Reign-The Conquorer (anime)

Here’s the historical notes from my friend, sadly not in much of any order (she did put them in chrono order of when she sent them, so it should follow the flow of the show). I haven’t seen every single ep and when I do watch I tend to be distracted, so its hard for me to follow everything. I think I’ll keep on watching now that they’re re-airing from the beginning and maybe upon a second viewing it’ll all make more sense to me.

Random bits of Alexander the Great stuff:

About Harp Guy and Alex’s sex life:
Hephaestion – the blue-haired, pretty Harp Guy, who was very likely historically Alex’s main male lover. (Alexander was also connected with a Persian slave boy, named Bagoas, I think, whom he met much later on – the “Persian Boy” of the title of the second book of the Mary Renault historical trilogy about him. See below. This character doesn’t seem to have turned up in “Reign,” though.)

As I told you recently, in real life Hephaestion pre-deceased Alexander, and Alexander went mad with grief about his death. Apparently, when Alexander died he was buried in the same tomb as Hephaestion. (Whether Ptolemy had anything to do with building the tomb I don’t know.)

I must be very quick to remind you that sexual orientation among the Ancient Greeks was processed, culturally, very differently from the way we do. Men were expected to have intense, sexual relationships with other men, while still marrying women and having children by them. Women lived in a very separate sphere from men – not quite in harems, but there were separate quarters in the houses for women, called something like the “Gynaceuem” or something like that. Women were not expected to mix socially with men outside their families. Marriages tended to be arranged. The usual patriarchal crap. Though, as with many of these kinds of societies, queens and noblewomen often knew how to manipulate the men around them to their own advantage. (See Olympias…)

Alexander was married to the Persian Princess, Roxanne. I think he may have had a couple of other state marriages, too. (Not sure if he was actually polygamous or more of a serial monogamist. Remember, the events of “Reign” are compressing a story that took about 10-15 years to play out in real life. Generally, I seem to recall Greek marriages were more or less monogamous, but rich men had slave women or concubines, etc. too. Persian kings may have been polygamous, which could have given Alex an excuse if he wanted to add to the collection after Roxanne…)

I’m not a huge expert but since I studied Dead Greeks I know the basics of the story. So far, what I’ve seen is actually bizarrely accurate. I mean, some of the details have been Weirded Up (that whole thing about the Assassins of Pythagoras? the Plato-Hedron?) but the basic sequence of events is pretty spot-on.

Even the weird shit about Alexander’s mother is not coming out of thin air. History tells us that she was apparently a priestess and was accused of witchcraft and general strangeness. She also was said to be overbearing and very ambitious for her son. The strong intimations of incestuous feelings aren’t totally out of left field either – I think that accusation has been leveled in the historical record, too. (It may be exaggerated in this version but again, it’s not coming out of thin air.)

I am recognizing many of the characters from history. Like, Alexander really is said to have studied with Aristotle. I thing with Diogenes is another story associated with him. (Though, again, less weird than in this version.)

Note that Ptolemy is one of Alex’s Posse – you may recognize his name as the general who ended up inheriting Egypt and founding the line of Greek-Egyptian Pharaohs that continued for hundreds of years and included the famous Cleopatra. (Which, it turns out, was originally the name of Alexander’s sister – she isn’t included in this version of the story, apparently.)

I also recognize other names. In Athens to this day there is the Stoa of Attalos, in the Agora, which was built by one of the kings established by Alexander there. (I was surprised Attalos got executed in this version of the story. The Attalos of Athens may be a different guy with the same name. Names get repeated a lot.) Anyway, most of the major players are real historical figures. It’s kind of fun! (Though that Cassandra, Warrior Princess chick looks added in. I don’t remember any mention of an Amazon-like Badass Chick in any story I know of Alexander. )

If you are interested, there is a historical novel trilogy that is, as far as I know, one of the better accounts of Alexander’s life. It’s by Mary Renault, and the first book is called “Fire from Heaven.” That first book goes up to Alex at around 20, around the time his father dies. Then the next book is about his campaigns (I think that one is called “The Persian Boy”) and a third one is actually about his death and the aftermath. (I think that one is called “Funeral Games.”) Renault does talk a lot about Alex’s relationship with Hephaestion and other men, but since the books were written in 1969, thereabouts, there’s not exactly a “Queer as Folk” sensibility. (It’s low key but not denied.)

