Alexander into the bin

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marcus
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Post by marcus »

Efstathios wrote:How could Alexander follow the Persian custom of accepting the most beautifull women of the empire in his bed, whenever he could of course, and in the meanwhile [edited] Bagoas and Hephaestion?
Except that no-one is saying that he was homosexual in the modern sense of the word; in other words, no-one is saying that he didn't also find women attractive or, if one only wishes to read politics into it, that he did not see the benefit in marrying and even having children.
Why did Alexander refused the male prostitutes that Filoxenos proposed as present, and cried out loud about the obscene of the situation and asked for the pimp Theodoros to be destroyed?
Because he didnt approve for male prostitution, he considered it to be a shame.
This whole thing is starting to get into dangerous territory again. Being homosexual does not mean that you approve of male prostitution, any more than being heterosexual means that you approve of female prostitution. And anyway, as no-one is suggesting that Alexander was 'homosexual' in the modern sense of the word, the point is irrelevant.
And what about the women that were brought to him from all over the empire? They were essentially like prostitutes.
Which women were these, exactly? And in what way were they "essentially like prostitutes"?

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Post by amyntoros »

Efstathios wrote:This whole matter has became a futher ridicule because of the internet. Every ignorant person that just copies something goes and makes a website where the same old things get repeated. Hephaestion was Alexander's lover, ancient Greece was the paradise for homosexuals, how Socrates [edited] Alciviades, and all this crap i keep seeing. And all of that because of that Walter Pater.
How strange then that none of the books that I own on ancient sexuality even mention Walter Pater! I think that you are (a) giving too much credit to the internet for people’s opinions; (b) discrediting (albeit unintentionally) all the people, past and present, who do not share your opinion. On this forum alone we have a large group of members who are fully capable of thinking for themselves on many an issue. Yes, we read modern publications as well as the sources, but we’ve been known to disagree even with scholars on many an occasion. All people aren’t sheep, Efstathios, blindly following what they are told. Most are fully capable of weighing the ancient evidence, reading scholarly works both pro and con, and drawing their own conclusions.

And Walter Pater has had nothing to do with mine. :wink:

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Post by Paralus »

karen wrote:To haul this back to Alexander, he gave up on the proskynesis idea due to strong opposition, so I don't think it's fair to say he never changed his mind when people objected to his behavior. There's his acceding to turn back from the Hyphasis, too.
I don't know that he gave up entirely on the proskynesis idea - he made it an article of choice for the Macedonians but I'm certain the Asians will have continued (which is understandable). In any case, as events turned out, Callisthenes died because of it I think it fair to say.

He had no choice at the Hydaspes. He as much "acceded" as one would accede to walking when the car runs out of petrol.
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Post by keroro »

@ Efstathios - Though I am not one to just 'go along with everything that's fed me', I am wise enough to know that my knowledge of this area is not nearly as complete as I would like it to be. In the absence of the time needed to learn Greek from scratch and read everything I can get my hands on regarding ancient Greece I have to form my opinions from what I have read in translation and the works of what I believe are the most reliable modern scholars. If these scholars (and, it seems, most of the people on Pothos) seem to agree that there was a level of homoerotic activity then I shall accept that until I find a reason to convince me otherwise. I ask again, would I (or Oliver Stone for that matter) not be guilty of a fair level of arrogance to simply disregard these peoples' opinions?

Regarding Pater - I've never heard of him in fact. However, he was writing during a time of strict moral rectitude, the Victorian period is famous in England for the repression of sexual urges and expression. Though the Victorians were very interested in classical antiquity I believe that they had next to no interest in the sexual affairs of the ancients. Pater is fairly remarkable for breaking with this tradition. I've read none of his stuff, so don't know whether it's reliable or biased.

Regarding the translations - as I've said I don't speak a word of the language, so I can't discuss this with you. :( If your point is that translators are influenced to an extent by the culture they live in and the beliefs that they themselves bring to a text - then I agree with you entirely.
Best wishes,

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Post by Efstathios »

Amyntoros i was not reffering to the members here who most are well intelligent and thinking people, but to those that do not research things futher, or do not like history, or just copy something onto their website because it is what they see as the popular oppinion.

