1. Drawing from the readings, Alexander was truly great because

1. Drawing from the readings, Alexander was truly great because even though he had taken the throne at a young age, he did not act as if he were unprepared. For example, Alexander was victorious in war.  Despite his father’s lack of attention and perhaps to the credit of his mother, Alexander was the legitimate heir to that throne.  Whether it be true skill or a massive god complex, he chose to avenge the death of his father by taking on a seemingly impossible feat: conquering Persia. Alexander’s armies employed centuries worth of technological development in innovative ways to take the Persians by surprise.  He was also responsible for “lightning attacks” performed by an extremely organized and powerful army.  (MMW Ch. 6, p. 218) Alexander employed clever tactics to assimilate the peoples he conquered.  Though he did not live long enough to solidify these bonds, he led by example in the pursuit of joining the Greeks and the Persians.  Alexander would dress in Persian garments, and even married a Persian woman. (Herbst Video, Alexander and the Making of the Hellenistic Era) He encouraged his men to do the same despite the fact that many were married, desperate to cast as many connections between these two people as possible. (MMW, Ch. 6, P. 219). While one could argue that Alexander was in the right place at the right time given his father was responsible for much of the infrastructure that financed his conquest, the young king could have wasted this wealth on other endeavors.  Instead, Alexander used all of his thirteen years on the throne to avenge his father, unite the divided Greeks, and take over the empire’s greatest contender.  

2. Greek culture frequently interacted with Egyptian culture through the establishment at Alexandria.  This city, founded by Alexander the Great, became a cultural center for the Greeks, while remaining a part of Egypt.  Conflict could have been inevitable because while Greek rulers and Egyptian priests made an agreement to tolerate one another, there was no effort to assimilate the two cultures.  For example, Macedonian rulers were not interested in learning the Egyptian language.  If the two wanted to communicate, it was the Egyptians that had to learn Greek.  (Herbst Video, Power and Culture in Hellenistic Egypt) Though this cultural divide remained, Macedonian rulers made an effort to make Alexandria a city of knowledge, building theaters and libraries.  The dedication to translating literature in this time period perhaps mitigated conflict as the cultures grew in understanding of each other through these and other multilingual documents like the Rosetta Stone. In addition, Alexander was welcomed by the Egyptians as a liberator from Persian rule, so for a short time, there was no reason to oppose Greek rule in Egypt. (MMW, Ch 6, p. 222) Macedonians also created treaties with Egyptian priests.  The agreement recognized each other’s authority and made way for parallel cultural existence alongside one another. 

3. Similar to Confucian and Vedic philosophies, Stoic philosophy emphasized the importance of self-control in human desire and impulse.  Stoics accept their role in life with the expectation that it may include suffering as well as restrictions on one’s free will since humans make up societies with boundaries and behavioral contracts set in place.  As for meaning in life, Stoics believe humans are innately good and are born into a certain role—given by a divine force—that must be fulfilled. Epicurean philosophy rejected both Stoicism and its inspiration—Plato.  According to this philosophy, there was no divine force and man only existed in this life, meaning all happiness was meant to be achieved in the now. Man is only meant to pursue the joys of life in moderation, which leads to a longer, happier life.  This behavior of moderation would lead to tranquility, which is the happiest one can be.  Humans discern right and wrong by analyzing the amount of pain one’s actions revealed in the consequences. 

Though Epicurean philosophy offers a good way to navigate one’s joys in life, Stoic philosophy illustrates a greater understanding of leading a meaningful life.  For example, Stoics believed that each person had a divinely chosen role to fulfill in life. 

(Herbst Video, Stoic Way) This insured that no one would go without a place in society, and that the “divine mine” was at work, giving a person purpose though the reason may not be revealed. This removed doubt and outlined clearly the meaning of one’s life.  In addition, as reflected in Christian ideals, Stoics believed that suffering in this life had a divine reason, like a test for the afterlife.  For example, “Stoics continued to praise the divine, believing that suffering must have some role in a larger, unseen good.” (Herbst Video, Stoic Way)  This provided people with motivation to stay within their societal roles and to live a respectable life for a greater reward. Following such ideal could potentially lead to a meaningful life.

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