Rereading fire from heaven

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

Moderator: pothos moderators

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 »

Taphoi wrote:
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.
I have to say, I remember wondering exactly why it couldn't be the same Bagoas. I'm writing from memory here, but is it not the case that the trierarchs of the Indus fleet were more the financiers of the expedition, rather than the actual naval commanders? In which case, there's no reason why Alexander's favourite shouldn't have amassed enough wealth to be able to fund ships. And as the trierarch Bagoas is the only non Greek/Macedonian in the list of trierarchs, one would have to wonder why, if it wasn't Alexander's favourite ...

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 »

Hi Andrew,
Taphoi wrote: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
Yes, I think yours is the most sensible and parsimonious explanation. Wasn't there another Bagoas who virtually ruled by proxy during a turbulent period in Achamenid reign? He was meant to have killed two great kings before being forced to drink his own poison by Darius I. So, it seems quite possible that eunuchs could rise to power under that system. I must get on to reading your book. Been very slow with recreational reading as I'm supposed to be writing my thesis (as opposed to forum posts about ancient conquerors). :)

Hi Marcus,
marcus wrote:I have to say, I remember wondering exactly why it couldn't be the same Bagoas. I'm writing from memory here, but is it not the case that the trierarchs of the Indus fleet were more the financiers of the expedition, rather than the actual naval commanders? In which case, there's no reason why Alexander's favourite shouldn't have amassed enough wealth to be able to fund ships. And as the trierarch Bagoas is the only non Greek/Macedonian in the list of trierarchs, one would have to wonder why, if it wasn't Alexander's favourite ...

ATB
My line of thinking exactly. According to Curtius at least, Bagoas had his own house where the highest men in the court were expected to pay their respects. So, clearly his rank was different from the body servant (to borrow Alexias' term) presented by Renault or Stone. Perhaps in the context of the book and movie, Bagoas' low status made it less of a "betrayal" to Hephaistion.
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 »

marcus wrote:I have to say, I remember wondering exactly why it couldn't be the same Bagoas. I'm writing from memory here, but is it not the case that the trierarchs of the Indus fleet were more the financiers of the expedition, rather than the actual naval commanders? In which case, there's no reason why Alexander's favourite shouldn't have amassed enough wealth to be able to fund ships. And as the trierarch Bagoas is the only non Greek/Macedonian in the list of trierarchs, one would have to wonder why, if it wasn't Alexander's favourite ...
Yes, the trierarchies seem to have been essentially honorific. Possibly there was a duty to fund the construction of a ship (or two?) by analogy with the case of trierarchs at Athens, for example. Nevertheless, what is clear from the names in the rest of the list is that these are basically the most powerful thirty-odd individuals in Alexander's expedition. There is a strong implication that Bagoas is the most influential Persian in the expedition and this is underlined a year later when he is given the task of executing the governor of Persia itself, which suggests that Alexander at least regarded him as higher in rank. Note that you didn't get to be a trierarch purely through being Alexander's lover, because Roxane is not in the list! Even if the trierarchies were only theoretical in actuality, I think it likely that they would only have been assigned to persons who could potentially have led the ships in warfare, because there was always a chance that one of the kingdoms down the Indus would put ships up against the fleet, in which case the war-command of those ships would have had to become real.

It is probably wrong to suppose that Bagoas did not fight in Alexander's wars. It was quite normal for Persian Royal Eunuchs to fight in wars. Alexander dealt with a Eunuch commander at Gaza. The other Bagoas was a general in the war against Nectanebo in Egypt before he became Chiliarch. Xenophon, who personally collaborated with Persian Royal Eunuchs, wrote that despite Persian Royal Eunuchs being physically weaker than other men "steel is a great leveller and makes the weak man equal to the strong in war", clearly implying that eunuchs fought in hand-to-hand combats. It is important not to let the silly modern stereotype that Eunuchs were all fat harem attendants get the better of our judgement of the evidence.

