Did Alexander give too much?

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Strategos (general)
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Post by Paralus »

The truth is that we don't really know enough of the causes of the Egyptian revolt. It had started, if we might take Herodotus' word, during the last year of Darius' life. If the fellow was ill and weak, that would make sense. I don't know that in seeking explanatory reasons that we need to posit taxation. This is not to say it wasn’t in the mix but it relates more to the Ionian revolt where it was the distribution of the burden rather than the burden itself.

Egypt, since it's incorporation into empire, had been - and would monotonously continue to be - the province too far. This was a country notoriously difficult to invade and to hold from without - ask Perdiccas, Rommel or Antigonus Monophthalmos. It seemingly (I've not bothered to add up the years) spent as many years outside the empire as within until Alexander's invasion. On balance, it likely cost as much as it was worth to keep. The Persians conducted what amounted to regular punitive assaults on the "satrapy". That it was in revolt in 486 is no surprise. Ditto the 460's down to c454. It was in revolt - again - by the close of the Peloponnesian War.

In short, Egypt revolting was akin to Egypt getting up in the morning. Indeed once armed and trained – by Ptolemy IV Philopater for epic showdown at Raphia in 217 – the Egyptian native levies, suddenly finding themselves victorious, did what comes naturally afterwards and revolted (216).

The situation in Babylon was somewhat more severe. The evidence is absolutely milky in its clarity. Herodotus is at pains to paint the reprisals against the priesthood and includes the egregious “melting of the statue”. This, however, suits the theme of Persian hubris and hostility that underpins his Persian War history. More likely, this hostile tradition more reflects the substantial transfer of property and – a fortiori – power – that occurred in the revolt’s aftermath. The priesthood suffered as a result and remained in a similar state down to Alexander’s invasion. Interestingly, Alexander, whilst nodding and winking in the priest’s direction, signally supplied no funds or labour for the reconstruction of what they had lost.

Of more interest is the hanging question of a second revolt in 479 which, ostensibly, saw Xerxes return to Persia. Any concrete archaeological evidence of this would cast the close of the Persian wars in a somewhat different colour.
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 Theseus »

[quote="Semiramis"]Hi Theseus,

Thank you so much for that excellent post clarifying things up. You do realize that I will just end up asking you loads of questions from now on. :)

:lol: I'll always do my best to help.
I long for wealth, but to win it by wrongful means I have no desire. Justice, though slow, is sure.
"Solon Fragment 13" poem
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