Which was is the most fascinating civilization

Most fascinating ancient civilization.

Which is, to you, the most fascinating or interesting of ancient cultures? Why? Would you live in it, if you could?
Live in an ancient civilisation? Are you mad? We modern westerners would probably die within the year in any of those civilisations.
I put Greece, but realistically I'd dwell first and foremost in Macedon - provided I was given a place as a citizen, of course.

There's nothing that I'd like more than to serve the one true Emperor of mankind - Alexander The Great. To march in his armies, even if I were to die, would be the greatest of all honors. No other man has done so much, or was so great, or has shined so spectacularly above the rest of mankind.

Did he have his faults? Yes. But that only makes him the greater; he was human, yet he did things no other human during the entire history of mankind have, or even could, do. He was a genius beyond all geniuses, a warrior beyond all warriors, and the one true Emperor of all mankind.

Very true. Alexander truly deserves the epithet "Great", one of very few people who really do. Yes, marching with him, fighting besides him, and getting to know him, would be both an honor, and a truly fascinating undertaking, cypress.
What exactly was so "Great" about Alexander? I understand he was a fantastic general but what else?
I'm torn between Sumer, Egypt and Etruria. Beer was, afaik, invented by the Sumerians..
First question, ancient persian I think under Darius II. A fair and even handed society (by ancient standards) especially to foreigners. They did not oppress according to religion, race etc. Plus it was this culture that built the hanging gardens of babylon I think. But I wouldm;t want to live there. I don't like the desert.
What exactly was so "Great" about Alexander? I understand he was a fantastic general but what else?
Fantastic doesn't begin to describe it. There's massive, doorstop books that are basically just testaments to how freaking awesome this man's mind was.

Let me put this in perspective for you.

First, the man was taught everything he knew by Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher you probably know the name of if you've ever taken any class in high school or college. His father was a great general, and he campaigned young. At sixteen, when most of us would get a car, he was given rulership of a large domain. The city of Thebes, home to the sacred band of Thebes, the hardest and toughest and baddest of the badasses of the time, rebelled. Alexander defeated them soundly and brilliantly, utterly wiping out the band, destroying the city, and founding a new one, which he named Alexanderopolis (he typically named cities after himself, and building cities became one of his great legacies). Unlike most conquerers, he did not just sack and destroy. Even this young, he was focused primarily on building and spreading civilization.

The man started out after this point practically as a dead man walking. His father had remarried, and had plans to have a new son, and had basically all but disowned Alexander. He then exiled all of Alexander's friends from the nation, leaving him without support. Phillip did some interesting things; he reorganized Macedon's armies around the Greek model and had conquered Greece. Macedon was basically a barbarian state before Philip. Still, he was a good general; Alexander was an AWESOME, STUPENDOUS, FUCKING FANTASTIC general.

In short order, Philip was assassinated (maybe by Alexander, it isn't really clear), and Alexander suddenly had to battle every single other contender for the throne (there were a lot) and reconquer Greece, with barely any support (as his friends were all exiled, remember). He scrapped together his meager army, with his nation deep in debt. He then proceeded to utterly slaughter all opposition in his way. From the beginning to the end of his short life, he lead every battle from the front. No other commander in history has actually done so so consistently and so many times as he has and survived. He was always the first over the wall, always the first in the charge, and every single time he survived. Other generals hide behind their armies. Alexander led his armies on the charge, and was personally warrior enough to kick just about anybodies ass.

He then took all the people of his small empire and forged the world's first combined arms force. Real combined arms force, that is. He took whatever a nation's finest warriors were, combined them into a single force, and lead them in a cohesive manner. From his ingenious use of the Companion cavalry to his multinational infantry, archers, and skirmishers, he had the best of everything the Greek world could offer, forged into a cohesive whole.

He then led his armies against Persia, the biggest and mightiest nation in the area, and long time enemy of Greece. He was horrifically outnumbered in every, single, goddamned, battle. We're not talking two to one here; we're talking millions to tens of thousands. Not only did he never lose a single battle in his career, he utterly schooled every single nation that opposed him in the art of war. The Persians lost again, and again, and again, and again. He fought them everywhere they could be fought, until his tiny nation defeated the Persian juggernaught. When others said he should be happy with his victories and try the diplomatic option; when others said he should quit and go home; he never stopped, surrendered, or even acknowledged that defeat was even possible. While this might be a sign of insanity or hubris in other men, no man but Alexander is Alexander. Never was he defeated, stopped, or even significantly slowed by any enemy he faced.

After he rolled over the massive Persian Empire, he decided he wanted prettymuch everything else. He went down and took Jerusalem, Egypt, and a bunch of other nations. Unlike most other conquerers, his conquests actually brought great benefits with them. He only really got mean with cities that resisted strongly. Those that surrendered were treated fairly and generally he kept the local leadership in place. All he asked for were taxes and soldiers to be sent to Macedon - in return, the locals could keep their religion, their leaders, and basically life was unchanged. At the same time, he founded great cities, fantastic centers of learning and introduced new technologies to the nations he conquered. He did not ever enter a nation but to improve it. Unlike barbarians like Ghengis Khan, the people under his rule loved him because he did wonderful things for them. The great city of Alexandria, famous because of the great library of Alexandria, was founded by Alexander the Great. He was generally very kind to the families of rulers, which is unusual for the time.

At one point he besieged an island called Tyre. Said island had surrounded it's entire expanse with a great wall. Not only was it protected by the seas; even landing on it's shores was impossible because of the wall. Alexander had no real navy. By all rights, for anyone else, taking Tyre would have been impossible.

