Essay on Alexander's Attempt To Integrate the Greek and Persian People

Essay on Alexander's Attempt To Integrate the Greek and Persian People

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The following gobbet is from Plutarch’s (C. 50 B.C.- C.120 A.D.) Alexander. It narrates Alexander’s journey to the Libyan Oracle of Siwah in 332 . The aim of this essay is to draw the possible reasons as to why Alexander went to this specific oracle its consequences and question the reliability of Plutarch’s account.

Plutarch describes the conversation between the priest of Ammon and Alexander. Alexander inquired if all the murderers of his father were punished to which the priest replied that Alexander was not the son of a mortal.
Plutarch also records the priest mispronouncing “O paidos “ (O son of Zeus) instead of “O paidon” (O my son).
Even if Diodorus and Justin relate the same event and agree that the priest speaking to Alexander referred to him as the son of Zeus, our most reliable source on Alexander, Arrian, whose account is generally well detailed, fails to mention this. Indeed, the only mention of what was said at Siwah was that Alexander ‘heard what was agreeable to his wishes’. So why then does Arrian fail to mention the account of Alexander’s speech with the priest? One possibility would be that this speech never happened.

The deification of Alexander was an important event in his lifetime, in the years before his death he was deified. Although speculation exists as to how Alexander was deified; meaning whether or not it was self-deification.
Roberts suggests that Alexander encouraged many Greek cities to ‘offer him divine cult’, for which they allowed. Plutarch being a biographer and moralist had a tendency to romanticise his subject and as a consequence being subjective. One of Arrian’s principal sources was Ptolemy, who was a key figure during Alexander’s campaign and Pharaoh of Egypt followin...

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...: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Vol.8, No 3, pp. 349-355 at (Accessed on 22nd February 2010)
• Robert J. (2007), ‘ruler-cult’ in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, Ed. Robert, Oxford Reference Online:Oxford University (Accessed on 22nd February 2010)
• Robison C. (1943), ‘Alexander’s Deification’ in The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 64, No. 3, pp.286-301 at (Accessed on 22nd February 2010)
• Russel D. (2010), ‘Plutarch’ in The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization, Ed. Hornblower and Spawforth. Oxford Reference Online:Oxford University (Accessed on 22nd February 2010)

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