Myth and Polis VII: Mythology and the depiction of Alexander the Great

When I visit one of the great archaeological museums of Europe, I always look for two things: how many busts of Alexander the Great are there, and which Greek coins are on display? So when I was at the Altes Museum in Berlin last week, I noticed that whenever Alexander the Great is represented in …

Hellenistic Cities II: Megalopolis: a short history

In part two of the Hellenistic Cities series, we are looking at the youngest polis of the Greek Mainland: the Arcadian city of Megalopolis. The archaeological site of Megalopolis lies in the heart of the Arcadian region in Greece and is about a 45 minute drive from modern day Sparta. Not many of the buildings …

Hellenistic Cities I: the Settling of Alexandria

In this new series, we will be exploring the cities of the Hellenistic world. Each time we will explore a new city and discover a different aspect such as its history, social groups, political institutions or cultural festivals. This week we start with what is perhaps the most famous of the cities of the Hellenistic …

Myth and Polis VI: Alexander the Great

Whichever way you look at it, when you talk about the Hellenistic world, most people immediately think of Alexander the Great. And how could they not? His deeds have captured the imagination for millennia. Whether it is his extremely fast march to India or the ease with which he inspired loyalty in his soldiers and loved …

Myth and Politics V: behind the scenes?

In the previous parts of this series, we have already seen kinship policy in action. From these examples, a few things become very clear. We do know that these kinship ties were used as an effective effective means of achieving certain goals, but do we know which ties where used and, more importantly, who these …

Hellenistic Women III: Berenice I of Egypt

To conclude our weeklong celebration of the women from Greek Antiquity, we are looking at another important queen from the Hellenistic period: Berenice I of Egypt. She was the fourth wife of the founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty but also the most important one as she was the mother of his successor Ptolemy II Philadelphus …

Hellenistic Women I: Apama, the first Queen of the Seleucid Empire

During a critical moment in the conquests of Alexander the Great, he issued a surprising order: Alexander announced to his men that there would be a grand wedding between the highest-ranking officers of the Macedonian army and the captured Persian noble women at the capital city of Susa, in 324 BCE. His successors and their …

Greek Kings and Indian Emperors: Diplomacy between the Hellenistic Kingdoms and Mauryan India

To writers like Herodotus and Ctesias, India was on the periphery of the Greek understanding of the inhabited world, drifting the between outright fantasy and the faintest tidbits of reality. Though the invasion of Alexander the Great and the Macedonian army into the Punjab in 327 BC was something of a bloody introduction, it marked …

Myth and Polis III: Kinship diplomacy in action!

Enough with the theory. The first two parts of this series have already provided a first framework in which the central theme of this series – i.e. the use of mythology for political purposes – can be applied. So it is high time to see kinship diplomacy in action. For the first example turning our …

An introduction to the Seleucids II: The (Re)birth of an Empire

This is the second part of the introduction into the seleucid empire, click here to read the first part. This time Guest blogger Nicolaas verhelst introduces us to the founder of the Seleucid dynasty, Seleucos I Nicator. Read on to learn more about the man, the myth and the legend as well the earliest and …