Cultures > Hellenism
HELLENISM (from Gr. ἑλληνίζειν, to imitate the Greeks, who were known as Ἕλληνες, after Ἕλλην, the son of Deucalion). The term “Hellenism” is ambiguous. It may be used to denote ancient Greek culture in all its phases, and even those elements in modern civilization which are Greek in origin or in spirit; but, while Matthew Arnold made the term popular in the latter connexion as the antithesis of “Hebraism,” the German historian J. G. Droysen introduced the fashion (1836) of using it to describe particularly the latter phases of Greek culture from the conquests of Alexander to the end of the ancient world, when those over whom this culture extended were largely not Greek in blood, i.e. Hellenes, but peoples who had adopted the Greek speech and way of life, Hellenistai. Greek culture had, however, both in “Hellenic” and “Hellenistic” times, a common essence, just as light is light whether in the original luminous body or in a reflection, and to describe this by the term Hellenism seems most natural. But whilst using the term in the larger sense, this article, in deference to the associations which have come to be specially connected with it, will devote its principal attention to Hellenism as it appeared in the world after the Macedonian conquests. But it will be first necessary to indicate briefly what Hellenism in itself implied.
No verbal formula can really enclose the life of a people or an age, but we can best understand the significance of the old Greek cities and the life they developed, when, looking at the history of mankind as a whole, we see the part played by reason, active and critical, in breaking down the barriers by which custom hinders movement, in guiding movement to definite ends, in dissipating groundless beliefs and leading onwards to fresh scientific conquests—when we see this and then take note that among the ancient Greeks such an activity of reason began in an entirely novel degree and that its activity in Europe ever since is due to their impulsion. When Hellenism came to stand in the world for something concrete and organic, it was, of course, no mere abstract principle, but embodied in a language, a literature, an artistic tradition. In the earliest existing monument of the Hellenic genius, the Homeric poems, one may already observe that regulative sense of form and proportion, which shaped the later achievements of the race in the intellectual and artistic spheres. It was not till the great colonizing epoch of the 8th and 7th centuries B.C., when the name “Hellene” came into use as the antithesis of “barbarian,” that the Greek race came to be conscious of itself as a peculiar people; it was yet some three centuries more before Hellenism stood fully declared in art and literature, in politics and in thought. There was now a new thing in the world, and to see how the world was affected by it is our immediate concern.
I. The Expansion of Hellenism before Alexander.—In the 5th century B.C. Greek cities dotted the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea from Spain to Egypt and the Caucasus, and already Greek culture was beginning to pass beyond the limits of the Greek race. Already in the 7th century B.C., when Hellenism was still in a rudimentary stage, the citizens of the Greek city-states had been known to the courts of Babylon and Egypt as admirable soldiers, combining hardihood with discipline, and Greek mercenaries came to be in request throughout the Nearer East. But as Hellenism developed, its social and intellectual life began to exercise a power of attraction. The proud old civilizations of the Euphrates and the Nile might ignore it, but the ruder barbarian peoples in East and West, on whose coasts the Greek colonies had been planted, came in various degrees under its spell. In some cases an outlying colony would coalesce with a native population, and a fusion of Hellenism with barbarian customs take place, as at Emporium in Spain (Strabo iii. p. 160) and at Locri in S. Italy (Polyb. xii. 5. 10). Perinthus included a Thracian phyle. The stories of Anacharsis and Scylas (Herod, iv. 76-80) show how the leading men of the tribes in contact with the Greek colonies in the Black Sea might be fascinated by the appeal which the exotic culture made to mind and to eye.
The great developments of the century and a half before Alexander set the Greek people in a very different light before the world. In the sphere of material power the repulse of Xerxes and the extension of Athenian or Spartan supremacy in the eastern Mediterranean were large facts patent to the most obtuse. The kings of the East leant more than ever upon Greek mercenaries, whose superiority to barbarian levies was sensibly brought home to them by the expedition of Cyrus. But the developments within the Hellenic sphere itself were also of great consequence for its expansion outwards. The political disunion of the Greeks was to some extent neutralized by the rise of Athens to a leading position in art, in literature and in philosophy. In Athens the Hellenic genius was focussed, its tendencies drawn together and combined; nor was it a circumstance of small moment that the Attic dialect attained, for prose, a classical authority; for if Hellenism was to be propagated in the world at large, it was obviously convenient that it should have some one definite form of speech to be its medium.
1. The Persians.—The ruling race of the East, the Persian, was but little open to the influences of the new culture. The military qualities of the Greeks were appreciated, and so, too, was Greek science, where it touched the immediately useful; a Greek captain was entrusted by Darius with the exploration of the Indus; a Greek architect bridged the Bosporus for him; Greek physicians (e.g. Democedes, Ctesias) were retained for enormous fees at the Persian court. The brisk diplomatic intercourse between the Great King and the Greek states in the 4th century may have produced effects that were not merely political. We certainly find among those members of the Persian aristocracy, who came by residence in Asia Minor into closer contact with the Greeks, some traces of interest in the more ideal side of Hellenism. A man like the younger Cyrus invited Greek captains to his friendship for something more than their utility in war, and procured Greek hetaerae for something more than sensual pleasure. There is the Mithradates who presented the Academy with a statue of Plato by Silanion, not improbably identical (though the supposition implies a correction in the text of Diogenes Laërtius) with that Mithradates who, together with his father Ariobarzanes, received the citizenship of Athens (Dem. xxiii. 141, 202). Exactly how far Greek influence can be traced in the remains of Persian art, such as the royal palaces of Persepolis and Susa may be doubtful (see Gayet, L’Art persan; R. Phené Spiers, Architecture East and West, p. 245 f.), but it is certain that the engraved gems for which there was a demand in the Persian empire were largely the work of Greek artists (Furtwängler, Antike Gemmen, iii. p. 116 f.).
2. The Phoenicians.—As early as the first half of the 4th century we find communities of Phoenician traders established in the Peiraeus (C.I.A. ii. 86). In Cyprus, on the frontier between the Greek and Semitic worlds, a struggle for ascendancy went on. The Phoenician element seems to have been dominant in the island when Evagoras made himself king of Salamis in 412, and restored Hellenism with a strong hand. The words of Isocrates (even allowing for their rhetorical colour) give us a vivid insight into what such a process meant. “Before Evagoras established his rule, they were so hostile and exclusive, that those of their rulers were actually held to be the best who were the fiercest adversaries of the Greeks; but now such a change has taken place, that it is a matter of emulation who shall show himself the most ardent phil-hellen, that for the mothers of their children most of them choose wives from amongst us, and that they take pride in having Greek things about rather than native, in following the Greek fashion of life, whilst our masters of the fine arts and other branches of culture now resort to them in greater numbers than were once to be found in those quarters they specially frequented” (Isoc. 199 = Evag. §§ 49, 50). Even into the original seats of the Phoenicians Hellenism began to intrude. Evagoras at one time (about 386) made himself master of Tyre (Isoc. Evag. § 62; Diod. xv. 2, 4). His grandson Evagoras II. is found as governor of Sidon for the Persian king 349-346. (Babelon, Perses Achéménides, p. cxxii.; cf. Diod. xvi. 46, 3).
Abdashtart, king of Sidon (374-362 B.C.), called Straton by the Greeks, had already entered into close relations with the Greek states, and imitated the Hellenic princes of Cyprus (Athen. xii. 531; C.I.A. ii. 86; Corp. inscr. Semit. i. 114). The Phoenician colonists in Sardinia purchased or imitated the work of Greek artists (Furtwängler, Antike Gemmen, iii. 109).
3. The Carians and Lycians.—The seats of the Greeks in the East touched peoples more or less nearly related to the Hellenic stock, with native traditions not so far remote from those of the Greeks in a more primitive age, the Carians and the Lycians. It came about in the last century preceding Alexander that the first of these peoples was organized as a strong state under native princes, the line founded by Hecatomnus of Mylasa. Hecatomnus made himself master of Caria in the first decade of the 4th century, but it was under his son Mausolus, who succeeded him in 377-376 that the house rose to its zenith. These Carian princes ruled as satraps for the Great King, but they modelled themselves upon the pattern of the Greek tyrant. The capital of Mausolus was a Greek city, Halicarnassus, and all that we can still trace of his great works of construction and adornment shows conformity to the pure Hellenic type. His famous sepulchre, the Mausoleum (the remains of it are now in the British Museum), was a monument upon which the most eminent Greek sculptors of the time worked in rivalry (Plin. N.H. xxxvi. 5, § 30; Vitruv. vii. 13). His court gave a welcome to the vagrant Greek philosopher (Diog. Laërt. viii. 8, § 87). Even the Carian town of Mylasa now shows the forms of a Greek city and records its public decrees in Greek (C.I.G. 2691 c, d, e = Michel 471). In Lycia, which in spite of “the son of Harpagus” and King Pericles, had never been brought under one man’s rule, the Greek influence is more limited. Here, for the most part in the inscriptions, the native language maintains itself against Greek. The proper names are (if not native) mainly Persian. But the Greek language makes an occasional appearance; Greek names are borne by others beside Pericles. The coins are Greek in type. And above all the monumental remains of Lycia show strong Greek influence, especially the well-known “Nereid Monument” in the British Museum, whose date is held to go back to the 5th century (Gardner, Handbook of Gk. Sculp. p. 344).
