Alexander's Orientalisation

  • Created by: ekmad
  • Created on: 11-06-15 13:10


  • Mass marriage at Susa in 324 of 87 Macedonian Companions to native Iranian noblewomen. All but one (the future King Seleucid I) renounced their marriage after Alexander's death
  • Arrival of 30,000 Iranian infantrymen in 324 who Alexander designated "successors" preceded the forceful disbanding of 10,000 Macedonian veterans who were sent home
  • By 324 Iranian cavalry and lancers were being assigned to the formerly Macedonian Companion Cavalry brigades.
  • In 327 the Macedonians objected to being forced to observe "proskynesis" towards Alexander. Callisthenes led the objection claiming he had no qualms displaying obedience to a supreme ruler but issue with treating Alexander as a living God.
  • After visit to Siwah Oasis in 332, Alexander showed increasing reverence to the Libyan-Egyptian Ammon.
  • After Gaugamela (331) Alexander began to dress in the Persian Emperor style with Macedonian trappings. Black Cleitus spoke of his dismay at Alexander's more "barbaric style"
  • Continuation of the Persian "satrap" system, appointed Mazaeus, an Iranian, as satrap of Babylonia in 331.


  • The cities Alexander founded were ostensibly Greek and Hellenic in their structure and culture. Even the ones in deep Eastern territory such as Alexandria-on-the-Caucusus and Bucephala
  • Was still culturally Greek, carried with him an annotated copy of the Iliad given to him by Aristotle. Arrian notes he had Harpalus send him new Greek books when he ran out campaigning in Asia
  • Attempted to keep the two courts, one Persian and another Greek/Macedonian, separate at first. Wished to give a sense of continuity to the Persians to prevent uprisings or revolts
  • Burned Persepolis, the capital of the Empire, to the ground rather than occupy it as the Achaemenid successor
  • In 325/4 Alexander overhauled the satrap system deposing 8 of them. 5 of these were Iranians, appointed by Darius but kept on by Alexander. The positions were filled with Macedonians of humble origins

Overall comparison

It can be argued that Alexander definitely showed aspects of "going native" after the dismissal of Greek troops in 330. However one can say that this was a pragmatic tactic to avoid any serious  destabilisations of the Empire. Continuity was the order of the day and Alexander had even proclaimed Darius as a pretender to the throne and himself as legitimate. This pragmatic streak no doubt showed with his backing down in the proskynesis affair and changing the source of his military strength to the Persian Empire rather than leaving it in far away Macedonia (which itself was no longer the centre and was at the fringes)


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