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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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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

PROGRESS REPORT #9: PARALLELS


A Greek Trireme



"Any excuse will serve a tyrant"
Aesop "The Wolf and the Lamb"

This little excerpt from my recent writings reminds us that history repeats itself. There are parallels between then and now. Think about it!



A month after Phokion’s execution, Kassandros’ fleet sailed into Pireaus, a mighty armada of doom: great hulky war galleons and sleek triremes, horse transports and ships bearing siege equipment so dense that it filled the three harbours forming a formidable blockade.

A misty rain was falling and the haze, mingling with the swirls of fog off the sea, cast an eerie pall over the coast. The only sounds were the grinding of the oars against the thole pins, the whack of blades as they hit the water, and the swoosh of the wake as the ships’ hulls cut through the waves. The fog lifted as the warships ploughed in and observers from the shore could see that the decks were crowded with armed men.

As the fleet streamed into the harbour, spectators who watched from the Long Walls, mainly the democrats who had strongly opposed Macedonian domination over the city, wept in despair. “Surely it bodes ill omens,” they wailed. “What is to become of us and our City now?”

By noon, Kassandros and his army disembarked. When his supporters, the aristocrats, saw Kassandros step ashore, mounting the strand with his maroon cloak and plumed helmet, they cheered in approval and welcomed him.

In Athens, panic prevailed as packs of looters rampaged through the city vandalizing statues, swarming the marketplace and overwhelming merchants as they tipped over carts and stole anything that could be carried off. The citizens cowered in alarm and watched in terror as armed troops marched into the agora and city squares beating and arresting the malefactors. There was such chaos that even the Assembly dared not meet.

Kassandros ordered that all the members of opposing factions be arrested and condemned to death, including the garrison commander, Nikanor, who he blamed for the riots. He immediately set about to establish a government that was friendly to himself, putting his ally, the aristocrat Demetrius of Phaliron, in charge. A decree was passed that the Athenians were allowed to have possession of their city and its revenues, but the citizens were ordered to give respectful hearing to all suggestions of Demetrius. Athens was now in the hands of tyrants.


North of Athens, where his army was encamped, a look of disbelief crossed Polyperchon’s face when he heard the news. His son Alexandros and the Macedonian troops he commanded had retreated from Athens and Polyperchon realized that an invasion would be impossible. There was only one thing left to do: count his losses and withdraw. Marshalling what was left of his fractured army, beaten and disheartened, he led his soldiers north. His only hope now was to return to Macedon and recruit additional troops. Without more men and arms a counter-attack against Kassandros would never succeed.


GREEK BATTLE HELMETS

I've had an interesting weekend but still managed to get started on Part VI of the novel. First I had to execute Phokion, the military governor of Athens, then I had to plan a naval battle.
It turned out there were some interesting parallels beginning with Sunday when I had the pleasure of cruising the fjords and inlets around Vancouver and on up the Fraser River to dock after eight hours of sailing. What a great way to relax and clear the mind for the week ahead!

On Monday I got back to serious writing and finished the segment where Phokion and his four friends, who are condemned to die for treason, must drink the hemlock so that their accusers can get them out of the way before Kassandros invades Athens with his navy and troops.
This resulted in a very weird dream Monday night. I dreamed that I was in charge of hiding the body of a man (a poet, or writer) who had been poisoned. He wanted his body stuffed in a sack along with his books. I was dismayed lest I be accused of his murder. Eventually when I found the sack hidden in a closet, the body had disintegrated to bones but the books were still intact. I had to hide it quickly, but all the garbage bins were full (we have an on-going 6 wk. garbage strike here) so I lugged it to the School Board office, took it to the basement and ditched it in a big trash container. End of dream.
In analyzing it there were some parallels with what I'd written and what has been going on here with the strike and all. Very weird! The poet in the dream? Well, yesterday I got a strange email from someone inquiring about a certain mad poet I know from Athens who I had mentioned in some old blogs. Long story and a very strange one. He was advertising his 'last will and testament' and looking for an executor. Obviously some kind of scam. Interesting though because I was wondering if he was still around and apparently he is.

Summer is winding down but the weather is holding up so I'm off to the beach for another picnic and then to meet friends for our usual Wednesday night jazz. The writing is progressing and I'm happy. But still there's time for leisure and fun.

"When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader."
Plato 428-348 BC
"Republic" bk VIII


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Monday, August 27, 2007

A COUNTRY ON FIRE!


The Palaestra, Olympia



Pillar ruins of the Temple of Zeus, Olympia

What can I say? By some miracle, the Gods saved this holy place where the Olympics first began. I weep as I read of the devastation the fires have brought on this, my second home, beautiful Greece. Many of the areas that have burned and destroyed villages and lives, I am familiar with. There are even fires near my beloved Athens and in the mountains of Evvia not far from my village. What can we do but pray and hope that the rains come and that somehow this horrible disaster can be stopped from further destroying the country.



Nea Mystra, near Mt. Tagetos which is now on fire.


This is the Byzantine ghost city of Mystra.

I had a phone call from my Greek friend Sofie this morning. Her family lives in Sparta and Nea Mystra. The mountain is on fire and they are worried that it will spread to the valley. Not only are the forests being destroyed, but whole villages, all the olive groves and orchards. The people that live in those villages have lost everything, including many of them, their lives.

I have been in tears since I first saw the near destruction of Olympia last night on the television. And now, after talking to my Greek friend and reading more of the news stories about this terrible disaster, I am completely devastated. And to think that many of these fires were caused by the wicked intent of people!
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Thursday, August 23, 2007

PROGRESS REPORT #8: INTERLUDE

Alexander riding Bucephalos

EPITASIS: The part of a play developing the main action and leading to the catastrophe. GK: increased intensity

I've been keeping to my writer's schedule and working like crazy. Yesterday I finished Part V and today I began Part VI, some bits of which I've already written or sketched in, so I am hoping to sail along quickly. I'm already day-dreaming about the party I'll throw when I finally write THE END to this long, difficult Homeric saga.

