Saturday, June 23, 2012

Shores of the Great Sea - M. B. Synge


"...Philip boasted his descent from Hercules, while his wife traced her lineage back to the hero Achilles, so that in the boy Alexander two lines of ancient northern kings were joined..."


"...While the mighty Greek army was crossing the narrow water, in the one hundred and sixty triremes hired for the purpose, Alexander was hurrying to Troy, to honour the memory of the heroes, who were buried there, to crown with a garland the gravestone of his forefather Achilles, and to sacrifice to Athena. This episode shows how imbued Alexander was with Greek traditions—indeed, it is said, he always carried with him a copy of Homer's works, so much did he admire the old blind poet of Greece...."


"... It was the task of his life to spread Greek ideas in the East: the best way to do this seemed to be, to become king of the East, according to Eastern ideas. So he surrounded himself with Eastern forms and pomp; he married a Persian wife; he dressed in the white tunic, and wore the Persian girdle, common to the great Eastern rulers..."

"...Alexander now turned his eyes towards India, still to the outer world, an unknown land. Strange stories of its wonders, had reached the Greek invaders—stories of monster ants, who turned up gold-dust from the vast sand deserts; stories of men clothed in garments, made of plaited rushes, like mats; of trees that bore wool, instead of fruit; of lakes full of oil; of giants, dwarfs, and palm-trees that touched the skies..."

"...A few days later, Alexander the Great lay dead at the early age of thirty-three. Into thirteen years he had compressed the energies of a lifetime, for in that short time he had doubled the area of the world, as known to the Greeks of his day."


"...There is a curious story told about the founding of Alexandria. The king had already staked out a piece of ground on which to build his Grecian city, when he had a dream..."

"...must have far surpassed the wildest dreams of Alexander. He had opened up new channels of trade, and raised fresh wants and fresh hopes for each country he conquered. In the vast tracts of country through which he had passed, he had founded Greek cities and colonies peopled by Greeks, who taught the Eastern folk something of trade and habits of industry..."

"...In the port of Alexandria too, as well as on the seas, might be seen some of the Greek warships known as triremes..."


"...So Paulus went off to the wars, and it was not long before the news reached Rome, that he had conquered the Macedonians, and was bringing back Perseus as a prisoner. He sailed up the river Tiber in the king's galley, with its sixteen banks of oars. It was richly adorned with arms captured from the Greeks, with cloths of purple and scarlet..."

[M. B. Synge, On the shores of the Great Sea, London-Edinburgh 1909]

Source: Heritage-History


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