Hadrian's Consolidation - reboot

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Hecatee, May 16, 2016.

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  1. Neko Tamo Well-Known Member

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    Damn it @mplustwerk look what you did, a kid is dead now because of your big mouth :p
     
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  2. Threadmarks: Forum of Toletum, Hispania, September 179

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Forum of Toletum, Hispania, September 179

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    Many had come for the occasion and the basilica was packed full with people come for the trial. On the podium, in his ivory curule chair, stood the governor, surrounded by lictors. In front of him, in chains and surrounded by soldiers, stood five men, the leaders of the brigands who had preyed on the travellers of central Hispania for a number of years. At their head, no less than one of the richest equestrian of the whole province, Lucius Turranus Attianus himself, about to be tried by a jury of ten of his peers.

    Dozens had been killed by the brigands over the years, and at least ten time as many had been dispossessed of their goods. Well equipped with horses, those brigands had been able to escape the authorities thanks to bribes and their knowledge of the land, until one day when they had been seen attacking a travelling merchant and been followed back to their mountain fortress. The man who’d followed them at a distance, the son of another prominent equestrian on his way for his enrollment in the army to begin his cursus honorum, had then travelled at great speed to the nearest garrison. His name had been enough to cause an immediate reaction and the fortress had been swiftly surrounded, the bandits soon capitulating due to a lack of water.

    They had revealed their complices and soon the leadership of the band had been captured, including its famous leader. Now the justice of Rome would be felt. Many were anxious because Turranus Attianus owned large lands and large flocks that provided labor for many while his generosity had graced the city with many beautiful buildings whose construction had also provided work.

    As a consequence there were as many who wanted him condemned, especially amongst his surviving victims, as there were who wanted him freed. Of course Turranus Attianus was not coming down quietly and had brought his clientele and friends to Toletum for support. The governor had to thread carefully for this was the kind of situation that could lead to insurrection… He’d deployed a cohors near the felon’s main estate and another one was conducting “training march” next to Toletum’s walls, while a number of message carriers stood with their horses next to the basilica’s rear door…

    On a sign from the governor the accusator rose while silence established itself in the large room. Taking the usual pose of the orator, he started his exordium, introduction to his charge. He had three hours to present his case, calling upon witnesses and the full experience of his numerous years of rhetorical practice. Great admirer of Cicero, he also used the flourishes of greek rhetoric, including many a quote or historical references. To him Turranus Attianus was a new Procustus, that Athenian highwayman killed by Theseus, and only death and confiscation of his estates would do for his crimes, as it had been for Procustus. Would the governor, and through him the Emperor, be the new Theseus that would bring peace and safety to the region ?

    After a midday pause the time came for the defense to speak. Turranus Attianus himself led his defense, with two other advocates adding some words for the other accused. But, sure of his power, the brigand had misread the popular opinion.

    A number of times his arrogance made the people growl in anger, forcing the governor to call for quite and threatening to have the audience expelled. Finally as Turranus Attianus concluded his peroration came the time for decision.

    The ten juror cast their votes into an urn which was brought to the governor, who had the votes counted in front of him. The accused were culprit. A roar of shock went through the crowd as the news sweeped through it, going outside of the building to the mass of people assembled on the forum’s square. Soldiers, who had mainly been resting on their shields until then, smarted up and made sure their weapons were loose in their scabbard.

    The governor rose from his chair and gave the sentence. For the accomplices, death and confiscation of their properties : those who had the citizenship would be decapitated, the others would go on the cross.

    For the equestrian knight Lucius Turranus Attianus, radiation from the equestrian order, confiscation of his properties and exile to the canis islands, with his smallest estate left to his wife and children. Justice had been done, execution was to be immediate.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  3. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    Peers. 'pair' in English is strictly a group of two. Even numbers divisible by two use 'even' instead of 'pair'. That's English for you.
    Rhetoric, singular. Why rhetoric is singular in English and mathematics is plural, I'm sure I don't know.
    If you happened to mean the guys using rhetoric, that would be rhetoricians.