I took a little break after my day's work the other evening and watched a movie I'd seen once before, "The Age of Innocence" starring Daniel Day Lewis, Winona Ryder and Michelle Phieffer. An interesting story about the very proper Victorian society of turn-of-the-century New York. In spite of the prissiness of the time, there was a lot of excellent sexual tension in this film, although I could have kicked the characters now and then especially that 'innocent' fiance/bride of Archer who turned out to be so devious!

The next day I had to write a scene for the Interlude (Epitasis) of Part V in which there is a hot scene between Ptolemy and his mistress Thais. I just love doing those sex scenes and choreographing the characters. (No, I'm not going to publish it here!) Unlike prissy May in "The Age Of Innocence" Thais was a world-renown courtesan who traveled from her home of Corinth all across Asia with her lover, Ptolemy, who was one of Alexander's Companions and alleged illegitimate half-brother. She's only got a small part in my novel but she's another of the most fascinating women in history, also given bad press by the historians, her main notoriety being that she encouraged the Companions to torch the palace at Persepolis, thus burning up all the Persian's holy books. Unlike some of the other more vicious women in "Shadow of the Lion" Thais proved to be a faithful companion and good mother to Ptolemy's children. And even though he had to legally marry into 'royalty' in order to have legitimate children to inherit his throne (he was the first Ptolemy of Egypt), she accepted her role as 'mistress' graciously.

I must explain here my use of "INTERLUDE" or, as I will call it in the final draft manuscript 'THE EPITASIS". At the end of each Part of my novel I have one of these interludes that takes the reader to a different part of the world where another character is plotting or an event is happening that will have a direct and often drastic affect on the outcome of the main plot. Ptolemy Soter is one of the main threads running through the tapestry of the story. I'd say he's the bright royal blue thread. I begin my novel with a "Prelude" (or Prologue) in which he is writing down the events taking place in Babylon as Alexander lies dying. And he appears throughout the novel, though not always actively involved in the main plot. The novel will also end with an "Epilogue" in which he appears and records the final chapters of Alexander's dynasty. Ptolemy's journals were one of the main sources for the historians (ancient and modern) recording Alexander's exploits and eventual death. Some of the historians claim he was 'self-serving' and slanted his journals to glorify himself. I disagree. From what I have researched I see him as a compassionate man, a faithful friend and loyal soldier of Alexander. He could have vied for command of the army after Alexander's death but chose instead to accept the satrapy of Egypt where he established the city of Alexandria as Alexander had wished. He also 'stole' Alexander's body and brought it to Egypt for burial at Siwah, where the King had wanted to be interred. (Alexander's body was still on display at the time of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, who was a descendant of the Macedonian royal family.)

So I have ended Part V with a scene taking place in Alexandria when Ptolemy has been called upon to join the coalition of generals opposed to the Regent, Polyperchon. Because he is married to the villain, Kassandros', sister, he is bound by family ties to take part. This is just a little bit of the final scene in the Interlude (Epitasis) of Part V.

* * *

Ptolemy stood and paced the room, while a deluge of doubts and memories poured over him, eroding the armour of his resolve, washing away the shell of his invulnerability until he was stripped bare and floundering in a sea of nothingness and rendered defenseless.

Should he pledge allegiance to Kassandros and join forces to expel the Regent? It was clear that Polyperchon made a weak link in the chain of command and so long as he remained Regent, the future of Macedon and the Kings was in jeopardy. He had already launched an attack on Phoenicia and Syria against Eumenes destroying the ships that were to be sent to Polypcheron’s aid. Antigonos now commanded the world’s largest army and had established his superiority over the satrapies. The aging general was in the strongest position of all the Successors to keep control. He knew Antigonos shared his belief in an independent kingdom. If he allied with Antigonos and the others to oust Polypercon, it would ensure Macedon’s future and the safety of Alexander‘s son until he was of the age to take the throne and rule on his own.

The foreign ambassadors had reported that there were rebellions and upsets in
some of the satrapies. In Media, Peithon had revolted, and there was unrest in Seleukos domain. Alexander’s empire was in danger of dissolving and the man in the strongest position to reunite them was Antigonos One-Eyed.
He recalled how once, as proud Companions of the King, they had all pulled together like a prize team of stallions pulling the chariot of a god. Yet as soon as their god, Alexander, had died, they had bolted like a team of unbroken wild horses. Ambition and greed had become their only cause. The Successors were living off Alexander’s bounty. (Eumenes had even used some of the royal treasury to fund his naval battles at Byzantium and Tyre.) Little did it matter to any of them whether Alexander’s world, the one they had fought so hard for, would be destroyed.


He thought back with great sadness to those long hours that led to Alexander’s death, how they had kept vigil at his bedside. Even now the scene was as clear as yesterday. Alexander had looked small lying on Nebuchadnezzar’s great bed under the high canopy. They had propped him on a heap of pillows to aid him in his breathing, and stripped him of his clothes because he was burning with fever. The only sound in that ponderous room was the light swish of the peacock fans and Alexander’s shallow gasps of breath. He had leaned over Alexander’s still form to whisper in his ear. “I swear an oath, my brother, that I will defend your empire and be loyal to you till the end of time.”


Alexander’s eyes had flickered open and he thought he saw the faint shadow of a smile on his parched lips. Alexander had moved his hand and squeezed his own slightly as if he had heard and understood. Then his hand went limp and the breath went out of him as his ka took flight.

