After Actium: Two Caesars Are Not Enough

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Velasco, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. Velasco As High as Honour

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2010
    I was weary of Caesarion being too perfect, doing the right thing at the right moment all the time. He's not exactly a puppet, he's just not on top of everything (as he thinks he is) at this exact moment.

    Glad you like the map Sly - the civil wars in Parthia benefited Sapadbizes enormously, allowing him to gobble up a hefty share of what had been Parthian under more successful rulers. Indeed only Media separates him from direct contact to the Roman world.
     
  2. Cuāuhtemōc Twitter fiend

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    The chickens are coming to roost, ya'll. If Isidorus is need of help, he always has his uncle Alexander Helios to come help bailing him out. Though Alexander Helios might be tempted to conspire with Tiberius and Livia and try to split the east in exchange for offing Isidorus.

    So much speculation. Wow.
     
  3. Zireael Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2012
    Just noticed a reference to the slaughter in Bethlehem a page back.

    Does that mean we'll be getting a Jeszua soon?

    And I love the map and the Ludi. Brilliant!
     
  4. Velasco As High as Honour

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2010
    Spoiler: Alexander Helios probably won't be around too long himself..

    Thanks :D And yessir. He's already born, but it'll be a minute before he starts making waves big enough to catch "After Actium"'s radar. My goal is to be fairly faithful to the Gospel accounts and then take Christianity in radically different directions.
     
  5. Cuāuhtemōc Twitter fiend

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Will this Jesus have a more cosmopolitan group of followers? Like say instead of OTL's Peter, you would have a Galatian auxiliary, a veteran of Caesarion's campaigns in the East, serving as an apostle of Jesus? Or a Nubian? Will Jesus just preach in Judea or will he expand his reach a little bit more, proselytize his message to Jewish communities in Egypt and Syria?
     
  6. Velasco As High as Honour

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2010
    It's possible. He did preach in non-Jewish areas, which in this TL will probably see him entering the province of Syria and Nabataea. And Galilee itself was close to Samaria and other non-Jewish, pagan populations the Judaeans didn't have to deal with as closely. He healed the serving boy of a centurion, was brought before Pontius Pilate and Herod Agrippa...shortly after the resurrection we see a high-ranking servant of Candace (the Queen of Nubia) being baptized and the gospel being preached before the governor of Syria etc before an appeal is made to Caesar. Christianity will go international and splinter quickly, although as to Jesus' ministry itself I'm not sure I will deviate far from the beaten path (although I might take a look at some extrabiblical sources to flesh things out/spice 'em up).
     
    Oceano likes this.
  7. Barbarossa Rotbart Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2011
    Remember that the development of Christianity depends on the kind of rule in Judea. Are the Jews longing for a Messiah (i.e. a true jew as king)? How do the Romans/Herod react to the these messaic movements (in OTL their leaders (including Jesus) were put to death by crucification by the Roman)?

    And remember that the Bible does not tell the truth about these events. The slaughter of the newborn never happened. Pontius Pilate was not the kind of man who pitied a insurrectionist. No, quite the opposite, he would be the one ordering the execution (by crucification) because Jesus (like so many before him) challenged Rome's right to rule.

    I really doubt that we will see something like Christianity in TTL. For this to happen Judea must be under Roman rule, messiac movements demand the independence of Judea from Rome and are eliminated and one member of a failed movement turns it into a new religion by opnening it for non-jews.
     
  8. Soverihn Kanye 2020

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Location:
    Capitan Generalcy of Santo Domingo
    Oh I can't wait to see the aftermath of this!:D

    All these religious developments have been extremely fascinating. The syncratism will be amazing to watch!

    Hm, will St. Paul be butterflied away?
     
  9. SlyDessertFox Literally Natalie Portman Donor

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    Adding onto this a little: The gospels kind of get more exaggerated and further from the truth the further you get from the time (in other words, the oldest gospel is more reliable it seems).
     
  10. Barbarossa Rotbart Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2011
    No, the letters are the most reliable.
     
  11. Velasco As High as Honour

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2010
    Chapter C: Anno Domini, Pt. II

    [​IMG]
    Divine Rome holding a young Caesar

    The Ludi Saeculares or Secular Games of the year Domini were the first to be held in a world where the city of Rome was master and sovereign of all, arbiter of humanity's affairs, owner of all the wealth of the nations, as exemplified by the kings and queens who marched in Imperial triumphs and came to pour out libations to the deified personification of the Res Publica, almighty Roma. All of this sovereignty and might was now personified in the figure of the Republic's greatest consul and general Caesar Augustus, revered by them as Optimus Maximus Invictus - the Best, the Greatest, the Undefeated - titles otherwise reserved for the King of the gods himself, Jupiter. The son of the greatest statesman and general to ever preside over the Senate and legions by a living goddess-Queen from the East, Caesarion presented himself clearly and indisputably as a supra-human, divine ruler: greater than his father by both birth and conquest, he was a new Romulus amongst them, and thus worthy of all acclaim and worship.

