INTRODUCTING SELEUKOS

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.Фауна Земли

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”.

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

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.

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.

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.

INTRODUCING GENERAL PERDIKKAS

1-alexander   Perdikkas was the son of an Orestian nobleman from the mountainous lake district between Macedonia and Illyria (today’s Albania). His exact age isn’t known but he is believed to have been about the same age as Alexander. He served as a cadet and young officer under Philip II and was one of Alexander’s chosen Companions.dekor-okno

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His first known military action was in 334 BC with Alexander when they attacked a group of rebels in Illyria. At that time he was a phalanx commander. When a rumor circulated that Alexander had died during the Illyrian campaign it stirred up a rebellion in Thebes and they killed the Macedonian garrison officers stationed there. Alexander went south. After a short siege, Perdikkas’ men stormed the city, breaking the official line of command. The assault had not been planned and it was reported that his men had been drunk.  In this attack Perdikkas was severely wounded. Ptolemy wrote later that the attack was due to the lack of discipline in Perdikkas’ phalanx, however it was well-known that Perdikkas and Ptolemy were at odds with each other. In retaliation for the rebellion, Thebes was razed to the ground, the male population killed, and women taken into slavery all except the family of Pindar the poet, a favorite of Alexander, was saved by Alexander.

When Alexander, now in his early 20’s, launched his long-planned campaign against Persia the following year (May 334 BC) Perdikkas was again in command of the heavy phalanx infantry. That summer there was an attack on a Persian naval base which suffered a big defeat, Ptolemy cited that Perdikkas’s soldiers were drunk, though this may have been an attempt by Ptolemy to again discredit Perdikkas.

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At the time of the Battle of Issus later that year, Perdikkas was in command of the army when Alexander was occupied with the siege of Tyre. Again, a year later, he was in command of a phalanx battalion at Guagemela.

During Alexander’s pursuit of the Persian king Darius III, Perdikkas disappears from records as the phalanx wasn’t involved. But later, when the army reached the Hindu Kush, Perdikkas took part in one of the sieges.

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When Alexander invaded the Punjab in 327/326 BC, Perdikkas, along with Alexander’s closest Companion, Hephaestion, captured an important city. During the Indian campaign, Perdikkas was a cavalry commander. Eventually, when Alexander was seriously wounded at the siege of Mallia, Perdikkas was said to have been the only one who dared help rescue him.

After the army returned to Susa, Alexander married the Persian princess, Stateira, and insisted his soldiers marry Persian wives. Perdikkas had married the daughter of the satrap of Media, a Persian woman named Atrophates.  Not long afterwards, Hephaestion unexpectedly died and Perdikkas was appointed commander of the Companion Cavalry and made Chiliarch (vizier), the highest ranking officer in the army.

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Shortly after this when Alexander lay dying in Babylon (323 BC) after being ill for several days, he gave his royal signet ring to Perdikkas sayng that he was giving his empire kratistoi “to the strongest”. It could have also meant “to Krateros” who was Alexander’s supreme commander who had been sent back to Macedon in an important mission.  When Alexander died, Perdikkas proposed that they way until Alexander’s pregnant first wife, Roxana, give birth. If it were a son, he’d be chosen as the new king. This proposal meant that Perdikkas would have command of the boy until he grew up.

At the time of Alexander’s death, both Roxana and Stateira were pregnant. It is alleged that Perdikkas aided Roxana in having the princess and her sister murdered to make sure no Persian royalty would be in line for the throne.

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Roxana gave birth to her son Alexander IV (who she named Iskander) a month later. The commander of the phalanx, Meleager, argued that Alexander’s half-brother, Philip Arridaios, should be first in line of succession in spite of the fact that Arridaios was mentally unfit. Meleager attemped a coup and a rebellion ensued. The instigators including Meleager were killed and Perdikkas was named guardian and regent of the two joint kings.

Now Perdikkas was in charge of Alexander’s army and in control of Babylonia, but he sought to command the two centres of the empire _ Macedonia and Babylon. So he set out on conquests of Asia Minor. During this time he became engaged to Nikaia, the daughter of Macedon’s regent, Antipater. But Perdikkas broke off the engagement when he was offered the opportunity to marry Alexander’s sister Kleopatra. This would make him a member of the Macedonian royal house and as Arridaios was a misfit and the other child, Alexander IV still too young,  Perdikkas would stand to claim the regency and the crown.