“Oh Alexander,” he prayed, “look down on your earthly descendants. We are the survivors of your Empire. Help us.”

He repeated aloud the vow he had made to his beloved Companion and King. “I will defend your empire! Here was his answer. He knew what he must do. He picked up the stylus and wrote a declaration which he would send first thing in the morning.

“I commit my navy and my troops to your cause. In the name of Alexander we must preserve the empire and protect the Kings.”

* * *

"As on the peaks of a mountain the south wind scatters the thick mist...so beneath their feet the dust drove up a storm cloud of men marching..."
Homer "The Iliad" book III





























































































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Saturday, August 18, 2007

A LITTLE BIT OF SORCERY



Hekate and the three-headed dog of Hades


In writing my novel, I have viewed it as a tapestry, with the various colorful threads representing the characters, Alexander being the 'golden' thread that runs through it. The 'theme' of my novel is "How a blind ambition and greed destroyed a world power." The story is a tragedy of epic Greek proportions, told in a Homeric way. Sometimes, unknowingly we use symbolisms in our writing that become part of the 'theme', and I have discovered that one of the dark threads running through this tapestry is one of sorcery. And of course, in ancient times, sorcery and oracles were a very important part of daily life.

One of the 'black threads' woven into my tapestry, is Hekate, the dark Queen of the night, the One who had contact with the Shades of the dead. I've just been writing a short piece in Olympias' point of view in which she is conjuring the Goddess, and I realized that Hekate has appeared throughout my novel, that sort of shadowy creature foreshadowing the tragedies that are to come.

The following three excerpts all include the rites of Hekate.
This first is from Part I of the novel when Alexander has recently died and the army is still in Babylon. One of the generals has tried to overthrow Perdikkas, who took over the army after Alexander's death. In this scene the army is gathering in the field outside Babylon where the traitors are being held.
This part of the scene is in the point of view of Philip Arridaios, the idiot half-brother of Alexander who has been named joint-king with Alexander's infant son, Iskander.


Arridaios saw the men bring the dog down for the sacrifice, a sleek ebony-coloured hound, the long-haired aristocratic breed used by Persian nobility for hunting. Last winter Alexander had given him a brace of them for his birthday. It was a powerful dog, used to bring lions down on the plains. It took more than two men to hold it as it tore viciously at the sacrificer’s arm. He thought it was one of his own dogs and he cried out in protest.
“They’re hurting it!” he cried.
He cringed as he saw the flash of a blade and heard the dog’s long, high-pitched yelp. He clapped his hands over his ears, shouting for the men to stop. Peithon rolled his eyes and muttered a curse. Leonnatos reached out to quiet him.
“Never mind, Sir,” he said gently. “There are plenty of other dogs like that one.”
“It was mine!” Arridaios wailed, his eyes streaming with tears.
“It was only a lion-hound,” snapped Peithon. “You shall have a proper Molossian hunting dog when we get back to Macedon.”
“Now that I am King I forbid them to kill dogs,” sobbed Arridaios.
“Be quiet!” glowered Peithon. “The beast is an offering to Hekate!”
The dog was splayed in two, drenching the ground with its blood. The sacrificer made the libations and cut its body into pieces which four horsemen carried to the corners of the field. The field was divided and blessed. The rites to Hekate were done. The generals finished making their offerings at the blood-drenched altar and went off to join their battalions

This next is a scene from Part III when the kings and the royal household stop at the sacred island of Samothraki to make sacrifices to the Great Gods. Adeia-Eurydike has married Arridaios and is on a quest to seize the throne for herself in revenge for the murders of her parents, her mother Kynane, who was killed by Perdikkas' men, and her father Amyntas, who was executed as a traitor after the assassination of King Philip (Alexander's father.) There was a cave for Hekate on Samothraki.

