Olympias, the woman who plotted to ascend the throne of Alexander the Great

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Coin with the face of Olympia.

Olympiaprincess of Epirus, was one of the wives of King Philip II of Macedonia and mother Alexander the Great. Ambitious to the fullest, intelligent, cunning and a snake trainer, the accusations of her husband’s death fly over her figure, a misfortune that gave her offspring direct access to the throne of one of the most prosperous kingdoms of the time.

Laura Mas fictionalized life in first person Olympia (spawn) in the novel of the same name. Her name was Polyxena, the name she changed to Myrtala when she married Philip, and later changed it to Olympia in memory of Philip’s victory at the Olympic Games. She will end her days as a Stratonic in honor of her grandson’s triumph.

Laura Mas combined several ancient sources in which he appears with contemporary essays by historians. “The testimonies of contemporaries tell us about the vilified woman, how could it be otherwise. witch, sorceress, evil and dark person. This is because the Olympics were very ambitious. His main task was to perpetuate his dynasty,” the writer told Libertad Digital.

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Angelina Jolie as Olympia in Alexander the Great

“She did not rest until her son Alexander the Great inherited the throne of Macedonia. This was her priority. The fact that she had so much power that she even wanted to be a participant in political decisions, the fact that not even a queen could, at what time, made her a strong and self-confident woman, considered a danger by the men of that time“says Mas.”Plutarch He mentions her several times. She recounts, for example, that Olympias had a portentous dream that led her to believe that Alexander the Great was the son of Zeus and not her husband. I mean, he was a demigod,” he recalls.

Princess of Epirus, her marriage to Philip – the man responsible for bringing this fringe territory to glory – strengthened the relationship between the two neighboring kingdoms. In the fourth century BC in polygamous Macedonia she joined the palace as a fifth wife, but as a favorite. “Wives competed with each other. All those who had a royal man sought to ensure that this son was on the Macedonian throne, ”recalls Mas.

Alexander the Great, bastard

Olympia fell out of favor with her husband after the birth of their son Alejandro, but this did not stop her. “Philip rejects Olympias, and Alexander the Great is accused of being an illegitimate son. for the lack of pure Macedonian blood. A foreigner laid a heavy burden on the yard, and Olympia voluntarily referred to her native territory, ”she explains. Under these circumstances, she may have orchestrated her husband’s murder, as numerous theories claim: the pieces fit. Philip was killed by one of his bodyguards shortly after he remarried a young woman of Macedonian blood and had another son. Everything converges, but we will never know the truth, ”the author laments.

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Alexander and Aristotle

Whether Olympias was behind Philip’s assassination or not, Mas holds her responsible for the “suppressive” personality of Alexander the Great. “He took care of his education, chose his teachers, among whom, by the way, Aristotle was the main one. He instilled in him habits such as reading. While researching Olympia, I discovered that she always called him my little one. Achillesin relation to that legendary creature, in the footsteps of which Alexander the Great sought to follow.

“Alexander the Great was a very charismatic person who not only conquered territories, but also conquered people. They did not see him as an enemy, because he sympathized with them and adapted to their customs. Hence, he attributed great merit to his mother.

While she plotted to raise her family, Alexander the Great lived outside the reality of his people. “After his departure for Asia with his entire army, he began to completely disconnect from what was happening in his kingdom, a misfortune for his mother, who never wanted him to neglect that magnificent Macedonia that Philip had left him. He hardly acts like a king. on its territory, leaving it in the hands of the most trusted general named Antipater, one of the greatest enemies of Olympias. Their hatred has always been mutual.”

Till the last breath

The relationship between mother and son became “unhealthy”. They lived for 12 years without seeing each other, learning about each other’s adventures only through correspondence, a time that “must have been extremely difficult”. He fought endlessly to perpetuate his dynasty: “When Alexander died during the conquest of the Persian Empire, he placed his hopes on his future grandson. Roxana was pregnant. She continued to fight even though things didn’t turn out the way she expected.”

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Laura Mas admits that Olympia This is not a historical novel to usebut rather a literary novel, framed within the historical genre: “These are short books, I am not overly fond of descriptions. I don’t fill my books with historical data. I’m much more interested in delving into the psychology of the characters. I prefer the lights and shadows of Olympia, her moments of glory, but also her big disappointments.”

Mas is the author of other books such as Socrates’ teacher novel about diotimato whom we owe the concept of Platonic love.

Laura Mas. Olympia. Skip narration. 336 pages. €18.90.

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