For the Want of a Ram: The World of a Surviving Caesar

Chapter I: Lions Fed by Sheep

Chapter I: Lions Fed by Sheep


Narnia, Italia
In the hills of rustic Umbria, the former hearth of the Sabines, there was a small town known as Narnia. And on the outskirts of this town lived two brothers: Titus and Tiberius. Prior to this point, they had lived mostly uneventful lives, both serving in Caesar’s legion until eventually receiving a plot of land in 46 BC. There, they’d both choose to live out their dying days as small-time shepherds, tending to their livestock on the hills of the grassy knoll. One day however, Titus, commonly known to the local townsfolk as a dullard and a dolt, would bring home an especially randy ram he’d call Coriolanus. And taking a liking to the creature, he’d decide to keep it as a pet. Now Tiberius, being the cold pragmatist he was, would be absolutely livid, as in the short span of a day, the beast would break into his grain stores, shit all over the floor, and try to fuck everything within a mile of his farm. Deciding he had enough, he would make a decision that, unbeknownst to him, would change the course of human history.

While he considered simply releasing the beast into the wilderness, so that it could frolic off like a drunken Bacchus, Tiberius decided against it, not wanting his brother to find out. Instead, he’d cart it off to town, selling it off to a local tradesman. And deciding this disaster of an animal wasn’t fit for life, the tradesman would have it killed, selling it to a man in Ostia who moonlighted as a butcher, barber, and piss merchant. And through pure luck and happenstance, this off-color meat would find its way to the house of one Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, where it’d be prepared by his slaves and put in a fresh serving of copadia agnina: lamb stew. And to celebrate his new proconsulship and departure to Spain, he just so happened to be holding a banquet that night for some of his closest friends…


Lepidus's Atrium

Naturally, Caesar would be one of the first to arrive, flanked by an entourage with his good friend, Decimus Brutus, in the wings. Always one to make a show, he’d shower his host with gifts, giving Lepidus a lapis lazuli necklace for his wife and a ritual dagger from Gaul: a good luck charm for his upcoming fight against Sextus Pompey. Once the other dinner guests had arrived, they’d all retire to the atrium to exchange pleasantries and make small talk. Obviously, Caesar’s aura would consume almost every conversation that followed, as everyone, from the sleaziest politician to the lowliest slave, all clamored for his favor. And after a bunch of exaggerated war stories, poetic proclamations, and crude remarks about Cato the Younger’s impotence, they’d all be called to dinner.

A modest man at heart, Lepidus had arranged a far smaller feast than what the average patrician would've prepared, but there were still more than enough delicacies to go around. After drinking their fair share of white wine, Lepidus, Caesar, and an unusually withdrawn Brutus, would chow down on a 3-course meal, consisting of field mice, honeyed cheesecake, and hearty amounts of stew. Before they knew it, everyone would finish eating. The early evening gave way to night, and most of the guests would soon slip out, either drunk or stuffed, leaving the trio as the last remaining. Feeling unusually sentimental, Lepidus would break open his personal stores, pulling out an old vintage from the days of Sulla, which they’d chug profusely. And as the alcohol did its magic, they’d wax philosophical about the great questions of life, eventually coming onto the topic of death. They’d debate what was the best way to die, with each man giving a different answer. Lepidus would claim that it was best to pass on surrounded by loved ones, having lived a pious life. Brutus, pensive and brooding, would claim that it was best to die in service of the Republic or a greater cause. And Caesar, ever sardonic, would argue that it’d be best to die when least expected to avoid the pain of foresight. Content with their answers, the men would call it night, each departing on their own accord. Brutus would stroll home through a cramped alleyway, wracked with guilt, knowing what he was about to do. He could feel his stomach tighten: his head pounding and intense pangs coming from his gut. He’d slip off to bed, knowing that the Ides would come, but when he awoke, he’d find himself vomiting and bedridden: rendered immobile with seething pain(1). Through what seemed to be divine intervention, his plan would not come to be.

