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Friday, August 31, 2007

PROGRESS REPORT #10: PLANNING THE COUP

The Macedonian royalty: Philip II and Alexander
(miniature ivory heads found in the royal tomb at Vergina)


"To give the throne to another man would be easy;
to find a man who shall benefit the kingdom is difficult."
Mancius 372-283 BC "Works" III

The weather turned cloudy and cool today so I've taken advantage of it to stay indoors and write. I've been at the computer since early morning and now I'm finished for the day. Progress is being made and I just finished staging a coup.
It brought to mind military juntas and coups in modern times. In particular I recalled all the stories that my friend Anibal told of the junta in Chile that resulted in so much death and destruction. In fact, when I visited Chile last winter I visited the general cometary where some of the victims of the military coup by Pinochet are buried, including the socialist president, Salvator Allende and the folk musician Victor Jara who was killed in the stadium.

This coup I staged today is led by Adeia-Eurydike, the eighteen year old niece of Alexander who is married to his mentally deficient half-brother Philip Arridaios. This young lady has played a major role in my novel, although in history books there isn't too much written about her. I find her fascinating, a tough girl who patterns herself after the Amazon queen Penthesilea (of Troy fame). Just wait and see what a ruckus she causes with her relentless ambition to control the throne of Macedon!




King Philip II
bronze statue, Thessaloniki

"Nothing is easier than self-deciet. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true."
Demosthenes 384-322 BC "Third Olymthiac"

PELLA
In Pella, a galloping horse thundered into the city and a dust-stained herald announced: “Kassandros has taken over Athens. Polyperchon and his army have fled and are camped near the Thessaly border.”
When Adeia-Eurydike heard the news, she immediately called an Assembly, summoning all the top-ranking soldiers, tribal lords and allied envoys.

In the great Hall of Pella’s palace, dressed in her cuirass, greaves and helmet, she mounted the dais to address them. Beside her, Arridaios stood looking anxious and bewildered, gaping at the mass of men who filled the Assembly. She had told him why
the Assembly had been called and instructed him only to speak on command. He was happy to accompany her so long as he did not have to make a speech. She promised that after the Assembly he could go with Konon, his Keeper, to the hunting lodge.

Clear and hard as a trumpet call, her voice carried throughout the Hall. “Men of Macedon, Guest-friends. I declare by order of my husband, King Philip Arridaios, that Kassandros from henceforth is named Supreme Commander of Macedon
and order Polyperchon to relinquish his command over the army and hand over all troops to Kassandros. Polyperchon has proven himself incompetent as Regent. There is chaos everywhere in his wake. Polyperchon has come scurrying back like a rat deserting a sinking ship, hoping to get reinforcements to fight for him. His incompetence has already caused the loss of many lives. This is the end for Polyperchon. Macedon is a rich country. We can not allow him to corrupt it and throw it away because of his ineptitude. He has no longer any talent for war or the ability to rule. He is not worthy of the Regency. Kassandros has established Macedon’s supremecy in Athens. Without him we would have lost our hold on the Greek city states. Because of him Macedon rules all the lands of Hellas!”

She strutted on the dais, her face fierce, her words sharp as a dagger point. A mutter ran around the gathering. The men looked to Kassandros’ brother Nikanor but saw that he, like many others, seemed mesmerized by her speech. Not since Alexander himself had they seen such fire and zeal. Soon they yielded to her, persuaded by her haughty manner, her splendid resolve. She spoke to them in the peasant dialect of the hill country, the language of soldiers. Even the old marshals and lairds who might have protested that a woman was in charge of the Assembly soon forgot that this was a mere girl addressing them. She was Eurydike, a warrior Queen. She was one of them.

“The Soghdian and her child have fled to Epiros and are being sheltered by Olympias the husband-killer who was for so long the enemy of our beloved Regent Antipater. They will do well to never return here. Was not the child’s birth-right questionable? Who can prove he is Alexander’s son? He is Persian, I am true-born Macedonian. I am Philip’s grandchild, Amyntas’ daughter, the great grandchild of two
Macedonian kings and royal on my mother’s side too. By right of my noble birth, I shall assume the Regency.”

At first there was a surge of discontent and some sounds of outrage, but her own faction took control of the Assembly and began to shout their support of her. “Yes! Yes! Long live Queen Eurydike!” Then Kassandros’ brothers and other members of his clan joined them pledging their support. The Assembly passed the motion. She would be
Regent. From now on she would issue orders in her own name and rule on behalf of her husband Philip Arridaios.

Instead of the familiar cry of “Alexander! Alexander!” it was
“Eurydike! Eurydike!” She felt a shiver of exultation. She had waited eighteen years for this moment. Now the throne of Macedon was hers. At last she was fulfilling her true destiny.


* * *



PELLA

"The people have always some champion who they set over themselves and nurse into greatness. This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; while he first appears he is a protector."
Plato 428-348 BC "The Republic" 565 C
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4 comments:

Sam said...

I love Demosthenes saying about self - deceit - it's so true!
And that's an interesing heroine you've picked - I know that most people suspected Olympias of poisoning Arridaios - so I can imagine the resentment that simmered there!

Wynn Bexton said...

hi Sam, yes those ancient philosophers and orators spoke such truisms!

I have 3 major females in my novel, all 3 of them formidable women who of course the historians largely didn't say much about considering their influence and power. ROXANA, Alexander's Soghdian wife; OLYMPIAS, his mother; and ADEIA-EURYDIKE, his niece and wife of Philip Arridaios.
(Yes, Olympias was suspected of having tried to poison poor old Arridaios while he was an infant but only succeeded in causing brain damage that retarded his mental growth)

There are 3 other women who have 'cameo' roles in the novel and these 3 are also very important in the history of Alexander:
THESSALONIKI, his half sister who later married Kassandros and had a city named after her
THAIS: The Corinthian courtesan who was the lover of Ptolemy (she lasted for many years and bore him 3 children but as it wasn't a legal marriage and because she was a courtesan they were not considered heirs to his throne)
BARSINE: The widow of Memnon of Rhodes who was later Alexander's first lover. She was Persian and came from a distinguished family. Had probably known Alexander during her youth when her father was an ambassador in Pella. She bore Alex. a son but Herakles was never recognized as he was illegitimate.

I just love writing about these women and hope that I have given them a fair voice as they certainly deserve to be known.

Gabriele C. said...

dressed in her cuirass, greaves and helmet

Hehe, there's nothing that fits a woman better than some military gear. :)

I wonder how she's going to deal with Kassandros, though. He doesn't look the type who'd let a woman rule the roost.

Btw, have you read Scott Oden's novel about Memnon?

Wynn Bexton said...

Hi Gabriele, yes Kass is very devious and of course has no intentions of letting her 'rule' even though she believes they are in cahoots.

Re "Memnon" - yes I have a signed copy here and actually Scott put an acknowledgment for me in front which I truly appreciate. I have to admit I haven't finished reading it though and it's on the top of my TBR pile at the moment. I just got so busy with writing and research etc that I decided to save for when I can really immerse myself in Memnon's world.