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ALEXANDER THE GREAT IN EGYPT AND FOUNDATION OF ALEXANDRIA

This presentation is going to be about Alexanders events in Egypt, also I


decided to go into details more on his voyage to Oasis of Siwa and the
actual foundation of City of Alexandria rather than concentrating on his
wars and military expeditions in Egypt because unfortunately we do not
have enough time for everything. But anyway I sure will provide some
backround and nessesary information.

The time Alexander spent in Egypt was just six months (from the
autumn of 332 BC. to the spring of 331 BC.). However, his brief stay was
full of reforms and events that put Egypt within the orbit of Greek
civilisation in the Mediterranean.

After Tyre, he first set out to Egypt and from after 7 th day he arrived at
Pelusium in Egypt and from there ordered men to sail down the river Nile
as far as the city of Memphis which was at the time capital of Egypt and
situated in what was called Lower Egypt. He reached city trough the
dessert and he made local inabitants surrender on hes way there.

For almost 200 years Egypt had been occupied by Persia who had
incorporated it into the growing empire, the Persian king had ruled in
absentia through a satrap, exploiting its vast grain reserves and taxing
its people. The Persians showed relatively little respect for the ancient
traditions and were deeply unpopular, and the Egyptians' had rebelled,
so often parts of the country remained virtually independent.
Alexander was therefore hailed as Savior and Liberator, and as the
people's choice and legitimate heir he was offered the double crown of the
Two Lands. He was crowned as pharaoh in Memphis on 14th November
332 bc. In the two months he resided as 'living god' in the royal palace at
Memphis, studying Egyptian laws and customs at first hand, he gave
orders for the restoration of the Egyptians' religious centers, including

the great southern temples of Luxor and Karnak, where he appears in


the company of the Egyptian gods wearing traditional Egyptian regalia
including the rams horns of Amun as worn by his pharaonic
predecessors including Amenhotep III. Alexander's image was replicated
all over Egypt in both monumental statuary and delicate relief, together
his with his Greek name translated into hieroglyphs enclosed by the
royal cartouche.

After all of this, Alexander had a desire to visit the temple of Ammon ,
party in order to consult the god and partly to learn about his orgin more
certainly. The route to Ammons oracle was desert and most of it was
sand, but there were copious supply of rain for Alexander. Now I am
going to quote Arrians description of the desert: There were no
landmarks along the road, neither mountain anywhere, nor tree, nor
permanent hill standing erect, by which travelers might be able to form a
conjecture of the right course, as sailors do by stars. For example,
Ptolemy mentions how two serpents went in front of the army and guided
them to the oracle as Alexander ordered his army to follow the serpents,
since everyone of them were in doubt about which course shoud be
taken. Aristobulos for example also mentions animals, in this case
ravens which flew over the army showing them the way. But diferent
descriptions of this events details from various naratives have deprived
the story of certainty.

Among these African deserts, however, there are some fertile spots. They
are occasioned by springs which arise in little dells, and which saturate
the ground with moisture for some distance around them. The water
from these springs flows for some distance, in many cases, in a little
stream, before it is finally lost and absorbed in the sands. Trees grow up
to shade it. It forms a spot whose beauty, absolutely great, is heightened
by the contrast which it presents to the gloomy desert by which it is
surrounded. Such a green spot in the desert is called an Oasis. They are
the resort and the refuge of the traveler and the pilgrims, who seek
shalter. Nor must it be supposed that these islands of fertility and
verdure are always small. Some of them are very extensive, and contain a
considerable population. There is one called the Great Oasis, which

consists of a chain of fertile tracts of about a hundred miles in length.


