The Ancient World
Episode B43 - Sibylline
Synopsis: Samsigeramus saves Emesa from Sasanid destruction, then proclaims himself Augustus. The arrival of Valerian’s marks the end of his reign and the elevation of Odaenathus to provincial governor. “And then there shall be a flight of Romans; and thereafter there shall come the priest heard of all round, sent by the sun, from Syria appearing, and by guile shall he accomplish all things. And then too the city of the sun shall offer prayer; and round about her shall the Persians dare...
Episode B42 - Iotapian
Synopsis: The revolt of Iotapian shows Eastern nobles the possibilities among the chaos. Shapur’s invasion of Syria drives Samsigeramus to make a bold stand. “As there were at that time many disturbances in the empire, the eastern provinces - which were uneasy, partly owing to the exactions of exorbitant tributes, and partly to their dislike of Priscus, their governor, who was a man of an intolerably evil disposition - wished for innovation, and set up (Iotapian) for emperor.” –...
Episode B41 - Samsigeramus
Synopsis: Shortly after Hatra’s destruction, Shapur inherits the Persian Empire. Gordian’s invasion the following year ends in defeat and humiliation for Rome. “When at first we had become established in the Empire, Gordian Caesar raised in all of the Roman Empire a force from the Goth and German realms, and marched on Asoristan against the Empire of Iran and against us. On the border of Asoristan and Misik a great frontal battle occurred. Gordian Caesar was killed and the Roman force...
Episode B40 - Uranius
Synopsis: After the death of Elagabalus, Uranius Antoninus served as High Priest of Elah Gabal in Emesa. From this vantage, he witnessed the birth of Ardeshir’s Persia and the changing fortunes of the Palmyrenes. “Even the name of Tadmor, or Palmyra, by its signification in the Syrian as well as in the Latin language, denoted the multitude of palm-trees which afforded shade and verdure to that temperate region…Palmyra, for a while, stood forth the rival of Rome; but the competition was...
You Are Here
Episode B39, “Excidium,” finishes off the third story arc of The Ancient World Bloodline. We’ve come a pretty long way from the days of Cleopatra Selene and Juba II – in fact we’ve come about ten generations - and now there’s only a little ways left to go. The upcoming final story arc will focus on Palmyra, Emesa and the Sasanids, while out West the Romans’ll be tearing through Emperors like used paper towels. Just to give some context, the first two story arcs – on Mauretania and Judea –...
Episode B39 - Excidium
Synopsis: Alexander marches East to counter Ardeshir’s invasion, but the conflict ends in a stalemate. A short time later, a legionary rebellion along the Rhine brings the Severan regime to a bloody end. “The lenity of the Emperor confirmed the insolence of the troops; the legions imitated the example of the Guards, and defended their prerogative of licentiousness with the same furious obstinacy. The administration of Alexander was unavailing struggle against the corruption of this...
Episode B38 - The Last Severan
Synopsis: Overseen by his mother and grandmother, Severus Alexander’s early reign was marked by wisdom and temperance. A decade later, a Sasanid invasion would test both Rome and its emperor. “When Alexander received the empire, the appearance and the title of Emperor were allowed him, but the management and control of imperial affairs were in the hands of his women, and they undertook a more moderate and more equitable administration.” – Herodian, History of the Roman Empire from the...
Episode B37 - Shahanshah
Synopsis: Ardeshir defeats Artabanus in battle and claims the Parthian Empire for the Sasanids. After a failed attempt to conquer Armenia, he sets his sights on the Roman East. “Then (Ardeshir) came to battle with Artabanus, killed the entire army of the latter, seized their wealth, property, horses, and portable lodges, and settled himself in Istakhr. He collected soldiers in large numbers from Kerman, Mokristan, Isfahan, and different districts of Fars, and came to fight with...
Just a quick note to say that the latest Episode, “The Black Stone,” will be the last one for the next month or so, due to Vacation and a few other things. Around the end of October, I’ll be back with the final three episodes of the Severan story arc, which should wrap up just before the Holidays. At that point, I’ll be over three-quarters done with “The Ancient World – Bloodline” - and’ll be rounding the corner toward home. And by the way, the next episode – Episode B37 – will officially...
Episode B36 - The Black Stone
Synopsis: Elagabalus spearheads a religious revolution in Rome, but his unpopular rule drives Julia Maesa to enact a back-up plan. “To this temple, as to the common center of religious worship, the Imperial fanatic attempted to remove the Ancilia, the Palladium, and all the sacred pledges of the faith of Numa. A crowd of inferior deities attended in various stations the majesty of the god of Emesa; but his court was still imperfect, till a female of distinguished rank was admitted to his...
