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 …

Numismatics and the legend of horned Bukephalos

In her last post, Michelle simon introduced us to Alexander’s horse bukephalos. One of the most famous horses of the ancient world. Despite his famed beauty and nobility, he had a rather common name, since boukephalous in greek means ‘ox-headed’. According to tradition, there were several explanations for his name, the most interesting of which …

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 …

Hellenistic sculpture

The art of the Hellenistic period differed greatly from that of the period before. In this post we will be exploring some of the typical characteristics of Hellenistic sculpture via some of its most famous statues. Alexander’s conquests and the creation of the Hellenistic kingdoms created a cosmopolitan environment which influenced the art as well. …

Myth and the polis: Greek diplomacy and the mythical past

Elke Close Mythological stories and figures influenced the daily life of the ancient Greeks in different ways. They were at the heart of Greek religion, taught valuable life lessons to young and old and provided an explanation for unusual natural phenomena. Greek mythology was thus very much a part of the Greek identity. It is …

The Ptolemies

How many Ptolemies were there? Why was Cleopatra number seven? Where did the custom of brother‑sister marriage come from? This guides delves into the Ptolemaic dynasty who ruled over Egypt from the early years after Alexander’s death in 323 BC until the fall of Cleopatra in 31 BC. Distinct aspects of Ptolemaic rule will be …

The many faces of Alexander the Great

Thinking about antiquity, there can be no one more iconic and famous than Alexander the Great. Even though he died at a very young age, he managed to create one of the biggest empires seen to this day. His conquests of the east were defining for the Hellenistic period as it allowed Greek culture to …