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Sunday, May 21, 2006

I AM OLYMPIAS

I've been tagged by Gabriele to participate in this historical fiction meme "Who Am I?"
Her character "Charlemagne" challenged my character "Olympias". "Who Am I?" you ask?

I am Olympias, widow of Kiing Philip II of Macedon, mother of Alexander, the greatest warrior-king the world has ever known. I was given the name of Myrtale at my birth, but I knew that I deserved a more majestic title. So after I married Philip, I changed my name to Olympias because
"I am one who dwells on the holy mountain Olympus, with the gods."

I want the world to remember me, just as they remember my kinsman Achilles and my invincible son, Alexander. When I was a child, I wanted my mother to dip me in the Styx so I could become immortal just as Thetis had dipped her son Achilles (who unfortunately was left with a vulnerable heel). So I went to the River myself, and dipped my whole body in the sacred stream making certain not one inch of me was left unwashed.

I wish the world would remember me not as an over-possessive, vindictive, murderous witch (or so they have called me!) but as the magnificent powerful woman that I am.

I hate those desipicable men who published slanderous stories about me. I especially detest the Antipides clan, in particular that old goat Antipater who ruled as Regent for my husband and son. Mostly I despise his evil son, that slime, Kassandros, who I hold responsible for my son's death (and later, my own demise and that of my grandson, thus putting an end to our illustrious and powerful dynasty)

I miss my son. I have never recovered from his death, nor for those many yeasr we were separated whle he roamed the world. And I also miss the shady groves of Dodoni where I worshipped in Zeus-Ammon's sacred grove and danced with the maenaeds in the forest.

I fear nothing. I am blessed by the gods and privileged to carry the seed of Ammon. I was visited by His golden snake, which impregnated me and thus I bore my marvelous son Alexander. Zeus Ammon protects me. Even on the day my enemies surrounded me and stoned me to death, I was not afraid. I kept my eyes on the holy mountain because I knew my soul would be recieved by the gods there and I would dewell eternally on Olympus.

I hear many rumours about my life. People claim that my son as not concieved by the God, but by his mortal father Philip. It swear it is not a myth that I was visited by Ammon's golden snake. The deposed shaman Pharoah Nectanabo can verify this because he was there. (Yes, I know there are some nay-sayers who claim the Pharoah gave me magic potions and tricked me into believe my son was conceived of the god. But I know it is not a falsehood to say that Alexander was the son of Ammon and this was proven by his magnificent deeds!). I have heard of the many slanderous stories that are told by writers of histories and other who hate me because they are jealous of my power and my outstanding beauty.

I wonder what would have become of Macedon if Alexander had not died in Babylon. He had so many more worlds to conquor. And after he died his greedy Successors quarreled and divided his Empire until finally it all ended in such extreme tragedy.

I regret that I did not go to Babylon even though Alexander did not invite me there. A foolish slight on his part. He often quarreled with me -- thought I meddled in his affairs -- but if he had allowed me to come there, perhaps he would not have died.

I am not the murderess, the husband-killer, as people have portrayed me to be. I only acted in self defence or in defence of my son, and later on behalf of my grandson. I did not have a hand in Philip's assassination, although I will admit to the world that I had grown to hate my husband for his drunken philandering and for his slights to Alexander and me.

I would dance on the graves of my enemies if I could. I admit that I danced with happiness when my husband died and rewarded his assassin with special homage.

I sing in praise of Zeus-Ammon and in honor of my illustrious son, Alexander.

I cried with indescribable grief over my son's death. And so would I have grieved over the death of my grandson, though by then I had already crossed the River.

I am not always given the honours due me. I was born a princess of Epirus, became the Queen of Macedon and later I ruled the Molossians on behalf my other grandson, Neoptolemos. (That stupid daughter of mine, Kleopatra, abandoned her children in my care and went off to Syria hoping to marry Alexander's first-in-command General Perdikkas. Unfortunately Perdikkas was assassinated in Egypt before the marriage could take place and as a punishment, Kleopatra was exiled there on command of the Regent, Antipater.)

I made a pact with my son that I would not allow anyone to stand in the way of him inheriting what was rightfully his - the throne of Macedon. I kept my word, and saw that anyone who threatened his inheritance was quickly disposed of. That included my husband's new wife and her offspring. After Philip's death how could I allow that young trollop free reign in my rightful place or risk the chance that her brat would claim the throne?

I wrote many letters to Alexander warning him of the Regent's ambitions and complaining of the way Antipater treated me. Later, when that scum Kassandros tried to seize power for himself, I wrote to my son's allies, especially Eumenes who had been the chief secretary, and asked for his help in protecting Alexander's empire. None of the Successors were as capable as Alexander, or strong enough to keep the empire from falling into chaos. Ptolemy was the only one who amounted to anything, really, with his satrapy of Egypt. But he was another one of Philip's illegitmate by-blows and although I know my son admired him, I did not approve and would not ask him for his help. In the end Ptolemy sided with that evil scoundral Kassandros because they were bound by marriage ties. Eumenes was the only one I trusted, though he was a Karian Greek. Unfortunately he, too, was killed.

