Clietus. Parmenio, Philotas,Strapal Purges. Chicken feed

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jasonxx

Clietus. Parmenio, Philotas,Strapal Purges. Chicken feed

Post by jasonxx »

I have recently looked at Alexanders purges and slayings of his companions<generals and the Satraps. I read people historians been critical and labeling such acts as tyrinical.

Particullay Parmenio and Clietus Alexander has had strips torn of him for these atrocities. I have tried to rationalise this behaviour and measured against other such rulers. To be fare as an Atrocious Tyrant Alexander dont really make a ripple on the waters with such things.

Its been said that Augustus Caesar was without doubt the greatest Mind and Emperor that Rome had creating stability for Rome that lasted 200 years. The guy gets great credit from many scolars. But scratch under the service the guy was enameled withg executions slaughter and political cleansing.

He sure was one Brutal unyielding son of a gun. Cicero is one among hundreds of high ranking Romans that caesar had assasinated. So I feel whenever Alexander gets pilloried yust take a wider look around. I do think Alexander as a conquerer and ruler was pretty damned moderate. And forget the atrocity with the satraps who probably got just deserts for having been caught with there hands in the cookie jar.

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Post by Efstathios »

I think that Alexander gets pillared as you say from the people that have extensively researched about him. And that because he was the subject of their research, and not other kings and generals. They dont usually make comparisons. But those that they do, and say these things, are wrong. For the reasons that you have said.

That being said, Alexander didnt go around killing many people that he suspected they were against him, except Parmenion. I wouldnt count Philotas in, as we dont know if trully he was part of the assasination plot. But even so, killing Parmenion was one of the bad things that he made. Because he was Alexander, and not Caesar. This murder actually ruined his image, as a King like no other Kings were, who is of course anyway. Had he done the same things as Julius did, they wouldnt talk about it that much, but since he did this one, they critise him. And they do well.

One could say that he did many more. He may have been the one behind Philip's assasination, killed Philotas deliberately also, and others. But some of these are unsubstanciated, and others totally specculations. To say that Alexander ordered Philip's assasination is just a speculation, with no hard base. A man like that would have done many more things in the campaign, and not only killing Parmenion.
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When will the scales drop?

Post by Paralus »

Efstathios wrote:That being said, Alexander didnt go around killing many people that he suspected they were against him, except Parmenion.
Now I say this as a Catholic: that is tantamount to saying Popes never had sex. For god’s sake Stathi, let the scales drop.

Just a potted history ( I may have left some out) of murder, “judicial” or otherwise:

The accession: the sons of Aeropus (aside from Alexander dealt with later); Amyntas and Caranus (eventually) and, of course, Attalus.

During the anabasis: Parmenion, Philotas, Cleitus and, not to forget, the “ringleaders” of the “revolt” at Opis.

We’ll leave out the satrapal purge. The man was an angel and it was simply an unfortunate coincidence that these suffered from death.
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by jasonxx »

Michael hail

I think your getting a bit picky.Attalus again of the old regime do u really think a guy humiliating you to the point your own dad puls a blade and exiles you really deserves a golden handshake or sandwiches in the park.

Accesion killings no more than any ruler since or before. In those days it was survival of the fittest. Either by sword or Helibore. The Romans had that off to a fine art.

The Satrapal Purges Sorry Michael. Those boys were caught with there fingers in the cookie jar. A nest of Harpalus. Only that little sod sneaked off to Greece with bribes.

I would even argue Alexander too soft for his own good. Demosthenese and his cohorts got off light. If hed have mouthed off to Augustus hed have had his head nailed to a door.

Im with u on this Eftsa. he was no where near brutal or as paranoid as the Roman Emperors. I think if you played the game Alexander treated u pretty well.

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Re: When will the scales drop?

Post by athenas owl »

Paralus wrote:
Efstathios wrote:That being said, Alexander didnt go around killing many people that he suspected they were against him, except Parmenion.
Now I say this as a Catholic: that is tantamount to saying Popes never had sex. For god’s sake Stathi, let the scales drop.

Just a potted history ( I may have left some out) of murder, “judicial” or otherwise:

The accession: the sons of Aeropus (aside from Alexander dealt with later); Amyntas and Caranus (eventually) and, of course, Attalus.

