On an Unknown Assassin

The list of recent famous assassins is long. Sirhan Sirhan. Mark David Chapman. John Wilkes Booth. James Earl Ray. Lee Harvey Oswald. And those are only the ones associated with American assassinations. Famous historical assassins from other cultures include Brutus, Gavrilo Princip, and Charlotte Corday.

Someone once said that you can either be a famous person or the murderer of a famous person to be remembered in history. This is the story of an assassin we don’t remember, but history felt the effects of his murderous act. What’s interesting about this particular assassin is that we indeed remember the person killed.

Historians familiar with his story have circumstantial evidence that the murdered man’s wife and or son had a hand in hiring this unremembered assassin. Believe what you will. I happen to think the killer acted on his own. The main reason for this is, I feel, that the murdered man publicly embarrassed his killer, and, since the man’s pride was so wounded, he took his revenge by murdering the man who had shamed him.

To make matters even more, well, almost incestuous, is that the murderer had been hired as a bodyguard for the man he killed. That gave him access. The old police trope that murder requires means, motive, and opportunity is certainly in play here. The murderer had the motive (the public embarrassment), the opportunity (as a bodyguard, he had access), and as for the means, well, he chose to thrust a blade into the ribcage of his boss right before a public event–the marriage of the man’s daughter.

There is a problem with the motive part of the equation, however. It seems that eight years passed between the time of the humiliation and the murder. That is quite the long time for someone to wait for revenge. I can’t often remember what happened to me eight days ago, much less something that happened almost a decade in the past. Yet, we are supposed to believe that this eight year span was a time of waiting for the right moment. And the wedding was it.

The act was premeditated. The escape after the murder was clearly planned. Accomplices (who were later tried and executed) aided the attempted flight of the killer. Oh, and the killer himself was quickly caught and killed before he could testify as to his true motive and/or if the murdered man’s wife and/or son had anything to do with the murder.

That proved quite convenient. One reason historians suspect the wife as an accomplice in the murder is that, shortly after her husband’s death, she paid for a large memorial to be placed in the city where the murder took place honoring…the murderer.

You see, when her husband died, the now-widow’s 20-year-old son became king. This young man (who may or may not have been involved as well) went on to conqueror the known world over the next 13 years. You know her husband as Philip of Macedon.

You know her young son as Alexander the Great.

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