Alexander: The Making of a God (2024) s01e04 Episode Script

The Golden Empire

[dramatic music playing]
What is the prize
that only the mighty
have conquered and kept?
A place whose wealth, beauty, and history
have obsessed Alexander since childhood.
It is the ancient, glittering jewel.
[horse neighs]
Em hotep nefer!
Brother, I don't think we're welcome here.
Good people of Egypt.
[suspenseful music playing]
Please, Alex.
What in the name of gods is he doing?
[dramatic music intensifies]
[dramatic music fades]
Em hotep nefer.
Do you know what that even means?
I come in peace.
You seek peace with Egypt?
And much more.
Such as?
Such as liberation.
[swords sheathing]
Welcome to Egypt, Alexander.
[dramatic music intensifies]
[music fades, echoes]
[Lloyd] Egypt was one of the most
important components of the Persian Empire
because of its vast wealth.
Egypt was always known
as the breadbasket of antiquity
because it produced more fertile soil,
and, therefore, more wheat and barley
than anywhere else in the Persian Empire.
And yet the relationship
between Egypt and the Persian Empire
had always been a fractious one.
It had often broken away
from the empire, had been reconquered,
and, even under Darius III, of course,
it was in a rather perilous position.
I think there was an increasing awareness
of a kind of
an independence movement in Egypt.
[Carolyn] Egypt's kind of
cut off by this point.
You know, Alexander's got
a massively successful army.
If Egypt resists him,
who's gonna come to their aid?
So it may just have seemed like
the easier thing to do,
the logical thing to do.
Hand Egypt over to Alexander
and hope that everything goes smoothly.
You know that in my official capacity
as viceroy to King Darius
I should have you beheaded right here.
So why shouldn't I give that order?
Satrap Mazaces.
I slaughtered your predecessor
when he led the Egyptian garrison
against us at the Battle of Issus.
The sand ran red with their blood.
All of them.
Summoned and massacred.
And in whose name?
That heartless Persian
who demands Egypt calls him king
but has never cared to visit.
Who sees Egypt as nothing more than
providing grain and gold for his empire.
What do you see?
The center of the civilized world.
A place of beauty,
history, and endless potential.
With a people
who should be nurtured and protected.
Not slaughtered.
it will need a protector.
One that the world will know and fear
from here all the way to Persia.
I think that the Egyptians
almost wholeheartedly welcome Alexander.
After all, one foreign ruler
is like another foreign ruler.
For the Egyptians, when Alexander came,
for them, it was like a godsend because
they wanted to get rid of the Persians,
and here was someone who wanted
to get rid of the Persians for them
and who had the military might
that would make it possible.
They're more than happy to say,
"Welcome" in Egypt,
and basically let him in
so that he could do the work for them.
[heroic music playing]
[Lloyd] But they see
in Alexander, clearly,
a way to get rid of the hated Persians,
and they offer Alexander
the, the crown of Egypt.
[heroic music continues]
[music ends]
There was a big coronation ceremony,
which was done
the way it would have been done
for an Egyptian pharaoh.
Alexander's coronation
was important in many ways.
First of all, it gave him legitimacy.
So the Egyptians could say,
"Yes, you are a legitimate pharaoh
because you've gone through
the right ceremonies."
"You have been crowned in Memphis."
Hail the son of Ra.
Our blessed and beloved Pharaoh.
[Salima] And having someone who also
embraces Egyptian religion in this way,
that was just perfect.
[dramatic music playing]
[Salima] This must have been really
the first major step
in achieving his ambitions
and really creating
what became his persona.
So it must have been a big head rush.
[regal music playing]
[music fades]
[Darius shouts] Pharaoh?
[softer] So not just a cowardly surrender.
They made him a living god?
What kind of conspiracy is this?
[Bessus] I understand
they also presented him with a gift, sir.
Eight hundred gold talents.
[Darius scoffs]
Then how revealing
is this gift from Egypt.
Filthy insects.
No better than the excrement they feed on.
Then again, sir, as Queen Stateira said
[shouts] But she's not here!
