The Great Zeus CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Jun 7, - Greek God Zeus | Zeus, the great presiding deity of the universe, the ruler of heaven and earth, was regarded by the Greeks, first, as the god of all. Greek Antiquity – Macedonia – Alexander III the Great Zeus Herakles( BC) – AR Drachm g / 15 mm Obverse Head of Herakles right, wearing lion. Zeus Nikephoros. ,00 EUR. Greek Drachm ca. BC VF+/EF- ALEXANDER III the Great AR Drachm. VF+/EF-. Mylasa mint. Zeus. ,00 EUR. Hamburg - Statue of Alexander the great as Zeus Aigiochos. Hamburg Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe. Done. Comment. 1, views. 0 faves. 0 comments. Zeus: The Origins and History of the Greek God (Hörbuch-Download): Amazon.de: Charles River Editors, Jesse Harasta, Bruno Belmar, Charles River Editors.
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Guided by his father and the teachings of Aristotle, Alexander began his military career at the age of 16, fighting and defeating the Thracians.
Just a few years later, Philip II was dead it was an inside job , and Alexander replaced his father as chief warrior of the kingdom and its allies.
It was perhaps not a coincidence that around this time he also learned of his purportedly divine nature from his mother Olympias.
With this self-knowledge under his belt, Alexander was highly motivated to take on the Persians, whose expanding empire threatened the independence of Macedon and its ally, the League of Corinth, a loose association of Greek city-states.
He launched a campaign east and then southward, along the eastern edge of the Mediterranean. Alexander was relentlessly victorious in battle, and his quest to completely overpower his adversaries was well on its way to total success.
After a particularly hard-fought victory in the Persian coastal outpost of Tyre, in present-day Lebanon, Alexander and his troops arrived in the fabled land of Egypt.
Persia had controlled all of its territory for generations, imposing its will on the native population and thoroughly demoralizing the Egyptians by outlawing the practice of their religion.
This fascinating story is highlighted in the wide-ranging documentary The Story of Egypt. As a result, the conqueror was perceived as savior of the land and its people.
Alexander immersed himself in Egyptian culture and traditions, further ingratiating himself to the people. He was so popular that in a mere six months — the length of his stay in the country — he accomplished three profoundly significant goals that transformed him as much as they changed the country:.
Alexander greatly respected the religious traditions of the Egyptians, whose history had already spanned millennia. Alexander participated in religious rituals himself.
For example, making his way to Memphis, a major city on the Nile southwest of Cairo, he sought out the sanctuary of Apis , a highly regarded pharaonic deity embodied in a live bull, and offered sacrifices to it.
In the desert was an oasis that housed the Temple of Amun and its resident oracle. Alexander demanded an audience with the oracle, and was received in the temple.
Alexander never spoke directly of the content of his interview, but it is widely believed that the oracle confirmed for Alexander what his mother Olympias had planted in his heart.
Since the Egyptian supreme god was, in the minds of the Greeks, aligned with Zeus, they called this god Zeus-Amun. Alexander, they believed, was his divine son.
Alexander knew that defeating the Persians in Egypt meant he had to come up with a new way of governing the country.
He allowed Egyptians a greater role in their government than had the Persians, but nonetheless it remained clear that Egypt was still an occupied land.
Alexander appointed members of his staff, all Macedonians, to the ruling junta. Was Cleopatra Egyptian? Plutarch reports that, after his visit to Siwah, Alexander "assumed a manner of divinity" around non-Greeks, as though he was "fully convinced of his divine birth and parentage" But Plutarch believed this divine persona to be just that - a performance: " Alexander was not vain at all or deluded but rather used belief in his divinity to enslave others" In other words, Plutarch believed Alexander used the rumor that he was a son of Zeus-Ammon to justify his immense authority, especially to the foreign peoples he ruled.
So, it's not a leap to accept that Alexander's consultation with the oracle represented some kind of turning point in his public persona, if not his own sense of identity.
A few unanswered questions have stumped historians ever since:. Why did Alexander risk his entire campaign - not to mention his life - to consult the oracle?
Did Alexander really consider himself to be the offspring of Zeus-Ammon? What secrets, if any, did Alexander learn during his private consultation with the oracle?
By beginning with the first question - about why Alexander sought out this oracle in the first place - we may be able to render the whole scenario less puzzling.
The sources of antiquity list a number of reasons Alexander made his famous detour to Siwah. Here are the direct quotes:.
Alexander found himself passionately eager to visit the shrine of Ammon in Libya. One reason was his wish to consult the oracle there, as it had a reputation for infallibility, and also because Perseus and Heracles were supposed to have consulted it But there was also another reason: Alexander longed to equal the fame of Perseus and Heracles; the blood of both flowed in his veins, and just as legend traced their descent from Zeus, so he, too, had a feeling that in some way he was descended from Ammon.
In any case, he undertook this expedition with the deliberate purpose of obtaining more precise information on this subject - or at any rate to say he had obtained it" III.
Alexander was nevertheless goaded by an overwhelming desire to visit the temple of Jupiter Zeus - dissatisfied with elevation on the mortal level, he either considered, or wanted others to believe, that Jupiter was his ancestor" 4.
Plutarch, Strabo and Diodorus also provide accounts of his trip, but say little about his reasons for going in the first place.
It's not surprising that Alexander - an avid fan of the ancient heroes - would have been inspired to undertake a journey by the deeds of Heracles and Perseus, two of the most celebrated figures of Greek myth.
But what about this other aspect? Why did Alexander have a "feeling", as Arrian reports, that he was descended from Zeus-Ammon?
Would it explain his desperation to see the oracle at Siwah? There may be some clues in the legends about Alexander's birth. Plutarch gives an overview of these fantastical stories.
