The conquest of Persia complete, Alexander contemplates his next campaign.
Unexpectedly, a strategy session erupts into sudden and tragic violence.
12/09/2009: All instruments complete, vocals not recorded yet.
3/31/2010: Made guitars less tinny (hopefully) with some EQ.
4/16/2010: Still trying to achieve the sometimes mutually exclusive
goals of power and clarity between guitars & bass (EQ & mix).
Cleitus, have some more wine
You'll love the mission I have for you
There is more to Asia than Aristotle
Or even Gordius ever knew
Sixteen thousand greek mercenaries
Who fought for Darius are yours to command
Sweep them north past Bactria
Conquering all in that vast and untamed land
Alexander have I offended you
In some manner I don't understand?
Leading rabble against savages feels like a demotion
After years as your trusted right hand
You forgot our traditions as you adopted the enemy's
Have you forgotten my service as well?
Have you forgotten you're a man, not the god from the cunning facade
That keeps them under your spell?
Cleitus, I remember well the reason we fight
And how could I forget the friend who saved my life?
But are you content to lead a squadron of horse
When I offer you an army to set your own course?
I'll forget your insubordinate tone
And I'll forget how dogmatic you've grown
But you'll take those men and give it your best
That's an order; it's not a request
Alexander, you know I served your father before you
And it seems you share his flaws, but none of his greatness
You shun what made the officers and men adore you
And embrace the very customs that inspire their hatred
See if this might sound familiar
The story of a man fate cheated
He spent more time clebrating
Victory than achieving it
He turned against those closest to him
A sword, not gold, settled his debts
But in the end he staggered, too drunk
To make good on his empty threats
If you'd prefer to become the man you long to surpass
Then become besotted with some foreign witch
And sire an ungrateful bastard
By a scheming, ruthless bitch
I will not be mocked!
Traitor! Why'd you make me do that?
You bastard! Why'd you make me do that?
Drunken fool! Why'd you make me do that?
My friend... why'd you make me do it?
A word of explanation:
Remnants of the Persian army have escaped to the unexplored lands
north of Bactria, but Alexander has his sights on India. Cleitus the
Black, an old family friend of Alexander's, is one of his most trusted and
experienced commanders. Alexander assigns Cleitus to take a substantial
force of Greek mercenaries and secure the steppes of central Asia while
he proceeds to India. Cleitus sees this as a dead-end job commanding
second-rate soldiers, and a fierce argument ensues.
Cleitus (like many of Alexander's more conservative generals and advisors)
is frustrated by the increasing integration of conquered Persian troops into
the army, and resents Alexander's adoption of Persian dress and customs.
A particular sore spot is the Persian custom to honor their leaders by kissing
the hands or prostration on the ground, which Alexander encourages.
As with the
Gordian knot prophecy
Siwa oracle's declaration
Alexander probably just realizes that acting like a true Persian king
will help keep the Persians in line when he moves on to India. To make
it convincing, he must require the same tribute from his own men that he
receives from the Persian nobles. However, the Greeks and Macedonians
believe only gods deserve this treatment, and violently object to treating
Alexander as a god. Some suspect Alexander is starting to believe his
own propaganda. In the eyes of Cleitus and others, Alexander is in
danger of crossing that fine line between the greatest leader they have
ever known, and a dangerous megalomaniac with delusions of godhood.
Cleitus had served under Philip before Alexander, had personally saved
Alexander's life at the
Battle of the Granicus
, and isn't shy about
expressing his opinions. During the argument he compares Alexander
(unfavorably) to Philip, insinuating that Alexander's success in Persia
wasn't due to his own genius, but because of the rigidly disciplined
army he inherited from his father. In my opinion, this, much more
than the arguments over military strategy and cultural integration,
is what would have thrown Alexander into a murderous rage.
Both men are drunk. Alexander tries to have the guards arrest Cleitus,
but this looks much more like a quarrel between friends than treason
so the guards don't want to interefere. Other friends can see violence
is imminent, so they remove Alexander's sword and other deadly weapons
from the area, but Alexander finds a spear and runs Cleitus through.
Alexander immediately and forever regrets his impulsive violence.
Some see this event as the beginning of the end for Alexander's army.
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Buser.
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