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Wednesday, December 15, 2004 CE

Alexander


I had the chance to see this movie a couple of days ago. I was very surprised at the fact that they showed Alexander's love life as it probably was. In those times, it was common practice to see male to male relationships, what we call now homosexual or gay relationships. I understand that some people might get upset seeing the great conqueror of the world depicted as he really was, a bisexual lover. The fact is that he conquered the world and we are talking about him 2300 years after his death. I would give everything if someone is still talking about me 20 years after my demise. Behavior, social rules, codes of conduct change with time. We have to be flexible to understand that. Our present world is so little compared with the ocean of history and smaller if compare it to the future.



7 Comments:

Blogger Darrell said...

Well written post. While I have yet to see the movie I know enough history to accept our "hero's" reflecting the time in which they lived. To often movie makers want to sanitize the truth rather than embracing it.

2:24 AM  
Blogger Puma said...

Mary Renault, an English novelist, wrote a trilogy about the career of Alexander the Great:

Fire from Heaven
The Persian Boy
Funeral Games

As a child I read the wonderful Persian Boy book, and have carried her depiction of Alexander with me my entire life. I think I re-read it at least three times. It is told from the point of view of a boy taken from his home in war, forced to undergo castration, and sold as a eunuch into slavery. Eventually his city is taken by Alexander, he meets him, and falls in love. Renault's writing describes in detail what might have been the daily duties of their lives, and what a boy such as this might have thought about living so close to someone so powerful. I found it fascinating and full of intrigue, and now I want to read it again!

9:11 AM  
Blogger Francesca said...

This whole aspect of 'mentoring' and homosexuality in the Greek world is very interesting. But it must be remembered that what we actually do know about it pretty much only comes from Classical (5th & 4th century) Athenian accounts. We don't really know if Macedonians (who before Phillip II and Alexander) were considered a bunch of country bumpkins, practiced the same kind of relationship and had this same construct.
There is no Greek (nor Latin for that matter) word for homosexuality. The closest thing is 'paiderastia' (with the obvious English cognate) and refers to this construct of a mentoring, but also physical, relationship between an older man and a younger one. We're not talking about little boys, mind you, but guys well into puberty.
It's hard to get a good "feel" for the homosexuality of Athens (and elsewhere) for a number of reasons. Most Westerners would find a sexual relationship between, say, a 40-year-old man and a teenager repulsive and wholly immoral. The early Christians did their best to villify a lot of pagan practices. I think in early modern scholarship on Greek homosexuality, the pendulum swung too far in one direction and it's since swung back and forth. The bottom line, I guess, is that we don't really have a good word for it, either.
I usually think of Alexander as someone smack in the middle of the homo- to heterosexual spectrum, rather than someone indoctrinated into paiderastia.

(sorry to write an epic, but this is my field!)

1:37 PM  
Blogger Francesca said...

PS: Everyone should take Mary Renault's books with a big ol' grain of salt. They are mostly fiction hung on a very skeletal historical framework. This goes not only for her Alexander books, but the Minoan ones as well (Bull from the Sea, etc.).

1:39 PM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

I learn a lot from all of you that comment about the post. Thanks

6:54 PM  
Blogger Puma said...

Francesca, I think I mentioned she was a novelist. I do not recall suggesting that you look for factual reference in a book of fiction, merely enjoy it.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Francesca said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:00 PM  

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