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This belongs here too. A very short piece writen a few months back, it's my own version of Hephaistion's reaction to the advent of Bagoas.

Title: Conquest
Summary: Alexandros and Hephaistion discuss Darius' boy.
Rating: Oh, for hell's sake, I'm not doing a rating. We're all grown ups.
Feedback: feel free.


The wine was good, once one got used to it. Better than that Egyptian swill, at any rate; that had made Alexandros’ tongue curl from the start, sour and thin as it was. This was Bactrian, and a little sweet for his taste, but it would do. It was better than drinking the water, too – he knew what came of that. He could do without another dose of the flux, the last one had left him a shivering wreck for days.

Hephaistion was looking sideways at his wine. He had taken a taste of it, and screwed up his face in displeasure, but that was not unusual. He had always been particular about his wine, had Hephaistion. Alexandros saw him glance about, and knew what he was looking for. He passed the water jar with a smile.
“It’s already watered, you know. Put any more of that in and you might as well not bother.” It was an old joke, between them; Hephaistion had never been able to take his wine neat, and even watered it seemed to hit him harder than it did others. Alexandros was not above mocking him for it, when they were alone. It was a gentle mockery though, that came with laughter and the ease of long companionship. If they could not laugh at each other, Alexandros thought, they would not have lasted so long.

“It’s not the water I was thinking of,” Hephaistion told him, wrinkling his nose at his wine cup. “It’s so sweet! What did you do, put a whole beehive in there?”
Alexandros laughed and shook his head, stretching out on his couch and kicking off his boots. “Not me, no. That was the boy, Darius’ old pet. He’s taken it into his head that I have a sweet tooth.”
“Really?” That was arch, that tone, with a smile that hid its sharpness behind the rim of the wine cup. His eyes gave him away though; Alexandros knew those eyes. As sharp as the smile, and sparkling down deep. He felt himself respond to it, even as Hephaistion said, “It must have been something you said to him.”
Alexandros considered that. He told Hephaistion that he tasted like honey sometimes, when the man had him so giddy with pleasure and desire that he couldn’t so much as think straight, let alone control his tongue. He didn’t think he would have said that to the boy … gods, had he? The thought made him want to laugh. Well, it would explain the extra honey in the wine.

Hephaistion leaned back, stretching long legs out before him. There were too many bloody cushions in this place; he wrangled one out from behind him and tossed it to the floor. How was a man meant to make himself comfortable with cushions everywhere? Cushions, and wine that was so sweet it made his teeth ache. They were strange creatures, Persians. He did not think that he would ever understand them.

He understood Alexandros though. Better, in fact, than he understood any other thing, if it came to that. Well enough, certainly, to have seen the sudden flicker in his eyes, of amusement and memory and something else. He knew what that was. In other circumstances, it might have raised his hackles, made him snarl like a hound defending his pack from a stranger. From this though, Alexandros hardly needed any sort of defending. It was hardly as though a gelded dancing boy actually counted, in the scheme of things.
“So,” he said, half amused himself now. “You finally bedded the boy. I thought you would, eventually. After all, you’ve taken everything else that was Darius’. Was he any good?”

A shrug answered that, a casual one sided thing. “Good enough. As you would expect, or Darius wouldn’t have kept him. But it was … different from what I know.”
Hephaistion thought that he could imagine. A man was one thing, with strength and substance and solidity. The Persian boy though … ah, he was made like a gazelle, all light and soft and graceful, and hardly masculine at all, after what Hephaistion was used to in a man. What Alexandros was used to as well, for that matter – they could be gentle with each other, but they were rarely soft. He gave a private shiver, at that; if it were him, he did not think that he could have managed it at all. All he said, though, was, “I should think so.”

