"Murder in Babylon" by Graham Phillips

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agesilaos
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Re: "Murder in Babylon" by Graham Phillips

Post by agesilaos »

Yes the idea that Macedonians considered the king anything more than a man is untenable, besides the long list of murdered monarchs, there is the derision the soldiery heaped on Alexander's divine pretensions and those of Demetrius I Poliorketes, Pyrrhos they ejected for being a foreigner, Lysimachos was abandoned for killing his son, the list goes on. They always seem to have retained a feeling that the king owed them his duty just as they owed him their service, even in Antigonid times, for which we have a fair amount of epigraphic evidence penalties, such as those in the Amphipolis Diagramma seem quite lenient, certainly compared to the Roman system of discipline and probably to the Ptolemaic and Seleukid states (something to dig into there). Also the Royal cult, whilst almost certainly there is on nothing so lavish a scale or importance as that in the latter two realms.

Olympias had the draw of being Alexander's mother and Philip's wife which gave her the 'auctoritas' to subvert the 'imperium' of Philip III and Eurydike. This is what the sources say, and it is that 'auctoritas' which gives the first execution squad to baulk despite her aura being dented by her cruelty which is given as the reason for the desertion of the populace to Kassandros, regicide was water off a duck's back so long as the new king was efficient and the killing remained within the Royal Dynasty, no one reacted against Alexander for the executions of Kleopatra and Amyntas Perdikka, for instance. So I would concur with you on that point.

One would have to skew Pausanias' character somewhat to make him a noble tortured soul; his basic complaint is that he was used by the lower classes, snobs tend not to demand our sympathy IMHO. It might actually work as one of those stories where the reader guides the narrative, so at the end of a section there is a choice of actions and that leads to a new strand leading to its own consequences, naturally what appear the right choices have to turn out to be bad - so as Philip do you punish Pausanias, appease him with a promotion or punish Attalos? The historical option leads to the historical outcome, but punishing Pausanias will seem unjust and alienate a faction, similarly if Attalos is punished the political alliance within the kingdom is damaged and Kleopatra might slip something into his next cup of wine :shock:
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.
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Re: "Murder in Babylon" by Graham Phillips

Post by Alexias »

it is that 'auctoritas' which gives the first execution squad to baulk despite her aura being dented by her cruelty
Assassinating a woman, even if it is an 'execution', is a different matter from assassinating a man. There must have been a tinge of dishonour to it too, for by definition a man should have the ability and strength to defend himself (even if he isn't given a chance to), but an elderly woman doesn't stand a chance of defending herself. Unless given a personal motive, as the narrative implies, it was seen as a cowardly attack.
One would have to skew Pausanias' character somewhat to make him a noble tortured soul; his basic complaint is that he was used by the lower classes, snobs tend not to demand our sympathy IMHO.
I was thinking more along the lines that Pausanias must have known that his chances of surviving the assassination were slender. Even if he had made it to the horses, and more than one implies that either he had accomplices waiting (who aren't mentioned), or that he intended riding them in relays to escape the pursuit, but he still had to evade the initial pursuit. He also had to have had a destination in mind and he would have had the uncertainty of whether he would be betrayed by whoever sheltered him. If he made it abroad, he would be an exile for years, and would still need to fear assassination by revenge-takers. The price of his honour was death or exile, which might fill a page or two of cogitation.
agesilaos
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Re: "Murder in Babylon" by Graham Phillips

Post by agesilaos »

I think I have a less romantic view of ancient soldiery, although women and children are normally sold into slavery rather than being executed, so you may be right.
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Re: "Murder in Babylon" by Graham Phillips

Post by Alexias »

I think you've shifted the goal posts. She wasn't just any old captive who could be sold into slavery and risk becoming someone's cause. There wasn't any righteous aim by Cassander to show how the mighty evil are punished and humiliated. She had to die because she was a political obstacle. Finding those who would do it with minimum vilification was the question.
agesilaos
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Re: "Murder in Babylon" by Graham Phillips