That same morning, Cassius’s house devolved into a shitshow of pontificating and screaming. You see, at the crack of dawn, just as they were preparing to smuggle their knives into Pompey’s theater, they had received dreadful news: owing to unexpected illness, Caesar had canceled all senate meetings before the upcoming invasion. Naturally, they panicked, worried that they had lost their window to assassinate the bald philanderer. The hours would tick by and, growing desperate, Cassius would dispatch for his co-conspirator-in-chief, Decimus Brutus, hoping for some form of counsel, only to discover him writhing in pain: in the midst of a delirious coma. In a last-ditch attempt to salvage the conspiracy, Junius Brutus would confront Caesar himself, hoping to play on his pride, so that he may rescind his order(2). He’d be disappointed however to find the dictator shriveled in bed, barely able to move, and after giving him the long side-eye, Calpurnia would tell him no. It was upon hearing this news that the conspirators dropped any pretense of civility; all hell broke loose. Cassius’s atrium erupted into a cacophony of hysteria and shouting, and Tillius Cimber, ever the violent drunk, would start a fist fight with Junius Brutus, threatening to slit his throat for roping him into the conspiracy. Cassius would barely break it up, chiding them for being no better than petulant children. After barely restoring order, he urged his fellow plotters to just wait. After all, Caesar was sick, and he could die any day now. And so, after diffusing tensions with some food and wine, they went about their business and simply waited, praying that their tyrant would die…

(1): The POD. After eating some rancid lamb meat, Caesar and Brutus get food poisoning right before the Ides of March.
(2): For context, according Suetonius, Decimus Brutus did something similar, trying to convince Caesar to go to the senate that day. The difference is that, in OTL, he was just hungover and, contrary to the Shakespeare play, much closer friends with Decimus. Here, he's bedridden, puking, and Junius can't convince him.
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Chapter II: Cry Havoc!

Chapter II: Cry Havoc!


The Appian Way
But alas, to the conspirators’ dismay, Caesar would recover within about five days, and staying true to his promise, no more senate meetings would be held before the invasion. Now, completely bereft of the opportunity to kill the tyrant they so hated, while also being at each other's throats, both in terms of ideology, but also quite literally, the conspiracy against him would completely fall apart. And matters wouldn’t be helped when Decimus Brutus, after recovering from his hellish sheep soup coma, got cold feet, threatening to pull out if the other conspirators didn’t postpone the plot. So, with a heavy heart, Cassius, Casca, and the rest would agree to delay their regicide to a later date, most likely after Caesar’s campaigns, with the understanding being that, if one of them squealed, they’d turn their knives on themselves. They swore that they’d carry this secret to their graves, and by Jupiter, they were going to keep it that way.

Caesar, having survived his battle with Bacchus, would depart Rome on March 21st: 6 days after the Ides. After much consideration and hand wringing, he’d elect to leave Mark Antony, newly appointed consul, "in charge" of the city. In reality though, most of the actual governing would be left to his friend, Gaius Oppius, who had run Rome in his absence before. See, the dictator did somewhat trust his friend's claim that he was a "changed" man, no longer shackled by the chains of the bottle. In the back of his head however, he knew that he would always be a horrid administrator, and was terrified that he would start another debauched, riot orgy. So, Oppius would be the power behind the throne and, being a timid man who mostly kept his head down, would allow his partying superior to take much the credit: a deal both parties seemed content with.

After a grand procession just outside the Pomerium, he’d slink his way down the Via Appia to Brundisium, where he'd take charge of one of his most battle-tested legions, before departing to Apollonia in short order. There, he’d be reunited with the first part of his invasion force, consisting of 3 legions under Publius Vatinius, along with his grand-nephew and soon-to-be protégé: Octavius. In a move clearly designed to fast track the boy’s political career, Caesar would grant him the rank of tribunus laticlavius(2), an incredibly prestigious role, in his own personal army: a revived ninth legion(3). He’d then take stock of his supplies, offer sacrifices to the chora’s patron goddess, Diana, and send off some of his retiring veterans to the military colony of Buthrorum(4), before finally taking the Via Egnatia up to Thessalonica: his base of operations.