    As it had been some time - more than a Saeculum (110 year period) - since the last Ludi, the occasion naturally lent itself to some updating and innovation in adapting the old format to the realities and propaganda of the current regime. Four years prior Caesarion had taken over the cult of divine Rome himself, in his capacity as Pontifex Maximus and chief of the Arval Brethren. This goddess presented herself as a form or type of Venus, who in her eastern guise of Aphrodite had lead her mortal son Aeneas to a new home in Italy (the seed from which the Republic had sprouted). He and his sycophants took to invoking her as Isis of the Romans, associating her appeal not only with that of the increasingly popular cult of Isis, but with the propaganda of his parents: Julius, who claimed direct biological descent from Venus(-Aphrodite), and Cleopatra, who believed herself an earthly avatar of the goddess Isis(-Aphrodite) herself. Roma was thus Venus in her role as mother protectrix of the Roman Republic: Aphrodite and Isis the same goddess, in her Greek and Egyptian guises. This association was stressed by the nomination of Caesarion's wife as Flaminica Isialis, to care for a new state-sponsored cult of Isis with assistance from the Quindecimivires. And as it happened, the latter college of fifteen were the ones charged with the celebration of the Ludi Saeculares.

    [​IMG]

    Before the Games themselves, heralds went around the city and invited the people to "a spectacle, such as they had never witnessed and never would again". The quindecimviri sat on the Capitol and in the temple of Dea Roma in the Julian Forum, and handed out to the free citizens torches, sulphur and asphalt, to be burnt as a means of purification, harkening back to the purificatory rituals of the Parilia, the anniversary of Rome's foundation. A Senatorial resolution ordered the end of all mourning and first fruit offerings of wheat, barley, and beans were made over the next five days: the altar of Dis Pater and Prosperina was also disinterred and offered sacrifices at night.

    On the sixth day (May 31st) the Games began in earnest with a grand Imperial procession. The Emperor was accompanied by his wife Livia Drusilla, their children and grandchildren[1], the ever-growing number of Roman nobles fortunate enough to call themselves propinqui Augusti (Augustan kin) or adfini Augusti (Augustan in-law), the Vestals, the consulars and the king-priests of Roma. From the Temple of Roma they proceeded to the Campus Martius, where the Emperor sacrificed 9 female lambs and 9 she-goats to the Moerae (fates). To spectators Caesarion's role as the ultimate agent of destiny in human affairs would not have been forgotten[2]. Plays were presented and the Imperial consort and mother jointly presided over a Sellisternia, a sacred banquet of 110 Roman matrons, for Isis and Magna Mater ("present" in the form of seated statues).

    The following morning Caesarion and his sons sacrificed a bull to Jupiter; Latin plays were presented in a wooden theatre in the Campus Martius and another Sellisternia was held, this time for Juno and Roma. That evening saw further theatrical performances and a sacrifice by the Emperor, near the Tiber, of 27 sacrificial cakes to the Ilithyiae (Greek goddesses of childbirth).

    The third day (June 2nd) Caesarion and his sons sacrificed a cow to Juno Regina, after which Tiberius led the 110 matrons in prayer. That evening the Emperor again sacrificed near the Tiber - this time a pregnant sow, offered to Terra Mater; another Sellisternia followed. Like the Moerae and Ilythiae 'Mother Earth' was a deity of Greek extraction and without cult in the Roman state.

    On June 3rd the Emperor and his sons sacrificed 27 sacrificial cakes to Roma and Isis; choirs of 27 boys and 27 girls sang the Carmen Saeculare (composed for the occasion by the poet Horace). This hymn was sung both on the Palatine and then on the Capitoline, but its words focus on the non-Palatine, non-Capitoline deities Venus and Isis, which were more closely associated with Caesarion. The hymn added a further level of complexity to the alternation of sacrifices between Greek and Roman deities by addressing the Greek deities under Latin names. The evening saw further theatrical performances, chariot races and trick riding, presented by Cleopatra and in which the Emperor's son Gaius excelled.

