THESSALONIKE of MACEDON

th5ZVEEN59Alexander’s half-sister, THESSALONIKE is one of the more ‘tragic’ women figures of ancient Macedon. She was born about 345 BC, the daughter of king Philip II by his Thessalian wife or concubine, Nikesipolis, from Pherae, a Thessalian of noble origins.  Her birth fell on the same day that the armies of Macedon and the Thessalian league won a significant battle over the Phocians. Philip is said to have proclaimed “Let her be called victory in Thessaly”.  Thus, her name is made up of two words Thessaly and nike” translated to mean “Thessalian Victory.”

philip2King Philip II of Macedon

Her mother died shortly after her birth so she was left in the care of OLYMPIAS, mother of Alexander.  At the time she was born, Alexander was under the tutelage of Aristotle and she was only six or seven when he left on his Persian expedition. When Alexander died, Thessalonike would have been just twenty-one years old.

Fashion-In-The-Ancient-TimesShe had spent her childhood in the queen’s quarters and endured a lonely life with the formidable queen. Philip had been assassinated before he could chose a husband for her  so she seemed destined to be a spinster.

ThPausaniasPhilipAndreCastaThe Assassination of Philip II

Eventually she fell under the seduction of KASSANDROS who sought to entice her into marriage so that he would gain more power. He promised to name a city after her if she agreed to the marriage.  This is the source for the elegant city of Thessaloniki, which in modern times was known as “the Paris of the North.” And this is Thessaloniki’s only claim to fame.

637px-Coin_of_CassanderKassandros

During her undoubtedly tumultuous marriage to Kassandros, THESSALONIKE  gave birth to three sons, Philip, Antipater and Alexander.  After their father’s death, she had a great deal of influence over them. One of the sons, Antipater, became jealous of Thessalonike’s favour shown to the youngest brother and as a result he murdered her. Thus ended a tragic life and to this day she is remembered only by the city named after her.

A WOMAN’S LIFE IN ANCIENT MACEDONIA

imagesCA5E144RAt the time of Alexander, women were expected to be stay-at-home moms, spending time at the loom and tending their children. Marriage was a social transaction aimed at creating relationships between families and the bride was seen as a valuable commodity. The wife of the king was mistress of his household and responsible for managing his residence, attend to the hospitality of guests and was sometimes present at the drinking parties for the men but mostly spent time in the women’s quarters ((gynaikonites) spinning and weaving in the company of her handmaidens.

Because legitimate offspring were essential to ensure the inheritance of property and status, women were devoted to managing domestic affairs and bringing up children and were excluded from political life. Women did not take part in symposiums even when they were held at her home. If a woman lived in a rural area she often shared arduous tasks with the men and enjoyed a greater independence. But city women lived a fairly pampered and sheltered life. Intellectual pursuits were exceptional and girls did not go to school. Women of the more common folk enjoyed greater independent, frequenting the marketplace (agora) and some women worked as midwives and nursemaids. The only truly independent women were the courtesans (Hetairai). They circulated freely, attended symposia, entertained whomsoever they pleased and managed their own property. Many of them worked as temple maidens and entertainers.

In the Classical period of Macedonia the lives of the women of the royal house were well documented. Marriages of princesses were celebrated with great pomp which included state banquets and games. These marriages were arranged by the king for military and political reasons. Polygamy was customary for the Macedonian kings, serving their military and political purposes as well as ensuring large numbers of male offspring.

olympias-1Olympias

The everyday life of the women of the royal house was simple. they helped in preparation of the daily meals, wove cloth, and participated in formal banquets. Macedonian women seem to have been fascinated by magic as indicated by the wishes and curses they inscribed on lead strips (katadesmoi) placed in te tombs of the deceased.  Plutarch refers to the surreptitiousness of Olympias who took part in licentious rites with large tame snakes coiled around the thrysoi and wreaths.

220px-Olympias

However, they also played an important role in state affairs. Women such as Eurydike and Olympias – mother and wife of Philip II – had their statues set up in the Philippeion at Olympia . These women enjoyed special treatment and were permitted to be the regents of kings who were still to young to rule and were actively involved in matters of state. Often they were the target of scandal-mongering as in the many tales told about Alexander’s mother, Olympias.  When Alexander was away in Asia, she had general supervision of his kingdom and represented the Macedonian state. After Alexander’s death she issued decrees on behalf of the joint-kings and herself as well as ‘in the name of the house of Philip and his son Alexander’.  Even so she failed to unite the royal house and her life story has been embellished with many scandals, most likely to be untrue as they express the defamation and hostilely that had broke out between her supporters and her opponents who were supported by Kassander.