And even webistes like livius, make serious mistakes like this :
Hephaestion was philalexandros (a lover of Alexander)
from http://www.livius.org/he-hg/hephaestion ... ion02.html

Now see, philalexandros does not mean a lover of Alexander. Or actually the way the writter put it is wrong. Because lover also means litterally "lover". With the sex and all that. Philalexandros is he who admires, is friend with, and loves Alexander, but as a friend. And i believe some people also have used this word as a nickname here and in other forums, so you know what i am talking about.

But if a man that doesnt have the knowlegde that we have goes and read this, wont he understand that Philalexandros is the lover, as in sexual partner, of Alexander? And even if native English people will be able to distinquish between the meanings, those that are not native english speakers, may not.

Of course this is just a tiny thing compared to what's written in websites in the net. And the net is the main source of information of a lot of people today.
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Post by Efstathios »

Keroro i understand what you are saying, and of course i was not aiming my fire on you. I hope you undesrstand that.

I am just searching for the truth, but some things that i see, just do not match.

For one reason or the other, Greece has been targeted repeatedly. It only takes 1-2 scholars to form an oppinion that will spread thoughout the world. And with the net, it can spread wihout control.

And dont think that people in Greece actually know history in the proper way. One of the finest examples of an intended effort to change history, is being made right now, and has created a fuzz here. A new history school book has been written, which obviously aims to the bettering of the realtions between Greece and Turkey, and has many mistakes and omittions as to the Greek Rebellion, and the independance fight against the Ottoman Turks, in 1821. It devotes whole pages to the social life and the "cafes" of Athens at that time, and just little paragraphs to the Rebellion it's self. It more or less suggests that people in Greece had no reason to fight for their freedom, because they had everything during Turkish occupation, and ommits completely the "hidden schools" part, which were schools that operated undergound of churches e.t.c, and kept the Greek language alive by teaching kids the "New Testament" in the original.

It is how history gets altered. There are also examples for why people would want to make Greece to appear as a paradise for homosexuals, but it's going too far, and i will just stop here.
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Post by karen »

I don't know that he gave up entirely on the proskynesis idea - he made it an article of choice for the Macedonians but I'm certain the Asians will have continued (which is understandable).
The Asians did it because it was their custom already. Giving everyone their choice in the matter is acceding entirely to the will of others.
In any case, as events turned out, Callisthenes died because of it I think it fair to say.
I don't think it is fair to say that Kallisthenes was not in part the author of his own fate. He publicly slighted Alexander and his students then conspired to kill him.
He had no choice at the Hydaspes. He as much "acceded" as one would accede to walking when the car runs out of petrol.
An army is not a machine, and one always has a choice. If he had been truly megalomaniac and deluded, he'd have chosen to go on, they'd have killed him, or chose to let him go on alone and get killed, and that would have been the end of his story.

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Post by athenas owl »

Never heard of Walter Pater till I read this. I as I am old enough to have gotten through college with a typewriter (did the internet exist in the late 80's?) I can honestly say that my opinion on Alexander (or any historical figure) was not formed by the internet.

Yes, there is a lot of erronous information or opinion online, a fascinating study on it's own.
Saying that the idea that Alexander had a physical relationship with Hephaistion has only come up since, when? Pater or whoever, denies the fact that, whether you agree with the validity or not, that it was being written about two thousand years ago. It isn't something that was created out of thin air by Pater.

It really shouldn't matter, though that it still does says so much about our own era.. What I find more alraming are internet sites like Stormfront that have attached themsleves to ATG's history and legacy to persue their white supremacist agendas. I find them by accident looking for images of the "Alexander Sarcohpagus" ...ewwwwww.

Karen, I will have to check out Kos again. I do remember some discussion about Alexander over there a year or two ago...the seige of Tyre or something and someone posted that Alexander had an "outrageous sense of entitlement" because he decided to beseige Tyre when they refused to submit. I am not doing the quote justice, because in it's context it was very funny. Was that you?

