Hellenistic Kingdoms/Hellenistic Period

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Hellenistic Kingdoms/Hellenistic Period

Δημοσίευσηαπό periklis » Δευτ Φεβ 17, 2014 3:07 pm


The disputes within the empire continued until Antigonus, who occupied the Asia Minor, Greece and Syria, declared himself emperor (306 BC), and later gave this title to his son, Demetrius I (the Besieger). Very soon, the successors allied, and the fate of the Empire judged in 301 BC, in the battle which took place in Ipsus of Phrygia, where Antigonus defeated and killed.

The result of this defeat was the creation of four kingdoms

: Egypt by Ptolemy, Syria with Seleucus, Macedonia by Cassander, and Lysimachus in Thrace. Thus kings became the generals-winners, who had also distributed the territories of the empire. The conflicts, however, did not stop. Major opponents were Lysimachus and Seleucus, until the battle of Corupedium in Lydia (281 BC) and the death of Lysimachus. The territories were distributed between Seleucus and Cassander, and established also a kingdom centered in Pergamon, giving the impetus to be created more. After the death of Ptolemy I Soter in 283 BC, of Lysimachos in 281 BC and Seleucus in 280 BC, none of the companions of Alexander left, who together had managed to impose the macedonian domination from Thrace to India. The four kingdoms, Macedonia, Egypt, Syria and Pergamum survived enough to have been part of a new large empire, the Roman.



The kingdoms of the East

Alexander created a new type of kingship, the personal, which continued his successors to perform in the East. In consolidating on this type of power contributed the prices and the titles that were given lavishly to Alexander, as the title of the pharaoh which was offered to him by the conquered Egyptians. The most important kingdoms in the East was Egypt and Syria, which were ruled by the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, respectively.

The Kingdom of Egypt

The kingdom of Egypt was established by the general of Alexander, Ptolemy, and Cyprus belonged to it as it's naval base. Egyptians coexisted in this kingdom with other various ethnic groups.
Egypt was ruled by the Ptolemies for three consecutive centuries, preserving the old administrative system of the pharaohs. The leaders took care the Greeks to keep the management positions, and the natives in the other positions of the state machine. Their authority relied on the army and the navy, while the economic growth- that made Alexandria the largest commercial port in the Mediterranean - based on the organized trade and it's taxation. The Ptolemies took care in developing even more the culture, encouraging the presence of scholars. But from the 2nd century BC several riots happened in the kingdom of Egypt, and got several external attacks, so gradually began to decline, with the final surrender, in 31 BC, to the Romans.

The kingdom of Syria

The kingdom of Syria, which was founded by the powerful general of Alexander, Seleucus, was extensively and it's center was the region of Syria.
The Seleucids kept the cohesion of the state, sometimes with their strong army and sometimes with the establishment of cities. Their kingdom had become the greatest power in the area, as it had a rich economy, based on the agriculture and trade, and considered to be the continuation of the empire of Alexander the Great, having the same boundaries. As regards the administrative system, the Seleucids followed the policy of the Persian empire: the creation of satrapies. But by the early 2nd century BC, the state began to show the first signs of decline.

The kingdoms of Greece, the city-states and the confederations

In the Greek mainland, the Hellenistic era was marked by two major events: the fights against the Gauls, which ended when Antigonus was able to expel them in 277 BC, and the reviving of the state of Epirus, which was interrupted in 272 BC, right after the death it's king, Pyrrhus. An important role continued to play the kingdom of Macedonia, in which, - as in that of Epirus - the king was elected by the army - even if the kingship was hereditary - , a practice which retained at all Greek tribes in antiquity which were not organized into city-states.

The kingdom of Macedonia

The Kingdom of Macedonia was organized on a racial basis , and was distinguished by it's single cultural identity. The mines and the forest lands belonged to the king, who ceded them to the nobles as donations, of a revocable type.
Also, many small and medium farmers were the macedonian army. Large estates were assigned for farming to liberated self-employed or slaves. The kingdom was infected primarily by two factors: the lack of strong authority, with the parallel invasion of the Gauls, and the persistence of the Kings, from the 2nd century BC, to dominate in southern Greece, a fact that weakened and the makedonian state and the other Greek forces.