Also, there was a PBS TV documentary not too many years ago, hosted by Michael Wood. It was about re-tracing the steps of Alexander the Great by actually going to the historical and archaeological sites associated with his exploits. I may have it on tape somewhere, but my tapes are a hideous uncatalogued mess right now. You may find tapes or DVDs on, or maybe even in the library.

(I think the show was called “In the Footsteps of Alexander” or something like that.)
The closest thing we’ve seen to a villain yet is Attalos, the guy who maneuvered his daughter into bed with the King. Though I’m dying to find out What Happened On Samothrace Island!
(Again, based on real events in history – there were a lot of mystery cults in Greece and Rome back then.)

new commentary: What ended up happening at Samothrace is of course, MIGHTY weird in “Reign.” But I believe there really was a wiggy mystery cult there. The most famous thing out of Samothrace is the famous “Winged Victory” statue (the “Nike of Samothrace”) now in the Louvre. Not sure what the date for that statue is – it might be from Alexander’s era or not long thereafter.

By the way, the time in Greek history during and after Alexander’s era is known as the Hellenistic Era. Before that, it’s called “Hellenic” of which the “Classical” era includes the golden age of Athens, the building of the Parthenon, etc. Alexander lived in the 300’s something BCE. The Golden Age was about 100 years earlier. I believe Socrates lived in that era. Plato, of course, was his follower, then Aristotle.

from the original e-mail:
Oh, yeah, the philosophy stuff is definitely mumbo-jumbo. I know a little Greek philosophy and this is the part they’re playing most fast and loose with.

I nearly fell out of bed (was watching in my room) when Diogenes started talking like Yoda. I seem to recall, Diogenes may have been the philosopher who supposedly walked around Athens with a lantern looking for one honest man. (What the tarot card “the Hermit” is based on.) I could be wrong about that. But I have definitely heard the name.

Other events from real history depicted in “Reign” include:
The Gordian Knot incident (which is a famous saying even to this day.)
The visit to the Oracle of Ammon
The founding of Alexandria (of course)
The defeat of Persia and the marriage to Roxanne
The slog to India. In history, Alexander died on the way back from India. I think he caught some kind of a swamp fever or something. Let’s see how he buys it in this version.

This is the URL for “In the Footsteps of Alexander”

Found a website relating to that really good PBS show about Alexander that I know I have floating around on tape somewhere. Until I find it, here is a URL for the show’s site:

Dr. Righteous. That was very enlightening, please thank your friend for me!

I have indeed passed your thanks along and she says you’re more than welcome. After viewing another ep she has this to add:

  1. Olympias REALLY was into handling snakes (there are Greek religions where snakes are important.) The bit where Phillip finds her in bed with the snake in the first episode is based on historically-based legend.

  2. Philotas really was executed after -yes -an actual assassination attempt on Alexander in Persia, as occurred more or less in “Reign”. (I suspected there had been a real assassination attempt. I think you missed the episode where this happened. In “Reign” an assassin was sent by the Zoroastrians in the form of a dancing girl with poison on her lips. She kissed Alex during her dance routine at his wedding feast. Wackiness ensued.)

  3. I think I found out where they grew Cassandra from in “Reign”. In real life, it was Aristotle’s NEPHEW, (remember, she’s Aristotle’s niece in the show) Callisthenes (see the similarity in names?) who was part of Alex’s posse. Apparently, he actually wrote an eye-witness account of the expeditions, and was in fact a critic of Alex’s growing despotism. He was executed by Alex in Afghanistan. Hm. This may give us a clue to the final fate of Cassandra in “Reign.” (We already saw her try to kill Alex once.)

  4. Cleitus also did really exist, and he was actually killed by ALEXANDER himself in a drunken brawl! (In “Reign,” we saw Cassandra kill him unintentionally as she was trying to kill Alex.)