I do have to say this about Green, and others, including Michael Wood. To me their scholarship is a reflection of the anit-imperialist, anti-war sentiment that grew up especially in the sixties and seventies. Now me, personally..I am very anti-imperialist in my own modern era. But I don't try to retroactively push that same vision on a past over two thousand years. I know we are all products of our age, just as Arraian, Plutarch and Curtius were, but please be a little more aware of it. I literally threw Wood's book across the room after one last Stalin comparison....

Another last bit...I think that many historians (and I will give credit to Wood for the travels) simply are not aware of how things really work outside their "ivory towers". An example is the heavy drinking theories. Here, I think I might come in contact more with the old Macedonian and Homeric ideals. It has been my great fortune to belong to a sub-culture of commerical fishing in the Pacific. More specifically the king crab fisheries in Alaska and even Russia.

It is in a smaller sense a life of glory and plunder and retelling the great stories and surviving incredible weather and disasters. The most charismatic captians are the ones who bring the most "glory" ( I can not stress this enough) and riches. They are legendary. And the participants drank like fish, drastically at times, when they gathered in their own version of "symposia". At least one departed fisherman entered his personal Valhalla on a burning boat out on the water (though small, as he had already been cremated). There was even a kind of "camp following". It was/is part of the culture, though times have changed. I tend to think of the current fishery as more the Diodachi than Alexander himself. :P

I wouldn't approve at all if someone like Alexander came into the world, today, but I do wish that historians and others would always keep in mind that what was was and belongs to a world we have very little connection to. As someone here so wonderfully put it, if we met Alexander and his cohorts today we might not like him very much at all. But I would like to think that his history would not be used for whatever the historian's own poltical or moral bent is. I don't have an opinion on ATG's personality, he is too remote. Though I think that of all the historians of the modern age, he would like Renault most of all. She may not have truly captured ATG's "nature", but she captured, perhaps, the way he wished to be seen.
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Post by jasonxx »

Athena
I like your rhetoric with the way so called modernist historians try to give Alexander some stick and beat it with the morality of the 21st Century stick. As you say time then has nothing to do today by way of ethical codes etc.

I believe its a modernist passing the book from todays society which is fundamentally worse than it was then, Just lately theres a new film about the Slavery Abolition in the UK. Yet slavery is more rife today than in any historical periods.

I agree with you about Michael Wood . The guys basically a English Historian. Having a knock at Alexander. I dont recall him giving Alexander any credit. But what he did realise is that Alexanders journeyy was tougher than he could take even with jeeps and sometimes helicopters.

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Post by karen »

Karen, I will have to check out Kos again. I do remember some discussion about Alexander over there a year or two ago...the seige of Tyre or something and someone posted that Alexander had an "outrageous sense of entitlement" because he decided to beseige Tyre when they refused to submit. I am not doing the quote justice, because in it's context it was very funny. Was that you?
No. But now you've got me intrigued so I'm going to go try scare it up. Re the outrageous sense of entitlement, I think that's a job requirement for conquerors... hah! Found it. It was one of Unitary Moonbat's historical series, this one focusing on the ancient history of Lebanon.

(For anyone who wants to see the diary plus the 122 comments it inspired -- http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/7/23/20351/6847
I do have to say this about Green, and others, including Michael Wood. To me their scholarship is a reflection of the anit-imperialist, anti-war sentiment that grew up especially in the sixties and seventies...
Indeed... and I agree with that sentiment. But when you impose the current idea that war is bad on a culture that believed that war is good, indeed sacred and noble, you're going to get distortions.

I'm hitting this in my work as a novelist, because as a novelist you have to understand your characters' motivations. That means that however distasteful to you it is that the culture saw war as sacred and noble, you have to accept that it did, and the people in it conducted themselves accordingly, and you have to write that way. And you have to get into it enough to write convincingly. Academics tend to feel that this is not a job requirement for them, that they can sniff disapprovingly from their modern vantage point. (And in fact I think it's impossible for many). All well and good, so long as they are clear to themselves and their readers that that's what they're doing, and they don't disguise speculation as fact. But I think that if they did what novelists do, get inside the minds of those about whom they write, they'd gain greater understanding and thus be better academics.

How fascinating about the Alaska/Russia king crab culture, and the possible extrapolation backwards! Thanks for that.

