7. Death of the Child-King

by Ptolemy Lagides
.
I.

When the knock on the door came, Amyntas was lying on his bed, holding his wife tightly in his arms. It was mid afternoon. After Philip’s assassination, Antipater had ordered two soldiers to escort them back to their quarters and stand guard over them.
.
“For your safe keeping,” Antipater had said to Amyntas. Now, as he kissed his wife’s neck tenderly and stroked her fair hair, Amyntas could not help but smile to himself wistfully at the marshal’s words. So short. So simple. So untrue. We are now prisoners, he thought to himself, gaoled until Alexander decides whether I am to live or die.
.
The knock sounded again. A voice called Amyntas’ name. He recognised it as belonging to Hephaestion. His heart fell, but he made to get up, anyway. Cynane held his hand and pressed it against her breast.
.
“Don’t go,” she whispered, her voice broken from crying, “Don’t leave me.”
.
“Your brother’s friend calls me. I must go. I will not be long.”
.
Kissing her again, Amyntas gently pulled himself away from Cynane; brushing his robe down, he walked to the door and unlocked it. Hephaestion and Perdiccas stood in front of him, their expressions stern without being hostile. A few feet behind stood two olive skinned slaves.
.
“Is it to happen here?” Amyntas asked Hephaestion, “In front of my wife?”
.
“Is what to happen?” Perdiccas replied.
.
“Come now, Perdiccas,” Amyntas said, “You are not here to tell me I am free to go about my business. Had you come by yourself I might have believed it, but Amyntoros’ presence tells me otherwise. I am to die, and the king respects me enough to send his… best friend to do the deed.”
.
“Walk with us, Amyntas,” Hephaestion said, quietly, “Let us go to the garden.”
.
Amyntas nodded. “That would be good.” he replied, “Yes… that would be good.” He turned round to face Cynane.
.
“I love you.” she said, blinking and wiping her tears away.
.
“I love you.” he replied. After a brief pause, Amyntas turned and walked past Hephaestion; Perdiccas followed him down the corridor. Hephaestion delayed; he looked into the room at Cynane.
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“I am sorry,” he said, “but Amyntas is too big a risk.” Cynane scowled at him. Hephaestion closed the door. As he did so, he heard the goblet that had been standing on the bedside table, clatter against it.
.
With the two slaves following a few feet behind them, the men walked down two flights of stairs and down another corridor before coming to a door that lead into the garden. Servants and slaves going about their business bowed their heads and stepped quickly to one side as they passed by. Amyntas reached out to the door lock; holding it, he paused.
.
“Before we go out may I make a request?” he said.
.
“What is it?” Perdiccas replied.
.
“When the time comes… can I be spared… pain? I… I don’t want to suffer. Common criminals suffer. I am not a common criminal” Perdiccas glanced at Hephaestion who nodded in reply.
.
“You won’t suffer.” Perdiccas said to him.
.
“Thank you… thank you.” Amyntas said. He pulled the lock back, opened the door and stepped out into the garden. The warm summer air caressed his skin. He closed his eyes and imagined that it was Cynane tending to him after a long day’s work. His body stirred and things did not seem so bad.
.