Kingdom of Epirus

The Kingdom of Epirus was mostly occupied by Dorians who where not evolved cultural or social, having as a result to remain in obscurity until the Hellenistic period. During Philip's and Alexander's era Epirus was under the Macedonian subjection. The most powerful tribe were the Molossians, and Olympias - the mother of Alexander - was their descentant.
The Molossians introduced a different type of government, with the royal power to be limited to a superior ruler, who represented the people. The king and the people gathered once a year in Passaron- a political and religious center - in order to exchange vows of loyalty for a fair and equitable governance. Pyrrhus a capable and great king, managed to make Epirus a major power. His ambition, which never accomplished, was to create a state similar in power to that of Alexander, and conquer Macedonia and southern Greece. In his effort to dominate in the west and subjugate
the Peloponnese, he exhausted and weakened his army. In 272 BC ingloriously died in a battle near Argos.

Athens, Sparta, Rhodes

In summary, the absolute monarchy that was imposed across the macedonian territory, and the competition between the rulers did not allow the growth and the development of the city-states, which fell into decline. Most of the Greek city-states were absorbed by the Hellenistic kingdoms, others maintained their internal organization (Sparta, Rhodes, Delos, etc.), while others created confederations, ie federal states, with more importants the Aetolian League - in the patterns of it's ancient league - and the Achaean League, results of the antimacedonian spirit of the period.
The peace of 311 BC and the independence of the Greek cities-states did not returned their full autonomy, having been surrounded by much larger forces. The years that followed were agitated, by the presence of foreign generals, with looting, and political passions. In a better situation were the greek cities of Asia Minor, in Thrace and Pontus, as well as Rhodes, Cyzicus and Byzantium, which became socially autonomy or ensured neutrality that allowed them to develop commercially.
Magna Grecia (South Italy) fortunate to have in an hegemonic position the rich city of Taras (Taranto), providing security and development even in smaller cities.
In Greece, however, especially in the Peloponnese, there was full political and economic decline. In Athens, Cassander appointed as a tyrant, Demetrius of Phalerum (317-307 BC) and then Demetrius I of Macedon (the Besieger).

Athens, once again, rebelled against Antigonus II Gonatas, led by the stoic philisopher Chremonides. But the outcome was the same as used to be in the past. Antigonus defeated Athens (the Chremonidean War 267-262 BC), which had made a coalition with other cities, and forced Chremonides to flee to the Ptolemie's court.

Sparta, following an isolation policy in the 3rd century BC, faced a serious social crisis, from which tried to recover by a land reform and a debt erase for the citizens, who had already begun to abandon the city. From the 700 free citizens, only the one hundred had an agricultural piece of land. According to Plutarch, "wealth not too late, was collected in the hands of the few, and the city fell in poverty, with the result of moral decadence and intensity of jealousy and hatred against the rich". It's king, Agis IV (244 BC), attempted to face the social problem of Sparta with reformations, upgrading the round residents (perioeci) to citizens.
But the strong reaction of the rich class, nullified his plans and led to his murder. The same tried to do also Cleomenes III, but with slow and controlled changes, which had an impact on the rest of the Peloponnese, where the lower classes faced similar situations.
The general of the Achaean League, facing the danger of rebellions, asked for the help of Macedonia, which defeated Cleomenes in Sellasia on the northern frontier of Laconia, and installed guard in Sparta. The riots, however, did not deterred, when Nabis took the power in Sparta, a descentant of the royal family (206 BC), who tried to continue the reforms of Cleomenes. He was murdered also (192 BC) after the reactions of the other cities that feared the expansion of the social changes. From then and until it's conquest by Rome, Sparta was a member of the Achaean League.

