Alexander the Great Explaining Proskynesis To The Boys

Alexander the Great Receiving News, de Champaigne
Alexander the Great Receiving News, de Champaigne


The first to describe proskynesis ("kissing towards") was the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus:
"When the Persians meet one another in the roads, you can see whether those who meet are of equal rank. If one of them is inferior to the other, they kiss one another on the cheeks, and if one is of much less noble rank than the other, he falls down before him and worships him."
To the Greeks prostrating, bowing or kneeling were unacceptable. In their view, these acts were only allowed in front of a god...In the summer of 327, Alexander the Great provoked great unrest among his courtiers when he introduced proskynesis [in his own court] after conquering the Achaemenid Empire.

Arrian of Nicomedia recounted the Greek and Macedonian opposition to the practice in the Anabasis of Alexander, led by Callisthenes of Olynthus [emphasis mine]:

“O Anaxarchus, I openly declare that there is no honour which Alexander is unworthy to receive, provided that it is consistent with his being human; but men have made distinctions between those honours which are due to men, and those due to gods, in many different ways, as for instance by the building of temples and by the erection of statues. Moreover for the gods sacred enclosures are selected, to them sacrifice is offered, and to them libations are made. Hymns also are composed in honour of the gods, and eulogies for men. But the greatest distinction is made by the custom of prostration. For it is the practice that men should be kissed by those who salute them; but because the deity is located somewhere above, it is not lawful even to touch him, and this is the reason no doubt why he is honored by prostration."

guys to be clear I hate this prostration business

if it were up to me nobody would ever bend or even sit down

you guys know how I feel about customs

namely that ours are frank, natural, manly, healthy, logical, straightforward, open, unaffected, rustic, artless, candid, sincere, forthright, unpretentious, wholesome and brave, and that the customs of others are artificial, suspiciously effeminate, cunning, full of guile and trickery, and just generally and entirely, I guess, Other??

like we need a corporate institution for dealing with it, honestly, by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, teaching it, settling it; overall dominating, restructuring and having authority over it, the whole itness of it, the whole structure of it

But since we ARE here

and not in Greece

or Macedonia either

I think we're just going to have to put up with it for a little while

and honestly I do not like it any more than you do!!

I wish I could give it away

(as I have given away so many of the riches of Darius to my loyal generals and officers and fighting-men, which I do all the time, as you may remember, I am always dispersing treasure)

like if it were possible I would just point all these bowing guys who fall on their faces in front of me and hand them out one to each of you so you were all getting the same amount of floor-bows

but my hands are really tied

on the battlefield it's what I say goes!! but around the palace, you know what they say

"if the satrap's not happy, nobody's happy"


so in conclusion I think they will eventually get over all this bowing to the floor stuff

but in the meantime we just gotta let it go

and also in the meantime if you guys would do it too that would really help smooth things over

and it is so important that we smooth things over right now because otherwise that would be soooo dangerous

but you know if you give me a little wink next time you're on the floor or something, just as a little reminder that this isn't forever, whatever helps is totally good with me

as long as you are actually hitting the floor, completely flush with it, not leaving a little room at the knees or chest

which they tell me some of you have been doing

it's just kind of noticeable, hitting the floor is the whole move, you really can't hold back on that

ahh!! i honestly sort of almost wish now that I hadn't conquered Persia because its such a headache!!! hahaha

but i did conquer all of Persia so we just have to make the best of it for the next twenty/thirty years tops, then we can start Phasing It Out

I promise though

the next country I conquer we are not doing any of their customs

sorry "we conquer"


are there more grapes? it would be amazing if someone could. bring me some more grapes

only if youre already getting up though, no worries if not

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]