Ancients Behaving Badly

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amyntoros
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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jan wrote:But I do cite the Iliad all the way through so that it will make sense when the reader sees the comparisons between Achilles and Alexander.
As John Maxwell O’Brien did to great effect in his biography, Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy.

A novel is not a history book, or a biography. There is plenty of room to have fun with imagination and dreams. Hopefully, I will get it finished in first draft form soon so that I can then finetune it with the revisions.

I get that, I really do, Imagination and dreams are fine in fiction, although when you write about a historical character you can expect the reception to vary according to your audience. For example, Showtime's The Tudors often played fast and loose with history but was very well received by viewers in general. I loved it myself even though I spent time checking the web after every episode because I questioned much of what I had seen. If there is a forum for Henry (equivalent to Pothos) I'm sure there would be much furious debate about the show. The same can be expected here because we exist to debate the historical Alexander so we demand a degree of accuracy, even in fiction. Paul Doherty’s Alexander mysteries sold well to the general public but were poorly received by the majority of our members, for good reason. And that's how it goes …

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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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jan wrote:I know that Roxanne killed Darius's daughter after Alexander's death to protect her son, but the point was that she was jealous from the time of first meeting to the end. I just phrased it poorly. Thanks for catching that as I liked that distinction. You are correct. I meant my idea is that she is jealous from day one as anyone would be who is "in love" with him.
Except, Jan, that I don't remember there being any mention of Roxane being "jealous" at any point in their relationship. Maybe I'm wrong (because I've just spent a long and frustrating time on the phone to the phone company, trying to get my wireless connection working again, and I can't be bothered to look it up), but you are projecting your unevidenced opinions on us again, which really doesn't push your argument on.
jan wrote:But England is such a land of mystics and spiritualists, I am surprised that you are so dubious about those of us who have such experiences. One of my favorites is Ena Twigg, who is an English spiritualist.
First of all, I don't think I have ever suggested that you take any drugs, Jan. I admit that I have been extremely sceptical of your "spiritual" journeys, but I don't believe I have ever suggested that you have experienced them under the influence of drugs. Second, I don't know which part of England is a land of mystics and spiritualists - certainly nowhere I've been. To me, England is a land of distinctly un-spiritual sceptics (like myself :) )
jan wrote: The others that I mentioned are so obvious to me that I would think that anyone would see that.
Not a very strong argument, I'm afraid. Quotations from recognised sources would be rather more helpful.
jan wrote: I appreciated the way that Manfredi conjured his idea for the Gordian Knot. Mine is a bit simpler.
Well, we each have our view of Manfredi ...
jan wrote:Callisthenes had actually visited Mieza when Alexander was a student there as well, so that the students and Alexander knew who he was long before he became his official historian. He is another who is in the Philotas mold of having spent time together in Alexander's youth but who became a victim for the right or wrong reasons also.
Yet another statement for which there is no proof, I'm afraid. Why on earth should Callisthenes have visited Mieza? I'm not saying he didn't, but there's nothing in the sources that suggests that he did.
jan wrote:He had to have had a certain contempt for Alexander to have responded to his having been shunned with the words, "Well, then I won't get a kiss."
Not at all. The comment shows his disdain for the idea of proskynesis, not contempt for Alexander.
jan wrote:Marcus mentioned Ian Worthington, and I wrote a scene especially for him. That is a chapter with the beautiful prostitute that Olympias found for him... :lol:
Oh dear! :D

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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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Well, to be honest, most everything that I am using is based upon the books that I have been reading, and I actually wondered if I should use footnotes to give credit to those authors whose works I am quoting or developing. I am following historical data very rigidly and exactly, but I am using a combination of several authors whose books I happen to have available and at my fingertips. I was a bit concerned about being accused of plagiarism at one point so that I have to rewrite every sentence in my own words but I am following history as much as possible. I learned that Callisthenes had visited Mieza as a resource person. Because he was a nephew of Aristotle he was easily obtained by his uncle to come to the group to teach some of his lessons to the boys. Others also went who later became the artists, coin designers. These visitors to Mieza were listed in a book that I have, as I would not dream that up myself. Now, for me the problem is where did the author obtain this information? I do not know. I would give the author the credit if I use it in my book. It adds to the story if one develops the idea that the historians taught the young adolescents information about Xenophon, Achilles, and other Greek and Macedonian leaders. I believe his painter also visited Mieza because I recall briefly developing that storyline with his painting pictures there. The stories surrounding Aristotle alone fascinated me. I was shocked when I realized how faithful to Philip that the leader of the city where Aristotle had lived was crucified by the Persians. It helped to develop an antiPersian attitude amongst the group. That is the reason that I would interject that episode into the trial of Philotas when I get to that part. For the moment, I ended at the death of Philip,and Alexander's finally assuming the throne. Hermeias was truly a remarkable man who Philip honestly did not deserve. I find it easy to criticize Philip for his response to those events. I would use the gods in every instance of Philip's decline. He was saved by Alexander twice, and by Pausanias once, and that was when Alexander had left Pella to go to Olympias's brothers after the wedding remarks. It is not the same Pausanias who killed Philip, but it is because of the Pausanias that saved Philip that eventually Philip does get killed. I will use the gods as manipulating and controlling all of that, as they do in the Iliad, and that will include tripping Philip when he falls on his face, but only Alexander sees the god that does this to Philip. Likewise, it will be because of the gods that Pausanias gets tripped up at the time he tries to escape, but gets caught in a stirrup or a tree limb, as the gods intervene so often in the Iliad that they do the same in my study of Alexander. Zeus has commanded that they all help Alexander in every way.

