Greek culture, Alexander the Great, the Romans and the Arabs

Istvan Simon writes:Alexander the Great was truly Great. Not many conquerors have cities named after them yet Alexander had them all over the conquered territories.  More precisely, cities might be named for tyrants, while  they are in power, but the name will not endure. Stalingrad is a modern example. One small indication that  Alexander was special can be seen from the fact that Alexandria is still called Alexandria today.  Rarely through History was a  great general as enlightened as Alexander was. He founded libraries and centers of learning .

The great tragedy of  Antiquity is that the Romans defeated the Greeks. The Romans  did not have the same  respect for learning. They burned libraries rather than built them. They had  no use for science, being great engineers and builders of roads, aqueducts and so on, and  structures of government, and having a superior military,  but otherwise too practical to recognize the advantages and greatness of Greek science. The world owes a debt of gratitude to the Arabs that they gave refuge to the exodus of  Greek scientists that ensued, translated their works into Arabic, and thus preserved for posterity the foundations of Western Civilization. Too bad that the Muslim world since then completely lost it's way, and now fights the same Western civilization tooth and nail that once so long ago made it great.

RH:The naming of cities after Alexander is proof of his megalomania.  How widespread is Istvan's downgrading of Roman civilization?  Can Harry Papasotiriou tell us if this view is common in Greece?  What do French intellectuals think?

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: December 26, 2004