The Persian empire was a "soft" empire, resembling the British Empire of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The imposition of a common English culture was far beyond the capacity of even the ambition of the British Empire's modest-size official personnel. Rulership in the British Empire varied radically. In Africa and parts of India, the British were content with "indirect rule"--leaving government largely in the hands of native chieftains and princes. Hedonism, eroticism, and self-indulgence on the part of the elite were common characteristics of such empires. The Roman Empire, in contrast, was hard-core. Only two languages--Greek in the East and Latin the West--were recognized. Every effort was made to impose Greco-Roman culture and religion on the peoples of the Roman Empire. ... Alexander's empire, modeled on that of his Persian predecessor, was of the soft variety...

source: Norman Cantor, Alexander The Great: Journey To The End of the Earth, 26-27 tags: Antiquity