Visions of Alexander

I didn’t mean to write a third post (one and two) on Tarn’s book, but I couldn’t resist this one. At the end of his Narrative Tarn considers various aspects of Alexander’s Personality, Policy and Aims. As part of this he looks at how the king was seen by his various subjects. Very differently, as it turns out.
Amyphictyonic League – ‘a man who owned two votes’
Asia (i.e. the Persian Empire) – a god
Babylon – Alexander acted as a self-limited autocrat
Caria – ? Tarn states ‘Caria retrained her native league of Zeus Chrysaoreus’
Cilicia – ‘several Greek or semi-Greek cities in… C. were his subjects’
Cypriot kings – ‘were free allies’
Egypt – autocrat and god
Greece*i. autocrat ii. ‘President and war leader of the League of Corinth’ iii. ‘god of several of the cities’
Iranian Landowners – ‘he was a feudal superior’
Judaea – ‘the High Priests still governed Judaea according to the Law’
Lydia – Alexander acted as a self-limited autocrat
Macedon – quasi-constitutional king
Pamphylia – ‘several Greek or semi-Greek cities in P…. were his subjects’
Persepolis – ‘kept her native priest-kings’
Phoenicia – the ‘Phoenician kings were subject allies’
Punjab – ‘Alexander was merely for a little while the rather nominal suzerain of certain rajahs who happened to be ruling certain groups of villages’
Seistan – ‘part of S. was autonomous’
Thessaly – ‘[E]lected head for life of her league’
‘[O]ld Greek cities of Asia along the Aegean and as far north as Cyzicus were his free allies’
‘[M]any Greek cities, notably those on the Black Sea and in Italy and Sicily, had no relations with [Alexander] at all’
Referring to Greece in this list might be seen as a bit inaccurate as Tarn says she was not part of Alexander’s empire, even though she was not ‘entirely outside it’
Tarn’s book is now over half a century old so one needs to be mindful of that his understanding of Alexander may not hold fast anymore. Assuming the list’s basic accuracy, however, it is for me a fascinating insight into how Alexander was regarded by his subject peoples. Especially since I have been so used to see him as a second Achilles.

Categories: Of The Moment, On Alexander | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Visions of Alexander

  1. I love his relationship with Judea. If we had such things. he would have been canonized to a saint for the Jews. He left us to our own laws, religion and practices when he might have done so much harm. The descendant of his general Seleucis (sp.) gave us King Antiochus who tried to establish Zeus in our Temple. We had to kick them all out, clean out and rededicate the Temple. That is the meaning of Chanukah – dedication.


    • Penina,

      That is good knowledge, thank you.

      As for Alexander – It would be nice to say that he let the Jews be for positive reasons but I suspect it was simply because they were not a threat to him. If Judaea had sent out an army then there would have been a fight.

      Alexander’s religion must have helped matters along as well since it was syncretist and therefore inclined to seeing its gods in other people’s rather than saying ‘we are right, you are wrong’.



  2. blazeaglory

    Yes I love how Alexander did not act as a typical “tyrant” and let whomever or whatever he conquered to their own (mostly) devices.


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