Todays blog is courtesy of the debut author Alexander Cole to coincide with the release of his book Colossus:
Alexander the Great rests in Babylon as he decides which should be his next world to conquer. A war elephant, Colossus, disturbs the peace of the camp when he is provoked to a killing rampage. Only one young mahout has the courage to stop Colossus. And when Alexander notices his bravery, Gajendra begins a meteoric climb through the ranks of the Macedonian army. Gajendra is fiercely loyal to Alexander, the great General who plucked him from obscurity. But as he rises to become Captain of the Elephants, Gajendra sees how Alexander is being corrupted by luxury and power. Forced to choose between keeping faith with Alexander or with his comrades, Gajendra must find the strength to make the right decision as Alexander’s army approaches the gates of Rome.
THE PARMENION SOLUTION
They called him Alexander the Great. But ‘the great’ what?
Greatness was not calculated in the distant past in the way we would judge it now. Alexander was considered ‘great’ by ancient history because he achieved conquest from the Mediterranean to the Ganges. It is true this made him a great general; but by today’s standards, this does not make him a great man.
Conquest on the scale of Alexander’s could not have been achieved without unrivalled ruthlessness.
Parmenion is testament to that.
Who was Parmenion? He was a Macedonian nobleman who rose to become second in command of Alexander’s army. He commanded Alexander’s left wing at both major battles in the Persian campaign, at Issus and Gaugamala. He was Alexander’s steadying influence, fiercely loyal but very conservative in his tactics.
After Issus the Persian king, Darius III, offered Alexander his daughter’s hand as well as all Minor Asia in exchange for an alliance. Parmenion’s advice? ‘If I were Alexander, I should accept it.’
To which Alexander famously replied: ‘So would I – if I were Parmenion.’
Soon afterwards, one of Parmenion’s sons, Philotas, was accused of plotting against Alexander’s life, a conspiracy to which he confessed under torture.
He was then stoned to death.
While this was happening, Parmenion was in Media, in command of one of Alexander’s armies and guarding his treasury and his supply lines. Alexander rightly supposed that once Parmenion discovered that his son had been tortured and executed he must certainly look to take revenge. Because of his experience, his tactical position and his popularity, he was in the ideal position to do it.
Alexander immediately sent two of his men, Cleandor and Sitalces, across the desert to Media on racing camels. Before news could reach Parmenion about his son’s fate, the two officers had arrived and stabbed him to death.
Parmenion had faithfully served both Alexander and his Alexander’s father; he was a hugely competent soldier with a brilliant career, and was immensely popular with the soldiers.
But Alexander did not hesitate, Loyalty counted for nothing and neither did friendship.
It was a pragmatic decision from a ruthless man.
Or was there more to it? What makes Parmenion’s death more intriguing is the suggestion that there actually was no plot against Alexander. Could it have been Alexander’s ploy to rid himself of a general whose popularity threatened to rival his own?
If true, it was a strategy that he was never to change. He died himself just seven years later, without a clear heir or successor. He remained adept at keeping his generals at odds with each other.
His quest for greatness was for Alexander and Alexander alone.
After his death Macedonian unity disappeared and his generals squabbled over the empire like buzzards over a carcass.
COLOSSUS begins at which Alexander’s true history ends; it is the story of what might have happened if he lived to march an army out of Babylon, instead of succumbing to illness – or was it poison? – at the age of just 33.
His army was not only pre-eminent, it had been seemingly strengthened with the addition of ancient weapons of mass destruction; war elephants from India. He had recently created a unique post within his army – ‘elephantarch,’ the captain of the elephants.
By then his megalomania and paranoia was well advanced; he was also grief stricken over the loss of his soul’s companion, Hephaiston, and had survived wounds that would have killed ten men.
He had become monstrous.
Meanwhile every general within his army was positioning themselves for the coming game of thrones.
But as Parmenion could have told them, it was a battle they could not win.
This is the world to which Colossus, a monster of a different kind, is introduced. Soon after he survives the assassination attempt Alexander sets out to conquer again – to Carthage, to Sicily and then onto Rome.
Thank You: Alexander Cole, i know reading this has given me a different viewpoint for the story, i hope those reading this will take this view of Alexander the Great into their reading of the book.
My review will follow in a few days……..