The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

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The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Nicator » Mon May 09, 2016 2:01 am

Has anyone seen this, somewhat surprising, tidbit? Whenever a mention of Alexander is made, I still lean forward with heightened interest.

Hollywood loves to dump 'actual' intel in a fictionalized setting. Though, I'm not saying that this comic book story is real, I'm saying, the existence of this sword is possible...even likely.

Of course, we know the tie-in here, as the Amazon princess stands before the glass case, staring at the rust-ridden sword. Presumably, Wonder Woman, Diana, is to be revealed as the offspring of Alexander and the Amazon queen. Maybe, with a little luck, we'll see some historical scenery about Alexander in the next film?

The original impetus behind my epic, was to write a simple poem about Alexander's mythical encounter with the Amazon queen. And a novel about the offspring was also on the table.

The whores of Hollywood have been ripping off my ideas...again.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Jeanne Reames » Wed May 11, 2016 5:54 am

Mostly I see this as an indication that Hollywood doesn't understand ancient Greek/Macedonian warfare--which is not great suprise. They rarely do.

Any sword of Alexander would have been his secondary weapon, and it's (probably) among the treasures from Tomb II at Vergina. ;> I *continually* have to stress to my students in ancient history classes that SWORDS were not the preferred weapon of either the ANE *or* Greece. It's not till Rome that we get much emphasis on the sword, and then it's a stabbing weapon (the gladius). Sparta alone made much of swordwork. The primary Greek weapon (and Macedonian) was the SPEAR. The primary weapons of the ANE were the bow and the spear. Swords? Not so much....
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by hiphys » Wed May 11, 2016 5:33 pm

Nevertheless, I remember an epigram of the Palatine Anthology dedicated to one of Alexander's swords that was kept in a temple. Unfortunately I don't remember the number of the epigram!

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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by amyntoros » Wed May 11, 2016 6:27 pm

hiphys wrote:Nevertheless, I remember an epigram of the Palatine Anthology dedicated to one of Alexander's swords that was kept in a temple. Unfortunately I don't remember the number of the epigram!
Have found a reference to a spear of Alexander, but so far no sword.
The Greek Anthology Volume I, Book VI, 97 (Page 351) ANTIPHILUS OF BYZANTIUM

The spear of Alexander ; the inscription on thee
tells that after the war he dedicated thee to Artemis
as a token thereof, the weapon of his invincible
arm. O good spear, before the shaking of which
earth and sea yielded! Hail, fearless spear! and
ever all who look on thee will tremble, mindful of
that mighty hand.
Best Regards,
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Jeanne Reames » Thu May 12, 2016 6:53 am

Amyntoros, that quote reminds me just a tad of Homer's epithet for Agamemnon, "a great spear-fighter." Also, somewhere in the literature is a reference not only to the aigis of Athena, but also her spear. Any quick glance at artwork, especially pre-Hellenistic, shows mostly spears with soldiers, not swords, including several statues of ATG. Unfortunately, spears last less well than swords, due to the wooden shaft. The preference for swords is a reflection of modern bias (and Hollywood). :|
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by sean_m » Thu May 12, 2016 9:48 am

There is definitely the possibility of finding more dedications by Alexander as more sanctuaries are excavated and the finds cleaned and published. Just think of those elephant medallions.
Jeanne Reames wrote:Mostly I see this as an indication that Hollywood doesn't understand ancient Greek/Macedonian warfare--which is not great suprise. They rarely do.

Any sword of Alexander would have been his secondary weapon, and it's (probably) among the treasures from Tomb II at Vergina. ;> I *continually* have to stress to my students in ancient history classes that SWORDS were not the preferred weapon of either the ANE *or* Greece. It's not till Rome that we get much emphasis on the sword, and then it's a stabbing weapon (the gladius). Sparta alone made much of swordwork. The primary Greek weapon (and Macedonian) was the SPEAR. The primary weapons of the ANE were the bow and the spear. Swords? Not so much....
Although Plut. Al. 32.10 is interesting in this regard, as are stories about the soldier who tried to kill Alexander at Gaza, Alexander in the Mallian town, the party where Cleitus was killed, etc.

