Friday, December 18, 2015


Episode B24, “The Yona Kings”, closes out the second story arc of “The Ancient World – Bloodline.”  The first dozen episodes – which I guess you could call the “Mauretanian story arc” – covered the final years of Antony and Cleopatra, then discussed the lives of Cleopatra Selene, Juba and their son Ptolemy – all the way up through his murder by Caligula.  The next dozen episodes – the “Judean story arc” – started with Ptolemy’s daughter Drusilla and her marriages to Marcus Antonius Felix and Gaius Julius Sohaemus.  We then covered Drusilla’s short-lived son Gaius Julius Alexio, her grandson Silas, and began the story of Silas’ three sons: Longinus, Agrippa and Sohaemus. 

So far it’s breaking down to around 3 generations, and around a dozen episodes, per story arc.  Which I didn’t particularly plan for but will totally take - since round numbers are always nice.  What that also means is that - based on my calculations - we’re around halfway done with the “Bloodline” series.  Which sounds like a good time for a break.  Which is why I’m taking one.  The break will probably last for a couple months - and we’ll pick back up sometime in February with the story of Silas’ three sons.  I’ve also posted the Bloodline Family Tree – so far – up on both the blog and Facebook sites.

In the meantime there are a couple of things I wanted to mention.  First off, as many of you know my wife Tracy DeLuca produces her own podcast called “Results May Vary.”  In the series Tracy and her friend Chris draw on their vast work experience in design thinking and innovation to help people design the lives they want.  No guarantees – I mean, the title is “Results May Vary” – just lots of interesting interviews, test cases and practical advice about living life by design. 

What you might not know is that Tracy's latest episode is with Mike Duncan – creator of “The History of Rome” and “Revolutions” podcasts and author of the forthcoming book “The Storm Before the Storm.”  Among other topics, the episode covers how to design the past to better engage people in our shared history and how to apply the lessons of history toward designing a better future.  The episode is posted at resultsmayvarypodcast.com.  And while you’re at it make sure to check out ongoing episodes of “Revolutions” at revolutionspodcast.com.  You can also find both series on iTunes.

Second, I wanted to engage the many wonderful and talented listeners out there in a little project.  Part of what I’ve been trying to do with “Bloodline” is bring the stories of Antony and Cleopatra’s descendants to life by talking about the times, places and events they lived through.  But of course what I do is mainly audio - and I was thinking it would also be pretty amazing to bring the story to life visually.  I’m a pretty crap artist myself, but I’m betting many of you out there are much, much better.

So I’ve decided to hold a bit of a contest.  Pick any subject from the series – a place, a scene, a character, even a concept - render it in whatever visual medium strikes your fancy, and e-mail the image to stches@ancientworldpodcast.com with the Subject “Bloodline Images.”  Whether it’s the execution of King Ptolemy, the Temple of Elah Gabal, even a creative rendering of the Bloodline Family Tree – if it’s from the series it’s fair game. 

I’ll feature some of my favorites on The Ancient World media sites.  And – even better – every contributor will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win two books.  The books in question are Tom Holland’s “Persian Fire” and Richard Miles’ “Carthage Must be Destroyed.”  Both books were a big help in creating the original series, and they’ve got the extensive highlighting to prove it.  I’m also more than happy to sign them for you.  The contest runs between now, December 18, and January 31, 2016 - when I’ll announce the winner of the drawing.  In the meantime, uncork that creativity, have fun and I look forward to seeing your handiwork.

So that’s it for the moment.  I really hope you’re enjoying the “Bloodline” series as much as I am making it – which is very, very much.  And trust me, the upcoming story arc is going to be epic.  Because it’s with the Severans that the descendants of Mark Antony and Cleopatra finally stake their claim to the Roman Empire – and the result is, well, kind of a disaster.  But it is fun to watch.

Until then, thanks for all the kind words and support, and thanks again for listening.

The Bloodline Family Tree (so far!)


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Episode B24 - The Yona Kings

Synopsis:  The Macedonian kingdoms of Central Asia endured for centuries before being absorbed into the Kushan Empire.  Hadrian’s actions in Judea spark a third Jewish Revolt.