    The key roles throughout were played by Caesarion and Tiberius, in their capacity as members of the quindecimviri; Caesarion participated alone in the night-time sacrifices but was joined by Tiberius and his younger sons for those during the day. Theatrical performances followed every sacrifice. There were additional games over the following week, with Latin plays presented in the Wooden theater near the Tiber and Greek stage plays in the Theater at the Circus Flaminius. Additional festivals and rituals such as the Ludi Piscatorii (in honor of Father Tiber all fish caught that day were sacrificed by fire in the Temple of Vulcan) and the "birth days" of several Temples added to the hustle and bustle. The Games ended on the 12th with an animal hunt and circus games, after which the altar of Dis Pater and Prosperina was once again interred.

    [​IMG]

    The Ludi Saeculares were followed immediately by the Vincennalia, the celebration of Caesarion's twentieth year of rule. Whereas the Ludi focused primarily on appeasing chthonic deities without official state cults, the Vincennalia was more celebratory in nature and focused on the state-sponsored pantheon.

    Celebrations began with the Lusus Troiae ("Game of Troy") which traditionally celebrated "a return from danger, a triumph of life over death". Pride of place was given to the Salii, the "leaping priests" of Mars: twelve patrician youths dressed in archaic warrior dress, including Caesarion's sons Gaius and Maecenas and grandsons Tiberillus and Germanicus, who made a procession round the city, dancing and singing the Carmen Saliare. They were then joined by other equestrian youths of high birth in the Circus Maximus: divided into three turmae or squadrons of twelve, they performed interweaving drills and mock battled in an intricate display of Roman skill.

    The following day the Emperor and his mother supervised over a lectisternium, a meal offered to propitiate the gods and goddesses. The twelve Dii Consentes (the Roman equivalent of the Olympians[3]) were presented alongside an additional divine couple: his father the Divine Julius and Roman Isis. The feast lasted for eight days, and was also celebrated by private individuals. The citizens kept open house, quarrels were forgotten, debtors and prisoners were released, and everything done to banish sorrow. Gladiatorial combats, chariot racing and various sumptuous displays of Imperial wealth followed - mock battles atop camels, Imperial promenades aboard elephants and public distribution of copious amounts of bread and wine. If the many visiting Kings and chiefs had yet to be fully convinced of Rome's superiority and her Emperor's might, Caesarion was determined to not allow them to return home with so much as a drop or hint of uncertainty.

    [​IMG]

    [1] Excluding Livia Valeria, still in exile, but including the children of her brother Drusus.
    [2] Similar to Zeus, who was at times called Leader or Bringer of the Fates, the personification and executor of their abstract power.
    [3] Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Minerva, Mars, Venus, Vulcan, Vesta, Mercury, Ceres, usually coupled in this order.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2014
  12. Velasco As High as Honour

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2010
    Our 100th chapter sees Caesarion (flanked by Cleopatra, Livia Drusilla and their family) worshipped by the Roman citizenry and the kings and queens of the known world as Dominus Mundi :D Genuinely unplanned but seems fitting.
     
  13. Velasco As High as Honour

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2010
    Chapter CI: Isidorus Rehabilitated

    [​IMG]

    From Antioch Isidorus had intended to proceed into Asia Minor and exploit the power vacuum created by the passing of his aunt Queen Orodaltis. Largely unnoticed in Rome, the death of the Queen was met with widespread lamentation and concern throughout Asia. A scion of the Hellenized Persian dynasties which had ruled in Asia Minor and the Caucasus since before Alexander, Orodaltis rose to prominence when she was forced into a tempestuous marriage with Ptolemy Philadelphus, uterine brother of the Emperor Caesarion. Philadelphus exploited her prestigious pedigree as he attempted to carve out a grand kingdom of his own in Asia Minor, only to die prematurely, leaving her with a numerous brood to provide for. Her husband's conquests in Galatia and Paphlagonia were soon handed out to others, but by Imperial appointment she received the government of Cappadocia alongside the child-king Archelaus II, who married one of her daughters, and also something of a tutelage over the two smaller, adjacent kingdoms which were bestowed to her own sons - Antony Alexas in Comana and Ariarathes in Sophene.

    Accordingly Isidorus had sent his right-hand man, mentor and lackey Fortunatus onward to Cilicia to mobilize the necessary troops. Fortunatus ruled part of Cilicia himself (or rather, it was administered in his name by his brother Antiochus) but he was to penetrate into adjacent Galatia in order to acquire sufficient men for what Isidorus had in mind. Fortunatus had his own reasons for pursuing this project: his wife was Glaphyra of Cappadocia, sister of the young King, and he hoped to add to his wild and unproductive domain her brother's onyx and crystal mines, or alternatively the boy-king's high priesthood of the great shrine of Magna Mater at Pessinus, a highly prestigious and lucrative sinecure.