Al. did chose a spear as the weapon to "stake his claim" to Asia, and when he fought on horseback he used his lance until it broke (eg. the Darius Mosaic from Pompeii or Plutarch's version of the battle of the Granicus).
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Cyia » Fri May 13, 2016 3:36 am

If a sword wasn't Alexander's usual weapon, what would he have used in India when he scaled the wall and fought the Mallians until an arrow took him down? I always envisioned him swinging and stabbing with a sword. Would he have used a spear?

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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Nicator » Fri May 13, 2016 7:53 pm

Cyia wrote:If a sword wasn't Alexander's usual weapon, what would he have used in India when he scaled the wall and fought the Mallians until an arrow took him down? I always envisioned him swinging and stabbing with a sword. Would he have used a spear?
If memory serves, he slashed and hacked with a sword at his attackers once inside, until struck by that fateful arrow shot to the cuirass.

Curtius provides detail about the pikes being dropped and short swords being drawn at Issus. And this makes sense, as the purpose of the sarissa was to penetrate the enemy front. After that initial strike, it indeed becomes quite useless. The close quarter fighting would be with the spear and sword.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Nicator » Fri May 13, 2016 7:56 pm

Jeanne Reames wrote:Amyntoros, that quote reminds me just a tad of Homer's epithet for Agamemnon, "a great spear-fighter." Also, somewhere in the literature is a reference not only to the aigis of Athena, but also her spear. Any quick glance at artwork, especially pre-Hellenistic, shows mostly spears with soldiers, not swords, including several statues of ATG. Unfortunately, spears last less well than swords, due to the wooden shaft. The preference for swords is a reflection of modern bias (and Hollywood). :|

Isn't it Plutarch, who provides us with a description of the sword as having a jeweled handle and of light construction?
Later Nicator

Thus, rain sodden and soaked, under darkness cloaked,
Alexander began, his grand plan, invoked...

The Epic of Alexander

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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Nicator » Fri May 13, 2016 9:23 pm

In general, there is good reason for the length of swords in ATG's era. The quality of the steel available, was still too primitive to produce length with strength. This would come later with the Roman legion's infamous short sword. Spear points, daggers, short swords (shorter and heavier, if memory serves) than the Roman short sword (itself quite heavy), all stand testament to the primitive state of metallurgy of the Phil-Alexandrian era.
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Thus, rain sodden and soaked, under darkness cloaked,
Alexander began, his grand plan, invoked...

The Epic of Alexander

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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Xenophon » Sat May 14, 2016 12:24 am

Nicator wrote:
Curtius provides detail about the pikes being dropped and short swords being drawn at Issus. And this makes sense, as the purpose of the sarissa was to penetrate the enemy front. After that initial strike, it indeed becomes quite useless. The close quarter fighting would be with the spear and sword.
What complete nonsense! You clearly have no idea of what a pike phalanx was for or how it functioned. The point of the phalanx was that there was NO close-quarter fighting as such. The foe was kept at a distance, and completely outreached. Pikes were certainly not generally 'dropped', nor was a pike useless after an initial strike......
Curtius provides detail about the pikes being dropped and short swords being drawn at Issus. And this makes sense, as the purpose of the sarissa was to penetrate the enemy front. After that initial strike, it indeed becomes quite useless.
More nonsense. ( see above) Also, Curtius does NOT refer to pikes being dropped at Issus. It is the Persians who draw swords after throwing their javelins [Curtius III.11.4]
In general, there is good reason for the length of swords in ATG's era. The quality of the steel available, was still too primitive to produce length with strength. This would come later with the Roman legion's infamous short sword. Spear points, daggers, short swords (shorter and heavier, if memory serves) than the Roman short sword (itself quite heavy), all stand testament to the primitive state of metallurgy of the Phil-Alexandrian era.
Where do you get this stuff from? It couldn't be more wrong!! :evil:
To begin with, swords weren't "steel", which had yet to be developed.Some races DID use long swords e.g. the contemporary Gauls. Short swords were preferred by troops who fought in close order ( as the Macedonians and Romans did) as being handier in a press. Macedonian swords were generally of two types; the 'kopis' or 'machaira', a machete-like sword designed as such and which was quite capable of lopping off arms and legs, and the 'xiphos', a straight-bladed cut-and-thrust sword. Neither Macedonian nor Roman swords were 'heavy', but well balanced. Just as the Macedonians primary weapon was the pike, the Romans primary weapon was the 'pilum'/heavy javelin, which was launched in relays by small groups dashing out, and sometimes kept up for hours until the enemy broke. Only then was the secondary gladius drawn for the pursuit.( as a generalisation, battles were individual, of course.)
Metallurgy was certainly not 'primitive', but quite advanced, and many items could not be surpassed even by modern metallurgy

