Civilization Past and Present（10）
The Hellenistic Contribution
The greatest contribution of the Hellenistic Age was the diffusion of Greek culture throughout the ancient East and the newly rising Roman west. In the East, the cities that Alexander and his successors built were the agents for spreading Hellenistic culture from the Aegean Sea to India. Literate Asians learned Greek to facilitate trade and to read Creek literature. In Judea, upper-class Jews built Greek theaters and gymnasiums and adopted Greek speech, dress, and names.
For a time the Seleucid Empire provided the peace and economic stability necessary to ensure the partial Helllenization of a vast area. But with an insufficient number of Greeks to colonize so large an area as the Near East, the Greek cities remained only islands in an Asian ocean. As time passed, this ocean encroached more and more on the Hellenized outposts.
The gradual weakening of the loosely knit Seleucid Empire eventually resulted in the creation independent kingdoms on the edge of the Hellenistic world. In the middle of the third century, a nomad chieftain founded the kingdom of Parthia, situated between the Seleucid and Bactrian kingdoms. Claiming to be the heirs of the more ancient Persians, the Parthians expanded until by 130 B.C.E. they had wrested Babylonia from the Seleucids. although Parthia was essentially a native Iranian state, its inhabitants absorbed some Hellenistic culture.
松散组成的塞留西帝国的逐渐衰落最终引起希腊化世界边缘地区独立王国的创建。三世纪中期，一个游牧民族的首领建立了帕提亚王国，它位于塞留西和巴克特里亚王国之间。声称自己是更古老的波斯人的继承者，帕提亚人在公元前130之前一直进行扩张。他们从塞留西人手中夺走巴比伦。 虽然帕提亚本质上是土著的伊朗人国家， 它的居民吸收了某些希腊化文化。
Cut off from the Seleucid rule by the Parthian kingdom, Bactria also became independent. Its Greek rulers, descendants of Alexander's veterans, controlled the caravan route to India and issued some of the most beautiful Greek coins. In 183 B.C.E., the Bactrians crossed into India and conquered the province of Ganhara. One result of the conquest was a strong Greek influence on Indian art.
In the history of Western civilization, there is little of greater significance than Rome's absorption of Greek civilization and its transference of that heritage to later European culture. The stage on which this story began was the cosmopolitan Hellenistic Age, which "longed and strove for Homonoia, Concord between man and man ....[and] proclaimed a conception of the world as One Great City."