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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 22 August 2010

"Alexander the Great" by Robin Lane Fox

This is, apparently, the book that inspired Oliver Stone to make the biopic. It was first published in 1973. I found it slightly heavy going.

Interesting things
  • It starts with the drama of the assassination of Phillip of Macedon; was it organised by Olympias, the wife from whom he had separated or by her son Alexander, his heir but soon to be supplanted by a new born baby to Phillip’s new wife?
  • We learn how Alexander tamed Bucephalos, the horse whose head looked like that of an ox, who would be Alexander’s faithful mount almost to the end of the Earth.
  • We discover that the Macedonian court, whilst on the fringes of civilised Greek society, attracted the great people of the day: it was probably in Macedonia that Euripides composed his Bacchae.
  • Aristotle was Alexander’s tutor and also probably taught Hephaistion, the fellow pupil with whom Alexander had a homosexual relationship which lasted until Hephaistion, now a general, died.
  • “’Sex and sleep’, Alexander is said to have remarked, ‘alone make me conscious that I am mortal.’” (p57). Hmm. Sex is what makes feel divine.
  • Cleopatra was the daughter of Olympias who was Alexander’s mother. Does this make Cleopatra his sister or his half/step sister? (91)
  • The Suez canal was d]created by the Pharaohs (96)
  • Alexander followed the Royal Road into Persia, following the route previously written about by Xenophon (103)
  • Persians called their gorgeous gardens paradeisoi (103)
  • The Babylonians were compliers, the Greeks analysers: the Babylonians recorded the heavens for nearly 2,000 years but it was only after 330 BC and Alexander’s conquest that the Greeks began to develop a theory of the heavens and calculate a more accurate value for the year (248)
  • Alexarchus, son of Antipater, Alexander’s regent in Macedonia, followed a faith healer called Menecrates. Alexarchus called himself the Sun and after Alexander died founded a religious community on Mount Athos (446)
  • In Babylon, if an astrologer foretold the death of the king, the king chose a substitute who would reign for 100 days. If the king died in the meantime the substitute, even if he was a gardener, would become king (p459)
  • Ice-cold water from the river Styx was believed to be poison although the modern Mavroneri falls suggest this is not so (463)
  • Alexander’s coffin was carried in a chariot which resembled “the ritual chariot of the god Mithras” (p478)
  • The Greeks were responsible for much technological invention when they came to India. “A simple cell for electroplating silver on to copper has been found in Parthian Babylonia and it is natural to credit its invention to a Greek.” (p491)

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