Mary Renault's Alexander

Recommend, or otherwise, books on Alexander (fiction or non-fiction). Promote your novel here!

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aleksandros
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Post by aleksandros »

I should rephraze then from 'everyone' to 'everyone who is or is not gay and finds it offending to be named as such without his permission in a book about his life'.
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Post by karen »

Okay, Alexanthros.

BUT if you write a book about me which portrays me as heterosexual, I'll sue you down to your dental fillings.

I know, I know. I should be tolerant... this IS the 21st Century after all... I've already told my son that if he grows up straight I'll still love him. And I really mean it. Some of my best friends are heteros. And I don't even think I'd mind if my sister married one.

:lol:
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Post by Paralus »

It is historical fiction alexanthros. She may write what she wishes.

Possibly, I shall "criticise" Gore Vidal for his Burr-centric portrait of Hamilton in Burr?

With the Hephaestion Chiliarch/marriage deal Vanessa I tend to think it operates on a couple of levels. Hephaestion's primacy of position is confirmed by the marriage arrangements. He is the relationship in Alexander's life outside of his rather frightening and murderous mother and this makes it clear.

On another level, there are few people, by this stage, that Alexander would trust with any reasonable share of power. Had things gone to plan, Hephaestion will have been second in the pecking order and his main rival - and focal point for the troops - Craterus removed to Europe.

The dynasty thing is a different thing. Certainly Alexander wanted a breaking of the traditional bonds that ordered the Macedonian "hierarchy". He began this within the army by changing the command structure and eroding the "canton-based" unit and command edifice. With his introduction of Asians into the phalanx he set about assembling an army which would be loyal to himself - the paymaster. They will have been made up of nationalities translocated and thus away from home. They would be loyal to him.

I believe his plans for the nobility were similar: a breaking of traditional bonds to "country" and a weakening of the related nationalistic feelings.

What he planned for the progeny of their two marriages is anyone's guess. They would be the elite of the elite though. I still would not have wished to be Alexander's son. He displayed little patience with those who "challenged" him.

How would he have reacted to a son, similar to himself at 18, when he was fifty?
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Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by amyntoros »

Consider this a Pothos yellow alert on the sexuality debate:
alexanthros wrote:It just bugs me when people write books or do films only to promote their personal agenda. There is not a single evidence that alexander was bi but i ll accept the fact that Renault took for granted he was. After all we are not sure about anyone of us if he had sex with a man or not. If i write a book about one of you depicting you gay you will sue me but noone cares what Alexander would thing of such books cause he has been dead for so long. The very authors of Alexander show no respect to his personality.
Saying that "no respect" is shown to Alexander's personality when he is described as having sex with a man is tantamount to saying that people who engage in same-sex relationships deserve no respect.

Don’t think there is a problem with this? Let me give you a different example:

There has been debate over the past few decades that Cleopatra had a black heritage. It is, of course, acceptable to disagree with this and discuss the history of her family. However, if someone said it is disrespectful to describe her as black then this would be evidence of bias against people of color and you can be sure that there would be vociferous objections. Pothosians are well aware that no discrimination is allowed on this forum against people because of their race or religion, yet time and again it rears its ugly head on issues of sexual orientation.

Further prejudice-based debate will not be allowed. I do not want any more members to feel that they have to "defend" their own sexual orientation on this forum because of comments made here. As someone once wrote to me after a deletion on another matter – I (and the other moderators) will have our "little fingers" on the delete button once more.
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Post by aleksandros »

I dont need to be alerted for nothing. If you do not undersand what i am saying then just leave it. I dont have to justify anything. My word was clear. If you want to see ghosts where they are not i dont care. I dont want this to be personal. We are discusing about a book here.
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Post by amyntoros »

alexanthros wrote:I dont need to be alerted for nothing. If you do not undersand what i am saying then just leave it. I dont have to justify anything. My word was clear. If you want to see ghosts where they are not i dont care. I dont want this to be personal. We are discusing about a book here.
I am a moderator and I have no intention of "just leaving" it. I fully understand what you said and it is unacceptable per my explanation. If you don't understand that you have already made it personal to many then so be it.
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Post by aleksandros »

what do you want me to say?
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aleksandros
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Post by aleksandros »

Maybe Paralus wont give me the ancient sources that prove that Alexander enjoyed a man's body sexually, is there anyone else to help me?
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Post by Vanessa Howard »

This is a topic that has come up before and I seem to remember that it was covered exhaustively with source material etc - can it be accessed for those who want to see where the arguments led?