Warmly,
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Post by marcus »

karen wrote:I don't think it is fair to say that Kallisthenes was not in part the author of his own fate. He publicly slighted Alexander and his students then conspired to kill him.
Oh, he was indeed in part the author of his own fate - after all, he did refuse to perform proskynesis. Whether or not he had originally agreed to go along with it, he was accused of acceding and then reneging. He also refused publicly, embarrassing Alexander and those others who had already gone through the ritual - and you don't embarrass the Lord of Asia in public and expect to get away with it.

He also angered the Macedonians by delivering an anti-Macedonian speech (after he had also delivered one praising them).

But there is no evidence that he conspired to kill Alexander; and, indeed, Hermolaus and his co-conspirators specifically exculpated Callisthenes of having any part in the plot. The best we can say is that he was accused and found guilty.

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Post by Paralus »

With respect to Callisthenes, I do not believe he was guilty. Indeed Arrian states that “most writers” (outside of Ptolemy and Aristobulus) believed that Alexander was prepared to “believe the worst about Callisthenes” (for obvious reasons). As well, the reported reasons for Hermolaus’ attempt on the king’s life make for an interesting read:
…the murder of Philotas, the still more illegal one of his father Parmenio and of the others who were put to death at that time, the murder of Clitus in a fit of drunkenness, the assumption of the Median garb, the introduction of the ceremony of prostration, which had been planned and not yet relinquished, and the drinking-bouts and lethargic sleep arising from them.
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by karen »

I suppose I need to read up on the conspiracy of the pages again, but being as they were not yet men, I could understand any suspicion that they received guidance from someone older, with the most obvious choice being their teacher, especially given that public slight. It's circumstantial evidence, to be sure, and the pages not fingering him when they had nothing to lose makes one think he was innocent. And yet perhaps they hoped, if they saved him, that he'd somehow avenge them? Ever lurking, of course, as with all these things -- and it's so frustrating -- is the possibility of more evidence either for innocence or guilt that has been lost to time.

BTW, I think those praising/damning speeches that he did on Alexander's request were a total set-up on Alexander's part. I think Alexander knew that Kallisthenes' damns would sound a lot more sincere than his praises. Not a case of hanging him... just handing him the rope. I have to admit that appeals to my gallows humour... :twisted:

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Last edited by karen on Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Conspiracy theories

Post by marcus »

karen wrote:I suppose I need to read up on the conspiracy of the pages again, but being as they were not yet men, I could understand any suspicion that they received guidance from someone older, with the most obvious choice being their teacher, especially given that public slight. It's circumstantial evidence, to be sure, and the pages not fingering him when they had nothing to lose makes one think he was innocent. And yet perhaps they hoped, if they saved him, that he'd somehow avenge them? Ever lurking, of course, as with all these things -- and it's so frustrating -- is the possibility of more evidence either for innocence or guilt that has been lost to time.
Quite possible, and I agree to a large extent. My point is simply that we have no evidence that he did, merely that he was accused and condemned. One only has to remember the comment by Aristotle, as related by Callisthenes' slave Stroibos, that Callisthenes had great eloquence, but no common sense. My view is that Callisthenes probably didn't set out deliberately to suborn the pages, but that there is a good chance that unwittingly he laid the seeds that became their conspiracy. Hermolaus was able to acquit Callisthenes of complicity entirely truthfully, however, influenced he had been by his tutor.
BTW, I think those praising/damning speeches that he did on Alexander's request were a total set-up on Alexander's part. I think Alexander knew that Kallisthenes' damns would sound a lot more sincere than his praises. Not a case of hanging him... just handing him the rope. I have to admit that appeals to my gallows humour... :twisted:
Absolutely - or if not set up by Alexander himself, then by someone close to Alexander who was getting tired of Callisthenes' intractability.

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Post by athenas owl »

Didn't know where else to put this, but "into the bin" seems like a good place to mention that I just finished Doherty's horrible book on the death of Alexander. This guy has a doctorate in HISTORY? I made myself finish the whole thing, but I have a rather throbbing headache from all the eye-rolling this afternoon.

Thank goodness I didn't buy it, only checked it out of my tiny local library. I had read things about him before, but i had no idea how lurid it would be. *note to self: donate money for new books to library*.
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