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Alexander's Policy of Fusion
Transcript of Alexander's Policy of Fusion
- an in depth study -
Alexander's Policy of Fusion
Alexander the Great's 'Policy of Fusion' was a movement that caused great controversy in the ancient world. His Macedonian Army was extremely faithful to their leader, however some aspects of his policies proved to be too much for some of them. Looking at Alexander's contemporaries and predecessors such as King Philip II of Macedon and Cyrus the Great we can see that they all harboured great leadership skills that brought them immense success in their various campaigns and endeavours. Looking at these leaders and they way they used their leadership we can conclude that their attitude towards the individuals of the countries they set out to conquer was what brought them such success. The Policy of Fusion was a modern idealist's view on an ancient society that seemed to work effectively for Alexander. The fusing of the different cultures allo
Alexander the Great is said to be one of the most influential figures in ancient history. From conquering vast lands to introducing the concept of cultural integration. His conquests and successes as King have mirrored those before and foretold the ones after, but nothing quite compares to the effects Alexander and his Policy of Fusion had in his world and have had in our own modern world.
Alexander III of Macedon, commonly known as Alexander the Great was born in Macedonia in 356BC. He grew up to become King of Macedonia at the age of twenty, succeeding his deceased father King Philip II. Thus began his campaign of creating a formidable empire. He began his ruling exploring uncharted territories on military expeditions around northeast Africa and parts of Asia. By the age of thirty, Alexander had forged one of the largest empires in the world covering areas from Greece to northeast India and everywhere in between. These expeditions and campaigns and their nature of success have made Alexander one of the most successful military leaders in world history.
However, in order for these campaigns to be successful, he needed to have a loyal and strong army to support him in his expedtions. This army was the key to providing the sense of a driving force behind these campaigns. When it came to integrating the people and customs of his conquered lands, Alexander was required to devise an idea or a policy for these people to come together in order to create a harmonious partnership between these lands. This is what is called Alexander the Great's 'Policy of Fusion'.
The Policy of Fusion
Many sources of historical texts, opinions and debates give us an indepth insight as to the meaning behind the Policy of Fusion, how it was created and why or why not it was as successful or how much of a failure it was. But in order to have a sound comprehension of these ideas and opinions we must first understand what Alexander's Policy of Fusion actually was and what it meant for the people under his rule at that specific point in history.
It is said that this Policy of Fusion was the issue that instigated many problems for the people under his rule. Unlike other leaders before his time, Alexander had no interest in destroying Persia's culture and customs and replace it with Macedonian cultural ideologies. He was more interested in fusing the two together, to make compromises with both nations and form a cohesive partnership between the two.
Alexander had many strategies to ensure this partnership successfully forged and futureproof. In order to create a sense of this partnership, Alexander included Persians in his own army, Persian youths were trained and equipped just as the Macedonians were. To introduce a more cultural and intense partnership, Alexander arranged the Susa Weddings in 324BC. This was a mass wedding ceremony where several of the leading Macedonians including Alexander himself married Persian women. This meant that these marriages would produce children of both Macedonian and Persian blood. The idea was that these children would then grow up to rule this new empire. Alexander also adopted the Persian culture in more subtle and simple ways such as wearing the white sash of the Persian King, however he avoided the baggy trousers as per Macedonian belief, they were considered to be barbaric. In order to show respect for Persian Kings past, he visited the tomb of Cyrus (founder of the Achaemenid Persian Dynasty).
Similarities and Differences of Policies
- By Victoria Leggett -
Themes and Patterns in Policies
King Philip II of Macedon paved the way for his son and successor Alexander. His early success with his militarial campaigns gave Alexander something to work from. The battles Philip won gave him great prestige, forging a great basis for Alexander to work upon and continue his legacy. There are some similarities and differences between the two leaders regarding how they used the power that came with their leadership.
In 337BC Philip established the 'League of Corinth' which was created to promote and preserve general political peace among the delegates of all Greek states (minus Sparta). Philip was named hegemon (leader) of this league and ensured that all islands were abiding by it. According to Diodorus 16.89 Philip "treated them all kindly both in public and private matters and revealed to the cities that he wanted to discuss with them the matters of mutual benefit. This demonstrates how Philip was aware of what he needed to do in order to keep the peace with the nations under his rule. He understood that by investing time into making sure each nation was being treated fairly that it would keep wars and uprisings at bay. Alexander was similar to his father through the fact that he wanted to combine the Kingships of Macedonia and Persia in order to rule a mighty empire together. He did not want to destroy the Persian Empire and merely replace it with Macedonian rule, rather combine the two cultures to create a very powerful one.
These examples illustrate how both father and son had the attitude that forcing merciless rule over other nations and cultures was not going to work for them. They both knew that by working with everyone equally and making the empire more stable by introducing things like the League of Corinth and the Policy of Fusion that there would be less chance of things falling apart and resulting in war. These attitudes were both considered to be ahead of their time and a more 'idealist' way of building an empire.
