Ancients Behaving Badly

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Semiramis
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by Semiramis »

Hi Andrew,

If Philotas got a fair trial, then we may as well refer to his torture as "enhanced interrogation". I think the crux of the problem is that some of the old-timers in the forum are having trouble coming to grips with the Newspeak you so liberally employ in your posts. :)
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by Taphoi »

Semiramis wrote:If Philotas got a fair trial, then we may as well refer to his torture as "enhanced interrogation". I think the crux of the problem is that some of the old-timers in the forum are having trouble coming to grips with the Newspeak you so liberally employ in your posts. :)
Here's an Oldspeak version of the trial of Philotas for anyone who is feeling challenged:
Arrian, Anabasis 3.26.1-2 wrote:HERE also Alexander discovered the conspiracy of Philotas, son of Parmenio. Ptolemy and Aristobulus say that it had already been reported to him before in Egypt, but that it did not appear to him credible, both on account of the long-existing friendship between them, the honour which he publicly conferred upon his father Parmenio, and the confidence he reposed in Philotas himself. Ptolemy, son of Lagus, says that Philotas was brought before the Macedonians; that Alexander vehemently accused him, and that he defended himself from the charges. He says also that the divulgers of the plot came forward and convicted him and his accomplices both by other clear proofs and especially because Philotas himself confessed that he had heard of some sort of conspiracy which was being formed against Alexander. He was convicted of having said nothing to the king about this plot, though he visited the royal tent twice a day.
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by amyntoros »

[quote="Taphoi"

Here's an Oldspeak version of the trial of Philotas for anyone who is feeling challenged:
Arrian, Anabasis 3.26.1-2 wrote:HERE also Alexander discovered the conspiracy of Philotas, son of Parmenio. Ptolemy and Aristobulus say that it had already been reported to him before in Egypt, but that it did not appear to him credible, both on account of the long-existing friendship between them, the honour which he publicly conferred upon his father Parmenio, and the confidence he reposed in Philotas himself. Ptolemy, son of Lagus, says that Philotas was brought before the Macedonians; that Alexander vehemently accused him, and that he defended himself from the charges. He says also that the divulgers of the plot came forward and convicted him and his accomplices both by other clear proofs and especially because Philotas himself confessed that he had heard of some sort of conspiracy which was being formed against Alexander. He was convicted of having said nothing to the king about this plot, though he visited the royal tent twice a day.
"Feeling challenged"? What a strange expression to use. :? As is noted in Appendix E #6 of the new The Landmark Arrian
The so-called Philotas affair is given extremely brief treatment by Arrian perhaps because its most unsavory aspects were omitted by Aristoboulos and Ptolemy. Ptolemy clearly benefited from the demise of one of the conspirators, replacing Demetrios as a member of the Bodyguards. . . .
As it is the "unsavory aspects" under discussion here I don't see how Arrian can be used to prove or disprove anything concerning the torture of Philotas.

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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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amyntoros wrote:As it is the "unsavory aspects" under discussion here I don't see how Arrian can be used to prove or disprove anything concerning the torture of Philotas.
Quite so. Arrian's description of the trial of Philotas is Photius-like in its summary brevity. It is clear that Ptolemy benefited as a result (and he was not alone) and it is likely that his account said little about the detail. Thus the discussion has been based upon Curtius "who gives by far the most detailed account" so forming "one of the great set pieces" of his history which sheds a harsh light on the competing rivalries and jealousies of the "players" at court.

There is nothing in Arrian’s description that can be used to shed light on the "unsavoury" detail of the trial. That can only come from Curtius who states that not only were Craterus and the other friends "in no doubt that Philotas would not have suppressed evidence of the conspiracy if he had not been the ringleader or an accomplice" (6.8.10) but that the king agreed leading to the unanimous decision that "Philotas should be interrogated under torture". This was then ordered to be kept secret whilst the king issued marching orders "in order not to betray any hint of the course of action they had recently adopted" (16.8.15).

