Archives

All posts for the month June, 2017

Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

Published June 11, 2017 by amaic
Image result for ashurbanipal

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Historian Paul-Alain Beaulieu (The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon 556-539BC) has identified ‘the idea of imperial continuity with Assyria, centred on the figure of Ashurbanipal’ as one of ‘the main characteristics of Nabonidus’ personality’ (p. 2).

 

  

Introduction

 

Not surprising that we are going to find many Book of Daniel-like elements in the biography of the eccentric neo-Babylonian king, Nabonidus, if I am correct in identifying him with both Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’ and:

 

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

https://www.academia.edu/23886406/_Nebuchednezzar_of_the_Book_of_Daniel

 

The likenesses between Nabonidus and the biblical king have amazed some biblically-minded writers who adhere to the conventional view that Nebuchednezzar II and Nabonidus were quite separate neo-Babylonian kings. Consider, for instance, the following extraordinary parallels rightly discerned by John A. Tvedtnes, but without his realising that this really is Daniel’s king (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/09/nebuchadnezzar-or-nabonidus-mistaken-identities-in-the-book-of-daniel?lang=eng):

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus?

Mistaken Identities in the Book of Daniel

 

A classic example of textual errors caused by “careless transcribers” or “ignorant translators” is contained in the book of Daniel. The events chronicled in the present-day book would have originally been recorded in Hebrew, the early language of the Jews. However, the book of Daniel found in the Hebrew Bible is a combination of Hebrew and Aramaic, the language of the Jews after they returned from Babylon. From Daniel 2:4 through 7:8, the text is in Aramaic. [Dan. 2:4–7:8] It is in this middle section that we find discrepancies between the biblical text and other ancient records. These discrepancies involve the identity of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king who first subdued and then destroyed Jerusalem.

 

During his forty-year reign, Nebuchadnezzar ruled much of the Near East and rebuilt the great city of Babylon, replete with its hundreds of temples and its world-renowned hanging gardens. Some thirty years before his death in 561 B.C., he subdued Jerusalem (598 B.C.), taking its king, Jehoiakim, captive to Babylon and replacing him with Jehoiachin. When Jehoiachin proved disloyal, he was also deposed and replaced by his uncle, Zedekiah. When Zedekiah, too, revolted against his overlord, Nebuchadnezzar attacked the city.

 

In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, taking the remainder of its people—along with many others from throughout the kingdom of Judah into captivity. (See 2 Kgs. 24–25.) One of the early Jewish captives, Daniel, won favor with the king and became known as a wise and trusted counselor.

 

Chapters two, three, and four of Daniel purport to contain accounts about Nebuchadnezzar. But only the first and best-known of these—the account of his dream about the great statue destroyed by a stone cut out of a mountainside—is actually about him. The stories in chapters three and four, as well as a reference in chapter five, are actually about another king named Nabonidus, not Nebuchadnezzar. [Dan. 2; Dan. 3; Dan. 4; Dan. 5]

 

Chapter three recounts that the king “made an image of gold … : he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.” (Dan. 3:1.) When this new idol was set up, a decree went forth that when music sounded, people were to prostrate themselves before the statue.

 

Chapter four tells of another dream of the king, this time about a great tree that was hewn down by order of God. [Dan. 4] Again Daniel was called upon for an interpretation. The tree, said the prophet, represented the sinful king, who would become mad, living for seven years “with the beasts of the field” and eating grass “as oxen.” (Dan. 4:23–26.) This prophecy was fulfilled when the king “was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” (Dan. 4:33.) Ultimately, the king was healed, returned to his throne, and praised God.

 

In chapter five, the scene changes abruptly. Here we find that “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.” (Dan. 5:1.) In verse two, he is identified as the son of Nebuchadnezzar, the king who had destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. At the feast, a finger appears, writing an ominous message on the plaster of the wall. Daniel, summoned to interpret the writing, informs the assembly that the Medes and Persians will take the kingdom.