After shaking hands with Ventidius Bassus, who was already encamped outside the city along with 6 more Macedonian legions, he'd then take stock of the rest of his army, formed up of 6 final legions from throughout the east, leaving him with 16 legions total. Then, strolling through the halls of the city's newly built acropolis, he’d be met with a grand reception headed by one Quintus Hortensius Hortalus: the Roman governor of Macedonia and the son of the statesman by the same name(5). A magnanimous man, the proconsul would throw a huge party for his host, and after a night filled with much drinking and whoring, where he did everything in his power to avoid touching the lamb, Caesar would retire with his generals to draw up an invasion plan. The main force, consisting of 8 legions: elite veterans of everywhere, ranging from Gaul to Greece, was to be headed by the man himself, and they would move northeast into Scythia Minor. There, they were to reduce the Greek cities of the coast, the Getic forts of the interior, and ultimately, recover the eagle standards lost by Hybridus, Antony's incompetent uncle, 20 years ago. The rest, commanded by Bassus, were to subjugate Dacia’s federates in the west such as the Dardani, Celegri, and Triballi. And after all this, if Burebista refused to give battle or seek terms, an outcome Caesar considered quite likely, they would both link up to cross the Danube, marching north towards the Iron Gates in order to force a decisive engagement. As dusk turned to dawn, the great leader would give his thanks to Thessalonica for its generosity, granting it the status of civitas libera before promptly departing (6). As he walked the hewn stone of the Via Egnatia, he couldn’t help but think back to his time in Gaul, when he set off against the Helvetii so long ago. All the feelings he felt then came flooding back: the apprehension, the adrenaline, the power-hungry greed. He had certainly come a long way since those days, rising to become savior of the republic. But for the ambitious conquerer, that still wasn’t enough; in his heart, he knew it was his destiny to exceed Marius, Cyrus, and Alexander. And with Venus as his witness, he would.


The Polis of Abdera
His first stop would be Abdera, widely mocked as the city of idiots(7), and the de-facto capital of the Thracian Sapaei: one of Rome’s most powerful allies in the region. There, he’d meet with its co-kings, the brothers Rhascuporis and Rhascus: men renowned for their cunning and bravery. Having not forgotten Caesar’s mercy for pardoning them at Pharsalus, they’d agree to serve as auxiliaries in the campaign against Burebista, though with certain strings attached. Namely, they demanded that their domains east of the Nessus river be confirmed, that control of various forts on the Via Egnatia be retained(8), and that long-standing injustices propagated by Hybridus, Piso(9), and, most recently, Hortalus be addressed. They also requested aid against their rivals, the warlike Bessi, who had been emboldened to raid their lands by Roman instability. Seeing these demands as mostly reasonable, and a perfect excuse to reassert the Republic’s hegemony in the region, Caesar would acquiesce, leaving happy with his new peltasts and horsemen who, in quiet, he thought were smelly barbarians.

Snaking his way past Lake Bistonis towards Maroneia, he’d fulfill his promise to his allies and deal with the wild Bessi. A theocratic tribe centered around the worship of their patron god, Dionysus, they had many reasons to hate the Romans. Whether it be the days of the Macedonian Wars, Mithridates, or the recent assassination of their king, Rabocentus, by Piso, they knew not to trust them, so they’d wage war. Belligerent at first, they’d quickly change their tune however after Caesar shattered their largest raiding party in the misty headlands of the Upper Nessus. Fearing for his peoples’ survival, their chief and high priest, a corpulent zealot named Hebryzelmis(10), would seek terms. Namely, he’d agree to resume paying Rome tribute, stop attacking Roman allies, and allow his legions free passage through the Saepaean and Corpilian Passes(11). Deciding these terms were punitive enough, Caesar would accept, recruiting a sizable number of Bessi mercenaries, before moving to his next stop: Bizye.


Sadalas II, King of the Astae

The famed stronghold of the mythical king Tereus and an epicenter of the Thracian world, Bizye was the storied capital of the ancient Astae: Rome’s other major ally south of the Haemus. After a stroll on the Mediterranean shore, Caesar, accompanied by Rhascus and Quintus Cicero(12), would meet with King Sadalas II and his wife, Queen Polemocratia(13): a woman who reminded him much of Cleopatra back home. Much like the Sapaean brothers, Sadalas had also sided with Pompey at Pharsalus on his father, King Cotys II’s, behalf. When the optimate traitors fled for the hills, it had been because of Rhascus’s pleading that he had been spared, and he had not forgotten this debt. His realm had also been under heavy pressure from Burebista who, in a recent punitive campaign south of the Danube, had launched raids on Astae villages, killing some of his best men. So, seeing collaboration as a net positive, he’d sign off on a deal not too dissimilar to the one Caesar made in the south. And, after sacrificing a horse to the Thracian rider god, Heros Karabasmos, and leaving his wife to rule in his stead, Sadalas would toss his own forces into the mix, donning the brass Phrygian helm of his legendary ancestor: King Cotys I(14). Standing atop a stony balcony of Sadalas’s summer palace, Caesar would deliver a rousing speech to his comrades in arms. Addressing them by name, as brothers, he’d compare their upcoming exploits to great heroes of old such as Lucullus, Phillip, and Alexander. By his proclamation, they were to follow in their footsteps and drive back the barbarians of yore. The legionaries would fanatically cheer, hailing their great imperator as Mars reborn. With his gladius in hand and the ninth's vexilla raised, the old soldier would trudge north to reduce the first target of the campaign: Dionysopolis.