    Fortunatus laboured and began to assemble the required army during the winter months, but his labours were to prove in vain. In the drunken stupour of Antioch Isidorus fell prey to the honeyed words Camillus now offered him: evidently Tiberius' old friend and the president of the Council of Asia either saw in the young princeling a chance for further advancement, or had the foresight to neutralize a potential storm which had the potential to cause such trouble for him as to end at once his political career. Perhaps not without some prodding from his patrons Tiberius and Livia Drusilla in Rome, Camillus vehemently encouraged Isidorus to undertake the long-delayed expedition against the Kushite kingdom of Meroe: the prince was still dithering about in Syria with the governor when the invite came for him to return west and join his father and brothers in the Ludi Saeculares and Vincennalia. Betraying to Camillus his somewhat treasonous correspondences with Drusus Pulcher Julianus[1] he and his court made a leisurely westward progress through Asia and Greece, picking up the dazed Fortunatus at Elaiussa Sebaste and disbanding the assembled crew of Galatians and Lycaonians. The young Caesar and his wife, Aemilia Paulla, were warmly received by the Emperor and given equal precedence as Tiberius and his wife (Isidorus' sister) Julia Calpurnia in the festivities (Tiberius had the sole honour of leading the Roman matrons in prayer, but Isidorus promptly outshone him in the ostentatious displays of the Vincennalia).​

    [1] The ever-troublesome son of Tiberius' first marriage, who was adopted out by a Claudian cousin (Claudius Pulcher, thus becoming Drusus Claudius Pulcher Julianus) so as to remove him from the Julian succession. Famously became a tribune at a young age but was driven out of Rome by his own grandmother.
     
  14. Jonathan Edelstein Rooted Cosmopolitan

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    Location:
    Kew Gardens, NY
    And on the twenty-first day, Rome woke up to the largest collective hangover in history.

    I see Caesarion is as good as ever at keeping prospective heirs off balance, and I always enjoy seeing how blatantly political Roman religion was.
     
  15. Emperor Constantine 21st century Monarchist

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    Love the last two chapters. Caesarion really knows how to put on a party! And glad to see Isidorus rehabilitated. Can't wait for the next one.
     
  16. Velasco As High as Honour

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2010
    Pretty much!

    Indeed - probably the safest (or is it riskiest?) way of seeing himself through the perils of Imperial dynastic politics to a natural end. It's a strategy, either way.

    Glad you like :D More coming up soon.
     
  17. Velasco As High as Honour

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2010
    Chapter CII: Anno Domini, Pt. III: Mater Patriae​

    [​IMG]

    The presence of Caesar Isidorus in Rome was an immediate point of concern for the Claudiani, the Claudian party whose hopes centered on the succession of the biologically Claudian Tiberius and his heirs to supreme power. For one Isidorus' return to favour guaranteed him his delayed consulate, which in turn brought with it ample opportunity to cultivate the graces of the mob, something the Caesars were known to do well. The towering presence of his grandmother Cleopatra was also there to lend her clout and immense wealth to what the young Caesar undertook. His presence also highlighted the greatest weakness of the Claudiani: their lack of a prince old enough to vie with Isidorus for military commands and magistracies. Tiberillus was young and weak and his half-brother Pulcher Julianus untrustworthy and undependable. Germanicus was the inheritor of his father's fantastical legacy but figured into the Domus Augusta rather distantly, as one of many grandsons of Octavia, the Emperor's soror patruelis (paternal cousin). He was of stronger constitution than Tiberillus but just as young.

    Not one to ever be outdone the Imperial consort (uxor Augusti) Livia Drusilla immediately set about creating the desired prince. She chose her step-son Vipsanius Licinius Crassus: son of her former husband Crassus Scythicus and nephew of the late Emperor Vipsanian, his pedigree was sure to rouse at least some of the legions, and he had been raised in the Imperial household under her supervision. She knew him well and had confidence in his ability to do what he was told. He was also ridiculously wealthy and connected by either blood or marriage to the cream of Roman society.

    Livia began by breaking the betrothal of Germanicus to his cousin Julia Calpurnilla, eldest daughter of Tiberius and eldest granddaughter of both Caesarion and Livia. While Germanicus was of no immediate use, his betrothed was one of the two most important Imperial princesses: the other being Agrippina[1], daughter of the deceased Caesar Ptolemy. The possibility existed of breaking Agrippina's betrothal to Tiberillus, wedding her to Germanicus and uniting Tiberillus with Germanicus' sister Livilla instead: thus, both boys would not be lacking in dynastic credential and Livia might steer into supremacy the one she liked best. But that was for later, and this was now. A marriage with Calpurnilla would bring Vipsanius into the very bosom of the Imperial inner circle and place him as a natural successor should anything befall Tiberius while Tiberillus was underage. This she took pains to effect, needing as she did her husband's complicity in such matters.