 

WHO WAS OLYMPIAS?

dbb957b136df38037c724f6a53856e27OLYMPIAS

OLYMPIAS, the mother of Alexander the Great, was the orphaned daughter of Neoptolemus, King of the Molossians, one of the greatest tribes in Epirus (the area of north east Greece). She claimed kinship with the Troy Hero Achilles and thought she could achieve her own immortality by dipping herself into the River Acheron (symbolic of the Styx), as Achilles mother had dipped him.

philipiiPHILLIP II OF MACEDON

  PHILLIP II of Macedon already had several wives when he first met 15 year old Olympias (whose birth name was Myrtale) at the Temple of the Great Gods on the island of Samothraki. It was love (or lust) at first sight although the relationship was one of love/hate from the beginning. Olympias did not appreciate the fact her new husband, “a barbarian iron-wielder” as she referred to him, had wives for every conquest and she was determined to be the sole Queen of Macedon. She changed her name to “Olympias” relating to being from Mt Olympus where the gods dwelled. and she set out to rule the roost in Pella as best she could.

During the early part of their marriage, an Egyptian pharoah/shaman named Nectanabo came to Macedon to appeal to Philip to assist in driving the Persians out of Egypt. Olympias, who had always been associated with the cults of Dodoni in Epirus and Samothraki was intrigued by this man and formed a relationship with him that soon had the gossip’s tongues wagging.

In antiquity, people believed that the birth of a great man was accompanied by portents. And the story went that the night before the consummation of their marriage, Olympias dreamed that a thunderbolt fell upon her body which kindled a great fire whose divided flames dispersed themselves all about and then were extinguished. And Philip dreamed that he seald up his wife’s body with a seal whose impression was the figure of a lion.

Privately, Olympias had been consulting with the pharoah/shaman who convinced her that ‘the golden snake of Ammon would come down and enter her body and she would give birth to a miraculous child.’  Was that ‘golden snake’ in fact attached to the body of Nectanabo?  This is part of the gossip that always surrounded Alexander after his birth, especially when he adopted the horns of Ammon on his helmet, made a visit to Siwah in the Egyptian desert to ask the oracles about his birthright, and later paid homage to Nectanabo at his sarcophagus in Memphis.

alex0ALEXANDER

OLYMPIAS adored her son and was determined that he would one day inherit the crown. She and Philip also had a daughter, Kleopatra, who was generally ignored by her mother though in later years played an important role after the death of Alexander.

Known and feared by many as a ‘witch’ and ‘sorceress’, Olympias held sway in Pella until August 338 when Philip defeated the Greeks and formed the Corinthian league. At that time he married a much younger woman who was the relative of a Macedonian aristocrat. This caused tensions between Philip and Olympias so she took her son, Alexander and went into voluntary exile at the Molossian court of her brother (also named Alexander). She was further insulted when Philip married their daughter Kleopatra to Alexander of Molossia. However, during the wedding, Philip was assassinated.  A lot of talk went around that Olympias had something to do with the killing. This suspicion increased after she returned to Macedon and her Philip’s new wife and infant child murdered.

dodona_oak_240hThe sacred oak tree in Dodoni where Olympias worshipped

Olympias had now achieved her goal, to see her son ALEXANDER on the throne of Macedon. She had also been suspected of having one of Philip’s older boys, Arridaios, poisoned when he was a small child, leaving him mentally incompetent. She was a fierce, determined woman, and at all costs would clear the way for her dearest child Alexander.She domineered everyone who met up with her. Even the soldiers were terrified of her.

While Alexander was away on campaigns Olympias clashed with Antipater, the Regent of Macedon, and once again went into exile back to Molossia, this time taking over for her daughter, Kleopatra, who had been left a widow after her husband was killed in battle. Even there, Olympias ruled with an iron fist.

250px-Dodona_theaterThe Theatre at Aigai where Philip II was assasinated

Although Alexander’s relationship with his mother were always cordial, he stayed far away from her and often made comments about how she had tried to influence and control him. When Alexander died in Babylon, Olympias was heartbroken but determined to keep a firm hold on the throne. Once the old Regent died she firmly placed her self in control. And it is from this time that Volume Two SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES picks up the story.