(1): For context, Antony ran Rome in Caesar's absence a couple of years prior, and it was a massive shit show. A lot of the accounts on this are pro-Augustan propaganda, but they're probably rooted in some truth. If he screws up this second chance, he knows that his political career will be nuked.
(2): An army role usually granted to sons of Roman nobles, designed to help them climb the Cursus Honorum. Caesar still wants to test Octavius before promoting him more.
(3): The famous Legio Hispana. In OTL, it got disbanded in 46 BC. I don't see why Caesar couldn't just revive it. There were attempts after his death in OTL.
(4): Butrint, Albania
(5): The son of a Sulla-era politician, in OTL, this guy was super quick to side with Brutus, and he got screwed by the Caesarians after.
(6): In OTL, they'd be granted this in 42 BC after Philippi, as a reward for helping Augustus/Antony.
(7): A real thing this place was known for. I'm pretty sure Cicero even has a letter where he calls their people morons.
(8): For context, after a ton of Roman bungling, neglect, and the Civil War, Thrace had become de-facto independent until Philippi and Publius Crassus put an end to that.
(9): Yep, that Piso, Caesar's in-law and father to Calpurnia. He'd governed Macedonia in the 50s BC and, according to Cicero, had done a crappy job of it, alienating the locals.
(10): Fictional
(11): The first one is located around Mt. Ismaros, Bulgaria just above Maroneia. The second is around Mt. Ovcharitsa above Alexandroupolis. Also, for context, Brutus did a similar campaign against the Bessi in OTL. The difference is that he was a lot more brutal, while Caesar was willing to be somewhat more lenient.
(12): Cicero's younger brother who fought with Caesar in Gaul.
(13): By the time Philippi rolled around, her husband got murdered. She'd be forced to give her fortune to Brutus and would seek refuge, with their son, in Cyzicus.
(14): One of the last kings of a united Thrace. Also, I was really tempted to make a Caesar Salad pun here, but not exactly sure how. Sadalas sounds too similar not to.
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Good TL so far. I will say, I'm surprised Caesar still trusts Mark Antony to handle Roman politics in his absence, considering what happened last time; also, hadn't he been planning on having Octavius step in as Master of Horse? Even if he doesn't, what's wrong with leaving Lepidus and taking Antony with him?
Good TL so far. I will say, I'm surprised Caesar still trusts Mark Antony to handle Roman politics in his absence, considering what happened last time; also, hadn't he been planning on having Octavius step in as Master of Horse? Even if he doesn't, what's wrong with leaving Lepidus and taking Antony with him?
Thanks for the response. So, as I mentioned in the footnotes, Antony had seriously screwed the pooch a couple of years back, but by 44 BC, he had slowly worked his way back into Caesar’s inner circle. You can correct me, but I’m pretty sure he was appointed consul for the year, and essentially Caesar is letting him try again as a test. If he fails, he’s screwed, and he knows this. Also, as I mentioned, it seems that Antony wasn’t as much of a crazy, raging alcoholic at the time, as he was able to clean himself up and demonstrate some decent leadership skills after Caesar’s death. Also, I’ll probably edit chapter 2 to make this more clear tomorrow, but he won’t actually be governing Rome that much. Gaius Oppius will actually be doing that, as Caesar appointed him to “keep an eye on him” (aka do his job for him). Lepidus is in Spain right now, so he can’t do it. Also, Octavian’s only like 20 right now, and he hasn’t even served any political office yet. Caesar will be fast tracking his career, and will make him master of the horse soon enough, but he really hasn’t been tested yet.


Caesar, having survived his own battle with Bacchus, would depart Rome on March 21st at the head of one of six legions. After much consideration and hand wringing, he’d elect to leave Mark Antony, newly appointed consul, in charge of the city. He trusted that he was a changed man, now unshackled by the “passions” of youth, but just in case he started another debauched, riot orgy, Caesar tasked his friend, Gaius Oppius, to watch over him(1). After a grand procession just outside the Pomerium, he’d slink his way down the Via Appia to Brundisium, in order to link up with his other five legions, before departing to Apollonia in short order. There, he’d be reunited with the rest of his invasion force, consisting of ten final legions, along with his grand-nephew and soon-to-be protégé: Octavian.