“He had a trick or two,” Alexandros said suddenly, head cocked thoughtfully to one side. “They make it an art, did you know that? Like it’s a bloody dance or something.”
Hephaistion, who considered that it actually was a dance, and the oldest one he knew, only grunted, unsurprised. “Well, that’s how they do everything. All art and no instinct. All shine, no substance. No … well, no balls.”
That made the king laugh suddenly, snorting into his wine cup. “Gods! Phai! But now you mention it, yes, I did notice that.”
His friend shuddered, meaningfully. Eunuchs were not a thing they had, in Macedon. Hephaistion, all things considered, thought that he would rather be dead than neutered. To Alexandros, he said, “Just don’t go getting used to it. I’d give up just about anything for you love, but not that. I rather like my balls.”
“So do I.” That came with a purr, and a grin that made his friend want to pounce on him and show him a trick or two of his own. Alexandros knew it too; he stretched out with one bare foot and ran it lightly up the inside of his lover’s leg, teasing just a little. “The boy’s a diversion, that’s all. He has his uses. He’s harmless enough. Besides, he seems sweet.”
“Hence the honey.” Hephaistion sipped his wine again, then grimaced and put it down. He shifted against Alexandros’ foot, running a quick finger up the instep. It made him yelp and pull away; Alexandros had always been unreasonably ticklish. Hephaistion smiled at him, sweetly. “And me? Am I harmless too?”
“Gods forbid, no. You’re the most dangerous man I know.”
“Really?” That brought Hephaistion’s brows up in spite of himself; he had not expected to hear that. Well, that was another thing he loved about this man; they knew each other so well, but Alexandros could still surprise him. “What in the world is dangerous about me?”

The glint in Alexandros’ eyes should have told him what was coming next, and the quick hungry smile on his lips. He slid from his couch and onto his friend’s in one smooth movement, pressing close and nuzzling at his neck. Hephaistion groaned, lying back and pulling Alexandros with him. Quick hands went to his middle, tugging at his belt and setting it free. They slid under his chiton, warm on his thighs and teasing over the rest of him. It made him growl and shift, what was most male in him coming awake all at once. Alexandros noticed it, and gave it its dues. His head dipped and bobbed, making his friend draw in his breath with a hiss then let it out in a long groan. Alexandros smiled up at him, like a cat that had fallen head first into a barrel of cream. His voice, when it came, was half a laugh and all heat.
“Why, Hephaistion, don’t you know? I’ve conquered everything I’ve ever set myself to, but you’re the only man in the world who can ever conquer me.”

(no subject)

Date: 2004-10-01 10:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] qaddafi.livejournal.com
Very nice. I especially liked the bits of dirty humor, as I found them appropriate for Alexander and Hephaistion (they are soldiers, after all). One thing though: I found it strange that Alexander would call Bagoas "Darius' old pet." I mean, he's already slept with him, so even if he wouldn't call him by name, I'd think at least "the boy" or something similar. It's not like Hephaistion wouldn't know who he meant. Well, that's just my take on it; feel free to disagree.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-10-01 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 3scoremiles-10.livejournal.com
Actually I don't disagree - I just hadn't noticed it before. It does seem a little odd ... unless he just hasn't got used to idea of Darius' boy being his boy too. Hmm. Thanks for pointing that out. Fair comment.

so strange...

Date: 2004-10-05 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hephaestion.livejournal.com
that Alexander would ever bother with sloppy seconds... i mean...i'm sure hephaistion was a virgin - roxanne a virgin - stateira a virgin - and then when he decides to get a little sodomy on the side...instead of choosing some NEW pet from the Persian garden...he actually 'takes' Darius' - something USED (probably more than once) by his enemy - unless in ATG's crooked mad little brain (he was a bit mad after-all) found the idea of banging Darius' ex precious pet - part of the whole appeal...:shrug: JMHO. and its not that I don't LIKE Bagoas - he's all right. I have lets say more respect for him - because I think he was a young sly boi that knew what he head to do to survive 'the changing of the guard' so to speak. but i don't trust him or have that much so called 'faith' in his PURE LOVING intentions as others do (who i think purely base them upon a fictional book)

Re: so strange...