It was a cloudless night, the damp air penetrated to her bones. She looked for the moon but it had not yet risen over the crest of the mountain. She climbed the steep cobbled street past the little stone houses of the town. Behind the shuttered windows came muffled sounds, Thracian voices: the soft cadences of mothers singing to daughters, the rougher tones of fathers talking to their sons. She had been living in army camps for so long she had forgotten these homey sounds. She remembered what it had been like when she was a child at the hearth-fire with her parents. She lingered there awhile, listening, then hurried away when the memories brought a lump to her throat.
A small black pup followed at her heels, a stray or one cast out to fend for itself, still wobbly on its podgy legs. She picked it up and stroked it.
“Why, you’re hardly more than a suckling!” she exclaimed, laughing as it nuzzled against her throat with its wet nose. She held it out in front of her, contemplated keeping it for company, then tucked it inside the folds of her mantle.
Behind the town as small gate opened to a well-beaten track lit by torches held in sconces speared into the ground, a path of bright pebbles and crushed shells that
zig-zagged up the slope through the trees. She followed this path, which wound through the trees until it forked. One way led into the Great God’s Sanctuary, the other ascended the rocky slope of the mountain.
Adeia stood silent, hardly breathing. Shadows leaped around her. She listened to the ghostly hooting of an owl, heard the fluttering sound of wings. Her spine tingled but she told herself: This is the Great God’s Sanctuary. There can be no danger here.
She threaded her way up the winding trail. The path grew steeper. She was out of the torch light now. It was almost too dark to see, a clear moonless night, the sky blazing with more stars than she’d ever seen before. As she looked, a meteor streamed down falling in a red-gold streak toward the west.
Inside the folds of her cloak, the pup began to whimper. She stroked the silky flesh of its belly and let it suckle her finger until it grew quiet, nestled against her breast,
She hurried on, quick, light-footed, experienced in climbing the mountain track. Her heart pounded with excitement as she followed the path, as if some unseen Power urged her on. The pine woods thinned the higher she climbed. Ahead she saw a great rock face and in its jagged cleft, lit by votive lamps, the sinister black mouth of a cave.
She stood still, her heartbeats thudding from the climb. Could this be the Grotto of Hekate where the people of Samothraki celebrated mysterious nocturnal rites? The place seemed deserted, yet she could feel a Presence, something ominous, a dark sorcery. Behind her she heard a footstep. She turned to see a bent old crone dressed in a ragged cloak, her wizened face half-hidden in the folds of a black hood. Adeia caught in her breath, then dared to speak.
“Who are you, Mother?”
The hag leaned on her staff and peered at her sharply with eyes that glinted like firestones. Her voice crackled like wind through dry leaves. “’Tis the Oracle of Hekate you’ve come to, the Goddess of Darkness who guards the Crossroads and rules the Night. I am Her attendant. Have you brought Her an offering, Child?”
Adeia wondered what to do. She had not thought to bring anything. She had come upon the cave unexpectedly, though in truth the Goddess must have led her there, for such things do not happen by chance.
The pup wiggled against her chest. She put her hand inside and drew it out by its scruff. An offering for Hekate, she thought. A dog, black as pitch, unblemished.
“I have brought Her this,” she said, and she handed the pup to the crone.
The old seeress beckoned her forward with a hand like a claw. Adeia followed her into the cave. The place was clammy, the air mouldy, sharp with the tang of sulphur and bats’ dung. The cavernous interior flickered with eerie shadows. From the ceiling, spikes of yellow limestone hung like icicles that oozed with moisture, red in the torch-glow, as if it were moon-blood seeping right out of the Earth Mother’s womb. An altar set with clay cups and a stone mixing bowl stood in the centre of the chamber. Next to it, on a lichen covered plinth, was a garlanded statue of the fearsome three-faced Hekate, the dreaded Divinity who reigns over ghostly places of evil magic.
The crone approached the altar and threw a handful of acrid-smelling powder on the embers that burned in a tripod beside the it. Smoke ascended, wisps wound around the ceiling spikes, clung along the wet stone walls. Something stirred on the edge of Adeia’s vision, a glitter of red daemon eyes. Bats! In the dark places among the dripping stalagmites the ceiling of the cave hung thick with them.
The seeress placed the pup on the altar and began to summon the power of the Goddess. The words were unintelligible, an ancient tongue, darkly mysterious. Her screeching, cackling voice rose until it became the sound of Hekate’s hounds baying in the night.
After the ritual words were spoken, the pup was washed for the purification and the crone cut a piece of its hair to burn on the tripod. When she handed the pup back to Adeia, it whined but did not struggle.
“In the rites of Hekate, it is you who must kill the victim,” the crone said. “After the offering is made, I will augur your fortune.”
Adeia bowed her head and surrendered herself to the Power. She thought of her parents, how she had sworn a blood-oath to avenge their unjust deaths. Here in Hekate’s cave, it was safe to name the Dead. She spoke their names slowly.
“Amyntas...Kynane...”
She made herself breath slowly, listening to the hollow echo of her voice as it resounded from the stones.
“AMYNTAS...KYNANE.”
She cried their names aloud again and again, sounding each syllable, the vibrancy of her voice shrill in the silence of the night. The Dead were here. Their voices whispered to her from the dark bowels of the cave.
“Peace to you, my Father, in your unmarked grave. And to you, my Mother, your ashes strewn in a foreign land. Be my strength, and show me how to bring order and respect to our house.”
She laid her offering on Hekate’s altar. The pup struggled and she stroke it until it lay still. She willed herself to raise her dagger and made her supplication.
“Come to me, O beloved Mistress, three-faced Hekate.
Kindly hear my sacred chants.
Hail goddess, I bring for your this sacrifice.
Hear my supplications and fulfill for me this matter.”
The dagger blade flashed silver in the torch-light. The up gave out a sharp yelp, then went limp. Blood oozed from the deep gash in its neck and splashed into the mixing basin. Adea stood silent, feeling a tightness in her skull, a pounding in her ears. Her hands and the front of her tunic were bloodied, her scarred breast throbbed as if the old wound had opened. She thought of that other time in Troy, when she had made a blood offering. Somehow it had been easier to give of herself. This was the first time she had killed for the Goddess.
She wiped the blood off her dagger and replaced it in the sheath. The crone shuffled up to examine the body with victim. Adeia caught in her breath and waited. Her throat felt dry, her stomach ached. She watched as the old woman took a sacrificial knife and cut through the animal’s distended belly. As she waited for the crone to take the omen, the rapid pounding of her pulse throbbed in her ears.
The blade slit through the skin easily with a gush of blood. The seeress bent her face close over the disembowelled carcass and peered into its innards. She poked her claws into it, gave a long sigh, and turned to Adeia, shaking her head.
“No good. Parasitos.
Adeia looked into the bowels of the victim and saw the thick greyish maggots wriggling in the bloodied entrails. She gagged, and clamper her hand over her mouth, swallowing bile as she fought back nausea.
“What does this mean?”
“No good,” the crone repeated. “Bad omen.” She turned away from Adeia. “You will sleep here tonight. “You sleep there. In the morning I will tell you the meaning of your dreams,” she commanded, pointing a bony finger toward a heap of greasy black bull-skins. Then, as if she were an apparition, she disappeared into the obsidian blackness of a side chamber.
Adeia lay down on the reeking hides and stared up at the fangs of stone that hung over her head. She could hear the squeak of bats and drip of water splashing into some hidden pool. The taste of death was in her mouth; she smelled its stench. Everywhere she felt the ominous Presence of Hekate, as though she were being pulled to a place where she might look straight into the dark side of the moon, Hekate’s domain, that unearthly place of evil and magic, the Underworld.
She tried to drowse, but the vermin in her bed of hides kept her awake. She lay watching a single star that appeared suspended above the black silhouette of the pines outside the mouth of the cave. She thought of her triumphant return to Macedon when she would take up residence in the palace at Pella. It had been years since she had been in the royal throne room. No King had occupied it since Alexander had gone to conquer the world. Now it would be hers! She could see herself in arms, leading the cavalry down Pella’s broad avenue to the palace gates.
Somewhere in the forest outside, she heard a nightjar’s shrill cry, then all was still.
She dreams she is returning home. Many people come to greet her. A woman wearing a costly purple rode comes toward her. Around her waist is coiled a golden serpent. The woman’s eyes are red like the serpent’s eyes. Her hair coils and writhes as if alive. Her mouth is open and her tongue darts out, a serpent’s tongue. In her hands is a stone mixing bowl full of blood. The apparition lifts it to drink and as she does, she looks down and sees that where her breast was cut off, a fountain of blood is spurting. This is the blood the woman drinks. She tries to stop her but the woman mocks her and says: ‘You will never defeat me. The Evil doer will destroy herself.” She screams but nobody hears. The people have disappeared. She is alone.
She must have screamed aloud, for when she woke, startled by the nightmare, the crone was crouching beside her, squinting at her. She struggled to sit up but she could not catch her breath. Though it was cold in the cave, her body was clammy with sweat.
“What have you dreamed, Child? You must tell me every detail,” the crone urged.
Adeia could not speak. When she was finally able to form the words, her voice was no more than a hoarse whisper. “There was a woman with serpents in her hair...She was drinking my blood...”
The crone narrowed her eyes and shook her head. “You have sought to avenge your parent’s deaths,” she said in a quavering voice. “Vengeance alone can not appease the Shades of the Dead. No good can come of it.”
Adeia scrambled to her feet. “What do you mean?” she shouted. “It was only a dream. I’m not afraid of dreams. I’m not afraid of anything.”
The hag clawed at her arm and held her in a desperate grip. “Hekate will only protect you if you obey Her will.”
Adeia pulled away and bolted from the cave. Once she was out of that strange stone tomb she sped quickly down the trail, resolved not to look back.