During the anabasis: Parmenion, Philotas, Cleitus and, not to forget, the “ringleaders” of the “revolt” at Opis.

We’ll leave out the satrapal purge. The man was an angel and it was simply an unfortunate coincidence that these suffered from death.
I don't think he was an angel...how boring would that be, from this safe distance of thousands of years, of course. I kid.

The accession..because his actions were extraordinary for his time? Particularily after an assasination? Didn't the Persians also have a bit of "bother" during similiar periods? I do not think I would ever want to be born royal, especially back then (and certainly not as a male relative of Clovis!).

Cleitus was a very bad move, Philotas (and his father, but then even if ATG didn't plan it, and I think he might have though what an extraordinary and odd place to do it, Parmenion was in too dangerous a position to leave alive after offing his last son...), no purges ever happened in any other army or city state back then? The "ringleaders" at Opis...you don't consider that a kind of revolt? Wasn't there similar kinds of "revolts" even into WW I, and men were executed. (Though here I might just be thinking of the Kubrick film).

But, I do think that the Satrapal purges, when labeled a "reign of terror" by the more breathless historians (or at least their coffee table book interpreters) are ridiculous. The man was gone for years and while the big cat was away, the mice played. The big cat came back and in a short period, took out bad governors and miscreants. Harpalus knew the jig was up and headed for the hills...of Greece, though that didn't work out too well for him.

Again, it is the "Alexander, all bad, all the time" historiography that I take exception to. Just as I cringe occassionally reading Hammond. I won't even go near Tarn, I've read enough of his smaller articles to know a big ole crush when I see one.

As Efstathioss said above, historians remove Alexander from his own context and then point the finger and cry "Murder"!. He wasn't Hitler, he wasn't Stalin, he wasn't The Greek Junta of several decades ago. And he wasn't the parfait knight or Scottish gentleman of Tarn. He was a product of his time, his birthright with it's attendant expectations, and his unique personality, for good or bad.

What we know of him, from our own Western sources is filtered through the poltics of Athens and Demosthenes, the politics the Roman Empire and the middle-platonists like Plutarch. That's a bit hyperbole, I know. All of whom were removed from that old Macedonia that Alexander sprang from and had no real understanding of that same Macedonian warrior society.

That the world was changing fast can even be seen in Aristobulus, though I do wonder if a lot of his apologia was to counter other more fanciful or slanderous accounts of Alexander. Cleitarchus...I have to stop...I'm losing the thread. :oops:
jasonxx

Post by jasonxx »

Athena

I couldnt re iterate what you said about Satrap purges and how its been turned into some fascist Genocide by an out of control tyrant drunk with Alcohol power and dispair at losing Hepheastion.

as you say they got caught with there fingers in the cookie jar. Some i would wager set themselves up as mini kings.

the old saying whilst the cats away the Mice did play. Only the cat came back and ate all the mice. I think we read many times how Alexander rewarded and respected loyalty and courage. Cleitus was a freak of a piss up argument getting out of line...The very same thing could have happened to Alexander at philips wedding party. Words were said insults thrown and i think Philip drew his sword ready to do to Alexander what Alexander did to cleitus.

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Power and Terror

Post by Semiramis »

I personally think that if you're going to be a king and a conquerer, especially usurp thrones of other countries, you will have real enemies. Before Alexander, I think there was one single Argead king who had died peacefully in bed. All others were betrayed by those close to him (Carney). The Macedonian kings didn't announce an heir, so after every death, there was a dogfight to the throne between the sons of all the polygamous king's wife and any other Argead male of age.

The Achaemenid succession stories are even more messy, despite the fact that a successor was announced. All-powerful eunuch chilliarches, poisonings, pretenders, questionable accounts of kings committing "suicides", no wonder Alexander was forever consolidating his newly formed tenuous grip on power.

I think that if Alexander wanted to keep his position as the Great King, not only did he have to punish the traitors, the conspirators and the maladministrators, he probably had to punish anyone who dissented or even someone who was just getting too good at his job or too popular. So, I'm surprised at how few close associates and satraps Alexander killed during his reign. With his gifts and praises and honours, he seemed to be a bigger believer in the carrot than the stick.

