This one is going to come from left field.
As a side note there are some gruesome facts in this blog about rulers and their children and how some of them were assassinated. If you don't want to get upset, don't read. You know what, I'm going to see if I can ink out the most gruesome one.
I watched the Oliver Stone movie Alexander and was somewhat shocked by the lives the Greeks seemed to live. Now, I should mention that I studied history in university and actually have an honours degree. Simply put, we never discussed the sex/love lives of the people we were studying. We definitely studied Socrates and Plato and were supposed to read the Iliad and the Odyssey (yeah, I didn't have time so I skimmed them and still didn't have a clue what was going on). We discussed the class systems and the surprisely modern engineering that they had for water their cities. Wait, that could be Rome (yep, it was)...I tell you, I was never good at long term memory. Study for a test and remembered everything but ask me a year later and I had no clue what you were talking about. Makes a person feel stupid I tell you.
So needless to say we studied the bright side of history. The achievements and successes and even the rulers but we didn't really dwell on the darker sides of human nature.
Watching the film Alexander brought back some of the historical biographies I have watched and even some of the mysteries I remember from being a student. I watched Caligula there about a year ago because I have heard about him in jokes but didn't know the history. Egads! Okay here is the part that is really sickening so if you want to read it, you click and hold your mouse key down and scan over the next two lines. If you don't want to know do nothing and keep reading. What I remember most is how the guards killed his daughter by swinging her from her legs and bashing her head against a wall. She was two years old.
What is abhorent and surprising to me is the way people in power and those who strove to be part of the power were ruthless in the attainment. Let's use Alexander (this is the wikipedia link and it says here he died of a fever - hmmm, interesting) as an example - and no, I didn't study him in school and I haven't researched him yet because I got distracted but I am coming to that.
Alexander's mother hates his father who is the ruling King. Okay, never really explained why except I think they had different heritages, whatever. Later in the film, the mother mentions Alexander's sisters (can't find any reference to them) so I imagine they had more than one child but the story is about Alex so we'll move on. Sometime when Alexander is say 8-12 years old his father starts an affair with a younger woman from his *own* heritage (I think Macedonian). The woman gets pregnant, the king marries her as his second wife and the first queen sees the danger coming. Alex seems to not think much of what is going to happen. The woman bears a son and the first queen has her husband killed by trusted people of the King. At this point Alexander leaves his home city and never comes back even though he is now King. His mother has the other wife, her son and the woman's Uncle all killed. Yeah, I'm wondering what life was like back then. Scary. I said to my dad tonight, why would any woman marry a King? Wait, there's more.
So Alex goes on his way and becomes the King of many. It's all in the movie, which was great by the way, except every once in a while the actor would widen his eyes in such a way as to make him look really creepy and crazy. Hey, maybe Alex was but again, I'll be off to google later. Meanwhile, Alex seems to like men. He definitely loves his best friend although it is never shown that they share a bed. He is shown holding his hand out to a man in another scene and the man was Babylonian (I believe). Anyways, he meets a woman and decides he wants to marry her. A common woman of no consequence and everyone is asking why. He responds he wants heirs. So he marries this woman and for years there is nothing and he starts to stay with his lovers more than her.
Fast forward, Alexander is dying and there are people hovered around his bed asking him to name his successor. Now, he has conquered many people and each have representatives there waiting for him to announce. You then see his wife at his side begging him to hang on just 3 more months so that their son will be born. (How these women knew they would have sons is beyond me but Alex's mother knew her rival would have a son and then Alex's wife figures she will have a son - she does) Anyways, he dies and there is a fight over his body. Whatever. They divided his one kingdom into four and then 13 years later they kill Alex's widow and his son - I would guess they went into hiding. They also found and killed Alex's mother so that no one of his line was left alive. Crazy-ass. Now, I think his lover and Alex were poisoned (at least that is said in the movie) so there were people who not only felt they had to kill Alex but also all those who were part of him.
This got me to thinking about the British monarchy and how treacherous they were also. Although I think maybe the Greeks and Romans may win for violence against family. Anyways, I remember the Princes in the Tower. A haunting picture of two young boys that vanished one night in the Tower of London. It is believed that their uncle had them killed or actually killed them himself and he became King Richard III. How do you kill children, your own nephews? All I know is it has been done again and again throughout history. All you have to do is remember the Russian family that was brutally butchered. Not one of the children were allowed to live - okay there is the myth of Anastasia but I am too much of a cynic to believe anyone lived. Amazing what humans are capable of.
Yeah, that is what has been on my brain for way too many days now. I'm trying to deal with a society of men who seemed stimulated more by each other than by woman, although they were necessary for a family (if you read the Wikipedia for Alexander it talks about sexuality and how homosexual and bisexual activity was not defined and that it was believed normal for men to like beauty therefore, young men). I am trying to think if I could be so ruthless if I had had children and wanted to protect them. I'm thinking if I was ever asked to marry royalty I would say thanks, but no thanks (yeah, I'm living on a hope and a prayer on that one!) because what are the odds of any of your relations actually surviving more than a hundred years! (My dad said, hey you marry your king or your killed, your choice - I see his point, glad we don't have a monarchy here in Canada - still living on a hope and a prayer ;)
So that is where my head has been at for a few days. Reading is not on my agenda and I wish I could pick a book but the reno house is coming up on paint time and I get antsy. Drywalling takes so much time and I just want to paint already.
We sold the house today which is great news but it hasn't really sunk in yet because we still have a solid months work to do over there. I told Bob he wasn't allowed to look at any more houses for a while. It's time to help out around here. He didn't listen at first. Even had me looking at homes on the internet. I can't believe he couldn't figure out that I was getting really frustrated with him. I finally told him that there was no way I was looking at any houses until the new year. That's it, I'm cooked. We are still in the reno house and he wants us to move now too? I don't think so, maybe a few months of normalcy will have him craving our home life again.
Aren't you glad you dropped by today? But then, this is why I find history so fascinating.