And back to the idea of a 50yr old ATG with an adult son...wow, pretty mind blowing.

Thinking of other dynasties, it is not easy to find rulers of rare talents who have sired (legitimate) heirs equal to them and in that way, is it another reason Philip and ATG were fairly unique? Even if there was an adult heir, perhaps that Macedonian line would have had to skipped a generation to find someone up to the task, or more likely, it have just degenerated as the Ptolemies did…
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Post by derek »

Alexanthros,

I don't usually get involved in these discussions as they tend to get carried away, as has this one in the hours since I ready your posting this morning. However…

I know Persian Boy is a bit more racy, but I've only read Fire from Heaven and never noticed any agenda. You're right that Mary Renault glossed over Aristotle's education, but I can't say I blame her. To have Aristotle say anything useful in the classroom meant delving into concepts like the categories, and she obviously decided to duck that.

And Aristotle's philosophy is a prime example of why we can't apply modern standards to people who lived thousands of years ago. Aristotle was the cleverest man of his time, yet he thought enslaving the barbarian was right and proper, and that women had the minds and abilities of children. He believed India was full of people with huge feet, dog heads and giant ears. That's what we're dealing with when we study ancient societies and the way people lived and thought back then. It's as alien to us as men from Mars.

As for Alexander's sexuality. His life is quite well documented from the age of 16 on, yet there's no mention of any female involvement until he marries Roxane. That's a long time for a red-blooded male to go without, and hardly credible that someone in Alexander's position would have done so. The only definite sexual encounter in those years is Callixeina, and he turned her down. His relationships with females tended to be with older, non-threatening, mother-substitutes, Ada, Sisygambis, Barsine, Cleophis, his mother. Yes, I know he had a child by Barsine, but she's still an older woman. And Roxane and the Susa marriages? The sources may say it was love, but he was an emperor and needed an heir, and his marriages can as easily be argued as political. Roxane was a great way to pacify the locals just as he was about to leave a rebellious province, and Stateira and Parysatis were concessions to the Persians at a time when he was trying to unite his empire.

Then we have Hephaestion. Troy is the first time he's mentioned in the sources, and he's being publicly acknowledged as Patroclus to Alexander's Achilles. No one at the time would have had any doubt what it meant. Then there's the psychotic episode when Hephaestion dies. I'd have thought by then, Alexander had lost so many friends that one more was no big deal - had Hephaestion been just one more. And none of the sources make any bones about how Bagoas fitted in.

I was a wannabee author looking for a plot and realised Alexander the Great would be a ready-made series of novels. I knew the anecdotes, taming Bucephalus, the Gordian knot and so on. I also knew the claims about his sexuality, so I had to make a decision about how I'd portray him. I sat down and studied the sources, and the evidence was overwhelming.

Anyway, that's what I think.

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Post by Paralus »

Well said Derek. To which more could be added, in the general or wider sense.
Maybe Paralus wont give me the ancient sources that prove that Alexander enjoyed a man's body sexually, is there anyone else to help me?
Alexanthros that only proves you fail to understand what is written. There was not ever an undertaking by myself to provide or "prove" anything of the sort. The reply was in relation to the agenda driven drivel you linked to on Youtube. On ancient Greeks in general.

This has, indeed, all been done before as Vanessa has said. The trails are there in the forum. I'd suggest you go find them. I, for my own part, have no intention of revisiting it all over again. You are welcome to read the source material.

As I have written though, I suggest you will find only what you want.
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Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by Semiramis »

Derek,

Excellent summary. Curtius also mentions Euxennipus - a young Greek male. Although, I disagree with the conclusion that the relationship with Barsine was more "motherly" than "sexual". It may have been, but age alone can't be used to draw that conclusion. Not to mention that we're not even sure what the age gap was. But all in all agree with everything you said. :)

Alexander may have had more lovers that the sources just didn't feel the need to mention. Euxenippus is only mentioned by Curtius as being in charge of an important delegation (the lover thing is an aside).

