Friday, January 1, 2021

What if Alexander IV Escaped Murder?

Another Tumblr question, this time from user Shininglightofdarkness. Sharing it because part of my reply wandered off into a "What If" that, who knows, maybe some aspiring author wants to try. (I don't.) After all, not many periods of history are as crazy-fun as the Successor Wars...

If Alexander lived long enough to see Alexander IV grow up, what sort of father do you think he would have been? For that matter, what do you think Alexander IV was like? I imagine his childhood must have been very stressful, if not outright traumatic.

What sort of father might Alexander have been? I fear, like his own father, largely absent. Especially when his children were young. I don’t think being a father would have slowed down his travel any, and unlike Philip, there wasn’t really a historic “Pella” in his new kingdom for him to come back to.

Once the boy got older, I think he’d have done what his father did and get him a pet philosopher (perhaps Aristotle if the latter was still alive, but in history, he died just one year after Alexander himself, so probably one of Aristotle’s students). Then after he’d spent a few years on an education, Alexander would have taken him campaigning (again, much as Philip did with him).

I do suspect he’d have seen the boy (or boys) periodically, and probably showered them with presents from “strange lands.” But I just don’t think he’d have been around a lot, which might’ve been a good thing, as I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t have held a high bar--again, not unlike his own father.

As for the life Alexander IV actually had…probably very sad. He’d have been at once spoilt and completely overshadowed by his father’s legend. If growing up the son of a living legend (Philip) was hard on Alexander, imagine growing up the son of a dead one? And people tended either to love and admire his father, or hate him. The last years of his life, he spent a prisoner under a man who’d really hated him. I can’t help but think Kassandros took that out on Alexander IV, at least in private.

Now here’s an interesting “what if” story…

What if Roxane realized their time was up, but found a way to smuggle him out so he escaped? Meanwhile, Kassandros found a convenient substitute to kill, to prevent Alex IV claiming his throne…and the Successors were complicit (or at least happy to accept Kassandros’s claims), as they’d prefer him to be and stay dead.

What would the son of Alexander the Great do with himself if he could never be king?

There’s a potential novel for you. Would he feel eternally resentful? Or grateful to his mother (who, let’s say, stayed behind to cover his escape and died after all)? With grandmother dead a some years earlier, would he try to flee to his Aunt Kleopatra in Epiros? Would he be angry he wasn’t king? Or relieved? A lot would depend on what sort of basic personality he had. But it’s a fun “what if?” to consider.