affronted, Alexander is showing Darius’s womenfolk that he is a reasonable man. As with Ada, he is saying to the Persians, ‘Look, if your mother likes me, maybe you can deal with me instead of fighting me.’

Alexander’s ultimate message of equality was ‘Do what I want, and I will treat you like my brother. But if you don’t do what I want, I will crush you.’ And this applied to his friends as well as his enemies.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by marcus »

Alexias wrote:Asander, I am sorry to disagree with you, but Alexander did not believe in equality for all men... etc. etc.
I would add to all your comments that Alexander could hardly have believed in equality when he was (a) king over all these peoples, and (b) asking to be a god. That is hardly equality! (A bit facetious, I know, but anyone who approaches Alexander as some great Socialist is overlooking quite a key point. Alexander wasn't going to be "equal" with anyone!) :D

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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by spitamenes »

Alexander might Have considered himself equal with Hephistian. He might have considered himself equal with the whole crew he grew up with who later became his top Generals. I would be willing to bet that equality even among his buddies only went so far... lets ask Philotis and Cleitis how they feel. :)
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

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Alexias wrote:Asander, I am sorry to disagree with you, but Alexander did not believe in equality for all men. He owned slaves; he sold 30,000 men, women and children from Thebes into slavery; he sold the Greek soldiers who fought for the Persians at Granicus into slavery; he sold the inhabitants of Tyre into slavery; he crucified 2,000 men from Tyre for defying him. Did he do it for their own good? Or did he do it so that everyone else would be too terrified to resist him? That is quite a brutal way to teach everyone that they are equal.
First, thank you for your great answer.

Second, maybe I have walked too far with this concept of equality and that's why it's necessary to clarify some things by putting some limits. Yes, he sold 30.000 men and women into the slavery, but later he was sorry for that and for destroying the city of Thebes; therefore, he later released or treated kindly every Theban who came in front of him. Yes, he sold the Greek soldiers who fought at Granicos, but later, after another battle, he released them or incorporated them in his own army. Yes, he crucified 2.000 men from Tyre, but he didn't have a choice, as you say, if he wanted to terrify everyone. But don't forget that before, he wanted to avoid a military conflict with Tyre by sending some messagers to treat about a peacefully resolution. He did that even at Milet or Halicarnassus, if I'm not mistaken.
Alexias wrote: How is this compatible with your view of him as some sort of messiah?
Ha, your're funny. I think Weigall says in his book about Alexander, how macedonians where scandalized about his divinity and his demand to be worship as a son of God; but, after a few centuries, some jews (lead by Peter and Paul) don't have nothing to say against Jesus from Nazareth, who claimed that he was the son of God. But the majority of jews was not agree with that, 'cause they expected an emperor like Alexander; for the Greeks, he was the Savior.

It's just a small observation, nothing more.
Alexias wrote: Neither would Alexander have believed that women had the same rights as men.
Why do you say that? There are some facts in the ancient sources regarding Alexander that proves he didn't believed in the equal rights for men and women? Did he not permitted the women to stay, along with him, at the feast in Persepolis?

Perhaps for some people from here it's a silly question, but I really want to know.
Alexias wrote: Alexander’s views on the equality of the adult males citizens of Greece (and Macedonia) and Persia towards the end of his life, were a political gloss designed at re-writing what had started out as a war of revenge for Persian invasions of Greece. He was redefining the war as having the ulterior motive of establishing peace between the two nations.
Yes.

Alexias wrote: Alexander in person may have been charming, self-deprecating, and at times noble-minded, but as a king he was ruthless, ambitious, arrogant and implacable. In the incident Semiramis refers to, he told Hephaestion and Craterus, his two closest friends, that if either of them fought each other again, he would kill them. Army discipline was at stake and Alexander rarely let sentimentality impair his judgement.
I don't understand, if he was a ruthless king, why did he permitted Eurylochus (who abandoned the army by tricking the law) to leave together with his woman in Macedonia; if he considered himself above all and cruel, why he did refused the water in a march and why offered his gold to a soldier who was helping his mule to carry the weight? And I'm sure there are more little stories like these.
It's hard to understand Alexander because sometimes, regarding Alexander, you have the impression that you are talking about two different persons, the god and the man, the ruthless king and the merciful friend. His personality is a complex paradox and that's why I don't agree with just one theory about the purposes of his actions.