Another, called the Oasis of Siwah, has, in modern times, a population of
eight thousand souls. This last is situated not far from the shores of the
Mediterranean Sea at least not very far: perhaps two or three hundred
milesand it was a very celebrated spot in Alexander's day.
Jupiter Ammon. Temple of Jupiter Ammon.
The cause of its celebrity was that it was the seat and center of the
worship of a famous deity called Jupiter Ammon. This god was said to be
the son of Jupiter, though there were all sorts of stories about his origin
and early history. He had the form of a ram, and was worshiped by the
people of Egypt, and also by the Carthaginians, and by the people of
Northern Africa generally. His temple was in this Oasis, and it was
surrounded by a considerable population, which was supported, in a
great degree, by the expenditure of the worshipors who came as
pilgrams.
So when Alexander finaly arrived at the oracles site, he ws stuck with
wonder at the place and finaly consultet oracle of the god. The priests at
the great temple of Jupiter Ammon received them all with marks of great
distinction and honor. The most solemn and magnificent ceremonies
were performed, with sacrifices. The priests, after conferring in secret
with the god in the temple, came out with the annunciation that
Alexander was indeed his son, and they paid him divine honors. He is
supposed to have bribed them to do this by presents and money. And
rght after he set out on the journey back to Egypt by the same route according to state of Aristobulus. When Alexander returned to
Memphis,he styled himself as Alexander king, son of Jupiter Ammon.
After he sailed down the Nile towards the sea - to the mouth of the Nile,
he sailed trough Marinian Lake and disembarked there and set up camp
on the north coast near the village of Rhakotis and that was the place
where now is situated city of Alexandria. Ill just make a small digression
and say that Alexander founded about twenty cities which were named
after him. Some of these were intended to be cities, such as Alexandria in
Egypt, whilst others were built as military settlements which then
gradually grew into towns.
The possition seemed to him very fine and he foresaw that it is going to
be a prosperous one. There is quite a few legends on how Alexander got
an idea to build an city exactly there. It is said that whilst Alexander and

his army were camping near the small Egyptian fishing village of
Rhakotis, Alexander had a dream. He dreamt that Greek poet Homer
appeared before him and told him that the mainland opposite the Island
of Pharos would be an excellent place to build a city. Upon awakening,
Alexander immediately gave orders for a new city to be built there which
would be named after him: Alexandria. But on the other hand, from
Curtius we learn that at first Alexander wanted to build a city on island
Pharos, but he found it too small so he bulit it on the mainland.
Alexander, like many people of that time, believed in dreams and was
superstitious. Legend says that whilst his surveyors the people who
created the plan for the city were drawing out the plan on the ground,
they ran out of chalk and so they used grain instead. Suddenly a flock of
birds flew down and ate up the grain. Alarmed by this, Alexander
consulted his soothsayers who reassured him that this was a good omen
meaning that Alexandria would become a wealthy city.
After that
where the
built, and
they were
temple od
around.

he marked the boundries of the city, pointing out the place


agora should be constructed, where the temples were to be
how many of them were there to be and to what Greek gods
to be dedicated. The special marking spot was the future
Egyptian Isis. He also pointed out where the wall should be

The HEPTASTADIUM:
The island of Pharos was joined to the mainland by the mole, a thick wall
built in the sea called Heptastadium because it was seven stadia long. To
the east of Heptastadium was Great Harbour and to the west was
Eunostos Harbour - The Harbour of Safe return Over the centuries the
water on each side of Heptastadium became filled with silt. Today this
area has become solid land and so Pharos in no longer an island but
joined to the mainland.
One of the best architects of that time was asked to build Alexanders
new city: a Greek named Deinocrates of Rhodes. Alexandria had five
quarters named after the first five letters of the Greek alphabet: Alpha,
Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon. The streets lay in a crisscross pattern.
There were two long, very wide avenues lined with marble columns. One
stretched from north to south, whilst the other, called the Canopic Way,
crossed Alexandria from east to west. At the east end of it was the Gate of

the Sun, and to the west, the Gate of the Moon. Deinocrates designed a
separate royal quarter called the Brucheion, which was reserved for the
royal palaces.
Alexandria has continued to fulfill its beneficial function for 2 thousand
years. It is the only monument of his greatness which remains. Every
thing else which he accomplished perished when he died. How much
better would it have been for the happiness of mankind, as well as for his
own true fame and glory, if doing good had been the rule of his life
instead of the exception. Alexander left Egypt in the spring (mid-April) of
331 bc as a changed man. Although he would never return alive to see
the city he had founded, it would eventually be his final resting place
when his body was returned there for burial only 10 years later. And
that's it. Thank you for you attention.