Hadrian's Consolidation - reboot

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

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  1. Threadmarks: Lanuvium, Latium, March 246

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Sorry for the delay, I was in Italy (again...) last week and this week end for a conference (I was talking of Byzantine theology in alternate history...) and so was somewhat late in my writing... Still the trip gave me the opportunity to visit a lesser known sanctuary near Rome...

    Lanuvium, Latium, March 246


    The long procession walked up the street toward the sanctuary in which Juno Sospita was waiting for the offering. Heading the procession was a middle aged man, Publius Licinius Murena, of an old local family dating back to the republican era. He was part of those Licini Murenae that had stayed in the Mons Albani region, keeping large properties in the area while the emperors bought most of the rest of the land. There neighbors had been the divine Julius Caesar, who had a villa on lake Nemi’s shore, or the Antonii family, who had given birth to the emperor Antoninus Pius.

    Commodus, the son of the divine Marcus Aurelius, had been born in their local villa, which his father gave him when he reached adulthood, providing him with the necessary fortune required by the census for a senator, the first step of that man’s brief career which had ended in an ambush in Germania in which the 23 years old man had been foolish and yet heroic, dying on a German’s spearpoint and causing incredible grief to his elderly father.

    Licinius Murena had been more lucky : he’d survived his stint as an officer in auxiliary units, being based in Alexandria as a junior centurion for three years, promoted and sent to in Mesopotamia for five and then, promoted again following some winning fighting against an eastern intrusion, on the Danube for his last two years of mandatory service as primus pilus of a cohors equitata. He’d then entered the Academia Militaria Practica, becoming a military Tribunus Machinatorum for a legion based in Britannia where he’d served five years.

    During this time his elder brother Marcus had died, making him the heir to the family’s fortune. With what he’d made as an officer he had enough to request entering the senate, but this did not interest him. Instead he’d taken a position as procurator sexagenarii that saw him assigned to the province of Norica where he’d supervised his lesser colleagues for two years before coming home, aged 39 years and very rich. Military life had taught him to live frugally, even when posted in the rich east, and he’d not spent much of his large salaries.

    His elderly father was delighted to see his son and heir again but had not lived long to enjoy this pleasure, dying a month later but not without extracting a last promise of his son, a promise he was now fulfilling.

    The procession was now passing in front of the large portico at the base of the sanctuary’s first terrasse. Many of the shops were still empty. The old temple, often believed the most ancient of the region alongside the sanctuary of Diana on lake Nemi’s shore and Jupiter’s sanctuary on top of the Mons Albanus, had long suffered from neglect as large villa replaced the older farmsteads and the free farmers had been replaced by slaves.

    Yet it was no longer in disrepair. Under the personal supervision of Licinius Murena had the temple been restored to its former glory. A new roof had been made in the ancient style, with its open gable. The terracota plaques that adorned it, of which a number had fallen over the centuries, had been replaced by a series of marble carvings. The terrasses had also been repaired, with new mosaics on the ground and in the back of the niches, which had also received new statues to go alongside those offered to the sanctuary by Lucius Licinius Murena, consul in the time of the divine Julius Caesar.

    The procession had now arrived at the sacred grotto. The local young virgins carrying baskets of food advanced toward the dark abyss where the sacred snake awaited them. The ritual was old, and had been almost lost : if not for some old writings they would not have known how to venerate Juno Sospita, whose’ impressive statue waited in her temple.

    The food had been gifted and the procession now took the direction of the last terrasse, that of the temple itself. There Licinius Murena covered his head with a fold of his narrow-stripped toga, mark of his status as much as the golden ring that shone at his finger, gifted by the emperor himself has he’d been admitted in the equestrian order, two decades earlier.

    Taking a blade from the assistant, he turned toward the heifer which obligingly went down on her front paws, a willing sacrifice if one ever saw one. Quickly, in a practiced hand, the nobleman cut the beast’ throat without even a drop of blood on his toga. He then turned toward the crowd while assistants collected the blood and prepared the sacrifice.

    “Citizens of Lavinium, my father asked me to restore the ancient temple of our ancestors so that we too may pray for Juno’s benefaction. I am told the sacred snake did eat the offering our children made to him, and that this is a sign of a good harvest. Let’s thus thank the goddess with our heart, and remember my father whose piety led to this auspicious day !”
     
  2. vandevere vonhooligan

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    It's a joy to read this. It's clear you love this era of history, and through your eyes, we learn to love this history too.
     