Episode B35 - Bassus
Synopsis: Deception, good fortune, and Macrinus’ failings allow the Severans to retake the Roman throne. As Emperor, Elagabalus makes plans to install the black stone of Elah Gabal in the Capital. “(Elagabalus and Severus Alexander) were priests of the sun god, whom their countrymen worship under the Phoenician name Elagabalus. A huge temple was erected to this god, lavishly decorated with gold, silver, and costly gems. Not only is this god worshipped by the natives, but all the...
Episode B34 - Keepers of the Fire
Synopsis: King Artabanus of Parthia gathers his forces to seek revenge on Rome. Usurpation and war gain the Sasanids control over the southern territory of Fars. “Macrinus, seeing that Artabanus was exceedingly angry at the way he had been treated and had invaded Mesopotamia with a large force, at first of his own accord sent him captives and used friendly language, urging him to accept peace and laying the blame for the past on (Caracalla). But the other would not entertain his...
Episode B33 - Semiramis
Synopsis: Caracalla cuts a murderous path through Rome, and provokes a dangerous war with Parthia. After his murder, Julia Domna is forced to contend with a would-be usurper. “Julia Domna deserved all that the stars could promise her. She possessed, even in advanced age, the attractions of beauty, and united to a lively imagination a firmness of mind, and strength of judgement, seldom bestowed on her sex. Her amiable qualities never made any deep impression on the dark and jealous...
Episode B32 - The Fourth Caesar
Synopsis: Severus’ close friendship with Plautianus estranges him from his family. In his final years, a rebellion in Britannia provides one last opportunity to shape his legacy. “The contemporaries of Severus, in this enjoyment of the peace and glory of his reign, forgave the cruelties by which it had been introduced. Posterity, who experienced the fatal effects of his maxims and example, justly considered him as the principal author of the decline of the Roman Empire.” – Edward Gibbon,...
I wanted to let everyone know that the latest Episode, “Perish in Blood”, will be the last one for a month or two. I’ll be off on Vacation for a while, and generally taking a break. In the meantime, I hope you’re all enjoying the Severan story arc. Like I mentioned early on, the extended family of Julia Domna was the original inspiration of the series, and I’m hoping to flesh out all the family members as much as I can. At the same time, I’m planning to give a lot of attention to the...
Episode B31 - Perish in Blood
Synopsis: Severus confronts Albinus at Lugdunum, then launches a war against the Parthians. At the pinnacle of his power, the oracle of Zeus Belos reveals his family’s fate. “The youth of Severus had been trained in the implicit obedience of the camps, and the riper years spent in the despotism of military command. His haughty and inflexible spirit could not discover, or would not acknowledge, the advantage of preserving an intermediate power, however imaginary, between the Emperor and...
Episode B30 - Mater Castrorum
Synopsis: Severus defeats Niger and wages a limited Eastern campaign. While Julia Domna is hailed as Mother of the Camps, Caracalla’s elevation to Caesar prompts a second civil war. “There used to be an oracle about Hannibal’s death. ‘The soil of Libyssa would cover Hannibal’s body.’ The later emperor of the Romans, Severus, Who was a descendant of the Libyans, he put upon this man’s Tomb a white piece of marble to honor the commander Hannibal.” - John Tzetzes, Chiliades (or Book...
Episode B29 - 193
Synopsis: After Pertinax and his successor are killed in the same year, Severus’s claim to the Empire is contested by two rivals. "Pertinax was one of those men to whom no exception can be taken, but he ruled only for an exceedingly brief space of time and was then put out of the way by the soldiers.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 73 “The Pannonian army was at that time commanded by Septimius Severus, a native of Africa, who, in the gradual ascent of private honors, had concealed his daring...
Episode B28 - Bestiarius
Synopsis: Julia Domna marries Septimius Severus and gives birth to Caracalla and Geta. Left behind in Rome with her young children, Julia watches as Commodus re-founds the Empire in his own image. "The effect of Commodus upon the Romans was worse than that of all pestilences and all villainies.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 72 http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B28_Bestiarius.mp3 Detailed Map of the Roman Empire (brilliantmaps.com): http://brilliantmaps.com/roman-empire-211/ Julia...
Episode B27 - Lucifugus
Synopsis: Julia Domna was daughter of the Emesene High Priest, destined to marry a king. Then she met Septimius Severus. "Our history now descends from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust.” - Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 71 “The primitive Christians perpetually trod on mystic ground, and their minds were exercised by the habits of believing the most extraordinary events.” – Edward Gibbon, The Christians and the Fall of...