Perdikkas unfortunately didn’t live to see his aspirations realized. When Ptolemy hijacked Alexander’s funeral carriage and had it diverted to Egypt, Perdikkas decided to invade Egypt. By the time his army reached the Nile, his soldiers, were ready to revolt, resenting his harsh discipline and the fool-hardy commands that had left many of them dead in the Nile.  Perdikkas was assassinated by several of his commanders. His once dazzling career was finished

herodotus4_mapHe died near Pelusium at the Nile.

THE JOURNEY FROM BABYLON

SHADOW OF THE LION: Book 1 “Blood On the Moon” begins in Babylon on the day of Alexander the Great’s death.  I researched as much as I could about that ancient city because, being a ‘visual’ writer, I like to get the details as correct as possible. The British Museum in London had some of the old walls and other artifacts on display and from my research I was able to visualize what it may have looked like. 

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Babylon

A month after Alexander’s death, his Soghdian wife, Roxana, gave birth to a son, Alexander’s only legal heir.  In the novel, he is called by his Persian name “Iskander” although the Macedonians refer to him as “little Alexander”. The infant is named joint-king with Alexander’s mentally deficient half-brother, Arridaios. A year later the journey of the royals begins, from Babylon across the country on the Persian Royal Road, back to Macedonia. It takes them to the Mediterranean coast, up to the city of Ephesus and eventually back down the coast to Egypt where Ptolemy, Alexander’s illegitimate half-brother has established the city of Alexandria.

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Temple of Artemis, Ephesus

Returning up the coast they proceed north to the ancient city of Troy (Ilium).  I’ve been lucky to travel up part of that coast to Ephesus and Troy, so it gave me a good visual image of the landscape, though at the time of the story, the sea came right up to the cities making them both important ports. Today they are about 5 kms from the sea.

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Troy (Ilium)

Eventually, the travelers crossed the Hellespont, stopping to make offerings at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on the island of Samothraki. This is a beautiful little island, not often on the tourist trail, but I’ve been lucky enough to visit there twice. Then, on to Thrace (the Macedonian garrison at Doriskos) which is near the location of today’s Alexandropoulis.

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The Lion of Amphipolis

On my travels across the country to the archaeological sites I made careful notes of all the sensory details and the flora and fauna so that I could include them in the narrative of the story. On my first visit to Amphipolis, a remarkable thing happened that I took to be an ‘omen’. As I walked up the road headed toward the hill where the old fort was, past the famous stone lion (a grave tribute to one of Alexander’s generals), a sudden bolt of forked lightening came down right over the hill. I didn’t go any farther that day but on another trip I went right up to the archaeological site where they were digging for finds dating to Alexander’s time. As I explored the site, mentally calculating where there might be a route down from the old fortress, a snake slithered across in the dust of the road in front of me. Another omen!

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Amphiplolis (remains of gates)

From Amphipolis, the royal entourage would have taken more than a week or two to reach Macedonia because of the lumbering elephants that were escorting them and the carts and baggage they had accumulated.  And when they finally arrived at Pella, it would be quite a sight and relief for the weary travelers. The journey had taken them well over a year. But at last they were there, in Alexander’s royal city!

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Pella

I’ve made three trips to Pella but each time I wasn’t able to visit the actual palace site.  In the little museum there is a model of what it looked like so it gave me a good idea of the structure. The palace was built on a hillside overlooking the city.  It was the administrative centre as well as a grand royal residence. The monumental palatial complex covered an area of 60,000 meters and was decorated with fabulous mosaics and paintings by the famous painter Zeuxis. The city itself had the biggest agora of the ancient world. The ruins of the main avenue which connected with the city’s port, are still visible today.

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Mosaic of Alexander and  Hephaestion Lion Hunting (Pella)

There are other locations in the novel that I visited as well, including Dodona in Epirus where Alexander’s mother lived in exile, the old palace at Aigai and the theatre where Alexander’s father was assassinated, Vergina where the royal tombs are located, and Dion, the Macedonians sacred city near Mount Olympus. At Pydna, a military fortress on the coast, I met the archaeologist who had discovered the trench that had been built around the fort and was searching for Olympias’ burial site. This location, as well as Amphipolis, is important in the second book of SHADOW OF THE LION , subtitled “The Fields of Hades”. It covers much of the area of Thessaly and Attika, including Athens and the Peloponnese, where I have spent a great deal of time during my research trips to Greece.

Just as the journey from Babylon was an arduous and long journey for the characters of the novel, so it was for me too. I tried to be as accurate as I could with locations and descriptions to place the readers right in the scene so they could imagine what the world of my characters in SHADOW OF THE LION might have been like.