Alexander at the Hyphasis

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Alexander at the Hyphasis

Postby Saturn » Thu Oct 11, 2007 11:14 pm

Imagine if Shakespeare had written a play on Alexander...

This is my poor attempt at a speech for Alexander to his army as they mutinied at the Hyphasis river in India.

Alexander at the Hyphasis

"Thou talkst of Philip, a man,
But only a man. Frailty fell
And his blunted purposes
Descended to me.Voices
You raised in my election
In an universal shout you
Proclaimed me Macedon's
And Greece's great avenger.
You followest me thus far
Yet now you wish to rest
When at world's end we
Stand on the precipice
Of legend and eternal,
And everlasting fame.
Are ye now grown mice?

And will you march no more,
Ungrateful wretches? Hadst
Thou not had thy fill of gold?
Hath oriental pearls choked
Thy gullets of all ambitions?
Hath those lovely maidens
Thou couplest in Persepolis
In lust unmanned thee now?

Have not I shared every wound
And taken every scar that Mars
In his deadly game inflicts upon
The poor frail bodies of men?
Knowest thou not how thou
Woundest my great pride now?

You men of Macedon, warriors,
We all have scaled Olympus
And reached the high threshold
Of the most blessed gods yet
Now for the sake of a puddle,
A stream, of no more account
Than a pot-hole you would
Turn and leave thy King here
To face alone the barbarous
And wild tide of the unknown?

My heart aches at the thought
And thy ingratitude touches me
Like a sword searching deep
Into my bosom, a hilt-thrust
Full and bloody this wound
Will sear me more than all
The hurts I have yet endured.

If thou wilt needs go, begone
And forward I will march, dare
Alone with my Asiatic recruits
This glorious bourne, giving
Rewards to all that follow,
And cursing thee all my days
I'll say on my return that men
Dwell no longer in Macedon's
Rugged, mountainous heights,
But pygmies live in disgrace
Who left their lord ungrateful
And in cowardice crept back
For the sake of a quiet death."
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby dks » Sun Oct 14, 2007 7:50 pm

Stephen--one would swear you were among the masters with lines like these! This is totally impressive, and bastardly difficult to do. I love these lines:

And will you march no more,
Ungrateful wretches? Hadst
Thou not had thy fill of gold?
Hath oriental pearls choked
Thy gullets of all ambitions?
Hath those lovely maidens
Thou couplest in Persepolis
In lust unmanned thee now?


This is a testament to the fact that you are a voracious reader! People who can successfully write like this aren't poets--they're bards... :!:
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
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Postby Saturn » Sun Oct 14, 2007 10:15 pm

:oops: or poetasters who have swallowed, nay inhaled too much Elizabethan verse :oops:

I have lines from Hamlet walking dumbstruck around inside my head plus I'm re-reading a lot of my extensive ancient history library at present so I'm suffused with tales of Kings, consuls, triumphs, gods, oracles, laws, philosophers, tyrants, symposiums, Greek oratory, Greek tragedy and mythic encounters.

Some days I burn, like Keats, to write an epic, to devote my time to creating, in modern verse a truly relevant ancient tale which would speak to our modern crisis of East vs. West, the clash of civilisations.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, the longest poem I've ever written was in four hundred quatrains, that's sixteen hundred lines of verse. That's about the length of only one book in the ancient epics.

Oh to be a carefree gentlemanly poet of the Regency era when such things were possible, nay fashionable :!:

Ah once again I was born too late I fear...
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby dks » Mon Oct 15, 2007 5:00 am

Saturn wrote::oops: or poetasters who have swallowed, nay inhaled too much Elizabethan verse :oops:

...But I'm getting ahead of myself, the longest poem I've ever written was in four hundred quatrains, that's sixteen hundred lines of verse. That's about the length of only one book in the ancient epics.

Oh to be a carefree gentlemanly poet of the Regency era when such things were possible, nay fashionable :!:

Ah once again I was born too late I fear...


You're hardly a poetaster--please! :roll:

After reading four hundred quatrains of my verse, one would be apt to efficiently and painlessly do himself in. :lol:
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
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Postby Saturn » Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:19 pm

dks wrote:
After reading four hundred quatrains of my verse, one would be apt to efficiently and painlessly do himself in. :lol:


Have you read mine??? :lol:

viewtopic.php?t=704

If anyone reads the whole thing I will award a [posthumous] prize
:wink:
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Discovery » Mon Oct 22, 2007 8:57 pm

That is impressive work Saturn. Just one thing (and this isn't criticism!) I found the tone slightly misjudged (this is from an historical pespective) as the sources on Alexander always talk of his humility and companionship with his men, even if he was just duping them to carry on (walking not riding, throwing water away - that kind of insanity). Also, these guys have gone through hell to get there, he should have said 'if we turn back now we are only going to have to walk threw a massive desert!'. What I mean is, I would perhaps have goe for cajoling not admonishment. Do you see what I mean? And thanks for remembering me!
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Postby Saturn » Mon Oct 22, 2007 9:25 pm

You have a rather romanticised picture of Alexander there.

Humility is one thing I would never associate with Alexander. This is a man who claimed, or believed, or wished it to believed or inferred that he was the son of a God.

Yes, he was always in the thick if the fight with his men, and making rather stagy public gestures of companionship and fraternity with his men but at this particular juncture he was [and all the sources tell us this] extremely angry, upset and felt betrayed by his men who would not cross the Hyphasis river.

After this incident, he sulked in his tent for days and refused to eat like a spoilt child; he threw his toys out of the pram.
Then, on the return journey, he took his army through the Gedrosian desert which killed untold thousands for no good reason other than his own selfishness.
Some even suggest this was a punishment for the men's cowardice in not following him further.

The tone I've used in my version of the speech is taken from general grievances that the sources highlight and is based roughly on the speeches in the sources themselves, which although, like all ancient accounts of speeches were written by the authors and are not actually recorded speech, do have a general gist of what he might have said in the circumstances.

Alexander is not someone I admire in any sense, but he does fascinate me greatly. I studied his character and his career in depth in my University course and he continues to have a strange hold on me.

He was at once bold, exciting and adventurous, and on the other hand repulsive, cruel, violent and reckless as a man and as a general.

One thing that can't be doubted is his love for and proficiency in the art of killing [if such barbarity could be called an art].

If that is something people wish to admire then that's their choice, but it's not a virtue in my eyes.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Discovery » Mon Oct 22, 2007 10:18 pm

Fair play! I took one module on Alexander and my knowledge has been shown to be lacking!
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Postby Saturn » Mon Oct 22, 2007 11:34 pm

No, you know more than most.

I'm not an expert by any means but I have read a lot about him.

The initial inspiration for the speech came from a scene from the much ridiculed [although grossly unfairly in my opinion] Oliver Stone film, which although somewhat in the pro-Alexander camp does show quite well the petulant, reckless and petty side of the man.

I think most people see him as some kind of hero.

The reality is far from appealing, well to me at least.

Thanks for reading the poem anyway, I appreciate your criticism.

:D
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Discovery » Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:32 am

The myth-makers really went to town with Alexander, didn't they? I think its intereseting how you can see him change from a man to a god in visual representations - coins, statutary. I really didn't realise that the situation in India ecame so grave - I thought that he employed the old humility trick rather than the hard line, so thanks for setting me right. Anyway, i've realised that I spelt 'through' as 'threw' in the first post - I just wanted to correct that!
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Postby Saturn » Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:37 am

Don't worry about that I never even noticed it until you pointed that out.

:lol:
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