Date: 2004-10-06 12:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 3scoremiles-10.livejournal.com
Or actually, maybe not so strange if you look at it from a purely practical perspective. Bagoas was effectively spoils of war, like everything else that Alexander won. He came along with the rest of Darius' stuff - Darius' palaces, Darius' tent, Darius' horses and chariot, Darius' cloak, Darius' bloody family, hell, Darius' empire for that matter. Just because a thing had belonged to another master in the past doesn't mean he's not going to use it. He slept in the palaces and the big flash tent after all, and I'll wager he rode the horses and had the slaves and servants go about their tasks as usual. Why should Bagoas be any different? He's a trained pleasure slave after all, a dancing boy ... what else is he for, if not that? If Alexander found that he had a fondness for the boy as well as a use, fair enough - but let's keep it in perspective, yes?

As for how clever Bagoas was, I'd have to say that seeing as how he survived in a Persian Royal Court and managed to get from one Great King's bed to another without falling prey to the manipulations or intrigues of those around him, he probably had his head screwed on well enough. That, and good survival instincts.

Re: so strange...

Date: 2004-10-06 12:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hephaestion.livejournal.com
i agree. totally.
but i refuse to 'accept' bagoas/alexander sex in the movie as some sort of 'substitute' for alex/hephaistion - this attitude about..'well at least we see him make love with bagoas' doesn't fly with me. but then i must be weird...i still would have preferred a 'young' alex/hephaestion sex scene (maybe in Mieza while students to aristotle) than this so called one liner "can you stay tonite" or whatever it is that happens...:shrug: but lets give this movie a chance. the trailer looks awesome. but then alexander was awesome...
btw this dude..this dancer they picked for bagoas..i wonder how TALL he is...could it be that both his male lovers were taller than him??? that would seem odd to look at..- personally i would have chosen Haley Joel Osmant (sp?)(u know the kid from 6th sense) as Bagoas...i always pictured this cute youth with chestnut hair and eyes - sissy-ish as Bagoas..but maybe this dude as bagoas is hot? anything is possible :-)
cheers
Nicolas.

Re: so strange...

Date: 2004-10-08 12:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 3scoremiles-10.livejournal.com
You know you're preaching to the converted on this one Nicky ... well, except about that Haley Joel Osmondt thing. But then, you have the dodgiest taste in men sometimes. ;)

Re: so strange...

Date: 2004-11-27 02:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bagoasalexander.livejournal.com
Bagoas actually came with Nazabarzanes, not with any trappings captured at Susa, Babylon, etc. He came, according to ancient historians, to plead for Nazabarzanes' life and stayed on. Everything is pure modern speculation and assumption. Was Bagoas a slave? Likely. Was he freed following Darius' flight? That can be answered, kinda, with a question: who owns the slaves once their master runs like a scared rabbit? We don't know where Bagoas came from, how far he traveled with Darius until he came into contact with Nazabarzanes, and whether or not Bagoas was "freed" if he was ever a slave per se. In fact we know nothing of Bagoas, short of he was "Darius' favorite boy" and came to plead for Nazabarzanes when the wily old nobleman surrendered to Alexander. Hell, Darius could have given Bagoas to Nazabarzanes at one point; we just know once Bagoas had been the Great King's favorite, not that he still was when Darius lost the kingdom. Everything else Renault, which is imaginative and has many likely possibilities, but tis pure fictional speculation based on very, very skimpy facts.

There had to have been something about Bagoas, though, to have gained Alexander's attention. Whining that it's unfaithful to Hephaestion won't change the fact that it happened. And apparently, it's not out of character, because it happened. Bagoas stayed with Alexander just as Hephaestion did ... the nature of either relationship is skimpy but there's more certainty in the sources that there was a physical relationship between Alexander and Bagoas than with Hephaestion and Alexander, though not by much, admittedly. (shrug)

Otherwise, good dialogue between them I agree. Macedonians were known for being blunt people. LOL!

B

Re: so strange...

