ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, is one of history’s foremost military leaders who established an Empire that extended from Greece to India.
Alexander III, who became the king of Macedonia at the age of 20, the first king to be called “the Great”, conquered the Persian Empire and annexed it to Macedonia. He was taught for a time by Aristotle and acquired a love of Homer and an infatuation with the heroic age. The war horse of Alexander the Great was named Bucephalus.
In 334 BC his army moved onto Asia Minor. After defeating a Persian army at the Granicus River, he marched through Asia Minor with little opposition, then defeated a large Persian army under Darius III at Issus (near modern Iskenderun) in 333 BC. He occupied Syria and then entered Egypt, where he was accepted as pharaoh. After organizing Egypt and founding Alexandria, Alexander crossed the Eastern Desert, the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers and in the autumn of 331 BC defeated Darius’s grand army at Gaugamela (near modern Erbil, Iraq). Later he reached the Indian Ocean. In the spring of 324 BC, Alexander held a great victory celebration at Susa. He returned to Babylon, where he prepared an expedition for the conquest of Arabia. He died in June 323 BC without designating a successor. His death opened the anarchic age of the Diadochi, meaning “successors” in ancient Greek and his burial place is a matter of dispute. The cultural policy of Alexander the Great was very respectful and tolerant towards the Eastern World and he contributed to the unification between East and West. The suffixes -assus and -nd- are those used for hellenization of pre-Hellenic Anatolian ancient city names.
THE HELLENISTIC AGE
Hellenistic Period (300-133 BC)
The period between Alexander’s death and the Roman conquest of Anatolia is called the Hellenistic age. The mixture of Greek and Anatolian cultures resulted in a new civilization, the Hellenistic.
After Alexander’s death three major monarchies emerged out of the wars of the Diadochi; Macedonia under the rule of Antigonus, Egypt under that of Ptolemy and Anatolia under that of Seleucus.
Then followed the rise of a number of independent states in Anatolia among them Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamum and Pontus all of which were eventually absorbed by the Roman Empire in the 1CBC.
The Kingdom of Pergamum, under the rule of Attalids, became the most prominent and continued until Attalus III bequeathed his kingdom and treasury to Rome on his death in 133 AD.
THE ROMAN AGE
Roman Period (133 BC-395 AD)
The Kingdoms of Pergamum and Bithynia were bequeathed to Rome, and Pontus and Cappadocia were conquered. Cilicia also fell under Roman domination. A Roman administrative reorganization took place in Anatolia which brought the Roman culture to Anatolia. At this point according to Naim Turfan Anatolia “hellenized” Rome while Rome colonized her, for she possessed a creative and well-developed culture, the roots of which stretched back thousands of years.
St. Paul of Tarsus (c.1-67 AD)
Also called Saul in Hebrew and leader of the early Christian movement, was instrumental in the spreading of Christianity throughout the Greco-Roman world. He was born a Jew in Tarsus of Cilicia in Anatolia probably between 1-10 AD.
Thirteen New Testament letters have been attributed to him, many of which show him adjusting Jewish ideas and traditions to new circumstances and measuring Old Testament laws by their relevance to Jesus Christ.
The New Testament records how he actively tried to suppress the early Christian movement through persecution until he was converted to Christianity by a visionary encounter with the risen Jesus while on the road to Damascus in about 36 AD. Because of this vision, Paul held that he, too, had met Jesus and was therefore qualified to be called an apostle. After being instructed and receiving Christian baptism in Damascus, Paul went to “Arabia” for a short time. He then returned to Damascus for 3 years until he was driven out and back to Tarsus, probably in 40 AD. Several years later Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch in Syria, where they ministered together for a year.
Paul spent the following 10 years on 3 lengthy missionary journeys to Anatolia and Greece. The second journey included an 18-month stay in Corinth and the third, 2-3 years in Ephesus. During this time Paul wrote letters to churches he had previously founded and could not visit in person. Some of these letters have been preserved in the New Testament. Paul was especially concerned that he protect his understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus from alteration toward Jewish practices or toward Hellenistic religious and philosophical ideas. He instructed the Christian communities he founded in ethical behavior by correcting their failings and offering advice. The Book of Acts describes the typical pattern of Paul’s ministry: he began by preaching in a synagogue but was soon expelled as a rabble-rouser; then, with a small number of Jewish adherents, Paul turned to the Gentiles, converting large numbers but occasionally encountering trouble with the civil authorities.
