-Που είναι ο Μεγαλέξανδρος;
-ο Μεγαλέξανδρος ζει και βασιλεύει.
-Where is Great Alexander?
-Great Alexander lives and reigns.
Medieval Greek proverb
Welcome to “Pothos”, a blog chronicling my journey following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great. Having never written a blog before–and being someone for whom writing does not come easily–I will admit to having been initially reluctant to begin one now. As my trip drew closer, however, I came to see the benefits of doing so: first, that a blog could serve the familiar purposes of a journal, helping me both process the experience as it is happening and remember it better after it is over; second, that it could allow my family and friends to follow my journey, even if only at second hand; and third, that it might, in some small way, help inspire in you, the readers of this blog, an interest in Alexander, the historical figure who, more than any other, has fascinated me since childhood.
While my ambitions for this Alexander trip were originally far grander, I decided, in the end, to focus on a single part of the Macedonian king’s career: his early campaigns in Greece and the Balkans. Following an initial tour of three Macedonian sites central to Alexander’s childhood and adolescence (Pella, Aegae, Mieza), I will retrace Alexander’s Greek campaign of 336 B.C., his first as king of Macedon. Beginning in Pella, the Macedonian capital, I will make my way south to Corinth, where the young king convinced the Greek city-states to remain faithful to the Panhellenic (all-Greek) alliance his father Philip had recently established. From there, I will return to Macedonia to follow Alexander’s Balkan campaign of 335 B.C. Starting from Amphipolis, a city that has recently been in the news due to the discovery of a colossal Macedonian tomb dated to Alexander’s own period, I will retrace Alexander’s march against the Thracian and Illyrian tribes to the north of Macedon, a march that will take me through parts of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, and Albania. Finally, and as the closing act of the trip, I will follow Alexander’s fateful march on Thebes, a march that resulted in the shocking destruction of one of Greece’s most venerable city-states.
The title of this blog requires some explanation. An Ancient Greek word meaning “desire”, “longing”, or “yearning”, pothos is frequently used by the ancient Alexander historians to describe their subject’s deep, if somewhat mysterious, desires–his desire, for example, to visit the Oracle of Ammon in the midst of the Libyan desert, or his desire to capture Aornus, an Indian stronghold that Hercules himself had supposedly failed to capture. Thus, given my own desire to follow in the footsteps of a man who has been dead for over 2,000 years, “Pothos” seemed a natural title
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the blog!
P.S. In the coming days, I will be posting about my visits to Pella, Aegae, and Mieza. Stay tuned!