Date: 2004-11-27 02:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 3scoremiles-10.livejournal.com
How Bagoas arrived in Alexander's possession is largely beside the point. The fact is that when Alexander took Darius' kingdom, he took everything else along with it. I agree the boy must have had something going for him, whether it was as simple as being handy in bed or whether he was actually useful and entertaining in other ways, because Alexander was not in the habit of carting about ornamental fripperies as a rule. If he kept the boy at hand, probably it was because he found that as well as having his uses, he was fond of him. Just like he was fond of his old black horse and his hound. The degree of scope indicated by the sources for their relationship is entirely up for grabs ... a couple of disapproving Romans trying to illustrate Alexander's growing corruption make a few disparaging remarks about him as a sex toy, and that's about it.

I don't consider that Alexander amusing himself with a Persian eunuch is unfaithful to Hephaistion - it's on another level from that, even if it did happen to be a Persian eunuch he rather liked. I'm not even sure that being "unfaithful" is the issue ... would the concept even have crossed their minds? But nor do I consider his dalliance to be anything more than that ... a dalliance, a thing to be enjoyed, and not much more.

Perhaps, in fact, what we should be asking is not what was so special about Bagoas that he stayed with Alexander (as far as we can tell) for much of his campaigns ... perhaps we should be asking what was so special about Alexander that he could inspire such loyalty and love from those around him, even when they came from such different and often conflicting backgrounds.

Oh, and this story is of course based as much on imagination and speculation as anything Renault wrote ... but for what it's worth I do think this is a little more likely than the angsty mooning about this situation usually gets treated with. Anyway, this is my story and I'm sticking to it. ;)

Re: so strange...

Date: 2004-11-28 10:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bagoasalexander.livejournal.com
Oh I'm not complaining that you were "whining", please don't take it like that, far from it! I've stumbled across this attitude for years, and it irks me no end.

Alexander had charisma and that vitality that draws people, there's no doubting that. Whether you loved him or hated him, it was always with great passion and you couldn't take your eyes off him. Napoleon had it, Caesar and Octavius had it, Hitler (twitch) developed it purposefully, Henry VIII probably had it as well...many men in history had it. Cleopatra VII had itin SPADES...LOL, as did Eleanor of Acquitaine, Elizabeth the first, Catherine of Russia, etc. If they'd been movie stars, people would neve have left the theaters...EVER.

Clark Cable, bless his soul, would have killed for the charisma of Alexander and Clark had his own share of it. (grin)

B

Re: so strange...

Date: 2004-11-28 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 3scoremiles-10.livejournal.com
Heh, no, I'm not offended. Like you, I get highly frustrated with people who attribute to Alexander values and beliefs that simply do not have any place in his time and culture. Monogamy? Uh, what's that? Fidelity? Well, he was faithful to Hephaistion for all of his life - and his Persian eunuch, who was there too, doesn't change that. This is ALEXANDER, and our rules don't apply. Hell, I'm not sure any rules did.