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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Paralus » Sat May 14, 2016 1:15 am

At the risk of becoming a 'chum' (!), I can only completely and whole heartedly agree with Xenophon's accurate comments above who has beaten me to the punch. You seem to miss the entire point of the Macedonian phalanx Nick. Further, although you're going from memory, you need to reread Curtius and compare him with the other accounts - especially Diodorus who is near certainly summarising the same source:
Curtius, 3.11.4:
The troops sent forward into the midst of the Persians were now totally surrounded and were stoutly defending themselves. But, being densely packed and virtually locked together, they could not effectively hurl their javelins which, simultaneously discharged, became entangled with one another as they converged on the same targets: so that the few which fell on the enemy did so gently and without inflicting injury, while the majority fell ineffectively to the ground. Thus, obliged to fight hand-to-hand, they swiftly drew their swords.

Diod. 17.33.3-4; 6-7:
When the armies were within missile range, the Persians launched at Alexander such a shower of missiles that they collided with one another in the air, so thickly did they fly, and weakened the force of their impact. On both sides the trumpeters blew the signal of attack and then the Macedonians first raised an unearthly shout followed by the Persians answering, so that the whole hillside bordering the battlefield echoed back the sound, and this second roar in volume surpassed the Macedonian warcry as five hundred thousand men shouted with one voice.[...] The scales inclined now one way, now another, as the lines swayed alternately forward and backward. 7 No javelin cast or sword thrust lacked its effect as the crowded ranks offered a ready target. Many fell with wounds received as they faced the enemy and their fury held to the last breath, so that life failed them sooner than courage.
Now, the only disagreement I'd have with Xenophon's view is that Curtius is, in fact, referring to the Macedonians here. He has, as is sometimes his wont, confused matters greatly. Diodorus shows this in that he reports the same difficulty with hurling javelins - for the Persians - before the contact. It is here that they flew thickly and their impact was weakened. Curtius has somehow confused his nationalities and collapsed this into the one action - as if the Macedonian phalanx was hurling javelins while engaged in hand to hand fighting.

The spear, as Dr Reammes has stated, was indeed the primary weapon both of the infantry and of the cavalry. One only has to read Arrian's descriptions to readily see this:
Arr. 1.15.5:
And in this battle Alexander and his men gained the upper hand, not only because of their strength and experience but because they were using cornel wood spears against the Persians' light javelins

Arr.3.14.3:
For a breif period the fighting was hand to hand, but when Alexander and his horsemen pressed the enemy hard, shoving the PErsians and striking their faces with spears....
The kopis was clearly a secondary weapon, though a pretty handy one at that.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Xenophon » Sat May 14, 2016 3:24 am

Paralus wrote:
Now, the only disagreement I'd have with Xenophon's view is that Curtius is, in fact, referring to the Macedonians here. He has, as is sometimes his wont, confused matters greatly. Diodorus shows this in that he reports the same difficulty with hurling javelins - for the Persians - before the contact. It is here that they flew thickly and their impact was weakened. Curtius has somehow confused his nationalities and collapsed this into the one action - as if the Macedonian phalanx was hurling javelins while engaged in hand to hand fighting.
Curtius has certainly conflated his action piece here, but it is clear that it must be the Persians he is referring to, for they are javelin/'tela' armed whilst the Macedonians carry 16 ft or so pikes/sarissae - not something that can be 'hurled' in any event, as even Nicator realises ( he says they dropped their pikes).

