Fire from Heaven

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dean
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Fire from Heaven

Post by dean »

Hi,

Just started rereading Mary Renault's wonderful classic a few days back and this will be probably be my third or fourth visit to this book.

First the book is a wonderful novel written by someone who certainly can write.

Just about 50 pages in and already picked up on several similarities between the book and Stone's script where young Alexander is in Olympia's bedroom and drunk Philip arrives. It is not exactly the same but the similiarity in the scene is overwhelming and the grim way Olympia and Philip perceive each other is the same.

Also, the views of painting done by Zeuxis clearly seem to have been inspired therein.

The details don't seem to have escaped the script writer of 300 either as Renault cites that young Alexander discovers Persian kings required earth and water from kings as a symbol of their surrender to the Persian empire, so do we find out the same at the beginning of the movie. Not sure the historical source of this maybe someone could enlighten... :idea:

Either way, I guess that anyone thinking about writing a script on Alexander could certainly not have discounted Renault's book even with those rose tinted glasses of hers.Certainly one to recommend, although you may find yourself reading and rereading it as I have... :shock:

Cheers,
carpe diem
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dean
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Re: Fire from Heaven

Post by dean »

Hi,

Couldn't resist looking a little for the detail about "earth and water" and in a way it is linked to Alexander or at least his ancestors as Persian emissaries according to Herodotus visited Amyntas I of Macedon and demanded these two things as a sign of vassalage.

And in book 7 of Herodotus we find the chapter regarding the Spartans reception of the Persians, who end up being kicked into a well as we see in the film.
(credit due to WIkipedia) :wink:

Best regards,
Dean
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Alexias
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Re: Fire from Heaven

Post by Alexias »

Glad you're rediscovering the book. I used to dip into it constantly for years, but tried rereading it a few years back and found it made no impact on me. Old age maybe! My abiding regret about this book though is that she made Hephaestion such a dull plod. I wanted so much more, but I suppose it fitted her depiction of Hephaestion as Alexander's support. Yet how would Alexander have been so devoted to someone so unexciting?
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Re: Fire from Heaven

Post by ruthakik »

Mary Renault has been a writing mentor of mine. Her FIRE FROM HEAVEN inspired me so much when I was writing my own novel SHADOW OF THE LION. I learned from her, not only the history but the way to develop Alexander's story. I have read most of her books including those she wrote back in the '30's when she was a nurse. Her personal story is very interesting and once I presented a talk about her at a series called In Their Words. I learned a lot about her that was surprising and interesting.
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dean
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Re: Fire from Heaven

Post by dean »

Hi,

Yes Hephaestion comes across as Alexander's number one fan but little depth is given.

Today I finished reading the book and was amazed to find how little I had remembered of how it ended, other than Renault's wonderful "way with words" in the closing paragraph.

Whether conscious or not, I guess in literature it is very difficult to be one hundred percent original- was there hues of Shakespeares "Macbeth" in the scene at Dodona in the book?

Best regards
Dean.
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Jeanne Reames
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Re: Fire from Heaven

Post by Jeanne Reames »

Oliver Stone flat stole the scene at the beginning, with ATG in mom's room and Philip coming in. That is found nowhere in the sources. Renault invented it. There were quite a few unacknowledged steals in the movie.

The requirement of earth and water comes from Herodotus.

As for Hephaistion being a dull character, alas, he is in too many ATG novels. Some exceptions: A Choice of Destinies (Melissa Scott), A Conspiracy of Women (Aubrey Menen, but be aware this is a tongue-in-cheek comedy), Lord of the Two Lands (Judith Tarr).

I hope, in the pair I have coming out from Riptide, to paint a rather more interesting Hephaistion. ;) (As well as of Kleopatra, ATG's sister.)
----
Dr. Jeanne Reames
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University of Nebraska, Omaha
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