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

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    It'll all depend on whether she's clever enough to wade through the murky chaos of the times and come through the victor on the other end. The same goes for all of her Roman half-siblings too. Unfortunate for her to die in someone else's power, but by doing so she secured Berenike's position.

    Berenike has been well taught ;) And of course she's only one of two double grandchildren of Cleopatra (the other being her half-sister Arsinoe, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus and Cleopatra Selene).

    At least here Cleopatra died Queen of Kings and fittingly Imperial in rank and status, instead of a defeated client queen...

    Seleucus has been succeeded by his son - Alexander III Eupator.

    :D:D:D

    Coming up!

    Berenike has been well taught, but she is also young, and queen of a country unimpressive militarily. She'll have to be quick on her feet (or flat on a bed?) if she wants to survive half as long as her grandmother. Unlike Cleopatra she doesn't have much of a standing at all in Rome, so her focus is definitely...well, survival, and after that, the East.

    Livia will be as ecstatic as you can imagine, she's been waiting for this for a while :D How it will affect Imperial court politics remains to be seen.

    Thank you, and I can only rejoice my readers are as Juliani as I am... :p

    Well, she was an old lady...dragged off by an invading army from place to place...not as glamorous as OTL but it felt right to me.
     
  2. St. Just Angel of Death

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    Juliani or nothing! The Julians forever, hurrah boys hurrah, down with the Claudians and up with Caesar!

    Livia esse delendam.
     
  3. Velasco As High as Honour

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    Chapter CVIII: Dawn of a New Age

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    The legacy of the Parthian invasion of AD3 was preserved in no small part by the subsequent dissemination of the Three Christianities throughout the Empire. The use of the rather poetic Latin translation of the Parthian King's preferred sobriquet - Lucifer - as a by-word for treachery and evil was ensured by the ready association the early Christian church drew between the title and an obscure passage from Isaiah in which a supra-human figure acclaimed as the Morning Star (also Lucifer) is cut down in his prime:

    “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!"

    Like King Herod before him, Alexander Seleucus was seen as but one of a long line of human Antichrists who were to emerge as adversaries and persecutors of God's people. Lucifer in turn became the preferred name for the main antagonist in Christianity: certain sects were to give him added importance as an agent of divine justice and even as a god of death. The influence of Irano-Buddhism would even see him equated with the old Zoroastrian concept of the "eternal lie", ironic given the historical correlation the Parthian Kings surnamed Lucifer made between themselves and the "eternal truth".

    There are some who credit the campaign of AD3 with introducing Irano-Buddhism to the west at the very moment of Christianity's inception: Alexander Seleucus had neither the time nor the will to do so. At this moment in time Irano-Buddhism was a primarily internal affair, intended to strengthen a new dynasty's hold on a rapidly diminishing realm, lacking the philosophical sophistication and proselytizing tendencies Christianity would soon force it to develop. Alexander Seleucus did not initially intend to hold on to the territories he disturbed and perished soon after conceiving such a notion.

    Nevertheless the influence of Alexander Seleucus was furthermore instrumental (some would say) in shaping the figure of Lucifer. The Dionysian tryphé inherited by the Alexandrian Kings from their Ptolemaic ancestors was, to them, state propaganda which enhanced their supra-human status and presented them to the world as the bringers of prosperity and fertility. The Roman reaction to such ostentation - carried on as it was by more than one Caesar - would in turn shape Christian thought on the figure of Lucifer as embodying all things immoral, lascivious and indulgent. It was an image in stark contrast to the rather grave pietas and honestas which came to define Christian felicitas.

    One might also note how the arrival of three eastern Kings in Judaea might have easily morphed into the legend of the Magi, great men from the East who come as heralds of a new age. Nor is it hard to perceive the influence of Gondophares and Philip of Babylon[1] on two of the names given by later sources to the Magi: Gaspar and Balthasar (a form of Belshazzar, an Old testament King of Babylon, and a possible throne name of Philip).

    Jesus of Nazareth was not the first to be hailed as the Christ or Saviour-King, not even among the Jews, as shall be seen. Similar hopes of salvation had appended themselves to the career of Mithridates VI of Pontus two generations before. Romans and Greeks alike had expected much in the form of a union of East and West, personified in the son of Mark Antony and Octavia: the son never came. Hopes shifted to Octavian himself or to Alexander Helios, Mark Antony's son by Cleopatra, but after Actium it was the son of Caesar and Cleopatra who was acclaimed as the long-awaited saviour and inaugurator of a new world order, a Golden age of peace and prosperity. It is therefore unsurprising that the early church should conflate the momentous aura of the Anno Domini with the birth of the one they understood to be the true Christ.

