Go to the alexander-the-great.co.uk homepage
alexander-the-great.co.uk
Talk about the Oliver Stone movie "Alexander"
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Symbolism in OS's Alexander
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    alexander-the-great.co.uk Forum Index -> Discuss 'Alexander' the Movie - Post Release
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
allison



Joined: 04 Feb 2005
Posts: 233
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 6:45 am    Post subject: Symbolism in OS's Alexander Reply with quote

I thought it might be fun to explore the symbolism of OS's Alexander. Beginning with the Myths that run through it. More posts to come.

Myths

Medea – Olympias and Phillip’s marrying Euridice parallel’s Medea’s being spurned by Jason for a younger woman and a more politically advantageous marriage

Oedipus – Alexander’s marriage to Roxanne parallel’s Oedipus marrying his mother (his if only you weren’t a pale imitation comment, the snake motifs surrounding both women &c); Alexander’s being implicated in the death of his father parallel’s Oedipus’s murdering his father.

Herakles – Madness of Herakles resulting in his killing his wife and children has a parallel with both Phillip and Alexander’s attempts at killing their wives and children in fits of rage

Prometheus – interesting parallel between Prometheus having his liver pecked out by the eagle of zeus, and the fallen on the battlefield at Guagamela being eaten by birds of prey. Also interesting parallel between Alexander’s view of his own actions as being for the benefit of mankind and Prometheus being a friend to mankind by supplying them with fire. Both were ‘punished’ for these actions in some way.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
cindoo15



Joined: 29 Nov 2004
Posts: 1282
Location: Dallas TX

PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting Allison. I just watched last night a program on National Geographic Channel (I think, maybe history channel?) titled 'Gods and Goddesses' that went on for 2 hours explaining all the myths. Really fascinating. My husband was commenting how much of it seemed related to psychology. Then they mentioned that the Greek word psyche can be translated to soul. Hmmm.

I'll have to go back and check on Medea - I don't remember that one.

Of coarse, Oedipus - well that one just screams out at you from the film. Do you think Alexander really had an Oedipus complex or was that just a good twist for film making? I'm not so sure he did because he seemed to want to get far away from her. Or, maybe he did, and wanted to get far away because he feared the way he felt about her? Well, these are just my rambling thoughts.

Herakles, hm, I don't recall Alexander trying to kill his child in the film. I know they stated that one was stillborn but then Roxana was pregnant at the end. Maybe you're talking about when he was blaming Roxane for Hephaestions death and he was angry at her while she was pregnant?

Promethius - right on there I think.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
allison



Joined: 04 Feb 2005
Posts: 233
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re Herakles and Alexander - I was thining about the unborn child that Roxanne was carrying - there is a flashback when Al looks in a polished surface and a distorted image of his face and remembers the scene from the beginning of the film when he witnesses his father trying to kill his mother. Perhaps this was a bit of a stretch on my part if no-one else saw it. The labours of Herakles were referred to by Alexander in that his own feats surpassed them.

Greek myths always seem Freudian to me because Freud based so much on his classical education. But then the nature of myths is that they address the human condition in a number of different ways.

Al seemed to have a partial Oedipal complex, but that may have been because his mother was so strong an influence in many ways. From memory Freud's Oedipal Complex took into account the fact that men seemed to run from their mothers into the arms of someone who reminds them of their mother - an ironic cyclic behavioural pattern. Kind of similar to how victims of abuse seem to go straight into one abusive reltionship after another. Subliminal rather than conscious. In my opinion, Al wanted a strong wife so that she could hold her own/ combat his mother. Maybe if he felt that Roxanne was not just a pale imitation, he would have brought his mother to Babylon. But that's pure speculation on my part.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
cindoo15



Joined: 29 Nov 2004
Posts: 1282
Location: Dallas TX

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting allison.

So, if he did have an oedipus complex then was he so close to Hephaestion because he reminded him of Phillip? LOL - sorry, just had to say it but didn't mean it. Actually, it seems that Alexander craved love and I think he got it in abundance from Hephaestion and that is why he cared for him so. I wish we knew more about Hephaestion.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Adriv



Joined: 17 Jan 2005
Posts: 1144
Location: Maryland, USA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cindoo15 wrote:
Very interesting allison.