Alexias wrote: As for the Hephaestion/Sisygambis incident, saying your closest friend is your equal is not the same as saying all men are equal. Alexander may not have even said the “He too..” quote. It may have been something he, or the historians, embellished the story with in later re-telling. But the incident isn’t about Hephaestion; it is about Alexander’s public image. I’ve said this before elsewhere, but in being charming and unthreatening instead of being affronted, Alexander is showing Darius’s womenfolk that he is a reasonable man.
So, the only two explications about this incident with Sisigambis is the embellished of the story and his wish to be charming with Darius's womenfolk.
Alexias wrote: Alexander’s ultimate message of equality was ‘Do what I want, and I will treat you like my brother. But if you don’t do what I want, I will crush you.’ And this applied to his friends as well as his enemies.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Alexander didn't permitted to his soldiers to leave wherever they want because he will not hold them by force? I think Weigall mentions that. And oh... there are many stories regarding Alexander that dissagree what are you saying above.

If I want to resume some part of my belief about Alexander, I will say that two of the principles that Alexander adopted, the one of universality and equality among nations (Greeks and barbarians, that is), where set in motion along with his marches through Asia, the macedonian king putting at the same level of parity the Greeks together with barbarians who inhabited Asia. The perspective of equality, translated in equitability of laws for everyone (Greeks and barbarians) promoted by Alexander, the marriage with Roxana instead the marriage with a noble macedonian woman, the killing of Parmenion, Philotas and Cleitos, the proskinesis and the death of Calisthenes, has created a gap between him and the army with the result of a major rebellion later, in India. Of course, these are only a few facts.

Do you think this sentence is acceptable at some point?


And please, if you know what is the meaning of 'look, this is human blood, not the blood of the gods' and who wrote the paragraph that I've posted above yesterday, do tell. Thanks.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Alexias »

Asander wrote:“but, after a few centuries, some jews (lead by Peter and Paul) don't have nothing to say against Jesus from Nazareth, who claimed that he was the son of God.”
Er, were any miracles attributed to Alexander or did he rise from the dead? I am not even going to go there with the comparison between Jesus and Alexander – I’ve got better things to do.
Asander wrote:“Alexander; for the Greeks, he was the Savior.”
Saviour from what? The only thing Alexander saved anyone from was the ordinary Macedonian soldier from poverty. I think you’re getting confused between the idolisation of Alexander by the ordinary Macedonian in his army and the worship he requested from the Greek city states. They are two very different things.
Asander wrote:“Why do you say that? There are some facts in the ancient sources regarding Alexander that proves he didn't believed in the equal rights for men and women? Did he not permitted the women to stay, along with him, at the feast in Persepolis?”
The women at the feast at Persepolis were courtesans, it was their job to be decorative and entertaining at feasts. Treating a woman with deference and respect and granting equal political, social, legal and financial rights with men are, again, two very different things. Women had no political rights, no vote, could not hold public office, were meant to live under the protection of a man and live according to his rules - unless they wished to be seen as prostitutes. I don’t know enough to say whether they could hold property or enter financial transactions in their own right. I suggest you do some research.
Asander wrote:“why he did refused the water in a march and why offered his gold to a soldier who was helping his mule to carry the weight?”
You obviously haven’t heard of spin doctors. It’s the equivalent of a modern politician kissing a baby. It’s all about image.
Asander wrote:“Correct me if I'm wrong, but Alexander didn't permitted to his soldiers to leave wherever they want because he will not hold them by force? I think Weigall mentions that. And oh... there are many stories regarding Alexander that dissagree what are you saying above.”
What stories? I don’t believe we know what terms his soldiers served under and how long they signed up for, but what army can function if everyone can come and go as they please? Yes, non-combatants would have had considerable more freedom to leave, but where else were they going to find such lucrative and prestigious employment – if that is what you are talking about. I am talking about the states Alexander encountered accepting his rule as king, not people obeying his every personal whim.
Asander wrote:“If I want to resume some part of my belief about Alexander,….”
I don’t really understand what you’re saying.

The ichor quote is yet again spin. He might well have said it, but it was remembered because it proved that he was an ordinary man like his soldiers. It comes from Plutarch The Sayings of Kings and Commanders
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