I confuse some who thought my marriage to Philip was only a political union, designed to help him seize control of Epirus. This is wrong. In the beginning we were passionately in love. We met at the Temple of the Great Gods in Samothraki. He was enchanted with me from the very first moment he laid eyes on me. I was only fifteen and a noted beauty who came from an esteemed royal line. I was also an initiate into the cult there -- as well as other cults (some people have accused me of being a witch). It was later, when Philip put me aside in favour of lesser women (mere sword-brides of no account) that I began to hate him. He was a brilliant commander and strategist, but he was also a brual man, a drunkard and had an insatiable penchant for youths and maidens. Most of all, I could not tolerate the way he treated our son.

I need the world to remember me, because without me Alexander would not have become the King of Macedon and heir of Philip's empire.

I should have followed Alexander to Babylon after he left me but how could I have known that I would never see him again -- that after those ten long years he would die so far from home. Some claim he died of illness -- he had many wounds and suffered from various ailments contracted during his campaigns in those snake and mosquito-infested lands. But I know, will proclaim to all the world, that he died of malice. That Kassandros and his young brother Iollas, who was Alexander's cup-bearer mixed his wine with tainted water and poisoned him.
So, I hold Kassandros accountable for his death, and eventually for the fall of Alexander's dynasty.

I start each day making sacrifices to Zeus Ammon and give tributes in honour of my son.
And after I serve the Gods, I burn magic potions and send curses to my enemies, especially Kassandros. My he die a death of misery, eaten alive by worms.

I finished my life with dignity, at the hands of my adversaries. It was a pitiable ending -- trapped in that dingy old sea fort at Pynda -- everyone was starving to death (they even ate the elephants) and worse -- all my beloved snake-daimons perished. I watched my little grandson grow thinner each day. I had grown fond of him and his mother too -- though she was a foreign girl and I would have prefered Alexander to marry a Macedonian. I could not see them die the way the others had. There was no way out. Kassandros had trapped us there like rats in a rat-hole.
I surrendered myself to his people (he sent the families of of his clan whose kinsmen I had ordered killed). They surrounded me and pelted me with stones. I did not flinch. I had lived a long life and would die with dignity. I simply stood tall, and kept my eyes on the high snow-capped peaks of the holy mountain, Olympus. I knew that when I died my soul would go there and I would dwell there forever with the Gods.

I tag Mira Deb. over at pendrifter, will you take up my challenge?
I wish I could tag my friend Susan too, so that you could hear Freydis, Eriksdotter speak. But alas! She does not have a blogsite.

note: This was fun. I have reached a point in the conclusive chapters of my novel when Olympias will take an active role. Til now she has mostly been mentioned but has not had much chance to 'star' on her own in the drama, except for a much earlier chapter when her daughter Kleopatra, announced she was going off to Syria in hopes of marrying Perdikkas. So by doing this exerice, it helped put me right into Olympias' head and this is very important when building strong characters in our stories. Thanks, Gabriele, for the challenge!


11 comments:

Gabriele C. said...

Thank you for playing along. It's not only a fun meme but indeed useful as well. Maybe I'll run some more characters through it.

Tell Susan to get a blog. Freydis Eriksdottir sounds interesting.

Debra Young said...

I'll take up the glove, but it'll be tough for me 'cause if Mira revealed his secrets, he'll have to send Ferrant after you. Still, I'll have a chat with him. d:)

Wynn Bexton said...

I found it a challenge and spent quite a few days thinking about it. I wasn't sure what Olympias would say. She can be cantankerous at times and I didn't want to offend her (because, truly I do admire her! One of the strongest and most maligned women in history.)
I hope other writers take up this challenge as it's a worthwhile exercise.

Debra Young said...

Well wait a minute. I'm not sure Mira can play in the same sandbox as the august group of historical figures. He's not a real historical figure; he's just a figment of my imagination! This particular meme is a great one though. d:)

Wynn Bexton said...

Debra, even though he's a fignewton of your imagination I'd still enjoy hearing from him.

Carla said...

Have you considered inviting your friend to post as a guest blogger on your blog? If she's the Freydis Eriksdottir from the Vinland Sagas, I'd also be interested in hearing from her.

Wynn Bexton said...

OK, Olympias has formally challenged Freydis. I hope she will participate.

(My friend has written an amazing novel in Freydis Eriksdottir's voice which she is now shopping around.)

Wynn Bexton said...

Freydis has replied and agreed to speak. Watch for her here on my blog.

Sam said...

Oh how super!!!
You really brought her to life!!
Bravo!!

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Loved this, Wynn! Reading about Olympias was fascinating.

And I just read your last post about your good fortune. I am SO happy for you! It’s about time some really good news came your way. I’ve heard wonderful things about Chile, I’m sure you’ll have a splendid time and I can’t wait to read about your adventure after you’ve returned. And New York, well you know you’ll have great fun there! :-D

Here’s hoping for lots more good fortune coming your way soon, Wynn!

Wynn Bexton said...

Thanks to all my readers for the kind words and best wishes.