How much about the world did the ancient rulers knew about?

Chlodio

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Aug 2016
3,930
Dispargum
#11
Alexander's conquered territory was almost identical to the extent of Achaemenid empire, ending at Indus. As such, it would seem that his primary objective was to conquer Achaemenid empire.

The claim that he was out to conquer the 'known world' (and related myths) was most likely later day inventions.
dont really understand such romanticism tbh, it makes a pretty logical sense how history turns out and yet it is twisted and turned in favour of one's biased narrative.

regards
The phrase 'known world' might be a later romantic interpretation of the facts, but it doesn't change the basic facts.

Alexander had access to the geography of Herodotus (5th century BCE) and of Aristotle (4th century). Both of those geographers thought that India was the eastern end of the Asian land mass. Aristotle said that from the peaks of the Hindu Kush one could see the eastern ocean. Neither knew much about India beyond the Indus. Neither geographer mentioned that India had a southern peninsula.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,094
Netherlands
#12
The phrase 'known world' might be a later romantic interpretation of the facts, but it doesn't change the basic facts.

Alexander had access to the geography of Herodotus (5th century BCE) and of Aristotle (4th century). Both of those geographers thought that India was the eastern end of the Asian land mass. Aristotle said that from the peaks of the Hindu Kush one could see the eastern ocean. Neither knew much about India beyond the Indus. Neither geographer mentioned that India had a southern peninsula.
True, but Aristotle also insisted the earth was a sphere and according to him and the mathematicians the earth had a much bigger circumference than it actually has (like 4 times bigger). So while their ravings about the known world make for nice reading, they must have known they were talking bs.

That being said geography as such only really took off later with Eratosthenes, ironically based in Alexandria.
 
Mar 2019
1,463
KL
#13
Aristotle said that from the peaks of the Hindu Kush one could see the eastern ocean. Neither knew much about India beyond the Indus. Neither geographer mentioned that India had a southern peninsula.
i find this claim a bit bogus, probably it was the height of hindukush which was being emphasized, secondly as i have already stated that greeks were brought to indus by the persians already two centuries prior, so do you really think that greeks didn't know anything about india beyond the indus especially when the bigger powers in india resided east of indus not on it.

either greeks were not much better at geography or that its a bogus claim of not knowing beyond indus.

regards
 

Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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#14
i find this claim a bit bogus, probably it was the height of hindukush which was being emphasized, secondly as i have already stated that greeks were brought to indus by the persians already two centuries prior, so do you really think that greeks didn't know anything about india beyond the indus especially when the bigger powers in india resided east of indus not on it.

either greeks were not much better at geography or that its a bogus claim of not knowing beyond indus.

regards
I have cited two sources, Herodotus and Aristotle. I will now mention Ptolemy who lived more than 100 years after Alexander and had the benefit of Alexander's discoveries plus all of the other discoveries subsequent to Alexander. Even in the 2nd century, Ptolemy barely mentions China and still gets some details about India wrong. For instance, he thought that Sri Lanka was larger than the Indian peninsula.

Do you have a source that says the Greeks of Alexander's day knew more about India than I have stated above?
 
Mar 2019
1,463
KL
#15
I have cited two sources, Herodotus and Aristotle. I will now mention Ptolemy who lived more than 100 years after Alexander and had the benefit of Alexander's discoveries plus all of the other discoveries subsequent to Alexander. Even in the 2nd century, Ptolemy barely mentions China and still gets some details about India wrong. For instance, he thought that Sri Lanka was larger than the Indian peninsula.

