New podcast about Alexander

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patrickgarvey88
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New podcast about Alexander

Post by patrickgarvey88 »

Hi everyone -

I just released a podcast where I speak to some of the world's leading experts on Alexander and one of them recommended I let followers of Pothos know about the show.

It's called The Achilles Gene - solving the mysteries of the ancient heroes. http://www.achillesgene.com/podcast The first 3 episodes focus on Alexander the Great, each exploring a different controversy in his life:

Ep I: Did Alexander really idolize the mythological hero Achilles?
Ep II: Why did he visit the Oracle of Ammon in the Libyan Desert in 332 BCE?
Ep III: Were he and Hephaestion friends, lovers, or something in between?

I know there are sometimes strict policies about self-promotion on forums, so please let me know if this post isn't appropriate. The podcast is free on iTunes and Soundcloud and contains no ads or sponsors. Hope some of you enjoy the show. I'd love to hear any constructive feedback and/or questions. Thanks.

Patrick
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delos13
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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by delos13 »

Thanks for bringing the attention to your podcast. I didn't listen to it yet but I am going to.
sean_m
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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by sean_m »

Thanks for letting us know, I see a Pothos-member among the speakers.
My blog (Warning: may contain up to 95% non-Alexandrian content, rated shamelessly philobarbarian by 1 out of 1 Plutarchs)
Alexias
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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by Alexias »

sean_m wrote:Thanks for letting us know, I see a Pothos-member among the speakers.
PS Two Pothosians (at least)
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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by Alexias »

I haven't had time to listen to these podcasts yet, but I did read your blog here http://www.achillesgene.com/blog/alexan ... ommenting=about Alexander and Hephaestion's relationship.

For me, Hephaestion not being interested in a physical relationship with Alexander beyond adolescence just doesn't work. It sounds too romantic - Alexander heaped more and more authority on him out of unrequited love? Plus, Hephaestion would have been a bit dumb to turn down a king if he was interested in him as normally it would have meant a path to power and favouritism, and if he'd turned him down, who knows what Alexander's revenge might have been?

A more plausible scenario would seem to be that the physical side of the relationship petered out. For one, Alexander was interested in boys not men. That might have been dictated by social convention, but as Hephaestion became less appealing as he grew older, boys such as Bagoas probably took his place.

Secondly, there may have been social pressure to end the relationship. Alexander refused to marry before he set out for Asia. This might have been partly because he was in a close relationship with Hephaestion. There are lots of other reason too, such as not wanting to leave a potential heir at home who could be used to displace him. He had killed off all his viable male relatives, and it would leave too much power and temptation in the hands of others.

There may have been increasing peer pressure for Alexander and Hephaestion to end the relationship after Issus. Parmenion chose Barsine (principally because she spoke Greek and was a widow) as Alexander's 'prize' from the captured harem at Damascus. This was allegedly the first woman he slept with, and it may have been Parmenion's not-so subtle way of saying, it's time to move on or you will lose the respect of the army.

Thirdly, they would have begun to feel social pressure not to appear weak and feminine. It would have been difficult for either of them to exert authority if they had been seen in the eyes of the majority of the army as someone's 'boy', particularly for Hephaestion. If he was to have any respect as an independent commander, they would have had to end the relationship. Interestingly, shortly after Issus, we learn of Hephaestion's first independent missions - appointing the king of Sidon, commanding the supply fleet on the march into Egypt, liaising with Athens, and bridge building over the Euphrates. Pay off for ending the relationship?

If they did continue the physical side of the relationship, if would have become sporadic as Hephaestion was often absent for months. It would also have had to have been very covert for it not to have been gossiped about, particularly after Alexander's marriage to Roxane.

If though they did end the physical side of the relationship before it became something out of the ordinary, in later years Alexander would have legitimately been able to compare his friendship with Craterus with that of his friendship for Hephaestion without, perhaps, too much fear of sniggering.

That doesn't mean though that the love ceased (bit wary of using that word but affection isn't strong enough to explain Alexander's reaction to Hephaestion's death). Alexander and Hephaestion had probably known each other since childhood. The traditional view is that they met when Aristotle took over Alexander's education and the group of Pages to accompany him was chosen. Hephaestion though was from the neighbourhood of Pella, if not the city itself, and they may well have known each other since childhood. Alexander certainly had companions of his own age as, when he was about 10, he and another boy debated before the Athenian ambassadors. If the other boy was a son of Philip's it would have been worth a mention, and Alexander would certainly have needed other boys of his own age to compete against in his physical education as well as his intellectual education.