    Peroration.

    Number times. Plural.

    Stupid English language.
     
  4. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    And damn belgian author not taking care he's good enough in English before he starts writting a story ;) thanks for the corrections, I'll put them in in a few minutes
     
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  5. Fortuna The resident fascist

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    Is canis islands the canaries?
     
  6. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Yes
     
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  7. Threadmarks: Voltinia Capitolina, Iudea, november 179

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Voltinia Capitolina, Iudea, november 179

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    The sight had wonderful, well worth the days on camels’ back that the almost 60 years old emperor had suffered since leaving Babylon. Entering the small gorge that led to the city of the Nabateans and discovering the façade of the tomb of one of their kings had been an experience unlike any previously experienced by the emperor.

    The Nabateans, who had been incorporated into the empire during the reign of the divine Trajanus, had known a period of slow decline that the conquest of Mesopotamia by Marcus Aurelius had reversed : trade again soared on the caravan roads and paths almost forgotten that crossed the land from east to west had been treaded upon again by the long files of camels.

    Their leaders had insisted for the emperor to come visit them in their former capital, presenting their invitation as an act of thanks for the boons the conquest of the emperor had bestowed upon them, and he had accepted. He’d heard of the city’s curious layout and had a desire to see it for himself, but there were political considerations too. The Nabateans knew the desert well and their continued submission helped with the control of the border with the great arabian desert further down toward Hegra, where the small garrison survived in large part thanks to the nabatean caravans bringing supplies : a revolt in this sensitive area could prove devastating for the tax revenues of the empire as those caravans carried a lot of incense from Arabia Felix that did not go by sea, and on which enormous taxes were due.

    The Nabataean trade network also included a number of relay cities in the desert south of Iudea, on the way to the commercially strategic port of Gaza, another reason why good relations with them were important.

    On the other hand Petra was a rival of the powerful city of Palmyra further north, given that it had taken part of the trade that had been going through Syria during the decay of Petra. As always everything was a delicate balance…

    After ceremonies of welcome with gift of water, bread and salt, Marcus Aurelius had been shown into the surprisingly modest palace of the former kings of the city. A great banquet had been organized, where the citizens themselves had provided the service, bringing the dishes and filling the cups for the Nabateans had almost no slaves, a fact they were proud of, and justly so in the mind of the emperor.

    The imperial entourage stayed five days in the city, officially opening a temple to the imperial family dug into the cliff atop the theater, a magnificent façade ornately decorated and more beautiful than that of the great tomb at the entrance of the city. Inside its rock chamber were portraits of all the emperors since the divine Julius Caesar himself, including the revilled Nero and Domitian, with a larger portrait of Marcus Aurelius himself set in a central niche. It was probably one of the most beautiful temple of the imperial cult in all of the empire…

    Leaving Petra the imperial caravan had then gone north to Gerasha and Bostra, reviewing military units and seeing the impressive richness of the cities along the way, to which imperial largesses added : here a library, there a valetudinarium, in another city a new bath…

    Finally they’d turned west to Voltinia Capitolina where they rested for a week, with the emperor hearing judicial cases from Iudea, a number of them going back to the consequences of the wars in the time of the divine Hadrianus. Justice could be slow, especially when bureaucracy was involved…

    Still, they would soon be in Alexandria, in time for the Saturnalia and three months of rest…
     
  8. luis3007 History amateur

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    Reaching the end of Aurelius. While the succession system seem stable enough it is always at risk of plague, sickness, military disaster and even assassination.

    You can't keep a reign of continuous good emperors since even if good for the Empire it will slow down further institutionalization and separation of state and monarchy since the system established by the divine Hadrian seems good enough and gathers the force of unmovable tradition.
     
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  9. TheHandsomeBrute Well-Known Member

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    The succession is probably what I find most ASB about this story really. There is a reason why the line of succession was so informal. The senitoral class would have never accepted an open monarchy before the third century crisis. The princeps was theoretically a kind of super magistrate and a magistrate isn't allowed appoint a successor.
     