To underline the decision already taken by Alexander, Curtius records how the king was able to dine with the already condemned man. The trial which followed was orchestrated to frank his decision.
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agesilaos
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by agesilaos »

taphoi asked
Please explain more clearly just why being torn apart by hand cannot (in your opinion) be regarded as either wrenching/twisting or torment or torture, which are all meanings of torqueo?
That is not my opinion; you were closer to the mark with when you mention the timeline. However the 'quoque' in question does not exist in isolation as you noted yourself but its context is as part of the 'sive...sive' construction not a long-range reference back 'discependem esse'. This means that there is a contrast between Philotas being taken to prison for torture and Alexander investigating matters more fully. I think that all it means is that Philotas is to be taken into custody in order to be tortured as well as deprived of his liberty and the contrast is between simply torturing Philotas and actually investigating the case. That works better does indeed make the reference to FURTHER torture a slip.

However, since Philotas has still not been condemned he is still a suspect when he is tortured and it is plain that his tormentors are not going to stop until they wring the Truth they want to hear from him; the episode is one of sadistic injustice and there is no point pretending otherwise.

But the real question is how far Curtius' account accurately reflects his sources and how far it is constructed from his own experiences under the Julio-Claudians.
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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agesilaos wrote:...the 'quoque' in question does not exist in isolation as you noted yourself but its context is as part of the 'sive...sive' construction not a long-range reference back 'discependem esse'. This means that there is a contrast between Philotas being taken to prison for torture and Alexander investigating matters more fully. I think that all it means is that Philotas is to be taken into custody in order to be tortured as well as deprived of his liberty and the contrast is between simply torturing Philotas and actually investigating the case. That works better does indeed make the reference to FURTHER torture a slip.
Since it seems we agree on the important point that the Penguin translation is mistaken here and that there is no evidence in this phrase for an earlier phase of torture, the remaining difference between us has become rather academic and merely of technical interest. However, I think I should point out that there is a strong reason in the structure of the Latin phrase, which means that it must really be a reference back to the proposed tearing to pieces. This is because quoque has a meaning very similar to the English "too" (as you have mentioned) and just like "too" it almost always emphasises the word preceding it (in this case "in prison", so the meaning is "in prison too"). Hence Curtius is explicitly implying some kind of earlier mention of a torture process in a context outside of prison. The only thing this could possibly have been is the tearing to pieces, which would have formed part of a public execution.
agesilaos wrote:However, since Philotas has still not been condemned he is still a suspect when he is tortured and it is plain that his tormentors are not going to stop until they wring the Truth they want to hear from him; the episode is one of sadistic injustice and there is no point pretending otherwise.
But Philotas has just been condemned with the Assembly having been roused against him at Cutius 6.11.8. That is the way the Assembly delivered its verdicts - by acclamation rather than an explicit vote. At this point all the evidence against Philotas had been heard and he had completed his defence, so the verdict was due. In the trial of Amyntas, Simmias and Polemon, Curtius 7.2.7 actually states this by speaking of "the acclamations by which crowds express their favour". This is why the Bodyguards are starting to propose a sentence for Philotas (tearing to pieces). It is true that the trials of the other suspects and Parmenion were conducted the next day - that is why the Assembly was only adjourned. The next day, Philotas is just a witness in the trial of his father, since the main evidence against Parmenion comes from his testimony about Hegelochus under torture the previous evening.
agesilaos wrote:But the real question is how far Curtius' account accurately reflects his sources and how far it is constructed from his own experiences under the Julio-Claudians.
My reconstruction of Cleitarchus is revealing strong (but very complex) evidence that Curtius is giving a (fairly free) translation of Cleitarchus here. Hence it is likely to be a broadly accurate account, torture and all. It is true that the reason that Curtius is so detailed here may well be because there are similarities with the fall of Sejanus, so he was particularly inclined to preserve all the details of Cleitarchus' account.

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by Semiramis »

Finally got around to checking out the show this weekend. I really liked it. To anyone on the fence about watching it, I'd recommend at least giving it a shot.

First, the weak points as I saw them. They leaned quite heavily on the Alexander as a potential killer for Philip. I thought the case wasn't as strong as they made it out to be. They should have mentioned Pausanius' personal grievances against Phillip at some stage at least. Also the possibility of the involvement of any of the numerous other enemies Phillip would have had - having subjugated significant numbers of people during his reign. Did Olympias place a wreath on Pausanias' grave? How did I not know that? Their suggestion for Alexander's motivation for the Siwa journey was interesting though.

