Western Civilization – Benchmarks II

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After the long drawn-out siege of Tyre, Alexander marched through Palestine unopposed. The year was 332 B.C.E. Details of his visit to Jerusalem, and his audience with Jaddua, the high priest at the time, are shrouded in folklore.

What historians do agree upon, is that this meeting took place, and that Alexander respected Jewish custom by not entering the Holy of Holies.

While contact between the Hellenic world and Judaism is of some significance, this should be discussed carefully. It’s useful to note that there was no conscious merging of Rabbinical and Hellenic philosophy. Ambassadors between Macedonia and Judea were never exchanged, nor was some sort of massive student exchange program established.

Never-the-less, 2 of the 3 main cultures which would feed into the Western World were firmly on stage.

The legacy of Homer, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pericles, Thucydides, and Sophocles endured and colored the values that eventually gave us the Enlightenment of the post-Medieval period. This in turned fueled the aspiration for the liberal democratic republican model of governance.

The humanities were only part of the Hellenic legacy. Generations of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians provided a solid foundation for research and learning. Men such as Anaxagoras, Pythagoras, and Euclid may not be pop-culture icons, but trust me, there’s a thread running from their work to the device on which you are reading this.

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About Phil Christensen

The trail behind me is littered with failure. The trail before me remains to be seen.
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