Alexander the Great and His Empire

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As the ages transitioned into the Common era, the influence Alexander the Great’s empire connected the vast array of societies and peoples that he encountered along his path from Macedonia to India. After the economic successes of the Macedonian states and the death of his father, Alexander became one of history’s most notable military commanders. After coming to power, he soon captured vast stretches of land using heavily armored infantry in closely arrayed phalanxes. Along with his victories came the wealth seized from Persian Kings as well as the wealth that came from the booming slave trade throughout the land. By doing this, Alexander fueled a huge economic expansion in the Mediterranean (Tignor et al.).

With the great extent of Alexander’s influence, the diffusion of political ideas and cultural was widespread and ushered in an age of thinking and practices that transformed those regions of the world.In Greece, the shift in cultural dialogue made for the “achievements of the people of Greece to translate into a common portable culture called Hellenism” (Tignor et al.). History in this part of the world became further defined by Hellenistic culture as it “stressed the common identity of all who embraced Greek ways. This culture included secular disciplines such as history, biology, philosophical and political thinking, popular entertainments, competitive public games, and secular art” (Tignor et al.).

Out of this cultural shift, Koine Greek became the primary language of practice which facilitated trade and exchange, and large cities such as Alexandria in Egypt became multicultural hubs. In these cities “new religious/philosophical beliefs emphasized the spiritual concerns of individuals rather than the collective concerns of towns and cities”, connecting individuals with their place in the world and society (Tignor et al.). This swift growth in trade also led to a new commercial hub known as the caravan city where trade was extremely prolific. Social elites enhanced their social standing by adopting Hellenistic culture, bolstering it as a source of power and influence.

This movement took place from Africa to far Asia and was met with both resistance by groups such as the Jews, and open invitation by others, like those in Carthage and Africa. Many historians agree that Hellenism was not responsible for extinguishing the presence local cultures; however, its fundamental ideals influenced the practices of unique regional cultures and changed many of the world’s cultures in a variety of more permanent ways. The establishment of such a wealthy and powerful empire “laid the foundation for state systems and introduced some stability for and protection of trading systems” (Tignor et al.).

Under Alexander’s rule, his armies traveled pre-existing trade routes, inciting the idea that far reaches of the world could be “integrated by common cultures and shared commodities” as well as money based exchange. As Alexander discovered the riches of Asia, the Hellenistic influences from further west traveled with them. Historians agree that “the interconnections of trade and culture enhanced regional integration as conquests created opportunities for new ways of integrating society”(Tignor et al.).This steady movement of culture was a defining factor in the formation of the Silk Road which spread further through the plateaus of Middle East into central Asia and the far east. By 300 BCE the formation of the Silk Road was in full swing, “the routes traveled by merchants to exchange metals and spices expanded to link the lands from India to the Mediterranean”.

As time progressed, roads traveled by the armies of Alexander met with established trade routes with the far east, connecting the great network known as the Silk Road. Trade became facilitated regionally and even extended to trade on the open seas, making for improvements in seafaring and other means of trade. As India became the center point of the great progress commerce, it too became “a melting pot of ideas and institutions from which a powerful new spiritual synthesis emerged” (Tignor et al.). The Kushan kings in particular fulfilled roles local religious sites, and consequently, great wealth came to religious institutions, especially Buddhist monasteries.

Alexander the Great and his ranks won over the Indus Valley in only a few years, and his absence after death left a political vacuum. The Silk Road also extended further east into China, which “was an economic giant whose most profitable product was silk, which was used for many purposes due to its adaptability and strength” (Tignor et al.). China was a huge proponent of the trade that took place on the Silk Road, even giving it its name since they used silk for currency. From the Mediterranean regions to central Asia, silk became the ultimate prestige commodity for the ruling classes” (Tignor et. al). Hellenistic influences were pronounced in central Asia from religious practices to language and education of youth.

This pattern of Hellenistic advancement came to the point where “Indians sought to blend it with Buddhism… out of which the idea emerged that the Buddha was not just an inspired ethical philosopher but was a god” (Tignor et.al).With Alexander’s death in 323 BCE, his army was divided among his generals who created themselves as absolute rulers over large blocks of territories. Of these many territorial states, three were of much higher standing in the land. The Seleucid state based in Syria, as well as the Antigonid state based in Macedonia and the Ptolemaic state based in Egypt, were all of great significance at the time (Tignor et al.).

Out of these large states, many middle-sized kingdoms emerged. It was the belief of these state rulers that “ they could integrate neighboring peoples as fellow subjects because their culture transcended the place in which it was created”. However, military altercations between these states were regular, “with larger, more complex military campaigns than the Mediterranean had previously seen…yet the parity between states prevented any substantial gains from this warfare” (Tignor et al.). The richness of culture and trade of this era defined they future successes of empires and territorial states to come. The philosophy and ideals birthed from the robust cultural matrix’s of this time  were unparalleled. From the reaching effects of the rise of a great empire, came a complex and unique addition to human history.

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Alexander the Great and His Empire. (2021, Jul 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/alexander-the-great-and-his-empire/

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