Greeks and Macedonians by E. Badian 03

Alexander, in fact, was to be the living symbol of the integration of Greeks and Macedonians, embodying its perfection. Unlike any of his predecessors. Philip seems to have planned far ahead. The integration of his court was a sample of what would some day come, led (he hoped) by his son--who, we ought perhaps to remember, had been born at the very time of Philip's Olympic victory. What Aristotle taught Alexander, we do not know and probably never shall. The facts were soon overlaid with historical romance, as it turned out (and it could certainly not be foreseen at the time) that the greatest philosopher of the ancient world had taught its greatest king. Romantic speculation must be resisted. In fact, were it not attested, there would be nothing in the future career of either man to enable us to guess the association, although it would be clear enough that Alexander had an excellent Greek teacher. They must have read the classics, like Herodotus and Xenophon. Above all, however, Aristotle inspired the prince with a love of Greek literature, especially poetry, and with the ideal of emulating the Homeric heroes. Aristotle or Aristotle's relative Callisthenes presented him with a text of Homer, which (we are told) Alexander later put in a valuable casket found among the spoils of Darius. Characteristically, he is said to have kept it under his pillow at night, next to his dagger. Characteristically: for alexander, despite his thorough Greek education and obviously genuine interest in Greek literature, was nevertheless a Macedonian king. romance about the "Idyll of Mieza" (in Wilcken's famous phrase) has tended to obscure the obvious fact that Alexander's contact with Aristotle was not the sole educational experience he had between the ages of thirteen and fifteen. It must inevitably have been during that time that he acquired the more obvious skills essential to a Macedonian king: skills physical, administrative, and political. It was presumable only to a small extent aristotle's political theory (if he got so far as to study it) that enabled Alexander, at the age of fifteen to sixteen, to act as regent of Macedon in Philip's absence and(necessarily with the help of experienced advisers, but nonetheless in his own name) to win a major victory; though when, with Philip's permission, he founded a colony and named it after himself, his teacher wrote a treatise for him on how to do it. throughout, Greek culture and Macedonian reality must have proceeded alongside each other. That, indeed, was the point

Alexander grew up in a circle that included Greek and Macedonian friends. Our best evidence on his early friends comes in the list of those exiled after the Pixodarus affair. We have the names of two Macedonian nobles and of three Greeks who had settled in Philip's refounded Amphipolis. The point is variously noteworthy. First, although(as we have seen) Philip seems to have made no social distinction between Greeks and Macedonians among his hetairoi, Greeks never commanded his armies. As we shall see, it would have involved technical difficulties and might have caused resentment among the Macedonian soldiers. Alexander, right from the start, entrusted commands to his Greek friends. Indeed, Erigyius received an important cavalry command in the first winter of the expedition and, when he died in 327 after a distinguished career, is described by Curtius as "one of the renowned commanders." Nearchus, another of these Greeks, ultimately rose to even greater fame, enhanced by the fact that he could also write. Promotion, though naturally helped by personal contact with Alexander and services to him, depended more on talent than on nationality. What is also worth noting is that these Greeks, of various origins, had become "Macedonians from Amphipolis." We have no detailed knowledge of Philip's administration, but it is clear that annexed Greek cities, including those founded by himself, counted as parts of the Macedonian kingdom, not (like those of the Hellenic League) as allies. That, indeed, was why they had not become members of the Hellenic League. Yet, while Macedonian subjects of the king, they nonetheless retained some sort of civic identity which put them on a level with (most obviously) the districts of Orestis or Eordaea within old Macedonia. Whatever it was, it was political masterstroke, for which Philip should receive due credit. There is no trace of it among any of his predecessors, and it foreshadows what was to become characteristic, centuries later, of the cities of the Roman Empire. It is also clear that these cities had attracted able and adventurous Greeks from the less prosperous parts of the Greek world as settlers. And some of them (a very select body) moved on to Pella, to become royal hetairoi. To these Greeks, the question of whether to regard Macedonians as Greeks or as barbarians would have been simply irrelevant.

It was perhaps far more relevant to a rather important class of Greeks who must not be omitted in any discussion such as this: Greek mercenaries. At the beginning of his campaign, Alexander had very few Greek mercenaries: he could not afford many and, at that point, did not need many. The Persian King, on the other hand, seems to have had a large number. Alexander's first contact with them was at the Granicus: those who were captured were sent to forced labour in the Macedonian mines, as traitors to the cause of Hellas. Clearly, this piece of terrorism, comparable with the destruction of Thebes, was intended pour encourager les autres. It turned out to be a mistake. Not only did Greek cities ask to have their citizens back (not, it seems, frightened into acquiescence by the implication that they were supporting or condoning treason), but the effect on the King's mercenary forces was the opposite of what had been intended. Seeing no hope in surrender, they prepared to fight to the death - as Alexander soon found out. Once he did, the policy was as quietly dropped as it had been flamboyantly started. To obtain their surrender he was happy to promise them safety.

