The Greek Rajas of Ancient India

Very few people know that approximately 40 years after the death of the famous Cleopatra, a date generally considered to be the end of the Hellenistic period, a Greek king named Strato III still reigned over a small territory in eastern Punjab. He was the last of dozens of rajahs in ancient India descended from …

The Dark Side of Alexander The Great  

When Alexander died in 323 in Babylon, his myth immediately spread throughout the known world. For centuries, the Macedonian king has fascinated rulers, leaders and-the everyday man. The rapidity of his conquests and his young age made him legendary. Many were inspired by him, and even today his personality continues to enchant. Ancient sources tell …

Anyte: A Hellenistic Poet

During the Hellenistic period, which starts at the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE, Greek poetry flourished in new directions. It reflected on the natural, physical landscape in ways Greek poetry had not before. The rise of pastoral poetry – poems about the idealized shepherd reflecting on nature – can be attributed to …

Myth and the Polis IX: Foundation Myths

Look at the buildings of an ancient Greek city and you cannot help but notice the references to Greek mythology are everywhere. As well as specific buildings for the veneration of local heroes, such as the Erechtheion on the Acropolis, there were temples to the gods, such as the temple of Apollo in Corinth. And …

Myth and polis VIII: Alexander’s use of myth during his campaigns

We have already reached the eighth part of this series. In the last two contributions, I have paid extensive attention to the figure of Alexander the Great and we have looked at which mythological ancestors the Macedonian king had and how this descent can still be seen in material sources. In this last part on …

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 …

Myth and Polis IV: Just a Hellenistic thing?

This is already the fourth part of our series on myth and polis. Previously I have outlined how the Greeks had a whole arsenal of traditions that were used in Greek diplomacy. Referring to a common, mythological kinship between two parties was only one of the ways the Greeks tried to persuade others to join …

Hellenistic Women II: Nossis

As you may have noticed, this week is all about women of Greek Antiquity! On the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, you can find posts dedicated to some of the most influential and famous women, but here on the website we are shining some light on a few great women from the Hellenistic Period. After Apama, …

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 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 …