There was only one legion actually in Italy at the time of Caesar's OTL assassination. From Antony and Cleopatra by Adrian Goldsworth

"Lepidus commanded the only legion in Italy. At least some of his troops were near Rome and on the 16th he brought them into the city."

As I understand it the 16 legions slated for Caesar's Dacian and Parthian Campaigns were already in the east by March of 44 BC. 6 legions were in Macedonia under Publius Ventidius Bassus, 6 legions were already in Syria under Lucius Statius Murcus and Quintus Marcius Crispus besieging the Pompeian diehards under Quintus Caecilius Bassus) and 4 legions were in Egypt. (There were also 3 legions in Illyricum under Publius Vatinius.)

Appendix XI in the link below has a pretty good run down on where all the Roman legions were at the time of Caesar's death.

Good TL so far. I will say, I'm surprised Caesar still trusts Mark Antony to handle Roman politics in his absence, considering what happened last time; also, hadn't he been planning on having Octavius step in as Master of Horse? Even if he doesn't, what's wrong with leaving Lepidus and taking Antony with him?

Caesar had already chosen Lepidus to be the governor of Narbonese Gaul and Nearer Spain.

As for Antony, John Ramsey has an article (available on JSTOR) that suggests that in 46-45 BC Antony wasn't as much in the doghouse with Caesar as we typically think and that Caesar actually entrusted Antony with a very important responsibility (selling off Pompey's property) during that time period. I don't know if I completely buy Ramsey's theory, but it does explain why Caesar not only welcomes Antony back into his good graces but makes him the consul for 44 BC which otherwise seems a rather remarkable reward for someone that had seemingly been on the outs with Caesar for the last two years.

If Ramsey is correct then Antony's success at managing the liquidation of Pompey's property over the last two years would give Caesar reason to think that he had reformed and would do a better job in Rome this time.

Though the fact that Caesar selected Publius Cornelius Dolabella (an enemy of Antony) to be Antony's co-consul once Caesar left for the east also suggests that Caesar didn't completely trust Antony and wanted some checks on him.

Beyond that though Caesar appears to have granted Antony Macedonia as his proconsular province for 43 BC.

Thus I think Caesar's plan was to lead the initial attack against the Dacians in 44 BC himself, then turn over responsibility for Dacia in 43 BC to Antony while Caesar continues east to start his campaign against the Parthians.
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There was only one legion actually in Italy at the time of Caesar's OTL assassination. From Antony and Cleopatra by Adrian Goldsworth
Ok, cool. If that's true about the legions, I'll go ahead and change that then. And, as I said, Anthony won't actually be doing most of the real governing here. I'm probably going to discuss it in a far later chapter/ interlude of sorts, but he'll be off mostly partying (non-destructively of course), while Oppius and his co-consul do most the work for him. I'll edit it later today. Also, you're 100% correct about him in Macedonia. That was the plan I had for him from the get-go.
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Chapter III: And Let Slip the Dogs of War

Chapter III: And Let Slip the Dogs of War


The Shores of Mighty Dionysopolis
Standing on an elevated plateau at the heart of the Zyras River Valley just south of the Gulf of Tirizis(1), with a hefty, Hellenistic-style fortress guarding it to boot, Caesar considered Dionysopolis to be quite the formidable foe. During Burebista’s conquests, largely owing to rising anti-Roman sentiment post-Hybridus and pre-existing diplomatic ties with the Crobyzi Gets(2), it would peacefully submit along with many of its sister cities. As a consequence, it would avoid the fate of places like Histria and Olbia who, in punishment for their brazen defiance, saw their walls demolished and citizens massacred. But contrary to what the exiles from these defiled lands might say, Burebista wasn’t but a simple-minded barbarian: far from it. He was a shrewd man and more than willing to reward loyalty in his subjects, so in a move of both generosity and pragmatic power politics, he’d lavish Dionysopolis with many privileges. Namely, he allowed them to raise their own armies, collect their own duties, and mint their own coins in order to serve as his chief enforcer in the region. Specifically, they were charged with collecting tributes from their fellow city-states and sending them back to Sarmizegetusa: a task they were paid back, in-kind, with Translyvanian gold. This was, in no small part, due to the efforts of its chief magistrate and archon: the silver-tongued Acornion.

