Meanwhile, in Persia, Darius has ascended to the throne via the assassination of his
predecessor by Bagoas. And just like Alexander, he has some loose ends to tie up.

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6/11/2010: Piano recorded, needs drums, bass, guitars, vox.
7/1/2010: Guitars recorded, still needs vox.
7/16/2010: Final instrumental mix, just needs vox.
9/15/2010: Bagoas vox done. Darius "plan B" done (Jeff sings
both parts) still working on "Plan A" (surprise guest singer).
9/23/2010: Beta mix.



Bagoas, you're so thoughtful, so wise, and oh, so kind
That after we just quarreled you bring me dates and wine
And let me guess, a vintage rare, to set my head aspin
And then a masterful debate that I can't hope to win


Oh no, my king, your word is law; I'll not dispute it twice
I live to serve, and merely seek to offer sound advice
The wine is my apology, and yes, it is superb
A subtle hint of almonds... I'll pour; just give the word


My predecessor spurned you once; for his crown I've you to thank
But was wine like this, I wonder now, the last that Arses drank?
Bagoas, you perspire as if you toiled, and fought, and marched
Perhaps 'tis you, should quench your thirst; indeed, you seem quite parched


I couldn't take this for myself once given as a gift
Perhaps we'll save it for another...


...oh, but I insist


One more compliment, I think
You've learned more than I taught
Strange indeed, my final drink
It burns less than I...


With that unpleasantness behind us I can attend to affairs of state
And here's a recent item I did not anticipate
Some backwoods boy in Greece has come to power and thrown a fit
Accusing my poor, dead mentor of the one crime he didn't commit

If I thought the news would pacify the boy's need for revenge
I'd tell him dear Bagoas has already met his end
But it's just another Greek excuse to quest for Persian blood
Instruct our men in Phrygia to nip that in the bud

A word of explanation:

The same year Philip is assassinated & Alexander becomes king of
Macedon, the Persian eunuch and power broker Bagoas poisons
the king of Persia, his own protégé Arses. Bagoas replaces Arses
with the supposedly more controllable Darius, who immediately
follows Arses' footsteps and asserts independence from Bagoas.
Bagoas tries to poison him, but Darius is warned of the plot and
in a delightful twist, forces Bagoas to drink the poison himself.

This is a classic "truth is stranger than fiction" story. Alexander and
Darius become leaders of their respective nations at almost exactly
the same time, both via the assassination of their predecessor by
a third party and in both cases consolidating power by ruthlessly
purging any disruptive holdovers from the previous regime

Darius initially scoffs at the idea of some barbarian kinglet
from Macedon invading to "avenge" an assassination that he
knows Bagoas didn't even commit. He delegates dealing with
it to the local satraps near the border because he is busy with
court intrigue and securing his own position on the throne.

Songwriting notes:

I debated whether this song would make the cut, because I
thought including a song about Darius might dilute the impact
of the arc story about Alexander. Eventually I decided it needs
to be on the CD for at least three important reasons:

First, I love the delicious irony that Alexander blames Bagoas
for Philip's assassination and convinces the League of Corinth
to avenge Philip by following through on Philip's original vision
to invade Persia, but Darius kills Bagoas before they get there.

Second, the parallels between how Darius and Alexander rise
to power help to set the stage for their eventual epic rivalry.

Finally, this story will make a much more effective transition
than an abrupt jump cut from Alexander tying up loose ends in
"Conspiracy" to the beginning of his Persian campaign in "Spark"
which can then kick right in at the first major battle, eliminating
the need for any introductory exposition in that song.

Copyright © 2010 Jeff Buser.

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