It is difficult to come to the conclusion as to why Alexander was similar to his father when it came to ruling as a King. It could be because Philip taught Alexander his ways from a young child, seeing that he did have Aristotle as a tutor from a young age, this education could have aided Alexander in his way of thinking. Limitations of sources make it difficult for us to understand the direct impact Philip may have had on his son's own political ideologies and methods of ruling as a King. It may have been a different story if for some reason Philip had been thrown off the throne and Alexander have had to step in and continue ruling while his father was still around to mentor him. However we cannot know this but we can see that both of these leaders did in fact have a similar attitude when it came to controlling various different cultures and nations they had conquered and how they managed to keep them under control.
The methods of each of these leaders tell us what worked well and what didn't and this allows us to observe and analyse any themes and patterns in these methodologies, resulting in a greater comprehension of what these have meant for the outcomes of these leaders and their exploits. King Philip set up the throne for his son, Alexander he introduced the idea of the King working together with other leaders and set up the League of Corinth. This gave Alexander the platform to work from and also the institution that working with others and not trying to control everything and everybody as an individual would not bring him success as a leader or as King.
The underlying theme that seems to be prominent when it comes to the way Philip, Cyrus and Alexander lead is that they all understood that trying to adapt to other cultures and adopt them into their own would help to gain the trust of the nations they were endeavouring to conquer. Alexander's Policy of Fusion was all about trying to mix the Macedonians and the Persians together to create a cohesive community. He did this by including Persians in his Macedonian Army and giving them positions at higher levels in order to gain their trust. Cyrus also did this by allowing men from other countries by creating Satraps of each individual nation who were in charge of their immediate country.
When it comes to the cultures and ideas of religion, Cyrus and Alexander endeavoured to include the new culture into their own. At the Susa Weddings, Alexander ensured that the ceremonies were doine in Persian style. He also introduced the Persian idea of Proskynesis to his Macedonian men. This was where Men would kiss eachother on the lips if they were of equal rank, a kiss on the cheek if one was a rank below and if a man was much further down the rankings then he would bow down completely to them. Cyrus was well known for his respect of other cultures and religions however his personal beliefs and ideologies are currently unknown. All of this illustrates the theme that these leaders knew that in order to be successful in their endeavours as leaders that they should do what they are able to to show the people whom they were conquering that they were willing to accept their ways of life and their differences in culture. This attitude to leadership seems to have worked as they resulted in very large, formidable empires.
King Philip II
Similarities and Differences
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia, more commonly known as Cyrus the Great was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. His reign lasted around 29-31 years from when he first conquered the Median Empire, Lydian Empire and then the Neo-Babylonian Empire. However it isn't necessarily his success in conquests that makes Cyrus similar to Alexander the Great. He is responsible for the system that allows a whole number of states to be ruled over by one leader while also having people called 'Satraps' who were the leaders of each individual nation but were still governed by Cyrus himself.
Cyrus' attitudes towards the people and the culture of the people over whom he conquered shows similarities in Alexander's attitudes. Cyrus respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered and this proved to be highly successful. According to different sources, Cyrus was considered to be more of a liberator than a conqueror. He is mentioned many times in the Bible for his liberation of many Jews in 539BC. This shows how even the general belief in his own times was that he was a great leader and a great King as he was unconditionally praised in the Holy Book.This is slightly different to Alexander as at the time, his campaigns and ideas were not looked upon with enthusiasm or positivity as only in later centuries He was recognised for his leadership skill and capability. The reason behind this difference concerns the fact that Alexander has been described to have had a very modern, idealist way of thinking that was too advanced for his own time period, whereas the ideas Cyrus had and the policies and beliefs about political affairs he had suited the situation of the people and their nations at the very time he was in leadership. This leads to the thought that perhaps Alexander is only affectionately named 'Alexander the Great' merely because we, in the modern day who dubbed him so believe that he in fact was truly great, however some of the people in his own time may not have believed so. The reason why some may have not believed so comes from the event of the Susa Weddings where Alexander commanded that the men of his army must marry Perisian women in order to promote a sense of bondage of the coming together of the two cultures. Many of his men weren't thrilled abut this idea and managed to divorce these women when they had the chance. After this event, a lot of men in the Macedonian army began to lose faith in the decisions he was making on behalf of them.
A quote from Cyrus himself sums up his attitude towards Kingship and leader ship, that he "would not reign over the people if they did not wish it". This quote allows the conclusion to be made that Cyrus is unlike Alexander through the fact that Alexander was desperate for power and a lot of it. He was always looking to conquer more countries and rule over more people whereas the quote above allows an insight that Cyrus did not have a similar attitude.
Limitations of Sources
The limitations of sources has caused some difficulty within this research, especially concerning Cyrus' own personal beliefs. There was a fair amount of information concerning the decisions he made, why he made them and the impact he had but there was very little on how his own views may have impacted on his leadership. If we were able to have a better understanding of Cyrus' own views then perhaps much stronger and clearer connections could have been made between Alexander and himself.
Comprehensive and insightful Information on King Philip II also wasn't exactly plentiful. Whenever he was mentioned, Alexander was too which made it slightly more difficult to differentiate the two different styles of leader ship. With more information on Philip, a more rounded understanding of his way of leadership could be had and therefore stronger contrasts to be made against his son.
- Alexander the Great - Study Notes written by Paul Artus, published 2001
- Alexander, Classical Studies for Schools - Study Materials no.5 compiled by J.R. Hamilton, University of Otago 1980