samedi 3 décembre 2011

It's raining : Alexander is back with Amazons !

by Jean-Jacques COURTEY, Doctor in Economic Geography, Ph.D.

People know a single butterfly "Monarch" can provoke with its tiny wings an hurricane over the Pacific Ocean.
But they think themselves, who are far bigger, not having any influence whatsoever on this world. The way their mind works is strange.
With exactly the opposite mind, Alexander the Great (356 - 323 BC), who was after all the king of the tiny kingdom of Macedonia, conquered the known world at a high speed, and died at only 32.
He wasn't even yet king when he showed his extraordinary abilities for war and conquest at the battle of Chaeronea, twenty miles from Delphi (Greece, august 338 BC).
Without him his father, Philip II (382 - 336 BC) would have probably lost in front of the strong alliance between Athens and Thebes. But happily for him, his son who was only 18 could defeat rather easily the strongest reputed cavalry of that time, the Theban one.
With his first great victory, he broke down definitively the alliance against Macedonia. And he opened the path to what became an almost unified Greece (not including yet Sparta) through the League of Corinth. Macedonia took obviously the lead and could prepare for the conquest of Persia to come.

With Thalestris, the last queen of Amazons, a lot of things were connected with natural elements, like rain, and planets as Mars she was a daughter, or the Moon. It surprised totally Alexander she liked so much when it was raining. But the reason is she was practising an ancient cult of fecondity dating back far before the Egyptians. As a matter of fact, Amazons and their Scythian ancestors believed strongly their civilization was the eldest on Earth.
Thalestris (also called Minithya) is known to us through Quintus Curtius Rufus (most probably Ist century AD), the great Roman historian who wrote "The History of Alexander". Her "love" story with Alexander, to produce a "super-heir" is quite an astonishing one.
Curtius was not only the first Roman historian to open his mind to the foreign history of Greece, but he also thought he had a special role about Alexander's last descendance sake in Gaul (present France).
Let's say for people doubting of the Amazons existence, that there is an Amazon museum to visit in Rostov (Door of Caucasus, south of present Russia) : it includes princesses' tombs and weapons.
Curtius envelopped for the centuries to come (more than 2300 years) with the Amazons' legend the Thalestris-Alexander strong love episode in Zadracarta, beside the Caspian Sea (capital of Hyrcania, 330BC - probably the present Sari in Iran).
It was needed to avoid the definitive elimination of his offspring, half-Macedonian and half-Amazon by blood. [See our previous articles in French about it for more details : January 29 and March 1, 2010]

As a matter of fact, Alexander IV (son of his wife Roxana) was poisoned with his mother by Cassander (ca. 350 - 297 BC) in Macedonia (Amphipolis, 310 BC). And Roxana herself had made the quiet and good looking Stateira, daughter of Darius III (ca. 380 - 330BC), strangled by jealousy at the death of Alexander in june 323 BC : she had married Alexander in 324 BC (becoming equalilly his wife), and was pregnant of him. Moreover Herakles, the young son of Barsine was also assassinated. Barsine was a beautiful iranian princess Alexander knew from the time of her exile at the court of Philip II (354 BC) : a bit older than Alexander, she was an excellent greek speaker, and became his first concubine after the battle of Issos (333 BC). Indeed, Alexander was terribly fond of her from this long time. When he defeated Memnon of Rhodes (380 -333 BC), his love rival, in the great battle of the river Granique (334 BC), he had certainly her in mind. Memnon (380 - 333 BC) was her second husband after his brother Mentor. Alexander she knew ardent, impressed her a lot after his fiery victories. She and her son, died in Greece victims of Cassander and Polyperchon's plot (around 309 BC).

There is actually a funny quotation of Quintus Curtius which needs to be translated in connection with an offspring survival in Gaul : "Id consilium non ratione prudentius, quam eventu felicitas fuit". It means that "the enterprise was as wisely conceived as it was executed".
And one can think Alexander was so intensely overwhelmed by Thalestris, that he could never forget her - with her breast half topless on the left. This may have lead him to marry the Asian Roxana, at the total surprise of his men. Her wild behaviour reminded him so much of Thalestris. He got even terribly angry after Cassander, son of General Antipater (ca. 397 - 319 BC), the regent of Macedonia in his absence, who dared to criticize during his council his choice of a non-Macedonian queen.
Thalestris always haunted his dreams after their surprising encounter, when he was angry his horse Bucephalus was stolen in Zadracarta. Precisely, he recovered it just before Thalestris left for Themiscrya, her capital in Parthia (near the river Thermodon, Cappadocia). She never gave any news about her pregnancy, for the sake of this precious root. It seems he learnt through a spy of confidence there were actually twins, one daughter with the mother, and one son lead far from his dangerous surroundings to the extreme West, Gaul, at the age of five. Their very secret offspring could be the reason why he wanted so much marching to Gaul through Italy, after the planned conquest of Arabia, and the crossing of North Africa to Carthago (presently Tunis). But he died just before this big journey.

The story of Thalestris is not a real legend, as Alexander himself recalled this daredevil Scythian princess he narrowly escaped to marry. The "son of Zeus" could never forget her actually. Their relationship was short but tremendously intense (13 days and nights, almost half a moon for a maximum fecondity).
This pregnancy story is also reported by Plutarch of Chaeronea himself (46 - 125 AD).And another historian, Justin the Roman (3rd or 4th century AD), gave the key about the Scythian Amazons' origin in his "Universal History" (book II).
The great italian painter Francesco Primaticcio (1504 -1570), made a painting of this hymen, untitled "Thalestris getting in the bed of Alexander".
Nowadays, the heiresses of Amazons are mainly in Ukraine, under this reborn name. But it could be also through a feminist movement including a few men, called "Femen" (Kiev, 2008). Even it doesn't claim it officially, one can wonder as the name of "Amazons" derives from their breast and their belt. It is becoming famous in the world because of its special protests and demonstrations, with pretty topless protesters, and the main aim is to bring a world women's revolution by 2017 !
They made a special tour in Italy last november not only against Berlusconi they didn't like, but also in front of St Peter of Roma to protest anti-feminist policies of Vatican.
And those young women are quite unforgettable as fiery activists. But this didn't involve the character of Jesus Christ, as himself quite admitted the importance of women around him. The examples of Maria, his mother, and his spouse - if following the Gospel of Saint John -, Maria-Magdalena, are clear on this point.

Lets's recall that historically the kingdom of Thalestris was including a part of Turkey and extending to the south of Russia (Rostov area effectively), and Ukraine. It disappeared around 320 BC, so quickly after Alexander's death. It was absorbed in the Scythian kingdom, as it was before their extraordinary story started : it means after the slaughter of two exiled Scythian royal princes, Ylinos and Scolopitus, by crual enemies, and the way their fiery wives (Marpesia and Lampedo), and women followers fought back. Thus, after Thalestris, the last Amazon princesses married with Scythian princes and noblemen.

Nowadays Greece is totally shaken by the Debt and Euro crisis, just before Italy and other European countries. The world changed a lot since Alexander and Amazons' era. And yet, when you look just below the surface, Antiquity seems so surprinsingly near.
Its fiery and bold solutions to present problems could be also interesting after all, if we want to think about it a minute !

At the time, and just after Alexander the Great, the Macedonian currency, was able to expand through the world without crisis. It went this way almost naturally because of the free hellenization which occurred. Nobody was forced to be Greek or to speak Greek, but it just became fashionable through this extraordinary king.
In the present period, we miss a lot the cry of victory of this "half-God" : Alalalalai ! Alalalalai ! Alalalalai !

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