Alexander the Epileptic
I knew that Julius Caesar suffered from epilepsy but not that Alexander did. This, though, is the premise of this excellent poem by Charles Bane, Jr. How typical of Alexander that even as he writhes upon the ground he is thinking of war and warlike things. I am being a little unfair, for as you’ll see there is more to the poem – and Alexander – than that. I appreciated the presence of the dolphins, which put me in mind of Herodotus’ story of Arion, the poet’s use of parenthesis as means of defining what Alexander finds important in his account of the seizure, and the final two lines, which very evocatively prove Alexander did not only think about war.
Thank you to World of Alexander the Great for mentioning the poem on Twitter this week.
If you live in the U.K., you may be interested to know that there is a programme at eight o’clock on BBC 2 tonight (i. e. 30th March) in which Rory Stewart discusses Roman Britain and what happened after the Romans left. Today, Stewart leads the ‘sedate’ life of a Member of Parliament for Penrith and the Borders. In 2002, however, he walked across Afghanistan around the same time as America and her allies were invading the country. A year or so later he became a Deputy Governor in Iraq following the invasion of that country. His books The Places In Between and Occupational Hazards give exciting accounts of his walk and tense diplomatic career and I thoroughly recommend them to you. If I recall correctly, Stewart is an admirer of T. E. Lawrence. He certainly has his spirit of adventure.
A Macedonian Yankee
We love our national stereotypes, and one of my favourites is this idea that everything is done bigger in America. I have never visited the USA but unless American television series are lying to us, their cars are definitely a whole lot bigger than ours. They also have a reputation for serving larger portions of food as well, though I don’t know if this is the case. Anyway, given that Alexander liked to do things bigger than everyone else, I wonder if a case can be made for him being the first American? At any rate, I’m sure he would have approved of America’s cultural unity in diversity.
Seleucus and Apama
In 324 B.C., Alexander a number of his senior officers married Persian wives at the Susa Weddings. Of those officers, only one – Seleucus – did not put his wife aside after Alexander’s death in 323. To the best of my knowledge, he remained married to Apama, daughter of Spitamenes, until his death in 281. Did Seleucus genuinely love her? Let’s hope so, but we must also accept that she was useful to his political ambitions. Apama came from Sogdiana, which was part of Seleucus’ satrapy and, after 306, his kingdom. The reason I mention this is because I have just come across this brief You Tube video of a tourist’s visit to Apamea (in Syria).
As of today, I’m going to try and make more of an effort to watch You Tube videos on Alexander and his men so if you know any good quality ones do let me know. Feel free not to let me know about those that claim that Ptolemy I Soter is or invented Jesus Christ. Yes, they are out there.