4. South Russia.—Hellenic influences continued to penetrate the Scythian peoples from the Greek colonies of the Black Sea, at any rate in the matter of artistic fabrication. Our evidence is the actual objects recovered from the soil. (See Scythia.)
5. Egypt.—From the time of Psammetichus (d. 610 B.C.) Greek mercenaries had been used to prop Pharaoh’s throne. At the same time Greek merchants had begun to find their way up the Nile and even to the Oases. A Greek city Naucratis (q.v.) was allowed to arise at the Bolbitinic mouth of the Nile. But the racial repugnance to the Greek, which forbade an Egyptian even to eat an animal which had been carved with a Greek’s knife (Hdt. ii. 41), probably kept the soul of the people more shut against Hellenic influences than was that of the other races of the East.
6. Macedonia.—In Macedonia the native chiefs had been attracted by the rich Hellenic life at any rate from the beginning of the 5th century, when Alexander I., surnamed “Phil-hellen,” persuaded the judges at Olympia that the Temenid house was of good Argive descent (Hdt. v. 22). And, although their enemies might stigmatize them as barbarians, the Macedonian kings maintained that they were not Macedonians, but Greeks (cf. ἀνὴρ Ἕλλην Μακεδόνων ὕπαρχος, Hdt. v. 20). It was not probably till the reorganization of the kingdom by Archelaus (413-399) that Greek culture found any abundant entrance into Macedonia. Now all that was most brilliant in Greek literature and Greek art was concentrated in the court of Aegae; the palace was decorated by Zeuxis; Euripides spent there the end of his days. From that time, no doubt, a certain degree of literary culture was general among the Macedonian nobility; their names in the days of Philip are largely Greek; the Macedonian service was full of men from the Greek cities within Philip’s dominions. The values recognized at the court would naturally be recognized in noble families generally, and Philip chose Aristotle to be the educator of his son. How far the country generally may be regarded as Hellenized is a problem which involves the vexed question what right the Macedonian people itself has to be classed among the Hellenes, and Macedonian to be considered a dialect of Greek. As the literary and official language, Greek alone would seem to have had any status.
7. In the West: the Native Races of Sicily.—Italy and the south of Gaul had not remained unaffected by the neighbourhood of the Greek colonies. Under the rule of the elder and younger Dionysius in the 4th century, the hellenization of the Sicels in the interior of Sicily seems to have become complete (Freeman, History of Sicily, ii. 387, 388, 422-424; Beloch, Griech. Gesch. iii. [i.] 261).
The alphabets used by the various Italian races from the 5th century were directly or indirectly learnt from the Greeks. The peoples of the south (Lucanians, Bruttians, Mamertines) show a Greek principle of nomenclature (Mommsen, Unterital. Dialekt, p. 240 f.). The Pythagorean philosophy, whose seat was in southern Italy, won adherents among the native chiefs (Cic. De senec. 12, cf. Dio Chrys. Orat. Cor. 37, § 24). From the Greeks of southern Gaul Hellenic influences penetrated the Celtic races so far that imitations of Greek coins were struck even on the coasts of the Atlantic.
II. After Alexander the Great.—When we review generally the extent to which Hellenism had penetrated the outer world in the middle of the 4th century B.C., it must be admitted that it had not seriously affected any but the more primitive races which dwelt upon the borders of the Hellenic lands, and here it would seem, with the doubtful exception of the Macedonians, to have been an affair rather of the courts than of the life of the people. On the other hand it must be taken into account that Hellenism had as yet only been a very short while in the world. What would have happened had it continued to depend upon its spiritual force only for propagation we cannot say. Everything was changed when by the conquests of Alexander (334-323) it suddenly rose to material supremacy in all the East as far as India, and when cities of Greek speech and constitution were planted by the might of kings at all the cardinal points of intercourse within those lands. The values honoured by the rulers of the world must naturally impress themselves upon the subject multitudes. The Macedonian chiefs found their pride in being champions of Hellenism. Of Alexander there is no need to speak. The courts of his successors in Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt were Greek in language and atmosphere. All kings liked to win the good word of the Greeks by munificence bestowed upon Greek cities and Greek institutions. All of them in some degree patronized Greek art and letters, and some sought fame for themselves as authors. Even the barbarian courts, their neighbours or vassals, were swayed by the dominant fashion to imitation. But by the courts alone Hellenism could never have been propagated far. Greek culture had been the product of the city-state, and Hellenism could not be dissevered from the city. It was upon the system of Greek and Macedonian cities, planted by Alexander and his successors, that their work rested, and though their dynasties crumbled, their work remained. Rome, when it stepped into their place, did no more than safeguard its continuance; in the East Rome acted as a Hellenistic power, and if, when the legions had thundered past, the brooding East “plunged in thought again,” that thought was largely directed by the Greek schoolmaster who followed in the legions’ train. From our present point of view we may therefore regard this work of Hellenism as one continuous process, initiated by the Macedonians and carried on under Roman protection, and ask in the first place what the institution of a Greek city implied.
The Character of the New Greek Cities.—The citizen bodies at the outset were really of Greek or Macedonian blood—soldiers who had served in the royal armies, or men attracted from the older Greek cities to the new lands thrown open to commerce. To fix their European soldiery upon the new soil was an obvious necessity for the Macedonian chiefs who had set up kingdoms among the barbarians, and the lots of the veterans (except in Egypt) were naturally attached to various urban centres. The cities, of course, drew in numbers beside of the people of the land; Alexander is specially said to have incorporated large bodies of natives in some of the new cities of the Eastern provinces (Arr. iv. 4, 1; Diod. xvii. 83, 2; Curtius ix. 10, 7). It may generally be taken for granted that the lower strata of the city-populations was mainly native; to be included in the city population was not, however, to be included in the citizen body, and it remains a question how far the latter admitted members of other than European origin (Beloch iii. [i.] 414). The statements, for instance, of Josephus that the Jews were given full citizen rights in the new foundations are probably false (Willrich, Juden und Griechen vor der makkabäischen Erhebung, 1895, p. 19 f.). The social organization of the citizen-body conformed to the regular Hellenic type with a division into phylae and, in Egypt, at any rate, into demi (Liban. Or. xix. 62; Satyrus, frag. 21 = F.H.G. iii. 164; Sir W. M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics, i. 60; Kenyon, Archiv f. Papyr. ii. 74; Jonguet, Bull. corr. hell. xxi., 1897, 184 f.; Liebenam, Städteverwaltung, 220 f.). The cities appear equally Hellenic in their political organs and functions with boulē and demos and popularly elected magistrates. Life was filled with the universal Hellenic interests, which centred in the gymnasium and the religious festivals, these last including, of course, not only athletic contests but performances of the classical dramas or later imitations of them. The wandering sophist and rhetorician would find a hearing no less than the musical artist. The language of the upper classes was Greek; and the material background of building and decoration, of dress and furniture, was of Greek design. A greater regularity in the street-plans seems to have distinguished the new cities from the older slowly grown cities of the Greek lands, just as it distinguishes the cities of the New World to-day from those of Europe. Alexandria and Antioch were both traversed from end to end by one long straight street, crossed by shorter ones at right angles; Nicaea was a square from the centre of which all the four gates could be seen at the ends of the intersecting thoroughfares (Strabo xii. 565); similar characteristics are noted in the rebuilt Smyrna (ib. xiv. 646).
Sometimes the Greek city was not an absolutely new foundation, but an old Oriental city, re-colonized and transformed. And in such cases the old name was often replaced by a Greek one. Thus Celaenae in Phrygia became Apamea; Haleb (Aleppo) in Syria became Beroea; Nisibis in Mesopotamia, Antioch; Rhagae (Rai) in Media, Europus. In some cases the old name was left unchallenged, e.g. Thyatira, Damascus and Samaria. Even where there was no new foundation the older cities of Phoenicia and Syria became transformed from the overwhelming prestige of Hellenic culture. In Tyre and Sidon, no less than in Antioch or Alexandria, Greek literature and philosophy were seriously cultivated, as we may see by the great names which they contributed. The process by which Hellenism thus leavened an older city we may trace with peculiar vividness in the case of Jerusalem; we see there the younger generation captivated by its ideals, the appearance of gymnasium and theatre, the eager adoption of Greek political forms (1 Macc. i. 13 f.; 2 Macc. 4., 10 f.).
A. Characteristics of Hellenism after Alexander.—To the number of Greek city-states existing before Alexander were now therefore added those which extended Hellas as far as India. With the enormous extension of Greek territory a great shifting took place in the old centres of gravity. What changes in the character of Greek culture did the new conditions of the world bring about?