 

It is this reference in chapter five that highlights the misidentification problem in the book of Daniel. Belshazzar was actually the son of Nabonidus, not of Nebuchadnezzar. And Belshazzar was never king [sic], but only crown prince.

….

Other ancient records establish that Belshazzar was actually Nabonidus’ son and that Belshazzar was never king—only crown prince. From the “Verse Account of Nabonidus,” preserved on a clay tablet and found at Babylon, we read a contemporary account of Nabonidus that sounds very much like the “Nebuchadnezzar” of Daniel 3–5 [Dan. 3–5]:

 

“His/protective deity became hostile to him,/and he, the former favorite of the gods/is now/seized by misfortunes: … against the will of the gods he performed an unholy action, … he thought out something worthless:/He had made the image of a deity/which nobody had/ever/seen in/this/country./ He introduced it into the temple/he placed/it/upon a pedestal; … he called it by the name of Nanna, … it is adorned with a … of lapis/lazuli, crowned with a tiara. …” (Pritchard, p. 313.)

 

The one difference between this story and the one from Daniel 3 is that the Babylonian text says the idol was made of brick, covered with gypsum and bitumin to make the facing brilliant, while the Daniel account says it was made of gold. But the ninety-foot-high statue could hardly have been made of pure gold. Continuing from the Babylonian text:

 

“After he had obtained what he desired, a work of utter deceit, had built/this/abomination, a work of unholiness—when the third year was about to begin he entrusted the ‘Camp’ to his oldest/son/, the firstborn, the troops everywhere in the country he ordered under his/command/. He let/everything/ go, entrusted the kingship to him and, himself, he started out for a long journey, the/military/forces of Akkad marching with him; he turned towards Tema /deep/in the west. … When he arrived there, he killed in battle the prince of Tema … and he, himself, took his residence in/Te/ma, the forces of Akkad /were also stationed/there.” (Pritchard, p. 313.)

 

The rest of the text becomes fragmentary, but we can discern that Nabonidus ordered the slaughter of many people in the northern Arabian town of Tema and that he enslaved large numbers of them. Column four on the tablet is in especially bad shape, but we can discern the words “The king is mad.”

 

This brings us to the account of “Nebuchadnezzar’s” madness in Daniel 4. The Babylonian accounts do not mention that Nebuchadnezzar became mad. But it is well known that Nabonidus did. Records kept by the Babylonian priests confirm Nabonidus’s temporary madness in the wilderness of Tema. The records show that Nabonidus “stayed in Tema” at least from the seventh through eleventh years of his reign, leaving “the crown prince, the officials and the army” in Babylonia. During this time, the New Year festival, over which only the king could preside, was omitted.

 

….

 

The Dead Sea scrolls found at Qumran in 1948 confirm that Nabonidus, not Nebuchadnezzar, was the mad king. A fragmentary document titled “The Prayer of Nabonidus” tells of a king NBNY (Hebrew uses no vowels) who, while at Tema, was diseased by the God of Israel. A Jewish adviser (no doubt Daniel) counsels him to honor God, reminding him, “Thou has been smitten with this noisesome fever … for seven years because thou hast been praying to gods of silver and stone, which gods are but stock and stone, mere clay.” (Theodore H. Gaster, The Dead Sea Scriptures, 3d ed., Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 1976, p. 537.)

 

The fact that the gods of silver and gold were actually made of stock and stone might indicate gold or silver plating, which could identify the brick idol of Nabonidus with the gold idol mentioned in the book of Daniel.

 

….

 

How could such apparent errors have crept into the sacred record? ….

 

[End of quote]

 

My answer: Conventional neo-Babylonian history, and not the Book of Daniel, is at fault.

 

The great Assyrian ruler, Ashurbanipal, who so significantly influenced king Nabonidus, has certain features that also may remind one of Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar” – so much so, in fact, that I had initially wondered about exploring an identification of the two.

