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 …

An Introduction to the Seleukid Empire I: An Ode to the Elephant Kings

The Seleukids. What does one generally know about them? Not nearly enough. In this two part series Guest author Nicolaas Verhelst introduces us to the history of the Seleucid dynasty. In this first part he starts with an ode to the Seleucid kings and their vast and complex empire. He explains some of the reasons …

Myth and Polis II: Did the Greeks believe their own myths?

‘Did the Greeks believe their own myths?’ This question, which was central to Paul Veyne’s 1988 book of the same name, is also important in this series on the deeper connection between myth and politics among the Greeks. After all, as I pointed out in the previous entry, to us it might seem strange that …

What’s in a name: Bucephalus, Alexander’s Horse

When you mention the Hellenistic period, people immediately think of Alexander the Great. This is no surprise as his military conquests and travels shaped the Hellenistic era in a way which no other individual has done. Yet far fewer people know the name of one of his most trusty companions, his horse Bukephalus. In a …