This following passage is from Part V, and it's the part I've been working on this week. This time it is in Olympias' point of view. She was known to be a sorceress and a devotee of dark magic. Philip met her at the shrine of Samothraki and fell in love with her there but their marriage was tumultus and in the end she grew to hate him and tried to influence Alexander against him. Olympias was well known for wreaking vengeance on her enemies. This time, she is turning her venom against Kassandros, who is on a quest to seize the Regency of Macedon.


Outside the new moon hung low over the mountains, the moon sacred to Hekate, Queen of the Night, Goddess of witchcraft and ghosts, She who dwells in the inner chamber of Hades. Three nights remained before the bright horns of the Moon would meet; when She shone in fullest radiance. Barefoot, her long robe unfastened, her hair falling loose on her shoulders, in the deep stillness of the midnight hour, Olympias stretched her arms to embrace the moon and stars, and turned about three times wailing a cry to the Goddess.
“O Mother of Mysteries, and all the stars who with Selene, the Moon, succeed the light of day, and Thou, divine three-formed Hecate, who knows all my enterprises and the
arts of magic, be with me now! Enable me with Your power!“
She had first worshipped Hekate on the sacred isle of Samothraki, when she was a young girl, dancing to the revelling of the double-pipes with the torch-bearing Mystae among the whispering trees in the sacred cave of the goddess to whom black dogs are slain. What could she do now but petition Her?
She bolted the door. No one must hear her or disturb the rituals she would prepared for the immolation. Out of her secret chest she took the potions and amulets: the mushrooms that gave her mystic powers, precious frankincense and myrrh, sage and salt, and pieces of asphodel roots sacred to the Underworld deities. She had many drugs and potions of exceptional potency, though she rarely used them to destroy human beings. This time, she would wreak vengeance upon the man who most deserved punishment. There was still blood in the basin from her last sacrifice but this time she had no black bitch pup to offer. She prepared the sacrifice for a death, and with a stick of olive wood she mixed them together. To this she added her poisons words.
`I supplicate you, Gods of the dark dwelling-place, the abysses of dismal Death, I summon You by my sacred rites, Thou Hekate, put on Thy most evil face and come!”
Then she placed a wax figure of her enemy, Kassandros, on the altar and impaled it with a sliver of hawthorn.
“May his accursed name be buried in oblivion!“ she muttered. She made a reverent prostration to the statue of the goddess whose face is turned in three directions so She can guard the crossroads, the dark goddess who had the power to communicate with the dead. She bowed to the idol as she bit into one of the mushrooms, savouring it’s familiar musty flavour. She put her offering on the altar and lit the embers pouring on a handful of the incense. The embers guttered then flamed, sending the sacred smoke curling heavenward as she spoke the name of the goddess and Her powers, in reverence as decreed.
With folded her hands she made her supplication. “To Thee, Hekate, I make these offerings. Thou who doest show Thy bright face as witness of the silent mysteries, O Selene and three-formed Hekate, give me a sign.”
Her voice was low, like the throaty gnarl of a mountain cat. “Come Hekate, Goddess of transformation. Speak to me, tell me how to save Alexander’s empire from those who seek to destroy it. Ward off the malevolent powers. Show me what I am to do, O Hekate.”
She sank to her knees and invoked the Spirits of the Dead, the swift hound of Hades who feeds on souls and haunt the lower air to pounce on living men, calling upon the spirits of the Underworld three times in song, three times with spoken prayers, steeling herself as she flung the full force of her malevolence on Kassandros, and in an ecstasy of rage beset him with images of death. She uttered terrible curses to ensure that Kassandros and his allies would be destroyed. “I wish Kassandros to be devoured by dogs, a death befitting one who murdered my son and now seeks to usurp his throne! May the Furies hound him and his allies to the depths of Hades. May the Eater of Souls devour them. The will of Hekate will be fulfilled,” she moaned.
There was an unnatural stillness in the room, as if a dark shroud had fallen enveloping her and her surroundings. The faces of the goddess had grown into a dreadful image of her own face. A chill crept through her body and her skin prickled.
As she prayed she heard nightmarish sounds, the screech of an owl and the braying and bellowing of dogs. The potent magic of the mushrooms created visions of black snakes swarming at her feet and ghostly shapes of silent spirits floated around her.
She prostrated herself and lay still, hardly breathing. Each moment took her farther from her present world. She could hear the hiss of her own breath and the pounding of blood in her ears. On the edges of her vision she saw shadowy stirrings, heard the faint thrum of magic as if it were the distant sound of thunder.
She listened for Hekate, her guide, She who only came in the night when the new moon rose over the darkened hills and the souls of the dead could be seen like shifting shadows. The Goddess would give her the answers she sought. She waited long, lying motionless, but there was only silence. At last she drew in a slow breath and raised herself up.
“Silence is your answer then,” she said. “And your silence bids me to be patient.”
* * *

