Throughout Alexander’s conquests he engaged in many controversial actions, many fueled by his Policy of Fusion. Alexander’s Policy of Fusion was the act of treating Natives as equals rather than inferior. This resulted in the mixing, accepting and integrating of many aspects of Persian to Macedonian culture, be it Persian dress, appointing Persian Satraps, the marrying of Macedonians to Persian wives or Persian societal customs such as Proskynesis. These acts affected all under his rule. However, they predominantly affected the high ranking officers within his army as they spent the most time around him. This was a heavy factor as Alexander had somewhat become the physical manifestation of the Policy of Fusion. To go into detail in some of his acts that made up his Policy of Fusion, firstly, Alexander would wear a golden sash, purple robe and a purple headband as stated by Curtius Rufius, “Accordingly he wore on his head a purple head-band interwoven with white, like the one Darius had once had.” On top of this, Quintus Curtius Rufus states he forced Persian dress upon his friends and the elite of his army (Predominantly the cavalry despite the fact they found it distasteful “He had also forced Persian clothing on his friends and on the cavalry, the élite of the troops. They found it distasteful, but did not dare refuse to wear it.” Secondly, Alexander’s choices of local rulers, otherwise known as satraps, he began to place Persians in Satrapies. Arrian references these multiple times in his work, The Anabasis of Alexander “Here in Susa…before leaving he appointed a Persian named Abulites as governor of the province made Mazarus, one of the Companions, garrison commandant of the city, and promoted Archelaus, son of Theodorus, general of the forces.”
Thirdly, Alexander showed that like his father, he too was a firm believer in the use of political marriages in his arrangement of the marriages of Susa. Ancient Roman Historian Justin made a very simplified recording of the Susa weddings where he describes the happenings of that event “Alexander, presented to the Macedonian noblemen unmarried girls selected from the best
families amongst all the conquered peoples.”
Furthermore, Arrian made a somewhat more in depth recording where he names the marital pairings and shows the care Alexander took in the selection of the brides for his close friends. Fourthly and finally, Out of all of the Persian customs Alexander was to implement Proskynesis was certainly the most notable and controversial. Proskynesis was the act of prostration, a gesture of supplication to show that you recognise another person’s/figures authority and position of power. It was a very common custom in Persian court as all subjects had to prostrate to the king as he was seen as a representative of the gods and thus divine. This differed heavily to how a Macedonian king was viewed and the application of Proskynesis. Firstly, a Macedonian king was viewed as more of an equal to his subjects and would even wear the same clothes as them. Secondly, in Macedonian and Greek culture proskynesis was only used towards the gods themselves, not to a political/societal superior. Alexander’s introduction of Persian style proskynesis angered many Macedonians within his army, predominantly the veterans that had served under Philip II. This was due to the fact that in Macedonian culture it was considered the ultimate sin to prostrate to another human because it was as though they were being labelled a false god. Unfortunately for the veterans however, this further added to Alexander’s self-divinity complex. Thus pleasing Alexander and further encouraging him to implement it. Lastly, Alexander also brought about his policy of Fusion by Hellenising his eastern conquerings. This meant he spread Greek culture throughout the East by performing such acts as constructing Greek cities and providing Greek education.