Best wishes,

Andrew
User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by amyntoros »

Taphoi wrote:
marcus wrote:I have to say, I remember wondering exactly why it couldn't be the same Bagoas. I'm writing from memory here, but is it not the case that the trierarchs of the Indus fleet were more the financiers of the expedition, rather than the actual naval commanders? In which case, there's no reason why Alexander's favourite shouldn't have amassed enough wealth to be able to fund ships. And as the trierarch Bagoas is the only non Greek/Macedonian in the list of trierarchs, one would have to wonder why, if it wasn't Alexander's favourite ...
Yes, the trierarchies seem to have been essentially honorific. Possibly there was a duty to fund the construction of a ship (or two?) by analogy with the case of trierarchs at Athens, for example. Nevertheless, what is clear from the names in the rest of the list is that these are basically the most powerful thirty-odd individuals in Alexander's expedition. There is a strong implication that Bagoas is the most influential Persian in the expedition and this is underlined a year later when he is given the task of executing the governor of Persia itself, which suggests that Alexander at least regarded him as higher in rank. Note that you didn't get to be a trierarch purely through being Alexander's lover, because Roxane is not in the list! Even if the trierarchies were only theoretical in actuality, I think it likely that they would only have been assigned to persons who could potentially have led the ships in warfare, because there was always a chance that one of the kingdoms down the Indus would put ships up against the fleet, in which case the war-command of those ships would have had to become real.

It is probably wrong to suppose that Bagoas did not fight in Alexander's wars. It was quite normal for Persian Royal Eunuchs to fight in wars. Alexander dealt with a Eunuch commander at Gaza. The other Bagoas was a general in the war against Nectanebo in Egypt before he became Chiliarch. Xenophon, who personally collaborated with Persian Royal Eunuchs, wrote that despite Persian Royal Eunuchs being physically weaker than other men "steel is a great leveller and makes the weak man equal to the strong in war", clearly implying that eunuchs fought in hand-to-hand combats. It is important not to let the silly modern stereotype that Eunuchs were all fat harem attendants get the better of our judgement of the evidence.

Best wishes,

Andrew

First I must say that I pretty much agree with all the latest posts regarding Bagoas' status at court. I raise no objections to his being one of the trierarchs or that he may have amassed considerable wealth. I wouldn't take a position that Bagoas may have actually fought in the wars though, there being no evidence to support this. And, yes, I'm aware that there were eunuchs who held high military positions, but it doesn't follow that all eunuchs did so, or that all those who were influential at court also had military commands. It's an interesting suggestion that the trierarchies were only assigned to those who could have led the ships in warfare but I don't see how that would have worked. Surely the trierarchs would have had to be physically present on each of their ships in order to command a war, rather than slogging through the desert or escorting the remainder of the army, either of which means they weren't anywhere near the fleet? If any of them had been physically with the fleet then they would have gone missing with the fleet, and Alexander would have anguished over the believed loss of many other friends, not just Nearchus.

Minor point though and it doesn't really affect the general view of Bagoas as discussed here. There is, however, one question that I want to raise, not to cast doubt, but because I really don't know the answer. If we accept Bagoas as having a high position at court with personal and political influence plus monetary status, how do we reconcile his having danced or sung in a public performance for prizes (Plutarch, Alexander 67)? Now, I know it wasn't uncommon to use actors as envoys for political purposes, but they were first and foremost actors, and their social positions and/or influence with Alexander (and others) simply doesn't compare with what has been ascribed to Bagoas here. It feels a little strange to me to consider Bagoas as having such a high rank and then view him as having publicly danced for the army's entertainment. Can we reconcile this? Or does it mean we must doubt Plutarch's report?

Best regards,
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor
Alexias
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 705
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:16 am

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by Alexias »

amyntoros wrote:
It feels a little strange to me to consider Bagoas as having such a high rank and then view him as having publicly danced for the army's entertainment. Can we reconcile this? Or does it mean we must doubt Plutarch's report?

Best regards,
Mary Renault I believe tries to reconcile these points by suggesting that the fleet was principally a triumphal procession to both overawe the local inhabitants and provide an easy means of transport for Alexander while he recovered from his chest wound - necessary if a lung was pierced. I don't recall any major conflict (but I could be wrong) between the Malli and Patala and if the main bulk of the army were marching down both sides of the Indus, the fleet may not have seen any combat until they reached the delta, and even then they would probably have been used as transports rather than warships.

Mary Renault also suggests that the eunuch Bagoas was involved in the execution of the satrap at Pasagarde because the man had destroyed his family and had Bagoas castrated. This is pure dramatic speculation of course and Robin Lane Fox suggest that Bagoas simply acted as interpreter at the man's trial. I can't recall the satrap's name without hunting for it, but he had usurped the satrapial position when his predecessor had died. Was this Mazaeus, the satrap of Babylon?

