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Author Topic: Chapter 2: The Ghost of Alexander Goes to Rome (Appius Claudius Caecus)  (Read 2049 times)
Chuck-Star
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« on: January 10, 2016, 02:17:14 PM »

Chap. 2-Heroes of the Hellensitic Age (2016) Charles N. Pope

Alexander IV was certainly groomed from birth for kingly succession in India where the rule of his father was undisputed.  However, Indian history also relates that Chandragupta was disappointed with the lack of spirit exhibited by his son Bindusara.  Nevertheless, opportunities would have abounded for the prince to eventually earn his Indian nickname, Amitrochates, “Slayer of Enemies.” A suitable context was also needed for Alexander IV to cultivate the patented pothos of his father in the West.  In Epirus along the wild Ionian coast of Greece, he was given the traditional royal name of Pyrrhus, connoting “fiery,” and would have been encouraged to cultivate the persona to go with it.

We are told by Plutarch that as a toddler Pyrrhus had to be rescued by one Achilles (a code name for Alexander the Great) and taken to the nearby court of Glaucias, King of the Illyrians, which was evidently just another regional identity that Alexander the Great used directly or controlled indirectly.  Glaucias in turn entrusted the care of little Pyrrhus to his wife, who was of course the mother of Pyrrhus himself. It was of course the royal women that cared for and protected these young princes, even as depicted in the Candace story of the Alexander Romance.  Pyrrhus/Alexander IV was never in any real danger, but this contrived threat and adoption by the queen (ala the youthful and sickly Egyptian Horus), served to establish a Messianic dossier for Alexander’s heir.
Note:  Glaucias, a name that connotes “blindness” is essentially synonymous with the Roman epithet Caecus, which means “blind” in Latin.  Appius Claudius Caecus was not blind from birth, but only in old age.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4321651/

Glaucias arranged for Pyrrhus to become king in Epirus at the tender age of only 12.  All went well until he approached his 18th birthday, at which time he left his kingdom of Epirus to attend the wedding in Illyria of one of Glaucias’ sons.  While he was away, a revolt was fomented and Pyrrhus was deposed by the partisans of Neoptolemus.  The implication is that Demetrius (the former Neoptolemus/Hephaestion and current Ptolemy) is the groom in the story, and Cadmeia is to be his teenage bride.  It can also therefore be deduced that Pyrrhus had failed to sire a son by Cadmeia, who was even younger than he, and she was therefore given away in marriage to an older royal male.  The debonair Demetrius Poliorcetes would have been expected to take her on tour to the various royal courts of the time, even as the elderly Abraham escorted Sarah, at least until such time as she could become pregnant by a qualified royal male.

As in the Biblical account of Abraham and Sarah, there were always consequences for failing to sire a royal heir, and Pyrrhus was made to pay that price, which took the form of the loss of his kingdom.  Subsequently, Pyrrhus was reduced to humbly offering his support to Demetrius Poliorcetes in the ongoing (mock) struggle against Cassander for control over Greece.   According to Plutarch, Pyrrhus actually fought valiantly (although in defeat) at the Battle of Ipsus (circa 301 BC) in which aged Antigonus Monophthalmos was said to have fallen in his royal swan song.

The next career move for Alexander IV was to volunteer himself to go from Greece to Egypt as a “hostage” to the court of Ptolemy, which would have done little to enhance his reputation.  It was about this time that Barsine’s younger daughter Cadmeia (called by the name Antigone in Egypt, among other things) gave birth to her first son.  The father was however not Pyrrhus or any of the younger princes, but the phantom king Alexander the Great himself.  Therefore, she was in need of a “real” husband to act as father to the child.  Pyrrhus was volunteered for this role as well, and was then sent back to Epirus with his ready-made family in tow.  Pyrrhus effectively became the step-father of his much younger half-brother, dubbed Ptolemy Epigone (“The Heir”).  
Epirus was a place of some strategic importance, being the closest point to Italy (across the Adriatic Sea).  It also had symbolic meaning to the royal family, as it became a place of refuge for the flood hero Deucalion after the “Great Inundation” (as stated in the Life of Pyrrhus by Plutarch).  This same region evidently had served as an “incubator site” for former world-beaters such as Cadmus the Phoenician and Sargon the Great.  Much more recently, it had been the very place where Alexander the Great had taken refuge after suffering a setback at the court of King Philip II.

With the assistance of Ptolemy, Pyrrhus was re-confirmed as king in Epirus and also provided with men and arms.  His newlywed queen was Barsine’s daughter Arsinoe, formerly referred to in Epirus as Cadmeia, but now passed off as Ptolemy’s step-daughter Antigone.  As noted by Plutarch, Antigone was an ideal match (in terms of royal breeding) for Pyrrhus.  She was the half-sister of Pyrrhus/Alexander IV and a son by her would cement his claim to the “vacant” throne of his father Alexander the Great.  However, for now he would have accept an “eldest son” produced for him by his own father!  During this next phase in Epirus, Pyrrhus pretended to be at odds with Demetrius Poliorcetes, but in reality Demetrius was simply being used as a foil in the princely development of Alexander the Great’s son and still potential successor in the West.

In 290 BC, Demetrius deliberately lost a magnificent battle to Pyrrhus in the region of Aetolia.  It was staged to commemorate the birth, long-last, of an heir for Pyrrhus/Gonatas/Alexander IV, who was regaled at this very moment as a “Second Alexander.”  In fact, in gratitude for everything his mentor had done for him, Gonatas not only called this new son of his Demetrius (II), but also gave him the epithet of Aetolicus (after the location of the battle).  After supposedly being ignominiously defeated by Pyrrhus in Aetolia, the elder Demetrius was welcomed back to Athens as a living god and invited to host a lavish festival in parallel with one hosted in Aetolia.  Alexander the Great’s dynasty was now on firm footing, and by all indications his faithful friend Demetrius/Ptolemy/Hephaestion could not have been happier about it.