Because I know that American students do not know the Iliad as well as European students, I am literally rewriting the story through the classroom discussions of Alexander and his friends so that the Americans can learn what effect this great epic poem had on Alexander, his friends, and why. In fact, if Alexander had been described as the fire in the womb of Olympias, I wonder at why he did not recognize his likeness to Hector when Homer described Hector as the fire of Troy. It is an odd thing that Alexander is so devoted to Achilles, but in truth, he attached himself to him mostly because of the influence of his teachers who compared themselves and Alexander to Phoenix and Achilles.

Well, it is all interesting. I just want Alexander to be portrayed in the light of a man with a mission, whose belief in the gods drives him to success. In my novel, he is a tool of the gods to achieve their will. I am literally imitating Homer but if the book does nothing else, it may help adolescents in this nation to discover not only Alexander but Homer's Achilles and the Iliad also as well as other Greek poets. I discuss Ion a lot too.


It is an adult book as well as appropriate for adolescents. I think that most everyone is always interested in Alexander's sex life, and I wrote two chapters that actually seem opposite to one another, but it was a first draft state in which I am determining which way I am going with this. It is certainly not in finished form or ready for publication, but it is a start. I loved writing it. I found it very interesting for the time I immersed myself into it. My version of him will satisfy many a military person. And I have that audience in mind as well as the adolescents of America. I have a neighbor whose sons hated the movie that Stone directed and walked out of it. I will not insult anyone's intelligence or trample on sensitivities if I can help it. I have a lot to say, and I want it to be a best seller as well.

Oh yes, you did mention John Maxwell O'Brien, a man who I like very much, as I read his book The Invisible Enemy about how he believed that wine was the culprit that affected Alexander the most. Yes, I suppose, subconsciously, that his use of phrases from the Iliad may have had an influence on me too. I tried to get a sentence or paragraph from each chapter of the Iliad, and I would have liked to have had the chapters of the Iliad as a foundation upon which the pages of my book would be superimposed. If I can get a publisher to do that, I will do it that way. The idea is that the Iliad is the basis for this book about Alexander. It is very important to realize how influenced by Homer and the myth of Achilles that Alexander had been. Achilles is his role model, and the Iliad is the only means, besides Ion, and a few others that show that the Greeks and Macedonians lived their literature to the fullest. When even Kleitos quotes from a passage, I have to have the reader understand why this is so significant that it would bring about his death.

I also used mythology to show that the gods knew the story of Achilles before it was even played out, and that is something that in a classroom situation the boys discuss together. In fact, I make certain that Alexander is not as gullible as he is often thought to be in his devotion to Achilles and Homer.

I guess I am writing all this to you to get my butt back into gear as I have drifted away from the story. Believe it or not, all this challenging has been good for me. I needed that. Writing is often a lonely business, isn't it?
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by marcus »

jan wrote:I learned that Callisthenes had visited Mieza as a resource person. Because he was a nephew of Aristotle he was easily obtained by his uncle to come to the group to teach some of his lessons to the boys. Others also went who later became the artists, coin designers. These visitors to Mieza were listed in a book that I have, as I would not dream that up myself. Now, for me the problem is where did the author obtain this information? I do not know. I would give the author the credit if I use it in my book.
Hi Jan,

You have to separate the stuff that you have decided to include in your novel from the stuff that you end up citing as "fact" here. There is absolutely no problem with saying in your novel that Callisthenes visited Mieza - I happen to think that there's a good chance that he did at some point. But this is the crucial point. I think he might have done, and have indeed said that he did in my own Alexander novel - but that is not the same as boldly saying, on this forum, "Callisthenes had actually visited Mieza when Alexander was a student there as well, so that the students and Alexander knew who he was long before he became his official historian." There is simply no evidence for this.