The different accounts of Paul’s visit to Jerusalem to settle the controversy over how much of the Jewish Law Gentile Christians were required to keep, have never been fully reconciled. Years later (c.58 AD), Paul brought a collection to Jerusalem for the city’s poor Christians, but he was arrested. After 2 years in prison he used his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to the emperor and was sent to Rome for trial.
The Book of Acts ends with Paul under house arrest (c. 63 AD), still preaching about Jesus. Clement of Rome and Eusebius of Caesarea report that Paul was eventually acquitted before traveling to Spain where he was arrested again and subsequently martyred in Rome under Nero, c.67 AD. Feast day: June 29 (with Saint Peter).
Seven Churches of Revelation
The Seven Churches of Asia are all located in Anatolia; Ephesus (Efes), Smyrna (Izmir), Laodicea ad Lycum (Goncali), Sardis (Sart), Pergamum (Bergama), Philadelphia (Alasehir) and Thyatira (Akhisar).
These churches are associated both with Saint Paul and with Revelations (the Apocalypse); letters written in c.95 AD to the Seven Churches by John. For some people John is a visionary who lived on the island of Patmos. But some people say he is the Apostle John.
There should have been more than seven cities with major Christian congregations in Anatolia at the time that John wrote and it is unknown why he addressed only these seven. These were possibly the most important ones at that time or letters to other churches were lost.
These churches were not church buildings as such but congregations. These early congregations had their meetings in private homes as there had been no original church buildings until the 3C AD. St. Paul possibly founded some of the Seven Churches on his missionary journeys between 47-57 AD, as he was thought to have visited all seven cities.
Constantine the Great (280-337 AD)
He was the first Roman emperor to adopt Christianity. Before 312 AD Constantine seems to have been a tolerant pagan, willing to accumulate heavenly patrons but not committed to any one deity. However, between 312-324 AD he gradually adopted the Christian God as his protector and on several occasions granted special privileges to individual churches and bishops.
Soon after his victory over Licinius at Chrysopolis in 324 AD, Constantine openly embraced Christianity and became more directly involved in the affairs of the church. Christianity spread fastest among the urban populations while people who lived in villages continued to worship different deities. The early Christians called non-Christians pagans because pagani in Latin means “country-dwellers”.
THE BYZANTINE PERIOD
Iron Age (1200-700 BC)
The Byzantine Empire is one of the longest-lasting empires in world history. Its name, which is derived from the name of the city of Byzantium, was given by 19C historians. Byzantines always called and regarded themselves as Romans. In 330 AD Constantine made Byzantium Rome’s second capital, naming it Constantinople which meant “city of Constantine”.
In 395 AD Theodosius I divided the Roman Empire into two, Eastern and Western. Culturally, the Western part was Latin and the Eastern part was Hellenistic. Soon after, in 476 AD, the Western Roman Empire collapsed and the Eastern Empire survived. The Eastern Romans were Christians and changed their language from Latin to Greek.
Justinian I’s successful efforts to reconquer the West followed in the early Byzantine period.
The Middle Byzantine period (610-1081 AD) began with the triumph of Heraclius over the Persians and his subsequent defeat by the Arabs. After 634 AD Arabs seized Palestine, Syria and Egypt and raided deep into Anatolia.
In the 11C, a struggle started between the generals who were great landowners and the bureaucrats. Distracted by this struggle, the emperors were unable to resist the Seljuks, who began conquering Anatolia.
In 1204 AD the Fourth Crusade seized and brutally sacked the capital and established the Latin Empire of Constantinople.
In 1261 AD the ruler of Nicaea regained Constantinople and refounded the Byzantine Empire which had to face threats from Westerners and from Turks in the East. Gradually reduced in area, the Empire finally succumbed in 1453 AD to the Ottoman Turks, who pronounced Constantinople to be the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
In this final period, the landed aristocracy dominated all provincial and central administrative positions of the Byzantine Empire. The army consisted of mercenaries and a “feudal” levy based on government properties awarded to great landlords in return for military service. The Byzantine emperors repeatedly tried to reunify the Orthodox and Catholic churches in return for Western aid against the Turks, but their efforts proved futile.