COSMOPOLITANISM AND THE CULT OF THE KING GOD

ALEXANDER planned a universal empire in which there was to be no distinction between Greek and barbarian. To further this end, he not only founded many colonies to serve as centres for the spread of Greek civilisation, but himself took a Persian wife and made his Macedonian and Greek officers follow his example. The great governorships were not restricted to Greece, but were shared with Persian nobles. By having himself proclaimed a god, he sought recognition for his universal empire overriding the loyalties due to each separate city-state. It must not be supposed, however, that either he or the Greeks really believed in his divine origin. His conquests widened his outlook spiritually as well as geographically and made him the first to dream of a " Parliament of Man and Federation of the world." On Alexander's death in 323 B.C. the empire at once broke up into three sections, Egypt under Ptolemy, Asia under Seleucus, and Macedonia under Antigonus. Of these kingdoms, Macedonia had the worst fortune. She was continually struggling to hold down rebellious cities in Greece, and to repel invading Celtic tribes from the Danube. These tribes, called the Gauls, were in the fourth and third centuries B.C. advancing upon the Mediterranean countries from Asia Minor to France. Greece itself remained as disunited as ever. Athens, now unimportant politically, became the university of the Greek world. Sparta continued in unsociable isolation. The rest of Greece took some steps towards forming confederations. The Etolians, to the north of the Gulf of Corinth, and the Achasans to the south of it, each established federal centres, to which people came from the outside districts to vote at the elections ; but there was no regular meeting of the assembly, and power was in the hands of the elected generals. These two confederacies continued to fight each other, and Sparta and Macedonia as well, until they were put down by the Romans in the second century B.C. They had been warned in 217 B.C. that Rome would swallow them up if they did not unite. They agreed that the advice was good, but continued to disregard it. It was little wonder that the Romans despised the unpractical Greeks.

=== THE GREEK IDEAL SPREADS THROUGH THE EAST ALEXANDER succeeded in his main aim of spreading Greek civilisation, for the Seleucid kings of Syria built their palaces in Grecian style, filled their courts with Greek artists and philosophers, and founded Greek colonies. The passion for Greek culture and speech spread among the natives, who often forgot their own languages, and produced able writers and scholars. The Parthians, in the second century B.C., after taking Mesopotamia from the Seleucids, continued to delight in Greek drama. The Jews themselves, the most clannish and exclusive of peoples, had to translate their' scriptures into Greek, because so many of them were ignorant of Hebrew. (This translation is called the Septuagint.) Egypt, under the Ptolemies, flourished exceedingly. The capital, Alexandria, became the greatest commercial port of the Mediterranean. Here was founded the great university and library, whose professors, paid by the state, conducted researches into every branch of knowledge. This period from 300 to 100 B.C. is remarkable for the marvellous discoveries made in mathematics and astronomy, botany and zoology. Not until the great revival of learning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries A.D., was there any comparable advance in knowledge. Euclid wrote the text-book on geometry which is the basis of our school geometries to-day. His love of learning for its own sake is illustrated by his retort when a pupil asked him what he should gain by learning geometry. Turning to a servant, Euclid said, " Give him three pence, since he must needs make money by what he learns." Archimedes, a great engineer, discovered the principle of the lever and invented the water-screw, which is still in use to-day. Aristarchus anticipated Copernicus by showing that the earth moves round the sun, and itself rotates on its own axis. This discovery was not accepted at the time, and it was left to later research to prove its truth. Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the earth fairly accurately, and Hipparchus invented trigonometry and discovered and estimated the precession of the equinoxes. === PHILOSOPHERS OF THE LATER GREEK WORLD PRACTICAL studies can nourish even under a tyranny, but philosophy withers in the artificial atmosphere of a court. The ethical teachers of the new age settled not in Alexandria but in Athens. Man had dwindled in stature with the growth of the military empires and the degradation of city-states into country towns. The new kingdoms aroused no patriotic or national feeling. Men had to turn from the invigorating atmosphere of politics and submit passively to royal officials and tax collectors. The endless wars which devastated Greece and Asia Minor made the ordinary individual feel a helpless victim of blind chance. Menander (342-292 B.C.), the famous writer of comedy of this age, gives us an unlovely picture of the narrow and monotonous social life which men endured. The morality of his stock characters is as mean as that in a comedy of Congreve, but their conversation lacks Congreve's redeeming wit. The new philosophies no longer sought absolute truth, but tried to offer men some prop to lean on in an unstable world. Thus Epicurus (341-270 B.C.) said that pleasure was the end of life, but by pleasure he meant the absence of pain, not sensual indulgence. He himself lived a retiring life, content with friendship and frugality. He held that though the gods existed, they took no interest in human affairs, and that when life ended there was nothing thereafter. Progress had come by a natural development, and not by any divine plan. This teaching was unpopular because of its attack on the old superstitions, and its disbelief in divine interest in human affairs. It also incurred odium because too many people misunderstood its teaching and professed Epicureanism as an excuse for their own debauchery. On the other hand, Zeno (about 336-264 B.C.), the founder of the Stoic school (Greek stoa, a covered porch, where his students gathered at Athens), taught that virtue was the only thing worth seeking, that actions were neither good nor bad in themselves, but depended on the state of mind in which they were performed. The road to happiness lay in disregarding all material considerations for the sake of personal righteousness. Alexander's conquest may have suggested to the Stoics their political theory that the universe was a single city in which all men were brothers akin possessing freedom and equality without distinction of colour or creed. Rousseau's " Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains," reminds us at once of this view so radical and revolutionary in its possibilities. The Stoic teaching, with its emphasis on duty and conscience, appealed to the finer spirits among the stern, unbending Romans whose history we are soon to examine.