3. Of Death and Suffering

by Ptolemy Lagides
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Alexander watched Philip fall heavily to the ground. His body struck the stage with a dull thud, causing the dust and dirt to rise around him in a little cloud. Almost immediately, a small pool of blood emerged from underneath the king. Alexander stared at it intently, and in that moment, the world ceased to exist.
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Olympias watched her son for a moment then bowed her head. A lone tear trickled down her cheek and dropped into her gown. The other Epirotians called her name and begged her to leave the theatre with them, but she ignored their voices.
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The theatre was in uproar. As the initial shock at seeing Philip’s murder subsided fear overtook the king’s guests. Who had killed him? Was anyone else in danger? Could they all be under threat? Rational thought was overthrown by wild speculation, and amidst the crying and shouting, people began hurrying to the exits at the back of the amphitheatre and on either side of the stage; a few made it out but the rest were turned back by guards who came out of nowhere and blocked the way.
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Amidst the chaos, Antipater strode out onto the stage and shouted for calm. It took a few minutes for him to be heard but, eventually, and with the help of the Macedonian soldiers who blocked the exits and herded the guests back to their seats, his voice eventually rose over the verbal melee of fear and dread.
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“My friends, my friends!” Antipater cried, “The king is not dead! Look!” As people began looking round, he turned to Alexander, “The king lives!” Antipater exclaimed, “The king lives!” It took a moment, but finally, he was understood.
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“Hail Alexander, king of Macedon!” someone cried.
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Hearing his name, Alexander looked up. Other people began repeating the acclamation. Realising what they were saying, he smiled awkwardly. Antipater came to the king’s side and, smiling through his thick, grey streaked beard, said quietly, “Hail Alexander. King of Macedon.” Alexander nodded. He glanced upwards at his mother; her head was still bowed in thought.
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“So I am,” he murmured, and looking down at the body of his father, he added, “So I was meant to be.”
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It was night time when I took Thaïs to the square to see Pausanias’ body. It was attached to an upright wooden board, and fixed in position by means of five clamps round his ankles, wrists, and neck. He still wore the clothes he had been killed in; they were soaked in blood and stuck to the javelin wounds in his chest. Thaïs gazed at him, thoughtfully. A few people hurried past us; I recognised one or two of them but they did not stop to greet me; even though there were no guards nearby, no one wanted to be seen near the traitor’s body. Thaïs – who had Alexander’s friendship – had no such qualms.
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“Now you’ve seen him,” I said, “What next?”
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Thaïs walked up to the body, and to my surprise put her fingers into the largest of his wounds, caused by Perdiccas’ javelin going straight through his body. Withdrawing her hand, she proceeded to smear Pausanias’ face and hair with the blood, driving her fingers deeper into the wound to get more blood as she did so.
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“I hate to interrupt your desecration of this body, but may I ask what you are doing?”
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“I’m preparing him,” Thaïs replied, “Well… no, I’m preparing myself.”
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“For death-?”
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“Yes… well… for tonight’s client.”
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“I don’t understand you.”
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I heard Thaïs laugh ruefully to herself as she lifted up Pausanias’ head to survey her work. He looked like a grotesque cross between a tart who had applied too much make-up and a barbarian who had just put on his war paint.
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“Has he threatened you?” I asked, “If he has, tell Alexander; he’ll—”
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“No,” Thaïs interjected with a speed and terseness that few women would dare in front of  man, “He hasn’t. He hasn’t. In fact… it’s not about him, really; it’s more to do with me… I… it doesn’t matter, I am finished; may we go?”
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Confused by Thaïs’ delphic words and bored by her refusal to explain herself, I was happy to oblige. I had never wanted to leave the royal palace anyway; I had only done so because Alexander had asked me to escort her. We did not talk on the way back to the royal palace. I was glad not to. This Athenian woman, as beautiful as she was in appearance, had strange habits that I wanted nothing to do with.

To be continued…

  • The list of chapters can be found here
Categories: Ptolemy's journal | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “3. Of Death and Suffering

  1. Once again your writing is impeccable. I am glad you put two episodes (however you set them) up so soon. Looking forward to reading the next one.>KB Did Alexander have a part?

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    • Hi KB,

      As it happens, 3 + 4 were meant to be (and written as) one chapter. Unfortunately, it came in at 1500 words, which I think is too for one blog post. I could have cut scenes out but really wanted to keep them. To accommodate the word length, I decided to split the chapter into two. Regarding Alexander’s role in the assassination, I hope Chapter 4 answered that question for you (do feel free to let me know if you think anything is unclear etc).

      AOS

      Like

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