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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

PROGRESS REPORT#5: DRAWING UP THE BATTLE LINES

"But the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet not withstanding go out to meet it."
Thucydides 460- 400 BC "Funeral Oration of Pericles"

The party's over for now. It was a wild, exciting weekend with fireworks, the Gay Pride Parade, meeting friends at the pub afterwards where we had all met back in the '70's. Yesterday, a Latin fiesta at the Catholic parish in my neighborhood. Lots of good food from Central and South America, the Philippines, Italy, Germany, China and Canada. Music and folk dancing too. A nice way to spend the last day of the long weekend here in B.C. But today I was actually glad to see the rain as it kept me indoors and cooled thing down a little. So I spent five hours making notes and writing some new scenes for the novel. Drawing up the battle lines.

I've reached another tricky part of the story which gets political with lots of plots going on. And I'm back with another one of my favorite characters, Adeia-Eurydike, the young wife of the half-wit titular king Philip Arridaios. She's another one of the women in Alexander's world who wasn't given much press by the historians. When I started researching her I was amazed at this girl, a granddaughter of King Philip (by one of his daughters by an Illyrian war-bride). She was only a young teen-ager when she set off with her mother with the intention of marrying Arridaios (because Alexander had allowed them to be engaged by proxy to pacify things after her father had been executed for conspiring to assassinate Philip) By the time she was eighteen she had gathered her own faction hoping to seize the throne for herself, seeking to avenge the wrongful killings of her mother and father. You might say she was a kind of Joan of Arc, except she likened herself to an Amazon warrior queen. Between her and Olympias just wait and see what happens!

Here's a segment of a previous chapter in Part IV of the novel in which she attends a secret meeting with Kassandros (the villain) and his faction who are plotting to overthrow the Regent, Polyperchon. The new chapters in Part V and VI will tie in with this episode. It will give you a little glimpse of this girl, a formidable creature who can hold her own very well with the men. In fact, she styles herself as a young warrior, as if she's a clone of Alexander. I find her quite remarkable!

In this scene, the Regent, Antipater (Kassandros' father) has just died and has named his deputy Polyperchon as the new Regent. Kassandros is determined to seize the Regency which he believes is rightfully his by inheritance. He has gathered a gang of his cronies and supporters together at his hunting lodge for a secret meeting. Adeia-Eurydike is along, representing her husband the titular king, as Kassandros is currying her support for his cause.

Adeia-Eurydike, put down her cup and stood. Every eye turned toward her. She was not overly tall, but she seemed to tower over the men. She looked levelly at them, like a commander addressing the troops. Her face held a look of defiance and resolution. The room went silent as she spoke.
“Fellow Friends, I speak on behalf of my husband, King Philip Arridaios. I appeal to you, Sirs, to give your allegiance to Kassandros and help us expel Polyperchon. In the name of the King, allow Kassandros full reign as Regent of Macedon. The King
will reward you for your loyalty.” Her voice rang out clear and steady as she continued.

She spoke of the King, her husband. “He is slow, it is true, but he is willing and
fit to learn. He’s a strong man like his father was, and he would make a good ruler, so long as he has your allegiance and you will allow me to speak on his behalf. He is modest, shy of speaking to large audiences and Assemblies,” she explained. “And yes, he does suffer from the falling sickness. But in truth, this is a simple matter for which his physicians have administered medicines to control the fits, so he is able to participate in the rites and affairs of state. ” Her voice never wavered when she spoke. The men hung on her words, listening to her with respect Kassandros noted how she commanded their attention and he admired her for it.

She was splendid standing there. Tales of her exploits, her defiance of the Successors, were known by all and often told round barracks hearths and campfires. A few of the older men remembered her father and how he had been wrongfully put to death by the Assembly after Philip’s murder.

“Polyperchon is like a lazy herd dog,” Adeia-Eurydike continued, her voice rising with a passionate zeal. “While he should be guarding his flock, instead he amuses himself
playing childish games with the son of Alexander‘s foreign spear-bride and has cast aside my husband, the rightful king, Now it is time to renew our allegiances for the good of Macedonia and all of Greece.”

Fists thumped on tables and the men cheered her. After she was seated and the applause died down, Kassandros stood to address the company.
“Are we agreed then, to pledge our loyalty to this cause? To expel Polyperchon for the good of Macedon?”
Talos, the Thessalian inquired boldly. “Will this conspiracy lead to civil war?” His eyes were bloodshot and the wine had loosened his tongue.
Kassandros eyed him carefully, weighing his words before he spoke. “There will be no need for strife,” he said. “Once we have our allies’ support, old Iron Beard will buckle
under the will of the majority. ”

Orestes the Tymphanian leapt to his feet, knocking over his wine cup. “I say we put our faith in Kassandros!” he shouted. “Polyperchon is worn-out ; he has no taste left for war! It’s clear he prefers reveling to responsibility.”

The men rose to second his sentiments and joined his rallying cry. Everyone pledged their loyalty. Their by-word became “Victory and Glory!” Oaths were made in the name of Herakles and some stronger still, sworn with fists over hearts on the Stream of Hades. Kassandros proposed that, according to custom, they pour libations and to seal their oaths. As they trouped out to retire to their lodgings, they agreed that in the morning they would sacrifice an unblemished kid.

After the guests had departed , Kassandros poured another cup of wine and drew his stool closer to fire. The room was quiet except for the sound of dogs gnawing on deer bones and the crackling of the embers.
The hour was late. Outside, he could hear the eerie hooting of the kukuvia calling and answering across the ravine. The wind whistled through the pines as it gusted down the mountain slope. The oil-lamps smoked and flickered with the draught that seeped
under the cracks of windows and doors.

He smiled to himself, satisfied that the meeting had gone well. “I knew we could count on the men, though I’ll need to keep an eye on Talos. Most of the Thessalians
favour Polyperchon, but Talos was wronged by him some time ago. A quarrel over some horses. I’m counting on him to influence the other land barons.”
“If you can control them,” Nikanor muttered.
“Polyperchon has no influence as do the sons of Antipater,” Kassandros bragged. “Look to our guests, brother. Money will buy the clan lords. Money and the taste for glory!”

Nikanor pulled his stool closer to the fire and stretched out his long legs. He was always a cautious man but not afraid to voice his concerns. “Are you sure of the girl? She’s only seventeen, and in spite of her man’s attire, she has no cock between her legs. Eurydike is a known troublemaker. It‘s clear she means to rule in Arridaios‘ stead.”
Kassandros made a dismissive gesture. “I daresay she does! She’s not a girl to settle for the loom.” He gave Nikanor a reassuring smile. “I’m counting on you to watch
her while I’m gone, Brother,” he said. “The girl knows only a portion of what we have planned but she’ll take our side no matter what. As long as she thinks she’ll be allowed to rule in Arridaios’ stead, she‘ll do anything I say.”

* * *
"He harms himself who does harm to another, and the evil plan is most harmful to the planner."
Hesiod 700 BC "Work and Days" l 265








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