Is she?
[softer] Right now, we don't even know
whether she's alive or dead.
Look around you!
My empire!
All the pomp and state and military might.
All the riches of Croesus.
But in reality
[objects shattering and clattering]
[softly] it all counts for nothing.
[Touraj] The loss of Egypt
for Darius was a further blow
into his prestige
and the reach of the empire.
It showed that the empire
has certain weaknesses,
and it cannot control
the distant satrapies.
[Stateira] All hail the son of Ra.
That was a great honor.
What an honor indeed.
Did you ever consider
my ambition may extend beyond war
to something more?
Something much greater?
[both breathing heavily]
[both panting]
[Lloyd] From Stateira's point of view,
I suppose there are two ways
of thinking of her situation.
She could either have been
completely repulsed by this barbarian
using her sexually in this way
and have never come to terms with it.
Or, if we want to see her
as taking certain agency for herself,
maybe she went along willingly with this
because maybe she sees in Alexander
the possibility of her future
as the Queen of Persia continuing.
[Stateira breathing heavily]
The capture of Stateira would have been
a huge blow to Darius on any level,
to his status, to his standing
in the eyes of the Persians.
Darius III wasn't
from the royal noble line.
Through marrying Stateira,
a Persian noble lady,
he was able to elevate his position
as someone worthy for the Persian throne.
[Lloyd] Alexander has inherited
the Egyptian throne from Darius.
He's become a a living god,
as far as the Egyptians are concerned,
and like everybody who conquers Egypt,
eventually, the conqueror becomes
conquered by Egyptian culture.
And I think Alexander just wants
to leave his mark on Egypt,
and what he does there, of course,
is leave his mark
in the most phenomenal way.
He founds a city,
and he names it after himself.
He founds Alexandria.
[Stateira] What's this?
What are you doing here, Alexander?
Building a city,
the greatest the world's ever seen.
The walls will be brilliant white,
so the sunlight reflects its beauty.
In time, these lines will become roads.
Buildings, a port.
A vast metropolis built
by the very best of Greek architecture.
[Stateira scoffs]
Looks like you've got it all planned out.
The idea came to me in a dream.
It's a new kind of city.
Not just a center of commerce and trade,
but a symbol of culture.
Of learning and knowledge.
For me, it can't exist anywhere
but right here.
In Egypt.
[Salima] This was basically
a tiny little village,
but Alexander saw tactical advantages
to having an outpost on the sea.
It shall be built here.
[Salima] And he then laid out this city
and said, you know,
"This is going to be Alexandria."
This will house a record
of our entire history.
[Salima] And indeed, this became
one of the most important cities
on the Mediterranean.
[Lloyd] Traces of
the real world of Alexander,
of course, still survive,
and they are emerging from the archeology.
If we dig in Alexandria, it's almost
like cutting through a slice of cake,
where we can see
the layers of habitation there.
And we know that
somewhere on this bottom layer,
beneath the Arab,
beneath the Christian,
beneath the Roman layer,
is going to be the layer
of Alexander's world itself.
[car horn beeps]
It's sitting there.
We just have to find it.
[Calliope] My mission and my dream
is to find this Greek Alexandria,
the Alexandria of Alexander.
Look how deep we arrived
in order to find the layer
where Alexander built the city.
This is about ten meters and a half.
This is our secret of success.
So we are now in the deepest layer
of the city of Alexandria.
After these stones, there is nothing.
[Salima] What we know
about ancient Alexandria
comes from classical writers
and that is how we know
where the Royal Quarter should be
and what should be in it.
So, in fact, they describe Alexandria
as having two major roads,
and at the intersection where they cross
is where the Royal Quarter was located
at the heart of the city.
After moving tons and tons of earth,
Dr. Pepi made a discovery that
suddenly changed everything for her.
A limestone?
- [man] This? Yes.
- [Calliope] Mmm.
We uncovered the main broad road
of Alexandria.
The Royal Road.
This is one of the two broad streets
that Alexander himself planned.