In terms of narcissism, most of their interpretations are hard to find fault with, perhaps with the sole exception of the inclusion of Alexander minting coins, statues etc. of himself. This I would say make more sense in terms of Pharaonic and Achaemenid ideas of Kingship than pure narcissism. They could have mentioned the alternative explanation the burning of Persepolis too. With the Philotas affair, the single-sentence summary was too simplistic. The kangaroo court and torture aspect omitted, it becomes a misrepresentation.

The important points of the show were pretty bang on. Any suggestion that Alexander acted differently to the morality of his time, displayed narcissistic behaviour or used terror tactics shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. Mass killings, crucifixions, slavery, rape, massacre of surrendered enemy troops and use of "weapons of mass destruction" for the time were all calculated to extract surrender from populations. The use of "revenge" propaganda to justify his wars, plunder, the decision to send his troops though the disastrous march through Gedrosia, the breaking of his agreement at Massaga, the massacre after Hephaistion's death, the drunken murder of Cleitus all go towards completing the picture of Alexander. I don't necessarily find that the mention or analysis of these aspects should discredit a documentary about Alexander.

I like how they connected the modern locations of the battles and visits to the ancient accounts. It seems such a sensible and informative thing to do, it's a bit silly that so many other documentaries or books don't do this. I also liked that parts of the documentary was filmed among the descendants of the usually nameless, faceless conquered masses. Perhaps it could serve to humanize these people to the avid Alexander fans, but it is probably naive to hope for such.

Yes, the cartoons were absolutely awful but one of the historians was pretty cute, so that balanced out the visual aspect for me. :D
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by Paralus »

Taphoi wrote:Hence Curtius is explicitly implying some kind of earlier mention of a torture process in a context outside of prison. The only thing this could possibly have been is the tearing to pieces, which would have formed part of a public execution.
Other than that at 6.8.15, Curtius expressly describes Alexander agreeing that Philotas be tortured and ordering that this course of action be kept secret. Aside from the fact that he is taken to the royal quarters, we hear nothing of Philotas from the time of his arrest late in the day until his “unveiling” at the trial. Here his “pitiful” appearance not only shocked the Macedonians but led them to clearly view him as condemned.

This does not, of course, prove torture on the night of Philotas’ arrest but a reference back to that decision to torture – before any trial and in secret – makes more sense than to tearing him to pieces.

In any case, artful digressions on the translation of a single word positing motive in the translator distract from the point raised: the contrast between the fairness of the documentary and the "meticulous attention to fairness of Alexander":
Taphoi wrote:It is a massive irony that the documentary constituted a sort of show trial using untruths and exclusively hostile "experts" to attack Alexander, whereas Alexander himself showed such meticulous attention to fairness as to insist that a man who had failed (by his own admission) to report a genuine assassination plot against the king's life should nevertheless be given a hearing before the entire army.
Which is, as I’ve stated several times, most misleading. Whilst Philotas did have his “trial” before a portion of the army (6,000 we are told), this trial was a well choreographed theatre for the king and his philoi to frank the decision they had already taken.

You have claimed that “torture was a normal part of the punishment for those convicted of treason”. It is clear, as noted above, that torture was agreed to by Alexander at the meeting held on the day that Philotas was to be arrested. Not only was torture decided by this “inner court” but the decision – and any other aspect of “the course they’d agreed to” – was to be kept strictly secret. Thus Alexander and his inner sanctum had, in “meticulous attention to fairness”, convicted Philotas before his arrest and well before his trial. This is a point that Curtius underlines by stating that the king dined with the “man he had condemned”.

Agesilaos has already pointed up several of the “meticulously fair” aspects of the trial and I do not propose to go over them all. One, though, bears clarification. After Alexander had given his highly theatrical and inflammatory prosecutorial speech (and Coenus his), he declared that Philotas should be allowed to state his defence. Before this could be given Alexander – against the just painted background of Philotas’ supposed greed, boastfulness and grasping for the throne – fatally prejudices anything Philotas might say in his defence by demanding to know whether Philotas will use the Macedonian tongue or that which Alexander had just used. Philotas logically chooses to defend himself in the same tongue that Alexander has just used in his prosecution. For this Philotas is utterly ridiculed and undermined by Alexander who describes him to the Macedonians as finding his native tongue “offensive” and “contemptuous of our way of life as he is of our language”.

