FIRE FROM HEAVEN (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AS FIRE FELL FROM HEAVEN)
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Returning to the stables, Alexander sees horses dressed in the dazzling wealth of Persia. He learns that two Persian satraps who rebelled against the Great King have been given pardons and will be returning from exile in Macedon. Alexander entertains and questions the envoys who have come to bring them back, gaining useful military information because the amused envoys tell a child more than they would an adult. Alexander also flirts with the handsome youth who attends the envoys, and later dreams of riding off with him to see Persepolis after murdering a group of impudent Persian envoys.
The final sequence of Chapter One ends with Alexander allowed to join his mother in a women's rite dedicated to the god Dionysus because Alexander has not yet reached puberty.
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When Philip goes to war against Chalkidike , he puts Olympias' cold uncle, Leonidas of Epirus in charge as regent, and entrusts him with finding tutors for Alexander, who is now seven years old and considered ready to begin training for manhood. Leonidas forces Alexander into a Spartan lifestyle and the tutors try to tame Alexander's imagination into rote learning. Conditions are somewhat alleviated by an old family friend, Lysimachus of Acarnania , who encourages Alexander's dreams by referring to Alexander as the mythical hero Achilles and himself as Phoinix.
In his mind, Alexander equates his father with Achilles' military colleague but personal enemy, Agamemnon. Alexander has his first meeting with Hephaestion , although it is brief and they argue. Philip returns from war, bringing crowds of slaves with him. He also marries a woman from Thrace to seal an alliance, causing mad jealousy in Olympias. In retaliation, Olympias appears on stage in a celebratory play, something which is allowed her as a priestess of Dionysos, god of theatre, but is still considered wildly shocking since only men are supposed to appear on stage.
In the gossiping crowd afterward, Alexander slashes the leg of a man who he hears insulting his mother. To atone for attacking someone without warning, Alexander sacrifices to Zeus , and believes that the god speaks directly to him during the rite. Alexander is ten years old. Going to meet with his father, he notes that his father's newest guard, Pausanias of Orestis , has the kind of looks which Philip appreciates in lovers. Philip is preparing to hear envoys from Athens , who are coming to convince him against joining a war against Phocis , because they are afraid of his increasing power spreading into southern Greece.
Chief among them is Demosthenes , who attempts to molest Alexander, mistaking him for a slave. Alexander is revenged when he reveals himself as Philip's heir just as Demosthenes is about to speak. Demosthenes is also humiliated because his speech is plagiarized by another envoy, Aeschines.
Alexander befriends a young Thracian, Lambaros, living at the court as a hostage, despite the snobbery which the other Macedonians display toward him. Alexander learns eagerly from his tutors, and bemoans the fact that he must sleep when there is so much he wants to do. His music teacher, Epikrates, encourages him to perform due to his great skill on the cithara , but Philip publicly humiliates Alexander for being too good a musician. Epikrates resigns, and Alexander runs away from home.
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He joins a soldier on leave in a tribal feud in the uplands of Macedon, making his first murder in battle and carrying the head of the victim back to prove his manhood to his father. Alexander refuses to claim the head of a second kill because the face reminds him of his father.
Returned to the palace, Alexander is given his own retinue of young men-at-arms. At a yearly horse fair, when Alexander is away from them looking at horses, the group gossips that King Philip had taken the guard Pausanias of Orestis as a lover, but then had moved on to someone else. Pausanias had insulted the new lover in jealousy, leading the new lover to be foolishly brave in battle to try to prove himself, and resulting in his death. To get back at Pausanias, the general Attalos , a friend of the dead man, had got Pausanias drunk and let the stable grooms gang rape him.
Philip has now promoted Pausanias to captain of the royal bodyguard to try to make it up to him, but has not punished Attalos, who is a good general. Alexander shows amazing courage and skill in taming the horse Bucephalus in front of the assembled chiefs at the horse fair. He re-meets Hephaestion who he had first met six years previous and is smitten.