I had then written:

 

Nabonidus is somewhat like an Assyrian king. He adopts Assyrian titulature and boasts of having the Assyrian kings as his “royal ancestors”. There is nothing particularly strange about his supposed long stay in Teima in Arabia. This was a typical campaign region adopted by the neo-Assyrian kings. There is nothing particularly remarkable about his desire to restore the Ehulhul temple of Sin in Harran. Ashurbanipal did that.

Nabonidus is said to have had two major goals, to restore that Sin temple and to establish the empire of Babylon along the lines of the neo-Assyrians. Once again, Ashurbanipal is particularly mentioned as being his inspiration.

Nabonidus was not singular in not taking the hand of Bel in Babylon for many years, due to what he calls the impiety of the Babylonians. Ashurbanipal (and now you will notice that he keeps turning up) could not shake the hand of Bel after his brother Shamash-shum-ukin had revolted against him, barring Babylon, Borsippa, etc. to him. He tells us this explicitly.

Nabonidus is not singular either in not expecting to become king. Ashurbanipal had felt the same.

…. They share many Babylonian building works and restorations, too.

…. Ashurbanipal of 41-43 years of reign (figures vary) … Nebuchednezzar II the Great of an established 43 years of reign.

….

The great Nebuchednezzar has left only 4 known depictions of himself, we are told. Ridiculous! ….

The last 35 years of Nebuchednezzar are hardly known, they say.

….

It is doubted whether Nebuchednezzar conquered Egypt as according to the Bible. … Ashurbanipal … certainly did conquer Egypt.

The many queries about whether an inscription belongs to Nebuchednezzar or Nabonidus now dissolves.

It was Nabonidus, not Nebuchednezzar, they say, who built the famous palace in Babylon.

Nabonidus’s well known madness (perhaps the Teima phase) is Nebuchednezzar’s madness.

Nabonidus calls Sin “the God of gods” (ilani sa ilani), the exact phrase used by Nebuchednezzar in Daniel 2:47 of Daniel’s God (“the God of gods”).

Looking for a fiery furnace? Well, Ashurbanipal has one. His brother dies in it.

“Saulmagina my rebellious brother, who made war with me, they threw into a burning fiery furnace, and destroyed his life” (Caiger, p. 176).

….

Oh, yes, and Belshazzar, they say, was Nabonidus’s son, not Nebuchednezzar’s son. Contrary to the Bible.

And Belshazzar was not a king, they also say.

Well he wasn’t a king while Nabonidus = Nebuchednezzar …. reigned.

But he was later. I’ll believe Daniel 5 (Writing on the Wall).

 

Ashurbanipal also apparently had a lions’ den.

For, according to Jonathan Grey, The Forbidden Secret (p. 102):

 

….

 

The biblical book of Daniel also records that the Hebrew captive Daniel was tossed into a den lions. (Daniel chapter 6)

That such ‘lion’s [sic] den’ punishment was in keeping with the times is now proven by the discovery of that same inscription of Ashurbanipal that we just mentioned. It continues thus:

 

The rest of the people who had rebelled they threw alive among bulls and lions, as Sennacherib my grandfather used to do. Lo, again following his footsteps, those men I threw into the midst of them.

 

On one occasion, as the famed excavator Marcel Dieulafoy was digging amid the ruins of Babylon, he fell into a pit that appeared like an like an ancient well. After being rescued by his companions, he proceeded with the work of identification. How astonished was he to find that the pit had been used as a cage for wild animals! And upon the curb was this inscription:

 

The Place of Execution, where men who angered the king died torn by wild animals.

Advertisements

Augustus and Herod

Published June 7, 2017 by amaic
Image result for reign of augustus caesar

 

Part One:
Contemporaneity

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“… the rehabilitated Herod is considerably more Roman than his older counterpart. In the new portrait of Herod, he faces west toward Rome and Augustus rather than east toward the Hellenistic kingdoms, and he is described as “a friend of the Romans” rather than as “an Arab monarch”.”

