Aristotle Goes to Hollywood
Appreciate the late Christopher Plummer plummily intoning platitudes in Oliver Stone’s blockbuster Alexander (2004). He encourages imperialist ambitions in the young Alexander, Hephaestion, Cassander and Ptolemy by waxing lyrical about the sources of the Nile, the possibility of Greece Ruling the World, Persian decadence, and India, even though “The East has a way of swallowing men and their dreams”. He also sanctions Alexander’s love of Hephaestion: “When men lie together in lust it is a surrender to the passions”, but “when men lie together, and knowledge and virtue are passed between them that is pure and excellent. When they compete to bring out the good, the best in each other this is the love between men that can build a city-state and lift us from our frog pond”. It was Plato who called humans frogs round the pond, and Aristotle was only forty when he started teaching Alexander, whereas Plummer was more than seventy! But the ancient Macedonian equivalent of Eton is still fun to watch.