It's been a lot of fun dabbling in sorcery. I've always been fascinated, though a bit intimidated, by fortune-telling, tarot-cards and anything that might hint of the 'dark' magic. But it's interesting to research it and imagine yourself being in the position of these characters. Adeia-Eurydike and Olympias are probably two of the most powerful women in ancient history and yet the historians haven't given them much press, so I've taken it upon myself to give them some life and let them tell their stories. Just watch what happens next when these two formidable women clash!

The Temple of the Great Gods, Samothraki
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

PROGRESS REPORT #7: A LITTLE EXERCISE FOR MIND AND BODY

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried
"Before we have our chat;
Fro some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"

Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwedge Dodgson) 1832-1898
"The Walrus and the Carpenter" sts 6 and 12

One of the best ways I know for myself to work through a difficult passage of writing (and this is usually a transition part) is to take a brisk walk somewhere pleasant. These days, in addition to my writing schedule I'm trying to keep on a more discipline program of exercise. I find that by sitting long hours at the computer I'm getting stiffer and less flexible and for the last few weeks my lower back has been very painful.


For starters, I dug out my old yoga book and read through the lists of postures that are useful to regain flexibility in my hamstrings, and other exercises for the lower back. So last week I started doing yoga most every day as well as floor exercises (sit-ups etc). I used to be so regular at doing exercises on a daily basis but once I get off the routines it seems difficult to resume. And lately the rec centres and park swimming pools are closed so I'm not getting in my usual swims, water-fit or days at the gym doing weights etc. I still haven't managed to get my bike out as often as I should, but will try to do that in soon. Meanwhile, I also located some excellent fitness walking tapes I'd forgotten I had. They're Jenny Craig walking program tapes which I used to use regularly some years ago when I once belonged to JC. I've walked in many exotic places with those tapes, so every walk brings back memories of a roadside on Samothraki with butterflies flitting among the flowers; a dust trail in northern Greece with Mount Olympas ahead; the seaside on an island with the Aegean twinkling turquoise blue and along stretch of golden sand.

Now I'm using the tapes nearly every day, beginning with a level #1 and #2 walk around the neighborhood under the shade trees, discovering parks and lots of gorgeous old houses, some of the marked with heritage plaques.


I've been writing every day too, and coming very close to the end of Part V. One more chapter (partly written) and the Interlude (also partly written) that I have at the end of each chapter, which takes the reader to some action in a different part of the world which connects to the plot. (This time it's Ptolemy in Egypt). I'm coming to the end of the light-hearted writing in which I've developed the character of the child, Iskander, more and soon we'll plunge back into the fray with the Successors and their wars. I wasn't sure how to convey some of the back-story info, what's going on outside of Epiros where my characters have been in the last chapter. So Sunday I set off for the Park despite the clouds and threat of rain in search of exercise and inspiration.


First I browsed around the flower beds at the Park. It's good it has rained lately, because the park workers are on strike and wouldn't have watered the gardens. Because of the recent rainfall the flowers were gorgeous and I took lots of photos. Then I walked along the lagoon looking for wildlife. I saw two turtles basking on the rocks, the usual ducks, geese and goslings and swans. And sure enough, there were three raccoons enjoying a feast of treats from a park visitor. Then, past the lagoon to the beach where the Hari Krishna had tents set up and were doling out free food. I didn't stop there. It was time for my fitness walk, so I put on my headset and walked briskly along the sea-wall to Third Beach. The sun came out and it was warm and pleasant. There were even people swimming and I wished I'd brought my bathing suit. I stopped for a little picnic on the beach, then walked all the way back, keeping up the pace with big strides, swinging my arms, enjoying deep breaths of the salt air, until I got to the end where I catch my bus home. Altogether 60 mins of fitness walking (4 miles) plus the hour I did the more leisurely walk around the garden and lagoons. The good thing was, while I walked the sea-wall I got the inspiration I needed to figure out the next part of my novel, the transitional piece that had been troubling me. So I took a few minutes out of the walk to sit and jot down the ideas.


I'm starting to feel better for my more discipline regime of daily exercise. And I am making good progress because I'm keeping disciplined with my writing too. I need to make a bit more time for reading, riding my bike and hopefully if the sun stays out this week again I will be able to take a little swim in the ocean (cold though it is, it's better than no swim!)


