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The Macedonian Imprint on the Hellenistic World

The Macedonian Imprint on the Hellenistic World

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Published by MACENTO
"The Macedonian Imprint on the Hellenistic World" is a scientific paper by British professor of classics N.G.L.Hammond.
In it he explains the reasons why the age after the death of Alexander the Great unjustly called "Hellenistic" (because of XIX-th century German historians in awe with the culture of ancient Hellas) should really bare the name "Macedonian" or "Macedonistic" because of the Macedonian and not Greek imprint on the world at that time.
"The Macedonian Imprint on the Hellenistic World" is a scientific paper by British professor of classics N.G.L.Hammond.
In it he explains the reasons why the age after the death of Alexander the Great unjustly called "Hellenistic" (because of XIX-th century German historians in awe with the culture of ancient Hellas) should really bare the name "Macedonian" or "Macedonistic" because of the Macedonian and not Greek imprint on the world at that time.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: MACENTO on May 21, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/06/2014

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The Macedonian Imprint on the Hellenistic WorldN. G. L. Hammond
Monarchy is a red rag to a republican, and I suppose thereare republicans among you today. Greeks too thought poorly of monarchy. Even Isocrates, who curried favor with Philip, madethis clear: if a Greek wanted to become a king, he had to go tothe backwoods as Philip's progenitor had done and imposehimself on people of a different race (see figure 1). Aristotle, whooutlived Philip and Alexander and saw the Macedonian monarchyat work, condemned monarchy as a political institution and judged it fit only for barbarians, who were incapable of organizing their own affairs and so became subservient to aking—whereas the Greeks, being both spirited and intelligent,conducted their own affairs in a sensible manner and rejectedany form of subjection. Yet the hallmark of the Hellenistic worldwas monarchy. Almost every successful general, whetherMacedonian, Greek, Bithynian, Cappadocian, or of mixed race,set himself up as a king. One exception was Sosthenes, whomade his Macedonians in Macedonia take an oath of loyalty tohimself not as king (as they were prepared to do) but asgeneral.
[1]
Was he a republican, a forerunner of Oliver Cromwell?The answer is probably no; and his reason was surely that hewas not a member of the royal house and saw no hope in 279–277 of establishing himself as king permanently. The fact is thatmonarchies ruled over as many parts of the Hellenistic world asremained unconquered for some three centuries (excludingGreece and most of Sicily).What sort of monarchy was it? Most scholars have believedthat Alexander became the successor of Darius and therefore aking of a despotic type, and that his own successors ruled asabsolute monarchs except in Macedonia itself. That is a mistakenview. Plutarch long ago observed
[2]
that Alexander never calledhimself 
 βασιλ
έ
ων 
 
 βασιλ
έ
α
, this being the Greek equivalent of aPersian royal title.
[3]
He had no desire to set himself up as theheir of Darius, for he had come to liberate not only the Greekcity-states but also Lydians, Carians, Egyptians, Babylonians, and
 
other Asian peoples from Persian rule. His propaganda—andindeed his purpose—was different. He was to be King of Asiafrom the moment he crossed the Hellespont, and as he cast hisspear into Asian soil he cried out: “I accept Asia, spear-won,from the gods.” 
[4]
He prayed then that “those lands wouldwelcome him not unwillingly.” 
[5]
It was to be his kingdom, andthe Asians were to be his people. Accordingly he ordered hisarmy not to pillage; he gave a military funeral to Persiancommanders who fell in battle against him; he sent peasantsback to cultivate their own fields; he told the Lydians to live bytheir own customs and to be free, put Ada in control of Caria andgained the cooperation of Carian cities, and confirmed manyPhoenician and Cyprian kings in their positions. Whenever aclaim was made for or by Alexander, it was as King of Asia—inthe prophecy at Gordium, in his belief that the claim wasconfirmed by thunder and lightning, in the letter to Darius(“Come to me as Lord of all Asia” and “send to me as King of Asia”), and in his own words on the spoils dedicated to Athena atLindos “having become Lord of Asia.” Others acclaimed him asKing of Asia, from the army in 331 after the battle of Gaugameladown to the envoys from Libya in 323.
[6]
Moreover, Alexanderwas demonstrably not the king of the Medes and the Persians;for their lands were subject to his satraps, and the pretender totheir throne was sent for judgment and execution “to thegathering of Medes and Persians,” 
[7]
just as other offenders,such as Musicanus,
[8]
were sent to their home country for similar judgment.As King of Asia Alexander set his own standards. They werethose not of Persia but of Macedonia: in short, tolerance of religions, respect for local customs, continuance of localgovernment, and coexistence, as in the Macedonian kingdom. Hebelieved that these standards—so alien to Europeanimperialism—worked; for he said that he would have littledifficulty in winning Arabia, because he would allow the Arabs toadminister their state in accordance with their customs, as hehad done in India.
[9]
At the same time he was King of theMacedonians. Even during his illness he acted in the traditionalmanner—banqueting with his friends, bathing in a pool such ashas been found at Pella, sacrificing as custom demanded eachday, issuing movement and operation orders to his officers, anddiscussing with them what promotions should be made to fill
 
vacancies in command posts.One Hellenistic ruler aimed to win Alexander's titles andAlexander's kingdoms: Antigonus set his one eye on both. In 316he was treated as “Lord of Asia,” 
[10]
and he was said by Seleucusto be aiming at “the entire kingship of the Macedonians,” 
[11]
thatis, to be king of Macedones wherever they were. There is asignificant contrast in terminology: king of a territory and king of persons.I turn now to the nature of the Macedonian monarchy, onwhich some new light has recently been shed. The monarch isdescribed first by Herodotus and then by Thucydides as “king of Macedones.” 
[12]
“King” and “Macedones” make up the officialstate. The king may address the Macedones in assembly; theMacedones may honor the king.
[13]
They both appear in thefragmentary inscription of the treaty between Perdiccas II andAthens;
[14]
for he and other royals and then leading commonersare the official representatives of “Makedonon.” One or otherstands for both in some official documents, such as the treatybetween Amyntas III and the Chalcidians,
[15]
and in relations withthe Delphic Amphictyony, where in 346 votes were given to Philipor to “Macedones,” 
[16]
contributions were recorded “fromMacedones,” and delegates were sent “from Alexander.” Theterms were used together until the end of the free MacedonianState. Rome proclaimed at the Isthmian Games in 190 hervictory over “King Philip and Macedones”; and then at Rome andat Delphi her victory over “Macedones and King Perseus.” 
[17]
Thetwo parts operated the State. What did the Macedones do? Theyelected, and, when they wished, they deposed a king (e.g.,Amyntas III).
[18]
The Macedones decided cases of treason, theking prosecuting. The Macedones in assembly were addressed bythe king or by his guardian—for instance by Philip to take theoffensive against Bardylis, and by Alexander to win the Kingdomof all Asia—and in each case they decided what to do, whethermeeting in Pella or on the bank of the Hydaspes.
[19]
 In all meetings of Macedones of which we know theMacedones met under arms: certainly for the election of a king,for trying a case of treason, for deciding to attack Bardylis, andfor deciding to win all Asia. The conclusion seems to be clear,that the Macedones were serving soldiers; and we may add ex-soldiers, because Olympias asked to be tried by all Macedonesand because Antigonus held an assembly of Macedones at Tyre

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