What is fine and unremarkable for the king and prosecutor shows contempt for both the Macedonian life and language in the defendant. All with meticulous attention to fairness.

This meticulous attention to procedural detail, if not to total fairness, need not imply that Alexander somehow fabricated the entire “conspiracy” from first to last. Clearly he did not. Curtius describes Alexander as being prepared to forgive this failing of his cavalry commander and to be reconciled even though he then "runs this by" his philoi. It is this inner court who immediately see opportunity here (especially Craterus “believing there would be no better opportunity” to be rid of Philotas 6.8.4) and press for Alexander to pursue an entirely different course. Alexander, evidently seeing benefits in facilitating the plans of his inner court, is convinced and so all agree on the above noted torture and “secret” course.

I would think it a matter of the ambitions of the philoi and the interests of their king being in concord. Opportunity presented itself and the rest was a matter for organisation. This will have been part of the discussion and “the course of action they had recently adopted” which shows in 6.8.16-23. Clearly the decision to have “marching orders issued for the following day” (6.8.15) was taken as cover for the secret course of action and it will have also served to heighten the shock value of the assembly under arms ordered in its place on the day itself.
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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

Post by bessusww »

Torture As part of retribution and punishment...Thats kind of Ironic with the log in name for myself in Pothos.

Bessus was well tortured as part of his punishment...Fair to say it was assume and accepted that The Persians dished it out to him...Cutting his nose and ears off.

Bessus arrest and death really did suite what I expect with Alexanders cunning...Its very clever indeed to Have Darius put out of the way by his own kinsman and Alexander kind of gave Bessus breathing space to kill Darius...Then low and behold he saves face and has Bessus tried and Executed by Persians...To me it all smoothed off some very rough areas.

Im pretty sure torture can did and does get included as punishment.

Just a thought
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by jan »

This is an interesting situation that Alexander and Philotas find themselves in, as had not Parmenio warned Philotas several times not to be "bigger than his britches", lauding his own successes over those of Alexander? I had read that he had actually claimed that it was he and his father who were responsible for many of the victories. Also, one author did note that when Alexander first took command as King that Parmenio took advantage of his position by seeing to it that most of his family held the choice positions in the army. It does appear that Philotas was incredulously blinded by his own ambition, and that eventually, it did all get back to Alexander who did try to give him a fair trial. (I have just read Dodge's explanation and analysis of this same "sad story". ) However, it seems odd to me that Philotas would give in to torture having long been aware of Aristotle's friend who under torture did not confess his involvement with Philip nor did he betray Philip's plans to his enemies, the Persians. As I am writing this off the cuff I cannot recall Aristotle's friends name, but I made it a pivotal point in the novel that I am writing...sorry that is all in documents, and I am sure that someone here will know it immediately anyway...I want to get this posted. The point is that Philotas need not have caved in, but someone somehow may have used evidence that forced the truth from him. It was the girlfriend to whom Philotas bragged that made Alexander believe in the conspiracy against him by perhaps Philotas and Parmenio. It is hard for me to believe that Parmenio would have ever tried to overthrow Alexander or conspire against him, as his position was too secure anyway. I believe that Philotas was guilty of coveting Alexander's place, and his obvious indifference to a plot against Alexander shows that he would have not cared had Alexander been killed. In essence, Philotas seems to be guilty of envy and ambition, braggadocia, and indifference to his ruler's life. I believe that Craterus and his other good friends did Alexander right when they realized the enormity of the situation. If they did advise him to overrule his own good nature and give Philotas a reprieve, then more power to them. Which they in fact did earn as a result of that decision. The entire army's command changed after that and the long many years that Parmenio and sons held onto important positions soon opened to the true friends that surrounded Alexander.


I looked it up and the name of the man crucified is Hermias. I learned how to save draft and load draft. Thanks. Jan
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

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jan wrote: In essence, Philotas seems to be guilty of envy and ambition, braggadocia, and indifference to his ruler's life.
Philotas is guilty of a serious misjudgement. Arrian, exerpting Ptolemy, says as much. Had there been anything more to Philotas' - or Parmenio's - participation in or leading of the plot Ptolemy had no reason not to say so. Arrian, too, will not have left such facts out - facts that would clearly explain and thus exculpate his hero's judicial murder of the father. At worst Philotas may well have sympathised and so took a wait and see attitude.

