Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

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Arethusa33
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Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by Arethusa33 »

Hi all,

Just a little thought I wanted to share with people of this forum :

I am more and more irritated by the huge influence ascribed to Bagoas in most recent novels but more important in recent biographies of Alexander. For instance I read in a recent biography that it was Bagoas who chose the Persian clothes that Alexander wore. All that because some modern historians consider as the historical truth what Mary Renault wrote in her fictional "Persian boy".

According to Curtius, Bagoas was given to Alexander as a gift in late July or August 330 BC and he had a sexual relationship with the King. Then, we never heard of him again until november 325 BC after the crossing of the Gedrosian desert when Alexander gave him a kiss publicly after a dance contest that Bagoas won.

I think that we didn't hear of him during those 5 years, because he was not with Alexander's army he had been left behind at the palace in Hyrcania with other eunuchs and the 365 concubines of Darius' harem, around october 330 BC before proceeding towards Bactriana.

According to Curtius, Alexander told his men to get rid of all their unnecessary baggage that slowed down their advance. Knowing Alexander, he surely set an example and left his beautiful "gift", Bagoas, behind as he ordered his men to get rid of their spoils of war.In my opinion, it's obvious that there is no mention of Bagoas during those years because he was not with Alexander.

As soon as he came back from the Hyrcanian palace we heard of Bagoas again.That was when Alexander ordered Phrataphernes, satrap of the Hyrcanians, to bring provisions as he approached Gedrosia. To soothe that army which endured an awful hardship, Phrataphernes sent also entertainments, among whose was Bagoas, who had pleased the King 5 years earlier.

Anyway, that was at this time that Alexander completely drunk, kissed Bagoas publicly and later Curtius embroided on that, saying Bagoas was the cause of the execution of Orsines.

I also think that maybe Bagoas acted in a self important way and thought that because Alexander kissed him publicly and slept with him he was the most influential person in the Empire. Maybe he complained that no one gave him the gifts he deserved considering his" high position".Anyway, Curtius gave him an influence he never had.
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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by marcus »

Arethusa33 wrote: For instance I read in a recent biography that it was Bagoas who chose the Persian clothes that Alexander wore.
I have no time to do more than respond to one small bit in your post, although I'm sure others will jump in with more detailed replies - I've been working for around 15 hours (minus the hour and a half it took me to get home from work) and have a good hour more to do tonight ... before probably the same tomorrow; so there's no way I can answer more fully at the moment.

I would be very interested to know in which biography you read this. Not because I doubt you, but because I don't recall it myself, and I would like to go back to it myself and see the reasoning behind the statement.

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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by Alexias »

You might perhaps be unaware that there is some debate as to whether the Bagoas mention (by Arrian?) as commanding one of the triremes sailing down the Indus was or was not the eunuch Bagoas. I think most people tend to assume that as we no of no other high-ranking Bagoas that it was the eunuch - although others have argued against that.
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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by Arethusa33 »

Hi Alexias,

Yes, I know that there is a mention of a Bagoas, son of Pharnuches among the trierarchs in Arrian. Robin Lane Fox in his biography of Alexander called Bagoas the eunuch son of Pharnuches too. But it doesn't convince me at all that it is the same man.
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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by spitamenes »

I like this theory about bagoas. Reason being is I also believe there has been a crap load of undue emphasis on him lately. And we do know Alexander did lead by example, especially during times where it would be of great importance to the March itself.
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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by marcus »

Alexias wrote:You might perhaps be unaware that there is some debate as to whether the Bagoas mention (by Arrian?) as commanding one of the triremes sailing down the Indus was or was not the eunuch Bagoas. I think most people tend to assume that as we no of no other high-ranking Bagoas that it was the eunuch - although others have argued against that.
There is a problem with assuming, or indeed denying, that the trierarch Bagoas was 'the' Bagoas, in that there are also a number of others in the list of trierarchs of whom that list is their only mention. Should we assume or deny their identity on the same grounds?

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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by Arethusa33 »

Hi Marcus,

My purpose was not to criticize a particular historian but to point out a general state of things.I was browsing my recommendations on the site of Amazon and I saw that a biography of Alexander had been recently written. I looked inside the book and I read that Bagoas chose the Persian clothes of Alexander and I found this affirmation completely absurd in a biography because it was pure fiction .

On the contrary I like very much Andrew Chugg's "Alexander's lovers" which is a very well documented book and he names his ancient sources. I don't agree with him about his theory that Euxenippos and Bagoas are the same person but his book is excellent.

For me, Bagoas is a very secondary historical character in Alexander's life, not more important than other beautiful boys who caught the King's eye like Euxenippos or (maybe) Hector. But they are not referred as eromenos, only favorites.They are not Persians or eunuchs and above all, Mary Renault didn't write a best seller about them and they didn't appear in the Alexander movie.I think that's why almost every recent book fictional or non fictional tells that Bagoas played a prominent role in Alexander's life.

I don't think that Alexander needed Bagoas to build his policy of fusion with Persians, or to choose his Persians clothes or to execute dishonest satraps.

As I firmly believe that Bagoas was left behind in Hyrcania, and was not with Alexander during the rest of his conquest, I am convinced that Bagoas, son of Pharnuches has nothing to do with Bagoas the eunuch.I'm afraid that the tetriarch Bagoas will remain a mystery forever.