"Has it ever happened to you, O king, that rival kings rose up against you as enemies and opponents?
-Yes, certainly.
-Then you set to work, I suppose, to have moats dug, and ramparts thrown up, and watch towers erected, and strongholds built, and stores of food collected?
-Not at all. All that had been prepared beforehand.
-Or you had yourself trained in the management of war elephants, and in horsemanship, and in the use of the war chariot, and in archery and fencing?
-Not at all. I had learnt all that before.
-But why?
-With the object of warding off future danger."Milinda Panha (The Questions of King Menander), Book III, Chapter 7 
Map of Central Asia:

Friday, November 6, 2015

Episode B23 - Parthicus

Synopsis:  At the far point of his campaign, Trajan’s Eastern conquests begin to slip from his fingers.

“Thence he came to the (Persian Gulf) itself, and when he had learned its nature and seen a boat sailing to India, he said: ‘I should certainly have cross over to the Indi, if I were still young.’  He gave much thought to the Indi, and was curious about their affairs.  Alexander he counted a happy man and at the same time declared that he himself had advanced farther.  This was the tenor of the dispatch that he forwarded to the Senate, although he was unable to preserve even what territory had been subdued.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 68 

The Near East c. 116AD - Provinces and Kingdoms 

The Near East c. 116AD - Major Cities

Friday, October 23, 2015

Episode B22 - Optimus

Synopsis:  Silas guides Emesa in its transition to a pilgrimage site.  The death of King Tiridates I of Armenia brings Rome and Parthia into conflict.

“(Parthomasiris) greeted him, took off his diadem from his head, and laid it at (Trajan’s) feet.  Then he stood there in silence, expecting to receive it back.  At this the soldiers shouted aloud, and hailed Trajan imperator as if on account of some victory (they termed it an uncrowned, bloodless victory to see the king, a descendant of Arsaces, a son of Pacorus, and a nephew of Osroes, standing beside Trajan without a diadem, like a captive).  The shout terrified the prince, who though that it heralded insult and destruction for him.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 68

Friday, October 9, 2015

Episode B21 - Betrayal

Synopsis:  Gaius Julius Sohaemus is compelled to help the Romans conquer Commagene.

“Petus…fell upon Commagene before Antiochus and his people had the least expectation of his coming.  He had with him the tenth legion, and also some cohorts and troops of horsemen.  These kings also came to his assistance: Aristibulus, king of the country called Chalcidene, and Sohaemus, who was called King of Emesa.  Nor was there any opposition made to his forces when they entered the kingdom, for no one of that country would so much as lift up his hand against them.” – Josephus, The Jewish War, Book VII, Chapter 7

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Episode B20 - The God of Dusk

Synopsis:  The destruction of Jerusalem.

Shalim (semetic):  Caananite god of dusk and the evening star, paired with Shahar, god of dawn and the morning star.  Root of Hebrew shalom and Arabic salam (peace), associated with sunset and the completion of the workday.  Related to the Caananite sun goddess Shapash, a possible manifestation of Shamash.  An element in the names of King David’s sons Solomon and Absalom.  Original guardian, patron and protective deity of Jerusalem. 

“Before the fifteenth of July all Syria had sworn the same allegiance.  Vespasian’s cause was now joined also by Sohaemus with his entire kingdom, whose strength was not to be despised, and by Antiochus who had enormous ancestral wealth, and was in fact the richest of the subject princes.  Presently Agrippa, summoned from Rome by private messages from his friends, while Vitellius was still unaware of his action, quickly crossed the sea and joined the cause.” – Tacitus, The Histories, Book II 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Episode B19 - The Prefect

Synopsis:  Tiberius Julius Alexander throws Egypt’s backing behind Vespasian’s bid for the throne.