As for charisma ... in spades? In bloody truckloads. The man defines charisma. Not a surprise, Philip was no slouch at charming the pants off people (pun intended!). I'll give you Caesar, just for his intensity, but Octavian never really did it for me. Alcibiades would be my pick. Or the wonderfully dynamic Angevin kings, Henry II and good old Richard (again, not a wonder if Richard could be charisma personified - with his parents, he was learning from some of the best!). And I fully agree with you - if Alexander was a movie star, he'd steal every damned scene. Even the ones he's not in.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-10-08 10:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] -hiddenwolf-.livejournal.com
Very good. And kudos for having your own perspective on the Alex/Bagoas relationship and not 'copying' it from TPB.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-10-08 12:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 3scoremiles-10.livejournal.com
Thank you. TPB is a very good book and beautifully written, but whatever else it is, it is also a fiction. As is what I write, for that matter. The sources are pretty bare in relation to Bagoas; there is scope for different interpretations, and this is mine, based on ... well, a few things. Different from Renault, yes, but then I'm not working in Renault's universe, I would not presume to try. I'd rather try and write my own stories, hope they're halfway decent, and if other people end up enjoying them too so much the better.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-10-08 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] -hiddenwolf-.livejournal.com
Yeah, the sources are really vague about it, so no one knows and can have their own take.
Renault based Bagoas' character, his relationships and feelings merely on her imagination (him loving deeply Alexander,hating Hephaestion,Heph being jealous, etc). She could be right. But one can imagine it very differently- like that there was no jealousy between him and Hephaestion and to be actually like friends (like Patroclus was with Briseis, Achilles' concubine), or that there was no bond with him and Alexander- and could also be right. So it's nice to see different versions /ramble
Rock on.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-10-08 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 3scoremiles-10.livejournal.com
Renault needed a character who could be placed well enough in the history so as not to upset the apple-cart to support her first person narrative technique. Her Bagoas was the perfect creation for that role. But as you've rightly pointed out, the character and the depiction of his relationships with others is based on little more than imagination and the needs of the story. None of which is a criticism, it's just damn good writing.

My own opinion, based on the status and position and cultures of the people involved, is that Hephaistion would hardly have noticed Bagoas at all. One doesn't notice slaves unless they get out of line, one certainly doesn't lose sleep over them. Nor does the fact that Alexander probably slept with him change that. Alexander must have had the same appetites as any other man of his time, and Bagoas was a pleasure slave after all ... what else was the king supposed to do with him? Not a particularly romantic approach, I admit - but there you have it. Of course, if people like the whole love triangle concept as shown in TPB, that's fine too. They probably won't like what I write, but these are my stories and my interpretations - based on research and yes, imagination. So I could be a thousand miles off base and will quite willingly admit to that, but this is fiction so in the end, it doesn't really matter. Discussion is all good. ;)

Hmmm...

Date: 2004-10-08 04:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hephaestion.livejournal.com
I think a teenager should have been picked for Bagoas - how old is this dancer? Just like Roxanne..I think the part should have gone to maybe some teen beauty FROM Afghanistan or Iraq...some young actress...I"m sure they have them..(or from India) And is it me..or does it look like Angelina does NOT age in the movie as I thought she would...'cause she and her SON look about the same age...and LOOK as if THEY should be married ...but then all i've seen are pics and quick scenes from the trailer....god I truly HOPE they don't have some freaky Odepius scene in the movie between Olympias and Alexander... i swear..I would vomit the martinis and popcorn..
And another thing..but...is it just me..or does it seem that this playwrite completely RIPPED OFF MARY RENAULT??? is that fucking possible...??? is Mary REnault 's books given their DUE..in this movie I wonder..and I was under the assumption that Mel Gibson OWNED the writes to the Mary REnault ATG Trilogy..(I tried once to get my dad to buy the rights actually LOL)
If anyone has information on this..I would like to know.
Reminder THIS LIST IS NOW MEMBERSHIP ONLY -
just ask to join..chances are you will be allowed :-)
Nicolas.

Re: Hmmm...

Date: 2004-10-08 04:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hephaestion.livejournal.com
I mean [livejournal.com profile] atgstories is not membership only - this comment is in Lisa's journal :-)

N>

Re: Hmmm...

Date: 2004-10-08 09:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 3scoremiles-10.livejournal.com
Bagoas and Roxane both should be presented as being in their teens ... but if we can have 30-something year old actors playing high school kids in movies as a matter of course, I'm sure they can make their chosen actors fit the parts. Make up and lighting do wonders, after all. Still, in the name of authenticity and all that ... ;)

Could it be that Olympias(Angelina) doesn't seem to age because from the time Alexander crossed the Hellespont, he never saw her again so that's where her part ends? Or maybe we just haven't seen the right pictures yet. Have to wait and see. Agreeing with you on the Oedipal moments though - ew. Though I would not have thought that popcorn would go very well with martinis. ;)

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