800px-Pangaion_from_PhilippiMount Olympus, where the gods dwell

The last years of Olympias life were filled with bloodshed, conspiracy and intrigue as she sought to keep control of the throne and nurtured her grandson Alexander IV (Iskander) to make sure that he would succeed as king, just as she had wished for her own son Alexander the Great.

CATCHING UP: The Last Leg of the Journey

IMG_1803It’s been a while since I posted, mainly due to an unexpected move that was rather stressful and took up much of my time.  But now I’m resettled and happy to announce that the last leg of the journey of SHADOW OF THE LION has begun. The final proofs of Volume two are underway and SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES is due to be published by October this year.

There have been a lot of delays to the point where I was getting worried, but I am assured that this second book about the fall of Alexander the Great’s dynasty will definitely be out soon. This will  happen while I am in Athens so I am hoping that there will be opportunities for more book readings and perhaps a mini launch while I’m there.

Volume Two THE FIELDS OF HADES picks up the trail of the two joint kings, young Alexander IV (ISKANDER) and his mentally deficient uncle ARRIDAIOS just as they are en route to Pella, the Royal City.  What happens after that is an exciting typical Greek-style tragedy when not only the generals begin to try to seize power, but the women, the  dangerous Queen OLYMPIAS  and the rash and ambition young ADEIA-EURYDIKE set off a deadly Civil War. With our antagonist KASSANDROS predominantly on the scene, the tension builds to a dramatic climax.  I’m sure that readers will be kept on the edges of their seats and pages will be turning as you read this exciting installment of SHADOW.

Stay tuned for further updates as the Publication Date draws nearer!

INTRODUCTION TO KLEOPATRA OF MACEDON

 

 CA0V8SIWYoung Macedonian Woman    

Kleopatra of Macedon is just one of the important women introduced in SHADOW OF THE LION. She appears in both volumes, BLOOD ON THE MOON and FIELDS OF HADES. Kleopatra was born in 355/354 BC, daughter of Philip II of Macedon and Olympias of Epirus. She was a full sibling of Alexander, and half-sister to Thessaloniki and Kynana and Philip Arridaios . “Kleopatra” was one of the royal names of Macedon and later in history this was the name given to the Macedonian queen of Egypt.

coin_olympias_mus_theski_s-001

OLYMPIAS and PHILIP

philip2

d5d23efbacaf37412c3ca5fb0242d9b9

Alexander as a Youth

Although she grew up in the palace at Pella in the care of her mother, Kleopatra was always overshadowed by her brother, Alexander. When Philip married another younger Macedonian woman,  Olympias fled in exile back to her home in Epirus along with Alexander. Kleopatra was left behind in Philip’s care. Philip decided ally himself with Olympias’ brother Alexander I of Epirus by offering his youngest daughter’s hand to her uncle in marriage. A lavish wedding ceremony was planned at the old palace of Aigai. It was at these nuptials that Philip II was assassinated. Olympias was thought to be one of the conspirators behind his murder.

images

The Theatre Where Philip was Assassinated

After her father’s murder, Kleopatra returned to Epirus with her new husband. Together, they had two children, Neoptolemus II and Cadmeia. Two years after their marriage, her husband sailed away to Italy on campaign. He was killed in battle in 331 BC leaving young Neoptolemus as heir. Kleopatra ruled Epirus in lieu of her son. In Epirote it was the custom that the women of the family become head of the household when the husband died.  Meantime, Alexander left on campaign and Antipater took charge as Regent of Macedon. Olympias left Pella and joined her daughter in Epirus.  Once again Kleopatra was under the domain of her domineering mother. The two women kept in touch with Alexander who often sent them gifts while on campaign.

images1

Dodoni, Epirus

After the death of her brother, Alexander,  Kleopatra was sought after in marriage by several of his generals who vied to marry into the royalty so they could get control of the throne. She was engaged for a time to Leonnatus but after he died in a battle, she decided to pursue Perdikkas and left Epirus,  leaving Olympias in charge of her realm and children.

Despite of having always lived in the shadow of her illustrious brother, and under the mean-spirited domination of her mother, Kleopatra knew that it would serve the unity and stability of the empire if she married the man who had been put in charge of Alexander’s army. Perdikkas was by then engaged to marry Antipater’s daughter Nikea,  but when Kleopatra showed up in Sardis he broke off the engagement.