  10. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Thanks to both of you for your comments. The succession mechanism has been conceived to be both a formalization of practices common before (designation of successor) and anti-dynastic by forbidding inheritance by member of the same family. But it is indeed also very different from a normal magistracy, although by this point in time the idea that it was just a normal magistracy was already a fig leaf not believed by anyone anymore, and most did not really care about it. The fact that the mechanism gives such a role to the Senate is also of great importance to make it palatable to the senators.
    I also think that in time this will make the emperor much less powerful politically, even if he keeps the military power and the role of arbiter : given he can't have a dynastic strategy to put his son or a close relative on the throne, he becomes much less interesting for marriage alliances which are crucial in the Senate. He will thus lose influence there, but has the power of violence and the power of justice : he might well lose the possibility to enact any laws he wants, but can be the executive and act as supreme magistrate for what regards the judicial branch.
     
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  11. Neko Tamo Well-Known Member

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    Could a system of power swapping between a few powerful families emerge? Family A gives emperorship to fam B who gives it to C who gives it back to A. Not necessarily that neat but provided they have no familial ties it is technically legit while wrecking the intent of the law.
     
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  12. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Technically yes, it could lead to a kind of sequestration of power, leading to later instability as new families try to get into the circle. On the other any such scheme would require control of the senate for decades, two or three generations : not really possible as many would not have the patience to play such a long game
     
  13. Neko Tamo Well-Known Member

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    Yeah such blatant abuses tend to happen when the institutions of a country become heavily corrupt or just plain defunct. There are plenty of people who would scream "on no you don't" even this early in the new system.

    Don't get me wrong, I deffo want Rome to be stable, just shooting the breeze here :p
     
  14. TheHandsomeBrute Well-Known Member

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    I still don't know if it the succession system you have laid out would have worked. Commudos will have better, and would probably have inherited allot of Marcus's clients something which the Emperor will need, as well lof the property and money.
    Also don't forget the importance of which the Romans place there family's and the idea that you would place someone above your own family, even if you adopted them, wouldn't have been thought of. Remember legally speeching they are one unbroken line of father sons from the time of Nerves.
     
  15. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

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    Sounds like the papacy!
     
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  16. Threadmarks: Outskirts of Rome, villa of the prefect of the Academia Militaria, December 179

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    So a plane trip gave me time to write a double lenght update, and a visit to the Manchester museum of science and industry (after giving a paper on a WW2 French novel rewritting the De Bello Gallico) gave me the content for the post ;) Enjoy !

    Outskirts of Rome, villa of the prefect of the Academia Militaria, December 179



    Aelius Prigonus Cicero and his guests were sipping wine, properly diluted, while discussing. The meal had been informal, just the prefect and two of his friends, the current curator of the aqueducts and an architect only recently come back from the provinces. The difference of rank between the three men had been forgotten for the evening and it was just three engineers discussing together, Prigonus Cicero lamenting about the lack of progress with the aeolipyles, or the steam engines as some called them.

    “We simply can’t seem to produce enough heat to produce the steam necessary to boil the water. We tried making the exhausts smaller, with hope that it would increase the power of the machines because the pressure would move the steam faster, but such was not to be the case. We tried to put larger bowls above bigger fires, but here too the results were not up to the expectations : some time the fire was so hot that the metal would melt, other time it was the rivets that would fail. Beside making the bowls larger cause problems because the metalworkers can’t make sheets much larger than what they are now, and too often we see leaks at the joints between the plates. I even got a slave killed by a flying rivet !.”

    “But Aelius you should have known that we don’t heat the water in a bath in the way you describe ! We make sure to increase the amount of water in contact with the heat by putting pipes in the walls and multiple access points underneath the bath so that the air that has been heated by the furnace goes on more sides of the water. If we did not have to make space for the swimmer we would actually put tubes in the bath itself to heat the water faster… “

    “Oh that’s a brilliant observation ! Yes, I suppose we could find a way to have hot air go through tubes set in the middle of the water reservoir… But that would add weight and size to the enclosed furnace… They would cost more and have more failure points… “

    “But you use copper, yes ? Could not the new norican cast iron be used to make more solid and eventually larger pieces ?”