Rhodes, due to its geographical position and its navy, managed to evolve as Delos did with its holy nature, in a commercial and financial center. Strabo argued that the Rhodians, although didn't have a democratic polity, were caring for their people. The rich people, according to an old custom, helped those in need, and provided employment to the poor, in order the city not to produce deficit in human resources, especially in manning the fleet.

The Leagues

The Aetolian and the Achaean League managed to avoid stagnation, which was the fate of many other greek cities. The Aetolian confederation was founded in the mid-4th century BC, with a loose political association, the Aetolian Koinon (public), and resulted in it's completed form after the repulse of the Gauls (278 BC), and the undertaking of the protection of the Oracle of Delphi. The regime was democratic and all citizens were entitled to participate in the meetings and decisions. In the 3rd century BC acquired even more power and authority, including all the cities of the central Greece from Maliakos to the Corinthian Gulf and the estuary of Achelous River.

The Achaean League in the early 3rd century BC included the association of certain cities of Achaia, but until the 2nd cent. BC, included almost the whole Peloponnesus. The way that the Achaean League was organized was different from that of the Aetolian, because it incorporates elements of the monarchy system. The cities retained their governments, and the confederation was governed by a council which was attended by all the citizens who had reached the age of 30, and by the rulers who had increased their powers. The League retained a parliament (or senate) with 120 members, which mainly concentrated on the external relations.

It is worth noting that the Achaean League, which played an important role in Greek affairs during the leadership of Aratus and Philopoemen, was the last resistance against the Romans in 145 BC. Philopoemen from Megalopolis distinguished for his administrative abilities in organizing the army, and was considered as a charismatic leader; Plutarch named him "the ultimate of the Greeks". Both two leagues followed the same antimacedonian policy, so often came into conflict with Macedonia. The fights, however, of the Greek cities and especially the Aetolean League against the Macedonians, gave to the Romans the opportunity to involve to the Greek events. From the 2nd century BC emerged the gradual extension of the Romans, who sought to defeat Macedonia and were prepared for the conquest of Greece.

Hellenistic civilization

In the last three pre-Christian centuries, the culture who developed in the Hellenistic kingdoms and became universal, called Hellenistic. Came from the intermixture of the Greek culture of the classical era with the east, and spread because of the people's moving, the idea's and the good's. This certainly was helped by the development of big cities such as Alexandria, Antioch and Pergamum, which converted into great cultural centers.

Alexandria

Founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great as the capital of Egypt and acquired glory because it's privileged position in the Nile's delta, which enabled the city to become a financial and cultural center of the period. The museum - dedicated to the Muses - and the big Library, where the processing of papyrus favored the production of manuscripts, were two of the marvelous works of the first Ptolemies which helped to make the city the major cultural center of the Hellenistic world, which attracted the greatest minds of that time. The teaching of the young successors of the throne had been entrusted to the wise man. The scholars were allowed for the first time to collect all old works, which were corrected, filed, and were a source of inspiration and admiration. The Alexandrian poetry and art remained famous. The poetry revealed the hymn, the epic and the epigram, which had hitherto been neglected, or new kind, such as the pastoral elegy, the mime, etc. The Alexandrian art, although cannot be assumed that was a development of the classic, was influenced by the new ideas of the age. In the capital of Egypt were living Greeks,
Egyptians and Jews, and important role in it's development played the port, which was protected in it's entrance, by the famous Lighthouse. The lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, was a constructed tower on a small island.

Antioch

Antioch was founded by the king of Syria, Seleucus, in 300 BC, near the Orontes River. It was called and Tetrapolis also, because it's division in four settlements, with each of them surrounded by walls, like the whole town. Originally settled by Macedonians, Athenians, Cretans and Cyprians, and then several Asian ethnic groups put the foundations of a multicultural center.