10

All would not go well for Kleopatra though. Perdikkas was called to pursue Ptolemy who had hijacked Alexander’s funeral carriage and taken it to Egypt. He left Kleopatra in Sardis with the promise that he would marry her on his return. Unfortunately, Perdikkas was assassinated by his men after a disastrous attempt to cross the Nile River.

Accused by the Regent of conspiring with Perdikkas and being involved with the death of her own half sister, Kynane, Kleopatra spent the rest of her life in exile in Sardis. In spite of attempts to interest Ptolemy in marriage, she never succeeded and ended up being murdered because she represented too much power to remain alive. Her death, in 308 BC was possibly ordered by Antigonus the One Eyed although afterwards he ordered a beautiful funeral in her honor.

INTRODUCTION TO POLYPERCHON

dd699ed9805242e3d7edd214db2ac42f
Polyperchon was the son of Simmeas, a Macedonian nobleman, born in 380 BC. He showed up in Plutarch’s “Lives of Alexander” in 351 as one of the murders of Dion’s assassins in Syracuse. He later became a general in Alexander’s army, first as phalanx leader at Issus (333 BC), then Gaugamela and the Hydaspes. He was leader of one of the six battalions of phalanx that crossed Asia with Alexander. His first independent command was during the Lamian War (321 BC) where he proved to be a skilled leader. He was later sent back to Macedon with Krateros to settle affairs with the Regent.

ee7dd919a65a3eaf6e38883e48ccd764

Phalanx

Polyperchon is introduced at the end of Volume One of SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON and plays an important role in Volume Two: SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES when he is named guardian of the joint kings and acting regent after the death of Antipater.

He appeared to be a heroic figure, charming, likeable, popular and loyal but he is also shown as an opportunist and is capable of manipulating to get what he wants (fame, fortune and a good slice of the empire!)

He had a good relationship with Alexander’s widow, Roxane and knew how to manipulate her with his charms. To Alexander’s son, Iskander, he seems a heroic ‘grandfatherly’ figure, strong, manly and very Macedonian. He was always loyal to Alexander’s mother, Olympias. She trusted him and found him charming. He knew how to humor her and was never intimidated by her. He reckoned on Olympias’ hatred of Kassandros when he invited her back to Macedon from her exile in Epirus. (Discontent with his role as ‘vizier’ Kassandros had organized a rebellion supported by Adea-Eurydike.)

1-phalangite-a

Polyperchon’s courage, good humor and affability made him popular. He resolved to win the whole of Greece to his side by proclaiming liberty to the Greeks.  At the same time the other successors of Alexander, the Diodochi, were warring over Alexander’s empire. Eventually Polyperchon ended up siding with Kassandros. This was the end of his political career although he remained master of the Peloponnese at least until 304 BC. He died not much later when he was more than ninety years old!

images

INTRODUCTING SELEUKOS

images

SELEUKOS

Seleukos 1 Nicator was one of Alexander the Great’s companions (the Diodochi)  and served as an infantry general in Alexander’s army. He is first introduced in SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON in Chapter Two and appears throughout the story including Volume Two THE FIELDS OF HADES.

Seleukos was born in northern Macedonia in about 358 BC.  He was the son of Antiochus, one of Philip II’s generals and a member of a noble family. His mother’s name was Laodice. Curing his later conquests, Seleukos named a number of cities after his parents.

As a teenager he served as the king’s page. As was the custom, all male offspring of noble families first served in this position and later became officers in the king’s army. He accompanied Alexander’s army to  Asia in the spring of 334 BC when he was about twenty-three and within three years he had risen to the command of the elite infantry corps, the “Shield-bearers” (Hypapistai) also known as “the Silvershields”.

800px-Hypaspist

Hypaspist

In India he led his troops against the warrior elephants of Rajah Porus and was later put in charge of the herd.