I read an anecdote by Plutarch where Alexander is at a dinner at his friend's place, where he spots a serving (slave) girl he likes the looks of. When he finds out that she's his squeeze, he swears in annoyance and asks his friend to take her away from his sight, because he doesn't want to do anything wrong.

This, together with his other history, such as Parmenion suggesting Barsine, basically indicates to me that Alexander was careful in who he slept with. Making sure not to cause drama, scandal, losing friends etc. Maybe Phillip's tumultuous love life had an effect on him? If your father's assassination saga involves two male lovers and possibly a miffed wife and son due to a new marriage and baby, you're probably mindful of who you sleep with. ;)

Alexanthros,

I understand your point about books/movies etc focusing more on Alexander's love life than say philosophy lectures by Aristotle. Mary Renault was considered only "middlebrow" fiction during her time and Stone's movie is just a Hollywood production. I'm not sure a work of fiction whose primary aim is to entertain can do justice to Aristotle. Let alone deal with the "offensive" parts of his ancient mindset that have already been mentioned in this thread. If you drop a novel on it's spine from a height, it'll always open on the page with the most sex in it. :D So, perhaps serious works of non-fiction are what you're looking for. :)

Whether Alexander slept with men, women or eunuchs (my guess is all of the above), it doesn't seem to be an important part of his legacy to me. A lot of the responses to you questioning whether he was attracted to men stems from having to deal with homophobic ideas that Alexander's "greatness" is somehow lessened by the suggestion that he slept with men. That describing him as being attracted to males is a slur. I personally don't think any aspect of his love life can be proven beyond question with the current sources. Probably never will be unless the home video comes out. ;)

In any case, it should be easy enough to discuss Alexander's sexuality without coming across as disparaging to gay people... shouldn't it?
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Post by aleksandros »

derek wrote:Alexanthros,

And Aristotle's philosophy is a prime example of why we can't apply modern standards to people who lived thousands of years ago. Aristotle was the cleverest man of his time, yet he thought enslaving the barbarian was right and proper, and that women had the minds and abilities of children. He believed India was full of people with huge feet, dog heads and giant ears. That's what we're dealing with when we study ancient societies and the way people lived and thought back then. It's as alien to us as men from Mars.

As for Alexander's sexuality. His life is quite well documented from the age of 16 on, yet there's no mention of any female involvement until he marries Roxane. That's a long time for a red-blooded male to go without, and hardly credible that someone in Alexander's position would have done so. The only definite sexual encounter in those years is Callixeina, and he turned her down. His relationships with females tended to be with older, non-threatening, mother-substitutes, Ada, Sisygambis, Barsine, Cleophis, his mother. Yes, I know he had a child by Barsine, but she's still an older woman. And Roxane and the Susa marriages? The sources may say it was love, but he was an emperor and needed an heir, and his marriages can as easily be argued as political. Roxane was a great way to pacify the locals just as he was about to leave a rebellious province, and Stateira and Parysatis were concessions to the Persians at a time when he was trying to unite his empire.

Then we have Hephaestion. Troy is the first time he's mentioned in the sources, and he's being publicly acknowledged as Patroclus to Alexander's Achilles. No one at the time would have had any doubt what it meant. Then there's the psychotic episode when Hephaestion dies. I'd have thought by then, Alexander had lost so many friends that one more was no big deal - had Hephaestion been just one more. And none of the sources make any bones about how Bagoas fitted in.

I was a wannabee author looking for a plot and realised Alexander the Great would be a ready-made series of novels. I knew the anecdotes, taming Bucephalus, the Gordian knot and so on. I also knew the claims about his sexuality, so I had to make a decision about how I'd portray him. I sat down and studied the sources, and the evidence was overwhelming.

Anyway, that's what I think.

Derek Holmes
oh boy,

'we can't apply modern standards to people who lived thousands of years ago' say that again!

'enslaving the barbarian was right and proper'. A true supporter of imperialism. Alexander was also an imperialist and all the world superpowers since then and before then have been imperialistic. I dont understand whats anachronistic with that. Thats man's nature. It is possessive. I wont say anything about the dog heads and the babywomen... I dont think you have proficiency in Aristotles bibliography (dont get angry, me neither). Ofcourse Aristotle had some things wrong about the natural world but concering his philosophical insights he is rather diachronical. The soul is not described by equations, there will always be opinions, no more no less.