Pergamon

Pergamum, which was a fortified citadel and was extended in three levels, was the capital of the state of Attalids. Became an important cultural center because of it's library, the museum and the famous altar of Zeus, a gigantic work of the 2nd century BC, built to commemorate the victory against the Gauls by the Pergamenes. The Altar of Zeus is the most representative example of the style of Pergamon and a benchmark among the sculptors of the hellenistic and the classical period. It is worth noting that because the lack of papyrus, the Pergamenes discovered a new kind of paper, the parchment (pergamene).


Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Kingdoms in Ancient Texts


by Antoine Simonin
published on 22 September 2011
More Sharing Servic
Almost all of what remains today of ancient litterature about those kingdoms can be summarized on one page, which is what this article is going to accomplish.
NB: These are only quotes about the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms, and not about Bactria the area.

Greek Sources
When the news came that Euthydemus with his army was before Tapuria, and that ten thousand cavalry were in his front guarding the ford of the river Arius, Antiochus decided to abandon the siege and deal with the situation. The river being at a distance of three days' march, he marched at a moderate pace for two days, but on the third day he order the rest of his army to break up their camp at daylight while he himself with his cavalry, his light-armed infantry, and ten thousand peltasts advanced during the night marching quickly. For he had heard that the enemy's horse kept guard during the day on the river bank, but retired at night to a town as much as twenty stades away. Having completed the remainder of the distance during the night, as the plain is easy to ride over, he succeeded in getting the greater part of his forces across the river by daylight. The Bactrian cavalry, when their scouts had reported this, came up to attack and engaged the enemy while still on the march. The king, seeing that it was necessary to stand the first charge of the enemy, called on one thousand of his cavalry who were accustomed to fight round him and ordered the rest to form up on the spot in squadrons and troops and all place themselves in their usual order, while he himself with the force I spoke of met and engaged the p225Bactrians who were the first to charge. In this affair it seems that Antiochus himself fought more brilliantly than any of those with him. There were severe losses on both sides, but the king's cavalry repulsed the first Bactrian regiment. When, however, the second and third came up they were in difficulties and had the worst of it. It was now that Panaetolus ordered his men to advance, and joining the king and those who were fighting round him, compelled those Bactrians who were pursuing in disorder to turn rein and take to headlong flight. The Bactrians, now hard pressed by Panaetlus, never stopped until they joined Euthydemus after losing most of their men. The royal cavalry, after killing many of the enemy and making many prisoners, withdrew, and at first encamped on the spot near the river. n this battle Antiochus's horse was transfixed and killed, and he himself received a wound in the mouth and lost several of his teeth, having in general gained a greater reputation for courage on this occasion than on any other. After the battle Euthydemus was terror-stricken and retired with his army to a city in Bactria called Zariaspa.

Polybius, Histories, X, 49, between 167-157 BC. Translation: H. J. Edwards 1922

For Euthydemus himself was a native of Magnesia, and he now, in defending himself to Teleas, said that Antiochus was not justified in attempting to deprive him of his kingdom, as he himself had never revolted against the king, but after others had revolted he had possessed himself of the throne of Bactria by destroying their descendants. After speaking at some length in the same sense he begged Teleas to mediate between them in a friendly manner and bring about a reconciliation, entreating Antiochus not to grudge him the name and state of king, as if he did not yield to this request, neither of them would be safe; for considerable hordes of Nomads were approaching, and this was not only a grave danger to both of them, but if they consented to admit them, the country would certainly relapse into barbarism. After speaking thus he dispatched Teleas to Antiochus. The king, who had long been on the look-out for a solution of the question when he received Teleas' report, gladly consented to an accommodation owing to the reasons above stated. Teleas went backwards and forwards more than once to both kings, and finally Euthydemus sent off his son Demetrius to ratify the agreement. Antiochus, on receiving the young man and judging him from his appearance, conversation, and dignity of bearing to be worthy of royal rank, in the first place promised to give him one of his daughters in marriage and next gave permission to his father to style himself king. After making a written treaty concerning other points and entering into a sworn alliance, Antiochus took his departure, serving out generous ratons of corn to his troops and adding to his own the elephants belonging to Euthydemus.