 

Byron McCane

 

 

 

Some Parallelism

 

The dates and lengths of reign conventionally assigned to the succession of early Herodians: Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, and Herod Agrippa I, run strikingly parallel to those of the early Julio-Claudian emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula. Thus we find – and we must make allowance (by at least a handful of years) for the famous chronological uncertainties associated with Herod the Great:

 

Julio-Claudian emperors Herodians
Augustus 27 BC – AD 14 Herod the Great 37 – 4 BC
Tiberius 14 – 37 AD Herod Antipas 4 BC – AD 39
Caligula 37 – 41 AD Herod Agrippa I 37 – 44 AD

 

Moreover, the lineage of Herod was typically Roman-educated (see e.g. Herod and Augustus: Papers Presented at the IJS Conference, 21st-23rd June 2005, p. 372, edited by David M. Jacobson, Nikos Kokkinos).

And the ‘Roman-facing’ Herod the Great, according to Byron McCane’s re-evaluation of this most significant of ancient kings (“Simply Irresistible: Augustus, Herod, and the Empire”, JBL: https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-1625441681/simply-irresistible-augustus-hero), has frequently been compared with the emperor Augustus. See e.g.: http://portal.lvc.edu/vhr/articles/2015-Bonar%20J%20&%20H%20Journal%20EDITED.pdf

 

As for Herod Antipas (http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Herod_Antipas):

 

Herod Antipas grew up in an unusual household where you didn’t know if your father was going to provide you with love or instant death. Herod the Great was perhaps one of those people who wasn’t really suited to be a dad. A homicidal monarch yes – a father no. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that in his own later life Herod Antipas had no interest in starting his own family, perhaps he feared he would kill his own children or keep an ex-wife in jars of shredded marmalade. It was a wise choice … [,]

 

well, he was something like Tiberius insofar as (https://books.google.com.au/books?id=i18-QVydZp4C&pg=PA870&lpg=PA870&dq=tibe): “… sufficient factual evidence remains to show that Tiberius was an eccentric, misunderstood, and unloved person”.

And again (http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/augustus.html):

 

After the death of Livia, however, Tiberius, with the encouragement of Sejanus, systematically persecuted this family. Accusing them of plotting to assassinate him, Tiberius banished Agrippina the Elder and her oldest son, Nero; her second son, Drusus, was imprisoned a year later along with Asinius Gallus, who had earlier asked to marry Agrippina. Within four years these prisoners were all dead, mostly through starvation.

 

As for Herod Agrippa (there are considered to have been I and a II), we read of “Agrippa II” in The Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968) of this very Caligula-like state of affairs (75: 153): “[Agrippa’s] relations with his sister Bernice (probably incestuous) caused scandal in Rome (Ant. 20. 7. 3 § 145 …)”. Agrippa I is even supposed to have sojourned with Caligula in Rome (http://www.livius.org/articles/person/herod-agrippa-i/): “Agrippa stayed in Rome. The relation between the Jewish king and the Roman emperor was excellent, which is remarkable, because many considered Caligula a madman, and he could be very cruel indeed”.

And, like Caligula, Agrippa ‘turned into a god’.

Compare: “Caligula announces he will be a god when he is dead. … Caligula becomes obsessed with attaining the status of a god …”. (Hawes, Wm., Caligula and the Fight for Artistic Freedom), with Acts 12:21-23:

 

On the appointed day Herod [Agrippa], wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man’. Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

 

Part Two:

Parallel Career Patterns

 

 

 

Tripartite Reign

 

According to The Jerome Biblical Commentary (75:130): “Herod’s reign falls into three parts”.

Let us consider these three phases in turn, and compare them with the reign of Augustus.

 

 

  • Herod’s Early Years 37-25 BC

 

 

(75:131):

 

These early years were used mainly to consolidate his powers, and were marked by the cold-blooded, systematic elimination of any who might contest his authority.

…. His cruelty, rooted in insatiable ambition, was notorious, yet he was surrounded by intrigue and conspiracy that made him fight for his very existence.