As for the Murderer label, well... the guy was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands during his wars and conquests, so... it doesn't seem too inappropriate to me (oops, wrong place to say that..).
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Re: Power and Terror

Post by athenas owl »

Semiramis wrote:I personally think that if you're going to be a king and a conquerer, especially usurp thrones of other countries, you will have real enemies. Before Alexander, I think there was one single Argead king who had died peacefully in bed. All others were betrayed by those close to him (Carney). The Macedonian kings didn't announce an heir, so after every death, there was a dogfight to the throne between the sons of all the polygamous king's wife and any other Argead male of age.

The Achaemenid succession stories are even more messy, despite the fact that a successor was announced. All-powerful eunuch chilliarches, poisonings, pretenders, questionable accounts of kings committing "suicides", no wonder Alexander was forever consolidating his newly formed tenuous grip on power.

I think that if Alexander wanted to keep his position as the Great King, not only did he have to punish the traitors, the conspirators and the maladministrators, he probably had to punish anyone who dissented or even someone who was just getting too good at his job or too popular. So, I'm surprised at how few close associates and satraps Alexander killed during his reign. With his gifts and praises and honours, he seemed to be a bigger believer in the carrot than the stick.

As for the Murderer label, well... the guy was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands during his wars and conquests, so... it doesn't seem too inappropriate to me (oops, wrong place to say that..).
Good post and I agree.

I would be curious to know the death toll in the conquests of Chandragupta Maurya or Cyrus or any other in relation to Alexander and leave him that context, rather than ours. There is no denying that many,many people died (exactly how many though, the figures vary wildly.). I take exception, with my rather flippant characterization of "Murder!" (done in my best Hercule Poirot voice)when it is used in regards to the Philotas affair and the satraps and the Macedonians from Ectabana and others who fell on his return from India. The events are taken out of context to prove whatever theory someone is pushing, he was crazy, more meglomanical, drunk or whatver. The idea that these governors had committed wrongdoing and needed to be taken out is considered excusing the actions rather a possible statement of fact.

I can understand it as a reaction to the hero worship of the guy, but it is about more than that.

The term "reign of terror" for this action is just ridiculous to me, IMVVVVHO, and indicates an enorrmous and blinding bias. The corpse of Alexander used as an object lesson for our own horrible actions in the "modern" world, for good or bad.


Again I always seem to be apologising for sounding like an apologist for Alexander. I don't even like him that much. I do truly believe we need more evidence or history from ancient India and ancient Persia, but here again, I do not think that the Indians or Persians were innocent peace loving peoples who never slaughtered each other before Alexander came and showed them how. They just kept all those war elephants around as pets and all those hill forts were really just summer getaways. Okay, that was sarcastic. My apologies...again.

Kenny you mentioned Philip drunkenly trying to kill Alexander at the wedding. Thankfully he was drunker than ATG at the killing of Cleitus or maybe his bum leg got in the way or this site and my tirades wouldn't exist. :).
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Post by jasonxx »

Athena

I like your reasoning and are pretty un biased and open to reason especially as you say you dont particullay like Alexander.But your right the persians didnt keep elephants for pets etc. And had a good number of nations parading up the stairs at Persepolois to grovel. I guess the mutilated greeks Alexander found in Persia never thought there persian overlords as mild mannered teddy bears.

i dont suppose the Egyptians hated the persian overlords because they baked them cakes. As you so rightly say context is required. I doubt the persian Empire was based and created by the Persians dishing out mars bars. Id wager a fair amount of head crushing.

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Post by Paralus »

It was inevitable I suppose. The moral dimension was not ever mentioned. Simply the murders. The statement was:
Efstathios wrote:That being said, Alexander didnt go around killing many people that he suspected they were against him, except Parmenion.
Which is simply incorrect. The list I provided was off the top of the head and included no remarks relating to any modern or ancient view of the matter. These people – if what Stathi states is to be taken as fact – unfortunately contracted death in most coincidental of circumstances. We might add Callisthenes to the list as well.