Once the new policy had been established, fear for their own fate no longer guided the mercenaries' actions. their true feelings can now be seen and assessed. After the battle of Issus, eight thousand of them refused to surrender, made their way down to the coast, and escaped by sea. We are not concerned with the details of their later fate, conflictingly related in our poor sources, except to note that they all fought against Macedon again when they had the chance. But the mercenaries (not many of them) who fought in the Persian ranks at Gaugamela seem to have escaped and remained with Darius. In fact, they remained loyal almost to the end, and when Bessus could not be stopped, joined Artabazus in preparations to continue the war in the mountains. It was only when Artabazus himself surrendered, in exchange for very honorable treatment, that they had to give up. Alexander seems to have used the occasion for another resounding sermon on collaboration with the national enemy, but when they surrendered, he in fact treated them well, releasing those who had been in the Persian service since before war was declared on Persia and merely thanking those who had joined the Persians since (i.e., the real "traitors") into his own service.

Of course, it must by no means be thought that all Greek mercenaries hated Alexander: by the time these events were concluded, he himself had enrolled far more Greek mercenaries himself than were by now fighting against him. But the loyalty of those Greeks to Darius is nonetheless striking, both because it illustrates the persistent division of opinion among Greeks about the Macedonian conquest and the fact that some continued to prefer Persian barbarians to acquiescence in the conquest, and (although this is not relevant to us here) because it throws unexpected light on the character of Darius III, as at least some men saw it. As for Alexander, not that he was the only possible employer for their labour, his relations with Greek mercenaries continued to be uneasy. We shall come back to them.

As we have seen, it was Alexander who in himself symbolized and who ultimately inherited, Philip's policy of integrating Greeks and Macedonians. Indeed, it is probably not fanciful to suggest that this may be remotely connected with his own later policy of attempting a limited integration of Greeks and Macedonians with Iranians: the famous "policy of fusion." That policy, as is well known, aroused anger and resistance among the Macedonian forces near the end of Alexander's life. Yet after politic concessions he persisted, and at the very end of his life he is even reported to have initiated a rather mysterious military reform, which combined Macedonians and Persians in small tactical units on a permanent basis. In the light of this it is particularly interesting to notice that he never - either before or at the time - tried to integrate Greeks into the Macedonian units that were his best military asset, either in the tactical or in the emotional sphere, while at the very end, both for tactical and for political reasons, integration of Macedonians and Iranians was important, while integration of Greeks with either was not.

The fact as such, however, seems quite certain and has really been known for a long time, although it has not always been adequately noted. It is worth documenting once more, without reference to various late sources on the history of Alexander, where the evidence on the point is not worth much. Unfortunately these sources have at times been irresponsibly used in this context, and this has obscured the issue and the facts. Alexander himself, as we have seen, like any first-generation product of integration, in a way stood between two worlds not yet perfectly merged, rather than in a world that could be regarded as unified and Greek. Conflicts between the Greek and Macedonian elements occasionally emerge, especially where, in our sources, conflicts between actual Greeks and Macedonians are allowed to appear: thus most prominently, at the banquet that led to the death of Clitus, where Alexander, according to our tradition, sided with his Greek courtiers against his Macedonian officers and denigrated Macedonians as such in comparison with Greeks. At least the outline of that story must be believed, since the killing of Clitus did occur, as a result of a drunken altercation: that part is made clear by the official account, which used the fact to ascribe the event to the wrath of an accidentally neglected god. Although the end is variously told, and at least one of the versions is clearly distorted in the interests of exculpation, in the development of the quarrel we not only do not get alternatives, but it is hard to conceive of it as having been essentially different from what is described. However, although the whole of the argument had turned to a comparison of Greeks and Macedonians, with Alexander favouring the former, at the end he is said to have called for his guards in Macedonian when he felt his life threatened. It has often been argued that this was a reversion to a more primitive part of his psyche, under stress. This could be taken as overpowering his expressed intellectual preference for the Greeks, i.e., the Greek part of his own nature.

But the answer is probably simpler than that. He used the only language in which his guards could be addressed. an interesting papyrus fragment, known for some time, seems to be the only good source to reveal the fact. It tells of a battle, early in 321 B.C., in which the Greek Ambiance, with cavalry and light arms only, faced the Macedonain noble Neoptolemus with his Macedonian phalanx. Wanting to aoid battle and, if possible, to take over the opposing infantry rather than fight them, he set out to convince them of the hopelessness of their position - successfully, as we can gather elsewhere, though our fragment breaks off before we see the outcome. I quote the part that is of interest for our problem:

"When Eumenues saw the close-locked formation of the Macedonian phalanx ..., he sent Xennias once more, a man whose speech was Macedonian, biding him declare that he would not fight them frontally but would follow them with his cavalry and units of light troops and bar them from provisions.

Now, Xennias' name at once shows him to be a Macedonian. Since he was in Ambiance' entourage, he was presumably a Macedonian of superior status, who spoke both standard Greek and his native language. He was the man who could be trusted to transmit Ambiance' message. This clearly shows that the phalanx had to be addressed in Macedonian, if one wanted to be sure (as Ambiance certainly did) that they would understand. And--almost equally interesting-- he did not address them himself, as he and other commanders normally addressed soldiers who understood them, nor did he send a Greek. The suggestion is surely that Macedonian was the language of the infantry and that Greek was a difficult, indeed a foreign, tongue to them. We may thus take it as certain that, when Alexander used Macedonian in addressing his guards, that too was because it was their normal language, and because (like Ambiance) he had to be sure he would be understood. We may also take it as certain that educated Greeks did not speak the language, unless(presumably) they had grown up with Macedonians and had learned it, as some of Alexander's Greek companions clearly must have.


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