History: Greeks and Hellenistic World Essay example

Submitted By KyleA1993
Words: 1704
Pages: 7

Hellenistic Essay Through their conquests and spread of culture, Phillip II of Macedon and especially his son Alexander the Great helped lay the foundations for a New Greek world. Their actions and those of their successors spread Greek culture throughout much of the known world and created many lasting social and political changes. In this essay I will argue that Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic world that he created had many enduring impacts on the social, political, and cultural fabric of the Western world. Alexander the Great helped instill a new ideology which identified being Greek less with loyalty to an individual city-state than with participation in a common Greek civilization. Macedon was a border state of Greece in the north and although it was rich in resources and manpower, other Greek city states saw it as culturally inferior. However, the Macedon King Phillip II was a brilliant soldier and statesmen, and he became dominant in Macedon championing a conquest of Persia as retribution for attacks in the 5th century. Though bribery, threats, and military action he was able to subjugate most of the Greek world by 338 BC. However, his untimely murder in 336 BC left the conquest of Persia up to his 20 year old son, Alexander. Alexander was well-educated and tutored by the brilliant Greek philosopher Aristotle, but his main focus in life was warfare and he was a master strategist. He was popular, inspiring, and shared his soldiers’ risks in battle, earning their trust. Alexander invaded Persia in 334 BC and although he was outnumbered and underfunded he won three major battles in Asia Minor over the Persians. He fast marching and exceedingly experienced army helped solidify his claim to the Persian throne in 328 BC in blood and iron. After conquering Persia and freeing the Greek city-states of Asia minor, he continued for 7 more years eastward, his conquests even going into parts of India. Eventually he was forced to turn back by his soldiers but he had forever changed the political and cultural layout of the ancient world. Alexander turned against the Macedonian nobility and forced his subjects to bow to him while insisting the Greek city-states deify him. This set the precedent for Roman emperors and Hellenistic monarchs. Alexander promoted cultural fusion and forced Macedonians to intermarry with Persians. He attempted to create a partnership between Persians and Greeks although he faced a lot of opposition. He died at the age of 33 in 323BC and his death began a long series of civil wars between his generals for succession. By 275 BC his empire was divided up into Macedon, Ptolemaic Egypt, the Seleucid realm in western Asia, and other smaller kingdoms. In the years following Alexander’s conquests many Greeks migrated off the mainland in 4th and 3rd centuries most commonly to Egypt and Seleucid realm. Athenian thinker Isocrates had promoted the idea that Greece was not a group of city-states but a civilization. This made it easier for migrants to hold onto Greek identity and for foreigners to become Greek. The Greeks carried their urban institutions and culture with them. Laws, cults, educational methods, customs, dress, and art were all brought to the conquered regions. The Greek language served as a common denominator for the Hellenistic world and became the language of international affairs. There were numerous social changes that took in the new Hellenistic world. New colonies were established throughout the known world, many developing into flourishing cities. Alexander himself founded over 70 new cities, the most notable of which was Alexandria in Egypt. A gymnasium was constructed in many of these cities and served as the center of Greek culture and a prep school for the elite. Economic expansion was also a key feature of the Hellenistic world. An influx of gold and silver coinage by Alexander created a commercial boom, especially in Ptolemaic Egypt. Alexandria was…