As Alexander’s great campaign drew to it’s final stretch, multiple noteworthy events, often stemming from Alexander’s implementation of the Policy of Fusion, occurred and were recorded by historians throughout time. Three events in particular were especially noteworthy in regards to the Policy of Fusion. The first of these three events, was Alexander’s creation of Persian military units and integration of Persians into the Macedonian army. Across Alexander’s campaign multiple sources took recordings of the numbers making Alexander’s army. Some sources even went as far as to record the nationalities of those within the army, greatly contributing to the insight available to us when looking at Alexander’s army. At the beginning of Alexander’s campaign he assembled a force of up to 36,000 men and as low as 25,000 men depending on the source you take this from. Justin states it to be 36,000 men strong whereas Diodorus states it to be around 32,000 which is in the same ballpark as Justin’s sum but still noticeably lower. Justin is often noted to exaggerate in his accounts of Alexander whereas Diodorus is known to often be somewhat more reliable. However, Quintus Curtius Rufius also gets a similar figure to Justin, meaning Justin’s figure may in fact be more reliable than once thought. In summary, when looking at my sources the logical starting figure of Alexander’s army is most commonly thought to be at around 35,000. Over the course of his campaign, Alexander’s army was constantly changing in size due to casualties, recruitments or even desertions. By the time Alexander reached Babylon in 331 it is thought that his army had swelled in size although Justin does not recognise this as it would then take away from some of Alexander’s future achievements. The swelling in Alexander’s army according to Arrian is due to the arrival of reinforcements from Antipeter during the lead up to the battle of Gaugamela. However, unlike Arrian, Diodorus Siculus states that Alexander received these reinforcements after the battle of Gaugamela which, if we are following from Diodorus’ account, means that the most plausible assumption to make in regards to his army size would have to be the possibility that he gained considerable recruits during his conquest of Egypt. Between these two possibilities, Diodorus’ appears to be the better backed and more realistic of the two which means after the battle of Gaugamela, where Alexander reportedly only loses around 500 men, his Army could have been sitting at around 60,000 men due to possible extra 10,000 Egyptian recruits and 15,000 Greek reinforcements. Here we see the first instance of Alexander recruiting considerable numbers of non Greek forces. Following Darius’ death, Alexander’s army continued to grow as he began to include more and more Persian units into his army as he was so far from Macedonia that Macedonian recruits were no longer a viable option. Secondly, it allowed Alexander access to units that weren’t options within the Macedonian army due to the military practises in Macedonia in comparison to Persia. Thirdly, it helped to quell the possibilities of Persian revolts as he now had great numbers of Persians under his control within the military which in turn provided the illusion that the Persians were still somewhat in control. Lastly, events such as Alexander’s ordering of 30,000 young Persian boys to be taken and trained to be made soldiers would have greatly increased his army’s Persian quota. Quintus Curtius Rufius provides insight as to why Alexander took the 30,000 young Persians, “It was now Alexander’s intention to head for India, then the Ocean. To obviate any difficulties behind him that could interfere with his plans, he gave orders for 30,000 men of military age to be selected from all the provinces and brought to him in arms, to serve simultaneously as hostages and as soldiers.” By saying this Quintus Curtius Rufius is stating that Alexander is removing the risk of a Persian uprising as he now has 30,000 young Persians ready to be used as a bargaining chip against any possible Persian rebels. In regards to the validity of these classical sources, Arrian and Quintus Curtius Rufius are known to rather reliable aside from the fact that Arrian can be partial to painting Alexander in a positive light, whereas Diodorus Siculus is viewed to be not 100% trustworthy. However, Arrian’s description of Antipater’s reinforcements’ arrival to Alexander’s army is widely regarded to be incorrect and Diodorus Siculus’ work is viewed to be the correct account as the available evidence leads to Diodorus’ account be correct. Furthermore, Diodorus Siculus’ accounts of Alexander’s initial army size are also respected as multiple other sources such as Plutarch and Quintus Curtius Rufius claim the army to be of similar size to the one in Diodorus’ report. In summary, I believe the integration of Persian units into Alexander’s army was purely political as firstly, recruiting non Persian units for a large section of his campaign was not a viable choice due to his location (In Persia, far from Macedon)and secondly, by doing so, he was removing the risk of any Persian revolts due to the reasons stated earlier.
The second of our three events is the death of Cleitus the Black, a veteran Macedonian officer who was a member of Alexander’s inner circle of companions and was from the generation of Alexander’s father, Philip II. Years before his death, Cleitus had saved Alexander’s life at the battle of Granicus when Alexander was about to be struck down by Persian satrap, Spithridates when Cleitus severed Spithridates’ arm, subsequently killing Spithridates. When inspecting Cleitus’ death in detail. We can first lay out the undisputed facts, Alexander hosted a drinking party at the palace of Persian city Maracanda. Alexander and Cleitus were both rather drunk and they ended up engaging in an argument, sequentially offending one another. This resulted in Alexander killing Cleitus with a javelin and in turn Alexander went into seclusion for around 1-4 days.