Polybius, Histories, XI, 34.1-10, between 167-157 BC. Translation: H. J. Edwards 1922

The Greeks who caused Bactria to revolt grew so powerful on account of the fertility of the country that they became masters, not only of Ariana, but also of India, as Apollodorus of Artemita says: and more tribes were subdued by them than by Alexander—by Menander in particular (at least if he actually crossed the Hypanis towards the east and advanced as far as the Imaüs), for some were subdued by him personally and others by Demetrius, the son of Euthydemus the king of the Bactrians; and they took possession, not only of Patalena, but also, on the rest of the coast, of what is called the kingdom of Saraostus and Sigerdis. In short, Apollodorus says that Bactriana is the ornament of Ariana as a whole; and, more than that, they extended their empireeven as far as the Seres and the Phryni. Their cities were Bactra (also called Zariaspa, through which flows a river bearing the same name and emptying into the Oxus), and Darapsa, and several others. Among these wasEucratidia, which was named after its ruler. The Greeks took possession of it and divided it into satrapies, of which the satrapy Turiva and that of Aspionus were taken away from Eucratides by the Parthians. And they also held Sogdiana, situated above Bactriana towards the east between the Oxus River, which forms the boundary between the Bactrians and the Sogdians, and the Iaxartes River. And the Iaxartes forms also the boundary between the Sogdians and the nomads.

Strabo, Geography, XI. 11.1-2, between15/10 BC and 24 AD. Translation: Horace Leonard Jones 1917

At any rate, Apollodorus, who wrote The Parthica, when he mentions the Greeks who caused Bactriana to revolt from the Syrian kings who succeeded Seleucus Nicator, says that when those kings had grown in power they also attacked India, but he reveals nothing further than what was already known, and even contradicts what was known, saying that those kings subdued more of India than the Macedonians; that Eucratidas, at any rate, held a thousand cities as his subjects.

Strabo, Geography, XV.3,between15/10 BC and 24 AD. Translation: Horace Leonard Jones 1917


Latin sources
(...)and the most powerful dominion of Bactria, peopled with a thousand cities,(...)

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, XLI 1.8, IIe AD. Translation: John Selby Watson 1853

Diodotus, the governor of the thousand cities of Bactria, defected and proclaimed himself king; all the other people of the Orient followed his example and seceded from the Macedonians

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, XLI 4.5, IIe AD. Translation: John Selby Watson 1853

Not long after, too, he (Arsaces) made himself master of Hyrcania, and thus, invested with authority over two nations, raised a large army, through fear of Seleucus and Theodotus, king of the Bactrians. But being soon relieved of his fears by the death of Theodotus, he made peace and an alliance with his son, who was also named Theodotus; and not long after, engaging with king Seleucus, who came to take vengeance on the revolters, he obtained a victory.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, XLI 4.8-9, IIe AD. Translation: John Selby Watson 1853

Almost at the same time that Mithridates ascended the throne among the Parthians, Eucratides began to reign among the Bactrians; both of them being great men. But the fortune of the Parthians, being the more successful, raised them, under this prince, to the highest degree of power; while the Bactrians, harassed with various wars, lost not only their dominions, but their liberty; for having suffered from contentions with the Sogdians, the Drangians, and the Indians, they were at last overcome, as if exhausted, by the weaker6 Parthians. Eucratides, however, carried on several wars with great spirit, and though much reduced by his losses in them, yet, when he was besieged by Demetrius king of the Indians, with a garrison of only three hundred soldiers, he repulsed, by continual sallies, a force of sixty thousand enemies. Having accordingly escaped, after a five months’ siege, he reduced India under his power. But as he was returning from the country, he was killed on his march by his son, with whom he had shared his throne, and who was so far from concealing the murder, that, as if he had killed an enemy, and not his father, he drove his chariot through his blood, and ordered his body to be cast out unburied.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, XLI 6.1-5, IIe AD. Translation: John Selby Watson 1853
604px-DemetriusIMet.jpg
604px-DemetriusIMet.jpg (35.56 KiB) 60515 προβολές


