Modern historians about Macedonia – Ulrich Wilcken


“Alexander the Great (The Norton Library) ” by Ulrich Wilcken


alexander represents the whole course of Greek life, for he has as much as Achilles as of Epaminondas;

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but the development of greek civilisation into a civilisation which was world-wide. It is in this way that his influence has affected the history of mankind ever down to our own time

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for he aimed not only at introducing Greek culture into the East, but also at revealing to the Greeks the nature and culture of Asia.

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Alexander undertook as his first duty the liberation of the Greek cities of Asia Minor from the Persian yoke

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everywhere the liberation from Persian rule was greeted with enthusiasm, and Alexander celebrated as the liberator.

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the first point of the Panhellenic program had been quickly achieved: the Greek cities of Asia Minor were freed from the Persian yoke and incorporated in the Corinthian league.

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Instead of treating them as traitors, Alexander displayed surprising leniency and generosity to them.

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his desire was here, as in the case of his previous conquests, to pave the way for Greek culture.

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How these Hellenomemphites must have rejoiced, when alexander entered the city! They might well hope that a new era of Greek influence in Egypt was to begin.

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but it lay in the interior of the Delta, and could not be as effective as a great Greek commercial city on the coast, such as Alexander now planned.

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it was as a Greek that he visited the god because his oracle was then regarded as infallible in the Greek world.

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complete surprise, could not but make the deepest impression upon him. The god he regarded as Zeus, the great Greek oracular god, and in Greek language

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As a bulwark against them, Alexander founded on this side of the Jaxartes a Greek city, ‘Alexandria Eschate’

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To preserve what he had fought for, Alexander founded on the hydaspes two Greek cities, one Nicaea (victory town) where he had succeeded in crossing, and the other, where the battle was fought, Bucephala

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In this way Greek technology and Greek science were employed on Indian soil, while Alexander was subduing the country

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Since then he had followed his second aim only, the winning of Asia for himself and for Greek civilization

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Finally we come to this civilising policy. Alexander marched out as the enthousiastic admirer of Greek culture who was to open up the East to its influence.

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The very cult epithets of these Ptolemies, which the Egyptians had difficulty in reproducing in their language, show us that this cult of the Hellenistic king was of PURELY Greek origin;

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already discern a religious policy at work in the creation by Ptolemy I of the cult of Sarapis for both Greeks and Egyptians. The example of Philadelphus was soon followed by the Seleukids.

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Thus in the middle of the Oriental world rose Greek poleis, whose citizens had brought with them and continued to use greek language and religion, law and social customs.

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For the first time in the Greek world arose a library, where the whole treasures of Greek literature were collected in several hundred thousand papyrus rolls.

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It was from Alexander that the Diadochi took over the idea of making the Games (Agones) an instrument of propaganda for Greek culture in the East.

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thus imposed Alexander’s idea of spreading Greek culture in the East was realised with great success by his immediate successors in Asia and Europe.

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“The beginnings of Macedonian history are shrouded in complete darkness. There is a keen controversy on the ethnological problem, whether the Macedonians were Greeks or not. Linguistic science has at its disposal a very limited quantity of Macedonian words, and the archaeological exploration has hardly begun. And yet when we take into account the political conditions, religion and morals of the Macedonians, our conviction is strengthened that they WERE A GREEK RACE AND AKIN TO THE DORIANS.”

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“Quite apart from the local separation of the two peoples, the barbaric impression which the Macedonians made on the Greeks is explained by the close relationship in which the Macedonians lived for centuries with their barbarian neighbours, the Illyrians (the ancestors of the Albanians of to-day) in the West, and the Thracians in the East

” A strong Illyrian and Thracian influence can thus be recognized in Macedonian speech and manners. ‘These however are only TRIFLES compared with the GREEK character of the Macedonian nationality; for example, the names of the true full-blooded Macedonians, especially of the princes and nobles, are purely Greek in their formation and sounds. Above all, the FUNDAMENTAL features of Macedonian political institutions are NOT ONLY GREEK but primitive GREEK’.

Want more of this? See these Posts:

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  3. Modern historians about Macedonia – Bernard Randall
  4. Modern historians about Macedonia – Francis S. Marvin
  5. Modern Historians about Macedonia – Bernard Randall