A powerful aristocrat born to old Ionian stock, he had climbed his way to the top through a mix of flattery, skullduggery, and flat-out bootlicking, being elected sometime in 56 BC. When the Dacians invaded soon after, many lesser men crumbled, being relegated to the dustbin of history, but in the visage of Burebista, Acornion saw his golden opportunity. Shortly after surrendering, he’d allow the phi-hellenic king to participate in the city’s annual Dionysia(3) as a guest of honor. And, after a night of discus throwing, naked wrestling, and frenzied, drunken dancing, the two would strike a chord, becoming fast friends. Over the coming years, after many a Dacian day and Dionysopolis night, he’d rise to become one of his most trusted advisors and confidants. In 48 BC, he’d even be selected to serve as chief emissary to Pompey during Rome’s civil war, being honored with a bronze in the agora and a golden crown for his efforts(4). Under his rule, his beloved home had thrived, and with his vast new fortune, he had managed to build many new gymnasiums, parks, and shrines. He had re-shapen his chora in his own image, etching himself in stone as one of its greatest citizens, and with Burebista on his side, he’d continue to ascend to the heights of the gods. As long as the steps of Cybele’s great temple glistened and Demeter Kabeiraia’s(5) sanctuary stood strong, he was confident that reinforcements were on their way: that his loyal men would fight and that his city would never fall. So when Caesar’s horde approached, and the muses preached of doom, he awaited his promised aid, making ready for war.

Emerging from the dark forests of tawny Odrysian oak, Caesar would begin his descent towards Dionysopolis with great haste, first trekking across the Panysus River(6) to receive the surrender of Odessus: its much-emaciated sister. Once known as the Pearl of the Miletians, it had since languished under Dacian rule, with much of its bounty being siphoned by its parasitic neighbor. Having traumatic memories of his city’s sacking and a strong desire for vengeance, its lord, the melancholic Menogenes(7), would defect, supplementing his militia to Caesar’s force. After receiving word from his scouts that, much to his relief, Dionysopolis hadn’t yet received reinforcements, the general would surround the city, hoping to storm or starve it into submission. With its sprawling white walls and citadel, he settled in for the long-haul, expecting a siege that could take weeks or, under the worst circumstances, even a month. But much to his surprise, it would only last 3 days.

See, Acornion was not a popular man, and during his tenure in office, he had made many enemies. Whether it be the populists, who detested his corruption, the xenophobes, who despised his love of the Gets, or the democrats, who hated how he made himself de-facto king, he had alienated large swathes of people: each with their own bone to pick. And they all rallied around a man named Demo(8): a fiery orator who had long railed against the oligarchy and the festering status quo. And, while certainly no Romanophile, he was a keen opportunist, and in Caesar’s mercy, he saw the lesser of two evils: a perfect chance to strike. With a group of hushed conspirators in the halls of a clandestine stoa, he’d begin plotting his next moves.


Riots Consume Dionysopolis

On a cool spring evening, around the stroke of midnight, Demo would carry out his attack. At the head of a gang consisting of Histrian exiles, mustachioed Bastarnae mercenaries, and a portion of the urban mob, he began by neutralizing the local city guard: too drunk to resist after celebrating Dionysia. Then, they’d storm Acornion’s mansion, smashing all his things and dragging him from his bed. In the heart of the agora, he’d be lynched from a marble column for all his city to see, poetically dying at the foot of his own bronze. And once nature ran its course, his corpse would unceremoniously be tossed to a pack of wild dogs. The rest of the garrison would attempt to respond, hoping to quell the burgeoning riots, but before they knew it, it was already too late: the conspirators had opened up the gates.

Awaking from a wet dream about Cleopatra, shocked that the city had been handed to him on a silver platter, Caesar would storm Dionysopolis with his legions in tow. For its defenders, it’d be a bloodbath, as many of them were too intoxicated to fight. Once the last of them had surrendered, the dictator would parlay with Demo, wishing to discuss terms. For one, as a sign of gratitude, he’d spare the city, though the homes of Acornion’s supporters and local Greco-Gets would be ransacked. Second, he’d allow him to form a new, more democratic government, though with the understanding that they’d submit to Roman rule. Finally, to sweeten the deal, he’d let him keep some of his home’s old, Burebista-era privileges, though on the condition that they’d turn over their grain stores to supply his upcoming offensive. Seeing this as as good of a deal as he was going to get, the ragged firebrand would accept, and both parties would celebrate. Moments later, Lysimachus's old fort at nearby Tirizis(9) would surrender as well, and the following day, word would spread of Rome’s victory.