Philotas was not ever in any position to replace Alexander
jan wrote: I believe that Craterus and his other good friends did Alexander right when they realized the enormity of the situation.
That is far better put as Craterus and his other good friends did right by themselves when they realised the emormity of the opportunity. An opportunity grasped with both hands by all - especially Craterus as Curtius expressly claims.
jan wrote: If they did advise him to overrule his own good nature and give Philotas a reprieve, then more power to them. Which they in fact did earn as a result of that decision.
A none too coincidental motivating factor here as Curtius noted.
jan wrote: The entire army's command changed after that and the long many years that Parmenio and sons held onto important positions soon opened to the true friends that surrounded Alexander.
Army commands might better be described as being given those who were Alexander's men. A starkly different situation by comparison to the army of the Hellespont. This process had already begun (appointments to satrapies etc) and this episode provided the catalyst for its moving up several gears as the army structure and its command (e.g. the make up and structure of the cavalry) was remade to Alexander's design (battions no longer arranged by ethnicity for example).
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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

Post by bessusww »

Ancients Behaving Badly???

Romans.Assirians.Babylonians.Persians.Ottomans.British.Germans.Christians.Muslims.And the list can go on and on.

Ancients behaving badly I doubt they behaved inthere extremes any worse than Modern Middle ages or any factions of human history...Its pretty narror to label Ancients whoever they are badly behaved...Bad is bad through the anals of Human History.

Looking at society even today I doubt its going to end any time soon.

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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by Xenophon »

Paralus wrote:
Philotas is guilty of a serious misjudgement.
Perhaps, especially in the light of his father's apparent warnings. And one should note the excuse Curtius gives Philotas in his defence speech - namely that he and his father had often passed on such warnings before, only to be mocked.( Curtius VI.10.35)

Still, to apply a modern analogy, what do the authorities in our age do when advised of a bomb aboard a plane, knowing that the vast majority are hoaxes ?

Philotas, advised of a murder plot to take place in three days, incredibly decides to do nothing....to 'wait and see' !
This process had already begun (appointments to satrapies etc) and this episode provided the catalyst for its moving up several gears as the army structure and its command (e.g. the make up and structure of the cavalry) was remade to Alexander's design (battions no longer arranged by ethnicity for example).
Indeed, there were all too many advantages to removing the last and most powerful of 'Philip's men' .........all possible restraint, real or merely moral was removed from Alexander, and for his friends, golden opportunities to move up in the world at the expense of Parmenion's 'faction'.

That Philotas was not part of the plot against Alexander is certain ... or at least as certain as it is possible to be this far from events. (If he was, it is strange that the plotters seemed not to know of it, and equally strange that Philotas did not eliminate them when Cebalinus came to him).

That Alexander was 'plotting' against Parmenion's family seems equally certain - he had been keeping an eye on Philotas for a very long time - even his 'pillow talk' was passed on to Alexander via Antigone, Philotas' mistress. Here, at last, was the opportunity, presented by a 'crime of omission' to take action against the aging father and now only surviving ( and arrogantly bombastic and unpopular) son.

But a "meticulous attention to fairness" by Alexander ? Hardly ! Quite the opposite, in fact. From the time of Alexander's consultation with his 'Friends', and Philotas' condemnation - without trial - nothing 'fair' happens. The forms are observed but Philotas is given no chance whatever - all exits blocked to prevent messengers for help, or news of his arrest leaving the camp. His disappearance into HQ and subsequent appearance next day at his 'trial' in a 'wretched plight' (Curtius VI.9.25) leave little to the imagination as to what occurred in between. His very bonds were a sign to all that he was already condemned, as he himself acknowledged. Alexander himself took the role of prosecutor, and if he cynically allowed Philotas a defence, he made plain his attitude by leaving whilst he spoke, thus treating it with disdain. Even the dumbest sarissaphoroi present must have known what was required. That night, despite 'confession' from Philotas, he is tortured again - personally by Hephaistion, Craterus and Coenus. Finally, crippled, he is carried to his execution.Both Alexander's ruthlessness and his friends cruelty bear all the hallmarks of personal revenge..... Even Curtius, no stranger to cruelty in his own time remarks; "that his torture was continued after the confession was considered an act of cruelty". So even by the rather robust standards of ancient times, with life considerably cheaper than now, Alexander was condemned as "behaving badly".

