DATE: 2:55:00 AM
Well, here is another installment of the Iranology column in Cappuccino and also in my own website.
Meanwhile, I was reading "A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire" by Prof. Dandamaev, the part about the advancements of Philip II of Macedonia and the campaign of his son, Alexander, against the Achaemenids. Despite all the military stuff that has been said about the father and the son, it was interesting to read the diplomatic policies of Philip. He as a Macedonian (this a Hellenised "barbarian"), tried to pass himself as the "saviour" of the Greeks and their defender against the "enemy" (Persians). In fact, Persia, due to its size and its concern with its heartland of Persia/Media, had not been involved in Greek affairs for many years. On the other hand, the chaos of late Achaemenid times also meant that Persian did not eneter internal Greek politics. Despite the many cruelties that Alexander commited during his campaign (including he burning of the Palaces of Persepolis and the documents included in its treasury), what is more important is the way Macedonians ended the "Golden Age of Greece".
Inside Greece, Athens to be exact, two parties, one the "democrats" headed by Demosthenes, and the other "Unionists" headed by Isocrates, were fighting over the diplomacy. Democrats argued that the "Barbarians" in fact never tried to limit the Greek freedoms or change their system of government (indeed, Persians just wanted to keep Greeks from starting havoc on the Persian satrapies of Asia Minor). They also said that Macedonians, the only European Hellenised state with a monarchy, was more dangerous to the freedom of Greece and their democratic system of government.
On the other hand, the Unionists encouraged all Greeks to unite and fight the "enemy" and take revange for the wars waged by "Barbarians" against the Greeks 150 years before. They wanted Macedonia to be the leader of all Greeks and attack Persia with a collective force. They accused Democrats of not being patriotic and having ties to the Persians and taking bribes by them.
I guess we all know the outcome. Macedonians finally conquered all of Greece, concluding a "Treaty of Unision" that on the surface kept the autonomy of the Greek city-states. In fact, Macedonia established garrisons near all Greek cities and directly controlled their politics. This in fact was the end of the "Golden Age" of Greece. Shortly afterwards, Romans managed to occupy Greece and forever end its independence and florishing culture. It is interesting that under 200 years of "Barbarian" threat, Greece had its Golden Age and saw the birth of Anaxagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aritstoteles, Pericles, and other greats of Greek culture. The Greek culture that many, in my opinion wrongly, see as the root of modern "Western Civilisation" actually existed during the Achaemenid era, while under the Macedonians and Romans, the monarchy eliminated the polis system and thus the Greek democracy.
I still wonder if people think that Alexander's dominance over Greece and very destructive conquest of the Achaemenid Empire "saved" the Western Civilisation! The whole thing sounds too much like a certain modern government that sees itself as the defender of "civilisation" against "barbarism"!!!
DATE: 1:40:00 AM
Read my latest column on Achaemenid History in Cappuccino Magazine's Iranology Page. It is about the reign of Darius II and Artaxerxes II and it is called: Empire in Chaos