Alexander the Great and What He Did in Spreading Greek Culture
Alexander the great is mainly known for his large conquest of the cities he came across in his life. Through these conquests, he ended up creating one of the biggest empires ever known in the history of the world. He managed to unite Greece, Egypt and the Middle East under one culture known as the Hellenistic civilization (Ballot 266). This culture invented by Alexander the Great is still influencing cultures up to date and it has made a significant impact in people’s views in the areas of individualism, philosophy, learning and economics.
Born in 356 BC, Alexander played a vital role in his father King Philip’s conquest of Greece when he led the cavalry in the battle of Chaeronia which they won. After his father’s death, he took over leadership and had the sole ambition of conquering the world. With only a small army and not much finances, he used his vast talent in military leadership to conquer Persia and Egypt (Worthington 55). He was never satisfied with his victories and continued on his journey and quest to conquer the world until his soldiers decided to quit. By this time he had reached Pakistan and India. He died from fever in 324 BC, after returning to his empire in Babylon.
One of Alexander’s great achievements is the spread of Greek culture across the Middle East, an act that ended up affecting even the generations that came after his death. He did this by fusing the Greek culture with the culture of those people whose nations he conquered. The fusion of the cultures is what created the Hellenistic culture. Alexander ordered mass weddings between the Greek people and the Persians. This made it necessary to carry out some of the cultural practices of the Greek and some of the cultural practices of the Persians leading to the acceptance and appreciation of both cultures side by side. He also ordered the building of new cities creating the need for workers as engineers, architects and laborers that brought people from all over the empire together. In some of the cities built, for example Alexandria in Egypt, large libraries were built which attracted people from far and wide who came and shared their culture with the people and also adopted a little bit of the culture they found there (Ballot 268). When he conquered the cities and empires, he made it possible for people from different cultures and backgrounds to come into contact with each other and could have never happened without his efforts. It is because of this that cultures were met and were combined to form one big empire under one culture that contained a lot of Greek values in it. The existence of one common culture led to the fusion of ideas from many different nations giving birth to scholars like the mathematicians Pythagoras alongside Euclid.
Alexander made the Greek language so popular that even the Old Testament was translated to Greek. Later on, the New Testament was written in Greek. Up to date the spread of Christianity has so much to do with the Greek culture and this means that Alexander the Great made the work of the apostles much easier since he gave them a language to use. Even the practices in church that are performed are partly influenced by the Greek culture.
The Greek civilization from his efforts is what led to the western civilization making him such a significant image in the history of the world’s civilization. The main features of the Hellenistic culture were originally Athenian (Worthington 55). This was the dialect most spoken throughout Alexander’s conquest. The organization and planning of towns, the education system, and the local government structure were all based on Greek ideas and models although they evolved into new distinct forms being called Hellenistic. Up to date the Hellenistic culture is evident in India among the Buddha communities whose culture is that of a fusion between their own culture and Greek culture. This is because this culture is greatly influenced by the concept of Bodhisattvas who were known to be Greek divine heroes (Fildes and Fletcher 111). Some of their ceremonies were adopted from Greek practices like burning of incense, placing gifts of food and flowers on the alter of he worship place among others.
Even after his death in 3233 BC, Alexander’s influence and the influence of the Greek culture continued to extend all over the Mediterranean world (Ballot 280). His efforts made it possible for the Greek civilization to be termed as the mother of intelligence even to date (Foreman 69). The funny bit is that Alexander was not even Greek. He was Macedonian but he loved the Greek culture so much that he decided to embrace and spread it in all his conquests. From the time he conquered Persia with his army in 334 BC, he openly and publicly supported the Greek culture and practices.
As a result of Alexander’s efforts Greek became the language most commonly used in the Mediterranean lands. The language was known as “Koine dialektos”. This made Greek literature so common not only to those whose mother tongue was Greek but also to those who came from far lands that wanted to learn the language. The new literature was widely known especially due to the huge library in the city of Alexandria in Egypt. This town was founded by King Alexander in 331 BC. People found fascination in the escapist’s works that was there telling tales about a life in the days gone in the past when life was so simple (Worthington 55). The life then was characterized by a rural environment that was idealized and there were shepherds and shepherdesses. There were wooded valleys and love was true and pure. All these works were available in the library in Alexandria. Besides this library, several others grew not only here but in other cities as well where original works and their copies were stored and which became quite famous east of the Mediterranean. Alexandria also had a museum that included a zoo and a botanical garden. All the Greek artifacts were showcased here and this attracted so many people from far and wide. The designs and forms of art of the Greek were emulated by these people from foreign nations who found them very interesting. Scientists and scholars traveled from all over the world to come and study these artifacts and works that were collected in the museum in Alexandria (Cantor and Ranieri 34). Even these scientists and scholars ended up adopting the culture they found here.
Alexander not only made impacts on the language used but also in the overall culture and ways of thinking of the people in his conquests. He manifested a culture of
Cosmopolitanism. There was an increase in trade among people from the different cities under Alexander’s rule and they enjoyed the privilege of free movement across borders. This made it very easy for these people to share ideas and cultures while performing trade activities among them (Foreman 67). These people were even able to migrate from their countries and cut their tribal ties and acquire a new way of thinking called individualism. Initially most of them had seriously concentrated on serving their polis to the latter but this kind of philosophy came to an end as they adopted the new ways introduced by King Alexander and started looking for personal gratification. They were thus able to eliminate all the local peculiarities and prejudices that so much characterized their cultures.
Upon Alexander’s death, his empire split into three different kingdoms which later fractured into smaller ones (Foreman 67). The splitting of his kingdom did not however affect his influence and the spread of the Greek language and culture throughout Europe and Asia long after his death. Greece as a nation was gone but its culture still lives to date. This Greek culture introduced to the world by the Macedonian King continues to be evident in the western culture and has its place in the history of the world.