Nor, apparently, did Alexander feel any remorse over the judicial murder of one of his closest companions and senior commanders. His attitude is revealed in a small detail. Before leaving the place, he renamed it 'Prophthasia/Anticipation'.....evidently he believed, or wished the world to believe, that in the dog-eat-dog, assassination riddled world of Macedonian dynastic politics, he had merely 'got in first'.



And if this is an example of Alexander's "meticulous attention to fairness", his 'in for a penny, in for a pound' approach in having Alexander of Lynkestis disposed of can hardly be called that - he was run through at his 'trial' by 'longche' spears, before even getting a defence out ! ( Curtius VII 1.9).

Then there is poor Cleitus, saviour of Alexander's life at Granicus, brother of his wet-nurse, and successor along with Hephaistion to Philotas' Hetairoi command - he at least had experience of cavalry command unlike Hephaistion.

Despite the various versions, some apologetic, of his death; it is clear that he was slain by Alexander in a drunken rage - an Alexander so bent on killing him that even after weapons were placed out of his reach, he managed to snatch one from a guard, and run Cleitus through. Not just 'lashing out' then, but a determined and successful attempt to commit murder, prolonged over several minutes at least.

Here, surely, is Alexander "behaving badly", even by his own standards. Achilles, whom Alexander sought to emulate, was a violent man but Homer does not have him murder those closest to him. His tutor Aristotle had taught "the man who sins when drunk should be punished twice over, once for sinning, once for being drunk".

This time, Alexander did show remorse, probably genuine - though cynics might argue his emulation of Achilles mourning was more for the benefit of the army, and certainly his attempt at 'suicide', (even if the report is genuine) like so many, was probably never intended to be completed. In the event, the 'grunts', the sarissaphoroi, now largely of a different generation, turned out to be indifferent to the death of one of the 'old generation', and a cavalry commander anyway.....and after three days of 'penance' in his tent, normality was restored. Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear that this was Alexander "behaving badly". He had crossed a water-shed, Greek hero no longer, but rather Asian despot and megalomaniac. There could be no going back.
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote:But a "meticulous attention to fairness" by Alexander ? Hardly ! Quite the opposite, in fact. From the time of Alexander's consultation with his 'Friends', and Philotas' condemnation - without trial - nothing 'fair' happens. The forms are observed but Philotas is given no chance whatever...
Quite so. It is clear - if Curtius' narrative be taken as written - that the "cabal" assembled in Alexander's quarters on the day of Philotas' arrest convicted the absent cavalry commander and set in motion a secret "course of action" as a result. That course of action was designed to extract a rubber stamp from the Macedonians for a judgement already arrived at and actioned. As has been pointed out, this course of action had to have as its end game approval for the murder of the father, Parmenion. Philotas was already tried and convicted in the court of Alexander and his ambitious philoi but the problem of Parmenio remained. The father's complicity simply had to be derived from the theatre of the assembly at arms and the only current instrument for that conviction (the letter from Parmenio to his sons) would hardly carry the day as Curtius makes plain ("it did not really contain evidence of some dangerous plot" 6.9.13). Clearly, as Curtius observes (6.11.39), stronger evidence than a hardly condemnatory letter would be required to convince the Macedonian troops:
"Parmenion and Philotas had been his principal friends and their condemnation would have been impossible without causing personal indignation among the troops, unless they were demonstrably guilty"
Thus the assembly at arms has presented to it a well constructed trial; a trial the result of the "course of action" adopted by Alexander and his philoi and kept secret. The entire theatre is prejudicial to Philotas as Xenophon has rightly noted:
Alexander himself took the role of prosecutor, and if he cynically allowed Philotas a defence, he made plain his attitude by leaving whilst he spoke, thus treating it with disdain. Even the dumbest sarissaphoroi present must have known what was required.
Indeed, even the "dumbest sarrissaphoroi" will have recognised the requisite decision. Philotas himself, via the words Curtius gives him, makes this rather plain:
The man who can best judge my case is not present, though why he should refuse to hear me himself I simply cannot understand. After hearing both sides, he is as much at liberty to condemn as to acquit me whereas, if he does not hear both, I cannot be absolved by him in his absence - not after being declared guilty by him when he was present.
The trial is constructed to beget a desired end and succeeds admirably. With Philotas clearly guilty Alexander's philoi, in council, suggest the traditional stoning. At this Craterus, Hephaestion and Coenus demand that Philotas be tortured and the council agrees. There is absolutely no reason why these three will not have been part of the original "council of conviction" at 6.8.1-15. Given that Craterus is named at both it is more than probable the others, too, were present. The purpose of the torture is to force the truth from him. When, at 6.11.13, Philotas claims he planned the plot and wanted it to succeed to avoid torture Craterus "insisted that he also make his confession under torture". This, it is plain, relates to the conversation the king summoned Craterus for just before the torture was to commence, a conversation which was not made public (6.11.12).

