Ptolemy’s journal

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.
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“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.
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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.
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“Don’t go,” she whispered, her voice broken from crying, “Don’t leave me.”
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“Your brother’s friend calls me. I must go. I will not be long.”
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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.
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“Is it to happen here?” Amyntas asked Hephaestion, “In front of my wife?”
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“Is what to happen?” Perdiccas replied.
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“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.”
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“Walk with us, Amyntas,” Hephaestion said, quietly, “Let us go to the garden.”
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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.
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“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.
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“Before we go out may I make a request?” he said.
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“What is it?” Perdiccas replied.
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“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.
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“You won’t suffer.” Perdiccas said to him.
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“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.
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“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.”
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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.
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“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.”
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“What is that?” Hephaestion asked. Amyntas stopped and turned to face him. Perdiccas took up a position behind Amyntas.
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“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.
.
“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.”
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“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.
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“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.”
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“Caranus…” Perdiccas murmured. “Who will kill him?”
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“I will if I have to,” Hephaestion said, “His age is immaterial. He’s a threat to Alexander.”
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“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
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5. Friends

I.
After escorting Thaïs back to the royal palace, I walked a few streets north to my brother Menelaus’ home. Long before I arrived, the sound of music and laughter told me that he was making good on his promise to celebrate Philip’s death.
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Opening the front door, I stepped into the courtyard and almost onto Erigyius as he had sex with a prostitute in front of me. The courtyard was crammed with men drinking, whores plying their trade, and musicians try to sing over the noise. There was even a dog fight taking place at the far end. I looked down at Erigyius’ whore as she panted and cried, and thought of Thaïs. It was a bit unfair. As a hetaera she did more with her clients than just have sex with them. Just then, a nauseous feeling took me – Why? I wondered, Because of Thaïs? No, it must be something else because that didn’t make sense.
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“Ptolemy!” a deep voice boomed. It was Craterus, at nearly six and a half feet tall and with muscles the size of barrels, he was a true giant amongst men. He strode across the courtyard, causing men in his path to scatter as he did so. “Menelaus is upstairs in his bedroom! Perdiccas, Laomedon, and Nearchus are with him, too. Apparently they have the best wine.”
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“Why aren’t you up there?” I asked.
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“I was on my way when I saw that Menelaus’ servants hadn’t removed his flowers from the house. Some one was about to use one over there as a mini out house. I knocked him out and took the plants out back. I’ll go upstairs when I’ve seen to the other flower bowls.” As well as being a giant and senior officer in Alexander’s army, Craterus was also a lover of flowers. I never would get used to the tender way with which he treated them.
.
Leaving Craterus to his task, I made my way to the bedroom. There, all the talk was all of how glad we were that Philip was dead and what we hoped to achieve in the new, Alexandrian, future. For my part, very annoyingly, I could not get Thaïs out of my mind. This annoyed me. I didn’t know her. I wouldn’t see her again. Why was I so concerned about her? I drank more to try and drive her from my mind; I made up a rude song about Philip and his boy lovers; I wrestled with Craterus and traded joke insults with Black Cleitus when he turned up but none of it could remove the thought of that strange woman from me.
.
II.
It was in the early hours of the morning that Hephaestion arrived at the house. Most of us were either asleep in a drunken stupor, unconscious, or dead (two people died of over drinking that night) when he came. Gliding noiselessly through it, he came upstairs and shook my shoulder.
