Chapter Three 055-056
Posted October 27, 2021 at 12:05 am


I wanted to highlight a question from Stannie:

"I notice that you don't depict a large social distance between the royalty and people of Macedon. People are addressing the king as "Philip" and not "Your Majesty," "My Lord," or even "Sir." He and Alexander don't seem to be followed by servants or bodyguards. This kind of informality is different from the only other literary work I've read about Alexander, Mary Renault's novel "Fire from Heaven." Are you envisioning that in Pella, the capital city of Macedon, there's a sort of village informality the ruler and his people share? And/or there isn't a lot of class distinction, including bowing and scraping for royalty?"

Which is a great question! And something I didn't think to mention in the footnotes for earlier pages. So I'll do it now. 😊


Royalty in Macedon definitely existed as a higher social class, but the idea of kingship as office with a title alongside all of its associated protocol and luxurious fanciness didn't emerge until after the first Hellenistic kings – way after Alexander died.

Before the Hellenistic era, the concept of monarchy wasn't a thing in most of Ancient Greece – they functioned as a democracy. They hated kings!! They hated the idea of having one authoritarian rule everything. So when Philip later took over Athens & co as hegemon of the League of Corinth, they weren't pleased about that.

In the areas of Northern Greece that practiced monarchy, like Macedon, we should understand their kingship as less like medieval kings and sultans managing empires, and more like warrior kings managing a tribe/clan. Something a bit more brutish, rough, rural. A hands-on, violent culture that was dominated by the values of the warrior and the farmer. Macedonian kings were referred to by their personal name + patronymic, signed documents in their personal name, fought on the battlefield in person, and in a way, they interacted with their subjects on the ground.


Academic sources:

King and Court in Ancient Macedonia: Rivalry, Treason and Conspiracy by Elizabeth Carney (Chapter 1, pages 2-7)

By the Spear by Ian Worthington (Chapter 1)

Events in Alexander's life:

After the Battle of Issus, Alexander personally met the wounded and listened to their stories.

His long famous speech at Opis, talking about how his father brought Macedonians up from a life of being plain old farmers and his other long speech at Hypasis, how he had fought alongside them in pain and joy (which wasn't BS in a false credit way, but definitely BS in the overzealous Silicon Valley CEO creating a toxic work environment way).


It wasn't until Alexander became king of Persia that something like a title, something like a distinction, came to exist. Even then, the Macedonians absolutely hated it! When Alexander started dressing in fancy royal clothes, they bullied him! When Alexander demanded his Greek subjects to bow in front of him, nobody except maybe Hephaestion liked it! Bowing and scraping for royalty was antithetical to their culture AND religion, as that kind of treatment was only for the gods.

Over time, after Alexander died and his buddies fought and parceled out each part of his empire for themselves, the concept of kingship changed and developed, eventually growing to the thing we're more familiar with.


No they don't do that in Macedon during Philip and Alexander's time.

If I'm not drawing more than four bodyguards in this Chapter it's more for my sanity.

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