The eunuch Bagoas was 'in the flower of his youth' who had been Darius's lover when Alexander first met him. Four or five years later - if the fleet were warships - he would only likely have been in his early twenties. Is it likely he would have risen to be an experienced soldier in this time, and then, as Amyntoros says, turned back into a dancing boy in Carmania? Yet as an artist he was probably wealthy enough to bear the expense of outfitting a ship - if the fleet were transports - and perhaps carrying non-combatants such as Aristander the seer.
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 »

amyntoros wrote:First I must say that I pretty much agree with all the latest posts regarding Bagoas' status at court. I raise no objections to his being one of the trierarchs or that he may have amassed considerable wealth. I wouldn't take a position that Bagoas may have actually fought in the wars though, there being no evidence to support this. And, yes, I'm aware that there were eunuchs who held high military positions, but it doesn't follow that all eunuchs did so, or that all those who were influential at court also had military commands. It's an interesting suggestion that the trierarchies were only assigned to those who could have led the ships in warfare but I don't see how that would have worked. Surely the trierarchs would have had to be physically present on each of their ships in order to command a war, rather than slogging through the desert or escorting the remainder of the army, either of which means they weren't anywhere near the fleet? If any of them had been physically with the fleet then they would have gone missing with the fleet, and Alexander would have anguished over the believed loss of many other friends, not just Nearchus.
I quite agree that some of the trierarchs would not have been with the fleet much of the time. In that case there would have been a system where somebody on the ship deputised, just as there is in our armed forces. But consider what would happen if Bagoas were present when the fleet ran into a fight. The trierarch led the ship in war, just as the pilot navigated it. It was a real role in that circumstance. Alexander could not afford to risk confusion over the command in a battle situation. I would not press this point too hard, because you might suggest that Alexander ensured that Bagoas never went aboard his ship(s), but I think that creates a certain awkwardness that Alexander would have sought to avoid in the first place, had it been necessary.

Actually, there are only seven or eight appearances of Bagoas across the ancient sources, so it is not surprising that there is no explicit reference to his having fought. However, the Xenophon quote from the Cyropaedia that I have given is explicit eye-witness testimony that Persian eunuchs in general did fight. The onus is on you to explain why Alexander's Bagoas should have been an exception. Beware: if you say he was too young and callow, I shall mention the Royal Pages :!:
amyntoros wrote:Minor point though and it doesn't really affect the general view of Bagoas as discussed here. There is, however, one question that I want to raise, not to cast doubt, but because I really don't know the answer. If we accept Bagoas as having a high position at court with personal and political influence plus monetary status, how do we reconcile his having danced or sung in a public performance for prizes (Plutarch, Alexander 67)? Now, I know it wasn't uncommon to use actors as envoys for political purposes, but they were first and foremost actors, and their social positions and/or influence with Alexander (and others) simply doesn't compare with what has been ascribed to Bagoas here. It feels a little strange to me to consider Bagoas as having such a high rank and then view him as having publicly danced for the army's entertainment. Can we reconcile this? Or does it mean we must doubt Plutarch's report?
Actually, I think the onus is on you to explain why exactly you think that there is any difficulty in a high status individual giving a public performance. The counter examples are legion in both ancient and modern times. There's Alexander's own lyre-playing, Nero's various performances, Commodus and his gladiatorial exploits, Madonna and her shows, Condoleezza Rice with Aretha Franklin... Do you have the same issue with these cases or have you read one too many of the strange 19th and early to mid 20th century books on Alexander that insist (quite bizarrely) on retrospectively applying Victorian morality to his world? (Obviously, I know you read them in a good cause and we appreciate the insights that you bring to Pothos from their pages, but please don't let them get to you. We value your independent views too highly :D )

Best wishes,

Andrew
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,

to be honest I didn't realise that Bagoas had appeared in the sources that much other than when he demands a kiss after a performance and a few other scarce appearances which is why I was surprised that Renault would have used Bagoas to such an extent in the Persian boy. Undoubtedly following a personal agenda and interested in exploring this type of relationship.
As a writer, Renault was probably also looking to surprise her readers who perhaps were not aware that such a relationship could have existed, if it ever did at all.

I was tempted to write that Renault was looking to put two types together an effeminate male with a wholly masculine warrior but then eunuch were indeed involved in warfare, as Andrew points out when mentioning Batis.

And Bagoas must have been quite a popular name in Persia at the time as Alexander was in Greece, for it is a eunuch of the same name who (just love the poetic justice in the story)some years earlier tries unsuccessfully to kill Darius and is then made to swallow his own poison.