“Accordingly, in order to overthrow John (of Gischala), they determined to admit Simon (bar Giora), and earnestly to desire the introduction of a second tyrant into the city…Accordingly he, in an arrogant manner, granted them his lordly protection, and came into the city, in order to deliver it from the zealots.  The people also made joyful acclamations to him, as their savior and their preserver; but when he was come in, with his army, he took care to secure his own authority, and looked upon those that had invited him in to be no less his enemies than those against whom the invitation was intended.  And thus did Simon get possession of Jerusalem.” – Josephus, The Jewish War, Book IV, Chapter 9

Friday, August 28, 2015

Episode B18 - The Josephus Problem

Synopsis:  Joseph ben Matityahu fought the Romans as a Jewish General before becoming a trusted advisor to the Flavians. 

The Josephus Problem (mathematics):  Given a group of n men arranged in a circle under the edict that every mth man will be executed going around the circle until only one remains, find the position L (n, m) in which you should stand in order to be the last survivor.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who donated to the TAW Syria Fund Drive.  In the end, we raised over $5,000 to help preserve Syrian heritage sites and support Syrian refugees.  You guys definitely came through, and I really appreciate it.  Big TAW thanks go out to all the following donors (in no particular order):

Patricia Matson (in Memory of Lloyd and Tina Elkins) Parker Newcomb
Kevin McFadden                                                     Aimee Popp
Terry Dillon                                                           Richie Walker
Antti Rasinen                                                         Georgi Petrov
Gnanadeep Kollipara                                              Johan Torne
Rita Mathis                                                            Julie Jones
Travis Anderson                                                     Matthew Smith
Joseph Cigliano                                                      Paul and Meg Strong
Michele Dana                                                         Gary Jones
Steven Diamond                                                    Julius (Jay) Bennett
Brenda Buxton                                                       Colby Stearns
Ned Mastro                                                            Brent Mallinckrodt
Matthew Brauer                                                     Greg Strasburg
Ryan Murphy                                                          Christophe Mandy
Benjamin Amy                                                        Briauna Dodson
Mark Simms                                                           Richard Burgess
Jan Willem van Dalen                                              Radu-Iulian Costin
Brian Collins                                                           Julienne Tracy
Darren Hart                                                            Jared Magee
Heather Jacobsen                                                    Jonathan Bergdoll
Norman Casagrande                                                Jed Joyce
Franz Rivera                                                           Mark Webster
Bart Nadeau                                                           Steven Malone
Peter McIntyre                                                        Alan Barker
Andrew Wren                                                          Bryant Fairley
Carl Thoren                                                            Christopher Hays
David Wallace                                                         Dennis White
Jason Rosecast                                                       Jeff Edelbrock
John Holmes                                                           Keith Binns
Kyle Parker                                                             Natacha Tracy
Paul Ross                                                                Sam Cumming
Scott Brayton                                                          Wim Hance 
Gregory Estey                                                          Gil Elgez

I also need to mention that a lot of you have donated enough to get a prize, but haven’t given me your contact information, or let me know which prize you want.  If you donated enough to get one of the prizes, please make sure you e-mail me at stches@ancientworldpodcast.com with your donation receipt, contact information, and letting me know which gift you want.  You’ve already earned it, now I just need to get it to you!
And now some logistics.  The past few months were mostly about getting the Fund Drive up and running, and the past few weeks I’ve been overseas on a project. The end result is that I’m way behind in drafting new episodes for the series.  In fact, before I write any more, I need to do more research.  And before I do more research, I need to get the Fund Drive gifts prepared and shipped out to all the donors - which I’m hoping to do by the end of July, but may roll into early August, so please be patient!
And I think you all know where this conversation is going.  Yes, the end result is that it will likely be September before Bloodline picks up with the story of the Roman-Jewish War.  It sucks, but there it is - and I wanted to give you advanced notice so you don’t think I dropped off the face of the earth.  In the meantime, I’ll still be keeping in touch with listeners on Facebook and Twitter, so make sure you’re following me there.  And if you want an update on when your prize is coming, you’re welcome to e-mail me at stches@ancientworldpodcast.com.
In the meantime, thanks for helping out with the TAW Syria Fund Drive, and thanks again for listening!
Scott C.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Episode B17 - The Valley

Synopsis:  Nero crowns Tiridates King of Armenia.  A succession of brutal and corrupt procurators set Judea on the path to revolt.