There are multiple factors that enraged Cleitus to the point of criticising his own king. The first being centred around the fact that Alexander made sacrifice at the party to the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) and not Dionysus. Arrian states that in sacrificing to the Dioscuri Alexander was claiming superhuman status. Although this particular factor is not the main source of Cleitus’ rage, it was however one of the two acts that tipped Cleitus over the edge in terms of his Tolerance to Alexander’s behaviours. The second of these two somewhat minor acts was Alexander’s reciprocation to the flattery he was receiving from various attendants of the party. As the flattery went on Cleitus overheard not only the belittling of ancient heroes such as Heracles, but the belittlement of Alexander’s father and Cleitus’ old friend. “When some of them, again trying to please Alexander, suggested without any justification that the achievements of Philip were neither great nor wonderful.” These statements were thought to have been made to compound Alexander’s thoughts of Zeus being his father and not Philip. With the stimulation of Alcohol Cleitus was enraged more from these two acts then he possibly should have. The combination of wine, the two aforementioned incidents and most importantly, Alexander’s general treatment of Persians. Cleitus was one of the most noteworthy Macedonian officers to be strongly opposed to Alexander’s implementation of the Policy of Fusion. Furthermore, due to his recent appointment as Satrap of Bactria, he may also have been harboring suspicions that he would face the same fate as Parmenion, being sent away from court only to be assassinated.
Arrian documents Cleitus’ reaction and subsequently the culmination of his anger towards Alexander. “Cleitus had clearly been annoyed for a long time by the way Alexander had changed his behaviour to a manner more appropriate for barbarians and also by the conversations of those who were flattering him; now, stimulated by the wine, he refused to allow them to insult divine beings or to do a favour for Alexander which in reality was no such thing.” Cleitus began to clearly express his discontent with Alexander and according to both Arrian and Plutarch makes a point of him saving Alexander at the battle of Granicus as a method of taunting Alexander. Alexander could no longer stand Cleitus’ taunts and leapt up towards him, but was restrained by those around him at the time. Reportedly, Alexander then began calling for the royal guard yet nobody obeyed his orders and as stated by Arrian, “He said that he was in the same position as Darius, when he was arrested by Bessus and his followers, and all he had left was the title of king.”
He then escaped from those restraining him and grabbed the pike of a guard and ran Cleitus through with it, consequently killing Cleitus. Arrian’s recordings of the situation appear trustworthy as he uses Ptolemy as a source and Ptolemy would have not only been a participant in but also an eye witness of the entire scenario. However, Arrian is noted to often be very bias towards Alexander which is evident when he states, “For my part, I firmly place the blame on Cleitus for his insolence towards his king; I feel pity for Alexander for his misfortune, because at that time he showed that he was controlled by two vices, anger and drunkenness – a sensible man should not be mastered by either of them. But I praise Alexander for what happened afterwards, because straightaway he accepted that he had done something terrible.” By considering his constant noting of flatterers and then reading this piece it is clear that Arrian blames Cleitus for being insolent towards Alexander and the flatterers for seducing Alexander into the situation in the first place. He eludes to Alexander being but a victim of Cleitus and the flatters’ provocations and the only criticism he has of Alexander is of being controlled by wine and his own anger of the time. From there, as stated previously and recorded by Arrian, he lay in his chambers for the next three days wailing Cleitus’ name and ignoring his own health needs. “He went to his bed and lay there mourning, and calling out Cleitus’ name and also that of his sister, Lanice, daughter of Dropides, who had nursed him… He would not stop calling himself the killer of his friends, and he refrained from drinking and eating for three days and took no care at all of his physical needs.” Alexander’s reaction to Cleitus’ death shows that the event was just a spur of the moment accident as opposed to a thought out attack with purpose and reason.
