Aforismi: Andrew Michael Chugg – Alexander’s Lovers

Book review HERE.

Recensione del libro QUI.

To understand Alexander well, it is necessary to follow his heart more carefully than his policies.

The modern condition of Tyre as a peninsula is one of the most tangible legacies of Alexander’s campaigns.

It is unlikely that any human force could have stopped him. The conquest of the entire planet was potentially within his gasp.

Every historian had his own Alexander.

Alexander was recognised by his contemporaries as a paragon of conscientiousness and fidelity in an era more generally characterised by brutally, callousness and treachery.

Alexander of Macedon lacked no judgment in planning, nor valour in fighting, nor generosity in his favours, but only crudelty in punishment. When there was a dilemma, he showed himself the wisest; when there was a fighting to be done against the enemy, he was the bravest; when a reward was to be given to those deserving it, he was the most generous; and when punishment had to be inflicted on anyone, he was most merciful.

Publius Rutilius Lupus

Alexander was evidently something of a bookworm and a connoisseur of theatre and poetry.

When Socrates failed with Alcibiades and Critias and Plato failed with Dionysius and Dion, can Aristotle be said to have succeeded with Alexander? Did Alexander see himself as an incarnation of the Philisopher-King? […] Confronted by the dramatic vastness and infinite complexity of Asia, Alexander gradually invented his own pragmatic philosophy of power.

Hephaision, The Chiliarch

Bagoas was probably the most scandalous of Alexander’s loves among his contemporaries and Arrian even seems to have tried, though without complete success, to edit him out of his histories.

If you wish to be beautiful and good, throw away the rag you have on your head and come to us. Yet you will not be able to do so, for you are held fast by Hephaision’s thighs.

Diogenes of Sinope, Letters 24

It also reveals Hephaision as a ruthless defender of Alexander’s personal safety and security.

Finally, Hephaision’s instinctive reaction would probably have been that Philotas should be treated harshly, so as to deter further attempts against Alexander’s life. From this point of view, the severity of Hephaision’s treatment of Philotas could be interpreted as further evidence for the strenght of his relationship with Alexander.

Absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence.

This event unleashed a torrent of lamentation from Alexander that shocked his contemporaries and astonished the ancient commentators. It remains today probably the most spectacular outpouring of untrammelled grief in recorded history.

It may be remarked at his point that the reported cost of Hephaision’s obsequies at variously 10,000 or 12,000 talents was roughly equivalent to 25 tonnes of gold, which makes this easily the most expensive funeral in history.

To die is but a debt that all men owe.

Euripides, Admetus for Queen Alcestis

From this perspective, Alexander’s actions were a perfectly sane way for him to exploit the cathartic power of a spectacular funeral to mitigate his extreme grief.

There is no evidence or suggestion that Alexander’s faith in his principal lieutenant was ever disappointed or betrayed.

On the factual evidence, his military record reveals an impeccable combination of bravery and competence.

Bagoas the Eunuch

Although he makes only seven named appearances in the ancient sources, Bagoas the eunuch has always been one of the most controversial figures in Alexander’s career.

Roxane, The Startlet

There is persuasive unanimity among the ancient sources that Alexander genuinely fell in love with her and Plutarch further insisted that she was in fact the only woman that the king ever loved and that he married her to suit his personal feelings, rather than for any political motive.

Stateira and Parysatis, the Persian Princesses

The suicide of Sisisgambis is among the most startling testaments to the potency of Alexander’s charisma.

It is therefore debatable whether Alexander’s Empire truly fractured or merely acquired several interlinked nodes of control and became what we call the Hellenistic World. It was that World, which brought about an effusion of ancient art and science and ascended to a cultural apex, that was Alexander’s principal legacy.

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