In 286 BC, the Athenians appealed to Pyrrhus, who was called upon to broker an accord with both Ptolemy and Demetrius that left Athens nominally free.  Only two year later (284 BC) the time came for an old and dying Demetrius to stage his own farewell adventure and grand exit from the royal stage (after playing his role well).  After extensive preparations Demetrius captured Ephesus and then led his alter ego Agathocles on a wild goose chase through the Asia Minor countryside.  Only when Demetrius became too ill to continue was the escapade ended.  Meanwhile, his protégé Pyrrhus decided he had been patient enough with the follies of his elders and formed an alliance with his own alter ego Gonatas against another old fogey, Lysimachus (Thracian Seleucus).  However, he quickly learned where his men’s loyalties truly lied.  Although undeniably heir to the Great Throne, Pyrrhus/Gonatas could still do little without explicit cooperation from his royal elders.  The Grand Panjandrum Lysimachus/Seleucus was going to surrender the crown when he was good and ready and upon his own terms.

Pyrrhus went, or should we say, was sent, to Italy to bide his time and rebuild his confidence.  He gained three hard-earned “Pyrrhic Victories” against the upstart Romans, and with his father Alexander’s sense of irony proclaimed that one more such Roman triumph would be his ruin!  (Alexander the Great, a.k.a., Appius Claudius Caecus, refused to lose, even to his own son.)  These “qualified successes” of Pyrrhus in Italy were perhaps preserved as a kind of sign of things to come.  Alexander IV/Ptolemy II was recognized as Great King, but upon his death the throne passed (for a time) to the line of Alexander the Great’s younger son, Ptolemy Epigone.  In hindsight, it would have been considered the fate of Ptolemy II to be frustrated by his own father (and the second son produced by his father), but to ultimately persevere and prevail.  It could have been easy, should have been easy, but the founding of a lasting dynasty would not be easy for Ptolemy II.

The end game for Lysimachus/Seleucus was an equally elaborate spoof, and one evidently intended to trump even that of Demetrius Poliorcetes in over-the-top dramatic absurdity.  Seleucus brought to bear the vast forces of the Empire down on tiny Thrace and against his own alter ego Lysimachus, who was accused of disloyalty to the fallen Demetrius and executing his “son” Agathocles without good reason.  The dead body of Lysimachus was said to have been abandoned by everyone on the battlefield except for his trusty dog!  Seleucus subsequently directed a minor son named Alexander to bury Lysimachus, and in doing so symbolically designated that same prince (i.e., Alexander IV/Gonatas/Pyrrhus) as the successor to his kingdom.  The implication is that Seleucus/Lysimachus only at end of his long life was willing to finally concede the birthright to Alexander the Great and his natural line.

After disposing of Lysimachus, Seleucus crossed the Hellespont and Alexander the Great’s dynasty was confirmed exactly as it had first been inaugurated.  Seleucus was publicly murdered even as Philip II had been so many years before - by a disgruntled prince.  Ceraunus, who stabs Seleucus, plays the role of the assassin Pausanius, which indicates that his relationship with Seleucus was more one of a betrayed lover than actual son!  Seleucus also initiated the same “who was king who was not king” scenario that first ushered Alexander the Great to the throne of Macedon and Persia.  The purpose of the re-enactment was to magically bring Alexander’s son Alexander to the forefront, once and for all.

The abhorrent Ceraunus was evicted from Macedonia by an invasion force led by Antipater Etesias, whose reign lasted a mere 45 days before he was himself displaced by Gonatas!  The death of Pyrrhus came next, and since his demise was far earlier than either Ptolemy II or Antigonus Gonatas, this requires an explanation.  By 272 BC, there was no further benefit to maintaining the separate Greek identities of Gonatas and Pyrrhus.  The now illustrious career of Pyrrhus was brought to a climax with a brief stint as King in Macedon.  He then immediately accepted an invitation to settle a kingship dispute in Peloponnesia.  The manner of death that was chosen for Pyrrhus is quite exceptional, but certainly not unique.  It is attributed to a woman tossing a tile down on his head from a rooftop during the capture of Argos.  This was the same fate of the biblical figure Abimelech, who was killed during a raid by a woman who threw a stone down upon him from a tower.

If this had actually been the downfall of Pyrrhus, such an episode probably would have been too embarrassing to preserve.  However, the link with Abimelech is deliberate and served a specific purpose.  The name Abimelech means “Father of the King,” and therefore advertised that Pyrrhus was not merely a relation of Alexander, but the next progenitor of that royal line.  At the conclusion of this royal version of the game of musical chairs, Antigonus Gonatas emerged as King of Macedon, which was the intended result all along, and with his own son Demetrius Aetolicus as next in line to the throne.  About this time Alexander IV/Pyrrhus/Ptolemy II/Antigonus Gonatas also abdicated the throne of India to his son Ashoka, reportedly in order to perform “penance,” but in actuality to better prepare himself to succeed Seleucus as Great King.  Secondary kingdoms could now be placed under the leadership of his own son known variously as Demetrius Aetolicus/Ptolemy III/Ashoka.

Note:  For commentary on the story of Abimelech, see: http://www.domainofman.com/book/chap-12.html

TOC: http://www.domainofman.com/boards/index.php?topic=151.0
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