One important evidence,
according to the maps we have,
is the direction of the road.
It was the road that the kings were using
to go from their palaces
from the port of Alexandria
to the port of the lake.
[Salima] And now she thinks that she is
really honing in on the Royal Quarter
because she has found actually what might
be the foundations of a large building.
[tools scraping]
When these stones appeared,
it was a great day for me
because, maybe for the first time
in the Royal Quarter,
we see evidence
of the buildings that were here.
The size of this building is huge.
We have arrived in a length of 50 meters,
so we can compare it even with Parthenon.
That means this was
a very important building.
[Salima] One of the interesting finds
associated with the building is plaster.
Dr. Pepi has found lots and lots and lots
of fragments of painted plaster,
which shows
how the building was decorated.
[Calliope] Here we have samples.
Strong red,
nice yellow,
and a big quantity of light blue.
Light blue is not the Egyptian blue.
It's the Greek blue.
When we first saw
these colored fragments of plaster,
I was so excited because
I never saw that in Alexandria before.
[car horn beeps]
[Calliope] We know that these colors
decorated the tombs in Macedonia,
and this is, for the first time,
we find something like that
in the Royal Quarter of Alexandria.
Besides, we find architectural pieces,
and a nice surprise was the colored one
with egg motif,
pure, typical Macedonian Greek style.
I'm sure that it is
one of the famous buildings
we know that
were inside the Royal Quarter.
The library, the museum,
and the tomb of Alexander.
And from the size and the construction,
we understand how glorious
this building should be.
Having laid down
the foundations of Alexandria,
Alexander doesn't linger in the area,
and that's because, basically,
he's a man on a mission.
He's got a a spiritual quest to go on.
You're going to Siwa?
You know, mythical temple
in the depths of the Great Sand Sea.
[Ptolemy sighs]
It's just a symptom of madness
to even consider that journey.
It's not madness, General.
[Parmenion] No?
Siwa is in this direction.
Persia is this way.
What am I missing?
- He needs to see the high priest.
- And our men need to fight.
That journey will take months.
If you make it out alive.
What are the men
supposed to do in the meantime?
Let them rest.
Let them enjoy Egyptian hospitality.
They've earned it.
With the war coming,
it may be the last chance they get.
Sir, with respect,
we will lose any strategic advantage
we had over the Persians.
Have faith, Parmenion.
I've led you to victory before.
And I will do it again.
But only when the time is right.
And you are in favor of this jaunt?
[Ptolemy] He's the king.
Doesn't matter what I think.
I don't care how native he has become,
how the foreign in him strengthens,
while the Macedon in him weakens.
I do.
I came here to fight,
not to see the damn sights.
[Salima] Alexander did something
extraordinary in Egypt.
Instead of going on to conquer
the rest of the Persian empire,
he takes a detour going to Siwa, which is
a small oasis in the western desert,
closer to Libya than anywhere else,
and he goes there
because it's famed for its oracle.
Alexander had already
been crowned pharaoh,
but he wants to go to the oracle at Siwa,
perhaps because
he wants spiritual legitimacy
as well as political legitimacy.
[Lloyd] Alexander's journey to Siwa
must have been arduous.
We should imagine him
day after day, high, high temperatures.
Alexander's aim to get to Siwa
obviously drives him forward.
So tell me, Alex.
Why are we risking certain death again?
Greatness, Ptol.
- [camels snorting]
- Greatness.
- [Ptolemy] Ah, yes.
- I've missed this.
Adventuring together.
Isn't that all we do now?
Without distractions, I mean.
She had nothing to do with this.
- I knew I'd make this trip before we left.
- I know.
It's just nice
to get you to myself for a few weeks.
And all I had to do was volunteer
for this suicidal lunacy.
Again, isn't that all we do now?
Sir, I have news.
We have located your wife and daughter.
- [sword clatters]
- Tell me.
Are they in Macedon?
No, sir.
When Alexander took Pelusium,
the women were there with him.
Our source says they are
in good health and being treated well.
[muttering] Almost too well.
What was that, Governor?
They're not prisoners.
They're guests,
paraded at his side
and kept in his own royal quarters.
Barsine too.
He's treating your queen
like his own.
They are women
in the company of savages.
Stateira only has
a number of cards to play
to survive.
[angrily] That bastard!
I will kill him.
I will rip him apart
with my own bare hands! I swear it to God.
But you might not have to, my king.
There was more news.
Alexander has not turned his forces
towards Persia as expected.
he has set out with a small caravan
across the Great Sand Sea.
The desert?
The very same
that swallowed King Cambyses himself.
And whether it be
the heat or the raging sand,
it will swallow him too. I know it.
[Darius scoffs]
So our empire
and everyone we love
is threatened by a tyrant,
but you
are pinning our hopes on a sandstorm
to blow him away.
- And what would you suggest, sir?
- [sword rattles]
No more excuses!
No more waiting for the gods to intervene.
[whispers] We
will be the storm, Bessus.
[dramatic music intensifies]
[shouts] We will be the storm, Bessus.
[music fades]
Oh, no, thank you.
- Sorry. What I mean is I don't want
- She doesn't want tea.
She's feeling sick due to her condition.
That doesn't concern you, Barsine.
That I am to have a bastard sibling
by the enemy?
Mind your tongue.
How could you, Maman?
How could I what?
Keep us alive?
Call it that
if it makes you feel better.
But it is a betrayal.
Of Papa,
of Persia itself.
[scoffs] But look around you, Barsine.
This is not Persia.
This is not our home.
We're not royal here.
We're Persian pawns in this violent war.
And the only protection you have
is what I can leverage.
This is the real world.
I'm so sorry, Maman.
Then, for both our sakes,
we must pray for his safe return.
[camels grunt]
[Lloyd] Alexander would have been told
that 200 years before him,
the Persian king Cambyses had tried
to move his army across this vast desert,
but had failed and had lost
tens of thousands of soldiers
in this vast, unforgiving wilderness.
[camel grunts]
[sandstorm rumbles]
[wind blows]
Everybody find cover. Now!
[dramatic music intensifies over storm]
[Alexander] Take cover!
- [wind blows]
- [Hephaestion] Ah!
Oh, my eyes!
- I'm with you, brother!
- [Alexander] Ah!
[both] Ah!
[Ptolemy] Hold on!
[dramatic music continues]
[Alexander] Ptolemy.
- [wind blows loudly]
- [men shouting]
[Hephaestion] Alexander!
[dramatic music continues]
- [wind blows]
- [Hephaestion] Quickly! Alex! Alex!
[Alexander] Ptolemy, you all right?
[Hephaestion] Alex!
- [Darius roars]
- [music ends]
[camels grunt]
[soft wind blowing]
[camel grunts]
- Right.
- [camel grunts]
- [Hephaestion coughs]
- [camel snorts]
[Hephaestion] No. [coughs]
[Alexander chuckles]
[Hephaestion] Suicidal lunacy, yes?
What did I say? That's all we do.
[Alexander laughs]
- [gags, spits]
- [camels grunt]
Still alive? [pants]
[camel grunts]
Oh, the blessed gods!
It has passed.
All the trails, our path
They're gone.
[Salima] Going to Siwa was no picnic
because it's really
in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
Cambyses's army had been
entirely consumed by a sandstorm,
so Alexander was doing something
that was both brave
but also foolhardy.
[camel grunts]
[camel grunts]
I just need a moment.
No, you really don't.
[dramatic music playing]
[Alexander] It's Siwa.
We're here.
We made it.
- That damn snake, huh? [laughs]
- [Alexander laughs]
This trip to Siwa is a very important part
of Alexander's PR campaign
to show that he has divine sonship.
And this part is just as important
to him as the military victories.
So this trip to Siwa is part and parcel
of Alexander's entire program,
and without it, he would not be
the king that we know him to be.
[dramatic music intensifies]
[dramatic music wanes]
We have been waiting for you, Alexander.
[dramatic music intensifies]
[dramatic music playing]
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