In this respect, Hephaestion functioned not only as Alexander's friend, but probably as a brother too. Given the trouble Philip had with his own rebellious half-brothers, Alexander would have been very wary of trusting any of his half-brothers. They were his rivals and any relationships between them were probably fiercely competitive. With the lack of any full brother (that we know of) that he could trust, Alexander may have been isolated within the family. Hephaestion, with no major power-based family interest to motivate him, only had his own interests at heart in befriending Alexander. Alexander could trust him because he depended upon Alexander for advancement. If they grew up together sharing an idolisation of heroes such as Achilles, much like boys today with sporting heroes and their visit to Troy suggests they did, they would have formed a strong emotional bond which would have outlasted any physical attraction.
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patrickgarvey88
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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by patrickgarvey88 »

For me, Hephaestion not being interested in a physical relationship with Alexander beyond adolescence just doesn't work. It sounds too romantic - Alexander heaped more and more authority on him out of unrequited love? Plus, Hephaestion would have been a bit dumb to turn down a king if he was interested in him as normally it would have meant a path to power and favouritism, and if he'd turned him down, who knows what Alexander's revenge might have been?
Whether it sounds romantic or not, a young man losing interest in same-sex relations as he matures is common. I don't think Alexander gave him authority on the basis of "unrequited love" - those are your words. I postulated that Alexander may have valued Hephaestion, in part, for his good looks. Some sources indicate that to be the case. My theory is merely a way of making sense of the apparent contradiction that, although Alexander was attracted to Hephaestion, they weren't referred to as lovers in the most credible ancient sources.
For one, Alexander was interested in boys not men.
I don't share your certainty that Alexander's "type" was so set-in-stone.

I do find it more probable that their physical relationship waned as they got older, for a variety of reasons (many of which you stated). My point is merely that it's possible that this waning was not equally embraced by both men. Regardless, it seems clear their bond - romantic or not - was quite powerful.
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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by Jeanne Reames »

Alexias -- I'd invite you to listen to the podcast before commenting. That's a gentle rebuke. It's unprofessional to comment on/review a monograph or similar before reading/(listening to) the whole.

Several of your points are addressed in the podcast (even supported), or don't really make sense in terms of what was covered.
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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by Alexias »

Thank you for your condescension. My apologies for forgetting anyone other than an expert was entitled to express an opinion.
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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by Jeanne Reames »

Alexias -- I think you missed the point. It's not having an opinion that I object to. It was having an opinion without actually listening to the material in question as some of your comments and objections were, in fact, covered in the podcast.

And I won't apologize for being an expert. Nor will I apologize for correcting someone over a matter of methodology. That's the nature of academic discussion.
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Alexias
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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by Alexias »

Jeanne, I specifically said I was commenting on the blog, not the podcasts.
but I did read your blog here http://www.achillesgene.com/blog/alexan ... ting=about Alexander and Hephaestion's relationship.
Having commented on the blog, which was about why Alexander and Hephaestion may have stopped being lovers, I then posted my own independently arrived at thoughts on the subject. I may have gotten a little off topic, but I was not commenting on the content of the podcasts. The podcasts may have covered some of the same material. This isn't necessarily evident from looking at the titles of the podcasts:
Ep I: Did Alexander really idolize the mythological hero Achilles?
Ep II: Why did he visit the Oracle of Ammon in the Libyan Desert in 332 BCE?
Ep III: Were he and Hephaestion friends, lovers, or something in between?
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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by system1988 »

Alexias wrote:
Having commented on the blog, which was about why Alexander and Hephaestion may have stopped being lovers, I then posted my own independently arrived at thoughts on the subject.
And you did very well so, with complete and rational arguements by the way. I personally enjoyed your reply, as well as your thoughts' unfolding.
As far as the bonding of A. and H. is concerned, it is one that occupied a lot even during ancient times, not just today. Lucian in his "Dialogoi Deorum" (I think) has Alexander's father, Philip, complaining that his son's basic weakness was that "he loved Hephaestion a lot". It seems so that there were a lot of gossips and rumors as to what that affair was and were all circulating as early as the people in question were alive. Because they were not "common people". That couple changed the flow of history for ever.

And as time goes by and research continues (even the "silent ones") when the monument of Kasta is revealed publicaly and it is scientifically proven that indeed it was Hephaestion's tomb, it will be then that the true conversation can begin.

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Re: New podcast about Alexander

Post by Alexias »

Thank you, Pauline. Alexander was also accused of being too feminine, apparently by his parents - even more reason to hide the real nature of his relationship with Hephaestion if he felt it would impair his military reputation.

I am less certain than you that Amphipolis is Hephaestion's tomb, but if they could find the funding to excavate the other structures in the mound, it might provide a clearer picture.
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