Post by agesilaos »

I think you got the wrong end of the hockey -stick, I was not suggesting there was any other option than execution for Olympias rather that I might be wrong in dismissing your notion that killing women was 'dishonourable', the Diadochoi were famed for disregard of honour and religion, Meleagros was dragged from asylum to be murdered weeks after the Babylon settlement version 1.2.
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.
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Jeanne Reames
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Re: "Murder in Babylon" by Graham Phillips

Post by Jeanne Reames »

agesilaos wrote:It would be extraordinarily inept as Amyntas was clearly not ready for his coup, as far as the sources go; and that is a common observation with Alexander's death, the conspirators were not ready to take the power they were allegedly plotting to sieze. Brutus et al, Cassius Chaerea and co, both had ready made, if fantastic, programmes ready, most later Roman assassinations have an emperor in the wings, Nerva, Pertinax Alexander Severus and others were all lined up to succeed and did so relatively smoothly. Most ancient conspiracies had an exit plan.
Exactly. That's why I think any conspiracy plot is a hard sell and remain unconvinced.
agesilaos wrote:I agree with the honour killing angle, but it is a dull plot for a thriller if done straight; who, what, where, how and why are all pretty obvious from the get go, the only mystery would be where is the mystery?
And that's precisely how it would have to be written ... a conspiracy is expected, various possibilities are run through, ala traditional "whodunnit" style ... only for the answer to be ... the murderer was known all along. No mystery.

Probably have all murder mystery fans up in arms, but hey. Upend expectations.
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Xenophon
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Re: "Murder in Babylon" by Graham Phillips

Post by Xenophon »

I'd agree that too. :)

A typical 'Thriller' fictional plot line might run with an opening description/picture of Philip's court and the major players, told from a narrator's point of view - one of Philip's 'Friends'. Then we move on to Philip confiding in the narrator that he has heard rumours of a possible assassination plot - not the first nor last, no doubt, and asks him to investigate. Our narrator investigates, allowing all the usual conspiracy theories to be aired - Persia, Athens, alternate Macedonian faction, Olympias and Alexander etc - the "usual suspects". Pick a favourite, have the narrator's 'evidence' point to whoever, and as he is closing in on 'conclusive' evidence ( of perhaps more than one conspirator's plot) and just as things are heading to a climax ........Surprise! ( at least for those not familiar with the story) Philip is suddenly murdered by an assassin "out of left field" /deus ex machina - Pausanias - and our narrator is left trying to solve his motives and links ( if any) to one of the conspiracies our narrator thinks was going to happen. Solution? Narrator reluctantly concludes no links to a conspiracy (which doesn't mean there might not have been one in preparation, now forestalled). Narrator left wondering what might have happened had Pausanias not struck..... THE END

( Thus eliminating the "murderer was known all along" angle and restoring a 'mystery' element.....)

You could run a similar plotline on "Murder in Babylon", only this time the protagonist is a trusted Doctor, whom Alexander consults because of a rumoured 'poison' plot.....same analysis, possible conspirators etc, with Alexander dying suddenly before investigations complete. Post death, Doctor concludes A. died of natural causes/disease, but dare not reveal his findings for fear of consequences of revealing that the conqueror of the world, whose exploits challenged those of the Gods, died the mundane death of 'everyman'.......

There could even be a postscript on modern medical theories as to cause of death....
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Jeanne Reames
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Re: "Murder in Babylon" by Graham Phillips

Post by Jeanne Reames »

You'd better get writing, Xenophon! :-D That actually sounds like a doable plot. I'd read it (even if I knew the ending)!
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Xenophon
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Re: "Murder in Babylon" by Graham Phillips

Post by Xenophon »

Thanks Jeanne! :oops: .........the writing, I suspect, would not be the difficult part, rather the publishing in today's complex and byzantine world of publishing, which I frankly find completely baffling........
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