Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy: A Biography

Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy: A Biography

Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy: A Biography

Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy: A Biography

Synopsis

Despite Alexander the Great's unprecedented accomplishments, during the last seven years of his life, this indomitable warrior became increasingly unpredictable, sporadically violent, megalomaniacal, and suspicious of friends as well as enemies. What could have caused such a lamentable transformation?This biography seeks to answer that question by assessing the role of alcohol in Alexander the Great's life, using the figure of Dionysus as a symbol of its destructive effects on his psyche. The unique methodology employed in this book explores various aspects of Alexander's life while maintaining an historical framework. The exposition of the main theme is handled in such a way that the biography will appeal to general readers as well as scholars.

Excerpt

Early in his illustrious career, Alexander the Great faced the challenge of attempting to undo the Gordian knot. Legend had it that the man who could accomplish this feat would rule all of Asia (i.e., the Persian Empire). The knot, however, had no visible ends, and it remained intact, despite the resolute efforts of resourceful men. In the most familiar account of Alexander's endeavor at Gordium, the king, utterly frustrated, raises his sword and slashes straight through the knot. In another version, however, Alexander utilizes an oblique stratagem. He simply removes the dowel holding the knot in place, exposes a loose end, and unties it.

This book examines Alexander's personality in a manner that evokes the alternative version of the Gordium incident. The enigma of Alexander the man is the formidable knot that unravels when the dowel-the god Dionysus-is removed. This work will direct the reader's attention to those interludes in Alexander's life when his path crossed that of the wine god. Enough loose ends surface in the process to justify a fresh look at certain aspects of Alexander's personality that have thus far defied explanation.

The most perplexing of all such considerations is Alexander's metamorphosis. Even as he performed one epic deed after another, this superb warrior began to exhibit a disturbing personal transformation. During the last seven years of his life Alexander became increasingly unpredictable, sporadically violent, megalomaniacal, and suspicious of friends as well as enemies. What could have caused such a lamentable transformation? This book explores that question in a way that requires the reader's forbearance until exposed threads begin to reveal patterns in Alexander's behavior.

The elusive god Dionysus, who is profiled in the Prologue, plays an important role in this book. His character is fleshed out as the text develops and his burgeoning impact on Alexander becomes more apparent. The respect Dionysus required in antiquity has been extended to him here. The god will manifest himself in various forms, and is therefore treated as a real, vital force in Alexander's life.

Alexander is said to have slept with a copy of Homer's Iliad under his pillow. He emulated its hero, Achilles, from boyhood. The young king

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