How did the conquests of Alexander the Great create a new cultural synthesis?

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Alexander the Great and his armies conquered vast swaths of land that had never before encountered such a large degree of Greek culture. While much of his conquests in the East did not long survive his death, other areas, namely Egypt, Asia Minor, and the Levant incorporated large amounts of...

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Alexander the Great and his armies conquered vast swaths of land that had never before encountered such a large degree of Greek culture. While much of his conquests in the East did not long survive his death, other areas, namely Egypt, Asia Minor, and the Levant incorporated large amounts of Greek culture into their societies in a synthesis that would last until the Roman conquest and, in some respects, much longer. In these places the Greek language became the lingua franca, the Olympian gods were worshiped, Greek athleticism became popular, and Hellenic philosophy, arts, and schools of thought took hold.

Even with the introduction of Greek culture, local peoples did not abandon their local customs and traditions. Even as a conqueror, Alexander respected the cultural practices of the people he and his generals conquered. They were allowed to continue the practice of their religions, language, local politics, and other traditions. Alexander allowed and encouraged his soldiers to marry local women. He himself took a number of Persian wives. As a result of all this intermarriage, the following generation was a blend of local cultures and Greek heritage. Even though they were allowed to continue the practice established local customs, Greek culture became very fashionable. As a result, a synthesis between Greek ways and local traditions was quickly established giving birth to the Hellenistic Age.

Furthermore, the Hellenistic Age was a relatively peaceful period. This further encouraged trade and interaction between cultures. As has been seen many times throughout history, when cultures come in contact, they tend to incorporate elements of each other into their own societies. This became further the case in the places that Alexander conquered.

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As Alexander conquered vast swathes of the known world, he brought Hellenic culture with him. As with all imperialists, Alexander believed in the inherent superiority of his own culture and wanted to see it spread far and wide among people he deemed less developed and less culturally sophisticated. Alexander had a deep appreciation of Hellenic culture; he had been taught by the great philosopher Aristotle and his favorite book was Homer's epic poem the Iliad. He naturally assumed that Hellenic culture was the most advanced in the world and saw no reason why other cultures should not wish to be enlightened by the best that had been thought and written about.

But to ensure the success of his project of cultural imperialism, Alexander needed to have reliable people on the ground. To that end, he established royal dynasties in the lands he conquered who acted as the transmitters of Hellenic culture. The most famous of these was the Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled Egypt from 305 to 30 BC. The dynasty was ethnically Greek, not Egyptian, which separated them from their native subjects. They spoke Greek and thought in Greek, though they still presented themselves as the rightful heirs to the ancient Pharaohs.

Under the Ptolemaic dynasty and other Hellenistic dynasties, large numbers of Greek settlers colonized the lands conquered by Alexander, bringing with them Greek culture and ideas. This process inadvertently provided a fertile ground for the spread of Christianity, as educated Greeks flocked to the new religion, largely on account of its similarities to certain schools of Greek philosophy, most notably Platonism.

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Alexander the Great's conquests helped to bring Hellenisitc culture to the far reaches of the Mediterranean and beyound, which resulted in the broadening of ancient culture.

As Alexander and his armies moved across the world, they took with them the ideas and cultural heritage of their homeland. Alexander founded many Greek-style cities throughout the empire which became centers of Hellenistic learning and culture. He also absorbed new ideas into his army. When he conquered the Persian Empire he was quick to take many Persia administrators into his army. He also married a Persian woman and married several other Persian women to the men in his army.  


Greek became the lingua franca of commerce thanks to his efforts at cultural inclusion, and after he died his generals set up Hellenistic Kingdoms which continued this cultural mixing until their incorperation into the Roman Empire. 

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