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  3. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    I'm not sure, as far as I understand it they were exhausted, but I've not read anything definitive.
    To learn more about those mines (French) : https://planet-terre.ens-lyon.fr/image-de-la-semaine/Img618-2018-10-15.xml
     
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  4. Alessandro Well-Known Member

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    Sep 28, 2017
    As always amazing new chapters @Hecatee!!!
     
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  5. EmperorOfTheNorthSea Cnut? You haven't seen a REAL North Sea Empire

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    Pennsylvania unfortunately(rip NC)
    Hmm, do the Romans know of the erzebirge?

    Because that would be virtually inexhaustible compared to other mines they have.

    Also what are the birthrates compared to otl?
     
  6. KACKO Well-Known Member

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    Dec 12, 2010
    Romans were actively involved in tin mining there. But as far as I know silver was later discovered not gold.
     
  7. luis3007 History amateur

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    The Grey City, South America
    What happened to Christianity so far?
     
  8. EmperorOfTheNorthSea Cnut? You haven't seen a REAL North Sea Empire

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    Fairly certain gold was found either in the Erzebirge or one of the adjacent mountain ranges during the early 15th cent. The Hussite Taborites payed for their army with gold mine revenue.
     
  9. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    The Erzebirge is not yet discovered, it is in the Empire's territory but in an underpopulated area where no real prospection has taken place as of now.

    Birthrates are similar, survival rate and life expectancy sligthly better due to better healthcare facilities and new medical knowledge developped AND SPREAD during the last century, and overall population is also larger due to no antonine plague. Also note improved food production methods providing somewhat better food security.

    This means there is a slow but constant trickle of settlers for the German lands that change the makup of the local population (what did survive after a very violent conquest), with exception of the Cherusci territory which, being inherited and not conquered, is still ethnically very germanic.

    In the West we see a number of cities growing up to 25% bigger than OTL and a number of rural areas more developped, with many more villages.

    In the Danube area population is larger and much more urbanized.

    In the East the cities have not grown that much, but rural areas developped.

    Northern Africa is similar to OTL

    It got caught in the early 2nd century anti-jewish operations, and was thus heavily disturbed. Since then it has slowly grown back but is not a major factor, it's at least a century behind OTL in its developpement
     
  10. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2011
    This is interesting paper on pollution from Roman (and others) mining activities.

    https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/115/25/E5661.full.pdf
     
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  11. KACKO Well-Known Member

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    Other mountains though. Romans got up to Laugaricio, today Trencin, Slovakia. Some 120 km north east from there was rich gold deposit which was used in medieval Hungary and even Austria after Mohacs. It was bringing some gold till 20th century. There is still more but not possible to get without huge investments and not very environmentally friendly methods.
     
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  12. Fortuna The resident fascist

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    Jul 12, 2018
    Hey hecatee, do you think an emperor with a background as one of the machinotorum will come to power? Considering all the advancements rome is making and its prosperity the machinotorum must be becoming very popular and I imagine that if one ends up on the throne rome will undergo a intense period of technological innovation under said emperor. Or maybe he'll just be obsessed with making new torture instruments you never know. Personally I'd like this hypothetical emperor to do tons of grand projects like a great canal or giant wall or maybe dam up the vistula in an attempt to flood the lands east of it so barbarians are never able to invade the roman settlements west of the vistula without going through terrible swamps and marshes.

    Edit: Romans using Dutch tactics before the Dutch are even a thing:p
     
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  13. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Well the training is specialized and part of a specific public servant career mostly open to the equestrian class, but an Emperor would always come from the senatorial class. So while an emperor might be very interested in the topic (as Marcus Aurelius was for instance), none will formally be an engineer. At least during periods of stability. Should there be any period of military unrest leading to an unit commander taking the purple then all would be in the air...
     
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  14. Threadmarks: Suburbs of Rome, June 246

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Suburbs of Rome, June 246


    Syrianus walks carefully. He is not used to be out so late at night, but in this season he had no choice for darkness came very late in this season. And while there is protection in the mere fact of carrying a torch, he knows that in his case it would cause him more harm than good.

    Syrianus is a freedman of, as his name indicates, syrian origin. Born a slave, raised in the household of a tanner, he's been sold when he was 10. His new owner was another tanner, who used him to work in the large urine filled vats used to tint clothes : he’d spent hours walking around in the pestilential environment, to the point that his skin itself had decolorated from his feet up to his knees and from his hands up to his elbow.

    For six years he’d been used for this task, until he was strong enough to work carrying the urine-filled amphoras from the street to the vats, which he then filled. Often he'd been beaten and, in a number of occasions his drunk master had also raped him, as was his right. Yet with time his master had trusted him enough to go on the collect of the amphorae from the neighborhood, giving him an opportunity to escape the small of the workshop and to gain a few coins which he preciously thesaurised.

