Is Alexander the Great actually as bad as some people say he is?

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,603
Florania
More to the point, atrocities of modern times are called for such. The Japanese treatment of prisoners was deemed inhumane. The bombing of Dresden was called and questioned (with "Bomber" Harris defending it just as Curtis Le May would defend his incindiary bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities). The leveling of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still draws debate. There is little evidence that Alexander's surrounding and annihilation of Poros' forces was so remarked. Same for the siege of Tyre. There is no ancient moralising about Alexander's near genocide of the Mallians. Philip was criticised for being so uncivil as to campaign year around rather than the deliberate slaughter of his enemies at Crocus field. Polybios remarks unfavourably on the fate of Corinth but mostly in terms of the fact the Achaians brought this upon themselves through naive nationalism. Plutarch notes the Kerameikos "ran red with the blood of the slaughtered" during Athens' sack by Sulla. He does not say that this was a disgusting act of barbarity (Sull. 14.3-5):

As I've said, life was a different commodity to what it is today.
Our current ethics of human rights are products of "Humanitarian Revolution" and “Rights Revolution”, and many rights we stipulated today are barely not even a generation old.
For example: LGBQ rights is a good example, and certain women's rights were only achieved in the 1970s.
Applying 21st Century ethics of human rights on ancients would be quite off base.
 
May 2015
283
villa of Lucullus
What does the word "full" mean to you? What about "absolutely full"? "Full" really means "entirely", a bottle full of water has no space left for any more water. "absolutely full of atrocities" must mean that every person, without exception, was involved in an atrocity. This was not the case at any time (and note I use the word "was" as it is past tense).

I don't like hyperbole, which means exaggeration, which means falsehood, which poisons reasoned discussion.
The 20th century gave us among other things
the Armenian genocide (1915-1919)
the Holocaust (1930s-1945)
the Rwandan genocide (1994)
the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979)
the Indonesian mass-killings (1965-1966)

and those are merely the most egregious examples. You also have mass deaths in the partition of India and Pakistan, the deliberate starvation of Ukranians in 1932-1933, etc, etc.

The 20th century gave us Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Moammar Qaddaffi and countless other villains.

Someone mentioned that some of these acts were condemned in other parts of the world but much of this seems to have been politically motivated. Even Democracies like Britain, the U.S.A. and France tended to ignore crimes committed by allies like the Indonesian killings targeting suspected communists.
 
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Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
Your own post negates what you are saying. The 20th century gave us those things; and modern liberal democracies condemn them as terrible tragedies or outright crimes against humanity. In ancient times those things weren't condemned, they were often praised in fact. I feel like this has been explained to you 20 times on a dozen threads. Where in popular western liberal democracies do you hear people use the names of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc, in a positive, praiseworthy way? They're almost universally invoked in pejorative sense. Meanwhile Hadrian conducted a near genocidal campaign against the Jews, and was remembered fondly as one of the "5 good emperors". Caesar wiped out tribes en masse during his invasion of Gaul, actions I defend, but actions that are praised nearly universally as heroic achievements in his time. I dunno if you wrote an essay about morality being objective one time, because you keep saying it; but it's clearly, objectively not true. Lots of things we believe are moral and ethical now were not thought to be so in ancient times, and vice versa. Sorry.
 
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May 2015
283
villa of Lucullus
Today these actions are generally condemned but as recently as 50-60 years ago that wasn't the case. My point is these activities remained acceptable or at the very least tolerated far longer than many people here seem to want to admit.

During the cold war all sorts of horrible acts were tolerated in the name of fighting communism. The Indonesian killings didn't provoke any sort of response from western democracies, neither did the killings of leftists in south America.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,603
Florania
Today these actions are generally condemned but as recently as 50-60 years ago that wasn't the case. My point is these activities remained acceptable or at the very least tolerated far longer than many people here seem to want to admit.

During the cold war all sorts of horrible acts were tolerated in the name of fighting communism. The Indonesian killings didn't provoke any sort of response from western democracies, neither did the killings of leftists in south America.
Don’t even forget Rwanda and the Syrian Civil War; Steven Pinker meant a general decline of violence rather than total peace on Planet of the Naked Apes.
 
Feb 2018
235
US
This argument is really not relevant. A basic premise of historiography is that you analyze the past according to how it actually was.

Don’t even forget Rwanda and the Syrian Civil War; Steven Pinker meant a general decline of violence rather than total peace on Planet of the Naked Apes.
Steven Pinker is not a credible source in history please don't cite him.
 
May 2015
283
villa of Lucullus
Your own post negates what you are saying. The 20th century gave us those things; and modern liberal democracies condemn them as terrible tragedies or outright crimes against humanity. In ancient times those things weren't condemned, they were often praised in fact. I feel like this has been explained to you 20 times on a dozen threads. Where in popular western liberal democracies do you hear people use the names of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc, in a positive, praiseworthy way? They're almost universally invoked in pejorative sense. Meanwhile Hadrian conducted a near genocidal campaign against the Jews, and was remembered fondly as one of the "5 good emperors". Caesar wiped out tribes en masse during his invasion of Gaul, actions I defend, but actions that are praised nearly universally as heroic achievements in his time. I dunno if you wrote an essay about morality being objective one time, because you keep saying it; but it's clearly, objectively not true. Lots of things we believe are moral and ethical now were not thought to be so in ancient times, and vice versa. Sorry.
The examples given aren't really good examples because they involved atrocities against enemies of Rome. So, it's not surprising that Roman historians gloss over them. Roman historians do however criticize the actions of their enemies when they do similar things. The massacres by Mithridates seem to have outraged Roman public opinion for example.

As for whether they were genuinely outraged or simply condemning actions for propaganda purposes I can't say. Likewise, it's hard to know how western democracies were able to ignore all manner of atrocities by their allies during the cold war while condemning similar conduct by their enemies.
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
The examples given aren't really good examples because they involved atrocities against enemies of Rome. So, it's not surprising that Roman historians gloss over them. Roman historians do however criticize the actions of their enemies when they do similar things. The massacres by Mithridates seem to have outraged Roman public opinion for example.

As for whether they were genuinely outraged or simply condemning actions for propaganda purposes I can't say. Likewise, it's hard to know how western democracies were able to ignore all manner of atrocities by their allies during the cold war while condemning similar conduct by their enemies.
Again, you're simply wrong. Go visit Germany or Rawanda or Cambodia. Those holocaust museums aren't there to venerate Hitler, the 94 genocide, or Pol Pot. In ancient times genocide was fine, as long as it was committed against your enemies. Today it's not, which is why you face protests to wars like Vietnam, etc, and atrocities or violations of human rights are treated very seriously by liberal democracies, no matter which side committed them. In the old days the anger was just at "your side" losing. We don't always call out atrocities as consistently or effectively as we should, nobody is perfect, but they are widely called out in modern times. Usually the reason said atrocities are hidden or concealed is precisely because of the knowledge of the reaction people will have to it (even in WW2 Germany, Hitler was keeping the Final Solution incredibly secretive), meanwhile Roman Emperors and generals were writing official dispatches, memoirs and speeches about just how many of the enemy they killed and wiped out, to wild applause. Your interpretation of history is wrong, as you previously admitted 2 posts ago; morality changes over time. /Thread.