Now, as it happens, Callisthenes was quite a well-known historian before he took the job of recording Alexander's expedition, so he was already known to Alexander, at least by reputation ... otherwise he probably wouldn't have got the job.

If you come to the forum and say "In my novel I have decided to make X and Y happen", then no-one is going to gainsay you - unless there is a real historical reason for suggesting that you take another approach, which I would hope you would take as constructive criticism. But if you post something and claim it to be "fact" when it is merely your opinion on something, without any historical evidence to support it, then you will be pulled up on it, pretty sharpish! :D

Keep going with the novel, please do. But make sure you keep a clear line of distinction between what is your fictional take on Alexander and what is historically evidenced.

For what it's worth - don't cite authors in footnotes. Use their interpretation of events (written in your own words, of course) to help construct your story; and, if necessary, include an acknowledgements page to indicate where you did most of your research.

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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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A couple more points:
jan wrote:It is an odd thing that Alexander is so devoted to Achilles, but in truth, he attached himself to him mostly because of the influence of his teachers who compared themselves and Alexander to Phoenix and Achilles.
One of the reasons why Alexander was so devoted to Achilles was because he was descended from him, on his mother's side. The Aeacids, his mother's family, were said to have been descended from Neoptolemus, who was Achilles' son. Undoubtedly Alexander would have heroised Achilles anyway, but being a descendent helped! A good reason for not adopting Hector as a hero was that Hector was not a Greek.
jan wrote:Achilles is his role model, and the Iliad is the only means, besides Ion, and a few others that show that the Greeks and Macedonians lived their literature to the fullest. When even Kleitos quotes from a passage, I have to have the reader understand why this is so significant that it would bring about his death.
Am I being stupid here? What do you mean by "Ion"?
jan wrote: In fact, I make certain that Alexander is not as gullible as he is often thought to be in his devotion to Achilles and Homer.
There ain't no "gullibility" in it at all. I don't think you mean "gullible", anyway - did you mean "naive", perhaps? And I don't think anyone has ever suggested that Alexander devotion to Homer was gullible or naive.

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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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jan wrote: It is very important to realize how influenced by Homer and the myth of Achilles that Alexander had been. Achilles is his role model, and the Iliad is the only means, besides Ion, and a few others that show that the Greeks and Macedonians lived their literature to the fullest. When even Kleitos quotes from a passage, I have to have the reader understand why this is so significant that it would bring about his death.
In which case you'd be better off stating that the line which Clietus uses comes from Euripides' Andromache and explaining its relevance in relation to those which follow(694-705):
When the army routs the enemy, they do not regard this as the deed of those who have done the work, but rather the general receives the honor. He brandished his spear as one man among countless others and did no more than a single warrior, yet he gets more credit. [And sitting high and mighty in office in the city they think grander thoughts than the commons though they are worthless. The people are far superior to them in wisdom if they acquired at once daring and will.] It is in this fashion that you and your brother sit puffed up over Troy and your generalship there, made high and mighty by the toils and labors of others.
Alexander will have known his Euripides; the significance was, quite clearly, not lost on him given Plutarch's description of his reaction.

In any case this rather aimless wandering down the corridors of hypnosis, dreams and the channeling of the dead conqueror bears little relevance to the thread or the site for that matter. Then again, it might be said that "My version of Alexander is that he is very sexy, very attractive, very human, very stoic, very muscular, very powerful...." is possibly not so far removed from "Alexander himself showed such meticulous attention to fairness..."
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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: Ancients Behaving Badly

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Paralus wrote:In any case this rather aimless wandering down the corridors of hypnosis, dreams and the channeling of the dead conqueror bears little relevance to the thread or the site for that matter. Then again, it might be said that "My version of Alexander is that he is very sexy, very attractive, very human, very stoic, very muscular, very powerful...." is possibly not so far removed from "Alexander himself showed such meticulous attention to fairness..."
Oh, very good, sir. I doff my cap. :D

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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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Paralus wrote:In any case this rather aimless wandering down the corridors of hypnosis, dreams and the channeling of the dead conqueror bears little relevance to the thread or the site for that matter. Then again, it might be said that "My version of Alexander is that he is very sexy, very attractive, very human, very stoic, very muscular, very powerful...." is possibly not so far removed from "Alexander himself showed such meticulous attention to fairness..."
Gold!! :D :D :D :D :D
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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Well, I did wonder when I just read Marcus's question who Ion is if anyone would be able to tell him before I do. Ion is a character in a play by Euripides called ION. He is the father of the Ionians as such. Just to get to the nitty gritty. I use Euripides as much as I do the Iliad since Euripides is supposedly Alexander's favorite. And it is true that he was not the only one who knew these plays forwards and backwards, probably as most of the world knows Andrew Lloyd Weber's works today forwards and backwards.