Hellenism had been the product of the free life of the Greek city-state, and after Chaeronea the great days of the city-state were past. Not that all liberty was everywhere extinguished. Under Alexander himself the Greek Government. states were restive, and Aetolia unsubdued; and, with the break-up of the empire at Alexander’s death, there was once more scope for the action of the individual cities among the rival great powers. In the history of the next two or three centuries the cities are by no means ciphers. Rhodes takes a great part in Weltpolitik, as a sovereign ally of one or other of the royal courts. In Greece itself the overlordship to which the Macedonian king aspires is imperfect in extent and only maintained to that extent by continual wars. The Greek states on their side show that they are capable even of progressive political development, the needs of the time being met by the federal system, by larger unions of equal members than the leading cities of the past would have tolerated, with their extreme unwillingness to forego the least shred of sovereign independence. The Achaean and Aetolian Leagues are independent powers, which the Macedonian can indeed check by garrisons in Corinth, Chalcis and elsewhere, but which keep a field clear for Hellenic freedom within their borders. Sparta also is a power which can cross swords with the Macedonian king, and Cleomenes III. aspires to unite the Peloponnesus under his headship. As to the cities outside Greece, within or around the royal realms, Seleucid, Ptolemaic or Attalid, their degree of freedom probably differed widely according to circumstances. At one end of the scale, cities of old renown, e.g. Lampsacus or Smyrna, could still make good their independence against Antiochus III. at the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. At the other end of the scale the cities which were royal capitals, e.g. Alexandria, Antioch and Pergamum, were normally controlled altogether by royal nominees. At Pergamum indeed and (at any rate after Antiochus IV.) at Antioch, forms of self-government subsisted upon which, of course, the court had its hand, whilst at Alexandria even such forms were wanting. Between the two extremes there was variation not only between city and city, but, no doubt, in one and the same city at different times. In Syria the independent action of the cities greatly increased during the last weakness of the Seleucid monarchy. With the extension of the single strong rule of Rome over this Hellenistic world, the conditions were changed. Just as the Macedonian conquest, whilst increasing the domain of Greek culture, had straitened Greek liberty, so Rome, whilst bringing Hellenism finally into secure possession of the nearer East, extinguished Greek freedom altogether. Even now the old forms were long religiously respected. Formally, the most illustrious Greek states, Athens, for instance, or Marseilles, or Rhodes, were not subjects of Rome, but free allies. Even in the case of civitates stipendiariae (tribute-paying states), municipal autonomy, subject indeed to interference on the part of the Roman governor, was allowed to go on. Boulē and demos long continued to function. The old catchword, “autonomy of the Hellens,” was still heard and indeed was solemnly proclaimed by Nero at the Isthmian games of A.D. 67. But during the first centuries of the Christian era, this municipal autonomy, by a process which can only be imperfectly traced in detail, decayed. The demos first sank into political annihilation and the council, no longer popularly elected but an aristocratic order, concentrated the whole administration in its hands. By the end of the 2nd century A.D., claims made by the imperial government upon the municipal senate are more and more changing membership of the order from an honour into an intolerable burden, and financial disorganization is calling on imperial officials in one place after another to undertake the business of government. After Diocletian and under the Eastern Empire the Greek world is organized on the principles of a vast bureaucracy.
With this long process of political decline from Alexander to Diocletian correspond the inner changes in the temper of the Hellenic and Hellenistic peoples. There were, of course, marked differences between one region and another. Social changes. But certain general characteristics distinguished at once Greek society after the Macedonian conquests from the society of the earlier age. When the vast field of the East was opened to Hellenic enterprise and the bullion of its treasuries flung abroad, fortunes were made on a scale before unparalleled. A new standard of sumptuousness and splendour was set up in the richest stratum of society. This material elaboration of life was furthered by the existence of Hellenistic courts, where the great ministers amassed fabulous riches (e.g. Dionysius, the state secretary of Antiochus IV., Polyb. xxxi. 3, 16; Hermias, the chief minister of Seleucus III., and Antiochus III., Polyb. v. 50. 2; cf. Plutarch, Agis 9), and of huge cities like Alexandria, Antioch and the enlarged Ephesus. It is significant that whereas the earlier Greeks had used precious stones only as a medium for the engraver’s art, unengraven gems, valuable for their mere material, now came to be used in profusion for adornment. Already before Alexander pan-hellenic feeling had in various ways overridden the internal divisions of the Greek race, but now, with the vast mingling of Greeks of all sorts in the newly-conquered lands, a generalized Greek culture in which the old local characteristics were merged, came to overspread the world. The gradual supersession of the old dialects by the Koinē the common speech of the Greeks, a modification of the Attic idiom coloured by Ionic, was one obvious sign of the new order of things (see Greek Language).
In its artistic, its literary, its spiritual products the age after Alexander gave evidence of the change. In no department did activity immediately stop; but the old freshness and creative exuberance was gone. Artistic pleasure, Art and literature. grown less delicate, required the stimulus of a more sensational effect or a more striking realism, as we may see by the Pergamene and Rhodian schools of sculpture, by the bas-reliefs with the genre subjects drawn from the life of the countryside, or, in literature by the sort of historical writing which became popular with Cleitarchus and Duris, by the studied emotional or rhetorical point of Callimachus, and by the portrayal of country life in Theocritus. At the same time, artists and men of letters were now addressing themselves in most cases, not to their fellow-citizens in a free city, but to kings and courtiers, or the educated class generally of the Greek world. In those departments of intellectual activity which demand no high ideal faculty, in the study of the world of fact, the centuries immediately following Alexander witnessed notable advance. Scientific research might prosper, just as poetry withered, under the patronage of kings, and such research had now a vast amount of new material at its disposal and could profit by the old Babylonian and Egyptian traditions. The medical schools, especially that of Alexandria, really enlarged knowledge of the animal frame. Knowledge of the earth gained immensely by the Macedonian conquests. The literary schools of Alexandria and Pergamum built up grammatical science, and brought literary and artistic criticism to a fine point. If indeed the earlier ages had been those of creative and spontaneous life, the Hellenistic age was that of conscious criticism and book-learning. The classical products were registered, studied, assorted and commented upon. Men travelled and read more. Books were in demand and were multiplied. Libraries became a feature of the age, the kings leading the way as collectors, of books, especially the rival dynasties of Egypt and Pergamum. The library attached to the Museum at Alexandria is said to have contained at the time of its destruction in 47 B.C. as many as 700,000 rolls (Aul. Gell. vi. 17. 3). Even smaller cities, like Aphrodisias in Caria, had public libraries for the instruction of their youth (Le Bas, III. No. 1618).
With the general decay of ancient civilization under the Roman empire, even scientific research ceased, and though there were literary revivals, like that connected with the new Atticism under the Antonine emperors, these were mainly imitative and artificial, and even learning became at last under the Byzantine emperors a jejune and formal tradition (see Greek Literature).
The diffusion of the Greek race far from the former centres of its life, the mingling of citizens of many cities, the close contact between Greek and barbarian in the conquered lands—all this had made the old sanctions of civic religion Religion and philosophy. and civic morality of less account than ever. New guides of life were needed. The Stoic philosophy, with its cosmopolitan note, its fixed dogmas and plain ethical precepts, came into the world at the time of the Macedonian conquests to meet the needs of the new age. Its ideas became popular among ordinary men as the older philosophies had never been. The Stoic or Cynic preacher, attacking the ways of society, in pungent, often coarse, phrase, became a familiar figure of the Greek market-place (P. Wendland, Beiträge zur Gesch. d. griech. Philosophie, 1895).
Although the cults of the old Greek deities in the new cities, with their splendid apparatus of festivals and sacrifice might still hold the multitude, men turned ever in large numbers to alien religions, felt as more potent because strange, and the various gods of Egypt and the East began to find larger entrance in the Greek world. Even in the old Greek religion before Alexander there had been large elements of foreign origin, and that the Greeks should now do honour to the gods of the lands into which they came, as we find the Cilician and Syrian Greeks doing to Baal-tars and Baal-marcod and the Egyptian Greeks to the gods of Egypt, was only in accordance with the primitive way of thinking. But it was a sign of the times when Serapis and Isis, Osiris and Anubis began to take place among the popular deities in the old Greek lands. The origin of the cult of Serapis, which Ptolemy I. found, or established, in Egypt is disputed; the familiar type of the god is the invention of a Greek artist, but the name and religion came from somewhere in the East (see discussion under Serapis). Before the end of the 2nd century B.C. there were temples of Serapis in Athens, Rhodes, Delos and Orchomenos in Boeotia. Under the Roman empire the cult of Isis, now furnished with an official priesthood and elaborate ritual, became really popular in the Hellenistic world. King Asoka in the 3rd century B.C. sent Buddhist missionaries from India to the Mediterranean lands; their preaching has, it is true, left little or no trace in our Western records. But other religions of Oriental origin penetrated far, the worship of the Phrygian Great Mother, and in the 2nd century A.D. the religion of the Mithras (Lafaye, Culte des divinités alexandrines, 1884; Roscher, articles “Anubis,” “Isis,” &c.; F. Cumont, Mystères de Mithra, Eng. trans., 1903; Les Religions orientales dans le paganisme romain, 1906).
The Jews, too, by the time of Christ were finding in many quarters an open door. Besides those who were ready to go the whole length and accept circumcision, numbers adopted particular Jewish practices, observing the Sabbath, for instance, or turned from polytheism to the doctrine of the One God. The synagogues in the Gentile cities had generally attached to them, in more or less close connexion a multitude of those “who feared God” and frequented the services (Schürer, Gesch. d. jüd. Volks, iii. 102-135).