Given that Alexander had become "lord of Asia" and endeavouring to be seen as such I cannot see why there would have been a problem with him also allowing a eunuch to reach such a high position given that Darius had done the same.

Best wishes,
carpe diem
amyweaver29

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by amyweaver29 »

It is a pity that I have not gotten hold of any of MR'S books. Thanks to your postings, I am more inclined, encouraged to read these books. My daughter is also thankful of your insights.

God bless.
Alexias
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 705
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:16 am

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by Alexias »

Taphoi wrote: But consider what would happen if Bagoas were present when the fleet ran into a fight. The trierarch led the ship in war, just as the pilot navigated it. It was a real role in that circumstance. Alexander could not afford to risk confusion over the command in a battle situation. I would not press this point too hard, because you might suggest that Alexander ensured that Bagoas never went aboard his ship(s), but I think that creates a certain awkwardness that Alexander would have sought to avoid in the first place, had it been necessary.
I think that you are assuming here a) that the Indians had ships capable of river warfare and that they engaged in such, and b) that there were any cities close to a wide river, with a tendancy to flood, that needed attacking by water. With the army on both sides of the river, it's unlikely that there was any water-borne fighting.

In any case, it is probable that the fleet was reorganised either when Craterus went westward or when they reached the delta. While exploring the delta and not in close contact with the army, the bulk of which might have been left at Patala, the fleet would probably have come under Alexander's direct battle command and been manned by marines. When they reached the sea, it probably passed to Nearchus's command, a Cretan sailor, as it would seem unlikely that there would have been any high-ranking Persian with naval experience who would have accompanied Alexander this far. They are far more likely to have been left in their field of expertise in the Mediterranean.
Taphoi wrote: The onus is on you to explain why Alexander's Bagoas should have been an exception. Beware: if you say he was too young and callow, I shall mention the Royal Pages :!:
We know that eunuchs fought and hunted but that they lacked the strength of full men. Given that Bagoas was a young man, a eunuch, and a dancer, he is likely to have been slightly built. How long would he have lasted as a soldier in hand to hand combat?
Taphoi wrote:
Actually, I think the onus is on you to explain why exactly you think that there is any difficulty in a high status individual giving a public performance. The counter examples are legion in both ancient and modern times. There's Alexander's own lyre-playing, Nero's various performances, Commodus and his gladiatorial exploits, Madonna and her shows, Condoleezza Rice with Aretha Franklin... Do you have the same issue with these cases or have you read one too many of the strange 19th and early to mid 20th century books on Alexander that insist (quite bizarrely) on retrospectively applying Victorian morality to his world? (Obviously, I know you read them in a good cause and we appreciate the insights that you bring to Pothos from their pages, but please don't let them get to you. We value your independent views too highly :D )

Best wishes,

Andrew
I think you are being somewhat unfairly antagonistic here. The Carmanian incident was a competition, it was not a PR exercise, it was not a one-man show, it was not a carefully staged competition which the emperor had better not lose. It was a competition which Bagoas appears to have won fairly. True, if Alexander was one of the judges he may have been biased, but there is no hint of this.

The point of the Carmanian incident though was that Alexander kissed Bagoas in public. Is he likely to have risked treating an army officer as a boy in front of men he might have been leading in battle? They are hardly likely to have much respect for him if Alexander did. Even if they had affection for him, they are more likely to have considered him a mascot.

The kiss was also at the insigation of the army, which argues that they were well-disposed towards Bagoas, and that they enjoyed his performance. Thus they, at this stage at least, would not appear to have seen him as a threat included in Alexander's Persianisation of the army. Even if they were indulgent towards a young, comparatively inexperienced, and perhaps in their eyes a toy soldier, as an amateur dancer, would he have had the time to reach a standard to compete against professional dancers and beat them?
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 »

Taphoi wrote:It is probably wrong to suppose that Bagoas did not fight in Alexander's wars. It was quite normal for Persian Royal Eunuchs to fight in wars. Alexander dealt with a Eunuch commander at Gaza. The other Bagoas was a general in the war against Nectanebo in Egypt before he became Chiliarch. Xenophon, who personally collaborated with Persian Royal Eunuchs, wrote that despite Persian Royal Eunuchs being physically weaker than other men "steel is a great leveller and makes the weak man equal to the strong in war", clearly implying that eunuchs fought in hand-to-hand combats. It is important not to let the silly modern stereotype that Eunuchs were all fat harem attendants get the better of our judgement of the evidence.
Indeed. Aside from the (assumed) trierarchy, there is no mention of Bagoas as a commander in any situation, but it doesn't mean that he wasn't inducted into, say, the agema of the hetairoi, as other Persian notables were?

