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Fri, May. 19th, 2006, 11:18 pm
taphoi: Just Published: Alexander's Lovers

Just to let you know that my second book, Alexander’s Lovers, has just been published and is now available from various online bookstores, including Amazon.com and Amazon UK. I opened a website for my new book at www.alexanderslovers.com yesterday. There you will find much background information, including a sample chapter and a few (of many) illustrations from my book. There is also a competition, which I hope you will find an interesting challenge. I quote the Preface and the blurb below as an introduction to the subject matter:

Alexander’s Lovers is a factual, historical account of the various persons with whom Alexander is believed to have conducted romantic relationships. It incorporates much new research and tells a more complete version of their biographies than has previously been published. The issue of Alexander’s personality has been called the hardest problem in history. This new book takes up the challenge by investigating the King’s character through the mirror of the lives of his lovers. Foremost among these relationships was that with Hephaistion, the companion of Alexander’s youth, who later rose to become his deputy. Yet also of key importance were Roxane, the King’s fabulously beautiful Afghan queen, Barsine, his Persian mistress, and Bagoas, the eunuch who entered Alexander’s service near the shores of the Caspian Sea. There were others, including Pankaste, the Thessalian courtesan, Thalestris, Queen of the Amazons, Stateira and Parysatis, the Persian princesses and Cleophis, Queen of Massaga, but these liaisons were either essentially political in nature or merely mythical. Alexander’s Lovers is aimed at the large range of Alexander enthusiasts who have been frustrated to find his rather intriguing love life relegated to little more than embarrassed footnotes in the conventional histories of his career.

Did you know that Alexander got the idea of adopting Persian dress from a book he read in his youth? Had you realised that Alexander’s pursuit of divine honours was merely an aspect of his emulation of Achilles? Would you be interested to discover that Bagoas the Eunuch undertook a diplomatic mission in Bactria or that Hephaistion’s diplomacy kept Athens from joining the Spartan rebellion of King Agis? Are you aware that Aetion’s famous painting of Alexander’s marriage depicted Hephaistion and Bagoas as well as Roxane and that it was really a depiction of the King’s various passions? Had you heard that Alexander first met his mistress Barsine when they were both children in Macedon and that she was the great-granddaughter of a Great King? Can you name the girl betrothed to Alexander’s son? Would it surprise you to learn that Alexander’s mourning and funeral arrangements for Hephaistion were conducted according to precepts dictated by Homer and Euripides? If you are intrigued by any of these questions and would like to get to know Alexander on a more personal level than is feasible from the conventional histories, then you need to read Alexander’s Lovers.

Best wishes,

Andrew Chugg

Sun, Jun. 18th, 2006 04:12 am (UTC)

I too love the book! I have read the book once and the chapter on Hephaistion twice. Everything you write about Hephaistion rings true and is such a welcome change from how many historians (primarily men) characterize him (which I believe reveals their own biases). I also started to think that if Alexander did regard him as a "fully-empowered Prince Consort", and that too for a long while, it's quite natural that many of his other friends would have been madly jealous and hated Hephaistion. Perhaps in a way it was Alexander's immense devotion to him that also spelled doom for the way his achievements were "suppressed" to some extent later by people writing about those times. I am curious: in your personal opinion, were Alexander and Hephaistion exactly the same age, or could Hephaistion be younger? I ask because after reading the section on his likenesses, it struck me that all of them show a man with a relatively young face, younger than some of Alexander's statutes show him to be.

I love the chapter on Barsine and Herakles! It provides ample evidence for Herakles being Alexander's son and should put to rest theories that Herakles was an "imposter". Poor boy, not only did he have a tragic life, but in modern times, have been thought to not even exist!

And lastly, the Bagoas chapter is great. This is how I envisioned Bagoas and it was lovely to find that I wasn't totally off. I confess I didn't care for "The Persian Boy" and found that Bagoas to be unbearable. Thanks for a much more realistic portrait of Bagoas as an important Courtier and not some lowly slave boy.

Sun, Jun. 18th, 2006 09:48 am (UTC)

Loads of thanks for your support, Coraldawn! Curtius states that Hephaistion was the same age as Alexander and the circumstantial evidence tends to support this, but this still allows for a year or two of difference either way. The youngest looking Hephaistion from the Getty collection accompanies an equally youthful Alexander, so the images don't really support the idea that Hephaistion was much younger. We cannot completely penetrate the veils of Alexander's bedchamber, but it is clear that Alexander's senior courtiers believed Herakles to be his son. Nearchus. for example, should have been in the know, since he married into Barsine's family. I have to confess that I found Mary Renault's Bagoas to be a rather engaging character. Nevertheless, it is true that the real Bagoas ranked much higher at Alexander's court: he was probably the chief of the Persian ushers, whom Alexander is said to have appointed shortly after Bagoas entered his service.

Best wishes,