Among the religions which penetrated the Hellenistic world from an Eastern source, one ultimately overpowered all the rest and made that world its own. The inter-action of Christianity and Hellenism opens large fields of inquiry. Christianity. The teaching of Christ Himself contained, as it is given to us, no Hellenic element; so far as He built with older material, that material was exclusively the sacred tradition of Israel. So soon, however, as the Gospel was carried in Greek to Greeks, Hellenic elements began to enter into it, in the writings, for instance, of St Paul, the appeal to what “nature” teaches would be generally admitted to be the adoption of a Greek mode of thought. It was, of course, impossible that speaking in Greek and living among Greeks, Christians should not to some extent use current conceptions for the expression of their faith. There was, at the same time, in the early Church a powerful current of feeling hostile to Greek culture, to the wisdom of the world. What the attitude of the New People should be to it, whether it was all bad, or whether there were good things in it which Christians should appropriate, was a vital question that always confronted them. The great Christian School of Alexandria represented by Clement and Origen effected a durable alliance between Greek education and Christian doctrine. In proportion as the Christian Church had to go deeper into metaphysics in the formulation of its belief as to God, as to Christ, as to the soul, the Greek philosophical terminology, which was the only vehicle then available for precise thought, had to become more and more an essential part of Christianity. At the same time Christian ethics incorporated much of the current popular philosophy, especially large Stoical elements. In this way the Church itself, as we shall see, became a propagator of Hellenism (see Hatch, Hibbert Lectures, 1888; Wendland, “Christentum u. Hellenismus” in Neue Jahrb. f. kl. Alt. ix. 1902, p. 1 f.; and Die hellenistisch-römische Kultur in ihren Beziehungen zu Judentum u. Christentum, 1907).
B. Effect upon non-Hellenic Peoples.—Hellenism secured by the Macedonian conquest points d’appui from the Mediterranean to India, and brought the system of commerce and intercourse into Greek hands. What effect did it produce in these various countries? What effect again in the lands of the West which fell under the sway of Rome?
(i.) India.—In India (including the valleys of the Kabul and its northern tributaries, then inhabited by an Indian, not, as now, by an Iranian, population) Alexander planted a number of Greek towns. Alexandria “under the Greek cities. Caucasus” commanded the road from Bactria over the Hindu-Kush; it lay somewhere among the hills to the north of Kabul, perhaps at Opian near Charikar (MacCrindle, Ancient India, p. 87, note 4); that it is the city meant by “Alasadda the capital of the Yona (Greek) country” in the Buddhist Mahavanso, as is generally affirmed, seems doubtful (Tarn, loc. cit. below, p. 269, note 7). We hear of a Nicaea in the Kabul valley itself (near Jalalabad?), another Nicaea on the Hydaspes (Jhelum) where Alexander crossed it, with Bucephala (see Bucephalus) opposite, a city (unnamed) on the Acesines (Chenab) (Arr. vi. 29, 3), and a series of foundations strung along the Indus to the sea. Soon after 321, Macedonian supremacy beyond the Indus collapsed before the advance of the native Maurya dynasty, and about 303 even large districts west of the Indus were ceded by Seleucus. But the chapter of Greek rule in India was not yet closed. The Maurya dynasty broke up about 180 B.C., and at the same time the Greek rulers of Bactria began to lead expeditions across the Hindu-Kush. Menander in the middle of the 2nd century B.C. extended his rule from the Hindu-Kush to the Ganges. Then “Scythian” peoples from central Asia, Sakas and Yue-chi, having conquered Bactria, gradually squeezed within ever-narrowing limits the Greek power in India. The last Greek prince, Hermaeus, seems to have succumbed about 30 B.C. It was just at this time that the Graeco-Roman world of the West was consolidated as the Roman Empire, and, though Greek rule in India had disappeared, active commercial intercourse went on between India and the Hellenistic lands. How far, through these changes, did the Greek population settled by Alexander or his successors in India maintain their distinctive character? What influence did Hellenism during the centuries in which it was in contact with India exert upon the native mind? Only extremely qualified answers can be given to these questions. Capital data are possibly waiting there under ground—the Kabul valley for instance is almost virgin soil for the archaeologist—and any conclusion we can arrive at is merely provisional. If certain statements of classical authors were true, Hellenism in India flourished exceedingly. But the phil-hellenic Brahmins in Philostratus’ life of Apollonius had no existence outside the world of romance, and the statement of Dio Chrysostom that the Indians were familiar with Homer in their own tongue (Or. liii. 6) is a traveller’s tale. India, the sceptical observe, has yielded no Greek inscription, except, of course, on the coins of the Greek kings and their Scythian rivals and successors. To what extent can it be inferred from legends on coins that Greek was a living speech in India? Perhaps to no large extent outside the Greek courts. The fact, however, that the Greek character was still used on coins for two centuries after the last Greek dynasty had come to an end shows that the language had a prestige in India which any theory, to be plausible, must account for. If we argue by probability from what we know of the conditions, we have to consider that the Greek rule in India was all through fighting for existence, and can have had “little time or energy left for such things as art, science and literature” (Tarn, loc. cit. p. 292), and it is pointed out that a casual reference to the Greeks in an Indian work contemporary with Menander characterizes them as “viciously valiant Yonas.” How long is it probable that Greek colonies planted in the midst of alien races would have remained distinct? Mr Tarn builds much upon the fact that the descendants of the Greek Branchidae settled by Xerxes in central Asia had become bilingual in six generations (Curt. vii. 5, 29). But the Greek race before Alexander had not its later prestige, and we must consider such a sentiment as leads the Eurasian to-day to cling to his Western parentage, so that the instance of the Branchidae cannot be used straight away for the time after Alexander. Certainly, had the Greek colonies in India been active political bodies, we could hardly have failed to find some trace of them, in civic architecture or in inscriptions, by this time. Perhaps we should rather think of them as resembling the Greeks found to-day dispersed over the nearer East with interests mainly commercial, easily assimilating themselves to their environment. A notice derived from Agatharchides (about 140 B.C.) possibly refers to the activity of these Indian Greeks in the sea-borne trade of the Indian Ocean (Müller, Geog. Graeci min. i. p. 191; cf. Diod. iii. 47. 9). As to what India derived from Greece there has been a good deal of erudite debate. That the Indian drama took its origin from the Greek is still maintained by some scholars, though hardly proved. There is no doubt that Indian astronomy shows marked Hellenic features, including actual Greek words borrowed. But by far the most signal borrowing is in the sphere Greek art. of art. The stream of Buddhist art which went out eastwards across Asia had its rise in North-West India, and the remains of architecture and sculpture unearthed in this region enable us to trace its development back to pure Greek types. It remains, of course, a question whether the tradition was transmitted by the Greek dynasties from Bactria or by intercourse with the Roman empire; the latter seems now almost certain; but the fact of the influence is equally striking on either theory. How far to the east the distinctive influence of Greece went is shown by the seal-impressions with Athena and Eros types found by Dr Stein in the buried cities of Khotan (Sand-buried Ruins of Khotan, p. 396), and according to Mr E. B. Havell, there exist “paintings treasured as the most precious relics and rarely shown to Europeans, which closely resemble the Graeco-Buddhist art of India” in some of the oldest temples of Japan (Studio, vol. xxvii. 1903, p. 26).
See A. A. Macdonell, History of Sanskrit Literature (1900) p. 411 f., and the references on p. 452; V. A. Smith, Early History of India (1904); Grünwedel, Buddhist Art in India (Eng. trans., edited by Dr Burgess, 1901); W. W. Tarn, “Notes on Hellenism in Bactria and India” in Journ. of Hell. Studies, xxii. (1902); Foucher, L’Art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra (1905).
(ii.) Iran and Babylonia.—The colonizing activity of Alexander and his successors found a large field in Iran where, up till his time, hardly any walled towns seem to have existed. Cities now arose in all its provinces, superseding in Greek cities. many cases native market places and villages, and holding the vantage-points of commerce. Media, Polybius says, was defended by a chain of Greek cities from barbarian incursion (x. 27. 3); in the neighbourhood of Teheran seem to have stood Heraclea and Europus. In Eastern Iran the cities which are its chief places to-day then bore Greek names, and looked upon Alexander or some other Hellenic prince as their founder. Khojend, Herat, Kandahar were Alexandrias, Merv was an Alexandria till it changed that name for Antioch. When the farther provinces broke away under independent Greek kings, a Eucratidēa and a Demetrias attested their glory. Even in a town definitely barbarian like Syrinca in 209 B.C. there was a resident mercantile community of Greeks (Polyb. x. 31). The bulk of Greek historical literature having perished, and in the absence of both archaeological data from Iran, we can only speculate on the inner life of these Greek cities under a strange sky. One precious document is the decree of Antioch in Persis (about 206 B.C.) cited in a recently discovered inscription (Kern, Inschr. v. Magnesia, No. 61; Dittenberger, Orient. gr. Inscr. i. No. 233). This shows us the normal organs of a Greek city, boulē, ecclesia, prytaneis, &c., in full working, with the annual election of magistrates, and ordinary forms of public action. But more than this, it throws a remarkable light upon the solidarity of the Hellenic Dispersion. The citizen body had been increased some generations before by colonists from Magnesia-on-Meander sent at the invitation of Antiochus I. The Magnesians are instigated by pan-hellenic enthusiasm. And we see a brisk diplomatic intercourse between the scattered Greek cities going on. It is especially the local religious festivals which bind them together. Antioch in Persis, of course, sends athletes to the great games of Greece, but in this decree it determines to take part in the new festival being started in honour of Artemis at Magnesia. The loyalty, too, expressed towards the Seleucid king implies a predominant interest in pan-hellenic unity, natural in colonies isolated among barbarians. A list is given (fragmentary) of other Greek cities in Babylonia and beyond from which similar decrees had come.