The result is the plot of Hegelochus involving Parmenio to kill the king after the removal of Darius. The information is wrought under torture and is of debatable provenance as Curtius notes. Whether the plot has legs or not is, at this point, largely irrelevant. What is relevant is that Alexander has succeeded in producing the "evidence" he needs to have Parmenion executed as well. It is hardly coincidental that the constant thread in this is Craterus: he demands torture at the early "council of conviction", demands it again after the trial when moves are mooted to execute Philotas and is evidently issued "riding instructions" by the king prior to the final torture. A trifecta of coincidence is most unlikely and, if we take Plutarch's testimony, it is a quadrella as it is the same Craterus who brings to light Philotas "Egyptian conspiracy".

I do not subscribe to a theory that sees Alexander running a conspiracy to rid himself of the house of Parmenion. To paraphrase Hamilton and turn Xenophon's line about Philotas not being part of the plot around ("If he was, it is strange that the plotters seemed not to know of it, and equally strange that Philotas did not eliminate them when Cebalinus came to him"), Alexander will have looked somewhat foolish had Philotas immediately brought the plot to his attention if were only a construct of the king's. If this be a conspiracy it is a conspiracy of opportunity. Ambitious, jealous philoi - Craterus especially but certainly not only - saw an immediate opportunity to remove a disliked rival who occupied a most prestigious command. That this would also necessitate the removal of the father will not have been lost on them either. Alexander, never one to miss an opportunity on the battlefield, saw the immediate and longer term benefits of aiding the combative rivalries of his philoi. All else was a matter for tight organisation. Craterus, it appears to me, is the thread of that organisation.
Last edited by Paralus on Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:05 am, edited 5 times in total.
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Semiramis
Hetairos (companion)
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Re: Ancients Behaving Badly

Post by Semiramis »

Hi Xenophon,
Xenophon wrote:Even Curtius, no stranger to cruelty in his own time remarks; "that his torture was continued after the confession was considered an act of cruelty". So even by the rather robust standards of ancient times, with life considerably cheaper than now, Alexander was condemned as "behaving badly".
There is at least one other occasion that illustrates your point regarding torture. Take the example of Batis, the governor of Gaza. No confession to be gained from his torture, nor was it custom to torture the leader of an enemy force for not surrendering. Yet, after the capture of Gaza, which cost four assaults and two wounds to Alexander personally, this is what passed according to Curtius (translated by John Yardley):
Batis was brought before the young king, who was elated with haughty satisfaction, although he generally admired courage even in an enemy. 'You shall not have the death you wanted,' he said. 'Instead, you can expect to suffer whatever torment can be devised against a prisoner.'

Batis gave Alexander a look that was not just fearless, but downright defiant, and uttered not a word in reply to his threats. 'Do you see his obstinate silence?' said Alexander. 'Has he knelt to me? Has he uttered one word of entreaty? But I shall overcome his silence: at the very least I shall punctuate it with groans.'

Alexander's anger turned to fury, his recent successes already suggesting to his mind foreign modes of behavior. Thongs were passed through Batis' ankles while he still breathed, and he was tied to a chariot. Then Alexander's horses dragged him around the city while the king gloated at having followed the example of his ancestor Achilles in punishing his enemy.
Curtius' "foreign modes of behaviour" explanation for this cruelty indicates that he was not expecting many readers to buy into the idea that Alexander was somehow gloriously emulating Achilles during these happenings.
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