And nowhere would it spread faster than the lands of the Hellenes. Just to the south, Messembria, in an act reminiscent of the younger Lucullus 2 decades ago(10), would burn its Pro-Dacian neighbor, Apollonia Pontica, to the ground, desecrating its statue to Apollo. In the north, mighty Histria would purge its foreign garrison, sending Caesar a basket of wreaths to celebrate the triumph of its native-born sons. Officially, Tomis, Callatis, Olbia, and Tyras would declare their neutrality, though in secret, they’d send out envoys, knowing what was to come. For all intents and purposes, Dacian hegemony was dead over the Euxine Greeks, and Burebista was none too pleased.


The Hercynian Forest

In a sodden tent at the fringes of the Hercynian forest(11), the Dacian king couldn’t help but weep when he learned the news of his friend’s death. His right-hand man, Cotiso, would attempt to comfort him, but for hours, Burebista was inconsolable. See, the king’s original plan was to send reinforcements, hoping to grind down the invaders through attrition until, eventually, they could be pinned down in hostile territory and be ambushed. In a cruel twist of fate however, just as Caesar began his expedition, his rebellious vassals, the Anartes, would stage a massive uprising, forcing him to commit most of his forces to the north. And by the time he finally crushed them in a desolate, Carpathian ravine, there was nothing he could do: Dionysopolis had fallen and Acornion was dead. Determined not to repeat his mistakes, he’d wipe the tears from his war-weary face, emerging from his tent to bark orders at his lieutenants. His sons, Burillus and Scorilo(12), were to lead a force of 40,000 men south to shore up Zyraxes, his viceroy in Thrace, to hopefully delay or stop his realm’s impending collapse. Meanwhile, he would wait in Transylvania near the Iron Gates, pouncing on Caesar once he showed weakness. His strategists agreed that it was a solid plan: one that could halt the Romans in their tracks. But, unbeknownst to him, in an act of desperation, Zyraxes had just made a grave mistake: one with which he had already sealed his own fate…

(1): The Batova River and Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria.
(2): Crobyzi referred to the Getae who lived south of the Danube. According to coinage/archaeology, they traded heavily with the Greeks.
(3): A semi-annual festival dedicated to the city's patron God, Dionysus. Athens and other places had one too.
(4): Acornion was a real guy, according to an inscription from 48 BC. And in it, he was actually honored in this way.
(5): The cult of Cybele Pontica had become super popular in Thrace at this point. Dionysopolis had a temple for her. Demeter Kabeiraia refers to the matriarch of the Samothracian mysteries: an esoteric mystery cult that became popular here as well.
(6): Provadiyska River, Bulgaria
(7): A real guy. This comes from an inscription from the 40s BC where he pledged loyalty to Sadalas. I had to dig through an obscure, Bulgarian research paper to find this one.
(8): Another real guy, coming from some coins dating to the era. I made up everything about his life, obviously.
(9): There was another, big fort at Cape Kaliakra which, according to Strabo, once served as the treasury for the diadochi king Lysimachus.
(10): Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus, the younger brother of the more famous Lucius Licinius Lucullus.
(11): Located in modern Slovakia/Eastern Czechia.
(12): Fictional characters. I just thought the names sounded cool.
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Ok, so I went ahead and made some changes to chapter 2 to fix the stuff about the legions/ add some stuff about Antony. Chapter 4 will be on its way soon enough, though it might take me a bit longer, because I'm still in the process of drafting it.
After drinking their fair share of white wine, Lepidus, Caesar, and an unusually withdrawn Brutus, would chow down on a 3-course meal, consisting of field mice, honeyed cheesecake, and hearty amounts of stew.

Man, I love a good story when the author doesn't sell us short on the human hunger for appetizers made of field mice.

In all seriousness, I like your writing style. It's funny without trying too hard. Watched
Man, I love a good story when the author doesn't sell us short on the human hunger for appetizers made of field mice.

In all seriousness, I like your writing style. It's funny without trying too hard. Watched
Haha, thanks. The funny thing about that is that it was a real Roman delicacy. A lot of the jokes I've made so far are just things from the real world (i.e piss merchants, naked wrestling, etc.). Honestly, it's not too hard to find humor in the ancient world, as they seriously did some weird shit