Also, apparently, Ptolemy wrote a major account of Alexander’s expeditions, but the original text is lost to us. It was, however, used by a much later historian named Arrian, who is a major source of Alexander neep.

I’m staying at a relative’s place and don’t have access to my bookshelves. Is Reign’s Cassandra basd in any way on the tragic heroine(her curse was twofold-she could see the future, an none believed her prophecies.).

Euclid-On last night’s episode(nonspoiler) Alex is watching a boy draw diagrams and equations in the sand. The boy, who is revealed to be Euclid-the father of geometry, only notices alex when the king’s shadow covers his work. Even the, Euclid doesn’t look up or realize who it is. He only tell the man to move out of his light.
I am not sure whether this is coincidence, symbolism, or a reference to the death of Archimedes. (Cite for death of Archimedes Pannatti’s Extraordinary Endings Of Practically Everything And Everybody) The city Archimedes was living in was conquered. The invading king sent soldiers to bring him Archimedes, alive and unharmed. When the soldiers found him, he was working on a mathematical problem by scratching it out on the dirt. a soldier approched him. Archimedes pushed him away and said “Stand away from my diagram!”. The soldier lost his temper and killed Archimedes. The king had the soldier executed and buried Archimedes with honors. He had Archimedes’ tombstone inscribed with a sphere set in a cylinder. Archimedes had discovered the formula for finding the volume of a sphere and was very proud of the acomplishment.

Reign And Donald Duck-
The Disney film Donald Duck In Mathmagic Land was the first place I learned of the Pythagorean cult. I’d like to see the film again and compare it to other sources. But the Disneyphiles of the SDMB have stated that the film is not available on vide or DVD.

I too first learned about the Pythagorean Cult in that disney show.

Interesting show last night, did I miss about 3 episodes since thursday? It seems like theres about 3 episodes skipped between each episode. (and 2 or 3 DURING each episode)

Very nice show (although I like Cowboy Bepop better…)

My friend cruised on over here herself to see what was up (soon as she’s done with her current project it wouldn’t surprise me if she registers here) and she has this to add (anything below that says “I” is really her, not me):

I don’t necessarily think so. With reference to my earlier post, I think they just wanted a Greek-sounding “C” name for a female character, who is taking the place of the historical nephew of Aristotle.

I don’t think this show gave her any prophetic qualities. Perhaps her name is a reference to the fact that Alexander is prophesied to “destroy the world,” but Cassandra refuses to follow her uncle’s order to circumvent the prophecy by killing Alex. In a sense, she refuses to believe the prophecy.

I was actually really surprised to see her live to the end of the series. But I saw what was coming to Hephaestion a MILE away! I could be a crazy slashgirl, but did Alexander show more emotion on his face at the death of Heph than at the death of any of the other members of the posse?

The mathematician Euclid actually may have been around at the time of Alexander. Alex was born in 356 BCE and Euclid may have been born around 325 BCE (not much is known about Euclid, apparently.) He actually is called “Euclid of Alexandria” and if he really existed as a person (there is apparently some doubt) he could have been considered an inheritor of Alex’s New World Order.

Here’s where I looked up Euclid, on a quick Google search:

(I know I’ve seen Euclid’s name associated with Alexander in some other context, too. I can’ t remember now where I read it. It was just about a week ago, dagnabbit.)

In “Reign” I think the shadow thing may be a reference to the earlier episode where Alexander goes to see Diogenes in his barrel at Athens. Diogenes tells Alex to get out of his light as well. In other words, (perhaps) Kings may come and go, but Knowledge is what really endures.

I was amused that one of Euclid’s diagrams was actually an illustration of the Pythagorean theorem! Hm…

I had that feeling a few times myself, but I think it may be the nature of the adaptation. In the opening credits, I see that this series is based on a Japanese novel (not a manga, or comic book, apparently, which many anime series are based on. But I’ve also seen other anime based on novels, too) . I’m not sure if the novel has all the weird elements of the anime series, or if it’s just a straighforward historical novel about Alexander the Great. Nonetheless, it may be that they’re skipping around an lot in the source material. I do wish that the series were longer than just 13 episodes. I think this would have been better as a 26 episode series.