ATB
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK
User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by amyntoros »

Taphoi wrote: (My italics)

Actually, I think the onus is on you to explain why exactly you think that there is any difficulty in a high status individual giving a public performance. The counter examples are legion in both ancient and modern times. There's Alexander's own lyre-playing, Nero's various performances, Commodus and his gladiatorial exploits, Madonna and her shows, Condoleezza Rice with Aretha Franklin... Do you have the same issue with these cases or have you read one too many of the strange 19th and early to mid 20th century books on Alexander that insist (quite bizarrely) on retrospectively applying Victorian morality to his world? (Obviously, I know you read them in a good cause and we appreciate the insights that you bring to Pothos from their pages, but please don't let them get to you. We value your independent views too highly :D )
I am about to go out for the day which means I'll make my response short and simple. Don't do this again, Andrew. Don't discuss me instead of the subject at hand. You have intimated that you know how many books I have been reading ... that not only do you know their content but you are congnisant of why and exactly how much they have influenced me. Furthermore you even imply that my views, as stated, are not my own. Alexias considered the above paragraph to be "antagonistic". It is more, however. It is an ad hominem argument, pure and simple, no matter that part of it is couched as a question. I'm sure that everyone is fully aware of the meaning of "ad hominem" as this is not the first time this has happened. But let's reiterate:
An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of "argument" has the following form:


Person A makes claim X.
Person B makes an attack on person A.
Therefore A's claim is false.
The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor
athenas owl
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 401
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:07 am
Location: US

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by athenas owl »

This is a most interesting conversation...

The only thing I would contribute at this point is that I thought the men named, including Bagoas, were named a trierarch as a more symbolic gesture...and that these men had funded the boat they were named trierarch for...

And this, Bagoas may not have have been as beefy as certainly the Macedonians were, but don't discount the strength of body required to be a dancer. Even today, professional dancers, particularly males, are very strong and agile. Think of any ballet dancer that has to lift a ballerina? Someone like, it seems, Bagoas, who was an excellent dancer and seemingly trained from childhood, would most likely also have well developed muscles and skill. Heck, my daughter, who has danced (on pointe) since childhood and now works out regularly (in weight training for muscle mass and competes in what I find odd events that involve very physical competitions and mud and fire where she beats out most men) is not someone most men would want to meet in a dark alley. I wish I knew about the style of dance that Bagoas performed...it would tell us more. So "slight" is perhaps not the correct word, or doesn't take into account his training.

Stone certainly was heavily influenced by Renault...that's obvious.

And another thing to remember is that the sources are mostly filtered through the Roman lens and several centuries....How Bagoas would have been seen by his contemporaries may have been a bit "edited" and perhaps reflect that later and more Roman worldview. Of course I think a whole lot of the sources on Alexander suffer from that same problem.

Well I guess that was more than one thing. And as always I stand ready to be corrected.

AO
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 »