The civic strike continues. Garbage is piling up all over the city. All the park pools, rec centres and other facilities are closed (fortunately they have kept life guards posted at the beaches and have left the washroom facilities open). I am looking forward to some more picnics. But the summer is fairly ruined as far as the swims at my favorite pools are concerned. Four weeks, and the strike continues with no end in site. They're not even negotiating as our mayor claims it's 'not his priority' (What is? Collecting traffic fines and pushing ahead all the plans for the 2010 Olympics.) Thanks for ruining our summer fun, you weasel!

Well, it's time for a bit of yoga, then a walk up to the Drive for a much needed massage.
I worked all morning on the novel, getting ready to write a rather interesting part where Olympias shows off her witchy side (she's already showed off her bitchy one!)

More soon on the progress of Shadow of the Lion and my new sleeker, more flexible bod!

"Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold in the mind."
Plato 428- 348 BC The Republic, 536 E.

"Let every man exercise the art he knows."
Aristophanes 450- 385 BC Knights (424 BC)

"Will you walk a little faster?" said the whiting to a snail,
"There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail."
Lewis Carroll "The Lobster Quadrille" st 1









Saturday, August 11, 2007

PROGRESS REPORT #6: AT THE THEATRE


The Theatre at Aigai where King Philip was assassinated.

These are two of the ancient theatres mentioned in the next passage of my novel.
The Dodona theatre is a newer one than when my story takes place, but still it's likely similar and probably built in the same location below the acropolis hill.

I've been writing all week. The cooler, sometimes damp weather has kept me focused at the keyboard with only a couple of breaks needed for exercise and entertainment. Progress is coming along well, and in fact I am finding myself getting a bit 'obsessed' with the writing, which is good in some ways, as it means I am deeper into the heads of the characters and story.

The part I've been working on is mostly in the child's point of view (Alexander's five year old son, Iskander). I wasn't sure if I was putting in a lot of stuff that might just end up on the scrap heap. But then I saw someone on www.pothos.org (Alexander's site on the web) had posted a question about Alexander IV (my Iskander) and I realized that, yes, not much is known about him and the point of this novel in the first place, was to write a juvenile historical about his life. So I began, after a year of research during which I found little about his short tragic life. And the story was too complicated and political to do it justice as a juvenile novel, and I started over from this more complicated multiple point of view.
I know there'll be lots to cut in the final draft, but for now I have to develop the child's character just as I have the adults in the story, for really it still is his story.

Still, I'm careful to chose 'scenes' that are going to forward the plot, not to just fill in some fluff between the fighting and plotting. The character of Thettalos is a historical person who was one of Alexander's friends, a favorite tragic actor who once undertook a dangerous diplomatic mission on Alexander's behalf and performed at his wedding in Babylon. He is introduced as a cameo part early on in the novel and now reappears. The reason is, he will be used by Olympias to carry out a plot on her behalf. (Actors were often used as political agents and spies.) In this passage there are also certain things that foreshadow the future of the child. The child's reference to Priam's palace at Troy is from Part II of the novel when they royal household stayed at the ancient site of Troy for one season while en route to Macedon.Of course it wasn't the exact ancient palace of Priam of The Iliad, however there were several palaces built on that site and some of the ruins of ancient Troy were still in evidence when Alexander passed by there on his way to the Persian campaigns.

In this scene, the child, Iskander, has been playing the palace garden with the two little Epirote princesses (neices of Olympias), Dedemeia and Troas. They've been catching frogs in the pond and the girls offer to take him to see the actor's rehearsing in the theatre.


They led him down the path from the garden, through the postern gate where a narrow trail skirted the palace walls. In the cool, dampness of the morning, the footpath was slippery from the dew. The sun glistened on the grass; the air was sweet with the fragrance of damp clay and crushed herbs. The threaded their way among the trees, listening to the chorus of birds in the laurel hedges and from beyond the theatre walls, the jangling sound of a sistrum and the trilling of a flute.

The child ran along behind the girls. The path wound down the acropolis hill through a grove . The high parados of the theatre loomed ahead. There were shrines among the oleanders and a vague odour of something being burned for an offering. A god’s image garlanded with flowers stood on a shrine at the entrance. He waited while the two girls squeezed through the shrubbery beckoning to him to follow them. Instead, he stood transfixed at the parados gate. The sound of a man’s voice drew him forward. Hesitantly, he walked under the high archway and entered.
He felt a small thrilling sensation as he remembered the modest little theatre under the dark shadow of Aigai’s walls where his grandfather had been murdered. This one was much larger, carved into the hillside below the acropolis with the tiers rising so high up he had to tilt his head to see the top. He imaged actors strutting across the wide chequered stage in bright robes reciting behind their masks.
A man stood there who might have stepped straight down from Olympus. Tall, greying curly hair, a clean-shaven face still young and gravely beautiful, he seemed from another world. Like a god, he was, dressed in a rich costume spangled with gold. The child recognized him without the wig and mask. Here was Thettalos, who Dedemeia said was one of the theatre’s greatest actors. From the centre of the stage, his voice resounded clear and loud as if echoing from the depths of a great chasm.
The child stopped in his tracks and stood gaping at him as paced the stage, running through his actor’s vocal exercises. Then suddenly he stopped, and turned, aware of the child standing there. He frowned and looked the child over as if he thought he was some village waif. The child became aware of his dirtied clothes and grubby hands. He felt ashamed to be greeting such a famous man as this with the muck of the pond soiling his good coat. Mama would give him a good thrashing for it!
“What is it?” Thettalos demanded. “Who sent you, boy?”
The child remembered his manners and bowed. “I am Al’skander.”
Thettalos looked puzzled, then alarmed. “Alexander?” He peered hard at the child. “Why, it is to be sure! I remember you from the feast. What happened, child? Are you alright? Your clothes...”
“I was catching frogs,” Iskander said, somewhat embarrassed. Thetallos’ dark melancholy eyes were fixed right on him. The child stood still, his heart thumping, too shy to speak.
“And you fell into the pond?”
“No. The frog got away.” He brightened. “But we caught lots of tadpoles and we shall watch them grow into frogs!”

