Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

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marcus
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by marcus »

Asander wrote:Only to reveal some ideas that helped Tarn to construct his theory.

Thank you for Badian's article!
Tarn based his theory on:

(1) the "reconciliation speech" at Opis, in Arrian;
(2) the fact that the Second World War had recently ended, and the United Nations was in the process of being set up. Tarn wanted to show that Alexander was closer to the Allies than to the Nazis, and the reported speech in Arrian gave him the chance to suggest that Alexander had wanted to set up the "United Nations" 2,300 years before the victors of WWII did.

Like I said before, Tarn already had his theory, and he spun the sources to fit his theory.

Remember that Tarn was the man who denied the existence of at least two historical characters (Barsine and Bagoas), simply because they didn't fit in with his vision of Alexander. Despite the source evidence he managed to make them disappear. Tarn as Stalin? :D

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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Asander »

marcus wrote: Tarn based his theory on:

(1) the "reconciliation speech" at Opis, in Arrian;
(2) the fact that the Second World War had recently ended,

ATB
Tarn based his theory only on this 2 facts above?
Oh boy, what would I give to read his work about Alexander before reading Badian's article.
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Asander
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Asander »

marcus wrote: (...) Alexander must have done it in order to help the Persians accept him as their new Great King (...) and he knew that he would need the Persians to be pliable if the empire wasn't to collapse (...)
ATB
Yes, and doing those things doesn't mean that he treated both Greek and persian aristocracies in a equal manner?


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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Semiramis »

marcus wrote: Remember that Tarn was the man who denied the existence of at least two historical characters (Barsine and Bagoas), simply because they didn't fit in with his vision of Alexander. Despite the source evidence he managed to make them disappear. Tarn as Stalin? :D

ATB
Marcus! Now you've gone and called our hero unchaste. This is not Alexander.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Semiramis »

marcus wrote:Asking whether Alexander was a racist is an extremely difficult question to answer. I should add that any answer given would have no relation to that speech, either.

Technically speaking, according to our modern world view, I suppose he was - the Greek view, which he appears to have held, at least for much of the time, was that anyone who didn't speak Greek, who didn't have in his city the key elements of a polis, who ate meat regularly, and who wore trousers, was a barbarian. Generally the Greeks considered that they were superior to those barbarians.

Having said that, to use the term "racist" when referring to the ancient world is problematic, and forces too mcuh of our sociological baggage on to their shoulders. I wouldn't want to answer the question any more than I have said here so far.

ATB
More seriously, I think you have described a cultural supremacist rather than a racist. I am not entirely sure where in the spectrum Alexander was on this either. He seemed more eager to make a show of adapting or respecting other cultures if it served his purposes, compared to some of his commanders. Perhaps he was too much of a megalomaniac to let mere Greek or Macedonian cultural baggage get in the way of his ambition? :)
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by marcus »

Semiramis wrote:
marcus wrote: Remember that Tarn was the man who denied the existence of at least two historical characters (Barsine and Bagoas), simply because they didn't fit in with his vision of Alexander. Despite the source evidence he managed to make them disappear. Tarn as Stalin? :D

ATB
Marcus! Now you've gone and called our hero unchaste. This is not Alexander.
Oh gosh, did I? Shame on me! :D

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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by marcus »

Semiramis wrote:
marcus wrote:Asking whether Alexander was a racist is an extremely difficult question to answer. I should add that any answer given would have no relation to that speech, either.

Technically speaking, according to our modern world view, I suppose he was - the Greek view, which he appears to have held, at least for much of the time, was that anyone who didn't speak Greek, who didn't have in his city the key elements of a polis, who ate meat regularly, and who wore trousers, was a barbarian. Generally the Greeks considered that they were superior to those barbarians.

Having said that, to use the term "racist" when referring to the ancient world is problematic, and forces too mcuh of our sociological baggage on to their shoulders. I wouldn't want to answer the question any more than I have said here so far.

ATB
More seriously, I think you have described a cultural supremacist rather than a racist. I am not entirely sure where in the spectrum Alexander was on this either. He seemed more eager to make a show of adapting or respecting other cultures if it served his purposes, compared to some of his commanders. Perhaps he was too much of a megalomaniac to let mere Greek or Macedonian cultural baggage get in the way of his ambition? :)
Yeah, maybe I have, although I'm not sure I could really explain the difference.

I agree with your analysis, certainly, and I don't think it's useful to try to describe Alexander in these terms, anyway.

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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Asander »

marcus,

In a documentary directed by Jim Lindsay named The True Story of Alexander the Great, made with the participation of Bosworth and Green, it’s says that Alexander, at Siwa, received the confirmation that he was destinated to rule the ‘empire of the world’.

What is the meaning of this sentence?