In one, Alexander's mother, Olympias, was impregnated by a thunderbolt which struck her womb thunderbolts are a major symbol associated with Zeus.
In another, Philip found Olympias lying in bed with a giant serpent. Terrified of the sight, he sent an envoy to consult the Oracle at Delphi, who instructed Philip to honor the deity known as Zeus-Ammon.
Although these supernatural claims about Alexander's birth have received a great deal of attention from those who embrace the mythic qualities of Alexander's biography, most historians consider them apocryphal fabricated stories invented after Alexander's visit to Siwah.
There are a few reasons for this:. As far as we know, Alexander never referenced these stories during his life. This leads us to think he wasn't aware of them and that they began to circulate after his death.
The stories are very similar to those that appear in the Alexander Romance , a collection of myths about Alexander that include scenes of him riding on a hawk and visiting the underworld.
The outlandishness of the stories is an obvious strike against their credibility. Although Zeus was certainly a relevant figure to the royalty of Macedon, Zeus-Ammon had no connection to Alexander or his family until he visited the oracle in BCE.
In all probability, these legends about his birth were developed retroactively to justify Alexander's claims of divine origin, embellish his growing legend after his death, or both.
But that leaves us with the question of why Alexander risked so much to get to Siwah. Should be take the ancient Greek and Roman biographers' explanations at face value?
Or is there something we are missing? As usual, Robin Lane Fox, Oxford historian and Alexander expert, helps fill in some of the missing context in his brilliant book Alexander the Great.
He covers the entire Siwah affair with tremendous attention to detail and offers his own theory to explain Alexander's actions. Director Oliver Stone credited Fox's work as one of his key resources in developing the film.
From there, RLF addresses one prevalent explanation that Alexander's desire to visit the oracle at Siwah stemmed from his coronation at Pharaoh in Egypt.
In 4th century Egypt, a Pharaoh would have been worshipped as a "son of Amun" Remember: Amun was the chief Egyptian god.
Zeus was the chief Greek god. These gods were conflated by the Greeks into Zeus-Ammon. According to this explanation, Alexander sought out the oracle in the Libyan desert in order to learn more about his new status as the son of Amun.
Besides, even if he was, Alexander didn't seem to value the title very seriously, as it is not mentioned directly in the ancient sources at all.
The king of the Egyptian gods, Amun, had his own temples and high priests much closer to Memphis whom Alexander could consult. RLF elaborates below:.
And yet Siwah and his sonship of Zeus were to remain lively themes until the very last year of his reign when Egypt had been forgotten Zeus Ammon at Siwah was the last available oracle of Greek repute before Alexander led his troops inland into Asia, and Alexander wished to consult him for this simple reason alone" But wishing to consult an oracle and risking one's life, and legacy, to do so is quite another.
So what compelled Alexander to take such a dramatic and unexpected detour into the Libyan desert? RLF believes this trip wasn't quite as irrational and surprising as the ancient historians have led us to believe.
Curtius and Diodorus tell us that Alexander met with ambassadors from the Greek city of Cyrene while en route to Siwah, who brought him gifts and became his allies.
RLF believes that Alexander's westward path from Alexandria actually fit his normal pattern as a conqueror and that the Oracle of Ammon was probably not top of mind until he met with the leaders of Cyrene:.
Very possibly, they did not mention the oasis until Alexander had taken up their offer, gone to visit their cities and reached the town of Paraetonium, miles west of Alexandria and ten miles beyond a usual turning-off point for pilgrims to Siwah.
If so, Alexander would have turned west not to consult the god but to follow his envoys from Cyrene and secure his frontier with Libya, an aim which is in keeping with his methods as a general.
Only when strategy was satisfied did he think of a detour to Ammon, a familiar and truthful oracle" This is a compelling explanation that removes some of the mystery from the equation.
The decision to visit Siwah didn't come on suddenly like some of the ancient historians imply. Rather, it happened organically based on Alexander's interaction with the peoples he encountered - they persuaded him to seek out the oracle.
Whether he was familiar with Zeus-Ammon before then or not, Alexander's ties to Zeus through the royal family of Macedon along with his heightened religiosity and tolerance for risk made the trip inevitable.
Robin Lane Fox presents a convincing analysis of Alexander's reasons for visiting Siwah in the first place. But how does he make sense of Alexander's experience there and his later association with Zeus-Ammon?
Like many others, he believes Alexander's experience at the oasis was a pivotal moment in his life. But it may not have been the private conversation with the oracle that mattered the most.
Instead, it was Plutarch's account - of the high priest fumbling his introduction - that made the most impact. As quoted earlier in this article, the high priest apparently greeted Alexander publicly as "Zeus' son" instead of "my son".
Although the reason for this was clearly a mispronunciation, it was commonplace among traveling Greeks of the time to draw what they wished from these kinds of accident-prone interactions.
In it, he explains the simplistic connections Alexander and other 4th century travelers tended to draw between their own culture and that of foreigners.
For instance, he references Alexander and his army's belief that the Greek hero-god Dionysus had visited a settlement in India they called Nysa.
He also suggests the landscape around Nysa, which featured quite a bit of ivy - a symbol of Dionysus - was critical to them coming to this conclusion.
Alexander's men, thousands of miles from home, proactively sought to insert their own religious legends into the lands and events happening around them.
It did not take any kind of "proof" to convince them - a similar-sounding word or strange geological find was more than enough evidence. In other words, for Alexander, a clear mistake on the part of the High Priest at Siwah would not necessarily have been discarded - especially if it was in agreement with his own pre-existing beliefs.
Alexander may not have believed he was literally the son of Zeus before hearing that title spoken by the priest, but the idea was entirely in sync with the mainstream Greek religion of the time.
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