If further evidence of this were required, then we need look no further than the passage of Diodorus, which Paralus has kindly provided.

BTW, Curtius' description of fighting 'foot to foot' should be recognised for what it is - a typical "topos".

Arrian III.14 too, more accurately points out that the
"infantry phalanx in close order and bristling with pikes added its irresistible weight....."
to Alexander's cavalry attack, and it is doubtless the phalanx that was pre-eminent in breaking the Persian cavalry.

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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Paralus » Sat May 14, 2016 4:07 am

Indeed. Curtius conflates the Persians loosing their javelins before the contact with the Macedonian phalanx fighting the Greek mercenaries attempting to cross the river. It is rendered for a Roman audience and we have lovely descriptions of blood really flowing following what almost reads as a pila exchange. What is clear from Arrian is that the major fracture of the phalanx was where Ptolemy's brigade abutted that of Meleager and it is here that 120 Macedonians of note are killed. Whether these, with an exposed inner flank, resorted to swords is a possibility.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Xenophon » Sat May 14, 2016 4:45 am

Cyia wrote:
If a sword wasn't Alexander's usual weapon, what would he have used in India when he scaled the wall and fought the Mallians until an arrow took him down? I always envisioned him swinging and stabbing with a sword. Would he have used a spear?
It would be a mistake to think that the Macedonians , including Alexander, had only one "usual" weapon. They would select a 'panoplia'/set of equipment for the task at hand. Thus when fighting mounted Alexander's primary weapon was a 12ft 'xyston'/lance, backed up by a 'xiphos'/sword as a secondary weapon. For defence he wore a metal helmet and body armour. No shield was carried at this time by Macedonian cavalry, the left, or bridle, hand being used to control the horse, and to use the 'xyston' two-handed.

On foot, Alexander would replace the cavalry 'xyston' with a traditional Macedonian 'longche' - a handy dual purpose thrusting or throwing spear some 5-6 ft long, or perhaps a 'Dory', the Greek 7-8ft thrusting spear, and add a shield and greaves to his defensive equipment. Outside the battlefield and its massed formations, the 'sarisa'/pike was too unwieldy for skirmishing or siege-fighting and the like, and the Macedonian heavy infantry fought with their traditional 'longche'.

At Mali, the wall had to be ascended by ladder, and one hand was needed for this, the other carrying the shield. Alexander may have taken a 'longche', held in the back of the shield, but clearly a spear is an encumbrance to a man climbing a ladder, and he may simply have had his sword, easily drawn on reaching the top of the wall, and indeed this is how Arrian says he fought.

This is one of the most dramatic episodes of Arrian's account, and hence is worth quoting at length.....