Weigall too used in his book the sentence 'empire of the world'; a very well apreciated historian of my country used this words too. Why is that?
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by dean »

Hello Asandar,

this is one of the main recurring themes of the forum and no doubt we will be discussing this in a question of months again, it may indeed be an idea for someone to write an article, (there may already be one?) detailing the pros and cons regarding the equality theme for the website.

Anyway my fifty cents...

One of the main reasons why I was initially willing to accept the equality of man theme was the weddings at Susa, I mean, hey, he wants Iranian women to wed Greeks. That seems like a fusion of races doesn´t it- one big happy family, well.... no..

But then after considering the facts, that Greek women weren´t wed to Iranian men then things seem to appear a little more one sided.

Also, the formation of the successors, seems again to be an integration of eastern forces and again a "fusion". Alexander´s praise and the simple fact that he called them the "successors" is in itself a worrying sign for the Macedonian troops, especially when he says that they would function as a counterbalance to the macedonian phalanx or so Diodorus tells us.Either way, this is not Alexander wanting equality for all men.

Maybe I could direct your attention to Peter Green´s excellent "Alexander of Macedon" book. It is a good read and can give you another perspective.

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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

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Hi dean,

Thank's for your opinion. I confess that I have gone too far saying 'equality for all', but regarding the Greek and persian aristocracies I want to say that Alexander treated them on the same level, in his goal to make a solide base for future conquests. What do you think?


I would like to read Green's book or Bosworth's work, but at my public library there is no such books. Not even in a store from my small city.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by Asander »

I have wrote in my essay that Alexander truly loved Roxannes, a barbarian woman, as Arrianus says.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by spitamenes »

I think Alexander could have had feelings for Roxanne. I don't believe that every single move he made was absolutely politically motivated. And Roxanne is one of those stories that might justify that. He had to of weighed the pros and cons to every step he took. Being in such an extreeme position of power he almost had to. Especially her being his First wife. it was a bold move, political or not. And one that very well could have been done out of love. I would "love" to have seen the look on Olymias' face during the reading of THAT letter home! :shock:
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by marcus »

spitamenes wrote:I think Alexander could have had feelings for Roxanne. I don't believe that every single move he made was absolutely politically motivated. And Roxanne is one of those stories that might justify that. He had to of weighed the pros and cons to every step he took. Being in such an extreeme position of power he almost had to. Especially her being his First wife. it was a bold move, political or not. And one that very well could have been done out of love. I would "love" to have seen the look on Olymias' face during the reading of THAT letter home! :shock:
There was certainly political benefit to the marriage, but you are right that it doesn't rule out love having played a factor.

Of course, when we talk about "love" we should remember that (a) Alexander and Roxane had only just met, and (b) at first, at least, they didn't speak each other's language. Their first "date" was chaperoned by about 45,000 men. So "attraction" might be a better word ... although they might indeed have grown to "love" each other in the sense we understand it.

But even if we ascribe the union to love, we should also be aware that it was of great political benefit, especially in terms of creating a peace in Bactria/Sogdia that had eluded Alexander for almost two years.

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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by spitamenes »

marcus wrote: "attraction" might be a better word ... ATB
I was going to fit the word "lust" in there somewhere as a possible alternative to them "loving" eachother. But I think "attraction" sums it up best.
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Re: Alexander the Great and his 'equality'

Post by amyntoros »

spitamenes wrote:
marcus wrote: "attraction" might be a better word ... ATB
I was going to fit the word "lust" in there somewhere as a possible alternative to them "loving" eachother. But I think "attraction" sums it up best.
I agree that Alexander may have been attracted to Roxane. Even if he had decided that marriage was the best (or only) political expedient at the time, he was certainly in a position to choose a wife who was also pleasing to his taste. However I'm always curious why a great many people (and writers) assume that it was a two-way street from the get-go. After all, nothing is written about how Roxane felt about this sudden marriage pressed upon her. She would have been raised knowing her marriage would be for political/social/financial purposes and I doubt that she expected 'love' or, for that matter, 'attraction' to be a factor no matter who her future husband was to be, although love can certainly grow in any relationship as time passes. What I'm sure of is that she would have anticipated her marriage to be to a man from her own culture - and there's always the possibility that arrangements for a future marriage had already been made. So I question whether this sixteen-year-old or so beauty would have initially found anything at all attractive in this man who would have been in her eyes a 'barbarian' with his bare legs, exposed arms, short hair, unshaven face, and different cultural mannerisms. Is it likely she would have had any exposure at all to Greek culture prior to Alexander's arrival? If not, I think she might have found the idea of marrying Alexander nothing more than shocking, although she would have understood the reasons why it was to take place. At first, that is . . . :)

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