Tomb and Throne

Abduction_of_Persephone_by_Pluto,_AmphipolisThe famous king, scion of an ancient royal dynasty, conquers a large empire. He dies in his new capital city, perhaps poisoned, perhaps from a disease picked up in his far-flung military campaigns aggravated by years of heavy drinking and many war wounds. In the battle for his throne, one of his generals puts his wife and young son to death, eliminating his obvious heir. His mother continues to wield political power, until the traitorous general murders her, too. But don’t feel too sorry for her – she may have assassinated her husband to help her son take the throne.

This king isn’t a character in the latest fantasy best-seller, he’s Alexander the Great. Now archeologists may add to his story with a wonderful mosaic uncovered in a tomb from the end of Alexander’s reign, near the ancient site of Amphipolis in northern Greece. The large mosaic shows the God of the Underworld kidnapping a red-haired goddess who will become his queen.

The large tomb was clearly intended for someone of importance from the period of Alexander’s death. The motif of a queen carried to the underworld leads to speculation the tomb’s occupant was a woman, and possibly Alexander’s wife Roxane or mother Olympias. There is even some basis for believing the mosaic depicts Alexander himself with his parents cast in the roles of gods. “Only time, and further excavation, will tell.”

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