ALEXANDER THE GREAT AND THE PAX ROMANA
Persian hegemony over Asia Minor lasted until 333 BC, when their army was routed by Alexander the Great at İskenderun It was during this campaign that Alexander chose to slice rather than untie the mythical Gordion knot, thereby making himself the master of Asia (Gordion). Alexander’s conquests disseminated Greek language and traditions across Asia Minor, from Egypt to the Indian Ocean. Yet with no obvious successor, Alexander’s kingdom died with him. On his deathbed in 323 BC, his words, “The kingdom shall go to the strongest,” precipitated a carve-up by his generals. To Ptolemy went Egypt and its capital at Alexandria, Lysimachus took Thrace, and Seleucus established control over Syria and much of Asia Minor from Antioch (modern Antakya). The Attalids of Pergamon (modern Bergama) won their independence from the Seleucid kingdom 20 years later. Under the Attalids, Pergamon evolved into a cultural center marked by the impressive Altar of Zeus and its library that rivaled Alexandria’s, until the Roman Marc Antony seized its contents as a wedding present for Cleopatra.
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Beginning with Rome’s defeat of the Greeks at Pydna in 168 BC, it was clear a new era was nigh. Attalus III of Pergamon bequeathed his kingdom to Rome rather than have it conquered, and only King Mithradales of Pontus, now modern Amasya, and nearby Tigranes the Great of Armenia, offered significant resistance. Pontus fell in 63 BC to the Roman general Pompey, while Armenia wavered between allegiance to Rome and Parthia to the east. The so-called Pax Romana was a time of relative peace, in which local governments enjoyed autonomy so long as they kept the Romans happy, paid their taxes, and let them play soldier. Such tranquility allowed Asia Minor to amass great wealth, finance construction, and revitalize many Aegean trading centers.
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