***

II.
The men walked down a gravel path that took them past the flower beds and rose bushes, and into the shade of the oak tree boulevard. As they walked, Amyntas held out his hand and let the petals of the flowers and leaves brush against his fingers. He had loved doing this since the days of his youth; no, even from when he could still only barely walk. He would miss his favourite flowers.
.
“Philip was never threatened by me.” Amyntas said, to no one in particular, “Well, he let me marry his daughter… I wonder what changed.” Behind him, Hephaestion fell back; he picked a rock up from the side of the path. He caught up with Perdiccas and handed it to him; it fitted snugly in his hand.
.
“Perhaps the mistake was Philip’s,” Amyntas continued, as he paused to examine the deeply grooved bark of a nearby oak, “I was the heir to the throne, after all; I could have rebelled against him at any time and my claim to the throne would have been just.”
.
Amyntas began to walk again. Two noblemen rounded a corner in the path just ahead of them. Hephaestion motioned for them to turn around, glaring fiercely at them as he did so. They obeyed him hurriedly.
.
“Tell Alexander that I don’t hold any grudge against him for this.” Amyntas said, either not noticing or affecting not to notice the noblemen, “In his position, I would have done the same. I’m glad I’m not king, though; too many decisions, not enough time to attend to the really important things. Or rather, the one important thing.”
.
“What is that?” Hephaestion asked. Amyntas stopped and turned to face him. Perdiccas took up a position behind Amyntas.
.
“To love my wife, of course,” Amyntas said, “True, Cynane was not the woman I would have chosen to marry, but once I did, I was determined to love her with all my heart; all my strength.” Hephaestion gazed at Amyntas as if in awe. Amyntas smiled sadly as Hephaestion’s sternness melted away.
.
“It’s alright, Hephaestion,” he said, “It’s not too late for you; not for you of all people. What ever kind of day you have just make sure you always go back to him. Go back to him tonight. Keep loving him and you – neither of you – will ever be lost.” Hephaestion nodded slowly. Without meaning to, he extended his arms; Amyntas accepted the embrace and held him tightly; he thought of his wife, and a tear formed in his eye.
.
“Thank you.” Hephaestion whispered.
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“I Thank you.” Amyntas replied. “Let’s finish, shall we?” Hephaestion looked at Perdiccas and nodded once more. After a moment, Amyntas released Hephaestion. As he stepped back, Perdiccas struck Amyntas on the back of the head with the stone. Amyntas fell unconscious into Hephaestion’s arms. Kissing him, Hephaestion lowered Amyntas to the ground, slowly, almost reverently, putting him face down. Perdiccas looked round to see if they were being watched. Apart from their slaves who were now about fifty feet away, he saw no one else. Dropping the rock, Perdiccas took his dagger out from its scabbard, and knelt down beside Amyntas’ head.
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“I’ll do it.” Hephaestion said.
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“No. Alexander wanted me to. You mustn’t have blood on your hands.” Hephaestion shot Perdiccas a regretful glance. If only you knew…
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“Very well.”
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Hephaestion stepped away. Perdiccas took Amyntas by the hair and pulled his head back. Then, he placed the tip of the dagger on his throat and pressed it into his flesh. Blood began to well up then pour out as he cut across Amyntas’ throat slicing it so deeply that his inner organs were made visible. Once he had cut Amyntas from ear-to-ear, Perdiccas rested his head gently on the gravel. The blood formed a dark red rocky pool in the gravel.
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“Why do you think Philip let him live?” Perdiccas asked as he stood up and slipped the dagger into its scabbard.
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“I don’t know. Because of his success? Perhaps he felt that made him immune to conspiracy.” Perdiccas laughed drily.
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“In the name of Zeus,” Perdiccas exclaimed, “When Amyntas went to Trophonius, they called him ‘King of the Macedonians’. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I thought that would be the end of him then. But when we returned and reported what had happened to Philip he just laughed and took another mouthful of wine. He just didn’t care.”
.
“Too few of us do; that’s why Amyntas was a better man than any of us. He cared. And for the right person.” Hephaestion motioned to the slaves to come forward.
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“Take the body to the hut, then decapitate it,” he ordered them, “Let no one – no one – see what you carrying, though,” he said, “No one will be surprised by what has happened today, but it is up to the king to decide when the people should be told.” The slaves nodded. Picking Amyntas up by the legs and armpits they carried him towards a hut in the wood at the end of the boulevard.
.
“Two down. Who’s next?” Perdiccas asked.
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“Craterus is taking care of Aeropus’ sons – Alexander* excepted,” Hephaestion said, “Caranus will have to die. Attalus as well.”
.
“Caranus…” Perdiccas murmured. “Who will kill him?”
.
“I will if I have to,” Hephaestion said, “His age is immaterial. He’s a threat to Alexander.”
.
“I understand, but by the gods what a world we live in… Let’s go; I want some wine.”

*Alexander of Lyncestis

To be continued…

  • The list of chapters can be found here
Categories: Ptolemy's journal | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “7. Death of the Child-King

  1. Once again kudos. The thick plottens.>KB

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  2. I wish it hadn’t taken me this long to find this story. Excellent writing and interpretation. I wouldn’t have thought Hephestion was behind it all. I thought it was the queen. Heph was intelligent and ambitious, but only for Alexander. Too bad innocents had to die. As your protagonists said, “What a world!”

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    • Hi Penina,

      I’m sorry for taking so long to reply to you. Thank you for your comment. I never continued with this story beyond the first nine or so chapters – I let it go, I think, because I never quite found my voice in it before getting distracted by other posts. I enjoyed giving Hephaestion a different role, though. Although I am more interested in Ptolemy I am always interested in delving deeper into Hephaestion’s character to separate him from Oliver Stone’s interpretation which was, I think, rather lacking.

      AOS

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      • Yours was quite good though. H would do anything for A, but I didn’t think of H as being the schemer A’s mom was, to pull this off or even to think of it. What else have you written? Yes, OS left much out of his version of A’s life and changed and condensed other aspects. It was an enormous undertaking and would take many more hours to tell properly. I wonder what BBC will do with it. The article I saw says Michael Hirst, head scriptwriter for Vikings and The Tudors, will pen the miniseries on A’s life in 2014 to be filmed in Germany according to the report. BBC will get it before BBCA, but I’m hanging on to see what he’ll do with it. If you hear anything about it over there (in England?) please share. – Penina

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