HIS 104 Lecture 9: Lecture 9
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~ History 104 Lecture #9 ~
o Alexander the Great, when he did in 323 BCE, had not really created anything.
o He had destroyed the most powerful empire of the day, he put together a great military
force, but he hadn’t stopped moving long enough to create anything.
o However, out of his death, a very definite political and cultural world will arise,
▪ This is called Hellenistic (“Geek-like”)
o Greek culture ceases to be a matter only for Greek and something you only encounter in Greece.
o You find works written in Greek written across an area more than 3,000 miles across.
o Greek provided a medium in which a lot of other societies can interact.
▪ The Bible was first translated into Greek because it was the most widely
o It’s a very culturally diverse world, and it is probably unwise to put too much uniformity on it, other
than language at the top.
o There is some uniformity, and that uniformity comes from kingship.
o When Alexander died, there was no clear successor.
o Who’s going to be king?
▪ His disabled half-brother or his infant son?
▪ Both will be proclaimed king, but neither will rule.
• After less than a decade, they’re both dead, too.
o There is a scramble for power among his generals.
▪ Macedonian nobles were rather harsh and brutal.
▪ At first, they tried to stay together and rule collectively until a king would come
along, but over time, the rivalry among them could not be contained.
o The Rivalry of the Successors
o A scramble for power between Alexander’s generals that lasted 40 years to determine who
o Over time, it became clear that no one general was going to succeed.
o Eventually, they will settle into divided kingdoms.
▪ The kings of these kingdoms never gave up their belief that they were the rightful
ruler of everything, so they will constantly be in conflict.
o They were ruling as successors, essentially imitating Alexander’s rule.
o The most intense warfare was in those first 40 years, but it never really stopped.
o There were many colorful stories told about these battles.
o Visual representations of kings and important individuals in societies became much different that the
propaganda-esque representations of them in the years prior.
o Kings rule because they have an army, and you can only have an army is you have money which
comes from taxes.
o The royal court is also important in this culture.
o People need other reasons than traditional loyalty in this new, diverse culture to pledge allegiance to
o Hellenistic kings are always on the margins of going broke because they want to display their luxury
through general excess to assert your wealth, because no one wants to serve a poor king.
o The fabric of the Hellenistic world was quite a cultural display that was kind of all over the place.
o The Romans condemned the luxury.
o The Greeks were still attached to the idea of the city-state.
o The courts are one of the organizing institutions of the world, but that doesn’t mean that everyone
regarded it as positively.
o There is a great sense of competition in this world and it was clearly displayed in courts.
o Courts become cultural centers.
o Artists make works for the kings
o Poets produce songs of praise for kings
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