So, if he did have an oedipus complex then was he so close to Hephaestion because he reminded him of Phillip? LOL - sorry, just had to say it but didn't mean it. Actually, it seems that Alexander craved love and I think he got it in abundance from Hephaestion and that is why he cared for him so. I wish we knew more about Hephaestion.


I agree cindoo 15, and also think that Alexander got along well with Hephaestion because in personality they were the oppositive to each other, like they say... opposite attracks. Hephaestion brought balance to their friendship/relationship.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Savanna



Joined: 13 Dec 2004
Posts: 70
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada - USA

PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2005 12:34 am    Post subject: different kind of symbolism Reply with quote

In one of the older ATG biographies, I found a bit of info on Philip's backstory that puts the dancing scene where Roxane is introduced into a very interesting light. Not talking mythological symbolism here, but perhaps there was an intentional parallel here: Philip's mother Euridiche took a lover before his father died, and when his older brother became king, she schemed with her lover against her own son. Philip's brother was assassinated at their mother's orders, by a troupe of girls who danced before him with knives, and then fell on him and stabbed him to death at the end of their performance. Roxane has a knife* with her in the dancing scene when he falls in love... coincidence? Or is she serving as a symbolic connection between Alex and his father, not only as a pale shadow of Olympias, but also as a haunting reminder of his uncle's killers, the dancing girls hired by Alex's grandmother, whose action led to Philip's ascension? I guess it's a stretch, but why else would the knife be there?

(* This would not be the same knife that she tries to kill him with, since she snatched it from under his pillow, where some other historian said that Alex always kept a copy of the Iliad and a dagger.)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
cindoo15



Joined: 29 Nov 2004
Posts: 1282
Location: Dallas TX

PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2005 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting Savanna - I have never heard that story before. What book did you get that from?

I know I've said this before but I find the whole bit with Roxane trying to kill Alexander hard to swallow. Come on, Alexander whom had conquored how many people and killed God knows how many in battle couldn't fight off Roxane and then said something about owing her his life? Please! I know, I shouldn't say anything bad about our film but this part just gets me. Yes, I accept the 50 lashes with a wet noodle that I deserve. I beg your forgiveness. Thank you.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Savanna



Joined: 13 Dec 2004
Posts: 70
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada - USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2005 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philip and Alexander of Macedon, by David G. Hogarth, 1862-1927. Might have to go to a library for this one, but it's very well-written and leaves you with a much clearer impression of who Alexander's father was and what his childhood must've been like in such a family, at such a dramatic period in history, with his father usually out conquering the world with spectacular efficiency and ruthlessness.

Heh, I was a little overwhelmed with that scene too, but I gave him the benefit of some doubt. ;) I just figured his sense of deference to women had belatedly kicked in, or maybe his distaste for rape was triggered when she struggled - reminding him of his mother - so he let her get the upper hand deliberately, to give her a choice (kill me, or be my wife). The one thing I really didn't like about it was the way it echoed Troy's sex scene - the reminder was a jolt that knocked me out of the thrall of the film for a good while, and not being a big fan of Troy I was pretty irritated with that.. still, Alexander's knife scene was much more dramatic and plausible, and if only the other one hadn't come first I might have been carried along with it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Lala



Joined: 22 Feb 2004
Posts: 324
Location: Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece, Europe, Earth

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cindoo15 wrote:
Then they mentioned that the Greek word psyche can be translated to soul. Hmmm.
Was that their conclusion?!!... Yes, "psyche" was and still is "soul" in Greek. I think all English dictionaries have it in.

[sorry, but I don't get the tone of doubt in the expression "can be translated"]

[http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=psych]
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
rothalion



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 73
Location: USA, Florida

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

question? I watched Troy the other night as best i could the DVD died before the end. There was a referance made about an eagle with a snake in its talons like i the end of Alexander, Olymoias' scene. I can't recall exactly the prophacy and the disk is dead do you think Stone is recounting this? Is it straight out of Homer? Thanks.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail MSN Messenger
Catherine X



Joined: 17 Jan 2005
Posts: 814
Location: England

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rothalion, you could try cleaning the DVD player if you haven't tried that already. We tried to watch 3 discs yesterday and they were all misbehaving, so my husband opened the DVD slot thing [where you put the DVDs] and blew violently into it in every direction. After that, these three discs all worked perfectly! Which was a relief and prevented me from losing my temper. Laughing
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
cindoo15



Joined: 29 Nov 2004
Posts: 1282
Location: Dallas TX

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I still haven't finished watching Troy. I've fallen asleep all three times. So, what does that say about the movie? Actually, it was really late (like 2am) each time I put it on so maybe that's why I've fallen asleep. I do need to watch it though.

