Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Apollonios of Tyr

Phoenicia: Who is Zenon of Kition?

The Lebanese author, Alexander Najjar, published a French novel “Phoenicia“.

I know most of the historical side stories of this novel:  It is an opportunity to disseminate what has been recounted of the siege of Alexander to Tyr on his way to conquer Egypt.

The mother of the philosopher Zenon was from Tyre, and his father from Sidon (City-States in current Lebanon, known as Phoenicia).  The family relocated to one of the Phoenician-built cities in Cyprus, Kition (current Larnaca).

The Phoenicians had built more than 70 coastal cities along the Mediterranean shores, from Cyprus, Sicily, Sardinia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, to Libya…The merchant ships would follow the current going north to Cyprus, then westward to Sicily, Sardinia, before reaching Carthage and the other ports, and returning along the northern Africa coast of Libya, Egypt to Tyr.

For example, the City-State of Thebes in Greece was built by the Phoenician, 5 centuries before Athens was built:  Alexander destroyed completely Thebes, a preview savage act for eradicating the Phoenician civilization, culture, and language.

Actually, the Greek never attempted to translate the Phoenician manuscripts and plagiarized extensively their civilization.

(The Arabs did an excellent job translating all of Greek manuscripts, which saved Greek culture from oblivion…)

At the age of 30, Zenon was taking a cargo of goods to the Greek port of Piraeus and the boat was shipwrecked.  Zenon ended up in Athens.

He read the second book of Xenophon “Memorables” that included long discussions between Socrates and Aristippe on the themes of pleasure and temperance.

Zenon met the cynic philosopher Crates of Thebes and followed him as disciple.  Zenon also learned from Stilpon, Diodore Cronos, Xenocrates of Chalcedonia, and Ptolemon of Athens.

Zenon founded the Stoic philosophy.

He had many disciples such as Cleanthe, Philonide of Thebes, Chrisippe of Tarsus, Persee of Kition, and Apollonios of Tyr.   He recounted to his disciple Apollonios of Tyr the story of his mother during the siege of Tyr by Alexander.

Zenon was tall, slender, dark of complexion and led a sober life eating bread, honey, fig, and drinking a little wine on occasions. He gave priority to moral values and virtue, at a period people ceased to believe in Gods, in good and evil behaviors…

Thus, Zenon taught to submit to destiny.  He said:  “It is harder to hold a balloon filled of air under water than to change the mind of a philosopher if he is exempt of passion and vanity.

After defeating the Persian King in Issos (on the border of current Turkey and Syria), Alexander decided to conquer Egypt before tracking the Persian King in Babylon.  It is said that Alexander had to subjugate all cities and port-cities along the way to Egypt because the Persian fleet was dominating the sea and could cut his supply route and attack the read guard of his army.

All cities surrendered without fight except Tyr.

Powerful Tyr knew that Alexander’s goal was to eliminate Tyr dominance in the sea at any cost.  Why should Tyr support the savage and poor Macedonian conqueror when rich Persia lavished grants on Tyr and spared it any direct occupation?

Sidon and Byblos had surrendered without any fight to Alexander and even supported him by sea.

Alexander tried to build a land bridge to join land of Tyr to sea island Tyr, strongly fortified.  This land bridge was destroyed several times and Alexander was ready to give up after 7 months of siege.

Then, one morning, 250 ships converged to Tyr from Cyprus, Rhodes…to support Alexander, after they got news of the defeat of the Persian King.

Carthage declined to come to the rescue of Tyr because the emerging power of Rome was harassing its merchant routes and cities.

Alexander massacred 8,000 people in Tyr and totally ruined this proud city.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

November 2020
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