Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene / Alexandria on the Indus (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A thought about Alexander’s Sacrifices

I recently came across this highly intriguing article written by Andrew Young about Alexander’s Sacrifices (through ASOR, the American Schools of Oriental Research). It is quite an interesting view point as ancient authors have mentioned these sacrifices in their history time and again. In my eyes this means that sacrifices were very important in those days.

I have read somewhere that it was the duty of a Macedonian king to perform a sacrifice to the gods every morning and this is exactly what Alexander has done, even when he was away from his homeland or sick in Babylon. It seems that for him the sacrifices were as much part of his daily life as were his baths, for instance. Yet it is very difficult to understand or to estimate their scope so many centuries later.

Andrew Young may be right when saying that Alexander was not particular about the choice of his gods and that he would sacrifice to anyone of them as long as the god would serve the purpose of the moment. Yet on the other hand this opinion may be questioned since he was very proud to have both Heracles and Dionysus as his ancestors, while he himself may or may not have been the son of Zeus. Besides, the entire concept of worship and religion has evolved so much since Alexander’s day that it is difficult or nearly impossible to judge what power the gods had over people’s daily lives.

Superstition was a word and a concept that didn’t exist in antiquity, nor did witchcraft as a matter of fact. Everything what happened (or didn’t happen) in life was in the hands of god or a god, meaning you’d better stay on good terms with them. Consequently, a daily sacrifice however big or small was never wasted. 

What I find remarkable with Alexander is that he made offerings not only to ask for a good omen but also to thank the gods. His reason might be for being victorious in battle or for having crossed a river safely, for any matter important or trivial, he simply made time to be thankful. I wonder whether this is part of Alexander’s key to success. He did not take things for granted and it does not matter how much he really believed in these sacrifices. It is a way to positive thinking and in his case, to positive action. Going to battle with the support of the gods is a totally different incentive than going to battle to simply win, although this is the ultimate goal. Positive thinking is the key to success - it was then as it is now. It does not matter if you find it by sacrificing to your gods or to foreign gods and by the psychological manipulation of your brain, the result is the same.

So, there may be much more to say about Alexander’s sacrifices after all.

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