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    Caesar Tiberius had hurried east at once, seeking to forestall the worst. He had only recently disbanded three legions[2]: he had thus only two legions (Legio IX Hispana and XXI Rapax) to accompany him without leaving Illyricum wide open to disaster itself. As it was the Parthian assault had mauled the Eastern legions: two others were soon found to have been lost by Gaius south of the second cataract. Hispana and Rapax were barely enough, even with the death of the Parthian King: though the ambush of Ariobarzanes of Armenia had recovered some booty (including the corpse of Cleopatra) the Parthians had escaped with many Roman standards and thousands of captured legionaries.

    Tiberius proceeded with all the brutality that the occasion required. Roman units which had fled from the Parthians were subjected to decimatio, in which a tenth of the unit (determined by lots) was stoned or clubbed to death by his comrades. He put to death King Aristobulus IV of Judaea and the tetrarch Philip Boethus of Galilee for their complicity with the Parthians. Aristobulus' queen Berenice also perished - a favour to Fortunatus and his wife[3]. Archelaus of Samaria was only spared by his friendship with Berenike Caesaris: he was denied the kingly title, the lands previously owned by his siblings and the high priesthood, which was auctioned off to the highest bidder. Tiberius refused the Jews when they asked him to crown Antigone the Hasmonean[4] and placed Judaea and its environs under direct Roman rule. The numerous Herodian brood were shipped off to Rome. Edessa was sacked, its King, Abgar, having escaped east with the Parthians. Reparation was demanded in the form of hefty tributes from Jerusalem, Damascus, Edessa and other places which had received the invaders.

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    Decimation

    In Antioch Tiberius had offered Berenike Caesaris his amicitia. He had need of eastern friends just as she had need of a powerful Roman protector. Her presence at his side at this crucial point legitimized his position just as his at hers legitimized her own. She handed over to him the body of Alexander Seleucus, the city of Antioch and command of the Antiochene Guard: she also relinquished her right to sovereignty over Arabia in exchange for his ratification of Cleopatra's will, which had infringed on Roman authority by presuming to leave her Cyprus and Kush. Tiberius obtained the body of Cleopatra from King Ariobarzanes and entrusted it to Berenike. He also granted her the former tetrarchy of Hyrcanus, that is, the Phoenician coastline as far as Achzib, the Gaulanitis and Batanea towards the desert. Small territories but not without worth.

    The young Queen soon quit Antioch and was conveyed in great ceremony to Egypt. There Cleopatra was interred in the royal necropolis near the Sema, the tomb of Alexander the Great, and deified as a goddess of the royal cult. Her granddaughter (and adopted daughter) Berenike V was her first priestess and successor on the Pharaonic throne. She was styled Berenike Kaisaris Philometor Dikaiosyne Kallinike, a complex titulature which carefully outlined her place in the world. She was not only the daughter and heir of Caesar Augustus (Kaisaris) and the Queen of Kings (Philometor, “mother-loving”), she was their equal as goddess and queen. Dikaiosyne ("the just") pointed to her own divinity (as an avatar or type of Isis, like her predecessor, though Dikaiosyne was worshipped as a goddess in her own right) and promoted her as the bringer of justice to the East and Rome, whose greatest enemy she had assailed. Kallinike (“beautiful victor”) the feminine of an epithet often employed by her Seleucid ancestors: a victory title and a declaration of international pretensions, perhaps.

    The first place to accord her divine honors was naturally Antioch, where that same year Tiberius erected an altar to the justice of Berenike.

    In the coins she struck she was depicted donning an elephant scalp (exuviae elephantis), a reminder that she was both the heiress of the scalp's most famous wearer, Alexander the Great, and herself the symbolic conqueror of Parthia (and all their elephants). Associated with her (and Caesarion) on the throne was her young cousin and consort Antony Alexas. He was now Ptolemy (XXI) Antonios Alexander III Philometor: the only honor conceded him was induction into the dynastic cult alongside Berenike as the Neoi Theoi Philometores ("New Mother-Loving Gods"). Otherwise she ignored him in favour of Julianus, the son of Tiberius, whose lover she became.

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    Berenike V Caesaris Philometor Dikaiosyne Kallinike

    Notes:

    [1] "Baltashar" being a corruption of the Akkadian, Bēl-šarra-uṣur, "Bel protects the King", a fitting throne name for Philip given his tumultuous reign.
    [2] The Legio XVII Gallica and XVIII Gallica, created by Vipsanian, and the XXXI Italica, created by the Popular Senate during the civil war.
    [3] The wife of Fortunatus was Glaphyra of Cappadocia. Her first husband was Alexander of Judaea, during which marriage she was in constant war against her husband's female relatives.
    [4] Daughter of King Antigonus II, she married two of Herod's sons in turn: Antipater (who was executed for treason) and Aristobulus IV (who divorced her in order to take back his first wife).
     