But it was cool. I shall miss it. (sniffle).

I was actually surprised to see how upbeat the ending was. They stopped the story at that brief moment when Alexander was at the top of his game, shortly before he dies young. I had been sure he’d meet his end at that big battle in India. (But again, he really did have children by Roxanne – and one by another mistress, too. I don’t know what became of the kids, though, because I do know his empire was eventually divided up among his generals – including, of course, Ptolemy.)

That was Diogenes, alright. It’s said that Alexander once found Diogenes picking through a pile of bones, and asked him what he was looking for. Diogenes replied, “The bones of your father, but I cannot distinguish them from the bones of a slave.”

The real Alexander died by drinking himself to death. It’s been speculated that the fatal drinking binge was out of guilt over the death of Cleitus (the slack-jawed Greek?), or perhaps general grief over his army refusing to fight anymore. Cowardly pissants had only been on campaign for about fifteen years…

Finally saw caught an episode of this show last night. Verra int’restin’. I’ll have to make sure to catch the rest of it.

So the LAST episode was the one from 2 nights ago?!?!? WTF? No closure really at all. Are you sure the series wasn’t cancelled, or that the rest of the series is not yet here yet? ARGH! At least I get to see the episodes I missed.

And there’s always Cowboy Bepop. Love that chick Fae.

Bebop rules. I like Reign but not as much as my more knowledgeable friend… maybe that’s why I don’t like it as much, because it confuses me?

Anyhow… just popped in here to pass this along.

Ace animator gets free rein on ‘Reign’

‘Aeon Flux’ creator Peter Chung is tapped to do his thing for a Japanese adaptation of Alexander the Great.

By Charles Solomon
Special to The Times

March 2 2003

The strangely elongated characters in minimal costumes featured in “Reign: The Conqueror,” the Cartoon Network’s sci-fi program based on Alexander the Great, bear the distinctive look of Peter Chung.

The complete article can be viewed at:

It’s a pretty good show even you can’t always follow it. Peter Chung rules.

White Wolf’s Kindred’s Most Wanted has a treatment of Olympias.

Their version is-

Olympias was a member of a Cybelle cult. However, Cybelle was not truly a godess but an insane vampire. Thus, Alex was the pawn of his mother and of an immortal lunatic.

The book which gives details on this clan of mad vampires, the Malkavians, includes an Alex reference. A newly made vampire struggles to hold onto his sanity. This causes immense physical and psychological pain. He feels as though his brain was tied in knots. An elder vampire reminds him of Alex’s method. The man pictures a sword cutting his knotted brain. This rids him of his sanity and grants him the ability to view the world in a very different way.

The comic series Watchmen contains many references to Alex. One character, Adrian Veight, inherits a massive fortune. He travels to Macedonia and gives it all away. He then retraces Alex’s route, symbolically conquering the world and amassing more wealth than he had donated. Alex is one of Adrian’s role models. He finds the Gordian Knot particularly inspiring.
Re-Kabbalah And Star Of David
I’m sure that Chung knows this, but both are anachronisms. The Zohar, Kabbalah’s primary text, was written in the middle ages. The Star of David became a symbol of Judaism roughly the same time. Previously, the menorah(a seven armed candelabrah) had served that purpose.

Question-I’ve missed most of the episodes and am curious what significance, if any, the symbols worn by various characters have.

Ptolemy-What’s with the mask?

Cassandra-Is the padlock just part of Chung’s bondage fetish? Does it signify slavery to her uncle and/or Alex? Is meant to show that no one can understand her?

Alex-Is the A just an A or is it an Alpha? If it is an Alpha is it just a pun on Alex being the leader? Or does it indicate his godlike status? If only he also wore an Omega I could be sure.

Alex again-Why are there eyes on the shoulders of his casual wear?

Well, I’ve been watching it since the first episode (and now for the 2nd time). All I have to say that it seems like ALOT is skipped/glossed over/assumed. It almost seems like its VERY condensed. Perhaps a “Directors Cut” or “Extended Version” will come out on DVD someday.