In retrospect it is clear to see that Cleitus’ death was indirectly Political as opposed to being committed purposely by Alexander to strengthen his standings politically or, in a more idealistic sense, in a bid for unity. This is due to the fact that Alexander shows remorse in his actions, as portrayed in the aforementioned account by Arrian. Due to this remorse in the form of wallowing his room, we can easily assume that Cleitus’ death was more a heat of the moment blunder on Alexander’s behalf than anything else. Nevertheless, there were suspicions that Alexander was going to order Cleitus’ death later anyway. If Cleitus had not been murdered by Alexander in Maracanda then he possibly could have been assassinated via Alexander’s orders in Bactria. If that had happened then Cleitus’ death would have easily been distinguished as fueled by Political gain. Therefore, Cleitus’ death, despite being rather disturbing to Alexander, was still politically beneficial to the young king.
Thirdly and finally, the Susa weddings. The Susa weddings was a mass wedding ceremony that Alexander had arranged between the daughters of Persian nobles and Greeks of high ranking. This event was arguably Alexander’s biggest step towards his goal of the Policy of Fusion as the offspring of the marriages would be both Macedonian and Persian, in turn finally fusing the two cultures together. By marrying the daughters of Darius and Artaxerxes, Alexander was as a matter of fact, advancing his own position politically. This was due to the fact that those two marriages were securing his position as the King of Persia as he was now technically son and heir of both previous kings. Arrian describes this event in his Anabasis of Alexander. Arrian’s recordings, as stated before, shows the thought Alexander put into the pairings of the Macedonians and Persians. For example, “He gave Drypetis to Hephaestion, she too a daughter of Darius and a sister of his own wife; his intention was that the children of Hephaestion should be cousins to his own children.”
Hephaestion was not the only one of Alexander’s close companions who received wives of the Noblest descent, companions such as Craterus whom he gave Amastris, niece of Darius. There were countless other Macedonian officers married to the daughters of Satraps and other powerful Persians too.
The wedding itself was celebrated in Persian style as opposed to Greek style. Furthering Alexander’s implementation of the Policy of Fusion as he has once again chosen to engage in a Persian custom over a Greek one. Chairs were placed in order for each of the brides and grooms. After healths had been drunk, the brides entered and sat with the grooms who then took them by the hand and kissed them. As reported by Arrian, Alexander made sure to engage in the wedding as an equal to the other participants. In turn, his acts at the weddings are viewed as some of his finest in terms of comradery. “The King, who was married just as the others were, and in the same place, was the first to perform the ceremony – Alexander was always capable of putting himself on a footing of equality and comradeship with his subordinates, and everyone felt that this act of his was the best proof of his ability to do so.” This shows that Alexander is consciously employing yet another method which would result in his own Political gain as by doing it he is gaining the respect of the Macedonians by conforming to a more Macedonian custom (King being first among equals) now. Once the ceremony was complete the grooms took their new wives home, and for each one, Alexander provided a dowry. Furthermore, Alexander ordered a list of to be drawn up, containing the names of all Macedonians who had already taken Asian brides before the Susa weddings. There was in fact approximately 10,000 of them and Alexander sent them all wedding gifts as reward. It is said by Arrian that Alexander distributed up to 20,000 talents to the army in paying off their debts. In contrast Plutarch states the total added up to 9870 talents. Unfortunately for Alexander, the acts of the Susa weddings proved to be futile as by the time of Alexander’s passing not one noble remained married to their Asian wives apart from Hephaestion as he died before Alexander. In regards to Alexander’s motives behind his arrangement of the Susa weddings, I do believe that once again, it was predominantly politically fueled as although unification may be a factor, political gain could very easily have been fueling that. This is due to the fact that by arranging the marriages, the Macedonians and Persians would in term just become one unified society as opposed to coexisting as two different factions. Thus, reducing the possibility of internal conflict within his empire. Furthermore, Alexander’s behaviour catered to not only the Persians but also the Macedonians. This was evident in his paying off of Macedonian debts and having the marriages celebrated in Persian style.
