A 2,300-year-old sex scandal

Tony Perrottet in The Smart Set:

ID_TS_PERRO_GREAT_AP_001 You might think a 2,300-year-old sex scandal would eventually lose some of its bite. But when it comes to paragons of masculinity such as world conqueror Alexander the Great, it doesn’t. With his 2004 film Alexander, writer-director Oliver Stone outraged stiff-necked military types with his depiction of the macho Macedonian king, history’s most brilliant warrior, flirting with his boyfriends up and down the Khyber Pass. In between gore-splattered battles, Alexander (played by Colin Farrell) flounces about in makeup at drunken Babylonian banquets, shoots suggestive glances to his male entourage, and indulges in a passionate kiss with one of his officers — all the sort of behavior that would be frowned upon in the U.S. military today, for example. But according to Paul Cartledge, professor of Classics at Cambridge University, the film is actually very coy about Alexander’s busy homoerotic life: There is no real doubt that he took a young Persian eunuch named Bagoas as his lover in Babylon, and that at the height of his power he was still carrying on a torrid affair with his studly childhood sweetheart, Hephestaion. On the other hand, we also know that Alexander sired at least one son — with his wife, the lovely Afghani princess Roxanne — and that he maintained a bevy of voluptuous mistresses as he stormed his way across the Middle East.

So was Alexander bisexual? In fact, the Greeks themselves would not have understood the question. They were shocked by Alexander’s love life for other reasons.

More here.