Inheriting the Ancient Near East after Alexander the Great: The Rise and Fall of the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom, Charles River Editors
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Inheriting the Ancient Near East after Alexander the Great: The Rise and Fall of the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom

Author: Charles River Editors

Narrator: Bill Caufield

Unabridged: 2 hr 47 min

Format: Digital Audiobook

Publisher: Findaway Voices

Published: 03/04/2023

Genre: History - Ancient - Egypt

Synopsis

On his deathbed, some historians claim that when he was pressed to name a successor, Alexander the Great muttered that his empire should go “to the strongest”. Other sources claim that he passed his signet ring to his general Perdiccas, thereby naming him successor, but whatever his choices were or may have been, they were ignored. Alexander’s generals, all of them with the loyalty of their own corps at their backs, would tear each other apart in a vicious internal struggle that lasted almost half a century before four factions emerged victorious: Macedonia, the Seleucid Empire in the east, the Kingdom of Pergamon in Asia Minor, and the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. During the course of these wars, Alexander’s only heir, the posthumously born Alexander IV, was murdered, extinguishing his bloodline for ever.

For a time, the Seleucids commanded the largest empire in the world as it stretched from the high plains and deserts of what is now Afghanistan in the east to parts of the Levant and Asia Minor in the west. The empire’s early kings were strong and shrewd and committed to the ideas of Hellenism as much as holding power and expanding the realm of their empire, but later rulers did not prove as capable. In time, the Seleucid royal house often descended into orgies of violence which were driven by ambitious men and women.  

Although Alexander never lived to rule over Egypt, one of his generals, Ptolemy I, did, and it was he who established the last great pharaonic dynasty in Egypt, known as the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Despite the infighting among them, one thing Alexander’s generals did agree upon was their Hellenistic culture. Most famously, Ptolemy’s line firmly established the Hellenistic culture of the Greeks while ruling over Egypt, and by marrying within their family line, the Ptolemaic pharaohs kept their Hellenistic heritage until the very end of Ptolemy’s line, which died with Cleopatra in 30 BC.

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