The Genesis Of The Greek Miracle
Alexander’s campaign had taken the best of male youth from the Greek population and made it incapable of holding at the center. Greco-Macedonian population at the time of Alexander’s campaign is estimated between 1.5 million to 2.5 million – including slaves. That gives us a number of 75,000-150,000 family units which could have contributed one soldier each.
These populations are largely backward projections from current populations. From the total eligible, excluding agricultural workers required for maintenance of basic economic activity, slaves who would not qualify for military duty (malnourished and /or low on motivation levels), and soldiers needed for defense of the Macedonia and Greece itself, left a Greco-Macedonian societies with very few men. Add to this shortage, most of Alexander’s soldiers either settled in the Asian regions or perished in war or due to injury and disease. Less than 20,000 soldiers (10%) of the Alexander’s soldiers finally returned home. Hence, availability of soldiers was a severe limitation.
Alexander’s vast dominions and revenues were unprotected. Greco-Macedonian political leadership were engaged with Alexander abroad. Its armies were tied up in Asia. No ruler after Alexander’s death in 323 BC was in a position to consolidate the conquests or overcome Greek-Macedonian infighting. The Daidochi Wars took up all the attention of the Greeks and Macedonians.
The Rise & Blip Of Rome
Rome was sucked into the vacuum left behind by Alexander’s death. Roman generals consolidated in Asia Minor and expanded into Europe. In 306, BC, Rome allied with Carthage against the Greeks. Over the next 150 years, Carthage and Rome battled Greece, conquered Sicily – and finally, attacked each other. After three Macedonian wars and the war with Antiochus the Great of Syria, Rome established itself as a prime power.
Carthage was left as the sole challenger to Roman authority. Finally, the Roman senate sent a descendant of Scipio Africanus (of the Second Punic War), Scipio Aemilianus – and in 146BC, Carthage was defeated. Carthage city was destroyed, its fields plowed and salted, so that the city would never come up again. 50,000 residents of Carthage were enslaved. In parallel, in 146BC, Corinth suffered a similar fate.
50 BC. Alexander passed into mythology. Romans had taken complete hold of the Alexandrian Empire. Millions (men, women and children) were enslaved. Swollen by revenues from the inherited Alexandrian territories of Asia Minor; by loot and conquests from Europe, Roman society was rolling in wealth. Nearly a million slaves toiled to keep Roman population well fed and in luxury.
The Balkan and the Mediterranean kingdoms (the roots of Alexander) took 500-600 years to recover their populations and youth to mount a challenge to the Roman usurpers and the Western Roman Empire.
The split started between the Western Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire on linguistic lines. Western Roman Empire using Latin, operating from Rome – and the Eastern Roman Empire, using Greek, with Constantinople as its capital.
A major step in this Eastern challenge was to declare Constantinople as the second capital of the Roman Empire. Thereafter, deprived of revenues from the prosperous Eastern Empire, the Western Roman Empire collapsed.
The Roman Empire lasted all of 500 years – from the fall of Carthage and Corinth (146 BC) till the invasion of Alaric, The Goth (410AD). This 500-year blip in human history, called the Roman Empire, could not hold onto the Macedonian Empire they had usurped.
The split of the Eastern Roman Empire from the Western Roman Empire happened, though initially on linguistic lines, around 400 AD – later, on religious and other political lines. Over the next 200-400 years, Greek language became the official language of the Byzantine Empire. The Balkans, the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe followed the lead of the Byzantine Empire and used Greek extensively – at a cost to their own language.
For the next 1000 years, the Byzantine Empire used Greek as the official language - and had some Greek Kings. The ‘Greek Miracle’ was rewritten by these ‘Greek’ historians – 800-to-1000 years later. Much like modern day propaganda by the West, the Greeks used their language to create a myth around the Greek civilization. Alexander, a Macedonian (from modern day Balkans), was usurped by the Greeks (from the Mediterranean region) as their own.
On the other side of the world, Alexander’s conquests had increased trade manifold. Indo-Byzantine-Roman trade flourished. Greco-Roman currency, laws started at Indian borders and led right to the heart of the world’s largest and most prosperous market. The creation of the Alexander mythos was essential to the whole propaganda effort, for the success of Greek rule over the Eastern ‘Roman’ Empire. For colonial Europeans also, the mythos of Alexander, in the 19th and 20th centuries, was useful – to prove Western ‘superiority’. Central to this Greek (and later the Western colonial) propaganda effort, was Alexander’s conquest of India – a ‘superpower’ for much of history.
The Assyrian Misadventure
Semiramis was possibly Queen Sammurammit /Sammurammat, ruling over Assyria and Babylon in late ninth and early eight centuries B.C. The identity of her husband is in question with different names like King Shamshi-Adad V, Adad-nirari IV (probably co-regent, son of ShamshiAdad V and Semiramis), and some say Rammannirar, and yet some others Vul Lush III.