[End of quote]

 

The same single-minded pursuit of power and use of force, during a tumultuous phase of history (at least, so-called), is apparent in the early years of the career of Caesar Augustus (http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/emperor-augustus):

 

As the first Roman emperor (though he never claimed the title for himself), Augustus led Rome’s transformation from republic to empire during the tumultuous years following the assassination of his great-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar. He shrewdly combined military might, institution-building and lawmaking to become Rome’s sole ruler ….

[End of quote]

 

Likewise, Octavius is “cold and calculating” according to (https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/a/antony-and-cleopatra/character-analysis/octavius-caesar):

 

As one of the three triumvirs, Octavius is the youngest and the most ambitious of the three.

…. Nothing exists for young Caesar except the single goal of acquiring and maintaining power. …. Because of the limited range of Octavius’s vision and interests, he often appears cold and calculating, and many of his actions are indeed calculated ones. In betrothing his beloved sister to Antony, his long-time rival, he shows that he is capable of placing political expediency above family loyalty. Conversely, when Antony abandons Octavia, Octavius acts like the outraged brother who wishes to avenge his sister’s honor. While his pride is understandably piqued, his anger also hints of opportunism, for here is the perfect pretext for attacking his rival.

Octavius struggles for supremacy within the Triumvirate ….

Octavius has few devoted friends … the lot of the ruler who must sacrifice everything to stay in power. He trusts no one, and he fears to let himself be close to few, if any, of his men. His treatment of Lepidus is one example of how he can cast aside presumed friends in order to achieve even more power.

….

Octavius, at times, seems almost without principle. …. Basically, then, we can say that Octavius symbolizes the world of power, politics, and war. ….

[End of quote]

 

 

  • Herod’s Cultural Phase 25-13 BC

 

 

The Jerome Biblical Commentary (75:132):

 

Once opposition to his power had been removed, Herod embarked on a period of lavish and munificent cultural improvements in his realm, financed mainly by taxes … emperor-temples, theaters, hippodromes, gymnasia, baths, and even new cities.

…. In all of this Herod was influenced by the cultural advances of the Augustan age, for he had surrounded himself with Greek philosophers and rhetors as advisers. … [e.g.] Nicolas of Damascus ….

[End of quote]

 

Augustus was likewise single-minded about taxation (http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/emperor-augustus):

 

During his 40-years reign, Augustus nearly doubled the size of the empire, adding territories in Europe and Asia Minor and securing alliances that gave him effective rule from Britain to India. He spent much of his time outside of Rome, consolidating power in the provinces and instituting a system of censuses and taxation that integrated the empire’s furthest reaches. He expanded the Roman network of roads, founded the Praetorian Guard and the Roman postal service and remade Rome with both grand (a new forum) and practical gestures (police and fire departments).

 

And Augustus, like Herod, built on an impressive scale: temples, theatres, roads, aqueducts (https://brown.edu/Departments/Joukowsky_Institute//courses/romanartandarch2011/14123.html

 

Augustus’ campaign to rejuvenate Rome largely hinged on his uncanny ability to inextricably link the city’s aesthetic splendor to its imperial splendor. The strong connection Augustus fostered between visual and moral strength encouraged the city’s wealthy men to invest in the capital’s built environment; the Temple of Hercules and the Muses, the Temple of Diana, the Atrium of Liberty, the Temple of Saturn, and the amphitheater of Statilius Taurus are all massive projects funded exclusively by Rome’s elite (Suetonius 60). These endeavors were viewed, even in their own age, as tangible markers of Rome’s ascension to cultural prominence and the re-solidification of the Empire’s standards following the late Republic’s seemingly all-encompassing decrepitude. In his Res Gestae Augustus takes care to highlight the marble magnificence of his Rome; “I built the Senate-house…and the temple of Apollo on the Palatine with portocos…I rebuilt the Capitol and the theater of Pompey…I rebuilt aqueducts in many places that had decayed with age… I completed the Forum of Julius…I built the temple of Mars Ultor…I rebuilt the Flaminian road…,” (Res Gestae) ….

