Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Xandros February 7, 2012


Alexandros of Macedonia aka Alexander the Great. Warrior. Emperor.
What we know of him from history reflects his excellent understanding of the strategies of war, his passionate nature, the strength of his character, his knowledge of power and how to manipulate it, his charisma.
How to translate that for a modern audience in a way that makes him an entertaining character, but is somewhat true to history? The thing about writing is, that we can re-interpret historical truth. We can manipulate facts into fantasy, and so we do.
My Xandros likely bears little resemblance to the historical figure, whom I imagine was actually much more brutal than my version. Mine is full of passion and dedication to his task, but does so with humour. He does know how to manipulate and intimidate, and uses those skills on the other men, in particular. It’s a worthy ability.
I think the real Alexandros had a dark spirit. According to Annabel Lyon’s research for her novel The Golden Mean, bred from birth to his role, blooded at an early age, it is likely Alexandros spent most of his life in a state of Post-traumatic Stress. If not, he was psychopathic or sadistic. Considering he was adored by his men, I think that is unlikely.

I’ve seen PTSD up close over the years.  It is a debilitating condition that can make emotions volatile.  Power battles insecurity.  Fear battles rage.  On the surface, a vision of self-control must be observed by all.  It reveals a deeply conflicted character, a frail human who is never safe to reveal his frailty.

When you know there is a tender heart beneath the bristling exterior, you can try to reach it.  I hope the Xandros that I’ve written shows something of this dichotomy.  Can the reader feel his heart beneath his bravado?  Can you?


5 Responses to “Xandros”

  1. Though, I didn’t read what you had wrote about A.G., which left me at a loss on some of this, I found this very interesting.
    I often think about the stress of life during ancient times, in relation to all the new diagnosis-sss in modern mental health.
    Are some mental illnesses of modern invention?
    I think the stress we face is of a different breed, unnatural, time is heavily imposed and economics, and other sociological pressures; but, I imagine the stress of prehistory, ancient civilization, and it wasn’t a time free from class struggle + poverty.
    Just something that drifts through my head from time to time.
    Always enjoy stopping by your blog, very good writing.

    • In the brutal days of old, the weak died. If you were crazy, but powerful (like Nero, say) your psychosis could be carried for all to see and fear. If you were crazy, but weak, than you were beaten by boys in the street. Darwin had the measure of it, I think. They weren’t always the best, those who flourished, but they had some kind of strength, or they didn’t survive.

  2. A lot to digest here. You should read Plutarch’s Lives, and his biography of Alexander. It will show you the best depiction of him, and how he got power.

    Another thing, psychopaths tend to gain a following and be highly adored. It’s how Charles Manson, among others, gain followings. Psychopaths gain cults of personality, which if I had to credit Alexander the Great, I wouldn’t say he was a psychopath, nor that he had PTSD.

    It’s hard to explain to a modern ear, but people born into war and family dynasties are surrounded by death. The only thing they care about is making a name for themselves, especially if they are Greek—or in this case Macedonian. Like Alexander probably was brainwashed by his mother to be the great conqueror. He had Aristotle as his teacher, which if you would like to know about Aristotle, he’s the most influential mind in history, short of Christ. That’s not an understatement, either. His basic theories still undercurrent all of modern academic practices. It’s probably best that they do because the man was a next level genius probably with an IQ close to 400. But, that was his instructor, and Alexander was given this glorious vision to conquer the world and, thereby, carve out his name.

    The historical Alexander actually had a vision to enrich the people. He was conquering to bring Greek Culture to the surrounding civilizations, and therefore enrich those territories with the wealth of knowledge he probably adored. Then his troop saw an Elephant and decided it’d be best not to try and conquer India.

    • Thanks for dropping in. It’s been 7 years since Grace Awakening was published, so I haven’t given my version of Xandros much thought in a long time! Perhaps it’s time to re-visit him, though he’s a side-kick rather than a main character (hard to imagine, isn’t it?) 🙂

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