To some other points…
athenas owl wrote: The "ringleaders" at Opis...you don't consider that a kind of revolt? Wasn't there similar kinds of "revolts" even into WW I, and men were executed. (Though here I might just be thinking of the Kubrick film).
I think that “revolt” is too strong a term. These blokes were seriously peed off, not at being sent home, but rather that they were being replaced by those they’d conquered; that these second-rate, defeated Persians could be called companions of the Macedonian King and further that they could “kiss the king”. That the companion cavalry would include Persian horse and last but certainly not least, that a Persian foot guard – the Iranian Silver Shields – would be instituted. It was much more to do with Alexander's "orientalising". They vented their spleen and their ringleaders were executed, murdered, done away with – whatever term you might choose.

To compare that to infantry refusing orders in the field in WWI is specious at best. This was not desertion or dereliction of duty and nor was it in the face of the enemy. If anything of the sort could ever be ascribed to the army it was at the Beas. Even at the Beas there was no enemy. There was no purge there because Alexander was in position to conduct one. That, signally, was not the case in Opis and, memories of the Beas to the fore, he conducted a purge. Perdiccas would take his cue from it a year later. Antigonus would follow his lead with respect to the removal of those he did not agree with (the credulous Piethon being an instructive example).
athenas owl wrote: I take exception, with my rather flippant characterization of "Murder!" (done in my best Hercule Poirot voice)when it is used in regards to the Philotas affair and the satraps and the Macedonians from Ectabana and others who fell on his return from India.
Philotas was murdered – judicially or otherwise – murdered and just as dead. The case was not proven and the sources document Alexander’s “watch” on him – not for sedition but for gathering evidence of his views of Alexander. That Cleander and Sitalces (Parmenion’s murderers) found themselves at the end of a rope in 324 was a neat tying up of the affair and, one might think, to the army’s pleasure.

What does one call the running through of Oxathres – the son of the satrap of Media Abulites – with a sarisa? Momentary lapse of reason?
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Re: Power and Terror

Post by marcus »

Semiramis wrote:I personally think that if you're going to be a king and a conquerer, especially usurp thrones of other countries, you will have real enemies.
I couldn't decide which of the many posts to "reply" to, so I chose this one, because I also thought it a particularly good post.

There are so many different ways of looking at it - that he didn't kill as many as he might have done (a good thing); that he killed some people on suspicion/whim (a bad thing); that he wasn't as bad as some Romans (a good thing); that he wasn't as bad as some Romans, true, but that doesn't excuse his own behaviour (a bad thing); etc. etc. etc.

Personally, although I agree with much of what Kenny said earlier, in comparison with some of the Romans (and he specifically referred to Octavian/Augustus), I don't think we should use comparisons. It's getting a bit too close to saying that, because Stalin killed millions more people than Hitler did, Hitler was therefore not as bad a man as Stalin. "Alexander wouldn't have killed Cicero, therefore he was a better man than Octavian" (I know you didn't say that, Kenny, but you can see how people might have read it?).

Anyway, I'd love to say much more on this, but I have to go and meet someone for coffee ...

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Post by jasonxx »

Marcus

My initial point was basically the pillory Alexander gets from detractors. I particullay go against the raving blood thirsty tyrant that some would try to plant on the guy.

Its not about who is less or more of a nasty man. its a case of well Alexander did ABC and D therefore hes one haenus son of a gun. The pot is huge and full with histories of individuals and mass killings. i doubt there is any ruler or king throughout history where there is no killing or brutality attached.

But with levels I am pretty sure Alexander does notmeasure upto Octavian with down right power games and knocking off of others. Nor does he come close to some others Caligula Nero as down right tyranical nutters.

I think he treated his enemies with far greater respect than the Romans. Vercengetrix would have got a far better deal with Alexander than Julius caesar having the noble king strangled. I would also say that true scholars and historians in most cases would find practical and political and tactical reasons for most of his Actions.

I dont for one minute think Alexander went off on one and indulged in a blood thirsty blood lust for some twisted ideas of pleasure

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Post by marcus »

jasonxx wrote:My initial point was basically the pillory Alexander gets from detractors. I particullay go against the raving blood thirsty tyrant that some would try to plant on the guy.
Hi Kenny,

Absolutely, and I think you made that pretty clear in your post. But there is a danger of comparisons being made, you'll admit; and, as it once said in a training video I used to peddle, and which I have often said to my unruly pupils: "You don't establish your own innocence by proving the guilt of others."