Good remark Savanna; I hadn't thought about Alexander just letting her get away with it so as to see what the end result would be; as you said something about him wishing to see if she let him live or actually tried to kill him. That does make sense and I think I shall view it that way from now on.

Lala - thanks for the info on the definition of psyche.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Lala



Joined: 22 Feb 2004
Posts: 324
Location: Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece, Europe, Earth

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2005 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anytime!! Very Happy
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Aristophanes



Joined: 17 Jan 2004
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2005 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From a discussion:

The trip through the tunnel/caves with his father was spell binding. I think even then, Stone is telling us, that both Philip and his son have this doomed life in front of them because their genius challenges the gods and anything that draws the gods' attention will draw their jealous and wrath - then nemisis. They draw closer together in this scene but its only in flash back that Alexander understands the tragic fate of Greek heroes.
Phillip tries to explain to his son what a king has to go through in order to survive, shows him how the great heroes suffered, and (clearly saddened by his own experiences) that he'll even have to hurt those he loves.

The myths of Prometheus, Medea, Heracles, Oedipus, Achilles and Patroclus are all carried out to some extent in Alexander's life.

The Promethean light that Alexander wants to bring is cities and civilisation and learning and freedom. We know that he will be devoured for it - by his own army.
He sees a vulture eating the dead and remembers the scene of Prometheus being tortured by the bird. He's paralleled with Prometheus in the story, for bringing the light, for defying- and I guess this eagle is somewhat his guide, inspiration and punishment.

Medea is obviously an allusion to his mother and her relationship with his father, and while she says that she'd never hurt Alexander, her actions make him a king but destroy his peace with his father and thus a part of himself. The movie makes it fairly clear that Olympias must have been behind Philip's assassination.
I noticed in the scene where Alexander fights with her about Phillip's death, he has a flashback of the Medea painting. When he fist saw it in the cave he said 'my mother would never hurt me', but now he faces the opposite.

The madness of Hercules at the end of the 12 tests the gods gave him, results in him losing the wife he loved and killing his own children - this could allude to his relationship with his men and with Hephaeston.
Also while he's furious he tries to kill Roxanna and she tells him she's with child, he remembers the painting of the mad Hercules killing his childern, and he stops.

The Oedipus allusion is obvious - loves his mother and murders his father. This is also obvious in his scenes with Roxanne - he sees his mother in her, then there is the attempted rape scene, an echo of his childhood, and her snakeskin bracelet.
I think it's interesting that after Hephaestion's death and after he attacks Roxanne, we see Oedipus blinding himself. Maybe it's meaning was that the punishment for his lust for mother (Roxanne being the Olympias-substitute), was to lose his 'eyes', his most beloved friend (it's implied that she might poisoned him).

As to Achilles and Patroclus - the relationship is continually referred to but it is sad when Hephaestion mentions that Patroculs died first and Alexander says, "We will go together". The film plays it as a genuine love and not a campy scary "gay" thing that all the critics were squealing about, I imagine that real love between men, gay or not, would be as moving as this. We don't really see the full extent of Alexander's madness after the death of his friend but I found the farewell scene between them to be very moving, and his immediate reaction after, heartrending. Cassander also has a few digs at Alexander about sleeping with Homer under his pillow.
And in Hephaestion's death scene, he speaks to Alexander about Achilles and Patroclus. Alexander for the first time in his life refuses to believe the myth, because well, in the myth Patroclus dies first and Hephaestion is now dying before him, and he wants to deny it. Then Hephaestion replies shakily 'But what a beautiful myth it was!'. Yes, historically inaccurate scene, but damn, it showed their love.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Adriv



Joined: 17 Jan 2005
Posts: 1144
Location: Maryland, USA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2005 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh my God Aristophanes, very good! very interesting. I really like that, it makes sense. Nice posting, thank you. Smile
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    alexander-the-great.co.uk Forum Index -> Discuss 'Alexander' the Movie - Post Release All times are GMT + 1 Hour
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum



Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group