Hellenistic Structures > Priene Inscription

Priene Inscription


The Priene Inscription, also known as the "Letter of Alexander to the Chians and Other Greeks," is an ancient Greek inscription discovered in the ancient city of Priene in modern-day Turkey. It is a significant historical document that provides insights into the policies and decrees of Alexander the Great, particularly regarding the autonomy and governance of Greek city-states during his reign. The Priene Inscription was discovered in the late 19th century during archaeological excavations at the ancient city of Priene, located near the modern town of Söke in western Turkey. It was found inscribed on a stone stele, which was originally erected in the agora (central marketplace) of Priene.

The inscription contains a letter purportedly written by Alexander the Great to the people of Priene and other Greek city-states, including the Chians and the Mytilenaeans (inhabitants of Lesbos), among others. In the letter, Alexander expresses his concern for the welfare and autonomy of the Greek city-states and assures them of his commitment to upholding their traditional rights and freedoms. Alexander specifically addresses issues related to the appointment of officials, the collection of taxes and tribute, and the administration of justice. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining democratic governance and respecting the laws and customs of the Greek cities.

Historical Significance:

The Priene Inscription provides valuable insights into Alexander's policies and attitudes towards the Greek city-states under his rule. It reflects Alexander's efforts to present himself as a benevolent and enlightened ruler who respected Greek culture and institutions. The inscription also sheds light on the complex relationship between Alexander and the Greek city-states, as well as the dynamics of power and autonomy within the Hellenistic world.


Scholars have debated the authenticity and historical accuracy of the Priene Inscription. While some believe it to be a genuine document dating from Alexander's reign, others argue that it may be a later fabrication or a literary invention. Regardless of its authenticity, the inscription serves as a valuable source for understanding the political and ideological context of Alexander's rule and his interactions with the Greek city-states.

In conclusion, the Priene Inscription is an important historical document that provides insights into Alexander the Great's policies towards the Greek city-states and his efforts to maintain their autonomy and self-governance. Whether authentic or not, it remains a valuable source for understanding the complexities of Hellenistic politics and Alexander's legacy in the Greek world.


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