In my opinion, I believe Alexander was more of a political pragmatist than he was an idealist who sought the unification of mankind. This is due to the fact that Alexander was known to be heavily driven by his own ego and the thought of him being a the son of Zeus. This in turn meant that a key aspect in Alexander’s drive to achieve glory was the justification of his own divinity to not only those around him, but also to himself. This drive for glory leads me to believe that the implementation of the Policy of Fusion was predominantly a Political move. Alexander did encourage the fusing of Macedonian and Persian culture, but this merely creates the illusion that he was an idealist. Alternately, he was most likely encouraging the fusion of the two cultures to make the ruling of his empire easier as by providing the illusion that he was an idealist, it would appear to the Persians that they have less been conquered, but rather just incorporated into a new society where their customs are still appreciated. In a loose sense, due to the number of Persians still kept in a position of power, it could have almost seemed like at times they were but merely hosting the Macedonians as their esteemed guests. With the risk of Persian revolt lowered by this, it allowed Alexander to firstly, support his army in terms of recruitments and upkeep and secondly, it allowed him to continue his conquests without having to worry about his empire crumbling from within when he was away. Overall, the main fueling factor behind Alexander’s introduction of the Policy of Fusion was his hunger for power and achievement as opposed to him being a idealist hoping for unity. Alexander implemented the Policy of Fusion in a variety of different ways, be it the arranging of Macedonian-Persian marriages, placing Persians in positions of power, adopting Persian dress or the adoption of Persian societal customs. Persian and Macedonian cultural customs tended to differ heavily from one another. Macedonian culture in most aspects, was extremely similar to that of the various Greek city states. The Macedonians worshipped the same gods as the Greeks and to them, there were none higher than the 12 Olympians. A Macedonian king was known as first among equals, did not bask in grandeur and was known to wear the same dress as his companions (The Hetairoi). Moreover, a Macedonian King was known to lead from the from the front lines and actually participate in battle, gaining the respect of his soldiers. Unlike the Macedonians, a Persian king held a hierarchical superior status in comparison to his men. He was viewed as god’s representative on earth. This in turn ties in with the concept of Proskynesis. In Persian culture Proskynesis (The act of bowing/prostrating oneself to someone of higher rank) would be used in the presence of someone of higher social rank as a way of showing respect. However, in Macedonian culture, the act itself was the same, but the application of it was different. It was only used to show respect and worship to the gods. If it was used in the Persian manner in Macedonian society, it was considered sacrilegious and barbaric. Aside from these two larger differences, there were also many other small discrepancies which further alienated the two cultures to each other. For example, Persians were thought to be effeminate and overly self-indulgent. This could be caused by various aspects of Persian life, such as large and varying quantities of deserts, the fact that Persians tended to bathe far more frequently than Greeks and the fact that women were given more responsibility within society. In terms of the result of Alexander’s implementation of the Policy of Fusion, I think it was less than successful. In a lot of instances, even if an act may have shown initial promise, it ended up in poor reception from the Macedonians and eventually resulting in an outcome that Alexander was not aiming for. For example, when Alexander integrated Persians into his army, the Macedonians instantly were up in arms as they feared Alexander was replacing them. In contrast to this, during the Susa weddings, the Macedonian nobles took their wives without much complaint. However, as soon as Alexander died, all of the Macedonians divorced their Persian wives, showing their true feelings towards the weddings. One of the most prominent examples of the Macedonian response to the Policy of Fusion and therefore partially the success of the Policy was the Mutiny of Opis. Arrian describes the event and what fueled the Macedonian outcry. “Alexander called together the Macedonians and declared that he was discharging from the campaign and sending back to their country those who were unfit for service because of age or wounds suffered.” The Macedonians assumed this was being caused by Alexander wanting to replace them with the 30,000 young and freshly trained Persians, thus greatly contributing to the causing of the mutiny. This perfectly encapsulates the success of Alexander’s Policy of Fusion as his entire army was now up in arms, and not just the old veterans like it initially was, but the entire Macedonian army, all mutinying against him as a direct result of one his acts to further the Policy.