Alexander the Fabulous ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp
Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE) certainly made his mark on the ancient world. He lived about three-hundred-and-fifty years before Christ. He was born son of a king, one-eyed King Philip of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia and a strange woman named Olympias. While both of his parents were mere mortals, he was really believed to be the son of the god Zeus.
From an early age, Alexander showed a talent for military strategy and winning battles against the enemy. When King Philip died, Alexander became king (although he had been regent before that, which is almost the same as king). While still in his teens, he set about conquering the known world. He commanded the allegiance and love of a huge army. Within ten years, he had conquered the known world. He was the first and only “king of the world,” although others have aspired to that title since then.
Alexander’s role model was Achilles from Homer’s The Iliad. He patterned his life after Achilles, right down to the lifelong boyfriend (Achille’s boyfriend was Patroklos, Alexander’s was Hephaestion). As with Achilles, Alexander was a fierce adversary in warfare and he had a talent for winning battles when the odds were against him and he went against far bigger fighting forces. He was so good that Julius Caesar is known to have wept because he knew he would never be as good as Alexander.
Alexander never lost a battle, but his constant campaigning and warfare took their toll. He always went into the battle at the front line along with is men, never hanging back to give orders. He was wounded many times, including his lung being pierced by a crossbow. He wouldn’t rest or eat or take a drink of water until his men had been taken care of; this is one of the reasons why he was so loved and respected.
He was grief-stricken at the unexpected death of his boyfriend Hephaestion. The two of them had been inseparable since Alexander was fourteen. Just eight months after Hephaestion’s death, in 323 BCE, Alexander himself died at the age of thirty-two, either from pneumonia, typhoid, malaria, or infection. His heavy use of alcohol was believed to have been a contributing factor in his early death.
Alexander the Fabulous by Michael Alvear is an entertaining, campy, not-always-serious account of the life of one of the most interesting and influential men in history. If you like your ancient history entertaining and peppered with gay jokes and snarky and funny comments, this is it. A quote from the first paragraph of chapter eight reads: “The ancient world had crow’s feet, sagging tits, and a loose box. Then Alexander gave it the kind of makeover that inspires Cher to dedicate songs to her plastic surgeons. Alexander didn’t just inject a little botox; he radically transformed the face of the earth with a unique surgical tool known as Hellenism, which spread Greek language, ideas, arts, politics, architecture, science, and philosophy to the rest of the known world. Don’t confuse Hellenism with equally important “Nellyism,” which spread Greek musical theatre, flowing robes, Doric columns, rich Corinthian leather, and floral appliques.”
Copyright © 2019 by Allen Kopp