Between Herodotus and Ctesias, we have Greek accounts of the rise of Semiramis. The Assyrian Empire in Asia Minor, of Semiramis, a forerunner of Alexander’s Asian territories. She was deposed by her son Ninyas /Ninus (probably co-regent, Adad-nirari IV, son of Shamshi Adad V and Semiramis), after her loss to the Indian king, Stabrobates.
Clearly a historical figure, Semiramis was elevated to godhood in the Assyrian pantheon of goddesses, deified and worshiped – much like cannonization of saints by the Christian Church.
To the Greeks and Romans, Semiramis was the foremost of women, the greatest queen who had ever held a sceptre, the most extraordinary conqueror that the that the East had ever produced. Beautiful as Helen or Cleopatra, brave as Tomyris, lustful as Messaline, she had the virtues and vices of a man rather than woman, and performed deeds scarcely inferior to those of Cyrus or Alexander The Great. (from The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World By George Rawlinson).
For her achievements, Semiramis was personified in the cult of ‘Mother and Child’, which Vatican was at great pains to exterminate, as it was the continuation of the worship of the Mother figure of Gnosticism and other Christian streams.
Semiramis in modern history
Mired in legend and prejudice, Semiramis is discredited in modern Western history – especially starting from 1853-1857. Her very existence denied, accused of incest, Semiramis has been tarred and condemned to the rubbish heap of modern history – and the Bible.
For instance in Max Muller’s colonial propagandist history, when it comes to Indian triumphs over Semiramis, she becomes half legendary. Yet in another book, the same Semiramis becomes one of ‘the great conquerors of antiquity.’ In a matter of a few pages, he dismisses Indian history completely, in a half-Hegelian manner.
As far back as 1798, the Asiatick Researches By Asiatic Society (Calcutta, India), were able to trace references to the Semiramis campaign in the Indian Puranas also. And …
In the case of Semiramis, confusion may have been caused by the fact that her husband and her son were both named Ninus; but to classical and medieval readers it seemed quite plausible that a powerful woman ruler (and a barbarian to boot) would be tyrannical and transgressive in her lust and that her violent delights would have a violent end. (from Incest and the Medieval Imagination By Elizabeth Archibald).
Semiramis established an empire that lasted, practically till WW1. Some 300 years, after the reign of Semiramis, the Assyrian Empire passed into Persian hands. From the Persians, into Alexander’s lap. The Romans usurped Alexander’s Empire – and in turn, lost everything 500 years later. The Romans lost the Assyrian Empire which was then taken over by the Eastern Empire with its capital of Byzantium.
The last inheritors of the Assyrian Empire were the Ottoman Turks and the Austro Hungarian Empire. Behind the problems in the Middle East today, is the carve up of the Ottoman Empire by victorious Allies, handled by amateurs like TE Lawrence and Gertrude Bell, after WW1.
Alexander’s raid of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, finally turned out to be a overthrow of the Achaemenid dynasty, usurpers of the Assyrian Empire. The mythos surrounding Alexander ‘conquests’ calls for serious questioning of the sources themselves. What and who are these sources?
Our knowledge of Alexander … rests on histories produced long after the fact: a late first-century b.c.e. section of a world history written in Greek by Diodorus of Sicily; a Latin History of Alexander published by the Roman author Quintus Curtius Rufus in the first century c.e.; a biography in Greek by Plutarch of Chaeronea, … in the first century c.e.; a history written in Greek by Arrian of Nicomedia sometime in the second century c.e.; and Justin’s third-century c.e. Latin abridgment (Epitome) of a lost Greek secondary account by the first-century author Pompeius Trogus. Each of these five narrative treatments of Alexander’s reign claims to be a serious work of history or biography, but all five contradict one another on fundamental matters and cannot be considered absolutely reliable unless somehow corroborated by other evidence. Beyond these texts, we have little except a compilation of legendary material known as the Greek Alexander Romance, a wildly imaginative work filled with talking trees and other wonders that later thrilled the medieval world. (from Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions By Frank Lee Holt; ellipsis mine).
400 years after Alexander’s death, Arrian’s hagiography is today seen by the Western world as the last word on Alexander. One man’s word as history? This version of history alleges that Alexander conquered India by defeating King Porus. This is the foundation on which Westerners have based their version of Indian history.
Subsequently, to his Indian ‘conquest’ Alexander minted elephant coins – which is, to modern Western historians proof of Alexander’s conquest of ‘India’. Ptolemy, to create legitimacy for his rule, issued coins showing Alexander wearing a elephant head, looking like a mixed Zeus and Ammon.
It also became the butt of comedies. These Greek comedies about Alexander’s campaign survive through Roman writers. One such work is Plautus’ Curculio, a drama in which an ex-India soldier, Therapontigonus Platagidorus, boasts of his conquest of
the Persians, Paphlagonians, Sinopians, Arabs, Carians, Cretans, Syrians, Rhodes and Lycia, Gobbleollia and Guzzleania, Centaurbattaglia and Onenipplearmia, the whole coast of Libya and the whole of Grapejusqueezia, in fact, a good half of all the nations on earth, have been subdued by him single-handed inside of twenty days
and wants a golden statue – made with melted gold from Philip (of Macedon’s) gold coins. Other such unbelievable accounts were written in Greece and Rome about Alexander’s victory against Porus – “a popular subject in Greece and Rome for many centuries.”
