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26 July 2008 @ 07:20 pm
Exaggeration Much?  
So I was out at the bookstore looking for the latest Smithsonian, so see if it had anything of particular interest to me. Instead, I found the most horridly biased article on Alexander that it has ever been my sad privilege to read. The most obvious passage:

For the real Alexander, forget the magnetic portraiture of the Apollonian youth, ignore the quasi-Homeric descriptions of the bright-eyed- student of Aristotle on the hunt with the Iliad tucked under his bed. Disregard too the master of the unruly Bucephalus, the silly stories about the Gordian knot and the parting of the waves. Instead, remember the dead. Alexander's decade-long swath to the Indus resulted in death, enslavement, and displacement for millions, earning him rightly a place among history's worst monsters.

Um, cause, y'know, a person's good points mean absolutely nothing. Along with the society they lived in. Cause, y'know, all by himself, Alexander put Philotas to death out of paranoia, and with the same paranoia ordered Parmenion's death--he didn't have to go to the Assembly at all.

And actually, the author straight-out calls the Macedonians cold-blooded murderers, as if the Greeks weren't more prejudiced. Never mind the way Persian kings acted.

And you have these big rants about Alexander brutally killing his friends, going into great detail about his paranoia and cruelty and drunkeness. The last paragraph of the article was:

Hephaestion died of fever--probably typhoid--while campaigning in Ecbatana in 324 BC. Alexander was still grieving over his memory when he himself died eight months later.

And I'm sure Hephaestion was as much of a blood-thirsty tyrant as his friend, "rumored to have been a lover as well as comrade-in-arms, a relationship oft compared to Patrocles and Achilles in the Iliad." (If you're going to rant, by the way, you may as well use the correct form of Patroklos' name. And yes, I am quite aware that I don't, but at least it's closer...) Oh, and they completely skipped from Gaza to Persia--the Egyptian's opinions don't matter anyway, right?

I admit, I am fairly sure that Alexander probably was a megalomaniac, but he wasn't that out of control. There are degrees, just as in any mental illness.

Anyway, the magazine is a collector's edition of Military History Magazine, featuring Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Adolf Hitler. Because the others totally deserve to be compared to Hitler.

Anyway, that magazine was so ridiculous that I actually bought it. People are stupid.

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See you later, instigator: 30StM - Revolution (by blokkengraphics)oudeteron on July 27th, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)
What the hell? All right, yes, Alexander waged some wars - like almost every single ruler of antiquity and later. I just don't get why he's being singled out like this (also, very funny comparison to Hitler... that's just fucked up). It seems to me like this article is only trying to make some one-dimensional tyrant out of him. Because that's all military and clever. And of course we can't have the Egyptians thrown in the mix - they were glad to be free of the Persians, and stuff like that just doesn't matter!

I recommend whoever wrote this to read that passage in The Persian Boy when Alexander orders the ones plotting his death executed and Bagoas coolly remarks that any Persian king would have them baked alive. It may be fiction, but at least it's well researched, unlike this sad nonsense.

Haha, "Patrocles".
MissTeacakes: commodusmissteacakes on July 27th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
One of my friends said the person who wrote this probably thought Patrocles sounded more Greek (he knows the real form.) He then said he missed the good old days when this magazine was impartial--I told him to keep looking at them to see if it was really just this issue, because it was a "special collector's edition".

But I have seen "Patrocles" used before, and while it is very pretty-sounding...it's just not right.

I said I wanted to write and complain, and I was sort of half-hoping he'd discourage me. He did exactly the opposite.

See you later, instigator: Alexander & Hephaistionoudeteron on July 27th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
Well, if the name was the only bothersome thing in the article, it would be pretty inconsequential (I have a textbook that says "Leonides" instead of "Leonidas"... and apparently it's not even wrong, it's just a different dialect or what). Would be kind of funny if the only biased edition turned out to be the collector's one, but still, it's all just so irritating.

I must have seen it somewhere as well. Maybe it's some kind of tolerated mistake...

I'll do exactly the opposite too! It would be brilliant if someone called them on it.