[End of quote]

 

“His reported last words … to his subjects he said, “I found Rome of clay; I leave it to you of marble …”.” (http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/emperor-augustus)

 

 

Some Greek influence on Augustus: “During his childhood Octavian was educated in Greek philosophy in Athens” (http://www.conservapedia.com/Augustus_Caesar).

 

The clear Greek inspiration in style and symbol for official sculptural portraits, which under the Roman emperors became instruments of governmental propaganda, is a central part of the Augustan ideological campaign, a shift from the Roman Republican era iconography where old and wise features were seen as symbols of solemn character. Therefore, the Prima Porta statue marks a conscious reversal of iconography to the Greek classical and Hellenistic period, in which youth and strength were valued as signs of leadership, emulating heroes and culminating in Alexander the Great himself. Such a statue’s political function was very obvious—to show Rome that the emperor Augustus was an exceptional figure, comparable to the heroes worthy of being raised to divine status on Olympus, and the best man to govern Rome.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_of_Prima_Porta

 

 

  • Herod’s Domestic Strife Last Phase 13-4 BC

 

 

The Jerome Biblical Commentary (75:133): “It was domestic strife that marked the last years of Herod’s reign”.

 

http://www.conservapedia.com/Augustus_Caesar

Augustus: Family and Succession

 

Augustus married three times, although his first union, to Mark Antony’s stepdaughter Clodia Pulchra, was unconsummated. His second wife, Scribonia, bore his only child, Julia the Elder. He divorced in 39 B.C. to marry Livia Drusilla, who had two sons—Tiberius and Drusus—by her first husband, Mark Antony’s ally Tiberius Claudius Nero. The family tree became more complicated after Augustus had his stepson Tiberius briefly marry his daughter, and then adopted Tiberius outright as son and successor in A.D. 4.

 

[End of quote]

 

Herod, Augustus, reigned for about four decades.

The tripartite pattern of reign set out above is probably fairly typical for great and long-reigning monarchs, with an initial phase of single-minded quest for supreme power accompanied by cruelty and bloodshed; then a peaceful and prosperous phase enabling for grandiose projects; with a final decline towards the end, due to age and possible disputes over succession.

 

 

 

Posted by AMAIC at 5:31 PM 0 comments

Labels: AMAIC, Australian Marian Academy of the Immaculate Conception, Sacred Heart of Jesus and Eucharist John the Evangelist Book of Revelation Apocalypse Sister Faustina Divine Mercy Holy Year academia.edu

Vespasian and Trajan

Published June 3, 2017 by amaic

Illustration of Trajan's Forum (Rome, Italy) | Radu Oltean (Bucharest), Illustrator for Kogainon Films

Imperial Rome Re-Considered

 

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“Like Vespasian and Trajan’s own father, Trajan was an apt military leader, and his purging of the Praetorian Guard showed he was not in the position to be disobeyed or stabbed in the back by his own soldiers”.

 

 

Introduction

 

This article is a tentative effort to give new revised form to a part of imperial Roman history, following on from my hinting of a possible fusion of:

Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ and Emperor Hadrian. Part One: “… a mirror image”

 

https://www.academia.edu/32734925/Antiochus_Epiphanes_and_Emperor_Hadrian._Part_One_a_mirror_image_

 

and of Nero (Domitius) and Domitian. The imperial period under consideration here would be, in conventional terms, c. 54-117 AD, Nero to Trajan, the supposed predecessor of Hadrian

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_emperors

 

Nero
NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVGVSTVS GERMANICVS
December 15, 37 AD, Antium, Italia Great-nephew, stepson, son-in-law and adopted son of Claudius; nephew of Caligula; great-great-nephew of Tiberius; grandson of Germanicus; great-great-grandson of Augustus October 13, 54 AD – June 9, 68 AD June 9, 68 AD
Committed suicide after being declared a public enemy by the Senate.
13 years, 7 months and 27 days

(68–96) Year of the Four Emperors and Flavian dynasty[edit]

