Part Two: The End and a Beginning

by Ptolemy Lagides
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I arrived at the theatre at dawn and watched from the hall behind the stage as Philip’s guests took their seats in the amphitheatre outside. I had one job today: to make sure that once Pausanias arrived he did not leave without completing his mission. The sun was shining brightly and a gentle breeze was blowing through the hall. It was a happy day to live, I thought, and a sad day to die.
.
I said I had only one job; actually, there was another: to kill Pausanias if he failed in his mission. Under Olympias’ orders, failure was to be defined as either a failure to kill Philip, or an attempt to betray her, or indeed, indict myself or any of the other conspirators. To protect ourselves, Pausanias had been watched ever since he had agreed to assassinate the king. Even now, as he walked from his home to the theatre, Perdiccas would be following him, making sure he took no treacherous diversion.
.
As it happened, Pausanias arrived at the theatre on time at the eight hour of the morning. A few seconds later, Perdiccas walked across the hall behind him. He caught my eye and nodded before peeling off to join Leonnatus and Attalus at the holly tree. I weaved a path through the various dignitaries who were passing through the hall on their way outside. Suddenly, a man bumped into me. It was Alexander.
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“Ptolemy,” he said, lightly, “You were not looking where you were going.”
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“I apologise, my Lord; I was on my way to speak to a mutual friend.” I replied, motioning towards Pausanias. Alexander glanced round. Seeing Pausanias, he nodded, thoughtfully.
.
“If you see Hephaestion tell him to be quick.”
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“I will.” I said, and I was glad that no one was listening to us because Alexander’s non sequitur response would have confused them and led to who knows what thoughts.
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Leaving Alexander, I continued my path across the hall and joined Pausanias who was now skulking in a quiet, shadowy corner near the stage door.
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“My friend,” I said, putting my hands on his shoulders, “be strong. Today will be a good day.” He smiled awkwardly but said nothing.
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And indeed, he said nothing to anyone while I was with him or after I had walked away to take up a position on the opposite side of the hall, ostensibly to watch Philip process outside, his two Alexanders by his side – son on the right, and son-in-law on the left. Freshly painted and gilded statues of the twelve gods were carried behind the king; they were followed by one of Philip himself. When the Greeks saw it, a murmur of surprise and awe and apprehension rippled round the theatre. It was quickly consumed, however, by noisy applause – led, I noted, by Macedonian noblemen.
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As Philip received the applause, his somatophylakes stood at ease in the hall, chatting to one another and royal servants. The bodyguards were armed and in armour but nobody was expecting any trouble on this glorious day. As a result, no one saw Pausanias leave his position, and slip outside.
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I watched through a window as he stepped out from behind the statue of father Zeus and walked round Alexander. Then, he stood in front of Philip and knelt down. Thinking he was paying homage to the king, the Greeks applauded even more loudly. As Pausanias rose, I noticed that Alexander was holding his father’s right hand. Philip tried to pull it away as Pausanias pushed back his cloak and revealed his sword  but Alexander was too slow in releasing his grip. Philip lifted up his left arm, but Pausanias was too fast. As Philip raised his arm, he drove his sword into the king’s chest right up to the hilt.
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Pausanias sword penetrated Philip’s heart and killed him instantly. His revenge complete, Pausanias sprinted across the stage towards the exit on its right hand side. As Philip fell in a crumpled heap on the ground, the Greeks fell into a stunned and confused silence. Suddenly, someone shouted, “He has killed the king! He has killed the king!”. Looking up in alarm, the somatophylakes rushed outside. I ran through the theatre and burst out into the street via a side door. I saw Pausanias run up the hill and set off in pursuit of him. Behind me, wailing and sobbing replaced the cheering and applause.
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At the top of the hill, Pausanias made a sharp right and sprinted down several more side streets before approaching the dead holly bush tree. Perdiccas, Leonnatus and Attalus stood there. Sweating and panting heavily, Pausanias ran up to them.
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“Friends, where are the horses?!” he exclaimed.
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“There are no horses.” a voice said. Hephaestion stepped out of the hovel next to the tree, and into the street.
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“Hephaestion?” Pausanias said. “You are part of this as well?”
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“Yes.” he said. Perdiccas and Leonnatus stepped forward and grabbed Pausanias by the arms. He looked at them wildly.
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“What… what are you doing?! Hephaestion, I killed the king; I did it. Alexander will be king now!”
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“I’m sorry.” Hephaestion replied. As he spoke, I ran up behind the group. “Ptolemy… do you bring any orders?”
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“No,” I said, “But I do bring a word from Alexander. ‘Be quick’.” Hephaestion nodded. He turned back to Pausanias.
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“And I bring you a word from Queen Olympias,” he said, “‘Thank you . Your sacrifice will be remembered and your memory honoured.'” He strode forward, unsheathing his sword as he did so and drove it into Pausanias’ chest. Pausanias gazed at him in blank horror. Seconds later, as blood dribbled down his chin, his head fell upon his chest. Perdiccas and Leonnatus released him at he fell to the ground.
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“Get your javelins,” Hephaestion told them. “You know what to do.”
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We watched as Perdiccas and Attalus dragged Pausanias’ body into the hovel. Inside, they strung it up and threw their javelins across the room into his chest.
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“Why did we not just kill him as soon as he left the theatre?” I asked. “Or even inside. Something could have gone wrong between there and here.”
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“That is what I wanted to do,” Hephaestion said, “But the Queen would not permit it. She wanted Pausanias to be thanked first.” I looked at his bloodied and torn body.
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“Poor fool. He deserved better than the Queen’s thanks.” Hephaestion smiled ruefully.
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“He destroyed a world.” he said, though weather in anger or awe I could not tell, “Come. Let us go and help Alexander mold a new one.”

To be continued…

  • The list of chapters can be read here
Categories: Ptolemy's journal | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Part Two: The End and a Beginning

  1. I like the central role played by Hephaestion here, clearing the way for Alexander as he will always do in the future.I also like the presence of Ptolemy and all Alexander’s young friends sharing a dark secret.

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  2. AOS, I appologize for being so awfully tardy in reading this. I saved it when I first received it to read when I had time to fully enjoy a new entry of yours. While this was more cut and dried and everyone knew what was in the offing except for the poor sot. That’s why puppets were conceived so men of destiny would have some thing to learn on pulling strings before they began ordering sinews and muscle slASHED TO THE BONE. gREAT rEAD. yOU HAVE A GIFT FOR IT–i DIDN’TY THINK IT WAS MELO-DRAMATIC AT ALL. wELL READ IS WELL WRITTEN. hAVE–excuse the capitals–I don’t watch the screen when I type and have a bad habit of hitting the caps lock key.Well Good Conquering.>KB

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