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“Forgive me, Ptolemy,” he said, glancing round, warily, “I would like to talk to you.”
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“Has something happened?” I asked.
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“No. I come with a message.” I got to my feet. My head throbbed lightly but I had been too distracted by the thought of Thaïs to get really drunk. We walked downstairs and, collecting two torches, left the house through a back door and stepped into a side street. A stray dog barked at us and ran away.
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“Firstly, I must apologise,” Hephaestion said, “I lied about the message…” Confused, and alarmed, I shot him a sharp glance and felt for the sword that I was not wearing.
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“It’s alright!” Hephaestion said, seeing my hand move, and raising his own in a gesture of peace, “I came to make an offer to you; one that befits Alexander’s best friend.”
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“His best friend? That is you, Hephaestion.” He blushed.
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“You know that that is only the beginning of what we are to one another,” he replied. “Of the king’s friends, you are the greatest.”
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“Hm. I thank you.”
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“And now that he is king, Alexander’s need for your friendship will not lessen but grow. Especially as you are very popular in the army.”
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“Again, I thank you,” I said, “But Hephaestion, what are you getting at? What is your offer?”
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“Olympias offered you gold to join her conspiracy,” he said, “I want to offer you my friendship and my loyalty in the days and years ahead. And I will give them to you if you agree to help Alexander—”
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“I don’t understand you,” I said, “Like you said, I am his friend. I would do anything for—” As I spoke, it clicked; I laughed, “Wait… you’re asking me to be your spy,” Hephaestion looked down at the ground, guiltily.
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“Yes, I am.”
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“Why?”
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“You know how it is with kings,” Hephaestion began, “They come to power, they kill anyone who might be a threat to them. They rule, and they continue to kill anyone who might be a threat to them. This is what Alexander will do. And he will not only kill his enemies, if he feels the need to, but friends, too…”
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“So if I spy for you – for Alexander – you will stand up for me should I ever fall foul of him.”
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“Yes.”
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“If anyone else had said this to me – anyone – I would have considered their words a threat. Not you, though, Hephaestion; you do not dissemble – not to your friends. If Alexander accused me, you would be a very influential advocate to have; I will do as you wish. But know this, I would have done it anyway for I want Alexander to succeed in all his plans. I am his friend.”
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“And a good one, too; thank you, Ptolemy; from the bottom of my heart, thank you.” Hephaestion leaned forward and embraced me tightly.
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“This means a lot to you,” I said, “Why? I do not doubt that you will be making alliances and agreements with other people at this time. I am not so very special to you.”
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“You’re right, I will; but you are special… one day, I will tell you why. For now, I must go – As you surmise, I have other people to see.” I watched Hephaestion make his way down the side street. My body twitched; it knew what I wanted to do next before I did. I ran after him.
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“Hephaestion-!” He stopped, and turned. “Alexander’s hetaera – Thaïs. Do you know her?”
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“Yes.”
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“Do you know who is she with tonight?”
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“Yes, the Brute.” He meant Archippus, one of my fellow Cavalry Companions, nicknamed for his brutal way of fighting and living.
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“Him-!” I exclaimed. “No woman should be allowed near him. He killed his wife.”
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“Thaïs will be fortunate if he doesn’t kill her. He beats her, you know; not around the face where it can be seen, but on her body. I have seen the bruises.”
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“Does Alexander know?”
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“No. I haven’t told him; I don’t want him to be distracted. I’ve told Thaïs to refuse Archippus’ money, and I’ve told him to treat her kindly or else. She refused to listen to me and he has been happy to take his chances. I am busy enough as it is; what more can I do?”
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“Nothing… nothing, I suppose.”
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“Maybe when things have quietened down…” he said, thoughtfully, “Till then, she is on her own. Goodbye, Ptolemy.” I bowed and bade Hephaestion farewell. Stupid woman, I thought, but in that moment, I knew that this was not the end of the matter.

To be continued…

  • The list of chapters can be read here
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4. The Fatal Crown