In the middle of the 3rd century B.C. Bactria and Sogdiana broke away from the Seleucid empire; independent Greek kings reigned there till the country was conquered by nomads from Central Asia (Sacae and Yue-chi) a Greek kingdoms. century later. Alexander had settled large masses of Greeks in these regions (Greeks, it would seem, not Macedonians), whose attempts to return home in 325 and 323 had been frustrated, and it may well be that a racial antagonism quickened the revolt against Macedonian rule in 250. The history of these Greek dynasties is for us almost a blank, and for estimating the amount and quality of Hellenism in Bactria during the 180 years or so of Macedonian and Greek rule, we are reduced to building hypotheses upon the scantiest data. Probably nothing important bearing on the subject has been left out of view in W. W. Tarn’s learned discussion (Journ. of Hell. Stud. xxii., 1902, p. 268 f.), and his result is mainly negative, that palpable evidences of an active Hellenism have not been found; he inclines to think that the Greek kingdoms mainly took on the native Iranian colour. The coins, of course, are adduced on the other side, being not only Greek in type and legend, but (in many cases) of a peculiarly fine and vigorous execution; and excellence in one branch of art is thought to imply that other branches flourished in the same milieu. Tarn suggests that they may be a “sport,” a spasmodic outbreak of genius (see Bactria and works there quoted). In these outlying provinces the national Iranian sentiment seems to have been most intense, and it is interesting to see that under Alexander Hellenism appeared as “belligerent civilization,” in the attempt to suppress practices like the exposure of the dying to the dogs (an exaggeration of Zoroastrianism) and, possibly also, abhorrent forms of marriage (Strabo xi. 517; Porphyr. De abstin. 4. 21; Plut. De fort. Al. 5).
The west of Iran slipped from the Seleucids in the course of the 2nd century B.C. to be joined to the Parthian kingdom, or fall under petty native dynasties. Soon after 130 Babylonia too was conquered by the Parthian, and Mesopotamia before 88. Then the reconquest of the nearer East by Oriental dynasties was checked by the advance of Rome. Asia Minor and Syria remained substantial parts of the Roman Empire till the Mahommedan conquests of the 7th century A.D. began a new process of recoil on the part of the Hellenistic power. In Babylonia, also, in Susiana and Mesopotamia, Hellenism had been established in a system of cities for 200 years before the coming of the Parthian. The greatest of all of them stood here—almost on the site of Bagdad—Seleucia on the Tigris. It superseded Babylon as the industrial focus of Babylonia and counted some 600,000 inhabitants (plebs urbana) according to Pliny, N.H. vi. § 122 (cf. Joseph. Arch. xviii. § 372, 374; for coins, probably of Seleucia, with the type of Tychē issued in the years A.D. 43-44 see Wroth, Coins of Parthia, p. xlvi.). The list of other Greek cities known to us in these regions is too long to give here (see Droysen, loc. cit., and E. Schwartz in Kern’s Inschr. v. Magnesia, p. 171 f.). In Mesopotamia, Pliny especially notes how the character of the country was changed when the old village life was broken in upon by new centres of population in the cities of Macedonian foundation (Pliny, N.H. vi. § 117; cf. K. Regling, “Histor. geog. d. mesopot. Parallelograms,” in Lehmann’s Beiträge, i. p. 442 f.).
We do not look in vain for notable names in Hellenistic literature and philosophy produced on an Asiatic soil. Diogenes, the Stoic philosopher (head of the school in 156 B.C.), was a “Babylonian,” i.e. a citizen of Seleucia on the Hellenic-Iranian culture. Tigris; so too was Seleucus, the mathematician and astronomer, being possibly a native Babylonian; Berossus, who wrote a Babylonian history in Greek (before 261 B.C.) was a Hellenized native. Apollodorus, Strabo’s authority for Parthian history (c. 80 B.C.?), was from the Greek city of Artemita in Assyria. When the Parthians rent away provinces from the Seleucid empire, the Greek cities did not cease to exist by passing under barbarian rule. Gradually no doubt the Greek colonies were absorbed, but the process was a long one. In 140 and 130 B.C. those of Iran were ready to rise in support of the Seleucid invader (Joseph. Arch. xiii. § 184; Justin xxxviii. 10.6-8). Just so, Crassus in 53 B.C. found a welcome in the Greek cities of Mesopotamia. Seleucia on the Tigris is spoken of by Tacitus as being in A.D. 36 “proof against barbarian influences and mindful of its founder Seleucus” (Ann. vi. 42). How important an element the Greek population of their realm seemed to the Parthian kings we can see by the fact that they claimed to be themselves champions of Hellenism. From the reign of Artabanus I. (128/7-123 B.C.) they bear the epithet of “Phil-hellen” as a regular part of their title upon the coins. Under the later reigns the Tychē figure (the personification of a Greek city) becomes common as a coin type (Wroth, Coins of Parthia, pp. liii., lxxiv.). The coinage may, of course, give a somewhat one-sided representation of the Parthian kingdom, being specially designed for the commercial class, in which the population of the Greek cities was, we may guess, predominant. The state of things which prevails in modern Afghanistan, where trade is in the hands of a class distinct in race and speech (Persian in this case) from the ruling race of fighters is very probably analogous to that which we should have found in Iran under the Parthians. That the Parthian court itself was to some extent Hellenized is shown by the story, often adduced, that a Greek company of actors was performing the Bacchae before the king when the head of Crassus was brought in. This single instance need not, it is true, show a Hellenism of any profundity; still it does show that certain parts of Hellenism had become so essential to the lustre of a court that even an Arsacid could not be without them. Artavasdes, king of Armenia (54?-34 B.C.) composed Greek tragedies and histories (Plut. Crass. 33). Then the prestige of the Roman Empire, with its prevailingly Hellenistic culture, must have told powerfully. The Parthian princes were in many cases the children of Greek mothers who had been taken into the royal harems (Plut. Crass. 32). Musa, the queen-mother, whose head appears on the coins of Phraataces (3/2 B.C.-A.D. 4) had been an Italian slave-girl. Many of the Parthian princes resided temporarily, as hostages or refugees, in the Roman Empire; but one notes that the nation at large looked with anything but favour upon too liberal an introduction of foreign manners at the court (Tac. Ann. ii. 2).
Such slight notices in Western literature do not give us any penetrating view into the operation of Hellenism among the Iranians. As an expression of the Iranian mind we have the Avesta and the Pehlevi theological literature. Unfortunately in a question of this kind the dating of our documents is the first matter of importance, and it seems that we can only assign dates to the different parts of the Avesta by processes of fine-drawn conjecture. And even if we could date the Avesta securely, we could only prove borrowing by more or less close coincidences of idea, a tempting but uncertain method of inquiry. Taking an opinion based on such data for what it is worth, we may note that Darmesteter believed in the influence of the later Greek philosophy (Philonian and Neo-platonic) as one of those which shaped the Avesta as we have it (Sacred Books of the East, iv. 54 f.), but we must also note that such an influence is emphatically denied by Dr L. Mills (Zarathushtra and the Greeks, Leipzig, 1906). Outside literature, we have to look to the artistic remains offered by the region to determine Hellenic influence. But here, too, the preliminary classification of the documents is beset with doubt. In the case of small objects like gems the place of manufacture may be far from the place of discovery. The architectural remains are solidly in situ, but we may have such vast disagreement as to date as that between Dieulafoy and M. de Morgan with respect to domed buildings of Susa, a disagreement of at least five centuries. It is enough then here to observe that Iran and Babylonia do, as a matter of fact, continually yield the explorer objects of workmanship either Greek or influenced by Greek models, belonging to the age after Alexander, and that we may hence infer at any rate such an influence of Hellenism upon the tastes of the richer classes as would create a demand for these things.
For gems see “Gobineau” in the Rev. archéol., vols. xxvii., xxviii. (1874); Ménant, Recherches sur la glyptique orientale, ii. 189 f.; E. Babelon, Catalogue des camées de la Bibl. Nat. (1897), p. 56; A. Furtwängler, Die antiken Gemmen, pp. 165, 369 ff.; Figurines: Heuzey, Fig. ant. du Louvre (1883) p. 3; J. P. Peters, Nippur, ii. 128; Military standard: Heuzey, Comptes rendus de l’Acad. d. Inscr. (1895) p. 16; Rev. d’Assyr. v. (1903), p. 103 f. Alabaster vase: Sykes, Ten Thousand Miles in Persia, p. 445. In the case of the architectural remains, the Greek tradition is obvious at Hatra (Jacquerel, Rev. archéol., 1897 [ii.], 343 f.), and in the relics of the temple at Kingavar (Dieulafoy, L’Art antique de la Perse, v. p. 10 f.).
If any vestige of Hellenism still survived under the Sassanian kings, our records do not show it. The spirit of the Sassanian monarchy was more jealously national than that of the Arsacid, and alien grafts could hardly have flourished Sassanian empire. under it. Of course, if Darmesteter was right in seeing a Greek element in Zoroastrianism, Greek influence must still have operated under the new dynasty, which recognized the national religion. But, as we saw, the Greek influence has been authoritatively denied. At the court a limited recognition might be given, as fashion veered, to the values prevalent in the Hellenistic world. The story of Hormisdas in Zosimus is suggestive in this connexion (Zosim. Hist. nov. ii. 27). Chosroes I. interested himself in Greek philosophy and received its professors from the West with open arms (Agath. ii. 28 f.); according to one account, he had his palace at Ctesiphon built by Greeks (Theophylact. Simocat. v. 6).