Alexander realizes that while talking with Hephaestion, he had forgotten all about running to tell the news of the new horse to his mother, the first time this has happened when he had big news to tell. Alexander burns a great deal of Persian incense to Heracles at a rite and is told by his great-uncle Leonidas not to be so wasteful of Persian riches until he is master of the lands where they grow, a sentiment which Alexander takes to heart. Alexander is nearly 15 and is studying the military histories of Xenophon. When they are hiding out together on a rooftop, Alexander convinces Hephaestion to climb to a dangerously high pinnacle.
Hephaestion, who has become completely infatuated , likens Alexander to Zeus, and himself to Semele , realizing that a relationship with Alexander will always involve danger.
Philip leaves to install Alexandros , Olympias' brother, as the new king of Epirus , placing the loyal Antipatros as regent of Macedon. Alexander receives his new tutor, Aristotle , who sets up a school for Alexander and the sons of Philip's generals at Mieza.
Among the comrades are Hephaestion, who is now accepted as Alexander's "shadow" by everyone, Ptolemy, Harpalos , Philotas , and Kassandros , whom Alexander does not like, but he must be included because he is the heir of the loyal regent Antipatros. At one point, they watch a play about Achilles and Patroclus , which further inspires the bond between Alexander and Hephaestion. After some time at the school at Mieza, Alexander and his closest comrades are called to join Philip in besieging a fort. A military escort is led by Kleitos , brother of Alexander's former nanny, Hellanike.
Alexander fights with great bravery, and interacts personally with the soldiers, earning their admiration. After the fall of the fort, he rescues a woman whose baby has been murdered, and whom Kassandros was attempting to rape. In an ensuing fight, the woman nearly kills Kassandros, and he is packed off home in disgrace. Alexander visits his boyhood friend, the former Thracian hostage Lambaros, on the return trip.
Back at school, the young men are shocked to hear of the torture and death of Hermias of Atarneus , a friend of Aristotle and loyal ally of Macedon, under arrest in Persia. Aristotle refers to all Persians as barbarians in anger, an insult which Alexander refuses to believe. Meanwhile, Philip deposes Kersobelptes of Thrace. Alexander's family is reunited at the springtime Dionysia , held at the old capital at Aigai.
When Fire fell from Heaven
His mother is jealous that Alexander and Philip have now bonded through their common passion for war. Caught up in the heterosexual furor surrounding the Dionysia, Alexander flirts with a serving woman, Gorgo, but later comes upon his father having sex with her. On the day of the festival, he watches the secret rites of the women on the mountaintop, although it is forbidden, and sees his mother murder Gorgo in her role as priestess of Dionysos.
Sick with shame for having watched something forbidden, Alexander reasons that his mother has the right to wage war in the way of women just as his father does in the way of men, and that Olympias has actually killed far fewer people than Philip. Hephaestion comforts Alexander after the shock, and is relieved that Alexander did not have sex with any of the women returning from the mountain rites, as many of their friends did.
The next spring, Alexander and Hephaestion finally have sex. It is something which Hephaestion has been longing for, but it leaves Alexander distant because, like sleep, it reminds him that he is mortal. When they return to the capital from school, the circle of men around Alexander are noticed to have taken up the southern Greek fashion of shaving, something which Philip views with distaste. Nonetheless, he leaves Alexander as regent when he goes off to war against Perinthos and Byzantion. As regent, Alexander practices military skills himself and studiously trains the soldiers left to him, making them ready when he puts down a rebellion in Thrace.
He is aided by his childhood friend, Lambaros, who knows the local terrain.
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Upon driving off the rebels, Alexander founds the city of Alexandropolis Maedica and then joins his father against Perinthos. There, he saves his father's life but Philip, ashamed, pretends to have been unconscious and to not remember it, losing some of the loyalty he had earned from Alexander in their shared battle plans. On his return to the capital, Alexander is pressured by his mother, who is jealous of Hephaestion's influence, to engage in heterosexuality.
He is kind to a hetaira at a party, but goes no further than kissing her gently. His mother then has a young woman smuggled into his room at night.
Elijah and Elisha - Bible Story
Realizing that the woman will be punished if she does not prove she has lost her virginity , and wanting his mother off his back, Alexander has sex with her. The next morning he sends the woman back to his mother with an expensive pin which Olympias had told Alexander to save for his bride someday, and the message that from now on he will choose his own lovers. Philip decides that southern Greece must be invaded. Alexander is put in charge of a feint against Illyria to make the southern Greeks unprepared. Back at Pella , he questions his mother as to who is his biological father, but the novel leaves the answer a secret.
Athens and Thebes ally against Philip. Sparta remains uninvolved. The Athenian army and the Sacred Band of Thebes are destroyed, with Alexander's courage and tactical skill making him a hero to the army. Philip's hegemony is recognized. Alexander represents Philip in Athens, where he is insulted when someone tries to offer him service from an enslaved sex worker. On the way back to Pella, Philip's entourage stays at the castle of Attalos , the general who had years before planned the gang rape of Pausanias of Orestis , the chief of Philip's bodyguard. Alexander is shocked that his father is insulting Pausanias by making him stay the night at the home of his former rapist, but Ptolemy points out that the king has lots of other things to think about and has probably put the event long out of mind.
Pausanias does not eat or drink the entire time they are lodged at the home of Attalos. Attalos gains another enemy in Olympias when it is announced that Philip will be marrying Attalos' niece. The marriage threatens Olympias even more than Philip's previous marriages because a son born to this wife would be completely Macedonian, and might be considered a better heir than Olympias' own son, Alexander.
Alexander goes along with the wedding until Attalos prays that his niece will produce a "lawful, true-born heir" which Alexander takes as an insult and threat. He hurls a cup at Attalos' head, a huge offense against a host, then goes with his mother into exile in her native Epirus.
Fire From Heaven
Along the route of their flight, they take refuge at the house of Pausanias' wife. In Epirus, Alexander consults the oracle of Dodona , under the auspices of three priestesses reminiscent of the Moirai , and is given the answer of "yes" to two questions which the novel leaves a secret. Through the mediation of Demaratos , Alexander and Olympias return to Macedon, but there is now a clear faction which supports them, and a second faction which supports Attalos.
Philotas , one of the young men in Alexander's circle, is recruited by his father, the general Parmenion , to spy on Alexander for Philip. Olympias' own spies learn that Philip plans to marry Arridaios , the developmentally disabled son of a minor wife, off to the daughter of a ruler on the edge of the Persian Empire. Convinced that the prestigious marriage is meant as a slight to him, Alexander proposes himself to the foreign ruler as an alternate bridegroom through the secret negotiations of Thettalos, an admiring actor.
When he learns that Alexander has gone behind his back, Philip exiles several of the men who helped in the plot, including Ptolemy, whom Philip acknowledges to be his biological son. Hephaestion is not exiled, but is threatened with death if Alexander ever again commits an act seen as treasonous. Thettalos is brought before Philip in chains, and Alexander is forced to plead for his life.
Fed up with Olympias, Philip makes plans to marry her daughter, Kleopatra, off to Olympias' brother, the current king of Epirus. This will allow Philip to divorce Olympias while still retaining a marriage bond to the king of Epirus. But fire descends from heaven and consumes them. We have seen references to heavenly fire in other passages:. Our God is a consuming fire. He resides in unapproachable light. Moses must take off his shoes on the holy ground before the flaming bush in which the Angel of the Lord appears.
A pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night protect the Israelites from their enemies, keep them from sunstroke by day and provide warmth by night. The Angel of the Lord causes fire to come from a rock upon which Gideon has placed a meal of goat, broth, and unleavened bread in a gracious act to prove His providence.
On the Day of Pentecost, tongues as of fire light on believers; they are filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in languages they previously have not known. Paul tells us our works will be tried by fire, burning off the dross but purifying the good works 1 Cor. In Revelation we see seven flaming torches before the throne of God in heaven, representing the seven-fold Spirit of God Rev. Ultimately, believers may rest in the fact that our God is a consuming fire Heb.
Just as the smell of smoke clings to a body in fire, the stain of sin, like a shadow, never leaves the soul of the unbeliever. The fire from heaven in Rev. In fact, His ways often are unknown to us.