 by Ptolemy Lagides
.
As we left Pausanias’ corpse, Alexander sipped a goblet of wine in his quarters at the palace. He gazed out of the window and across the Aegae skyline, and it seemed to him that the night was blacker than usual. A chill ran down his spine. Noticing it, a servant standing by the fireplace threw more wood onto the fire. There was a knock at the door.
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“Enter.”
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Olympias stepped in. Her eyes were red and her face drawn. Alexander had not seen her since leaving the theatre and he was alarmed to see her in apparent distress.
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“Mother…” he said, in concern, walking towards her.
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“It’s alright,” Olympias said, but her voice was weak and tired. After pausing to gather herself, she said, “Today went well. Yes. The Greeks acclaimed you, and the people are quiet. When you speak to them directly, they will love you. Alexander’s* act of homage was an unexpected bonus… It will give Amyntas** much pause for thought…”
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“Good, but I don’t care – mother, you should rest.” Olympias smiled sadly.
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“The time for that has passed, my child. I shall never rest again.” Alexander looked thoughtfully at Olympias before stepping away from her.
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“So… this was your work.”
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“Yes.” Alexander embraced his mother tightly. Olympias folded her arms round her son and in that moment forgot how strong and ruthless a woman she was meant to be and sobbed.
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“I hated him,” she admitted, “I hated him very much… but believe me when I say, I never wanted this to happen.”
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“Neither did I, but it was necessary; father brought what happened upon himself when he married Cleopatra,” Alexander said. He looked his mother in the eye, “I wish you had let me take charge of the assassination.”
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“How strange,” Olympias laughed through her tears, “I am the one crying, yet it is you, Alexander, whose judgement is clouded. Think. If it ever became known that you assassinated your father your authority would be undermined and the the possibility of your own assassination increased ten fold.”
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“I fear no one,” Alexander replied, softly, “In any case, we are Macedonians, murder is a way of life for us.”
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Olympias smiled at her son’s word play, and nodded. “Indeed…” Just then, her head dropped and her body wavered. Catching her, Alexander guided Olympias to a chair.
.
“Forgive me for making you stand.” he said, anxiously.
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“It’s alright, quite alright…” Olympias replied, “It has been a long day. That’s all.”
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“Stay with me tonight,” Alexander said, “Let us sleep together.” Olympias smiled.
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“I will not miss any opportunity I get from now on to embrace my son,” she said, as if to herself. “Soon you will be gone, and who knows when I will see you again?” Alexander opened his mouth to reply, only to be interrupted by another knock on the door. A counsellor entered. Some of the king’s Greek guests wanted an urgent audience with him. Alexander was minded to tell them to wait until the morning, but his mother persuaded him to go – “The impression that you make on them now will help define how their city acts towards you in the future,” she said, “Reluctance to appear will be interpreted as a sign of weakness.”
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Acquiescing to her will, Alexander left the room. Olympias sat in his quarters for a few minutes, her eyes closed as she listened to the murmur of voices in the palace courtyard three floors below. Upon a moment, she heard a cup being put down on a table behind her; she turned round sharply. Hephaestion sat in a shadowy alcove of the room. He acknowledged her with a friendly nod. Ordering the servants to leave Olympias stood up.
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“How did I do…?” she asked him, once the last servant out had closed the door behind him.
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“Very well.”
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“Do you think he believes…”
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“… that you masterminded Philip’s death? Yes. You spoke very convincingly.”
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“Good. I meant what I said, though; I wish I had masterminded it. I hated Philip very much…”
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“Well, as per our agreement, you have the next best thing – the blame for what happened. I have put the word out that you were probably behind Philip’s death. You had the motive and,” Hephaestion paused and chuckled, wryly, “notwithstanding the fact that you have few friends in Macedon, the power, too. Here’s to people being convinced by the first fact so that they do not consider the second falsity for too long.” Hephaestion raised his cup. Olympias joined him, and took it.
.
“Thank you for letting me,” she said, “I still shake when I remember how we argued over this point. No one will ever fight more strongly to keep a poisoned cup taken than you, Hephaestion; you have my thanks.” As Olympias drank the wine, Hephaestion stood up and bowed.
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“I thank the gods for the day I became strong enough to arrange Philip’s assassination instead of just thinking that it needed to be done.” Hephaestion said, “And you may be sure that my strength remains. I will never cease to do all that I can to honour your sacrifice.” Taking the cup back, he drained it and walked towards the door.
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“Oh,” he added, “I almost forgot.” Hephaestion walked back to the alcove and picked up a dirty grey bag; opening it, he pulled out a gold leafed crown.
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“To complete the illusion.” he said. Olympias took it.
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“That will now be the work of a life time,” she said, turning the crown in her hands, “And will take many more actions than just this one. But, I too will not fail to do whatever needs to be done in any respect, and whatever the cost – in blood, hate, or treachery. All for Alexander.”
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“All for Alexander.” Hephaestion repeated. Handing the bag over to her, he kissed Olympias on the cheek and left the quarters.
.
* Alexander of Lyncestis
** Philip II’s cousin who, by virtue of his being the son of Philip’s elder brother Perdiccas, had as good a claim to the Macedonian throne as Alexander himself

