The story of Alexander's parents, Philip & Olympias, whose
archetypical love-hate relationship was of epic proportions.


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12/30/2009: Drums, bass, rhythm guitars & keys done.
5/20/2010: Turned up organ solo just a hair.
6/17/2010: Vox recorded, principal recording is done!.
8/19/2010: Beta mix.


-- Prologue --
This have I seen:
Lion becomes child of star and serpent
Child becomes man
Man becomes king
King becomes legend
So have I seen

-- Ballad of Philip and Olympias --

She was disturbing and dangerous, a witch some would claim
He was on top of the world, ambitious and strong
He was obsessed for years, they both were to blame
The question wasn't "if", it was only "how long"

She wanted a god to share her bed
She settled for a man, unruly and wild
He was in charge but she was in his head
When he said "you'll be the death of me", she only smiled

It wasn't just good
It was flat-out fantastic
They were the kind of lovers
Who made the love-hate relationship classic

His friends didn't like her, a jealous attack
They told him it felt like he was under a curse
They were kind to her face but then behind her back
They said "if she has a child it'll only get worse"

They said, "look around, now on the day you die
"Would you really leave it all to some half-breed freak"?
He let them go on because she never cried
She just refused to let him think she was weak

It wasn't just bad
It was vicious and drastic
They were the kind of lovers
Who made the love-hate relationship classic

She bore him a son the night the temple burned
Leaving only bones and blackened earth
When he questioned the omen, she said the faithful were spurned
Because the gods were busy watching over our son's birth

She said go run with your dogs, lay down with your whores
Doesn't matter to me, doesn't mean a thing
Just remember this the day the lion roars:
Deadwood will burn when our son is king

It wasn't just great
It was flat-out ecstatic
They were the kind of lovers
Who made the love-hate relationship classic

A word of explanation:

Alexander's father Philip was king of Macedon, with the ambition
to unite all of Greece and take on the legendary Persian empire.
His mother Olympias (Philip's fourth wife) was a princess from
Epirus (a kingdom immediately west of Macedon), familiar with
court intrigue and the subtleties of ruling. She belonged to a cult of
Dionysus, considered kind of creepy even by her contemporaries
(e.g. she supposedly slept with snakes). Philip had reportedly fallen
in love with her at a mystical retreat years earlier, but they eventually
married to cement an alliance between Macedon and Epirus. Their
relationship was a classic love-hate thing, and always very stormy.

Alexander was Philip's first legitimate son, but many at court repudiated
his claim to the throne because he was not of pure Macedonian blood. Philip
always seemed to be on the fence about Alexander's status. This really annoyed
Olympias, and she started telling Philip that Alexander's father was actually Zeus,
who had impregnated her while she had been in Epirus during a brief separation.
The timing was ambiguous; she might have gotten pregnant by Philip immediately
before she left Macedon, or she might have had an affair (presumably not actually
with Zeus) immediately after arriving in Epirus. It seems unlikely that Philip ever
suspected that Alexander wasn't his. If he had, Alexander definitely would not have
been in line for the throne, and Philip might even have had them both killed.
It's also unclear whether or not Alexander actually believed the Zeus thing
(I'm guessing he didn't), but he certainly exploited it later in his career.

The night Alexander was born, the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus burned.
Plutarch's explanation is that the gods were too busy watching over
Alexander to care for the temple, but it wouldn't surprise me if that idea
was originally proposed by Olympias. Another interesting tidbit - from ancient
times, the goddess Eileithyia had been associated with childbirth. Shortly after
Alexander, the Greeks began associating Artemis with that sphere of influence
instead. This is pure speculation on my part, but maybe the change was
due to Plutarch's comment, and the fact that it was her temple that burned.

Copyright 2009 Jeff Buser.

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