If music be the food of love...

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Ngs
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2022 6:45 am

If music be the food of love...

Post by Ngs »

Hi,
This is my first post in this forum. I have an enquiry. How important was dance, music and theatre to Alexander given that his own proficiency in playing the lyre was mocked ans discouraged by his father? Two important people in his life seem to have been great singers and dancers, namely, Bagoas and Roxane. Alexander is said to have kissed Bagoas twice upon the latter winning a song and dance competition. Alexander also seems to have first noticed and liked Roxane after watching her dance. So, was there a part of the great warrior that admired artists and craved the joy that artistic performances gave? It would be an interesting look into his personality.
Alexias
Hetairos (companion)
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Re: If music be the food of love...

Post by Alexias »

Hi, and welcome. I am not sure we have specific examples of Alexander liking the performing arts apart from the dance contest which Bagoas won, but this was clearly not a one-off occasion. We know Alexander had books sent out to him from Greece, I believe including plays. When he wasn't campaigning, and as part of the athletic contests held for the army, there would have been artistic contests too, as well probably as more private performances. These, along with the athletic contests, would have been the principal forms of entertainment and artists, particularly after Alexander returned from India, would have travelled out from Greece to entertain the king, and no doubt, for very handsome rewards.
hiphys
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Re: If music be the food of love...

Post by hiphys »

According to Plutarch (Life of Alexander 29, 1-6), Alexander was very fond of tragedy, comedy and other poetic contests. When he stopped in Phoenicia - after the foundation of Alexandria and before the battle of Gaugamela - he arranged splendid spectacles of this kind. The two kings of Cyprus, Nicocreon of Salamis and Pasicrates of Soli were the sponsors of the two most conspicuous actors of that time, Pasicrates of Athenodorus, and Nicocreon of Thessalus, Alexander's favourite. Athenodorus won, and Alexander accepted the verdict of the judges, but said he would give willingly a part of his reign only to see the victory of Thessalus. According to Athenaeus (13, 586 d, 595 e - 596 a), Alexander arranged tragic, comic and poetic contests again, during the Indian expedition, near the Idaspes River. Here it was performed a satirical drama, called Agen, written by a certain Python of Catania (or Byzantion) that made fun of Harpalus. Someone said the author was Alexander himself. As a boy, Alexander was taught to play a cithara with skill, but, unfortunately, in IV century B. C. to play well was regarded unworthy of a prince. But Alexander, who admired Achilles greatly, wanted to imitate his ancestor even in this aspect. There are many ancient quotation on this subject, see: A: Veneri,'La cetra di Paride: l'altra faccia della musica in Omero e nei suoi interpreti antichi', Mousikè, a cura di B. Gentili e F. Perusino, Pisa-Roma 1995, pp. 111-132.
Ngs
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2022 6:45 am

Re: If music be the food of love...

Post by Ngs »

But sitara Or cithara is an Indian instrument, Alexander I think learnt the lyre.
Alexias
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Re: If music be the food of love...

Post by Alexias »

Google cithera : "an ancient Greek and Roman stringed musical instrument similar to the lyre."

I think you are thinking of sitar: "a large, long-necked Indian lute with movable frets, played with a wire pick."
hiphys
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Re: If music be the food of love...

Post by hiphys »

Aischines (Against Timarchus 1, 168) as a eyewitness, described the performance of Alexander during a symposium (held in Pella in 346 B. C.), before the Greek ambassadors. He was ten years old:
"...[Demosthenes] was describing the boy Alexander, telling how, at a certain banquet of ours, he played the cithara (kitharìzoi), reciting certain passages in which there were replies at another boy [Hephaestion, perhaps? Who knows?]"
I think this is the first mention of Alexander, the more valuable because it came from a contemporary, who was present and described the scene the following year. It is very strange that Alexander, who became famous as a king, a warrior, and the greatest conqueror in the world, appeared for the first time in public as a musician, and an actor!
Ngs
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2022 6:45 am

Re: If music be the food of love...

Post by Ngs »

I think that even his persiophilia had an element of attraction to the arts and the music and beautiful clothes and the whole regalia in Persian culture. Persians were said to have learnt dance as they learn to walk.
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