    Vipsanius was then in his 25th year; his bride-to-be barely of age. Livia convinced the Emperor and the Imperial court to support the union by highlighting the symbolic nature of the marriage: or rather, marriages, for she also advocated a similarly disparate marriage for Calpurnilla's sister, Julia Cleopatra known as Cleopatrilla. Not yet at the age of puberty, Livia designated this girl for the strapping (and also very rich) Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, a grandson of Mark Antony and Octavia. This last union had been planned for some time: were it not for Domitius' love of all things Greek (including the detested Isidorus) Livia would not have thought twice about favouring him over Vipsanius.

    Just as the presence of the Emperor's sons in the ceremonies of the Ludi Saeculares and Vincennalia gave the Roman world an assurance of dynastic continuity (and with it continued peace and prosperity), the marriage of two precious Imperial princesses with the flower of the Roman aristocracy would clearly underscore Caesarion's unshakable alliance with the Senatorial elite.

    The marriages thus went ahead: Vipsanius finally took his father's place as one of the Arval Brethren and, together with Domitius, was made a pontiff, augur and fetial[2] - priesthoods possessed by the Emperor and already synonymous with membership in the Imperial inner circle. In secrecy Livia exacted from Tiberius a will, posthumously adopting Vipsanius as his son and co-heir, which she might use in case of emergency. All that was left now was the elevation of these young princes to the consulate, which Livia wished to accomplish immediately for the coming year. An obliging Caesarion bestowed upon both youths the ornamenta praetoria, the rank and insignia of a praetor, enabling them to canvass for the desired dignity of consul.

    [​IMG]
    Grandsons and puppets

    Alas the cumbersome Isidorus was guaranteed the first seat, his consulate being already delayed. Livia was content to settle on seeing Vipsanius take the second seat as his equal; Domitius was young enough to comfortably wait a year or two. Isidorus however refused to countenance so distant a cousin (with a provincial mother and only recently grafted into the Domus Augusta) as his colleague: he desired the honour for his brother-in-law Marcus Lepidus.

    In pedigree Lepidus left nothing to be desired: great-nephew of the homonymous Triumvir and grandson of Scribonia Caesaris (first wife of the Emperor Octavian), he was the nephew of Julia Caesaris (wife in turn of the Emperors Vipsanian and Caesarion) and first cousin of the Caesars Gaius and Aurelius Maecenas. He was also older and more experienced, having actually served admirably as praetor during the consulate of his elder brother Lucius Paullus. The Senate thus favoured him over the young and inexperienced Vipsanius, who had already enjoyed such dramatic elevation of late, and would have elected him had his naked and maimed corpse not been found floating in the Tiber.​

    [1] Julia Ptolemaeia Agrippina, daughter of Caesar Ptolemaeus (son of the Emperor Caesarion) and Julia Vipsania Agrippina (daughter of the Emperor Vipsanian).
    [2] A prestigious college of priests [from Wiki] "devoted to Jupiter as the patron of good faith. The duties of the fetials included advising the senate on foreign affairs and international treaties, making formal proclamations of peace and of war, and confirming treaties. They also carried out the functions of traveling heralds or ambassadors".
     
  18. St. Just Angel of Death

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Location:
    A mistake
    Livia Drusilla needs to die, if the (true) Caesarean line is to flourish...

    Excellent updates!
     
  19. B_Munro Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Location:
    Albuquerque
    Just looking at the map and something about the color scheme has me puzzled: Thrace is a client kingdom but Dacia is under direct Roman rule?

    Bruce
     
  20. Velasco As High as Honour

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2010
    :D ;)

    Well spotted. I haven't paid much attention to Dacia, but it was conquered c.29/28BC. I did note one client-king: "Rholes, petty king of the local Getae,.. the title of socius et amicus populi Romani ("ally and friend of the Roman people") was subsequently granted". Similar to the German provinces there are local client kings/chiefs who work in unison with Roman magistrates against enemy chiefs and tribes. For comparison's sake Judaea and the client kingdoms in Asia Minor are depicted (and function) as integral parts of the Empire while Thrace, Nabataea and the Bosporus are depicted as "apart" in order to stress the far looser nature of the relationship.