“Go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom (Gehenna), which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee…
Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;

They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind.

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter.” - Jeremiah 19:2-6 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Episode B16 - Burn

Synopsis:  The birth of Drusilla and Sohaemus’ son Gaius Julius Alexio.  The Empire confronts the revolt of Boudica, renewed warfare in Armenia, and the Great Fire of Rome.
“Rome shall perish – write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorr’d,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.” – William Cowper, Boadicea: An Ode
Map of Near East c. 64AD:

Monday, June 1, 2015

Help Me Help Syria

Ever since I knew the series would be spending time in Syria, I wanted to find out something I could do to try to help the situation there.  Basically I wanted to find a group working in the area that I could point listeners to.  Of course the problems in Syria are massive and there are a lot of great organizations doing really amazing work.  

Those of you on my Facebook page know I’ve been following the damage to ancient world heritage sites in Syria and Iraq – especially ones I feel particularly close to like Nineveh and Palmyra.  I’ve done whole episodes on Nineveh and the current series, Bloodline, will end up in Palmyra.  When I get there I’d be very, very happy if I could still talk about it as an actual place that people can go and see, rather than a place that used to exist.   

After doing some research, I’ve found an organization that I think is a really good fit.  It’s called the Syrian Heritage Initiative, or SHI, and it’s fully dedicated to documenting, protecting and preserving Syria’s cultural heritage.  If you’ve been feeling helpless watching groups like IS capture and destroy ancient heritage sites then supporting the SHI is a great step.  You can find all their details on their website:  http://www.asor-syrianheritage.org/.

For those who’d prefer to donate to a group providing critical support to Syrian refugees, another great option is the International Rescue Committee, or IRC.  If you want to help improve the lives of innocent Syrians caught up in a horrible civil war then supporting the IRC is a great step.  You can find all their details on their website:  www.rescue.org/crisis-syria. 

And of course if you want to support both groups, even better!  I’ve put Donate buttons for both organizations up on The Ancient World website.  The buttons may not be visible on mobile phones or iPads, and you may have to view the website on a computer to see them.  Both organizations are 501c3, and are therefore eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable donations.  If you’d prefer to donate to either organization via regular mail or over the phone, you can find that information on their websites. 

As you probably know, I spend most of my free time – OK who am I kidding, all of my free time – putting together this podcast series.  Which is really nobody’s fault but my own.  But if you appreciate the work I do and have ever thought about donating to me or the podcast, please donate to one of these organizations instead.  As best I can figure, the series has around ten thousand regular subscribers.  Together, I’m hoping we can do some real good.

OK, now for the fun part.  I’ve decided to give away prizes to listeners who donate to either organization.  So please save the confirmation of your donation so you can redeem it for one or more of these prizes.  Please e-mail your confirmation and other information to: stches@ancientworldpodcast.com. 

First off, anyone who donates $10 or more will be thanked on The Ancient World website.  If you’d like to be thanked, please give me your name (or the name you’d like me to use) when you e-mail me your donation confirmation.  A $25 donation will get you a set of JPEG files of all the maps, family trees and header photos I’ve created so far for Bloodline. 

Moving up the scale, a $50 donation will get you a photobook containing my very favorite Ancient World photos I’ve taken on my travels.  I’ll also provide details on when and where each photo was taken and what makes the photo one of my favorites.  The photobooks will be 4x6”, softcover, and contain 10 photos.  Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, this prize will only be available within the continental United States.  Outside of the US, the alternate prize for a $50 donation will be JPEG files of 20 of my favorite photos, along with the details on each. 

A $150 donation will get you a signed hardcopy script of any Ancient World episode - from any series.  It’ll be printed out all pretty and I’ll include some “liner notes” with extra information.  If you have a favorite Ancient World episode I’d really encourage you to consider this option.  Unfortunately due to shipping costs, the hardcopy version will only be available within the continental United States.  Outside of the US, the alternate prize for a $150 donation will a signed PDF file of the script along with the liner notes, etc. 