CA8F6DE7

At the wedding ceremony of Susa, arranged by Alexander to encourage his officers to marry Persian women, Seleukos married the princess Apama who he had taken to India as his mistress. She later gav birth to his eldest son and successor Antiochus 1 Soter (325 BC) She later bore him at least two daughters and another son. After Alexander’s death, when the other officers deserted their new Susa wives, Seleukos was one of the few who kept his and Apama remained by his side for the rest of his life.

imagesbab

After Alexander’s death, Seleukos was appointed Satrap of Babylon under the Regent, Antipater. Almost at once, though the wars between the Diodochi began and he was forced to flee from Babylon and wasn’t able to return until 312 BC with the help of Ptolemy. From then on he began to ruthlessly expand his dominions until he had conquered Persia and Media, making him ruler of the largest part of Alexander’s empire. He founded a number of cities including Antioch (300 BC) and Seleucia on the Tigris (305BC) which became the new capital of the Seleucid Empire.

SeleucosCoin

By 306 BC, when the struggle between the Diadochi had reached its climax after the extinction of the royal line of Macedonia, Seleukos proclaimed himself king. He now held the whole of Alexander’s conquests except Egypt and was planning to take possession of Macedonia and Thrace as well. He would have likely tried to conquer Greece too, and had already prepared this campaign and had been nominated an honorary citizen of Athens.  However, he was assassinated by Ptolemy Keraunos (one of Ptolemy’s sons) in September 281 BC.

Diadochi

INTRODUCING PTOLEMY I

 

   PtolemyISoter-001

Ptolemy I Soter

Ptolemy was born in 367, allegedly the illegitimate son of Philip II and a woman named Arsinoe who later married a nobleman named Lagos. In later years he took the name Ptolemy Soter (Savior or Preserver) and also Lagos. He was one of Alexander’s companions, serving as one of those who guarded the king’s person. He was four years older than Alexander. Like Alexander he studied under Aristotle at Mieza.

He took part in Alexander’s Persian campaigns from the very beginning, in 334 and was one of Alexander’s most trusted generals. During this time he was accompanied by his mistress, Thais, who he had first met when she was only 15, a temple maiden (hetaera) from Corinth. She later bore him two sons, Lagos and Leontiscus and a daughter named Irene (‘Peace’) but he never married legally so their offspring were considered illegitimate. He was given a Persian princess for a bride at the great marriage fete in Susan (324 BC) but like many of those other ‘token’ wives, she ssems to have vanished from his life.  It was at Persepolis that Ptolemy’s mistress, Thais, was blamed for urging the men to set the Persian’s palace on fire which burned all their holy books.

ptolemy_i_louvre_s-003

Ptolemy rose to prominence in the army and held important commands during most of the campaigns. At one battle at the Indus he was wounded by a poison arrow but survived because Alexander knew the antidote.

When Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC General Perdikkas took control of the army and Ptolemy was opposed to this. He also objected to Alexander’s mentally deficient half-brother Arridaios being named joint king along with Alexander’s newborn son, Alexander IV (Iskander) by his Soghdian wife, Roxana.

Funeral3-002

Alexander’s funeral carriage

Ptolemy left Babylon to return to Egypt and became satrap there. He was well liked by the Egyptians and supported by the Diadochi (Alexander’s Successors). When Alexander’s body was being taken back to Macedon, he hijacked the funeral carriage and took it back to Egypt (Memphis) because he said Alexander wanted to buried there. Perdikkas pursued him but ended up being assassinated by his men after a tactical disaster at the Nile River in which many of the soldiers were killed by crocodiles or drowned.

Ptolemy wanted to build the city that Alexander had dreamed of at the Nile delta, so he oversaw the building of Alexandria and later moved Alexander’s body there. He formed a strong alliance with the Macedonian regent, Antipater, and later married one of his daughters, Eurydike (Dika) in order to legitimize his connection with the royalty.

220px-Ancientlibraryalex

Library of Alexandria

He is remembered not only as a king and general but as a distinguished historian and founder of the Library of Alexandria and the cult of Serapis, an Egyptian god who was recreated in such a way that it was acceptable to both Greeks and Macedonians. During his rule as Pharaoh, Ptolemy kept a journal to record the exploits of Alexander and the Successors. He abdicated at the age of 82 after a 38 year reign that founded a dynasty which would continue to rule until 321 BC. He was succeeded by his son, age 24, who ruled as Ptolemy II Philadelphus until 246 BC. Ptolemy died in 283 BC. His line ended with Kleopatra XIV, the so-called “Queen of the Nile” of Antony and Cleopatra fame.

imagesCAZYCJ11-003

Alexander’s name written in heiroglyphics