Alexander and the great crusade to conquer Asia Minor
- Alexander the King
- The son of King Philip, Alexander vowed to conquer Persia, in retribution for its invasion of Greece.
- Alexander became king in 336 B.C. and invaded Asia Minor in 334 B.C.
- By 330 B.C., he had defeated the Persians and moved on to conquer the rest of Asia..
- He then set out to conquer India.
- Alexander became a legend in his own time.
- Historians still disagree over his character.
- Some records show him as a violent and savage person.
- The "philosopher-king" interpretation of Alexander is based on a misunderstanding of his intentions at a banquet in 324 B.C.
- Throughout these campaigns he founded new cities and military colonies.
- The practical result of his actions was to open the East to Hellenism.
- The political legacy
- After his death in 323 B.C., Alexander's empire was divided among four dynasties: the Antigonids, the Ptolemies, the Seleucids, and the Pergamenes; a kingdom of Bactria was founded in the far northeast.
- In Greece the polis system was replaced by leagues of citystates.
- The Hellenistic world was politically fragmented and constantly at war.
- The cultural legacy of Alexander
- The colonies founded by Alexander and his successors brought many Greeks into Asia, thereby bringing East and West together; this culture is called Hellenism.
- Over 70 cities were founded by Alexander, and his successors established at least 250 colonies--transforming the Mediterranean basin into a Greekspeaking region.
- The newly discovered Hellenistic city of Ay Khanoum is an example of Greek influence--far away from Greece.
- Alexander's empire spread Greek culture as far east as India.
- Hellenism became a common bond for the Mediterranean.
The spread of Hellenism
- Cities and kingdoms of the Hellenistic age
- The creation of new kingdoms accompanied the resurgence of monarchy; this was a method of uniting diverse peoples--often linking the ruler with the gods.
- The new cities were not politically independent (or sovereign) but rather a part of a kingdom.
- Legal and social inequality existed in the Hellenistic city; Greeks had greater rights and thus formed an elite.
- The city was fully the possession of the king.
- The city of Pergamum is an example of an old city that was transformed by new Greek rulers--with gymnasia, baths, a library, and even a synagogue for Jews.
- The Hellenistic kings were frequently at war as they attempted to solidify their kingdoms and gain the loyalty of subjects.
- The Hellenistic city was the basic social and political unit in the Hellenistic East and the foundation on which later Roman and Christian cultures were established.
The Greeks and the opening of the East
- The Hellenistic cities provided a new military and bureaucratic class of Greeks with important jobs and chances for advancement.
- Greeks were able to dominate other professions, including the arts.
- Greek buildings were built and entirely new cities were laid out.
- New opportunities opened for women--including the medical profession--but most poor women were illiterate.
- In Sparta women owned two-fifths of the land.
- Overall, Greek immigrants were not loyal to their monarchs.
- Professional Hellenistic soldiers were not loyal to their employers.
- The Hellenistic world was kept going only as long as new Greek immigrants were available to fill the professional/cultural ranks.
Greeks and Easterners: the Hellenistic cities became centers of Hellenism
- The spread of Greek culture was uneven, being stronger in the Mediterranean than in the Far East--and stronger in cities than in rural areas.
- A GrecoEgyptian culture evolved slowly in Egypt under the Ptolemies.
- Under the Seleucid kings, Greek and Eastern culture merged in Asia Minor.
- Most Easterners took only the external trappings of Greek culture, such as the Greek dialect called koine, while retaining their own way of life.
- Hellenism and the Jews
- The Greeks allowed the Jews political and religious freedom through a political organization called the politeuma.
- Hellenistic Greeks usually did not wish to interfere with anyone's religion.
- Despite adoption of some Hellenistic culture, Jews remained Hebrew at heart.
The economic scope of the Hellenistic world
- Alexander's conquests brought the East and the West together for trade.
- Overland trade to India was conducted by caravan.
- Silk, tea, and other luxuries came by way of two camel caravan routes--the northern Dura route and the southern Arabia route.
- In return, Mediterranean people traded manufactured goods (weapons, cloth, etc.) and wine and oil.
- Ideas passed along these routes.
- The Greek cities depended on seaborne trade (largely from Egypt) for grain.
- The slave trade and slavery were important to the Hellenistic economy.
- Cheap labor left no incentive to invent machinery.
- Labor in the gold, silver, and iron mines was harsh; many workers were political prisoners and slaves.
- Important changes in pottery style took place, but production methods remained unchanged.
- The Ptolemies made advances in seed development; much of the royal revenue was derived from agriculture.
- The Ptolemies also made strides in irrigating the land, partly because of their strong central government.
Hellenistic intellectual advances
- Religion in the Hellenistic world
- The Greek religious cults centered on the Olympian gods.
- The cults, consisting mainly of rituals, did not fill the religious needs of the people.
- But many people turned to a belief in Tyche (fate or chance).
- Mystery religions grew up to fill emotional and ethical needs.
- These religions promised life for the soul after death and union with a god who had himself risen from the dead.
- Isis was the most important goddess of the new mystery cults.
- Her priests claimed that she had founded law and literature, and was the goddess of marriage and childbirth. She promised to save the souls of her believers.
Philosophy and people
- Common people became interested in philosophy, because of the decline of the polis, the decline of religion, and increased mobility, all of which left people in need for something permanent.
- The new philosophies taught that people could be truly happy only when they rejected the world and focused their attention on enduring things.
- The Epicureans taught that pleasure was the chief good and advocated political passivity.
- The Stoics stressed the unity of man and universe and resignation to one's duty.
- Zeno made Stoicism the most popular Hellenistic philosophy.
- Participation in worldly affairs was encouraged, but leading a virtuous life was most important.
- The Stoic concept of natural law--one law for all people--was of great importance, particularly later in Rome.
- Aristarchus developed the heliocentric theory of the universe, although Aristotle's earthcentered view remained dominant.
- Euclid compiled a textbook on geometry.
- Archimedes, an inventor and theoretician, sketched out basic principles of mechanics.
- Eratosthenes made advances in mathematics and geography--and was the head of a great museum.
- Theophrastos founded the study of botany.
- The Dogmatic school of medicine, under Herophilus and Erasistratus, used vivisection and dissection to gain knowledge of the body, including the nervous system.
- The Empiric school stressed observation and the use of medicine and drugs, including opium.
- Many quacks did untold harm, but they were popular.
How to cite this note (MLA)
Shah, Shalin. "" MiddleSchoolNotes.org. MiddleSchoolNotes, Inc., 10 Jan. 2013. Web. <http://middleschoolnotes.org/social-studies/european-history/chapter-4-hellenistic-diffusion.php>.