But the account of Chosroes’ mode of action makes it plain that the Hellenism once planted in Iran had withered away; representatives of Greek learning and skill have all to be imported from across the frontier.
For Hellenism in Babylonia and Iran, see the useful article of M. Victor Chapot in the Bull. et mémoires de la Soc. Nat. des Antiquaires de France for 1902 (published 1904), p. 206 f., which gives a conspectus of the relevant literature.
(iii.) Asia Minor.—Very different were the fortunes of Hellenism in those lands which became annexed to the Roman Empire.
In Asia Minor, we have seen how, even before Alexander, Hellenism had begun to affect the native races and Persian nobility. During Alexander’s own reign, we cannot trace any progress in the Hellenization of the interior, Greek cities of the Diadochi. nor can we prove here his activity as a builder of cities. But under the dynasties of his successors a great work of city-building and colonization went on. Antigonus fixed his capital at the old Phrygian town of Celaenae, and the famous cities of Nicaea and Alexandria Troas owed to him their first foundation, each as an Antigonia; they were refounded and renamed by Lysimachus (301-281 B.C.). Then we have the great system of Seleucid foundations. Sardis, the Seleucid capital in Asia Minor, had become a Greek city before the end of the 3rd century B.C. The main high road between the Aegean coast and the East was held by a series of new cities. Going west from the Cilician Gates we have Laodicea Catacecaumene, Apamea, the Phrygian capital which absorbed Celaenae, Laodicea on the Lycus, Antioch-on-Meander, Antioch-Nysa, Antioch-Tralles. To the south of this high road we have among the Seleucid foundations Antioch in Pisidia (colonized with Magnesians from the Meander) and Stratonicea in Caria; in the region to the north of it the most famous Seleucid colony was Thyatira. Along the southern coast, where the houses of Seleucus and Ptolemy strove for predominance, we find the names of Berenice, Arsinoë and Ptolemais confronting those of Antioch and Seleucia. With the rise of the Attalid dynasty of Pergamum, a system of Pergamene foundation begins to oppose the Seleucid in the interior, bearing such names as Attalia, Philetaeria, Eumenia, Apollonis. Of these, one may note for their later celebrity Philadelphia in Lydia and Attalia on the Pamphylian coast. The native Bithynian dynasty became Hellenized in the course of the 3rd century, and in the matter of city building Prusias (the old Cius), Apamea (the old Myrlea), probably Prusa, and above all Nicomedia attested its activity. While new Greek cities were rising in the interior, the older Hellenism of the western coast grew in material splendour under the munificence of Hellenistic kings. Its centres of gravity to some extent shifted. There was a tendency towards concentration in large cities of the new type, which caused many of the lesser towns, like Lebedus, Myus or Colophon, to sink to insignificance, while Ephesus grew in greatness and wealth, and Smyrna rose again after an extinction of four centuries. The great importance of Rhodes belongs to the days after Alexander, when it received the riches of the East from the trade-routes which debouched into the Mediterranean at Alexandria and Antioch. In Aeolis, of course, the centre of gravity moved to the Attalid capital, Pergamum. It was the irruption of the Celts, beginning in 278-277 B.C., which checked the Hellenization of the interior. Not only did the Galatian tribes take large tracts towards the north of the plateau in possession, but they were an element of perpetual unrest, which hampered and distracted the Hellenistic monarchies. The wars, therefore, in which the Pergamene kings in the latter part of the 3rd century stemmed their aggressions, had the glory of a Hellenic crusade.
The minor dynasties of non-Greek origin, the native Bithynian and the two Persian dynasties in Pontus and Cappadocia, were Hellenized before the Romans drove the Seleucid out of the country. In Bithynia the upper classes seem to Native dynasties. have followed the fashion of the court (Beloch iii. [i.], 278); the dynasty of Pontus was phil-hellenic by ancestral tradition; the dynasty of Cappadocia, the most conservative, dated its conversion to Hellenism from the time when a Seleucid princess came to reign there early in the 2nd century B.C. as the wife of Ariarathes V. (Diod. xxxi. 19. 8). But Hellenism in Cappadocia was for centuries to come still confined to the castles of the king and the barons, and the few towns.
When Rome began to interfere in Asia Minor, its first action was to break the power of the Gauls (189 B.C.). In 133 Rome entered formally upon the heritage of the Attalid kingdom and became the dominant power in the Hellenism under Roman sway. Anatolian peninsula for 1200 years. Under Rome the process of Hellenization, which the divisions and weakness of the Macedonian kingdoms had checked, went forward. The coast regions of the west and south the Romans found already Hellenized. In Lydia “not a trace” of the old language was left in Strabo’s time (Strabo xiv. 631); in Lycia, the old language became obsolete in the early days of Macedonian rule (see Kalinka, Tituli Asiae minoris, i. 8). But inland, in Phrygia, Hellenism had as yet made little headway outside the Greek cities. Even the Attalids had not effected much here (Körte, Athen. Mitth. xxiii., 1898, p. 152), and under the Romans, the penetration of the interior by Hellenism was slow. It was not till the reign of Hadrian that city life on the Phrygian plateau became rich and vigorous, with its material circumstances of temples, theatres and baths. Among the villages of the north and east of Phrygia, Hellenism “was only beginning to make itself felt in the middle of the 3rd century A.D.” (Ramsay in Kuhn’s Zeitsch. f. vergleich. Sprachforschung, xxviii., 1885, p. 382). Gravestones in this region as late as the 4th century curse violators in the old Phrygian speech. The lower classes at Lystra in St Paul’s time spoke Lycaonian (Acts xiv. 11). In that part of Phrygia, which by the settlement of the Celtic invaders became Galatia, the larger towns seem to have become Hellenized by the time of the Christian era, whilst the Celtic speech maintained itself in the country villages till the 4th century A.D. (Jerome, Preface to Comment, in Epist. ad Gal. book ii.; see J. G. C. Anderson, Journ. of Hell. Stud. xix., 1899, p. 312 f.). Cappadocia at the beginning of the Christian era was still comparatively townless (Strabo xii. 537), a country of large estates with a servile peasantry. Even in the 4th century its Hellenization was still far from complete; but Christianity had assimilated so much of the older Hellenic culture that the Church was now a main propagator of Hellenism in the backward regions. The native languages of Asia Minor all ultimately gave way to Greek (unless Phrygian lingered on in parts till the Turkish invasions; see Mordtmann, Sitzungsb. d. bayer. Ak. 1862, i. p. 30; K. Holl in Hermes, xliii., 1908, p. 240 f.). The effective Hellenization of Armenia did not take place till the 5th century, when the school of Mesrop and Sahak gave Armenia a literature translated from, or imitating, Greek books (Gelzer in I. v. Müller’s Handbuch, vol. ix. Abt. i. p. 916.)
(iv.) Syria.—In Syria, which with Cilicia and Mesopotamia, formed the central part of the Seleucid empire, the new colonies were especially numerous. Alexander himself had perhaps made a beginning with Alexandria-by-Issus Seleucid empire. (mod. Alexandretta), Samaria, Pella (the later Apamea), Carrhae, &c. Antigonus founded Antigonia, which was absorbed a few years later by Antioch, and after the fall of Antigonus in 301, the work of planting Syria with Greek cities was pursued effectively north of the Lebanon by the house of Seleucus, and, less energetically, south of the Lebanon by the house of Ptolemy. In the north of Syria four cities stood pre-eminent above the rest, (1) Antioch on the Orontes, the Seleucid capital; (2) Seleucia-in-Pieria near the mouth of the Orontes, which guarded the approach to Antioch from the sea; (3) Apamea (mod. Famia), on the middle Orontes, the military headquarters of the kingdom; and (4) Laodicea “on sea” (ad mare), which had a commercial importance in connexion with the export of Syrian wine. Of the Ptolemaic foundations in Coele-Syria only one attained an importance comparable with that of the larger Seleucid foundations, Ptolemais on the coast, which was the old Semitic Acco transformed (mod. Acre). The group of Greek cities east of the Jordan also fell within the Ptolemaic realm during the 3rd century B.C., though their greatness belonged to a somewhat later day. The whole of Syria was brought under the Seleucid sceptre, together with Cilicia, by Antiochus III. the Great (223-187 B.C.). Under his son, Antiochus IV. Epiphanes (175-164), a fresh impulse was given to Syrian Hellenism. In 1 Maccabees he is represented as writing an order to all his subjects to forsake the ways of their fathers and conform to a single prescribed pattern, and though in this form the account can hardly be exact, it does no doubt represent the spirit of his action. Other facts there are which point the same way. We now find a sudden issue of bronze money by a large number of the cities of the kingdom in their own name—an indication of liberties extended or confirmed. Many of them exchange their existing name for that of Antioch (Adana, Tarsus, Gadara, Ptolemais), Seleucia (Mopsuestia, Gadara) or Epiphanea (Oeniandus, Hamath). At Antioch itself great public works were carried out, such as were involved in the addition of a new quarter to the city, including, we may suppose, the civic council chamber which is afterwards spoken of as being here. With the ever-growing weakness of the Seleucid dynasty, the independence and activity of the cities increased, although, if, on the one hand, they were less suppressed by a strong central government, they were less protected against military adventurers and barbarian chieftains. Accordingly, when Pompey annexed Syria in 64 B.C. as a Roman province, Roman period. he found it a chaos of city-states and petty principalities. The Nabataeans and the Jews above all had encroached upon the Hellenistic domain; in the south the Jewish raids had spread desolation and left many cities practically in ruins. Under Roman protection, the cities were soon rebuilt and Hellenism secured from the barbarian peril. Greek city life, with its political forms, its complement of festivities, amusements and intellectual exercise, went on more largely than before. The great majority of the Hellenistic remains in Syria belong to the Roman period. Such local dynasties as were suffered by the Romans to exist had, of course, a Hellenistic complexion. Especially was this the case with that of the Herods. Not only were such marks of Hellenism as a theatre introduced by Herod the Great (37-34 B.C.) at Jerusalem, but in the work of city-building this dynasty showed itself active. Sebaste (the old Samaria), Caesarea, Antipatris were built by Herod the Great, Tiberias by Herod Antipas (4 B.C.-A.D. 39). The reclaiming of the wild district of Hauran for civilization and Hellenistic life was due in the first instance to the house of Herod (Schürer, Gesch. d. jüd. Volk. 3rd ed., ii. p. 12 f.). In Syria, too, Hellenism under the Romans advanced upon new ground. Palmyra, of which we hear nothing before Roman times, is a notable instance.
