Table of Contents
The conquests of Alexander the Great during third century BC had considerable influence on the western and eastern culture. While growing his growing his empire, the Hellenism culture spread considerably to diverse regions ranging from Mediterranean to different parts of Asia. The manner in which his armies passed via the mountains to present-day Tibet and Afghanistan resulted to widening of trade routes between Asia and Europe. Upon the opening of the routes, they contributed to growth in trade as well as created room for unparalleled religious and cultural exchanges between the west and the east. However, even though the rule by Alexander did not last long, his influence on the eastern and western culture was profound. His legacy contributed to cultural spread, which was greatly influenced by Hellenistic culture to different parts of the world that lasted for many years even after his death. New empires became apparent and merged Hellenism with to establish most notable civilizations during the ancient world. Thus, the paper will discuss three major influences of Alexander the Great based on the ways in which he influenced the age that he lived in.
Hellenization is a term that was established with the goal of denoting how the Greek culture, language, and population spread to emerge as the Persian Empire after the conquest by Alexander. Alexander pursued the policies of Hellenization in the communities he overpowered. Even though his goal might have been to disseminate the culture of Greeks, he exercised pragmatic policies aimed at assisting his rule of an enormous empire through homogenizing culture. The Hellenization policies by Alexander might also be perceived as resulting from his potential megalomania while his successors rejected the policies afterwards. However, Hellenization took place in the entire region followed by unique as well as opposite “Orientalization,” which successor states exercised.
The Hellenistic culture was Athenian. The close relationship that men had in the entire Greece, particularly those in Alexander’s army contributed to the materialization of the Greek dialect (koine). Koine grew in the entire Hellenistic world, leading it to serve as Hellenistic lands’ lingua franca as well as the ancestor to contemporary Greek. In addition, education, town planning, art, and local government during Hellenistic periods revolved around conventional Greek ideas that later evolved to serve as new forms considered as Hellenistic.
Establishment of Cities
During his conquests, Alexander managed to found around 20 cities that carried his name, especially those based on the eastern side of the Tigris River. The initial and the Supreme was Alexandria, which based in Egypt. The city emerges as one of the major Mediterranean cities. The locations of the cities reflected the defensive positions and trade routes. Initially, the cities were not hospitable while they were more of defensive garrisons. After the death of Alexander, a large number of Greeks who settled in the conquered areas embarked on going back to Greece. Nonetheless, over a century after the death of Alexander, most of the cities were witnessing notable growth in terms of public buildings as they harbored both Greek and local individuals in large numbers.
The cities that Alexander founded were mostly aimed at serving as administrative locations for his empire, with which Greeks were dominant. Many of the people in the administrative headquarters also served in the military campaigns of Alexander. Alexander’s main purposes of establishing the administrative centers were to allow him regulate the newly conquered regions. Alexander targeted establishing a common ruling class in the territories he conquered, such as Persia. He mostly used marriage ties to allow him intermingle the conquerors with the conquered. In addition, he implemented elements affiliated with the court culture of Persia. He imitated a number of court ceremonies as well as adopted his unique version of the royal robes they wore. Most of the Macedonians were opposed to the policies since they believed that merging foreign cultures with Greek would be irrelevant. The attempts by Alexander to unify also contributed to an extension of his army.
The death of Alexander took place rapidly to an extent that reports concerning his death were not believed when they reached Greece. Alexander lacked a legitimate or obvious heir since his son, Alexander IV, was born after the death of Alexander. A number of companions to Alexander are reported to have asked him whom he bestowed his kingdoms while on his deathbed. He replied that he would prefer the strongest to take his throne. Other sources claim that Alexander gave his signet ring to Perdiccas who used to serve as a bodyguard as well as a leader of the companion cavalry, thereby nominating him to serve as the official successor.
Initially, Perdiccas did not claim for power, but rather suggested that the unborn baby of Alexander would serve as the king in case he was male. He offered himself to serve as the guardian of the child before it was born. Nevertheless, the infantry was opposed to the arrangement because they were not involved in the discussion. Rather, they proposed the support of half-brother to Alexander, Philip Arrhidaus to succeed Alexander. Ultimately, both ends reconciled, and after Alexander IV was born, Philip II and Perdiccas were selected to serve as joint kings, although only in name only.
Rivalry and dissension later affected Macedonians. When Perdiccass was assassinated in 321 BCE, the unity of Macedonia collapsed while years of war emerged among different regions, including Kingdom of Pergamon, Seleucid Empire, Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Macedon, and Asia Minor. Thus, lack of an heir by Alexander contributed to the division of the empire with the emergence of wars between different regions, which Alexander had managed to unify.
In conclusion, the legacy of Alexander the Great is profound as well as far-reaching. He managed to unify the different city-states in Greece while at the same time ending the Persian Empire completely. His conquests mostly resulted in the spread of the Greek culture, referred to as Hellenism, throughout his empire. In addition to founding of cities and the division of the empire, it is apparent that Alexander made a significant contribution in different parts of the world during his era.
- Butler, Chris. Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic era (336 BCE-31 BCE). http://www.flowofhistory.com/units/birth/3/FC25.
- Penfield. Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age. http://www.penfield.edu/webpages/jgiotto/onlinetextbook.cfm?subpage=1653418.