To be continued…

  • The list of chapters can be found here

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3. Of Death and Suffering

by Ptolemy Lagides
.
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.
.
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.
.
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
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Part Two: The End and a Beginning

by Ptolemy Lagides
.
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.
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“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.
.
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.
.
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

Part One: Pausanias

by Ptolemy Lagides

I can’t remember when I first met Pausanias. He was one of those people who attends parties only to be ignored because they have no personality or grace. He had brains, though, because unlike others, he recognised how dull he was and went away to work at improving his appearance. And how it worked! Because one day, King Philip noticed him hiding in the corner of the room, and decided he wanted to know more about this attractive youth.
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I can still see Philip stroking Pausanias’ face with his deformed hand, and biting him tenderly upon the lip as they kiss. I can still see Pausanias’ blushing cheeks and doe eyes. He loves me! So that’s how you became so handsome, Pausa’, by sacrificing your brains to Aphrodite. Philip never believed in love. Only lust – in the matter of men – and only politics, when it came to women. He’s the king, for Zeus’ sake.
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You should have known from the beginning that one day you would be discarded. Why couldn’t you have just enjoyed what you had before Philip took his body elsewhere. But no, you had to be smitten. You had to be offended. You had to mock Attalus’ Pausanias. Well, Pausa’, that was your choice, and tomorrow, it will be your funeral.
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I left the party towards the end of the first day of celebrations in the royal palace for Alexander’s* wedding to Cleopatra**. No one noticed my departure. Well, not quite. I had not walked more than a few steps down the corridor when a hand came out of the shadows and pulled me violently into them. Olympias glared at me, malevolently.
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“If he has any qualms, Ptolemy,” she whispered, “Make sure you convince him to continue. Meet any demand he comes up with.”
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“As the Queen of Macedon says.” I replied. Her lips parted and she hissed like one of her damned snakes at me.
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After leaving the palace, I crossed the narrow streets of Aegae until I came to a dead end next to a derelict house on the other side of town. Pausanias was already there, sitting in the gutter like a beggar; his head, hidden under his hood.
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“Do you believe in justice, my friend?” I called.
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“Justice is my hope.” he replied, and he pushed down the hood of his cloak. I saw his burning eyes, and I knew he had no qualms whatsoever.
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“Here is your money,” I said, handing over the heavy purse. Your orders are to act has already been arranged. Perdiccas, Leonnatus, and Attalus will be waiting with the horses for you underneath the dead holly tree. Once you leave the theatre, join them there; they will ride with you to Orestis.”
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Pausanias nodded; he gazed into the dark. Whether it was the dark of the night or his own spirit I do not know.
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“He refused to help me, Ptolemy,” he said, “After Attalus and… and his fr… friends… did… did what they di… did what they did to me, he refused to help me. He turned me away when we were lovers, and he refused to help me when I… when I needed him.”
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“I know,” I said, “And now is your chance to be revenged.” Pausanias nodded vaguely at this.
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“Does Alexander know about this?” he asked. I didn’t answer. “Does he??”
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“… He knows all that he needs to know…” I replied.
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“When I’m gone, tell him that I am his loyal subject. I killed his father, because…”
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“Don’t worry,” I replied, “When you are gone, I will tell him everything.”
.
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To be continued…

* Alexander of Epirus
** Alexander the Great’s sister

  • The list of chapters can be found here
Categories: Ptolemy's journal | 6 Comments

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