Do you have a source that says the Greeks of Alexander's day knew more about India than I have stated above?
i have no idea on what greeks knew, but if its really the case it reflects very poorly on greek knowledge of geography to be perfectly honest, and in this field they seem pretty bad. Indians did know about china, south east asian islands, and ofcourse western asia, probably because they were engaged more in trade compared with the greeks.

so my conclusion would be, it more boils down to the ignorance of the greeks than anything else.

regards
 
Mar 2019
1,463
KL
#16
As he came into contact with more Indians he learned about a place called China and became discouraged that the world was larger than he had originally believed.
you were saying greeks didn't even know much about india, then came to know suddenly about china, i think your statements seem contradictory. It is infact argued that the nanda army caused the macedonians to abandon their quest for world domination, the east ocean thingy was also east indian coast thingy i think rathar than chinese coast.

regards
 
Jul 2012
3,235
Dhaka
#17
The phrase 'known world' might be a later romantic interpretation of the facts, but it doesn't change the basic facts.

Alexander had access to the geography of Herodotus (5th century BCE) and of Aristotle (4th century). Both of those geographers thought that India was the eastern end of the Asian land mass. Aristotle said that from the peaks of the Hindu Kush one could see the eastern ocean. Neither knew much about India beyond the Indus. Neither geographer mentioned that India had a southern peninsula.
Neither Herodotus nor Aristotle travelled to these parts of the world, Alexander did. He was bound to know more than them. For example, Alexander most certainly would not assume Sogdia was the end of world, would he?

He simply decided not to proceed further east. He might not have proceeded, but he was sure to inquire about what lay east, and thus would be aware of China long before he started Indian campaign.
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,930
Dispargum
#18
Neither Herodotus nor Aristotle travelled to these parts of the world, Alexander did. He was bound to know more than them. For example, Alexander most certainly would not assume Sogdia was the end of world, would he?

He simply decided not to proceed further east. He might not have proceeded, but he was sure to inquire about what lay east, and thus would be aware of China long before he started Indian campaign.
Earlier in this thread I differentiated between what Alexander knew before he left Greece (Herodotus and Aristotle most likely) and what he learned as a result of his campaigns. Of course Alexander learned as a result of his travels. What he knew when he was on the Indus was not the same as what he knew at the beginning of his wars and campaigns.
 
Jul 2012
3,235
Dhaka
#19
Earlier in this thread I differentiated between what Alexander knew before he left Greece (Herodotus and Aristotle most likely) and what he learned as a result of his campaigns. Of course Alexander learned as a result of his travels. What he knew when he was on the Indus was not the same as what he knew at the beginning of his wars and campaigns.
Sure, I only contended this:

After defeating Persia Alexander began his invasion of India thinking that his plan of global conquest was almost complete. As he came into contact with more Indians he learned about a place called China and became discouraged that the world was larger than he had originally believed. If not Alexander, then his army became discouraged, and the soldiers began to agitate that Alexander end his wars and take them home. This why historians say that Alexander conquered the known world. Most of the world was unknown to Alexander.
He wasn't out to conquer the globe, rather the Achaemenid empire.

He was sure to know about China long before that.

It was a petty attempt to glorify Alexander as a global conquerer, instead of someone who conquered 'just' the Achaemenid empire.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,930
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#20
He wasn't out to conquer the globe, rather the Achaemenid empire.

He was sure to know about China long before that.

It was a petty attempt to glorify Alexander as a global conquerer, instead of someone who conquered 'just' the Achaemenid empire.
I'm not so sure he was only out to conquer the Achaemenid Empire. The primary sources are pretty clear that the main reason Alexander turned home from the Indus is that his army mutinied, being tired of the endless campaigning and wanting to go home. Even when heading home Alexander did not give up on plans of further conquest. At the time of his death he was planning a war in Arabia. That was outside the Achaemenid Empire.

I did not intend to glorify Alexander as a world conqueror. I mentioned it as a way of illustrating Alexander's changing perceptions of the world. It's easy to conquer the world if the world is a relatively small place. As Alexander came to understand that the world was larger than he originally believed, he (or his army) gave up on the plan to conquer India and any places farther east.

Can you cite a source that Alexander only wanted to conquer the Achaemenid Empire?