Alexander was well loved because he could talk to his own troops in their own language so to speak, and much of that language is through literature, poems and plays...they all had a grasp of it. I listened to your advice well, Marcus, and especially appreciate what you said about the footnotes. A page giving credit is enough. I agree with that. There are times though in some fiction stories some bits of history which are being quoted do get footnotes from a rare few authors.

Thanks for your advice. I understand now what you are saying about historical evidence and fictional devices. I always thought it a stretch to believe in a written copy of the Bible after 200 years, but to believe in written copies of books written 400 years later after Alexander' s life is an even greater stretch.

I just read something interesting about the find at Vergina as probably being that of Alexander's brother's tomb instead of Philip's so that now the consensus is that perhaps many of those artifacts actually belonged to Alexander after all. In the end, I think the only legitimate testimonies to Alexander will be the coins, artifacts, and jewels that testify to his life.

I would still like to see a book that contains all the sources written in English so that they could be bound together in an ebook form, with room to add any other books that one would want to own about the life of Alexander.

Naturally, in Greece, they want it to be written in Greek.

By the way, one of the most interesting plays by Euripides is Alcestis...a very good lesson there. If Alexander can do nothing more than to teach the world about literature of that day and time, then I will be happy to add to that contribution. But it is a lot of work, I admit...Thanks for being a help to me as I believe you are, Marcus. :D
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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Amyntoros, Thank you for your comments. I appreciated them very much. I want to let you know that there is a place that does discuss The Tudors. It is called TudorTalk which is at Yahoo discussion groups. It is a very active site, has an amazing group of interested and dedicated members who love the Tudors. Lara Eakins is the owner/moderator and has added Danny Newman from Elizabeth I group as co-owner and co-moderator. You might enjoy the discussions there.
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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jan wrote:Alexander was well loved because he could talk to his own troops in their own language so to speak, and much of that language is through literature, poems and plays...they all had a grasp of it.


I doubt that the bulk of the Macedonian "peasant levy" - that which made up the "average grunts" of the phalanx - went to their shared tents of a night with Euripides or Homer in their hands. More likely the nearest cheap wine. That is not to say that neither was unknown to them; just that they likely didn't read too well. Nothing to do with the lack of reading glasses...
jan wrote:I just read something interesting about the find at Vergina as probably being that of Alexander's brother's tomb instead of Philip's so that now the consensus is that perhaps many of those artifacts actually belonged to Alexander after all.
Unless something went astray, I'd think the Macedonian king will have been buried with his own goods - panoplies included.
jan wrote: And it is true that he was not the only one who knew these plays forwards and backwards, probably as most of the world knows Andrew Lloyd Weber's works today forwards and backwards.
I thank whatever gods may exist that I seem not to belong to that which constitutes "most of the world" in that sentence. That statement may well rank (pardon the pun) with the two I'd quoted in a previous post...
Last edited by Paralus on Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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: Ancients Behaving Badly

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jan wrote:Ion is a character in a play by Euripides called ION. He is the father of the Ionians as such. Just to get to the nitty gritty. I use Euripides as much as I do the Iliad since Euripides is supposedly Alexander's favorite. And it is true that he was not the only one who knew these plays forwards and backwards, probably as most of the world knows Andrew Lloyd Weber's works today forwards and backwards.
Oh, that Ion. When you made reference to the play originally it wasn't very clear - but now I see what you're talking about.

I'm afraid I have to concur with Paralus - while there is one ALW musical that I certainly used to be able to sing from beginning to end, I am very happy to say that I have almost no knowledge of the rest of his work.
jan wrote:I understand now what you are saying about historical evidence and fictional devices. I always thought it a stretch to believe in a written copy of the Bible after 200 years, but to believe in written copies of books written 400 years later after Alexander' s life is an even greater stretch.
That wasn't actually the point I was making, Jan. It's not about disbelieving the historical sources on Alexander, but it is about using them! There may well be disagreements between them, and some might contain information that others do not; but the point I was making was that one cannot state something as fact if there is no mention of it in the sources. For better or for worse, these are the only sources we have, and in the absence of, say, any mention of Alexander's fellow students in the sources, the best we can do in conjecture. What we cannot do is say "So-and-so was there", because there is no proof.

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