    It was on one such that he’d heard one of the preachers. The man had been at a street corner, haranguing the crowd, until the vigilae had come and forced him to flee. Curious, Syrianus had asked another bystander what this was all about, and this is how he’d heard of the so called savior of the east for the first time.

    He’d seen the preacher again a few weeks later and had listened to him. This time no patrol had forced the man to flee but some well thrown rotten cabbages had shown his preaching was not very well received by the crowd. Undeterred, he’d stepped off from the stone he was standing on with an air of hurt dignity that surprised Syrianus. Curious, he’d gone after the man and had asked his name.

    Thus Syrianus learns that the man is called Origen and a priest of the christian cult. He learns about a man son of an unique God that died so that all of mankind sins may be forgotten and discovers that the man is as much of a fanatic as the galles of the cult of Cybel, having cut his manhood to better serve his God and prevent temptation.

    While at first afraid of the man’s fiery conviction, Syrianus is nonetheless seduced by the message of this priest and meets him again a number of time before the man offered him to come to mass.

    But soon his master got wind of Syrianus’ relations with the cult and beats him, threatening to cut him loose if he does not renounce his criminal beliefs. While no persecution is organised against Jews and Christians, there still remain a formal interdiction for them to hold their cult within the Empire…

    Many beatings only make Syrianus’ faith stronger, to the fury of his master. One day he even breaks his cane while hitting his slave. This does release something in him, and scowling he announce that Syrianus is now free and has to leave the premise while remaining his cliens and thus due support and help to his old master.

    The 21 years old takes his few belongings with him and spends his first night of freedom sleeping, almost frozen in the december cold, in an alleyway behind a pile of rubbish. Only his long use to the horrid smell of urine makes him able to support the horrendous smell coming from the garbage.

    On the next day he looks around for Origen and finds him, and the man points him toward a house where he receives bread and a token for the bath. Once cleaner he comes back to the place where he is given some thin soup and told to do good around him.

    That was six months ago, before he’d found a christian tanner who’d accepted to take him in and to provide him with some money and a shelter as long as he works well and pray regularly.

    Now, as every other friday evening, he’s repaying his employer’s mercy by going to the ekklesia, the assembly of the faithfuls that takes place in a farm not far from the city walls, next to the entrance to one of the catacombs of the deaths.

    There, with a few dozen others, he’ll enjoy a feeling of community and belonging that he’s never felt outside of those meetings. Today the bishop of Rome, Fabianus, will direct the mass : he hopes the blessed man will be able to bring some divine goodwill to the faithfuls...
     
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  15. Alessandro Well-Known Member

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    Uhm...I like how the change the history of the world change the history of the Christianity faith. We can see that people have freedom of belief but the social stigma is still high for the faithful. Nicely done!
     
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  16. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Well people don't really have freedom of religion : the priest (actually an OTL heretic from the East that never went further than Greece but comes here to Rome, the local bishop Fabianus is also, for commodity, the same name than OTL) has to flee the approaching vigiles (police), and the mass has to take place at night outside the walls for security, even if there is no active/proactive hunting. Compare that to the previous post of a grand restoration of an antique temple organized by local elites.
    In fact even the slave owner's reaction is to be seen in this light : he does not want to kill his christian slave, but puts some distance from him while also making sure the slave remains his client if he ever needs him again...
     
  17. dunHozzie Well-Known Member

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    May 24, 2015
    Great update, Christianity spreading via humble people fits.
     
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  18. Threadmarks: Rome, June 246

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    A surprise update because I had the time to make it, and it nicely rounds up this rapid look at various religious issues with this series of three posts :

    Rome, June 246


    The man knocked on the door of a large house a few blocks from the ludus magnus, the training area of the heroes of the flavian amphitheater. A doorman opened cautiously, obviously a veteran of the army, and looked at the visitor. Nodding, he let him in with a greeting : “nama to the lions, under the protection of Jupiter”. The visitor answered : “and nama to the bridegrooms, under the protection of Venus.”

    The visitor went through the atrium and turned left to the stairs leading to the sanctuary. Torches illuminated the stairs leading to the main room of the underground temple. A dozen men were already present, most of them in their forties and all of them with the bearing of military men. They mingled without regard for social status, their relationship in the area being linked to their level of initiation in the cult.

    The temple was the main one of the cult in the city, and the assembled faithfull concentrated some of the highest ranking member of their group in all of the empire : on this night two lions, three persians, two sun runners and no less than five fathers were expected, along with half a dozen lesser ranking believers of Mithras.

