Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Historic value, or mindless Hollywood Drivel?

Apparently, the "Alexander" movie is getting crappy reviews. I'm not willing to write it off completely. I'll give it a chance, but if it sucks I'll be pretty disappointed.

Alexander the Great is easily one of the most influential persons in history. Under his leadership, the Greeks made a complete mess of the geographical and political map of his time. This "simple" Macedonian created an empire that was not equalled in area until Genghis Khan, 1500 years later*. Because of his exploits, people from Northern India to Western Egypt were Hellenized. Hellenization, in its simplest terms, is the spreading of Greek culture and language. The coine (pronounced coy-neh) language was spoken in markets throughout the Ancient Near East. It is called "coine" because it was the language of the common man. Traders travelling from Alexandria to Jerusalem, or Tarsus, or Babylon, or even to Persepolis, were be able to communicate and trade their wares.

There were other benefits to this diffusion of Greek influence as well. The road system of the Greeks was unlike anything seen in Europe or the middle East to that point. The Silk Road had its genesis during this time. This system of roads would eventually connect Rome with China.

Not only did trade become easier, but information became easier to transmit as well. This was crucial for the spread of Christianity in the 1st century. The writings of the Apostles were copied and desseminated throughout Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Asia Minor, Greece, and beyond.
As well, Greek Architecture spread. The classical design we see in history books has influenced building designers for two thousand years.

Alexander the Great's legacy cannot be overstated. It is a real shame to think that a movie dedicated to his biography could fail.

*Yes, you could argue that the Roman Empire was larger. True enough, but would Rome have ever been as great as it was if Alexander had died so young? His death left chaos throughout his empire, and when the dust settled, it was a relatively easy clean-up job for the Roman Army in the East. As well, the Islamic empires of the 7th-12th century included most of Northern and Central Africa, the Middle East, South Eastern and Western Europe, and parts of Central Asia. But it was never really one empire, and was a lot more pomp than substance, IMO.