Alexias wrote:I think that you are assuming here a) that the Indians had ships capable of river warfare and that they engaged in such, and b) that there were any cities close to a wide river, with a tendancy to flood, that needed attacking by water. With the army on both sides of the river, it's unlikely that there was any water-borne fighting.
It was Alexander's assumption that the fleet might need to fight, else he need not have included a large proportion of war galleys (e.g. at least 80 triacontors). There were Indian cities on the riverbank in some places. There was a great deal of fighting. The fact that the fleet itself was not much embroiled simply reflects the fact that its strength was rather overwhelming.
Alexias wrote:In any case, it is probable that the fleet was reorganised either when Craterus went westward or when they reached the delta. While exploring the delta and not in close contact with the army, the bulk of which might have been left at Patala, the fleet would probably have come under Alexander's direct battle command and been manned by marines. When they reached the sea, it probably passed to Nearchus's command, a Cretan sailor, as it would seem unlikely that there would have been any high-ranking Persian with naval experience who would have accompanied Alexander this far. They are far more likely to have been left in their field of expertise in the Mediterranean.
The trierarchs were appointed at the start of the voyage on the Hydaspes, long before the sea, so what happened later was irrelevant to Alexander's decision regarding their appointment. Nearchus himself says that he was appointed admiral at the start too.
Alexias wrote:We know that eunuchs fought and hunted but that they lacked the strength of full men. Given that Bagoas was a young man, a eunuch, and a dancer, he is likely to have been slightly built. How long would he have lasted as a soldier in hand to hand combat?
How long should the 14-year old Royal Pages have lasted? Nevertheless, it is widely attested that they fought in the battles.
Alexias wrote:The Carmanian incident was a competition, it was not a PR exercise, it was not a one-man show, it was not a carefully staged competition which the emperor had better not lose. It was a competition which Bagoas appears to have won fairly. True, if Alexander was one of the judges he may have been biased, but there is no hint of this.
It was a set of games - i.e. on the model of the Olympic events. Olympic victors were rather high status individuals in the Greek world and Alexander himself is reported to have considered (and dismissed) the possibility of competing (however an earlier Macedonian monarch did compete).
Alexias wrote:The point of the Carmanian incident though was that Alexander kissed Bagoas in public. Is he likely to have risked treating an army officer as a boy in front of men he might have been leading in battle? They are hardly likely to have much respect for him if Alexander did. Even if they had affection for him, they are more likely to have considered him a mascot.
Would it have been disrespectful for Alexander to have kissed Roxane in public?
Dean wrote:And Bagoas must have been quite a popular name in Persia at the time as Alexander was in Greece, for it is a eunuch of the same name who (just love the poetic justice in the story)some years earlier tries unsuccessfully to kill Darius and is then made to swallow his own poison.
As far as I know all the ancient Bagoas's were eunuchs. It may in fact be a Persian title for the king's top eunuch and not a name at all. There is one other eunuch Bagoas in an ancient play, but probably his name was inspired by the famous pair.

Apologies for any perceived antagonism, though none was intended.

Best wishes,

Andrew
Alexias
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 705
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:16 am

Re: Rereading fire from heaven

Post by Alexias »

Taphoi wrote:
How long should the 14-year old Royal Pages have lasted? Nevertheless, it is widely attested that they fought in the battles.
The older Pages certainly went into battle, but do we actually have evidence that 14 year olds fought? Might not the first experience for young boys in warfare have been to act as runners, spare weapons carriers, grooms and getting the wounded off the field? But however old they were, the younger ones would certainly have had someone to watch their back - hence the institution of friends and lovers. Yet who was going to watch the back of a Persian eunuch? Who was going to face Alexander if his favourite fell?

Alexander wasn't a fool, and part of the loyalty he inspired in his men must have been because they had a fair expectation of coming out of it alive ie he didn't squander men's lives unnecessarily. Surely then a boy would only have been sent into combat when he was physically ready and was not simply 'cannon fodder'.
Taphoi wrote:
Would it have been disrespectful for Alexander to have kissed Roxane in public?
Yes, it would have been unthinkably shameful for Alexander to kiss Roxane in public, especially with affection as he obviously did Bagoas. To expose her to the sexual glances of other men would have been effectively saying 'here you are, come and get it' (sorry, that's crass), but he would have been seen to be saying that she was a harlot and available to any man. Within living memory, it was bad manners for a husband to kiss his wife in public with affection, other than a perfunctionary peck on the cheek, which I doubt Roxane would have even got. As the king's wife, her reputation had to be utterly beyond reproach. To every man except her husband a woman had to be an untouchable virgin. A different set of mores!
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 »

Alexias wrote:
Taphoi wrote:
Would it have been disrespectful for Alexander to have kissed Roxane in public?
Yes, it would have been unthinkably shameful for Alexander to kiss Roxane in public, especially with affection as he obviously did Bagoas. To expose her to the sexual glances of other men would have been effectively saying 'here you are, come and get it' (sorry, that's crass), but he would have been seen to be saying that she was a harlot and available to any man. Within living memory, it was bad manners for a husband to kiss his wife in public with affection, other than a perfunctionary peck on the cheek, which I doubt Roxane would have even got. As the king's wife, her reputation had to be utterly beyond reproach. To every man except her husband a woman had to be an untouchable virgin. A different set of mores!
I can't fault your consistency, but I'm not convinced that the ancients were quite so prudish. The below was wall decoration in the house of a wealthy baker at Pompeii. Obviously, there are plenty of kisses (male-male or male-female) on Greek pottery too.

Image

Best wishes,

Andrew
Post Reply