    Their leader, the fathers’ father, pater patrum, was the centurion primus pilus of the second cohort of the praetorian guard, currently the acting leader of the whole praetorian guard in the city while most of the guard was on duty with the empire in the far north. The man had reenlisted twice, making him one of the oldest serving man of the whole army, but you could not see his age in his posture or his actions : straight as ever, he radiated energy and self confidence.

    “Nama to the fathers, from east to west, under the protection of Saturn” said the visitor to the man. His elder looked at the recently returned officer of the XII legion with a smile : “nama to the lions, under protection of Jupiter. How are you doing today, Statius Sempronius ? I hear you are just returned from Germania ?”

    “Indeed, I was replaced in March and went through our family’s lands in Panonia before coming home. I’ll be praetor next year and so have to prepare for my court. I must say I don’t really enjoy the perspective of going back to my law books but wherever the emperor commands I shall go…”

    Chuckling, the old soldiers answered : “Well, it means you might well get a province soon enough, and then maybe even get command of a legion before too long should Mithras look upon you with benevolence. The pater in Buccula tells me you have been a true brother to the faithfuls and learned a lot at his side, to the point that you may be ready for introduction to the rank of the persians… but before we talk about that, tell me what news of the campaign ? The telegraphein and the letters don't say as much as the testimony of a man at the heart of the fighting“






    For more details on the cult of Mithras :

    http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/mithras/display.php?page=main
     
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  19. Threadmarks: Buccula, Marcomania Superior, late September 246

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Buccula, Marcomania Superior, late September 246


    The army went going through Buccula was an happy army, for it was a victorious army. While the loot had not been very important, being mostly made of slaves, but the three legions had been able to defeat the tribes in the northern peninsula without suffering too many losses. A force made of a number of auxiliary units had been left behind, the remaining population of the area being low enough to only necessitate a light garrison.

    Few villages of the area were still standing : the barbarians had been hunted in their marshes, units carrying the Batavi tribes’ heritage proving particularly adept at this kind of terrain. Auxiliary units had roamed the land, forcing the people to look for an illusive safety in the local burgs, wooden fortifications which had proved unable to defend them from the legions’ siege techniques.

    While the emperor had pushed for a speedy completion of the campaign, his officers had lavished every kind of techniques to destroy the small fortifications, going so far as ordering a tunnel under the walls of a place of a hundred hearts just to keep their soldiers aware of the technique…

    This campaign had thus been, in the Romans’ eyes, mostly a training exercise rather than a full blown war, with the added benefit of the usual rapes and looting that their officers had allowed because they knew there would be little enough gold or precious materials to be had in the houses of those barbarians. Some chiefs had been richer, usually hoarding diplomatic gifts made by the Romans since the time of the divine Augustus and then exchanged from chief to chief to make alliances and ensure the loyalty of their warriors.

    The best pieces had of course been reserved for the emperor’s triumph, and included a splendid golden plate with the portrait of the divine Augustus and his divine wife Livia which would take place of pride in the procession he intended to have in Rome.

    The population’s exact size before the campaign was not well known, but at least twelve thousand warriors had been slain during the war. At least as many women and children had also perished, and twice as many had been captured and sold to the slavers that, as ever, had been following the armies. Long columns of chained despairing barbarians had gone south toward the larger markets of the empire.

    Strategically the victory was significant : from the south of Mauretania one could follow the seas and never leave the Empire except along the eastern and northern reaches of the Pontus Euxinus, and reach the mouth of the large river that marked the north eastern border of the Empire. No invasion could ever come from the west, except by seas that the Roman fleet patrolled. Of course there remained the poorer parts of the island of Britannia, in the far north, and the island of Hibernia, but those could easily be picked whenever an emperor fancied it. It was also true that peace had to be won, rebels crushed, brigands hunted, but overall the empire was at peace in the west and only needed to look to its east to ensure its security…

    But for now it was time to go south with all haste : the emperor wanted to be in Rome before winter closed the roads, but he did not want to return without at least his praetorian guard, to give a image of strength : while the triumph would not take place before march or april at the earliest, he still had some fifty days of travel to cover and the risk that the mountains be closed by snow.

    The reasons why the emperor wanted to go home were numerous, but all knew that the upcoming year would be very special indeed, and the emperor wanted to be in the capital to personally supervise what promised to be an exceptional moment in the life of the Empire…
     
  20. Shador Active Member

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    May 11, 2015
    Are they refering to the OTL Ludi saeculares celebrating 1000 Ab urbe condita? Or is this something unique to this timeline?
     
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