Thettalos scanned the tiers to see if the child had company. “Are you alone?”
“My friends...” Iskander stammered. “Dedemeia and Troas. They...”
“They seem to have fled and abandoned you.”
The child looked around anxiously and started toward the gate.
“Wait!” Thettalos said. “Don’t run off. Would you like to see everything? The skene? You see?“ he swept out his hands. “This here is the orchestra, the stage where the actors and chorus perform. Up there in the tiers where the audience sits, there are special thrones for the King and the Priest. And behind the skene you will see the masks and other props we use for illusion.
“And the costumes?”
“Yes, those too. This robe I’m wearing is for my role of Poseidon.” He made a grand gesture and began to speak in a booming voice. “’I am Poseidon, come from the depths of the salty Aegean Sea where bands of Neirieds dance with their lovely feet.'”
He squatted down and spoke to the child at eye-level. “Have you been to the theatre before?” Do you know your father loved the theatre? He never missed a play. He liked The Myrmidons best because it was about Achilles‘ soldiers. He knew The Iliad by heart, you know. He had an amazing mind for remembering.”
“I know it too, The Iliad,” the child said. “Uncle Ptolemy gave me my father‘s book Sometimes my guardians read it to me, and I shall read it myself when I am seven and have a pedagogue.”
Thettalos seemed surprised. “Your father never let that book out of his sight. He slept with it always nearby.”
“It’s kept in a special box,” Iskander said. He had regained his courage and wanted to tell the actor everything he knew. “I made a sacrifice at Achilles’ tomb, though I don’t really remember it, except when we stayed at Priam’s palace.” The thought brought back a vague recollection of a musty room and moss-covered stone walls. “I heard the boy crying...on the wall...”
“Was it a dream?” Thettalos asked.

The child thought for a moment, searching his memory. “Yes...maybe...There was a little boy there once.”
“Long, long ago,” Thetallos said. “Astyanax, brave Hector’s son.”
“Yes, Astyanax...I like that story best.”
“Do you know the play, The Women of Troy? That’s the story about Astyanax. We are performing it here for Queen Olympias’ guests, because the royal house of Epiros is descended from Achilles and the women of Troy. It’s a pity...You could have played Astyanax to my Talthybius, herald of the Greeks. And I promise...they don’t really throw the little boy from the wall.” He stood
and struck another pose. “We actors play many roles,” he said. “This is Menelaus, who has come to get his wife Helen. Do you know the story?” He made his voice sound angry and put on a scowling face. “’ I came to Troy to get my wife and meet the man who deceived me and carried her from my house. Now that man has paid the penalty. A Greek spear has destroyed him!’”
The child listened in rapt fascination. As the actor recited his lines, he felt his skin prickle with goose-flesh.
With each character, Thettalos’ voice changed. He demonstrated his role of Talthybius, the herald, next. “This is the scene when the herald comes to take
the child away from
Andromache. “We are advised not to allow the son of a heroic father to grow up, but to hurl him from the battlements of Troy...Come, my dear, leave your poor mother’s loving embrace...’”
The child’s eyes burned and his throat swelled as he recalled the story of Astyanax, the little orphan of Troy. He knew he was going to cry, and Thettalos saw it too and stopped his oration. He patted the child’s head. “There, dear...it’s only a play...like those dreams you have. The play is by Euripides,” he explained. “He lived for a time in Pella, invited there by the old King Archelaos, your great-great-Granddad. The Macedonians love his plays. Your father knew many of them by heart. I knew your father well...since he was a little boy like you are now.” He laughed. “I rescued him from more than a few scrapes. And when he became King, like the others who knew him, I followed him to the world’s end. He need only call us, and we went. He was our golden daimon and always will be he loved and remembered.”
He lifted the sleeve of his garment and showed the child a thick bracelet of heavy Macedonian gold work with a lion’s head set with rubies as eyes. “This was his,” he said. “Alexander gave it to me at Babylon when I went there to perform for him. It is my best remembrance of him.” He slipped it off his arm and handed it to the child. In his small, damp hands the gold seemed almost to burn as if it might melt at his touch.
He handed it back to the actor.

Thettalos looked down at him gravely. “To be sure, you are your father’s son. May the gods smile on you, little Alexander.” He took the child’s hand. “Come, sweetheart. I’ll show you around. Would you like try on the masks? And I’ll show you the shield that they carry Astyanax away on. Then I’ll take you to back your mother.”


* * *

The theatre of Dodona, by the parados gate.



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Friday, August 10, 2007

INTRODUCING ALEXANDER!



"O fortunate youth, to have found Homer as the herald of your glory!"
Alexander the Great (spoken at Achilles' tomb) from Cicero Pro Archia 24

Here he is. The man of my dreams. Alexander.
I'm spending lots of time in his world these days and thought I should give him a bit more publicity. (And now I've finally figured out how to blog these photos from picassa too!)

It's the weekend again and so far this week has been a bit cloudy, cool, sometimes rainy and a little bit sunny later in the day. Which has made it easier for me to stay stuck to my computer. So progress continues on Shadow of the Lion and I will soon post a few more fragments of the text.

"When Perdikkas asked him at what times he
wished divine honours paid to him, he answered that
he wished it done when they themselves were happy.
These were the last words of the King."
Quintus Curtius




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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