Alexander was undaunted. He told them to surrender. They refused.

Alexander then proceeded to build a goddamned bridge to the island, to bombard it with artillery. Eventually he did recruit enough of a navy from people who generally thought he was awesome to take the place, but still - when he wanted to besiege an island, he built a bridge into the Mediterranean sea to do it.

Lest Ghengis Khan fanboys bring up the superior mobility of horse archers to his infantry, I should mention the amazing Battle of Jaxartes, where Alexander fought horse archers for the first time - and won.

Now, not only did he fight horse archers here, but he had to cross a river with them waiting on the other side. About half way across the river, they could shoot at his men while in their boats and he couldn't do much about it.

To make sure he didn't lose before he began, he ordered his entire army to cross at once so the enemy couldn't concentrate their fire. At the same time, he ordered the other side of the river covered with artillery fire. Here, we see again his concept of combined arms in action. This worked spectacularly. One of the Sctythian leaders was immediately killed by artillery fire, and another driven off the field.

Alexander's artillery fire ensured he could land his troops safely. The Scythians were now in several rotating circle formations; at the edge of bowshot and firing at his landed troops. To ensure that he would get the engagement he wanted and that they wouldn't just run away, he basically sacrificed an entire unit of mounted spearmen, which managed to break through to the back of the enemy. He sent them charging alone against the enemy forces, which quickly responded by surrounding them and trying to wipe them out.

As soon as they were held in engagement by the mounted spearmen, Alexander's infantry advanced. He pinned the horse archers between his cavalry and infantry, and wiped the enemy army out. He was actually the first leader of Greece, Persia, and perhaps the world to defeat a horse-nomad army in combat. After defeating them, he released all of the men he took as prisoners of war - an act of mercy no other commander of his time would have considered. As a result, the Scythian nomads never bothered his armies again.


Once, an enemy tried to throw burning carts and barrels at his forces from atop a hill. His soldiers were ordered to simply lock shields and let them go OVER the formations - which they did. Again, brilliant.

Every single battle he fought was an example of military genius. The man faced down massive armies and when he went to India, slaughtered war elephants. He was never daunted by anything. He improved everywhere he went. He was intelligent, merciful, well educated and a great teacher and giver to the people he ruled. He never lost a battle, and always lead from the front. He did the impossible, time and again, displaying that he was the greatest of all men.

I cannot fully express how amazing this person was. Yet in his early 30's, he died under mysterious circumstances. It's not known exactly why, though many people have theories. Personally, I support the theory that he was assassinated. His generals were jealous of him for his greatness. They did not want to continue conquering; they wanted to return to Greece and live like fat, opulent, corrupt nobility. They wanted to slaughter the Persians, who they saw as subhuman. Alexander wanted to unite all people under the Macedonian banner. He wanted to teach, to improve the world, and bring leadership to it's people. They, full of arrogance and greed, wanted his empire.

So he fell ill, likely due to poison. His generals asked to whom he would leave his empire, clearly hoping that they had his favor in sufficient degree to take it all as he died. He realized this however, and gave nothing to his greedy generals. His only instructions were that his empire would go, "to the strongest." If they wanted Alexander's empire, they'd have to take it.

His generals, being far worse leaders than he, divided up the territories he conquered and fought one another, to no significant effect. He truly had the last laugh. All the nations he conquered were improved, his generals spent the remainder of their lives trying and failing to live up to his greatness, and he influenced history so significantly that the effects have been felt even into the modern day.

No other man has done so much, in so little time, for so many, and in such a spectacular way. He truly was the Great and noble Emperor of Mankind.

blast flame

How far will we go if it means lighting the way?
Greece because they had some good thinkers (plus after reading the above Alexander). Wouldn't want to live in it though, I like my modern technology and science.
Live in an ancient civilisation? Are you mad? We modern westerners would probably die within the year in any of those civilisations.

very much this. i don't see anything attractive in living within a prehistoric society, or any less advanced than ours for that matter. i'd miss too many things, even as a king back then.

but to answer the question, probably greece. provided i can discuss with their philosophers, not toil away as a slave in their mines. egyptian architecture has always seemed boring to me.

and it's not like we could dominate them that easily just because their tech level was primitive, they weren't stupid when it comes to being human, that is mean and dominating.
Aye one of the ancient Greek city states doesn't seem too bad, as long as you weren't a slave or on the losing end of some jerk enslaving your city.

The climate is fairly nice, being educated is held in esteem and as socities go they weren't too brutal, all things considered.

I'd still prefer modern day though, we live better than kings did back then when it comes to living conditions. And thats not even touching on medical problems.
While Greece is the cradle of Western civilization. (Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Xenophon, and Alexander). Rome is the par excellence of Western civilization from engineering, to politics, to philosphy, and science. The western world owes it debt to the Romans to taking what Greece learned and perfecting it.
I voted China simply because to me, it holds a great air of mystery. It is the one civilization there I know the least about, thus it is the most fascinating. I've learned of the wonders of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Sumer, etc. so many times they aren't amazing anymore. They are simple fact instead. (I don't mean they weren't amazing, they just don't fascinate me anymore)

I would NOT want to live in any of them. As has been stated, quality of life there would be less than what I know and am comfortable with. However, if I was BORN into one of those societies, probably Rome as a citizen would be grand. That way, I don't miss my modern conveniences.

Also, ah, Cypress, your man crush is showing. (I don't blame you though)