Indian sources
This Garuda pillar of Vasudeva, the God of Gods
was erected here by Heliodoros, a worshipper of Vishnu (Bhagavata),
the son of Dion, and an inhabitant of Taxila,
who came as Greek (Yona) ambassador from the Great King
Antialkidas to King Kosiputra Bhagabhadra, the Saviour
then reigning propserously in the 14th year of his kingship.
Three immortal precepts when practised lead to heaven
self-retraint, charity, conscientiouness.

Heliodoros, Greek ambassador of king Antialkidas, on the Vidisha pillar, c.110 BC. Text in Brahmiscript. Translation by Tarn 1957 plate VI.

Then in the eighth year, (Kharavela) with a large army having sacked Goradhagiri causes pressure on Rajagaha (Rajagriha). On account of the loud report of this act of valour, the Yavana (Greek) King Dimi[ta] retreated to Mathura having extricated his demoralized army

Hatigumpha Inscription, line 8, probably in the 1st century BC. Original text is in Brahmi script. The king "Dimita" could be Demetrios I, or Menander, general of Demetrios II (Widemann's thesis). Translation in Epigraphia Indica 1920.

After having conquered Saketa, the country of the Panchala and the Mathuras, the Yavanas (Greeks), wicked and valiant, will reach Kusumadhvaja. The thick mud-fortifications at Pataliputra being reached, all the provinces will be in disorder, without doubt. Ultimately, a great battle will follow, with tree-like engines (siege engines).

Gargi-Samhita, Yuga Purana, V. Translation; J. Mitchiner 1976

The Yavanas (Greeks) will command, the Kings will disappear. (But ultimately) the Yavanas, intoxicated with fighting, will not stay in Madhadesa (the Middle Country); there will be undoubtedly a civil war among them, arising in their own country (Bactria), there will be a terrible and ferocious war.

Gargi-Samhita, Yuga Purana, VII. Translation; J. Mitchiner 1976

The Yavanas were besieging Saketa. The Yavanas were besieging Madhyamika (the "Middle country").

Patanjali, Mahābhāsya, c.150 BC, two exemples of the use of the perfect tense denoting a recent event.


Chinese sources
Southeast of Daxia is the kingdom of Shendu (India)... Shendu, they told me, lies several thousand li southeast of Daxia (Bactria). The people cultivate the land and live much like the people of Daxia. The region is said to be hot and damp. The inhabitants ride elephants when they go in battle. The kingdom is situated on a great river (Indus)

Sima Quina, Shiji, 123, written between 109 and 91, on the report of Zhang Qian between c.134 and 125 BC. Note: North-West India was ruled by the Indo-Greek at this time, which is what the "like the people of Daxia" refers to. Translation: Burton Watson 1961

The Kingdom of Gaofu (Kabul) is southwest of the Da Yuezhi (Kushans). It is also a large kingdom. Their way of life is similar to that of Tianzhu (Northwestern India), but they are weak and easy to subdue. They are excellent traders and are very wealthy. They have not always been ruled by the same masters. Whenever one of the three kingdoms of Tianzhu (Northwestern India), Jibin (Kapisha-Peshawar), or Anxi (Parthia) became powerful, they took control of it; when weakened, they lost it.

Fan Ye (398-445 AD), Hou Han Shu (The History of the Later Han) 88, Xiyu juan, 14. Note that Fan Ye made a compilation of ancient Chinese writers, and for this section those precedents writers belong to the Ist century AD. Kingdom of Gaofu may have been Indo-Greek or Indo-Saka one, but the one of Jibin was probably the last Indo-Greek kingdom of Alexandria Kapisa. translation: John E. Hill 2003

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