Friday, February 27, 2015

Episode B10 - Insurgo

Synopsis:  The ongoing rebellion of Tacfarinas, and the death of Juba.

“For Tacfarinas, in spite of many repulses, having first recruited his forces in the heart of Africa, had reached such a pitch of insolence as to send an embassy to Tiberius, demanding nothing less than a territorial settlement for himself and his army, and threatening in the alternative a war from which there was no extrication.” – Tacitus, The Annals, Book III

Friday, February 13, 2015

Episode B9 - Germanicus

Synopsis:  Germanicus travels to Syria to assume his Eastern Imperium.

“‘The prime duty of friends is not to follow their dead with passive laments, but to remember his wishes and carry out his commands.  Strangers themselves will bewail Germanicus:  you will avenge him – if you loved me, and not my fortune.  Show to the Roman people the granddaughter of their deified Augustus, who was also my wife; number her six children: pity will side with the accusers, and, if the murderers allege some infamous warrant, they will find no credence in men – or no forgiveness!’  His friends touched the dying hand, and swore to forgo life sooner than revenge.” – Tacitus, The Annals, Book II
Updated Near Eastern Family Tree:
Updated Map of the Near East:

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Germanicus Thing

The story of Germanicus is one of the great Roman tragedies.  While the House of Octavian was consistently beset by scandals and misfortunes, the Germanicus affair represented a major turning point in both the reign of Tiberius and the legitimacy of the Julio-Claudians.  Before Germanicus, the Principate was viewed with respect tinged with fear.  After Germanicus, fear became dominant.  Before Germanicus, most Romans were at least willing to give Tiberius a chance.  Afterward, they just hoped to survive him.

I knew from the start of the new series that I wanted to cover the story of Germanicus in some depth.  In linking it to the story proper, the closest connection was Ptolemy.  They were both grandsons of Mark Antony, were roughly the same age, both began their military careers at the same time, and (as it turned out) spent roughly six years growing up together in Rome, in the household of Antonia Minor.  But in the end, the story of Germanicus is so powerful and self-contained, that I decided to take a minor detour from the storyline to give it its due.  Not something I’m planning to do often, but, well…Germanicus! 
So this is just a short note to let you know that, Germanicus aside, the focus of the series will continue to be the descendants of Mark Antony and Cleopatra.  And their grandson Ptolemy still has a few adventures to come over the next few decades.  All that said, please enjoy next week’s episode, “Germanicus.”
Thanks again for listening!
Scott C.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Episode B8 - Scelus

Synopsis:  The death of Octavian, elevation of Tiberius, and early military careers of Germanicus and Ptolemy.

“Even during the years when he lived at Rhodes, in ostensible retirement and actual exile, (Tiberius) had studied nothing save anger, hypocrisy, and secret lasciviousness.” - Tacitus, The Annals, Book I 

“Yet the temper of the soldiers remained savage, and a sudden desire came over them to advance against the enemy: it would be expiation of their madness; nor could the ghosts of their companions be appeased till their own impious breasts had been marked with honorable wounds.  Falling in with the enthusiasm of his troops, (Germanicus) laid a bridge over the Rhine, and threw across twelve thousand legionaries.” – Tacitus, The Annals, Book I

Friday, January 16, 2015

Episode B7 - Tropaion

Synopsis:  The death of Gaius Caesar, and Juba’s return to Mauretania. 

Tropaion (Greek):  A battlefield monument, erected at the “turning point” where the enemy’s phalanx broke.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Crossing the Dateline

Episode B6, Eurus (“East Wind”) represents a milestone of sorts, in that it took the story from 1 BC to 1 AD.  Actually, it’s even a bit more poignant, since Juba & company were marching around near, or sailing close by, Judea that year.  Very “right place, right time” of them!  It also represents another milestone, in that it’s around the middle of the first story arc of the series, covering Juba, Selene and Ptolemy of Mauretania.  After the first dozen-or-so episode arc is complete, I’ll probably be taking a month or two off to relax, recoup and prepare for the next story arc.

Episode B6 was also significant for another reason.  Episode 36 of the original series left off with the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BC.  Since the current series will be spending a lot of time in the Near East, I wanted to bring everyone up to speed on (1) what does the Near East look like now and (2) how did it get that way from Alexander’s time?  There were a number of possible approaches, ranging from going country by country and giving a synopsis, to just having the characters “show up” places without giving much historical background. 
My choice was to strike a “middle ground”, starting around 90 BC and projecting each major Near Eastern country both backward and forward.  Using this approach, I was able to bring us up to date with Pontus, Armenia, Media, Parthia, Cappadocia, Judea and Nabatea – the big Near Eastern players of the day – while also placing incidents related earlier in the series in a bit more context.  And for those who were a bit overwhelmed by the names and dates, just be glad I didn’t get into Sophene, Commagene, Osrhoene, Cilicia, Bithynia, Iberia, Lycia or Colchis.  You’re welcome!
Eurus will serve as the “connective tissue”,“primer coat”, etc. for the ongoing storyline.  Many of the characters introduced will pop back up, family dynasties will continue to intertwine, and different regions will have their moment (or longer) in the spotlight.  Also, as we spend more time in particular countries, I’m planning to more fully flesh them out, historically, geographically and culturally.  Next episode, we cover the remainder of Gaius Caesar’s Eastern imperium.  HINT:  When Armenian rebels invite you up to the city walls to “talk,” send a centurion in your place.  And not your favorite one.
Thanks again for listening!
Scott C.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Episode B6 - Eurus

Synopsis: Juba accompanies Gaius Caesar on his Eastern expedition. 

“Tigranes…marched forth with an army of such huge proportions that he actually laughed heartily at the appearance of the Romans present there.  He is said to have remarked that, in cases where they came to make war, only a few presented themselves, but when it was an embassy, many came.”  - Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 36 

“Pompey…announced to his soldiers that Mithridates was dead…Upon this the army filled with joy and, as was natural, gave itself up to sacrifices and entertainments, feeling that in the person of Mithridates ten thousand enemies had died.”  - Plutarch, The Life of Pompey 

Map of the Near East c. 1 BC:

Near East Family Trees: