It seems apparent that the Ancient Greeks were very fond of the number twelve. Upon multiple occassions, primarily during myths and religious tales, the number twelve has been used in relation to gods, animals, etc. The Twelve Olympians were the most important deities of Greek religion and owned their name because they lived – supposedly – at the summit of Mount Olympus. As the greatest gods and godesses of the Greek Pantheon – religious circle – they were the ancestors of all other immortals and the overseers of humans.Continue reading “The Twelve Olympians”
As god of the sun, music, health, knowledge, agriculture and much more, Apollo was an ideal mix of the perfect Ancient Greek morals, intellect and physical appearance. He appears with the same name in both Greek and Roman religion.
Tarentum, recognised as the strongest capital of Magna Graecia in the South, was founded by Palanthus of Sparta in 706 BC. Featuring an excellent harbour, it was a huge commercial centre and connected Rome and Etruria to Greece.
The twin boys, Castor and Pollux, are often associated with Roman pagan religion. Merchants and sailors would pray or make sacrifices to them to ensure a safe voyage.
One of the best known stories of the Macedonian King Alexander’s reign, is the tale of the striking of the Gordian knot, a tightly twisted and bound bundle of rope connected to a wagon. Not only is it a nice story, it is also a possibly example of Alexander’s mentality and attitude towards solving problems, which plays largely into his Persian invasion.
With no defeats in his campaign, Alexander was prepared to turn his army and march to Babylon, where he hoped he could take over the city and be crowned King of the Persian Empire. But before he could do so, Darius III sent a letter asking for his wife and children to be given back. Additionally, he attempted to form a treaty with the Macedonian king, allowing him to control half of the Persian lands whilst Darius controlled the other half. Unfortunately for the Persians, Alexander did not want shared leadership. He wanted it all, and absolutely all of it.
It was necessary that Alexander and his army eliminate all Persian naval threats in the Aegean and Levant before continuing inland on their campaign. If the Persian leaders realised that Greece was only defended by 13,000 men, there would be a large risk of invasion. Tyre, on the Levantine coast, was expertly defended, well garrisoned and almost impregnable. Additionally, it was a crucial trading port of the Mediterranean and controlled access to India, Carthage, Rome and other great nations across the sea. Alexander, of course, did not want to lead his army into this military headache, but the capture of Tyre was paramount and necessary to the continuation of the invasion.
With Memnon of Rhodes’ forces destroyed at the first major battle of the Persian invasion by the Macedonians, Alexander led his blood-thirsty army – which had little need for any recovery time – along Anatolia’s Aegean Coast, bribing, frightening and besieging the ports into submission. Consequently, he had diminished Persian naval dominance around the Greek homelands, but had not gained full control of the Eastern Mediterranean.
After crossing the Hellespont from homeland Greece to Asia Minor – the Western half of the mighty Persian Empire – with an army of approximately forty-thousand men, Alexander gathered his men and headed for the Aegean coast and Persian naval bases. It was extremely important that he captured or took out these coastal cities otherwise he ran the risk of the Persians attacking Greece by sea whilst he was on campaign.
Upon inheriting his father, Philip II’s, armies, Alexander aided the unification of the petty Greek states that had for so long warred against each other to fight a common enemy – Persia – and led his men, as a general, into an invasion of Asia. Not only was Alexander titled “great” by modern historians, but by the writers of Ancient Times, such as Arrian, Curtis and Diodorius. Born in 356 BC, Pella, Greece, “Alexander, being then about twenty years of age, marched into Peloponnesus, as soon as he had secured the regal power”.