Alexander and Porus

Charles-André van Loo

Alexandre et Pûru

“The consciousness of what is Greek and what is alien, the interpretation of ‘philosophy’ and ‘wisdom’ and the attitude toward the Orient change fundamentally during the final part of classical antiquity. Another kind of receptivity takes the place of the curiosity and openness of the ἰστορειν. The external, but by no means merely accidental, event which opens up much vaster dimensions for the Western view of the Orient, and totally new possibilities for the relationship of East and West, is the appearance of the ‘world conqueror’ Alexander. This event overcomes more than external barriers, and represents more than merely a military conquest. The idea of a genuine cultural encounter between East and West, a synthesis as it were, a marriage of Orient and Occident, has been associated with Alexander’s conquests from the beginning, and we may assume that this was also a part of his own world-view.”  Wilhelm Halbfass, India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding (1988), p. 7.

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Jan Olof Bengtsson D.Phil. (Oxon.)

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