  4. Soverihn Kanye 2020

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    The Lord is upon us!

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  5. St. Just Angel of Death

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    Joy to the world, the Lord is come :D

    Berenike is my new favorite. Livia esse delendam.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014
  6. Grouchio Well-Known Member

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    I still want my wanked Sol Invictus and Mithras cults Velasco! :mad::p

    Anyways can't wait to see if Jesus becomes a warrior-prophet or what have you.

    Can I draw things for you Velasco? Like Vipsanian?
     
  7. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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    Bravo. I do await the changes in Jesus' group of followers since Rome rules over a much wider territory than it did IOTL. Fingers crossed for a Galatian to be one of Jesus' future followers.
     
  8. St. Just Angel of Death

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    I'm thinking Colombomar (Combolomarix) will be the third king. Also we need Red the Apostle (George Carlin reference).

    Livia esse delendam.
     
  9. Soverihn Kanye 2020

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    I pray for a sassy Celt and a cool and collected Nubian auxiliary.
     
  10. St. Just Angel of Death

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    Sassy Celt? Cool and collected Nubian? This is the Apostles, not the Real World: Judaea.

    Livia esse delendam.
     
  11. Barbarossa Rotbart Well-Known Member

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    I hope that you do not fall into the common traps while describing early christianity, because the Bible left not only things out that were common knowledge but the text was also changed some centuries later.
     
  12. Zireael Well-Known Member

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    I am most intrigued by the mention of
    ...
     
  13. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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  14. Velasco As High as Honour

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    [​IMG]

    :D

    I like her too. She has big shoes to fill - here's to her ambition and man-eating not getting the best of her ;)

    A drawing of Berenike would be interesting...either as Pharaoh or in typical Hellenistic garb...what do you think?

    Sol Invictus will show up, don't you worry. With the splits I have planned for the early Church, a more popular cult of Isis and Irano-Buddhism the religious scenario is already somewhat crowded, but we'll see about Mithras. Perhaps his cult gets integrated with the Imperial one by/for the legions.

    Thank you! :D

    Haha...well, we might have the centurion whose slave boy Jesus heals be named Rufus or something. Not quite an apostle, but still. The third wise man is usually called Melchior, which seems to be a corruption of a fairly generic melech/malik, "King". I think I'll try to leave some ambiguity about the historic veracity of the Gospel accounts, so we'll see.

    This week on Nazarene's Creek...:D

    Livia esse delendam!

    It seems to me that the Gospels were written with specific purposes in mind, leaving out (as they themselves say) that which wasn't immediately relevant. For me I'm most interested in seeing how Christianity will interact with Hellenism, Irano-Buddhism, increasingly divided Judaism and both Roman and Parthian tendencies towards syncretism. I might venture so far as to cite an apocryphal gospel or "lost" letters of the apostles, as well as flesh out certain things, but the Scriptural canon will (at least for some Christians) be much the same as OTL.

    The Palmyrene sect is the one I'm most excited to develop.
     
  15. Velasco As High as Honour

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    :D:D

    A Nubian hostage raised by Celts with Roman citizenship, settled in Galilee, and known as the Red for his "red" skin perhaps?
     
  16. Barbarossa Rotbart Well-Known Member

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    And that's exactly the trap I've meant.
    First, they left out that they believed that was common knowledge (e.g. that all of his disciples were accompanied by their families, that the groom was responsible for the beverages at a wedding etc.).
    Later certain things were omited and even names were changed because they did not fit into the new view of the early years of Christianity (e.g. women in prominent roles, the role of Maria Magdalena).
     
  17. Jonathan Edelstein Rooted Cosmopolitan

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    I wonder if one of the Three Christianities will be Greco-Buddhist-flavored.
     
  18. Graham Representative on Mission

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    Let us hope she can live up to her Grandmother (Cleopatra) and her Grandfathers (Julius Caesar & Marc Anthony) reputations, and that I got the family tree correct...
     
  19. Velasco As High as Honour

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    Would there be any interest in an "After Actium" nation game? We could have one week = one in-game year, starting with the death of Cleopatra, with players controlling Roman senators (and their families), client kingdoms or other nations in the Roman orbit.
     
  20. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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    I would be content with this. I call a random client state in the East. :D