The significance of these coins itself is questionable. Elephant units, managed by Indians, were a common feature in Central Asian region – and later Greek armies also co-opted elephant units. These elephant coins could well have been stuck to celebrate Alexander’s victory at Gaugamela over Darius.
Indian archaeology, writers and history do not know of any Porus. At best, Alexander raided and plundered some border districts of India. Why did Alexander’s undefeated troops, after the Indian campaign, suddenly feel homesick?
Indo-Greek colonies and kingdoms – at Indian borders
Modern historians refer to the Greek colonies in Bactria, Sogdiana (modern Afghanistan and Baluchistan) as proof of Alexander’s and Greek conquests in the Indian sub-continent. The truth – Herodotus informs us that the Persian rulers exiled rebellious Greeks to Indian borders – at Susa, Khuzestan (in modern Iran) and Bactria (modern Afghanistan). Among these exiles were citizens of Miletus, who were behind the Ionian revolt in 499 BC.
Alexander continued with this practice. After his death, we are informed by Diodorus of Sicily (World history, 18.7) veteran Macedonians and Greek exiles revolted against their externment – and the Daidochi had to send an expedition, under Peithon, to quell this revolt.
During the (nearly) half-year long siege of Tyre, Alexander received troop reinforcements from Macedonia. Before his India ‘campaign’, at Ecbatana, Alexander cashiered thousands of his Greek troops who wished to return home. After the death of Darius, at Ecbatana (330 BC), to all the Greek officers, wishing to return home, Alexander awarded one talent of gold (approx. 25k-60 kg).
Also at Ecbatana, Alexander dismissed the allied Greek troops he had requisitioned thus far under the powers granted him by the Greek league. The official goal of the invasion, the destruction of the Persian empire in revenge for its attack on Greece, had now been achieved, so the official duties of these troops were fulfilled. (from Alexander the Great By Arrian, James S. Romm, Pamela Mensch)
At this stage, Alexander also inducted into his army, fresh Persian soldiers, trained in Macedonian style of warfare. Again, after his marriage to Roxanne, 10,000 ‘new’ Persian soldiers joined his army.
Hence, the troops left were either fresh or those who decided to stay with Alexander. 326 BC was the year of the battle with Porus. The pleadings of Coenus, that Alexander’s men, “long to see their parents, wives, and children, and their homeland again.” were patently the cries of frightened soldiers. Once back in the folds of the secure Macedonian Empire, the same soldiers, joined the mutiny at Opis and revolted when they were released by Alexander to return to Macedonia, demonstrates that reason for the revolt in India, was not home sickness.
Amongst Alexander’s first actions in India were his attempts to cobble up alliances. His most famous one was with Ambhi – the ruler of Taxila. To cement this alliance, Alexander ‘gifted’ Ambhi with ‘a wardrobe of Persian robes, gold and silver ornaments, and 30 horses, 1000 talents in cash’. 1000 talents is anywhere between 25,000-60,000 kg of gold! Does this look like Ambhi accepted Alexander as the conqueror of the world – or Alexander ‘persuading’ Ambhi to seal an alliance?
The payment of 1000 talents in gold to Ambhi aroused much envy and outrage in Alexander’s camp. It prompted Meleager, to sarcastically congratulate Alexander for ‘having at least found in India a man worth 1000 talents.’ What seals this incident is Alexander’s retort to Meleager, “that envious men only torment themselves.” (C 8.12.17 & 18)
Ekkehard, a 12 century Benedictine monk and historian, a participant in the Crusade of 1101, had many such questions, in his updates of Chronicon Universale, (probably co-written by Frutolf of Michelsberg).
Coming so soon after the schism between the Greek and the Roman Church, Ekkehard must also be seen through the prism of Christian Church politics. After all, how could a monk of the Roman Church let go of such a juicy Greek target? Similarly, in 19th century environment, Alexander’s inflation must also be seen in the context of Western colonialism, which needed to show ‘Western’ superiority.
Their own history being a barren cupboard, the BFAG countries (Britain, France, America and Germany) raided other cultures. For their guidance, they had the Greek model in place. They just extended that.
First, they sanitized the records of books that the Greeks borrowed from other cultures – and never returned. These ‘unreturned’ books were later ascribed to the Greeks. Then they sanitized the Greeks themselves. After the fall of Corinth, the Greeks disappeared from modern Western history.
A Balkan general, from an obscure part of Eastern Europe, Macedonia, was Hellenized. Alexander, became a Greek conqueror of the world. It would be similar to the Chinese claim to Genghis Khan’s Mongolian Empire.
All this so-called ‘Greek’ learning came from Babylon-to-Greek-to-Arabic-to-Latin/Greek manuscripts. Greeks, Romans, the Church major destroyers of books and learning, became voracious dacoits in the recent past – without as much as by your say so. Roman usurpers (of the Balkan Empire) were glamorized – to the point of becoming stars in the glam rock show of Anglo-French-German history.