Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Alexander the Great - a symbol of Greek history and civilization

Philip II, father of Alexander, was son of the Macedonian king Amyntas III and Eurydice, a Lyncestian princess. Lyncestians were incorporated earlier to Molossians, hence we could find them in ancient sources as ´Molossian Ethne´ or as Lyncestian Macedonians [1]. A strong Illyrian influence can be recognised in the nearby Lyncestian kingdom but their royal house was widely believed in the ancient world to be descedants of the Greek Bacchiades coming from Corinth. Eurydice was daughter of a Lyncestian princess, daughter of Arrabaios, king of Lyngos and Sirras - a person shrouded in great darkness - since his ethnicity is obscure. There are conflicting theories which identify him either as Illyrian or as a native Lyncestian [2]. We can only conclude, Philip´s Greek ancestry is proved beyond doubt by the traditions of the Greek royal houses both in Macedon and Lyngos.

Source :
Molossian Royal House
Now we will analyze the lineage coming from the mother of Alexander, the Molossian Olympias. Her original name as a child was called 'Polyxena' and then, at marriage, 'Myrtale'; later in life she was also known as 'Olympias' and 'Stratonice' [3]. The name Olympias was given to her, according to the tradition, after her husband Philip won in Olympic games.The members of Molossian royal house , the so-called ´Aeacidae´ thought of themselves as descendants of Achiles´ son, Neoptolemus and Andromache. They both took refuge in the area in the aftermath of Troy´s fall. Their son was Molossus, the founder of Molossians. Olympias herself, was daughter of Neoptolemus, king of Epirus and most likely of an Epirotan woman, Anasatia [4]. In the early 6th century, the tyrant of Sicyon Cleisthenes wished to find a suitable husband for his daughter Agariste. He invited "the best of the Greeks" in order to decide which one would marry his daughter. Among the Greek contestants was the Molossian King Alkon. A logical conclusion of the above is that the members of the Molossian royal house considered themselves as Greeks and were viewed as such by the rest of Greeks.

So far we have examined the lineages of the royal houses connected with Alexander. What remains is another crucial question to our issue. What did Alexander perceived himself to be?
From all the ancient sources we receive the same message. Alexander the Great never missed a chance to verify his pride for his Greek ancestry. His parents had Greek origins, and Alexander obviosuly considered himself Greek. He spoke Greek, he grew up and was educated from famous Greek philosophers like Aristotle, and kept a copy of his favourite book Iliad of Homer under his pillow. He worshipped the same gods as the rest of Greeks. He undertook and accompliced to a military campaign based on the long-term hostility between Greeks and Persians, as leader of the Greeks. Both he and his army spread the ancient Greek language and culture to the fringes of India and therefore Alexander has justifiably been used for centuries as a symbol of Greek civilisation.