As to the effect of this network of Greek cities upon the aboriginal population of Syria, we do not find here the same disappearance of native languages and racial characteristics as in Asia Minor. Still less was this the case Greek culture in Syria. in Mesopotamia, where a strong native element in such a city as Edessa is indicated by its epithet μιξοβάρβαρος. The old cults naturally went on, and at Carrhae (Harran) even survived the establishment of Christianity. The lower classes at Antioch, and no doubt in the cities generally, were in speech Aramaic or bilingual; we find Aramaic popular nicknames of the later Seleucids (K. O. Müller, Antiq. Ant. p. 29). The villages, of course, spoke Aramaic. The richer natives, on the other hand, those who made their way into the educated classes of the towns, and attained official position, would become Hellenized in language and manners, and the “Syrian Code” shows how far the social structure was modified by the Hellenic tradition (Mitteis, Reichsrecht und Volksrecht in den öst. Provinzen des röm. Kaiserreichs, 1891; Arnold Meyer, Jesu Muttersprache, 1896). Of the Syrians who made their mark in Greek literature, some were of native blood, e.g. Lucian of Samosata.
One may notice the great part taken by natives of the Phoenician cities in the history of later Greek philosophy, and in the poetic movement of the last century B.C., which led to fresh cultivation of the epigram. Greek, in fact, held the field as the language of literature and polite society. Possibly at places like Edessa, which for some 350 years (till A.D. 216) was under a dynasty of native princes, Aramaic was cultivated as a literary language. There was a Syriac-speaking church here as early as the 2nd century, and with the spread of Christianity Syriac asserted itself against Greek. The Syriac literature which we possess is all Christian.
But where Greek gave place to Syriac, Hellenism was not thereby effaced. It was to some extent the passing over of the Hellenic tradition into a new medium. We must remember the marked Hellenic elements in Christian theology. The earliest Syriac work which we possess, the book “On Fate,” produced in the circle of the heretic Bardaisan or Bardesanes (end of the 2nd century), largely follows Greek models. There was an extensive translation of Greek works into Syriac during the next centuries, handbooks of philosophy and science for the most part. The version of Homer into Syriac verses made in the 8th century has perished, all but a few lines (R. Duval, La Litt. syriaque, 1900, p. 325).
(v.) The relation of the Jews to Hellenism in the first century and a half of Macedonian rule is very obscure, since the statements made by later writers like Josephus, as to the visit of Alexander to Jerusalem or the privileges conferred The Jews. upon the Jews in the new Macedonian realms are justly suspected of being fiction. It has been maintained that Greek influence is to be traced in parts of the Old Testament assigned to this period, as, for instance, the Book of Proverbs; but even in the case of Ecclesiastes, the canonical writing whose affinity with Greek thought is closest, the coincidence of idea need not necessarily prove a Greek source. The one solid fact in this connexion is the translation of the Jewish Law into Greek in the 3rd century B.C., implying a Jewish Diaspora at Alexandria, so far Hellenized as to have forgotten the speech of Palestine. Early in the 2nd century B.C. we see that the priestly aristocracy of Jerusalem had, like the well-to-do classes everywhere in Syria, been carried away by the Hellenistic current, its strength being evidenced no less by the intensity of the conservative opposition embodied in the party of the “Pious” (Assideans, Ḥasīdīm).
Under Antiochus IV. Epiphanes (176-165) the Hellenistic aristocracy contrived to get Jerusalem converted into a Greek city; the gymnasium appeared, and Greek dress became fashionable with the young men. But when Antiochus, owing to political developments, interfered violently at Jerusalem, the conservative opposition carried the nation with them. The revolt under the Hasmonaean family (Judas Maccabaeus and his brethren) followed, ending in 143-142 in the establishment of an independent Jewish state under a Hasmonaean prince. But whilst the old Hellenistic party had been crushed the Hasmonaean state was of the nature of a compromise. The Mosaic Law was respected, but Hellenism still found an entrance in various forms. The first Hasmonaean “king,” Aristobulus I. (104-103), was known to the Greeks as Phil-hellen. He and all later kings of the dynasty bear Greek names as well as Hebrew ones, and after Jannaeus Alexander (103-76) the Greek legends are common on the coins beside the Hebrew. Herod, who supplanted the Hasmonaean dynasty (37-34 B.C.) made, outside Judaea, a display of Phil-hellenism, building new Greek cities and temples, or bestowing gifts upon the older ones of fame. His court, at the same time, welcomed Greek men of letters like Nicolaus of Damascus. Even in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, he erected a theatre and an amphitheatre. We have already noticed the work done by the Herodian dynasty in furthering Hellenism in Syria (see Schürer, Gesch. des jüdisch. Volkes, vols. i. and ii.). Meanwhile a great part of the Jewish people was living dispersed among the cities of the Greek world, speaking Greek as their mother-tongue, and absorbing Greek influences in much larger measure than their brethren of Palestine. These are the Jews whom we find contrasted as “Hellenists” with the “Hebrews” in Acts. They still kept in touch with the mother-city, and indeed we hear of special synagogues in Jerusalem in which the Hellenists temporarily resident there gathered (Acts vi. 9). A large Jewish literature in Greek had grown up since the translation of the Law in the 3rd century. Beside the other canonical books of the Old Testament, translated in many cases with modifications or additions, it included translations of other Hebrew books (Ecclesiasticus, Judith, &c.), works composed originally in Greek but imitating to some extent the Hebraic style (like Wisdom), works modelled more closely on the Greek literary tradition, either historical, like 2 Maccabees, or philosophical, like the productions of the Alexandrian school, represented for us by Aristobulus and Philo, in which style and thought are almost wholly Greek and the reference to the Old Testament a mere pretext; or Greek poems on Jewish subjects, like the epic of the elder Philo and Ezechiel’s tragedy, Exagogē. It included also a number of forgeries, circulated under the names of famous Greek authors, verses fathered upon Aeschylus or Sophocles, or books like the false Hecataeus, or above all the pretended prophecies of ancient Sibyls in epic verse. These frauds were all contrived for the heathen public, as a means of propaganda, calculated to inspire them with respect for Jewish antiquity or turn them from idols to God.
For Jewish Hellenism see Schürer, op. cit. iii.; Susemihl, Gesch. der griech. Lit. in der Alexandrinerzeit, ii. 601 f.; Willrich, Juden und Griechen (1895), Judaica (1900); Hastings’ Dict. of the Bible, art. “Greece”; Encyclop. Biblica, art. “Hellenism”; Pauly-Wissowa, art. “Aristobulus (15)”; also the work of P. Wendland cited above.
Through the Hellenistic Jews, Greek influences reached Jerusalem itself, though their effect upon the Aramaic-speaking Rabbinical schools was naturally not so pronounced. The large number of Greek words, however, in the language of the Mishnah and the Talmud is a significant phenomenon. The attitude of the Rabbinic doctors to a Greek education does not seem to have been hostile till the time of Hadrian. The sect of the Essenes probably shows an intermingling of the Greek with other lines of tradition among the Jews of Palestine.
See Schürer ii. 42-67, 583; S. Krauss, Griech. u. latein. Lehnwörter im Talmud (1898); Jewish Encyclopedia, art. “Greek Language.”(vi.) In Egypt the Ptolemies were hindered by special considerations from building Greek cities after the manner of the other Macedonian houses. One Greek city they found existing, Naucratis; Alexander had called Alexandria Ptolemaic kingdom. into being; the first Ptolemy added Ptolemais as a Greek centre for Upper Egypt. They seem to have suffered no other community in the Nile Valley with the independent life of a Greek city, for the Greek and Macedonian soldier-colonies settled in the Fayum or elsewhere had no political self-existence. And even at Alexandria Hellenism was not allowed full development. Ptolemais, indeed, enjoyed all the ordinary forms of self-government, but Alexandria was governed despotically by royal officials. In its population, too, Alexandria was only semi-Hellenic; for besides the proportion of Egyptian natives in its lower strata, its commercial greatness drew in elements from every quarter; the Jews, for instance, formed a majority of the population in two out of the five divisions of the city. At the same time the prevalent tone of the populace was, no doubt, Hellenistic, as is shown by the fact that the Jews who settled there acquired Greek in place of Aramaic as their mother-tongue, and in its upper circles Alexandrian society under the Ptolemies was not only Hellenistic, but notable among the Hellenes for its literary and artistic brilliance. The state university, the “Museum,” was in close connexion with the court, and gave to Alexandria the same pre-eminence in natural science and literary scholarship which Athens had in moral philosophy.