Main articles: Year of the Four Emperors and Flavian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Galba
SERVIVS SVLPICIVS GALBA CAESAR AVGVSTVS
December 24 3 BC, Near Terracina, Italia Seized power after Nero‘s suicide, with support of the Spanish legions June 8, 68 AD – January 15, 69 AD January 15, 69 AD
Murdered by Praetorian Guard in coup led by Otho.
7 months and 7 days
Otho
MARCVS SALVIVS OTHO CAESAR AVGVSTVS
April 28, 32 AD, Ferentinum, Italia Appointed by Praetorian Guard January 15, 69 AD – April 16, 69 AD April 16, 69 AD
Committed suicide after losing Battle of Bedriacum to Vitellius
3 months and 1 day (91 days)
Vitellius
AVLVS VITELLIVS GERMANICVS AVGVSTVS
September 24, 15 AD, Rome Seized power with support of German Legions (in opposition to Galba/Otho) April 17, 69 AD – December 20, 69 AD December 20, 69 AD
Murdered by Vespasian‘s troops
8 months and 3 days
Vespasian
TITVS FLAVIVS CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVGVSTVS
November 17, 9 AD, Falacrine, Italia Seized power with the support of the eastern Legions (in opposition to Vitellius) December 21, 69 AD – June 24, 79 AD June 24, 79 AD
Natural causes
9 years, 6 months and 3 days
Titus
TITVS FLAVIVS CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVGVSTVS
December 30, 39 AD, Rome Son of Vespasian June 24, 79 AD – September 13, 81 AD September 13, 81 AD
Natural causes (fever)
2 years, 2 months and 20 days
Domitian
TITVS FLAVIVS CAESAR DOMITIANVS AVGVSTVS
October 24, 51 AD, Rome Son of Vespasian September 14, 81 AD – September 18, 96 AD September 18, 96 AD
Assassinated by court officials
15 years and 4 days

(96–192) Nerva–Antonine dynasty[edit]

Main article: Nerva–Antonine dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Nerva
MARCVS COCCEIVS NERVA CAESAR AVGVSTVS
November 8, 30 AD, Narni, Italia Appointed by the Senate September 18, 96 AD – January 27, 98 AD January 27, 98 AD
Natural causes
1 year, 4 months and 9 days
Trajan
CAESAR MARCVS VLPIVS NERVA TRAIANVS AVGVSTVS
September 18, 53 AD, Italica, Hispania Baetica

A new structure would go something like this:

Nero = Domitian;

 

Galba, Otho, Vitellius phase = Nerva period;

 

Vespasian = Trajan

 

Hadrian no longer to be regarded as following on from Trajan.

 

Essentially Military,

‘Ushering in a Golden Age’

 

Vespasian and Trajan do get compared. For example in “Augustus, Vespasian and Trajan – Comparing Emperors”, at: https://yuptab.com/augustus-vespasian-and-trajan-comparing-emperors/

 

The Roman Empire stood for centuries, and remains one of the greatest empires to have existed to this day. During these years, there were good emperors, and there were bad emperors. During the periods that the former reigned, the empire seemed to flourish, and during the periods where the latter reigned the primary sources are fraught with stories of trials and tribulations, unhappy populations, and general unease.

The largest problem with an autocracy like the empire of Ancient Rome lies in the fact that the empire rests in the whims of one man. If he rules well, and can master his own greed and the corruption that the power brings with it, the people will be happy and relatively docile under his rule. If the lure of power is too much, the empire can easily crumble under his fist, and autocratic though it may be, a rebellion of the majority of a population can be too much to fight.

There were many emperors who were considered ‘good’ by those who recorded their histories, as well as far too many considered ‘bad.’ This paper, however, will cover just three of these good emperors, and will focus on why they went down in the texts of Rome, as well as modern day histories, as good emperors, as well as their major accomplishments, and why they are remembered. These three emperors are Augustus, the first emperor of Rome himself, Vespasian, and Trajan, respectively.

….

