02. Monographs on Alexander, 2.06 Loves, Alexander - Non Fiction Book, Alexander's Alexandria

Book review/Collaboration: “Alexander’s Lovers” by Andrew Michael Chugg

Recensione in italiano QUI.

Good day everyone, happy Monday!

Today I’m talking about a reading that I liked very much and that made me want to know even more.

First of all I’d like to thank the author of this book, Andrew Chugg, for kindly sending me the book so I could read and talk about it here. I can assure you that it will be a reading that you’ll enjoy and it will intrigue you because it deals with a theme that is often relegated as secondary but it ‘s fundamental for those who really want to get to know Alexander the Great. I’m talking about:

“Alexander’s Lovers” by Andrew Michael Chugg

Alexander’s Lovers is the eagerly awaited second book by the author of The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great (see www.alexanderstomb.com). It will surely prove no less fascinating a read for those with an interest in the King. It presents an exploration of Alexander’s character through the mirror of the lives of the people with whom he pursued romantic relationships, including his friend Hephaistion, his queen Roxane, his mistress Barsine and Bagoas the Eunuch.

Did you know that Alexander got the idea of adopting Persian dress from a book he read in his youth? Had you realised that Alexander’s pursuit of divine honours was merely an aspect of his emulation of Achilles? Would you be interested to discover that Bagoas the Eunuch undertook a diplomatic mission in Bactria or that Hephaistion’s diplomacy kept Athens from joining the Spartan rebellion of King Agis? Are you aware that Aetion’s famous painting of Alexander’s marriage depicted Hephaistion and Bagoas as well as Roxane and that it was really a depiction of the King’s various passions? Had you heard that Alexander first met his mistress Barsine when they were both children in Macedon and that she was the great-granddaughter of a Great King? Can you name the girl betrothed to Alexander’s son? Would it surprise you to learn that Alexander’s mourning and funeral arrangements for Hephaistion were conducted according to precepts dictated by Homer and Euripides? If you are intrigued by any of these questions and would like to get to know Alexander on a more personal level than is feasible from the conventional histories, then you need to read Alexander’s Lovers.

5 Stars.

Reading time: from 1st to 4th August 2019.

The author is clear from the beginning: he wants to understand more the character of Alexander of Macedon through the lives of his lovers and before going into specific cases he gives us a list (with an explanation) of all the sources he refers to and a short biography of Alexander. Some interesting notes I noticed are:

  • Aristotle absolves Alexander from the murder of his father in Politics – when I read it came to my mind Braccesi in his Olimpiade regina di Macedonia. La madre di Alessandro Magno (Rome, Salerno Editrice, 2019) comes to a very different conclusion – and dedicated the treatise on the cosmos to him;
  • the tetradrammas coined in Babylon change: is it an error or is there an interesting explanation that the author suggests?;
  • Alexander was cultured: he quoted Homer and Euripides as he spoke;
  • in this book there are many photos of which many beautiful drawings by the same author;
  • the author makes particular reference to the lost primary sources: he integrates the ancient sources that have come down to us with the fragments that came to us from the primary sources and this is what I liked very much because in doing so the author has thoroughly probed the material and the topic. Chugg has integrated, filled, revised the ancient sources thanks to the primary ones. I really liked this method because the author compares it from various points of view for every fact he wants to analyze. Very very good.

But let’s move on to the analysis of Alexander’s lovers:

HEPHAISTION

As a young man, Alexander showed no interest in women because he was already engaged in a relationship with Hephaestion and Chugg tries to understand what kind of sexual relationship they had. Hephaestion was certainly taller and more virile than Alexander. It is also interesting that the author analyzes the eight statues in which there is almost certainly Hephaestion and makes a percentage to determine if the real subject is really him. Chugg points out that in Gaugamela Hephaestion was wounded by a spear, which indicates that he took part in close combat, while other Alexander generals were wounded by arrows. It is also probable that in the Philotas’ trial Hephaestion was the one most concerned about the king’s safety and he also came out “winner” even in comparison with Craterus and Eumenes. Hephaestion had a quarrelsome and irascible character but we must keet in mind that for many, including Olympiad, he was seen as an obstacle between them and Alexander. For as he died, establishing the disease exactly isn’t easy to establish and it would be good to learn more of it. I had never done so much case with Efestione, not even reading Manfredi’s novel and I’m happy to have investigated further this subject.

BARSINE

Daughter of Artabazos, wife of Memnon of Rhodes and knew Alexander most likely since childhood. She had a son with the latter named Heracles. Tarn claimed that Heracles wasn’t Alexander’s son and is also the only one or almost to believe it. Chugg explains well the intrigues and power games that led to the killing of Barsine and his son. The relationship with Alexander wasn’t love but dictated more than anything else by the need to have an heir to maintain the solidity of the state. In fact in six years of relationship this is the only child they had.

BAGOAS

Named only seven times in ancient resources, Chugg analyzes the episodes with the eunuch and explains why ancient authors may have mistakenly or deliberately reduced its importance. I can finally learn more about him!

THALESTRIS AND CLEOPHIS

Chugg shows how both of these episodes are legends born of truly happened events seasoned with a little novel. It’s interesting, however, to note that the Kalash people still claim to descender from Alexander.

ROXANE

This is the only woman Alexander really loved, even if in any case her gesture of marrying her had a political advantage. Interesting is as Alexander was able to control his emotions and had respect for women, as also in the case of Darius’ family and what happened to Roxane and Alexander IV after the sudden death of Alexander.

STATEIRA E PARYSATIS

It’s interesting as Chugg analyzes the events after the death of Alexander.

After this reading I feel I added an important piece to my knowledge of Alexander and it’s good that the author pointed out to me many things that I hadn’t noticed before and that I’d like to go into even more now.

I recommend this reading to all those who want to deepen Alexander’s loves and personal questions, although for some it may be an obstacle to the fact that it’s in English and that unfortunately there is no Italian edition. I invite anyone wishing to go into the subject to read the book by purchasing the second edition that came out which has some additions to this. You can also visit the site http://www.alexanderslovers.com/main/index.html for further updates on the book.

I’ll certainly read the other books by this author!

The aphorisms of the book HERE.

I’d still like to thank the author very much for his kindness and his willingness to send me the book!

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