Arrian [Book VI.9]
"....some of the Macedonians tried to force an entry by undermining the wall, and others by placing scaling ladders against it, wherever it was practicable to do so. Alexander, thinking that the men who carried the ladders were too slow, snatched one from a man who was carrying it, placed it against the wall, and began to mount it, crouching under his shield. After him mounted Peucestas,the man who carried the sacred shield which Alexander took from the temple of the Trojan Athena and used to keep with him, and have it carried before him in all his battles. After Peucestas, by the same ladder ascended Leonnatus the 'somatophylax'/ body-guard ; and up another ladder went Abreas, one of the soldiers , who received double pay for distinguished services. The king was now near the battlement of the wall, and leaning his shield against it was pushing some of the Indians within the fort, and had cleared that part of the wall, by killing others with his sword. The 'hypaspists'/ guards becoming very anxious for the king's safety, pushed each other with ardour up the same ladder and broke it ; so that those who were already mounting fell down and made the ascent impracticable for the rest. Alexander then, standing upon the wall, was being assailed all round from the adjacent towers ; for none of the Indians dared approach him. He was also being assailed by the men in the city, who were throwing darts/javelins at him from no great distance;
for a mound of earth happened to have been heaped up there opposite the wall. Alexander was conspicuous both by the brightness of his weapons and by his extraordinary display of audacity. He therefore perceived that if he remained where he was, he would be incurring danger without being able to perform anything at all worthy of consideration ; but if he leaped down within the fort he might perhaps by this very act strike the Indians with terror, and if he did not, but should only thereby be incurring danger, at any rate he would die not ignobly after performing great deeds of valour worthy of recollection by men of after times. Forming this resolution, he leaped down from the wall into the citadel ; where, supporting
himself against the wall, he struck with his sword and killed some of the Indians who came to close quarters with him, including their leader, who rushed upon him too boldly. Another man who approached him he kept in check by hurling a stone at him, and a third in like manner.
Those who advanced nearer to him he again kept off with his sword ; so that the barbarians were no longer willing to approach him, but standing round him cast at him from all sides whatever any one happened to have or could get hold of at the time.

Chapter 10

Meantime Peucestas and Abreas, the soldier entitled to double pay, and after them Leonnatus, being the only men who happened to have scaled the wall before the ladders were broken, had leapt down and were fighting in front of the king. Abreas, the man entitled to double pay, fell there, being shot with an arrow in the forehead. Alexander himself also was wounded with an arrow under the breast through his breastplate into the chest, so that Ptolemy says air was breathed oat from the wound together with the blood. But although he was faint with exhaustion, he defended himself, as long as his blood was still warm. But the blood streaming out copiously and without ceasing at every expiration of breath, he was seized with a dizziness and swooning, and bending over fell upon his shield. After he had fallen Peucestas defended him, holding over him in front the sacred shield brought from Troy; and on the other side he was defended by Leonnatus. But both these men were themselves wounded, and Alexander was now nearly fainting away from loss of blood. For the Macedonians had experienced great difficulty in the assault also on this account, because those who saw Alexander being shot at upon the wall and then leaping down into the citadel within, in their ardour arising from fear lest their king should meet with any mishap by recklessly exposing himself to danger, broke the ladders. Then some began to devise one plan and others another to mount upon the wall, as well as they could in their state of embarrassment, some fixing pegs into the wall, which was made of earth, and suspending themselves from these hoisted themselves up with difficulty by their means; others got up by mounting one upon the other. The first man who got up threw himself down from the wall into the city, and so on in succession ; and when they saw the king lying there on the ground they all raised a loud lamentation and howl of grief. Now ensued a desperate conflict around his fallen body, one Macedonian after another holding his shield in front of him. In the meantime some of the soldiers having shivered in pieces the bar by which the gate in the space of wall between the towers was secured,
entered the city a few at the time , while others, inasmuch as a gap had been made in the gate, put their shoulders under it and forced it into the space inside the wall, and thus laid the citadel open in that quarter.

Chapter 11

Hereupon some o£ them began to kill the Indians, all of whom they slew, sparing not even a woman or child. Others carried off the king, who was lying in a faint condition, upon his shield ; and they could not yet tell whether he was likely to survive. Some authors have stated that Critodemus, a physician of Cos, an Asclepiad by birth made an incision into the injured part and drew the weapon out of the wound. Other authors say that as there was no physician present at the critical moment, Perdiccas, the 'somatophylax'/body-guard, at Alexander's bidding, made an incision with his sword into the wounded part and removed the weapon. On its removal there was such a copious effusion of blood that Alexander swooned again ; and the effect of the swoon was, that the effusion of blood was staunched........."


c.f. Curtius IX.18-23 ; Plutarch 'Alexander' 63; Diodorus (xvii. 98, 99) ; Justin (xii. 9). for other accounts of this famous incident.

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