Modern Historians about Macedonia – George Rawlinson

 

According to the tradition generally accepted by the Greeks, the Macedonian kingdom, which under Philip and Alexander attained to such extraordinary greatness, was founded by Hellenic emigrants from Argos. The Macedonians themselves were not Hellenes; they belonged to the barbaric races, not greatly differing from the Greeks in ethnic type, but far behind them in civilization,  which bordered Hellas upon the north. They were a distinct race, not Paeonian, not Illyrian, not Thracian; but, of the three, their connection was closest with the Illyrians. The Argive colony, received hospitably, gradually acquired power in the region about Mount Bermius; and Perdiccas, one of the original emigrants, was (according to Herodotus) acknowledged as king.
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The reign of Philip is the turning-point in Macedonian his¬tory. Hitherto, if we except Archelaus, Macedonia had not possessed a single king whose abilities exceeded the common average, or whose aims had about them any thing of grandeur. Notwithstanding their asserted and even admitted Hellenism,  the ” barbarian ” character of their training and associations had its effect on the whole line of sovereigns; and their highest qualities were the rude valor and the sagacity bordering upon cunning which are seldom wanting in savages.  But Philip was a monarch of a different stamp. In natural ability he was at least the equal of any of his Greek contemporaries; while the circumstances under which he grew to manhood were peculiarly favorable to the development of his talents.
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The reign of Alexander the Great has in the history of the world much the same importance which that of his father has in the history of Macedonia and of Greece. Alexander revolutionized the East, or, at any rate, so much of it as was con¬nected with the West by intercourse or reciprocal influence. The results of a conquest effected in ten years continued for as many centuries, and remain in some respects to the present day. The Hellenization of Western Asia and North-eastern Africa, which dates from Alexander’s successes,  is one of the most remarkable facts in the history of the human race, and one of those most pregnant with important consequences.
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The policy of Alexander, so far as appears, aimed at com¬plete fusion and amalgamation of his own Graeco-Macedonian subjects with the dominant race of the subjugated countries, the Medo-Persians.
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The mixed people which it was his object to produce, while vastly superior to ordinary Asiatics, would have fallen far below the Hellenic, perhaps even below the Macedonian type It is thus not much to be regretted that the scheme was nipped in the bud, and Hellenic culture preserved in tolerable purity to exercise a paramount influence over the Roman, and so over the modern, world.
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Still, the evils of constant warfare had been, out of Greece at any rate, partly counterbalanced by the foundation of large and magnificent cities, intended partly as indications of the wealth and greatness of their founders, partly as memorials to hand down their names to after ages; by the habits of military discipline imparted to a certain number of the Asiatics; and by the spread of the Greek language and of Greek ideas over most of Western Asia and North-eastern Africa. The many dialects of Asia Minor died away and completely disappeared before the tongue of the conqueror, which, even where it did not wholly oust the vernacular (as in Egypt, in Syria, and in Upper Asia), stood beside it and above it as the language of the ruling classes and of the educated, generally intelligible to such persons from the shores of the Adriatic to the banks of the Indus, and from the Crimea to Elephantine.  Knowledge rapidly progressed; for not only did the native histories of Egypt, Babylon, Phoenicia, Judaea, and other Eastern countries become now for the first time really known to the Greeks,  but the philosophic thought and the accumulated scientific stores of the most advanced Oriental nations were thrown open to them,
and Greek intelligence  was able to em¬ploy itself on materials of considerable value, which had hith¬erto been quite inaccessible.
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A great advance was made in the sciences of mathematics, astronomy, geography, ethnology, and natural history, partly through this opening up of Oriental stores, partly through the enlarged acquaintance with the world and its phenomena which followed on the occupation by the Greeks of vast tracts previously untrodden by Europeans. 
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The library which the first Ptolemy had founded was by the second so largely increased that he has often been regarded as its author. The minor library of the Serapeium was entirely of his collection. Learned men were invited to his court from every quarter; and literary works of the highest value were undertaken at his desire or under his patronage. Among these the most important were the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek language  (which was commenced in his reign and continued under several of his successors), and the ” History of Egypt,” derived from the native records, which was composed in Greek during his reign by the Egyptian priest Manetho.  Philadelphus also patron¬ized painting and sculpture, and adorned his capital with architectural works of great magnificence

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