Now we get to the sentimental stuff.  For a donation of $300 or more you can have one of the actual reference books I used to generate the original Ancient World series – with the rampant yellow-highlighting to prove it.  Again these will be signed and I’ll include some “liner notes” discussing how I used the reference in the series.  The books on offer are:

“A History of the Ancient Near East” by Marc Van De Mieroop
“Ancient Iraq” by Georges Roux
“Carthage Must Be Destroyed” by Richard Miles
“Persian Fire” by Tom Holland 

And then of course there’s the grand prize.  For a super-generous donation of $1,000 or more you can pick any person or event between 500 BC and 500 AD - and I’ll do a full-length episode on him, her or it.  So basically the prize is two weeks of my life – maybe even a little more.  This is a one-time offer, so once someone grabs it’ll be off the table. 

The Syrian charity drive will be going on between today, June 1, and the end of the month, June 30.  All prizes will be sent out as soon as possible after the end of the charity drive.  After June 30 you can keep making donations through The Ancient World website, but the only reward will be knowing you’ve supported a really great cause.   

So, that’s it!  Give to a great cause, get a cool gift - it’s a win-win.  Thanks again for listening and thanks for helping me help Syria. 

Scott C. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Episode B15 - God of the Mountain

Synopsis:  Drusilla marries the Emesene Priest-King Gaius Julius Sohaemus.  Rome and Parthia go to war over Armenia. 

“Our ancestors worshipped the Sun, and they were not that foolish.
It makes sense to revere the Sun and the stars, for we are their children.” – Carl Sagan
Syria and adjacent regions:
Emesene family tree:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Episode B14 - The Just

Synopsis:  The divorce of Felix and Drusilla.  James and Paul struggle for the soul of early Christianity. 

“And then it was that the sicarii, as they were called, who were robbers, grew numerous.  They made use of small swords, not much different in length from the Persian acinacae, but somewhat crooked, and like the Roman sicae, as they were called; and from these weapons these robbers got their denomination; and with these weapons they slew a great many; for they mingled themselves among the multitude at their festivals, when they were come up in crowds from all parts to the city to worship God, as we said before, and easily slew those that they had a mind to slay.” – Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, Chapter 8

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Episode B13 - Zealot

Synopsis:  The early life of Drusilla of Mauretania, and her marriage to Marcus Antonius Felix, Roman Procurator of Judea 

“This Judas, having gotten together a multitude of men of a profligate character about Sepphoris in Galilee, made an assault upon the palace there, and seized upon all the weapons that were laid up in it, and with them armed every one of those that were with him, and carried away what money was left there; and he became terrible to all men, by tearing and rending those that came near him.” – Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, Book XVII, Chapter 10
Nero Family Tree:
Regions of Judea:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Episode B12 - Antonii

Synopsis:  The death of Tiberius, elevation of Caligula, and final years of King Ptolemy I.

“Ptolemy, whom (Caligula) invited from his kingdom, and received with great honors, he suddenly put to death, for no other reason, but because he observed that upon entering the theatre, at a public exhibition, he attracted the eyes of all the spectators, by the splendor of his purple robe.” – Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, XXXV

“Meanwhile Gaius sent for Ptolemy, the son of Juba, and on ascertaining that he was wealthy put him to death.” – Cassius Dio, Roman History, Book 59
Heirs of Mark Antony:

Friday, March 13, 2015

Episode B11 - Caedis

Synopsis:  The end of Tacfarinas, and the bloody co-rule of Tiberius and Sejanus. 

“Then, as the campaign had demonstrated Ptolemy’s good-will, an old-fashioned distinction was revived, and a member of the Senate was dispatched to present him with the traditional bounty of the Fathers, an ivory scepter with the embroidered robe, and to greet him by the style of king, ally and friend.” – Tacitus, The Annals, Book IV
“There followed from now onward a sheer and grinding despotism: for, with Augusta still alive, there had remained a refuge; since deference to his mother was ingrained in Tiberius, nor did Sejanus venture to claim precedence over the authority of a parent.  But now, as though freed from the curb, they broke out unrestrained.” – Tacitus, The Annals, Book V
Updated Julio-Claudian Family Tree:


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: