Rereading fire from heaven

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

Moderator: pothos moderators

User avatar
dean
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 725
Joined: Wed May 28, 2003 2:31 pm
Location: Las Palmas, Spain

Rereading fire from heaven

Post by dean »

For the past couple of weeks I have been reading Renault's fire from heaven again, and the last couple of pages I have read have been quite interesting.

Half way through the book, Alexander and Philip are heading past the Thermopylae, and need Thebes to let the army pass through their territory.
Speaking about Thermoplyae, I didn't know that the name of the pass was derived from hot baths in the area. It is commented that the previous time that Alexander had passed by, he had been 12 years old. But I am unsure as to whether Renault is relying on the sources for this bit of info or her imagination. I would be inclined to think it was fiction because so little is known of his pre teen years...

Alexander comments on how Leonidas was not very sagacious in war because he didn't keep on top of his Phokian allies Anyway, I suppose that the time when Alexander goes through the hot gates is slightly prior to the battle of Charonea.
There are parts of the book which could almost have been used for the basis for the script for the film by Oliver Stone, eg. the scene when Philip visits Olympias in her room, and Alexander is terrified at the beginning of the film. The way she presents Olympias and Alexander and her jealousy of Hephaestion are really well done, and I must admit that her prose is absolutely amazing. It always surprises me how, when reading a book again, so many more details just seem to appear out of nowhere- almost as if you were reading a new version of it!!!!

Best regards,
Dean
carpe diem
User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by marcus »

dean wrote:For the past couple of weeks I have been reading Renault's fire from heaven again, and the last couple of pages I have read have been quite interesting.
I really should read Renault again - it's been some time. :(
dean wrote:Half way through the book, Alexander and Philip are heading past the Thermopylae, and need Thebes to let the army pass through their territory.
... It is commented that the previous time that Alexander had passed by, he had been 12 years old. But I am unsure as to whether Renault is relying on the sources for this bit of info or her imagination. I would be inclined to think it was fiction because so little is known of his pre teen years...

Alexander comments on how Leonidas was not very sagacious in war because he didn't keep on top of his Phokian allies Anyway, I suppose that the time when Alexander goes through the hot gates is slightly prior to the battle of Charonea.
I certainly don't remember this story. I have looked in Plutarch's Moralia (Sayings of Kings and Commanders, and Fortune and Virtue of Alexander) but haven't found a reference there; and I also looked in Pausanias, but no such luck. I thought those were the two likeliest sources if the story does come from the ancient sources. But it might occur somewhere else. If Renault did make it up, it certainly sounds Alexandrine! :)
dean wrote:There are parts of the book which could almost have been used for the basis for the script for the film by Oliver Stone, eg. the scene when Philip visits Olympias in her room, and Alexander is terrified at the beginning of the film.
I seem to remember thinking that when I first saw the film - although I hadn't read Renault for some years, the first scene in the book (I think it is) clearly stuck in my mind, so when I saw the movie I thought "Oho! There's a piece of pure Renault!" :D

ATB
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK
Alexias
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 705
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:16 am

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by Alexias »

Oddly enough, I too have been rereading Fire From Heaven. She doesn't say so, but I think Mary Renault may be hinting that Alexander could have accompanied Philip when he presided at the Pythian Games at Delphi (although that might have been in September 346 when Alexander would have been 10). Perhaps it was an episode she expunged from the final novel.

Oliver Stone's debt to Mary Renault is widely recognised. The scene with the child Alexander and the snakes in Olympias's bedroom when Philip enters, intent on having sex with his wife, is a complete rip-off of Mary Renault, even down to the dialogue where Philip's "I forbade it.." becomes "I told you not.." about the snakes in Olympias's bed. Mary Renault uses this scene as the traumatic incident that turns the young Alexander against sexual expression and towards a reluctant homosexuality in which he is neither competing with his father nor betraying his mother. This is a device she uses in other of her novels (most notably The Charioteer and The Last of the Wine), to justify homosexuality in psychological terms to an audience that, at the time she was writing, probably didn't know much about homosexuality.

Oliver Stone also bases his analysis of Alexander's character on the conflict between Olympias and Philip as portrayed by Mary Renault - Alexander being torn between wanting to be liked and accepted by his father and loyalty to his mother who wants to control and rule through him. Hence Colin Farrell's perpetually anxious and worried look, perhaps one of the reasons for the film's poor reception. However, Mary Renault assumes that Olympias is Philip's principal wife and Queen right from the start and that Alexander had no siblings as a child to rival his claim to the throne. She thus puts pressure on Alexander, perhaps for dramatic reasons, from a very early age which in reality he may not have felt until much later.

Mary Renault also, something I had forgotten until rereading the novel (which is really more of a chronicle with a few dramatic moments than a novel, as there are so many historical references that the history often threatens to overwhelm the characters), expresses the religious element in Alexander's character as a mystical dedication to the god (principally Herakles) who will grant immortality through the freedom from fear that Aexander believes will arise by facing and conquering fear. Oliver Stone makes a nod towards this by having Alexander sacrifice to Phobos before Guagamela (as I think he did in reality, although because of the eclipse not the upcoming battle), but this was perhaps too difficult a concept to convey in the film.

However, all of this has probably been debated to death already.
User avatar
dean
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 725
Joined: Wed May 28, 2003 2:31 pm
Location: Las Palmas, Spain

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by dean »

Hello,

thanks for the replies.
I have just about finished reading it now. The battle of Chareonae is really well done, you can almost hear the screams of the soldiers coming off the pages!!

My only copy of Plutarch is of "parallel lives"- and don't have the other one you mention.
Also, I had never heard of Pausinias and have since found a copy of the text online, which I will be looking at.
Is this author significant in Alexander studies? I have to confess that really I have only really read the main sources, Arrian, Curtius etc.

And Alexias,you are right. the part of the book regarding fear is expressed in fire from heaven when Alexander says that the god has spoken to him, saying that "every second you live free from fear makes you immortal" which is more or less the same as saming "conquer your fear and you will conquer death".
If ever there was a clear cut case of plagarism then this has to be it!
And what you mention regarding the initial scene in the bedroom with Philip, Olympias and the "scared" Alexander could have been used as a leitmotif to set the scene for Alexander's sexuality.

Anyway, it has been really good reading again the book. It certainly inspires you to do a bit of investigating yourself. :wink:
Best regards,
Dean
carpe diem
User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by marcus »

dean wrote:My only copy of Plutarch is of "parallel lives"- and don't have the other one you mention.
Also, I had never heard of Pausinias and have since found a copy of the text online, which I will be looking at.
Is this author significant in Alexander studies? I have to confess that really I have only really read the main sources, Arrian, Curtius etc.
Hi Dean,

No, I wouldn't say that Pausanias is "significant", but he does include some interesting snippets. Basically, his work is a tourist guide to Greece (not all of it survives, of course), so he describes, for example, the Philippeum at Olympia, or mentions Alexander's sack of Thebes when he describes the city. Occasionally you get a little bit more anecdote surrounding a place, which is why I thought there might have been a mention of Alexander commenting on Leonidas' generalship.

What I like particularly about Pausanias is that there are, in fact, many inconsequential details - for instance, from his guide we learn the name of at least one of Alexander's couriers, who otherwise would have been completely lost to History.

ATB
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK
Semiramis
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 403
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2007 11:24 am

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by Semiramis »

Alexias wrote:Oddly enough, I too have been rereading Fire From Heaven. She doesn't say so, but I think Mary Renault may be hinting that Alexander could have accompanied Philip when he presided at the Pythian Games at Delphi (although that might have been in September 346 when Alexander would have been 10). Perhaps it was an episode she expunged from the final novel.

Oliver Stone's debt to Mary Renault is widely recognised. The scene with the child Alexander and the snakes in Olympias's bedroom when Philip enters, intent on having sex with his wife, is a complete rip-off of Mary Renault, even down to the dialogue where Philip's "I forbade it.." becomes "I told you not.." about the snakes in Olympias's bed. Mary Renault uses this scene as the traumatic incident that turns the young Alexander against sexual expression and towards a reluctant homosexuality in which he is neither competing with his father nor betraying his mother. This is a device she uses in other of her novels (most notably The Charioteer and The Last of the Wine), to justify homosexuality in psychological terms to an audience that, at the time she was writing, probably didn't know much about homosexuality.

Oliver Stone also bases his analysis of Alexander's character on the conflict between Olympias and Philip as portrayed by Mary Renault - Alexander being torn between wanting to be liked and accepted by his father and loyalty to his mother who wants to control and rule through him. Hence Colin Farrell's perpetually anxious and worried look, perhaps one of the reasons for the film's poor reception. However, Mary Renault assumes that Olympias is Philip's principal wife and Queen right from the start and that Alexander had no siblings as a child to rival his claim to the throne. She thus puts pressure on Alexander, perhaps for dramatic reasons, from a very early age which in reality he may not have felt until much later.

Mary Renault also, something I had forgotten until rereading the novel (which is really more of a chronicle with a few dramatic moments than a novel, as there are so many historical references that the history often threatens to overwhelm the characters), expresses the religious element in Alexander's character as a mystical dedication to the god (principally Herakles) who will grant immortality through the freedom from fear that Aexander believes will arise by facing and conquering fear. Oliver Stone makes a nod towards this by having Alexander sacrifice to Phobos before Guagamela (as I think he did in reality, although because of the eclipse not the upcoming battle), but this was perhaps too difficult a concept to convey in the film.

However, all of this has probably been debated to death already.
If all this has been debated to death, I haven't come across it, so I for one found your post fascinating. Good to know I wasn't the only one who thought of Renault during the first scene in Olympias' bedroom in the movie. A lot of the psychological underpinning for the Alexander character in Stone's creation borrowed heavily from Renault, which is part of the reason why I enjoyed the movie so much.

I agree that in the book, Alexander being thrown out of the bedroom by his father is meant to have implications about his later sexuality. After being literally hurled down the stairs from the womb-like warmth of his mother's chambers, a young Alexander was picked up and comforted by the armed guard. So, he found refuge from the tumult in his family in the strong arms of a warrior. A familiar motif when it comes to how Renault portrayed his relationship with Hephaistion, isn't it? :) There's also a scene where Alexander as a child came across the young companion of a Persian ambassador and seemed to like him. Probably a nod to his later relationship with Bagoas. Interestingly it would have been easy to introduce Barsine as a factor in Alexander's childhood, but she seems to have been written out of the novels all together.

Out of the two other books you mention I have only read 'Last of the Wine'. I recall an interesting passage where Lysis as the narrator commented on his friend Xenophon's lack of interest in men as something unusual but then some men are just like that. Almost a mirror image of how many people would have viewed homosexuality in the societies Renault lived in - in mid-twentieth century England or among the European colonists in South Africa. In both this book and the Alexander trilogy, Renault portrayed romantic and sexual relationships between men as a common and accepted practice in Greek society. Something that is echoed in the Stone movie where Olympias told Alexander that his attraction to Hephaistion is natural for a young man but he must produce a son. Renault herself was in a long-term relationship with a woman during a time when it would have been quite unacceptable in her circles. It's not surprising that she was drawn to this idea of Greek society. This is not to suggest the attitudes were uniform across cities and social classes or that Macedonians were culturally identical to their southern neighbours. But I imagine that the idea of a time and place where same-sex relationships were not villified would have appealed to Renault on a personal level.
User avatar
dean
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 725
Joined: Wed May 28, 2003 2:31 pm
Location: Las Palmas, Spain

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by dean »

Hi Marcus,
Just skimming throught the text one of the parts that I found quite interesting was 1.6.5. detailing Alexander allegedly being Ptolemy's brother. I had often heard this comment but was never sure as to where it was to be found.
I was curious as to where Renault had come across that idea, because she mentions this idea not once but half a dozen times.

And SemiRamsess the next book, The Persian boy as you mention also seems to have been plundered. Stone dedicates many minutes to the relationship Alexander develops with Bagaoas and yet on the other hand skips decisive battles, the Granikus, Charonae, Issus, and Persepolis doesn't even get a mention.
I also think that Hydaspes and the Mallian arrow injury were simply put in the same scene to save time, money etc.
I think that to have been done properly, it would have been better addressed over at least two films.

I have never read any of the other books Renault published outside of the Alexander trilogy. Is there any particular one that I should especially look out for that is really good?

Best wishes,
Dean
carpe diem
User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by marcus »

dean wrote:I have never read any of the other books Renault published outside of the Alexander trilogy. Is there any particular one that I should especially look out for that is really good?
I think I can honestly say, Dean, that all of Renault's other books are worth reading. The Last of the Wine (Peloponnesian War) is superb, but my personal favourites are The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea (both about Theseus). I think The Mask of Apollo (in which Alexander features in a cameo, I believe) is the only one of her ancient world books I haven't read. If you want to read others, I'd say The King Must Die is the first I'd recommend.

ATB
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK
Alexias
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 705
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:16 am

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by Alexias »

Marcus wrote

“I think I can honestly say, Dean, that all of Renault's other books are worth reading. The Last of the Wine (Peloponnesian War) is superb, but my personal favourites are The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea (both about Theseus). I think The Mask of Apollo (in which Alexander features in a cameo, I believe) is the only one of her ancient world books I haven't read. If you want to read others, I'd say The King Must Die is the first I'd recommend.”


I would agree – the remaining two, Funeral Games and The Praise Singer – are not very memorable. As I said above, they are more like chronicles than novels and lack drama. I would recommend The Charioteer though. It was the last of her non-historical novels and, in my opinion, her best novel as the story and characters take precedence. Not perhaps as well written as some of her historical novels, it is far more immediate and she actually lets you inside the character’s heads, something she does not really do with Alexander.

Dean wrote

“And SemiRamsess the next book, The Persian boy as you mention also seems to have been plundered. Stone dedicates many minutes to the relationship Alexander develops with Bagaoas and yet on the other hand skips decisive battles, the Granikus, Charonae, Issus, and Persepolis doesn't even get a mention.
I also think that Hydaspes and the Mallian arrow injury were simply put in the same scene to save time, money etc.”


Definitely a question of drama and economics. As for The Persian Boy, even Mary Renault recognised that Bagoas was probably not as important in Alexander’s life as he would have liked to have been. As marvellous a novel as it is though, why she chose to view Alexander through a minor character’s eyes instead of letting us get close to him is beyond me. And I doubt very much that the real Bagoas was a glorified body servant – more like a pampered companion. But I digress.

Semiramis wrote

“If all this has been debated to death, I haven't come across it,”


I can’t point you in the direction of any specific discussions, I’m afraid, although I’ve debated it privately with a few people, but you might find the following links worth exploring:

www.livejournal.com/users/megalexandros - Dr Jeanne Reames livejournal community, not very active now
http://forum.alexander-the-great.co.uk/ - practically dead
Alexander’s army - Fiona’s community on yahoo.com - need to be a member to view the posts.
www.livejournal.com/users/maryrenaultfics - chapter by chapter discussions of MR’s books

”After being literally hurled down the stairs from the womb-like warmth of his mother's chambers”

Those stairs are so Freudian.

I think to have introduced Barsine would have been too strong a counterpoint to Olympias’s influence, and I found the interest in the young Persian companion rather too heavy-handed on this reading, and unnecessarily sexual in undertone.

Mary Renault’s Alexander novels are wonderful books that appear to have introduced many people to Alexander (and Hephaistion), and they have influenced many modern scholar’s interpretation of Alexander’s character, even unconsciously. Yet I have issues with her analysis of his character as it presents him as a damaged man, driven to the edge of mystical madness by a voracious mother and a distant father whose approval he craves while wanting to outdo him. I don’t doubt that these elements did play a part in forming Alexander’s character, but not that they were all-consuming. I think that Alexander was an eminently practical, sane, ambitious man who did not try to conquer the world because the gods told him to, because he was trying to run away from his mother, or eclipse his father, but just because he could.

And Mary Renault’s Hephaistion. Although she has done much to cause people to reassess Hephaistion’s importance, yet her character is so dull and boring (in many of his conversations with Alexander he simply agrees with Alexander and has no ideas of his own) that it is difficult to imagine him a) capturing Alexander’s love and attention and b) achieving the position of Alexander’s second in command except through Alexander’s nepotism.

But I need to be careful here as this site is probably not the place to launch into a long discussion on Alexander and Hephaestion’s characters.
User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by marcus »

Alexias wrote:And Mary Renault’s Hephaistion. Although she has done much to cause people to reassess Hephaistion’s importance, yet her character is so dull and boring (in many of his conversations with Alexander he simply agrees with Alexander and has no ideas of his own) that it is difficult to imagine him a) capturing Alexander’s love and attention and b) achieving the position of Alexander’s second in command except through Alexander’s nepotism.

But I need to be careful here as this site is probably not the place to launch into a long discussion on Alexander and Hephaestion’s characters.
Go for it. This isn't a fan site, after all, and the whole point is to have rational discussions about Alexander and his times. True, you might get a lambasting from some, but that shouldn't stop you! :D

ATB
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK
Alexias
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 705
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:16 am

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by Alexias »

marcus wrote: Go for it. This isn't a fan site, after all, and the whole point is to have rational discussions about Alexander and his times. True, you might get a lambasting from some, but that shouldn't stop you! :D

ATB
I'll give it some thought!
Semiramis
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 403
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2007 11:24 am

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by Semiramis »

Hi Dean,
dean wrote:I have never read any of the other books Renault published outside of the Alexander trilogy. Is there any particular one that I should especially look out for that is really good?
If I had to pick a favourite, it would be 'Last of the Wine'. Be sure to let us know your thoughts about any other Renault books you read. :)
And SemiRamsess the next book, The Persian boy as you mention also seems to have been plundered. Stone dedicates many minutes to the relationship Alexander develops with Bagaoas and yet on the other hand skips decisive battles, the Granikus, Charonae, Issus, and Persepolis doesn't even get a mention.
I also think that Hydaspes and the Mallian arrow injury were simply put in the same scene to save time, money etc.
I think that to have been done properly, it would have been better addressed over at least two films.
I think with so many battles and cities, some were inevitably going to be merged - for the sake of the narrative as much as anything else. I didn't mind that. Interesting how the sieges and sacks were barely mentioned. I think the only exception is where Ptolemy made excuses for Thebes during his narration, but with no visual reference. Thebes, Tyre, Gaza, Mali, Alor - mass killings, rapes and slavery - would have all made our hero look less heroic (villainous even?). Imagine the aftermath of the Siege of Gaza on film. Rows and rows of crucified men on the beaches of Palestine. I don't expect many in the audience would have sympathised with Alexander or his army after that.

I think Stone chose the two battles because for the audience there is perhaps something more excusable about armies meeting in pitched battle, which presents a semblance of fairness. I wish that they had chosen to show at least one of the city battles in India instead of moving the battle against Pothos into a jungle. It would've brought across the the idea that there existed wealthy urban centers in this ancient civilization. But then, one would have had to show their destruction also. Stone possibly had a similar reason for avoiding Persepolis. There's that act of arson that didn't really fit with Stone's Persianizing, multi-cultural, enlightened Alexander. The relationship with Bagoas, however, did illustrate that aspect of his character.

I think another reason for the prominence of Bagoas (especially in the Final Cut) is that Stone tried to bring across the idea that Alexander lived in and conquered very different societies compared to our time. To convey this the movie didn't just restrict itself to pretty costumes but also tried to bring across something about their norms regarding gender roles, friendship and sexuality etc. I think this is the part that did not go down so well with some audiences.

Hi Alexias,
Alexias wrote:Definitely a question of drama and economics. As for The Persian Boy, even Mary Renault recognised that Bagoas was probably not as important in Alexander’s life as he would have liked to have been. As marvellous a novel as it is though, why she chose to view Alexander through a minor character’s eyes instead of letting us get close to him is beyond me. And I doubt very much that the real Bagoas was a glorified body servant – more like a pampered companion. But I digress.
Will have to check out your Renault links when work permits (looks like the weekend then). The Persian Boy covers the years of Alexander's reign compared to 'Fire from Heaven'. In the former he was a child or teenager being alternately bullied by his father and manipulated by his mother. In stark contrast, Alexander is no victim in the second book. Alexander's conquering and ruling years were bloody, vicious and brutal. I don't know if Renault did it on purpose, but choosing Bagoas allowed her to ignore warfare and politics almost all together. She had the point of view of an emasculated oriental subject who was wholly dominated by Alexander not merely in body but soul. He literally loved his conqueror. Only a character such as Renault's Bagoas could paint the saintly picture of Alexander that Bagoas (Renault) did for the reader.

I also think Renault's books point to a fascination with masculinity and a somewhat playful tendency to subvert it. Renault dwells on aspects of ancient Greek masculinity that people in her society would have derided as feminine. For example the intense attachment to male friends, displays of emotion, romantic and sexual relationships between men, the cult of male beauty where men were often the objects of the gaze. Even between patriarchal societies gender norms are not immutable. In this context, Bagoas challenges the existence of strict gender categories.