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Re: Power and Terror

Post by alejandro »

Hi all,

As a committed defender of comparisons as a method of study, I think it is my “duty” to step in.
Since I bored you to death some other times giving you the reasons why I believe comparisons are the way forward, let me tell you now why I think the alternative view is logically wrong.
marcus wrote:There are so many different ways of looking at it - that he didn't kill as many as he might have done (a good thing); that he killed some people on suspicion/whim (a bad thing); that he wasn't as bad as some Romans (a good thing); that he wasn't as bad as some Romans, true, but that doesn't excuse his own behaviour (a bad thing); etc. etc. etc.
Labelling things as “good” or “bad” in a categorical, Kantian sense is (for me) not a valid way to deal with them. They can be used as linguistic shortcuts and for simplicity, but the fact that they are shortcuts doesn’t have to make one forget that that's all they are. Nothing is absolute.
Consider the “Alexander was short” debate. Was he short compared to a present-day person? One of his own time? If the latter, should we compare him to other Greeks or other Macedonians (assumed to have been taller than the Greeks)? After all, what is behind a concept as “short”? You may say, “he was so-and-so meters high, and that is a fact: numbers don’t lie” (assuming you knew exactly how tall A was). But then, you’re still comparing his height to something else: that iridium-platinum bar kept under special conditions in Paris (or the foot/arm of a living/dead king/queen if using the English system).
So Kenny, I’m with you regarding this one. Comparisons are the way forward, though they have other problems of their own. But still, I prefer to compare A to Julius Caesar or Cyros than to the politically correct archetype currently in vogue or another similar benchmark. In fact, the person chosen for comparison will usually reveal/hint at the thesis that the proposer intends to prove.
As always, this is just my opinion.

All the best,
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Re: Power and Terror

Post by marcus »

alejandro wrote:Hi all,

As a committed defender of comparisons as a method of study, I think it is my “duty” to step in.
Since I bored you to death some other times giving you the reasons why I believe comparisons are the way forward, let me tell you now why I think the alternative view is logically wrong.
marcus wrote:There are so many different ways of looking at it - that he didn't kill as many as he might have done (a good thing); that he killed some people on suspicion/whim (a bad thing); that he wasn't as bad as some Romans (a good thing); that he wasn't as bad as some Romans, true, but that doesn't excuse his own behaviour (a bad thing); etc. etc. etc.
Labelling things as “good” or “bad” in a categorical, Kantian sense is (for me) not a valid way to deal with them. They can be used as linguistic shortcuts and for simplicity, but the fact that they are shortcuts doesn’t have to make one forget that that's all they are. Nothing is absolute.
Consider the “Alexander was short” debate. Was he short compared to a present-day person? One of his own time? If the latter, should we compare him to other Greeks or other Macedonians (assumed to have been taller than the Greeks)? After all, what is behind a concept as “short”? You may say, “he was so-and-so meters high, and that is a fact: numbers don’t lie” (assuming you knew exactly how tall A was). But then, you’re still comparing his height to something else: that iridium-platinum bar kept under special conditions in Paris (or the foot/arm of a living/dead king/queen if using the English system).
So Kenny, I’m with you regarding this one. Comparisons are the way forward, though they have other problems of their own. But still, I prefer to compare A to Julius Caesar or Cyros than to the politically correct archetype currently in vogue or another similar benchmark. In fact, the person chosen for comparison will usually reveal/hint at the thesis that the proposer intends to prove.
As always, this is just my opinion.

All the best,
Alejandro
All very true; but that wasn't really my point. Although this was not what Kenny was saying (I think), there is a great danger that people will read a comparison with Octavian/Augustus and say "Oh, so Alexander was not as bad as Octavian, because he didn't kill Demosthenes"; when (i) everything was very different, and (ii) Alexander was responsible for the deaths of far many more people than Octavian ever was. That doesn't mean that Alexander was particularly bad, or that he was particularly good - it's just a useless comparison to make.

More to the point was my other example - who was worse, Hitler or Stalin?

I don't think there's any disagreement here; I was merely pointing out the dangers of comparisons, and how they might be perceived.

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