The final chapter of John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos is entitled "Zellaby of Macedon". Did he ever give any reason for this choice of title? Off the top of my head I can see no obvious connection with the old Kingdom of Macedon,or of its most eminent son, Alexander the Great. Can anyone provide or think of a reason for it?

  • 2
    Presumably someone called Zellaby did something Alexander-like. Solving a knotty problem, for example.
    – Valorum
    Sep 29, 2019 at 13:32

2 Answers 2


I would guess that this refers to the legend of the Gordian Knot, in which Alexander "The Great" of Macedon "solved" the problem of untying a complicated knot by simply cutting it. In The Midwich Cuckoos the problem of the Cuckoos is solved in a similarly dramatic fashion by the philosopher Zellaby.

  • Can you offer any evidence to back up this bold assertion? Alexander was also famous for his lightning-fast attacks on horseback and the invention of the Spear Phalanx.
    – Valorum
    Sep 29, 2019 at 15:55
  • 1
    No, but it would be a solution to the riddle; Wyndham clearly wanted a chapter name that would signal a conclusion without spoiling it. Also when Wyndham was writing classical education was a lot more common, so people would be more likely to recognise the reference. Sep 29, 2019 at 15:58
  • His father Philip was also "of macedon". He was famous for ruthlessly murdering his opponents and his 'warfare by deception' strategies. Both of those could (theoretically) apply to this passage in the book
    – Valorum
    Sep 29, 2019 at 16:00
  • OK, I've downgraded it to a guess. Sep 29, 2019 at 16:02
  • Tnanks. I think the Gordian Knot is probably it.
    – Mike Stone
    Sep 29, 2019 at 16:18

Phillip II of Macedon, father of Alexander, was assassinated by a royal bodyguard, who, like Zellaby, was trusted. This may be a better fit than the Gordian Knot.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.