Then you mention numerous women and you claim they are not enough cause he was married to most of them and for political reasons... come on, do we have the complete list of every woman the great ancient personalities had slept with? Did Alexander even catch their name so they can be mentioned? Isnt that clear that only the women who played a role of more than one night stand in great men's lives had their names carved forever in history? How many women we know that had sex with Khan, Timur, Bush, Napoleon, Hitler, Mozart, Clinton, Jordan, Calatrava? Less than Alexander. Is that a proof they like men too?


'Troy is the first time he's mentioned in the sources, and he's being publicly acknowledged as Patroclus to Alexander's Achilles. No one at the time would have had any doubt what it meant.'

we can't apply modern standards to people who lived thousands of years ago, remember? you said that before. In ancient times there was a sacred bond called FRIENDSHIP (philia). And like Plato said, friendship is one soul in two bodies not ones penis up the other's anus.

'Then there's the psychotic episode when Hephaestion dies. I'd have thought by then, Alexander had lost so many friends that one more was no big deal - had Hephaestion been just one more.'
It is so difficult for you to understand that a man would mourn so much about a guy he doesnt have sex with, because you are approaching friendship as the degenerate thing that has become today. Stop being anachronistic. And Hephaestion was not just any friend, he was his best friend, his Patroclus! Alexander mourned for Cleitus too, was Cleitus his lover too? Now you ll say Cleitus death was his mistake, maybe Alexander thought Hephaestion's death was also his mistake. We ll never know...

You also said Alexander had sex with his mother. (?!)
Are you sure he didnt have sex with Philip and Cleopatra too?
Last edited by aleksandros on Fri Aug 17, 2007 4:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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aleksandros
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Post by aleksandros »

Paralus wrote:Well said Derek. To which more could be added, in the general or wider sense.
Maybe Paralus wont give me the ancient sources that prove that Alexander enjoyed a man's body sexually, is there anyone else to help me?
Alexanthros that only proves you fail to understand what is written. There was not ever an undertaking by myself to provide or "prove" anything of the sort. The reply was in relation to the agenda driven drivel you linked to on Youtube. On ancient Greeks in general.

This has, indeed, all been done before as Vanessa has said. The trails are there in the forum. I'd suggest you go find them. I, for my own part, have no intention of revisiting it all over again. You are welcome to read the source material.

As I have written though, I suggest you will find only what you want.
I never said you tried to provides sources to me and failed. In the 2nd page i asked you to help me but you didnt, thats why i said you wont give me any sources and asked for help from everyone else.

I understand there must have been discussion on this subject in the past but it is really hard for me to find the right topic. You have more experience in that forum than me so maybe you could help me out. If not, maybe someone else could. If not, i am unlucky..
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aleksandros
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Post by aleksandros »

Semiramis wrote:
Alexanthros,

I understand your point about books/movies etc focusing more on Alexander's love life than say philosophy lectures by Aristotle. Mary Renault was considered only "middlebrow" fiction during her time and Stone's movie is just a Hollywood production. I'm not sure a work of fiction whose primary aim is to entertain can do justice to Aristotle. Let alone deal with the "offensive" parts of his ancient mindset that have already been mentioned in this thread. If you drop a novel on it's spine from a height, it'll always open on the page with the most sex in it. :D So, perhaps serious works of non-fiction are what you're looking for. :)

Whether Alexander slept with men, women or eunuchs (my guess is all of the above), it doesn't seem to be an important part of his legacy to me. A lot of the responses to you questioning whether he was attracted to men stems from having to deal with homophobic ideas that Alexander's "greatness" is somehow lessened by the suggestion that he slept with men. That describing him as being attracted to males is a slur. I personally don't think any aspect of his love life can be proven beyond question with the current sources. Probably never will be unless the home video comes out. ;)

In any case, it should be easy enough to discuss Alexander's sexuality without coming across as disparaging to gay people... shouldn't it?
I have read many non fiction things. From the ancient sources i ve only studied Arrian and Plutarch. I just wanted to feel the thrill of a good novel. when you read the fact you taste your imagination, when you read a novel you taste others' imagination. Thats whats exciting
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