Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ptolemy and the Battle for Ancient Alexandria

Ptolemy sharpened his knife with a small stone as he carefully studied the dark waters for any sign of movement. The dense cloud-cover created an almost pitch-black night. By his feet laid a sword and bronze helmet, heavily dented and scratched from years of hand-to-hand combat in the wars of Alexander the Great. He thought to himself, if he were to bring twenty thousand men across that river for a surprise attack, tonight would be the night. Only Ptolemy's tall silhouette was visible when men finally approached and knelt down.
"General. We have a sighting."
That moment occurred two thousand, three hundred years ago in the Pelusium region of Egypt, when one man named Ptolemy was all that stood between Perdiccas, a power-hungry heir to Alexander the Great's empire, and civilization's most significant and influential achievement in science and technology, the Great Library of Alexandria. Ptolemy's astounding leadership and commitment to his vision was a gift to all man-kind, for all ages to come.
Not many people know that much of our advanced technology stands on pillars of math and science developed thousands of years ago during this magical time known as the Ptolemaic dynasty in ancient Egypt. And even less known, was the shocking violence that almost ended Ptolemy's dream of the cosmopolitan city named Alexandria before it ever had a chance. Dedicated to the peaceful pursuit of math, science and the arts, Alexandria left a legacy of unimaginable technology.
How ironic that the fate of such an advanced institute of peace, so far ahead of its time, would be determined by such barbarism and brutality, but that's how it was so long ago, and that was the burden this one man carried. Ptolemy, born in Macedonia, was the boy-hood friend of Alexander the Great, and eventually one of the top Generals in Alexander's legion. But when Alexander died and negotiations over who would inherit his vast empire failed, Ptolemy immediately took those soldiers most loyal to him and claimed Egypt as his own.
Perdiccas, another x-General from Alexander's legion, loathed Ptolemy after on-going disputes over territory and ruling power. But when Ptolemy literally stole Alexander's body from the control of Perdiccas, that was the final insult. After building an immense legion with massive war elephants, an insanely angry Perdiccas marched his deadly war machine towards Egypt to put an end to Ptolemy and his plans for the new city.
Facing such a horrific Armageddon of death, most anyone else would simply flee, but despite the minimal size of his defensive force, Ptolemy decided to fight for the future of Alexandria. Along the banks of the Nile River, the brilliant leadership of Ptolemy was put to the ultimate test in the shocking events that followed.
History may not remember with clarity all details of the battle for Alexandria, but we should never forget that long ago, thousands of men sacrificed their lives in the name of peace and science. And even today, our world is better because of it.
The magnificent and inspirational story of Ptolemy and the battle for ancient Alexandria is now told in my new novel, "Alexandria, the Stones of Macedonia", available at http://www.mpsoldo.com. When purchased through that site, I will personally sign all copies sold, making them an extra special gift or addition to your personal collection.
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