The Persian Boy

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Name: The Persian Boy
Abbreviation(s): TPB
Creator: Mary Renault
Date(s): 1972
Medium: book
Country of Origin: South Africa
External Links:
Cover of the 1972 Pantheon edition of The Persian Boy.
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The Persian Boy is the middle book in Mary Renault's Alexander Trilogy. It was published simultaneously by Longman (London) and Pantheon (New York) in 1972. The story follows the Persian campaigns of Alexander the Great, and is narrated by the eunuch Bagoas, the Persian boy of the title.

Plot Summary

Son of an executed Persian nobleman, Bagoas is sold into slavery, castrated, and hired out as a prostitute. From this life, he considers himself rescued when he is purchased by the Royal Harem and trained to serve King Darius in the inner bedchamber. Bagoas sees Alexander the Great's initial conquests from the perspective of Persia’s court; yet, after King Darius is slain, he becomes Alexander's trusted servant and lover. Alexander’s further campaigns in Persia and beyond are viewed through Bagoas’ eyes. The Persian Boy ends with Alexander’s death.

Book Discussion

The LiveJournal maryrenaultfics community has held a chapter-by-chapter discussion on The Persian Boy. In addition, there have been a number of spontaneous unscheduled discussions of aspects of the book.

Scheduled discussions

The chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Persian Boy was initially started in August 2007[1]; but the discussion did not attract wide participation within the community and petered out, with the post for Chapter 11 only attracting three comments in December 2007[2]. Discussion was resumed in September 2008[3], with somewhat fuller participation, and the book was concluded.[4] One of the changes introduced in the resumed discussion was an explicit invitation to community members to 'claim' a chapter (or several) on which to make the discussion starter posts themselves in order to take some pressure off the community moderators to keep the discussion running week from week.[5] Eight community members (in addition to the moderators) made discussion starter posts over the course of the resumed discussion.

Spontaneous, unscheduled book discussions

The following individual discussions of The Persian Boy are noteworthy:

In Their Own Words

In 2008 maryrenaultfics began a project which involved 'interviews' of characters from Renault’s novels. Extensive interviews were conducted with characters from The Alexander Trilogy, including Bagoas[8], Hephaistion[9], and Alexander himself[10]. As these interviews evolved, a 'Community Clubhouse' became established as their setting. Bagoas, in particular, became significant to maintaining the smooth running of the clubhouse, and is often called upon by the Secretary for assistance.

For more details, please see the article about ITOWverse.

Fan Fiction

Much of the fan fiction which has developed from Renault’s books has focused on the relationships between Alexander, Hephaistion and Bagoas, in various combinations. The potential for jealousy between Bagoas and Hephaistion has been explored, as well as the romantic relationships between Alexander and these two most notable male partners. However, not all fan fiction activity is easily categorised as belonging to one book or another in the Alexander Trilogy.

More details on fan fiction based on The Persian Boy will therefore be found in the Fan Fiction section of the article on the Alexander Trilogy as a whole.


Some fanart inspired by The Persian Boy has been posted to the Mary Renault communities on Livejournal.


In 2008 fans discussed what music they associated with different parts of The Persian Boy [11]

A Gateway for Some Fans

A couple of years before [I purchased Alternative: An Epilog to Orion], I had come across Mary Renault's Alexander the Great novel "The Persian Boy". I had enjoyed this book, but felt there was something missing from it (In retrospect, what I wanted to read about was Alexander and his lifelong friend/lover Hephaistian, not Alexander and Bagaos, the "Persian boy" of the title.) I loved the idea of Alexander and Hephaistian [sic] — two men, comrades in arms, lifelong friends — and lovers. This pushed buttons I didn't know I had. I was clearly ready for K/S. [12]


  1. ^ Re-reading The Persian Boy post by trueriver on maryrenaultfics, 23 August 2007. Accessed 26 July 2010.
  2. ^ The Persian Boy - Chapter 11 post by trueriver on maryrenaultfics, 11 December 2007. Accessed 26 July 2010.
  3. ^ The Persian Boy: Chapters 1-10 post by my_cnnr on maryrenaultfics on 21 September 2008. Accessed 26 July 2010.
  4. ^ Posts on maryrenaultfics tagged as TPB chapter-by-chapter discussion
  5. ^ Resuming The Persian Boy discussion post by trueriver on maryrenaultfics, 14 September 2008. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  6. ^ Mary Who? post by chazzbanner in the maryrenaultfics community, 21 April 2005. Accessed 4 August 2010.
  7. ^ Re: Earlier discussion of Bagoas as MR's Mary Sue post by mysid in the maryrenaultfics community, 20 May 2005. Accessed 4 August 2010.
  8. ^ Bagoas: In His Own Words post by my_cnnr on maryrenaultfics, 16 March 2008. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  9. ^ Hephaistion: In His Own Words post by my_cnnr on maryrenaultfics, 6 April 2008. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  10. ^ Alexander: In His Own Words post by my_cnnr on maryrenaultfics, 24 February 2008. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  11. ^ Songs posted by ddwcat to maryrenaultfics on 23 May 2008. Accessed 28 August 2010
  12. ^ by Kathy Resch in The Celebration Zine