Ceremonies

The five years between Teacher and Conspiracy are very
eventful for Alexander. I noticed that ceremonies kept
cropping up as important milestones (in fact the working
title for this song was once "Two Weddings and a Funeral").


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Lyrics

League of Corinth fanfare
(instrumental)

choros:
With this treaty a nation is born
One Greece united
Hail the heroes
League of Corinth, roar!
Alexander crushed the Sacred Band of Thebes
His father cheers
Aside he whispers

Philip:
Just remember, son
A battle you won, but I won the war.

Philip's wedding fanfare
(instrumental)

choros:
The king is married once again
This time a bride the peers acclaim
Jealous women, ambitious men
Blithe reception down in flames

Too much history, too much wine
Attalus toasts, sardonic tone

Attalus:
Let's hope this marriage will produce in time
A legitimate heir to the throne

choros:
The prince shouts and takes a swing

Alexander:
So it's a bastard that I've been called?

choros:
The scene enrages the drunken king
He draws a sword but trips and falls

Alexander:
Nice move, Father! Do you really think
You can conquer Persia? You can't even walk!

Philip:
You'd best be gone before I'm done this drink
You brash, ungrateful, tainted bastard stock

Cleopatra's wedding fanfare
(instrumental)

choros:
On his daughter's wedding day
The king's joy is complete
One son back from exile
And a new one on the teat

All the guests rejoice but one
Who bears a secret shame
Humiliation so prolonged
He holds the king to blame

Bold assassin hiding in plain sight
Guarding the king
Whose hour of greatest joy is time to strike
Requital to bring

Helpless watching guests and family gape
Blood and then screams
Swelling seconds mark a swift escape
Frozen like dreams

The madman doesn't make it far
Brought down by the other guards
Too late they think to question why
But dead men can't reply

Philip's funeral fanfare
(instrumental)

Alexander:
Father, will I make you proud
Stoically accept your crown
Show not tears, but vengeance in my eyes?

Father, now I understand
Conflicting goals; what price command?
Truth embraced within convenient lies



A word of explanation:

After "Teacher", when Alexander is 16, he briefly serves as regent
of Macedon in Philip's absence. He soon joins Philip on his campaign
against the remaining free Greek city-states, and is wildly successful
as a military commander. Shortly after Alexander turns 18, he
crushes the "invincible" Sacred Band of Thebes at the Battle of
Chaeronea, and Philip unites all of Greece in the League of Corinth.

A month or two after the League of Corinth is formed, Philip takes a
seventh wife, Eurydice. Olympias (his fourth wife, Alexander's mother)
is from Epirus (west of Macedon) but Eurydice is a true Macedonian.
During the wedding feast, Attalus, friend of Philip and uncle of the bride,
gives a toast for the marriage to result in a "legitimate" heir to the throne.
Alexander, furious, hurls his goblet at Attalus, shouting, "Then what am I, a
bastard?" Philip draws his sword and moves towards his son but falls in a
stupor over the drinking couches. Alexander quips, "Here is the man
planning on conquering from Greece to Asia, and he can't even move
from one table to another." Philip annulls his marriage to Olympias
(a union that had always been stormy at best) and disinherits Alexander.

After a brief exile, Alexander reconciles with Philip (presumably because
Philip recognizes what a brilliant general Alexander is, and would rather have
him leading his planned charge into Persia instead of brewing a rebellion in
Epirus). However, Alexander's position as heir is tenuous at best, and likely
to be completely void if Eurydice bears Philip a son. Olympias is still in exile.

Philip clearly doesn't want any insurrection on the home front while he is
off conquering Persia. He offers Cleopatra's hand (Alexander's full sister,
daughter of Philip and Olympias) in marriage to Alexander of Epirus
(Olympias' brother, Cleopatra's and Alexander the Great's uncle).
They think about it. OK, so marrying your uncle wasn't considered
creepy in those days, but it still makes me wonder if it was completely
Philip's idea, or if there was subtle manipulation by Olympias behind
the scenes, using her brother and daughter to set Philip up for a fall.

So not quite two years later, just after Alexander's 20th birthday,
Philip and Eurydice have a son, Canalus. A few weeks later, Cleopatra
and Alexander of Epirus finally decide to tie the knot, and (drumroll
please) Philip is assassinated at the wedding. Coincidence? I think
not. After Philip's funeral, Olympias and Alexander tie up loose
ends (as described in "Conspiracy") and Alexander becomes king.


One more note about names:

Cleopatra was a popular name among the Macedonians. Although
there is no proven relation, Alexander's sister was connected to
her more famous namesake, Cleopatra VII of Egypt. Alexander's
childhood friend and trusted general Ptolemy returned to Egypt
after Alexander's death, founding the Ptolemaic dynasty, of which
his descendant Cleopatra VII was famously the last pharoah.
Furthermore, the identity of Ptolemy's father is unknown but
there was widespread speculation that it may have been Philip,
which would have made him the half-brother of Alexander and
Cleopatra, which in turn would mean that the two Cleopatras
were, in fact, distantly related to one another.


Copyright 2009 Jeff Buser.

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