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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
III. MINGLING OF EAST AND WEST AFTER 359 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 23
THE GRAECO-ORIENTAL WORLD
THE NEW LUXURY
The Hellenistic Age was characterized by a general increase in wealth. The old Greeks and Macedonians, as a rule, had been content to live plainly. Now kings, nobles, and rich men began to build splendid palaces and to fill them with the products of ancient artómarbles from Asia Minor, vases from Athens, Italian bronzes, and Babylonian tapestries. They kept up great households with endless lords in waiting, ladies of honor, pages, guards, and servants. Soft couches and clothes of delicate fabric replaced the simple coverlets and coarse cloaks of an earlier time. They possessed rich carpets and hangings, splendid armor and jewelry, and gold and silver vessels for the table. The Greeks thus began to imitate the luxurious lives of Persian nobles.
THE SEA ROUTE TO INDIA
These new luxuries flowed in from all parts of the ancient world. Many came from the Far East in consequence of the rediscovery of the sea route to India, by Alexander's admiral, Nearchus. The voyage of Nearchus was one of the most important results of Alexander's eastern conquests. It established the fact, which had long been forgotten, that one could reach India by a water route much shorter and safer than the caravan roads through central Asia. Somewhat later a Greek sailor, named Harpalus, found that by using the monsoons, the periodic winds which blow over the Indian Ocean, he could sail direct from Arabia to India without laboriously following the coast. The Greeks, in consequence, gave his name to the monsoons.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy