The World of Christian Cameron

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Diodorus and Sappho

Kineas’s oldest and best friend, another Athenian nobleman and member of the hippeis class. Diodorus has never been exiled and follows Kineas from love — and a certain pleasure in being right all the time. Diodorus has ties to Athenian merchant houses that Kineas lacks, and because of them, he is always sending and receiving letters. In a world without a mail system, telephones, or newspapers, the letters of the literate were the only method of staying in touch with important political developments, and Diodorus’s system of friends, former teachers, and business partners is as efficient as any intelligence service in the period.

Over the course of several books, we’ll see Diodorus develop as an officer and later as a general. Most Greeks of this period achieved command by birth or election, and not necessarily through military merit. If it seems odd that a gentleman of Diodorus’s accomplishments is a trooper, remember that Alexander didn’t really trust his Greeks and that there has been no scope for Diodorus beyond service as a phylarch until they reach Olbia.

Diodorus’s adolescent dream of owning a hetaera is achieved when he buys the contract of Sappho. Sappho, unlike Artemis, is an actual hetaera, as well as being the survivor of one of Alexander’s most brutal acts, the sack of Thebes. After Alexander stormed the city (by a back gate, while his precious phalanx was apparently being defeated by the Theban hoplites) he ordered the entire population sold into slavery. In this way, a proper matron — a “decent” woman, a mother, perhaps even an aristocrat — after repeated sexual abuse, would find herself on the market as a slave. That was the fate that awaited any defeated city — the fate that Olbia dreads in Tyrant and the fate that Alexander was quick to deal out when he was crossed. Readers should keep in mind the cost of failure when they consider the military campaigns of the day.

Sappho is probably not her real name. She’s twenty-four years old at the start of Tyrant: Storm of Arrows and has borne two children, both of whom were apparently killed by Alexander’s troops.