Age Of Conquests: The Greek World From Alexande...
Reviewed by: Age of Conquests: The Greek World from Alexander to Hadrian by Angelos Chaniotis Gillian Ramsey Angelos Chaniotis. Age of Conquests: The Greek World from Alexander to Hadrian. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2018. Pp. xxxii, 446. $35.00. ISBN 978-0-674-65964-3. What was it like to live in a time best known for its epic wars, generations of heroic and villainous leaders, and world-spanning conquests? That is the question one would best keep in mind when reading this volume, however much the high politics of the "Long Hellenistic Age" might appeal. Taking a cue from the title, one might assume that this book focuses on the uniqueness of treating all of post-Classical Greek political history together, from Alexander's adventures through to the regime of philhellene Hadrian. Actually, you can get more out of it than a periodization-busting treatment of conquerors and ancient imperialisms. The best parts of the book, in this reviewer's opinion, are the chapters on social, economic, and religious conditions in the world of the conquered.
Age of Conquests: The Greek World from Alexande...
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The ancient world that Alexander the Great transformed in his lifetime was transformed once more by his death. The imperial dynasties of his successors incorporated and reorganized the fallen Persian empire, creating a new land empire stretching from the shores of the Mediterranean to as far east as Bactria. In old Greece a fragile balance of power was continually disturbed by wars. Then, from the late third century, the military and diplomatic power of Rome successively defeated and dismantled every one of the post-Alexandrian political structures.
Modern interpretations see this period as a civil war between Hellenized and orthodox forms of Judaism. Out of this revolt was formed an independent Jewish kingdom known as the Hasmonaean Dynasty, which lasted from 165 BC to 63 BC. The Hasmonean Dynasty eventually disintegrated in a civil war, which coincided with civil wars in Rome. The last Hasmonean ruler, Antigonus II Mattathias, was captured by Herod and executed in 37 BC. In spite of originally being a revolt against Greek overlordship, the Hasmonean kingdom and also the Herodian kingdom which followed gradually became more and more hellenized. From 37 BC to 4 BC, Herod the Great ruled as a Jewish-Roman client king appointed by the Roman Senate. He considerably enlarged the Temple (see Herod's Temple), making it one of the largest religious structures in the world. The style of the enlarged temple and other Herodian architecture shows significant Hellenistic architectural influence. His son, Herod Archelaus, ruled from 4 BC to AD 6 when he was deposed for the formation of Roman Judea.
Throughout the Hellenistic world, these Greco-Macedonian colonists considered themselves by and large superior to the native "barbarians" and excluded most non-Greeks from the upper echelons of courtly and government life. Most of the native population was not Hellenized, had little access to Greek culture and often found themselves discriminated against by their Hellenic overlords. Gymnasiums and their Greek education, for example, were for Greeks only. Greek cities and colonies may have exported Greek art and architecture as far as the Indus, but these were mostly enclaves of Greek culture for the transplanted Greek elite. The degree of influence that Greek culture had throughout the Hellenistic kingdoms was therefore highly localized and based mostly on a few great cities like Alexandria and Antioch. Some natives did learn Greek and adopt Greek ways, but this was mostly limited to a few local elites who were allowed to retain their posts by the Diadochi and also to a small number of mid-level administrators who acted as intermediaries between the Greek speaking upper class and their subjects. In the Seleucid Empire, for example, this group amounted to only 2.5 percent of the official class.
Magic was practiced widely, and this, too, was a continuation from earlier times. Throughout the Hellenistic world, people would consult oracles, and use charms and figurines to deter misfortune or to cast spells. Also developed in this era was the complex system of astrology, which sought to determine a person's character and future in the movements of the sun, moon, and planets. Astrology was widely associated with the cult of Tyche (luck, fortune), which grew in popularity during this period.
Hellenistic poets now sought patronage from kings, and wrote works in their honor. The scholars at the libraries in Alexandria and Pergamon focused on the collection, cataloging, and literary criticism of classical Athenian works and ancient Greek myths. The poet-critic Callimachus, a staunch elitist, wrote hymns equating Ptolemy II to Zeus and Apollo. He promoted short poetic forms such as the epigram, epyllion and the iambic and attacked epic as base and common ("big book, big evil" was his doctrine). He also wrote a massive catalog of the holdings of the library of Alexandria, the famous Pinakes. Callimachus was extremely influential in his time and also for the development of Augustan poetry. Another poet, Apollonius of Rhodes, attempted to revive the epic for the Hellenistic world with his Argonautica. He had been a student of Callimachus and later became chief librarian (prostates) of the library of Alexandria. Apollonius and Callimachus spent much of their careers feuding with each other. Pastoral poetry also thrived during the Hellenistic era, Theocritus was a major poet who popularized the genre.
The Epicureans and the Cynics eschewed public offices and civic service, which amounted to a rejection of the polis itself, the defining institution of the Greek world. Epicurus promoted atomism and an asceticism based on freedom from pain as its ultimate goal. The Cyrenaics and Epicureans embraced hedonism, arguing that pleasure was the only true good. Cynics such as Diogenes of Sinope rejected all material possessions and social conventions (nomos) as unnatural and useless. Stoicism, founded by Zeno of Citium, taught that virtue was sufficient for eudaimonia as it would allow one to live in accordance with Nature or Logos. The philosophical schools of Aristotle (the Peripatetics of the Lyceum) and Plato (Platonism at the Academy) also remained influential. Against these dogmatic schools of philosophy the Pyrrhonist school embraced philosophical skepticism, and, starting with Arcesilaus, Plato's Academy also embraced skepticism in the form of Academic Skepticism.
In the exact sciences, Eratosthenes measured the Earth's circumference and calculated the tilt of the Earth's axis with remarkable accuracy. He might have also determined the distance from the Earth to the Sun and invented the leap day. Eratosthenes drew a map of the world incorporating parallels and meridians, based on the available geographical knowledge of the era. Another important figure is the astronomer Hipparchus, who used Babylonian astronomical data and discovered the phenomena of Earth's precession. Pliny reports that Hipparchus produced the first systematic star catalog after he observed a new star, wishing to preserve astronomical record of the stars so that new ones could be discovered. A celestial globe based on Hipparchus' star catalog presumably sits atop the broad shoulders of a large 2nd-century Roman statue known as the Farnese Atlas. Another astronomer, Aristarchos of Samos, measured the distances of the Earth, Sun, and Moon, and developed a heliocentric theory. In mechanics, Ctesibius wrote the first treatises on the science of compressed air and its uses in pumps, and allegedly designed a kind of cannon as reported by Hero of Alexandria.
Alexander the Great was a king of Macedon, a state in northern ancient Greece. Born in Pella in 356 BCE, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle until the age of 16. By the age of 30, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas. He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history's most successful commanders.
One significant change in Ptolemaic art is the sudden re-appearance of women, who had been absent since about the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. This phenomenon was likely due, in part, to the increasing importance of women as rulers and co-regents, as in the case of the series of Cleopatras. Although women were present in artwork, they were shown less realistically than men in the this era, as is evident in a portrait of a Ptolemaic queen (possibly Cleopatra VII) from the first century BCE. Unlike its Classical and Hellenistic counterparts elsewhere in the Hellenic world, this sculpture bears a more stylized appearance. 041b061a72