I agree with you that in reality, Bagoas would have been a powerful person in the thick of court politics and diplomacy. At least that's the picture I get from Curtius' satrapal purge affair. As silly as Curtius sounds though out the whole story, it is accepted that the women and eunuchs of Achaemenid harems wielded significant influence throughout Persian history. There is a Bagoas mentioned in Nearchus' list of trierarchs, ie. the most important men in Alexander's court. He is the only Persian in the group. I recall reading in a biography (Lane Fox?) that this was not the same Bagoas. The author was conclusive but didn't provide any reason to back this assertion. I was new to Alexander at the time and thought "must be something really obvious". It probably is, but can anyone tell me why these two have to be different people?
Mary Renault’s Alexander novels are wonderful books that appear to have introduced many people to Alexander (and Hephaistion), and they have influenced many modern scholar’s interpretation of Alexander’s character, even unconsciously. Yet I have issues with her analysis of his character as it presents him as a damaged man, driven to the edge of mystical madness by a voracious mother and a distant father whose approval he craves while wanting to outdo him. I don’t doubt that these elements did play a part in forming Alexander’s character, but not that they were all-consuming. I think that Alexander was an eminently practical, sane, ambitious man who did not try to conquer the world because the gods told him to, because he was trying to run away from his mother, or eclipse his father, but just because he could.
I have to agree with most of that. Sanity is a fluid concept. One has to wonder about Alexander's, especially in the later years. The butchery must have taken a psychological toll. Why did he choose to start so many conquests? I imagine considerations of wealth and power featured as prominently as they would have for any other conqueror. But of course in a novel or movie, Alexander the good guy would have to have loftier motives with plenty of psychobabble to keep us entertained. :)
And Mary Renault’s Hephaistion. Although she has done much to cause people to reassess Hephaistion’s importance, yet her character is so dull and boring (in many of his conversations with Alexander he simply agrees with Alexander and has no ideas of his own) that it is difficult to imagine him a) capturing Alexander’s love and attention and b) achieving the position of Alexander’s second in command except through Alexander’s nepotism.

But I need to be careful here as this site is probably not the place to launch into a long discussion on Alexander and Hephaestion’s characters.
Ah, the "feminized" Hephaistion in fiction and non-fiction. There was an interesting thread on this topic in Sikander's Yahoo group Alexandriaeschate.

Discussion of Alexander or Hephaistion's characters? On this site? Heavens forbid! ;)
User avatar
dean
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 725
Joined: Wed May 28, 2003 2:31 pm
Location: Las Palmas, Spain

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by dean »

Hello,

Well, I will certainly be getting hold of the two books about Theseus, by Renault. The idea I have of the books about Theseus seems to be similar to"song of troy" by Colleen McCullough where the tale of the Trojan war is written in entirely human terms. The book is first rate and definitely worth reading. I read a Spanish translation and it was excellent.

Yesterday I was watching the BBC4 documentary about Renault "love and war in Greece" and to my surprise Oliver Stone was singing her praises throughout so you can see where his fascination from Alexander might have sprung from.

It is true what they were saying that she wasn't a historian yet some of her suggestions were very academic. One of my favourites was mentioned by Robin Lane Fox, which he had discussed with her. He was commenting on Renault's suggestion that maybe Craterus was the person who Alexander might have intended to reign after his death because of the similiarity between the greek word for the "strongest" and the name Craterus.
Anyway, if anyone has the chance to see the documentary it is definitely worth watching.

Best regards,
Dean
carpe diem
User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by marcus »

dean wrote:Well, I will certainly be getting hold of the two books about Theseus, by Renault. The idea I have of the books about Theseus seems to be similar to"song of troy" by Colleen McCullough where the tale of the Trojan war is written in entirely human terms. The book is first rate and definitely worth reading. I read a Spanish translation and it was excellent.
Hi Dean,

Yes, I thought Song of Troy was good, as well - some years now since I read it, though. Then again, McCullough has impressed me no end with her ancient history novels - the Masters of Rome series was superb, although the add-on, about Antony and Cleopatra, was not of quite the same quality.

ATB
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK
User avatar
Taphoi
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 931
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:32 pm
Location: Bristol, England, UK
Contact:

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by Taphoi »

Semiramis wrote:I agree with you that in reality, Bagoas would have been a powerful person in the thick of court politics and diplomacy. At least that's the picture I get from Curtius' satrapal purge affair. As silly as Curtius sounds though out the whole story, it is accepted that the women and eunuchs of Achaemenid harems wielded significant influence throughout Persian history. There is a Bagoas mentioned in Nearchus' list of trierarchs, ie. the most important men in Alexander's court. He is the only Persian in the group. I recall reading in a biography (Lane Fox?) that this was not the same Bagoas. The author was conclusive but didn't provide any reason to back this assertion. I was new to Alexander at the time and thought "must be something really obvious". It probably is, but can anyone tell me why these two have to be different people?
No, there is no reason at all. I will assert that it is the same Bagoas that was the trierarch, because the evidence is quite overwhelming that it is so. The only contrary argument has been to claim that a eunuch cannot possibly have risen to such heights under Alexander, which is quite fatuous.

There are fine details (a whole chapter) in my book on Alexander's Lovers.

Best wishes,

Andrew
Post Reply