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We are driven by greed to win fame and power in unrighteous ways, and the more we have, the more we covet, until greed and blind ambition finally destroys us.
These are the closing lines of SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES. Volume Two of the SHADOW OF THE LION duo is out soon. I know you’re all waiting anxiously for it and you won’t be disappointed! This is the most exciting part of the story of the fall of Alexander the Great’s dynasty When I read through the proofs I was on the edge of my seat. It seemed surreal that I actually wrote all those words, I know my Muse, Alexander, was there with me as I told his story through the characters that he loved and trusted. And I hope you enjoy his story as much as I did writing it!
Watch for SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES to come out soon. And in the New Year I’ll be holding a special book launch!
Alexander’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.”
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.
She 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.
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.
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.
At 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’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!
My writer friend Kathryn Gauci kindly offered to interview me about SHADOW OF THE LION. Read it on her website:
I appreciate these opportunities and plan to reciprocate with some interviews on my own writer’s blog, Living the Writer’s Life http://wynnbexton.blogspot.com
I was recently invited to participate in an interview with fellow author Millie Slavadou. It was just posted on her website. Thanks, Millie.
I will also post another interview done recently by writer Kathryn Gauci.
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.
OLYMPIAS and PHILIP
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.
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.
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.
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.