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 Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 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 5, 2018

All Alexander’s Women by Robbert Bosschart (3rd edition)

This is the third edition of All Alexander’s Women by Robbert Bosschart (ASIN: B07B4HSQ1B). It is rare and rather exceptional to find a book on Alexander the Great looking at this world conqueror from an entirely different and unusual angle: the women that were part of his life in one way or another. This is what Robbert Bosschart has accomplished.

The role of these women was widely developed in his previous two editions in which he stated that Alexander the Great would have introduced equal rights for men and women had he lived long enough! This status of women’s equality was not something Alexander created but existed already in the Persian Empire he conquered. It is said to go back to the Zoroastrian doctrine backed by Cyrus the Great and even before that in a matriarchal era. The leading power was the goddess Inanna, equaled by Anahita and blended later on with Ishtar, Isis, Cybele and the entire Greek female pantheon; she was still venerated in the Sassanid era.

In this third edition, Robbert Bosschart talks us through the relations Alexander had with women, the best known being his own mother Olympias and his sister Cleopatra, Queen Ada of Caria and Queen-Mother Sisygambis of Persia, who both had adopted him as their son. This  was not a small matter for in the case of Persia it meant that Alexander was accepted to rule “by the power of Ahuramazda” together with that of the goddess Anahita.

It is a vast topic hardly mentioned in our western literature since ancient Greeks generally treated women as mere trade goods. It is easy to understand why this concept of equality - which must have looked very “Barbarian” in their eyes – was willfully left out of their literature. The macho Roman writers did the same and as a matter of course our western world was unaware of the customs and habits of the East.

Robbert Bosschart is taking us a step further as he develops the Persian point of view on the matter of equality, which he only touched superficially in his previous versions. He is digging even deeper into the subject exploring a number of oriental sources. One of them is the Persepolis Fortification Tablets, an archive of thousands of clay-tablets containing over 15,000 texts from the Achaemenid Period which are only partially translated till now.

Another aspect highlighted in this book is the Persian version of the Alexander Romance, the Darab-Nama and the Sikandar-Nama, a mixture of Old Persian tradition with Hellenistic and Muslim themes. Also discussed is the Liber de Morte, a fictional last will which is often but not always attached to the Alexander Romance. Last but not least, the author reminds us that Alexander is elevated to the status of prophet in the Koran, hence his nickname the “Two-Horned”. The book also includes an interesting chapter about the “King’s Eyes”, integer secret keepers that were responsible for reporting to the king (a kind of Persian Intelligence Service avant-la-lettre) and to control the implementation of his laws and orders all through the King’s huge empire.

To complete his extensive research and to take it to a level to be comprehended by all, Robbert Bosschart has added a number of helpful lists and tables: Historical Dates/ Facts in Alexander’s Life; Chronological list of Persian kings; The Classical sources on Alexander’s era; Reference works; Biographical/Geographical Index (alphabetical); and an extremely useful list of Where Alexander’s Women appear in the Classical Sources”.

I find the subject of this book truly fascinating! The Persian view point for one, is unique. And just imagine what our world would have looked like had Alexander lived long enough to realize his “merging” of East and West as he undoubtedly planned when he celebrated the mass wedding in Susa. Not only would our world have known one single ruler, one single currency and one single vehicular language (Greek), but we also would have lived in a society where men and women were each other’s equals.

P.S. For those who can’t wait, a select extract of good 50 pages of this book is available (free of charge) at www.Academia.edu.

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting! I'll buy the book, thank you for sharing this! I love your blog :)

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  2. Thanks for sharing my excitement. You'll not be disappointed!

    ReplyDelete