Probably in no other country, except Judaea, did Hellenism encounter as stubborn a national antagonism as in Egypt. The common description of “the Oriental” as indurated in his antagonism to the alien conqueror here perhaps has some truth in it. The assault made upon the Macedonian devotee in the temple of Serapis at Memphis “because he was a Greek” is significant (Papyr. Brit. Mus. i. No. 44; cf. Grenfell, Amherst Papyr. p. 48). And yet even here one must observe qualifications The papyri show us habitual marriage of Greeks and native women and a frequent adoption by natives of Greek names. It has even been thought that some developments of the Egyptian religion are due to Hellenistic influence, such as the deification of Imhotp (Bissing, Deutsche Literaturzeitung, 1902, col. 2330) or the practice of forming voluntary religious associations (Otto, Priester und Tempel, i. 125). The worship of Serapis was patronized by the court with the very object of affording a mixed cultus in which Greek and native might unite. In Egypt, too, the triumph of Christianity brought into being a native Christian literature, and if this was in one way the assertion of the native against Hellenistic predominance, one must remember that Coptic literature, like Syriac, necessarily incorporated those Greek elements which had become an essential part of Christian theology.
From the Ptolemaic kingdom Hellenism early travelled up the Nile into Ethiopia. Ergamenes, the king of the Ethiopians in the time of the second Ptolemy, “who had received a Greek education and cultivated philosophy,” broke Ethiopia. with the native priesthood (Diod. iii. 6), and from that time traces of Greek influence continue to be found in the monuments of the Upper Nile. When Ethiopia became a Christian country in the 4th century, its connexion with the Hellenistic world became closer.
(vii.) Hellenism in the West.—Whilst in the East Hellenism had been sustained by the political supremacy of the Greeks, in Italy Graecia capta had only the inherent power and charm of her culture wherewith to win her way. At Greek culture in the Roman world. Carthage in the 3rd century the educated classes seem generally to have been familiar with Greek culture (Bernhardy, Grundriss d. griech. Lit. § 77). The philosopher Clitomachus, who presided over the Academy at Athens in the 2nd century, was a Carthaginian. Even before Alexander, as we saw, Hellenism had affected the peoples of Italy, but it was not till the Greeks of south Italy and Sicily were brought under the supremacy of Rome in the 3rd century B.C. that the stream of Greek influence entered Rome in any volume. It was now that the Greek freedman, L. Livius Andronicus, laid the foundation of a new Latin literature by his translation of the Odyssey, and that the Greek dramas were recast in a Latin mould. The first Romans who set about writing history wrote in Greek. At the end of the 3rd century there was a circle of enthusiastic phil-hellenes among the Roman aristocracy, led by Titus Quinctius Flamininus, who in Rome’s name proclaimed the autonomy of the Greeks at the Isthmian games of 196. In the middle of the 2nd century Roman Hellenism centred in the circle of Scipio Aemilianus, which included men like Polybius and the philosopher Panaetius. The visit of the three great philosophers, Diogenes the “Babylonian,” Critolaus and Carneades in 155, was an epoch-making event in the history of Hellenism at Rome. Opposition there could not fail to be, and in 161 a senatus consultum ordered all Greek philosophers and rhetoricians to leave the city. The effect of such measures was, of course, transient. Even though the opposition found so doughty a champion as the elder Cato (censor in 184), it was ultimately of no avail. The Italians did not indeed surrender themselves passively to the Greek tradition. In different departments of culture the degree of their independence was different. The system of government framed by Rome was an original creation. Even in the spheres of art and literature, the Italians, while so largely guided by Greek canons, had something of their own to contribute. The mere fact that they produced a literature in Latin argues a power of creation as well as receptivity. The great Latin poets were imitators indeed, but mere imitators they were no more than Petrarch or Milton. On the other hand, even where the creative originality of Rome was most pronounced, as in the sphere of Law, there were elements of Hellenic origin. It has been often pointed out how the Stoic philosophy especially helped to shape Roman jurisprudence (Schmekel, Philos. d. mittl. Stoa, p. 454 f.).
Whilst the upper classes in Italy absorbed Greek influences by their education, by the literary and artistic tradition, the lower strata of the population of Rome became largely hellenized by the actual influx on a vast scale of Greeks and hellenized Asiatics, brought in for the most part as slaves, and coalescing as freedmen with the citizen body. Of the Jewish inscriptions found at Rome some two-thirds are in Greek. So too the early Christian church in Rome, to which St Paul addressed his epistle, was Greek-speaking, and continued to be till far into the 3rd century.
III. Later History.—It remains only to glance at the ultimate destinies of Hellenism in West and East. In the Latin West knowledge of Greek, first-hand acquaintance with the Greek classics, became rarer and rarer as The middle ages. general culture declined, till in the dark ages (after the 5th century) it existed practically nowhere but in Ireland (Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, i. 438). In Latin literature, however, a great mass of Hellenistic tradition in a derived form was maintained in currency, wherever, that is, culture of any kind continued to exist. It was a small number of monkish communities whose care of those narrow channels prevented their ever drying up altogether. Then the stream began to rise again, first with the influx of the learning of the Spanish Moors, then with the new knowledge of Greek brought from Constantinople in the 14th century. With the Renaissance and the new learning, Hellenism came in again in flood, to form a chief part of that great river on which the modern world is being carried forward into a future, of which one can only say that it must be utterly unlike anything that has gone before. In the East it is popularly thought that Hellenism, as an exotic, withered altogether away. This view is superficial. During the dark ages, in the Byzantine East, as well as in the West, Hellenism had become little more than a dried and shrivelled tradition, although the closer study of Byzantine culture in latter years has seemed to discover more vitality than was once supposed. Ultimately the Greek East was absorbed by Islam; Islam. the popular mistake lies in supposing that the Hellenistic tradition thereby came to an end. The Mahommedan conquerors found a considerable part of it taken over, as we saw, by the Syrian Christians, and Greek philosophical and scientific classics were now translated from Syriac into Arabic. These were the starting-points for the Mahommedan schools in these subjects. Accordingly we find that Arabian philosophy (q.v.), mathematics, geography, medicine and philology are all based professedly upon Greek works (Brockelmann, Gesch. d. arabischen Literatur, 1898, vol. i.; R. A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs, 1907, pp. 358-361). Aristotle in the East no less than in the West was the “master of them that know”; and Moslem physicians to this day invoke the names of Hippocrates and Galen. The Hellenistic strain in Mahommedan civilization has, it is true, flagged and failed, but only as that civilization as a whole has declined. It was not that the Hellenistic element failed, whilst the native elements in the civilization prospered; the culture of Islam has, as a whole (from whatever causes), sunk ever lower during the centuries that have witnessed the marvellous expansion of Europe.
Authorities.—For the inner history of Hellenism after Alexander, the general historical literature dealing with later Greece and Rome supplies material in various degrees. See works quoted in articles Greece, History; Rome, History; Ptolemies; Seleucid Dynasty; Bactria, &c.
Different elements (literature, philosophy, art, &c.) are dealt with in works dealing specially with these subjects, among which those of Susemihl, Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Erwin Rohde and E. Schwartz are of especial importance for the literature; those of Schreiber and Strzygowski for the later Greek art.Sketches of Hellenistic civilization generally are found in J. P. Mahaffy’s Greek Life and Thought (1887), The Greek World under Roman Sway (1890); The Silver Age of the Greek World (1906); Julius Kaerst, Gesch. d. hellenist. Zeitalters (Band ii., publ. 1909); and in Beloch’s Griechische Geschichte, vol. iii. (for the century immediately succeeding Alexander). R. von Scala’s “The Greeks after Alexander,” in Helmolt’s History of the World (vol. v.), covers the whole period from Alexander to the end of the Byzantine Empire. P. Wendland’s Hellenistisch-römische Kultur in ihren Beziehungen zu Judentum u. Christentum (1907) is an illuminating monograph, giving a conspectus of the material. For Hellenistic Egypt, Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire des Lagides, vol. iii. (1906).
↑ See, among recent writers, on one side Kaerst, Gesch. des hellenist. Zeitalters, pp. 97 f., and on the other Beloch, Griech. Gesch., iii. [i.] 1-9; Kretschmer, Einleitung in die Gesch. d. griech. Sprache, p. 283 f.; O. Hoffmann, Die Makedonen, ihre Sprache u. ihr Volkstum (1906).
↑ “Ce sont les Tadjik de l’Afghanistan qui constituent les trente-deux corps de métier, qui tiennent boutique, expédient les marchandises, représentent, en un mot, la vie industrielle et commerciale de la nation. Ce sont aussi les Tadjik des villes qui forment la classe lettrée, et qui ont empêché les Afghans de retomber dans la barbarie.” (Reclus, Nouvelle Géograph. univ. ix. p. 71.)
+ Cultures List
- Achaea Phthiotis
- Aetolian League
- Chrysaorian League
- Cilician Pirates
- Corinthian League
- Epirote League
- Hellenic League
- League of Corinth
- League of the Islanders
- Nesiotic League
1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 13