    “Possibly yes, although it has never been tried. And steam being water, would it not rust ?”

    “Could be an issue, but bronze does not really like water either, does it ?”

    “Yes indeed… that is why we tend to use lead in aqueduct, but lead melts at lower temperature than bronze and iron, not good for your purpose… anyway you could increase your heating by having your pipes not straight but spiraling like those in the wine serving automata described by Hero of Alexandria…


    “What a splendid idea ! it would increase the surface of contact and thus the heat transfer. But finding a competent enough metal worker to make such tube… “

    “That is indeed a problem… and also there must be a limit to how many spirals and how wide the tube can be.. Do you think there is a law that can be calculated ?”

    “Of course, why not ? after all we can calculate the flux of an aqueduc, can’t we ?”

    “True enough, although I don’t know how simple it is… I mean the nature of the material must play a role, as must its thickness : a wall of one brick carry less weight but allow more heat than a wall of two bricks, and a tube of lead, while very costly, is better than a tube of ceramic, itself better than a tube dug into stones... “

    “I will set some of my men on the problem. It feels like it is only a problem of engineering. That’s a bit like what a senator asked me the other day… He’d seen one of the old automata from the time of the cursed Nero which has been refurbished for the Praetorian prefect and is used by him to delight his guest at the banquets he gives. So this senator had seen the machine move around and pour wine, so he asked me if there were other moves that we could replicate with an automaton or a machine… I said yes of course, given the description given to us by the Alexandrian scholars, but I don’t know what exactly are the limits. He then asked me if we could reproduce the labors of a women…”

    “What ? he wanted to… copulate with a statue ? had he a bad case of agalmatophilia ?”

    “Ah no, if only… I’m sure we could invent something with pig blader and pneumatic effects, but that was not it… No, he wanted to see if we could replicate the actions of the spinstress and of the weaveress ! For him a machine could probably do as well or even more regularly than any women, and if it worked in conjunction with a water mill it would never stop as long as it has fresh wool or cotton... “

    “He’s not wrong you know ! But what would be needed to make such a machine ?”

    “Well every action is mechanical, so I presume that if one took upon himself to decompose the actions of the women he would see a succession of mechanical actions that could be replicated... “

    “But that’s brilliant ! You should set someone on it !”

    “Yes, probably I should… but I’m not sure if we could build such a machine. I have the feeling that more and more we reach the limits of what a craftsman can build, or even a team of them, certainly at an economical price… “

    “Ho but you could find a way around that by first automating the work of cratsmen or providing them with new tools… I mean we already have saws that help have enough planks to build a watermill or a house faster, maybe we can invent a machine that helps hammer a metal sheet or cut holes in wood to gain time in nailing or fastening… I’m sure there is so much that can be done. You should talk with your craftsemn, or at least have someone do it, to see what are their needs and limitations. If no one asks we shall never know... ”
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  17. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

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    I sense a steam punk...
     
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  18. SpaceRome Well-Known Member

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    I wonder how roman luddites might look... I imagine that craftsmen in places further away from the technological bases of Italia and Gallia would be pretty pissed off about far away machinery stealing their profits. not to mention the germans, persians and scyths who are lagging further and further behind... will they adopt guerrilla tactics when the roman advantage in population and equipment becomes too large to bear?
     
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  19. Alessandro Well-Known Member

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    As always amazing new chapters good job!!!
     
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  20. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Most of those loosing jobs inside the empire would be slaves or women, not men. On the other hand craftsmen (metalworker, woodworkers,...) will thrive. Women will be able to find alternative activities or eventually keep homegrown production while industry provides for city centers because of transport costs...
    Outside the empire it will be mainly clothe makers that will loose, with potentialy an increase in trade of raw material toward the empire. Glass, ceramics, etc. are not concerned by change yet.

    Overall there will be less industrialization and/or less concentration of industry event if revenue concentration will be higher than otl industrial révolution
     
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