alexander.jpgI’m looking for a book called Some Problems in Greek History by Arnold J. Toynsbee.  There is supposedly an essay within it that I recall seeing quoted at least twice now that I’d like to read in full and in context if I can.  The essay in question is called “If Alexander the Great Had Lived On” (page 441-486). Amazon and other online book sources have failed me. As a matter of fact, all I’ve come across is the references to the essay from second hand sources (see below) after much Google and Wikipedia mining.  I don’t have access to university libraries but if anyone has any ideas or leads on how to track down a copy, I’d appreciate the information.

“History might well have taken a different turn, however, as the great historian Arnold Toynbee pointed out in a brilliant speculative essay.  He considered what might have happened if Alexander the Great had not drunk himself to death in 323 B.C. at the age of thirty-three.  Alexander was only partway through his plans of world conquest, having united the Greek world with the Persian Empire and taken his armies as far as Egypt and northern India.  Had Alexander lived longer, Toynbee argues, there is no reason why his enormous and ever-growing army would not have gone on to subdue the Romans, the Carthaginian Empire of North Africa, Ethiopia and China.  If he had succeeded in uniting this vast area under one authority, the motivation would have arisen to develop swifter means of transport to connect the far reaches of the empire.   As we know, the Greeks had already invented the railway.  In Toynbee’s model they combined this with an improved version of Heron’s steam engine and had steam locomotives running across Asia only a few generations after Alexander.

One of the by-products of Toynbee’s speculative foray is too irresistible to overlook.  The world religion he envisages under a global empire ruled by a continuous succession of Alexanders is a hellenized version of Buddhism, highly plausible given the extraordinary similarity between the teachings of the popular Greek philosopher Pythagoras and those of the Buddha.  Christianity might never have gotten off the ground.  Toynbee refers in passing to a failed prophet whose words fell on stony ground and who live by the railway cuttings at Nazareth.”