Concerning the novels, I understand that a novel is a work of imagination and doesn't require to tell the absolute historical truth but I don't like the fact that most of the novels about Alexander lack originality and creativity and are often inspired by Mary Renault's "Persian boy".
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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by Arethusa33 »

Hi Spitamenes,

I'm glad you like that theory and I like very much to discuss about Alexander. I admire him greatly and he is very popular here in France where the Alexander movie was a big success.

I can easily imagine Alexander setting his baggage on fire and saying goodbye to his beautiful eunuch even reluctantly because concerning the sacrifices he required of his men he was the first one to make them in all circumstances.
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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by Taphoi »

Arethusa33 wrote:According to Curtius, Bagoas was given to Alexander as a gift in late July or August 330 BC and he had a sexual relationship with the King. Then, we never heard of him again until november 325 BC after the crossing of the Gedrosian desert when Alexander gave him a kiss publicly after a dance contest that Bagoas won. I think that we didn't hear of him during those 5 years, because he was not with Alexander's army he had been left behind at the palace in Hyrcania with other eunuchs and the 365 concubines of Darius' harem, around october 330 BC before proceeding towards Bactriana.
This is an argument from silence, when there is actually no silence. In addition to Arrian's mention of the trierarch, whose designation ho pharnoucheos is likely a corruption of Bagoas the Eunuch, there is also Curtius's mention (7.9.19) of an effeminate youth, who was Alexander's lover, in the context of Sogdiana and this too must be be Bagoas.

Furthermore, excluding Bagoas from India would not serve to undermine his influence, since he is independently cited in a shortlist of Alexander's greatest flatterers by Plutarch.

Best wishes,

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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by marcus »

Taphoi wrote:In addition to Arrian's mention of the trierarch, whose designation ho pharnoucheos is likely a corruption of Bagoas the Eunuch
Hmm, I think you need to give us more evidence for this, Andrew.
there is also Curtius's mention (7.9.19) of an effeminate youth, who was Alexander's lover, in the context of Sogdiana and this too must be be Bagoas.
I disagree that it "must be" Bagoas. I agree that it might well be Bagoas, or even that it is likely to be Bagoas; but it's a bit of a stretch to say it "must be" him.

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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by Taphoi »

marcus wrote:I disagree that it "must be" Bagoas. I agree that it might well be Bagoas, or even that it is likely to be Bagoas; but it's a bit of a stretch to say it "must be" him.
The youth is evidently acting as a translator for the Sacae delegation, just as Bagoas had acted as an interpreter for Nabarzanes. It is sufficient to justify a degree of confidence. How many youthful effeminate male lovers who could speak Greek and Persian fluently is Alexander likely to have had? Certainly, only one is mentioned elsewhere.

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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by marcus »

Taphoi wrote:
marcus wrote:I disagree that it "must be" Bagoas. I agree that it might well be Bagoas, or even that it is likely to be Bagoas; but it's a bit of a stretch to say it "must be" him.
The youth is evidently acting as a translator for the Sacae delegation, just as Bagoas had acted as an interpreter for Nabarzanes. It is sufficient to justify a degree of confidence. How many youthful effeminate male lovers who could speak Greek and Persian fluently is Alexander likely to have had? Certainly, only one is mentioned elsewhere.
Indeed, one can say it with a fair, if not high, degree of confidence. But you still can't say it "must be" Bagoas ... :)

I think this argument has happened before, hasn't it? :shock:

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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by Taphoi »

marcus wrote: Indeed, one can say it with a fair, if not high, degree of confidence. But you still can't say it "must be" Bagoas ... :)

I think this argument has happened before, hasn't it? :shock:
I only meant that there is a forceful argument from the evidence. Nothing, as we know, is certain in this world except death and taxes (and some people are even dubious about death) :)

Certainly, Bagoas pops up here almost, but not quite, as frequently as Hephaistion. 8)

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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by agesilaos »

The corruption of Βαγώας ὁ εὐνοῦχος to Βαγώας ὁ Φαρνούχεω does not seem very likely to me, nor indeed necessary, even eunuchs have fathers.

As for the youth and the Sacae we have rehearsed that before in the 'excipion and excinadon' thread.
VII 9 [19] Benigne igitur exceptis Sacarum legatis comitem Euxenippon dedit, adhuc admodum iuvenem,aetatis flore conciliatum sibi, qui cum specie corporisaequaret Hephaestionem, ei lepore haud sane virilipar non erat.
It is true that Yardley chooses to translate ‘haud sane virile’ as ‘rather effeminate’ but it can also refer back to the ‘iuvenem aetatis flore’ and mean only that he was ‘hardly a grown man’ .So the effeminate youth disappears in a poof of grammar! Euxenippos above is merely an editors guess, the text is corrupt.
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Re: Bagoas left behind in Hyrcania

Post by Efstathios »

I've said it before about Curtius, what that man wrote is not to be taken seriously, he might as well have written Alexander's romance. I am not dismissing him completely, but hey, take a lot of things that he says with a grain of salt, or better yet with a lot more grains of salt.
Last edited by Efstathios on Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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