Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Alexander romance

Alexander Romance is a fictional account of the life of Alexander the Great, originally written in Greek, in the early 4th c. It was widely copied and translated. This is one of the pics from the Armenian illuminated manuscript of 14th century of 5th century translation. 


I would here like to talk about the part which talks about Alexander's conception and birth. The story goes like this:

The last Egyptian Pharaoh (and evil wizard) Nectanebo, is thrown out of Egypt by a Barbarian army lead by Egyptian gods themselves (sure sign it's time to pack and leave). He disguises himself as a fortuneteller and flies to Macedonia...

It just so happens that King Philip is out fighting some war or something and his gorgeous wife Olympia is all alone and lonely lonesome...And apparently Nectanebo likes the ladies...So he devises a cunning plan how to get into Olympia's bed...

He uses horoscope to convince Olympia, who had no children, and who was afraid Philip was about to replace her with another wife, that Amun Ra (Sun god) will come to her and make her pregnant with a son who will "avenge all the wrongs which will come to you from Philip"...

Then he told Olympia, who was intrigued to say the least, that she would have a dream, in which Amun will show himself to her and will tell her something like "I'm coming baby!"...And then he did some magic mumbo jumbo and Olympia did dream of Amun. And was much impressed...

And Olympia said: "You have spoken wisely, Prophet. I shall give you access to my room; and if I experience the mating and conceive, I shall greatly honour you as an infallible seer, and I shall receive you as though you were father of the child." Nectanebo was much pleased... 🙂

And he said: "Go inside and sit in your room. You shall see a serpent (Dragon) come slithering to you. Do not extinguish the light of the lamps, go and recline on your couch and cover your face. Once again you shall see the god whom you saw come to you in your dreams"...

Nectanebo tells Olympia about great sex she will have with Amun. She is all excited. So is he...


Anyway, he makes a Serpent (Dragon) from clay, magically breaths life into it, and the Serpent slithers into Olimpia's room, and it all happens as "prophesied": Olympia reclines covers her eyes, Serpent changes into Amun, and "mates" with Olympia...


Olympia is so pleased with what happens that she orders her servants to put Nectanebo into a room next to hers and to give him keys of her room. And from then on Amun spent every night between Olympia's legs...Until her belly started growing big...

Slightly freaked out Olympia asked "Prophet, what shall I do if Philip comes and finds me pregnant?" And he said: "Be not afraid, my lady, for the god Ammon is helping you in this matter; he will come to him in a dream, and inform him of what was destined to happen"...

And so Nectanebo makes a falcon, breaths life into it, and sends it to Philip, who, in his dream, seas a handsome god shag his wife and then proclaims that "he has just made her pregnant with a son who will avenge the death of his father..." Ouch...

And then, also in the same dream, Philip seals Olympia's womb with papyrus and then stamps the papyrus with his golden seal ring which had on it rays of sun, lion's head and lances...Philip, completely freaked out, asks his dream magic guy what the hell is going on. And he says:

Blah blah ...you will be raising a son of god, rejoice...He will be great, he will kick the crap out of everyone in the world...

But Philip was not convinced at all. As a matter of fact he hurried home, to kick the crap out of the bastard who just made him a bastard son...

Nectanebo, who was hiding in the palace heard Philip saying to Olympia: "You were not made pregnant by the gods, but, in fact, were smitten by someone else whom I shall send forth from this life with pitiless tortures if he falls into my hands". And he was concerned...

So during the feast celebrating the king's return (and the fact that his wife's was pregnant), Nectanebo transformed himself into the form of a serpent much bigger than the first. He passed through the palace breathing so fiercely that even the foundations quivered...

And those who saw him fled away, startled and shaken by fear. Olympia recognizing her bridegroom was stunned and raised her right hand from her lap and extended it. And he circled the room, and then came to Olympias' knees, and flicked out his double-forked tongue and kissed her.


Wow! Neat trick...Philip had been terribly frightened. When he regained his composure, he said: "My lady, as sure proof, I saw the god come to help you in your peril. But, as to who the god was, I did not know, for he showed us the form of Ammon"...

And Olympia said, "As he revealed himself to me at the time of mating with me, he is Ammon" And when the king heard this, he considered himself blessed for "I am destined" he said, "to be the father of a child of a god."

Few days later, Philip was in the garden. A bird came and laid an egg on his lap and flew away. The egg rolled from his lap to the ground and broke open. From it a little serpent came forth and circled it many times. Then it tried to go back into the egg but on the way in it died

An omen teller interpreted the dream like this: "You will have a son who, having traversed the whole world, shall subdue everyone by his strength and shall be subdued by no one; and while returning to his country, he shall die, having lived but for a short time..."

Sooooo...Another son of god? The authors of the Alexander romance thought not. Not a holy bastard. Just bastard...But to me the interesting bit is the Serpent (Dragon) bit of this story. Why was Serpent seen by everyone as the sure sign Amun Ra (Sun god) was in the house???

In Slavic mythology, Serpent (Dragon) is seen as the symbol of the sun. In folk poetry it is called "Sun's ray's brother". And he loves the ladies...As a matter of fact, Serbian Dragons seem to live for the ladies...Every one of them has a lady lover, usually a princess (queen)

They prefer earthly women to supernatural women, like Vilas (fairies). In a folk song recorded in Bosnia in the 19th century, two dragons, are fighting over the same girl. A Vila (Mountain Fairy, who calls them "her brothers") tells them that they should go check out the other Vilas instead of chasing mortal girls. only to be told to to piss off, as "no Mountain Fairy can come anywhere near to a mortal girl"...

Interestingly, in Serbian folklore, sons born out of the affairs  between Dragons and earthly women are always great heroes...Just like Alexander...Also Dragons can take both serpentine and human  shape...Just like Nectanebo...

The seal ring with which Philip "seals the deal with Amun" 🙂 is also very interesting. The sun is hottest in the middle of Leo. This is the time of the Dragon, who represents the destructive power of the late summer sun, which dries the skies and the land and creates drought...I talked more about Dragons in Serbian folklore in my post "Dragon who stole rain"

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