Although Augustus was the first, he was obviously not the only good emperor that Rome had rule over it. Nero saw the ending of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, and this ending was not on a happy note. Blamed for many of Rome’s problems, including the great fire that is to this day associated with his reign, Nero was not well liked. The eventual ascension of Vespasian to the throne, after some initial conflict with finding the next emperor to reign longer than a few months, signaled the end of the Julio-Claudians, and the beginning of the Flavian dynasty, which Vespasian, along with his son Titus, would lay a mark in history as a golden age for Rome (Alston, 166). Although this golden age would be short lived, ending when Vespasian’s other son, Domitian, acquires the throne, it is an age of prosperity that is marked by both building and military accomplishments.

Vespasian came into rule at a time when war with Judea, Britain and Germany was rampant. However, instead of crumbling under the pressure of warfare, Vespasian was able to use this to his advantage. After quelling the problems in Judea, he was able to fund building projects and fighting in Britain and Germany meant expansion in the west. With the help of Titus, Vespasian was able to bring most of this warfare under control.

It was also at this time, with funds from winning the conflict with Judea, that Vespasian was able to build what could easily be considered his biggest claim in history books. The [Colosseum] was more than just a place for the gladiatorial games to take place, it was a standing reminder of what Vespasian had done. It was a monument to conquering the armies of Judea, but by building it over the lake at Nero’s palace, it was also a marker to signify the end of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty, and the reign of Nero himself. It marked an ushering in of a new sort of emperor, who did not necessarily have to be born into the highest class. Like Augustus before him, Vespasian was able to set up a sort of framework for those who followed.

Finally, the emperor Trajan took the empire to what could be considered its limits, boundary wise. Hadrian after him [sic] would build fortifications to try and hold the empire at this position, and further emperors would try and push the boundaries with little success.

Trajan was essentially one of the few untainted by the corrupt image of the reign of Domitian. His father has served in Judea with Titus, and Trajan himself had been away from Rome during the critical years of Domitian’s tyrannical rule giving him an outward appearance of trust and honesty, something the people of Rome would have needed after another poor ruler so soon after the death of Nero, even if Vespasian and Titus had ushered in a golden age before Domitian.

Like Vespasian and Trajan’s own father, Trajan was an apt military leader, and his purging of the Praetorian Guard showed he was not in the position to be disobeyed or stabbed in the back by his own soldiers. He built the Forum, a mark of his grandeur as Vespasian’s [Colosseum] before him and Hadrian’s Wall after. Most importantly, Trajan had the strength, the cunning, the expertise as well as the moral backbone to bring Rome back from the poor ruling of Domitian, and push it’s boundaries to the very limit.

When comparing these three emperors, it is hard to pick who ruled best, because even though each is considered to be one of Rome’s finest emperors, each also has his short comings, as well. ….

[End of quote]

 

The Dacians

 

Vespasian

 

…. the Dacians continued to harass Rome, an invasion in 11 or 10 bce being particularly devastating. Augustan generals gradually pushed them back from the left bank of the Danube while also settling 80,000 men within the Roman province of Moesia on the right bank. No further trouble was recorded until autumn 69 ce, when the Dacians found Moesia vulnerable after the legions had departed to fight Vitellius. After capturing a number of forts, they were beaten back by Vespasian’s general Gaius Licinius Mucianus, then on his way to Italy. http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Trajan

 

Trajan …. Known as a benevolent ruler, his reign was noted for public projects which benefitted the populace such as improving the dilapidated road system, constructing aqueducts, building public baths and extending the port of Ostia. Trajan was also a highly successful general and won three major conflicts against the Dacians and in the East, resulting in the Roman Empire reaching its greatest size up to that date. http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Commander in Thrace (Thracia) and Germany,

in Crete and Cyrenaica

 

Vespasian

 

Despite not coming from a noble family, Vespasian served as a colonel in Thrace (north of Greece) and a quaestor (financial official) on the island of Crete and in Cyrenaica (eastern Libya). Before incurring the wrath of Emperor Claudius’s wife Agrippina (as many did), he was the commander of a legion in Germany and Britain. He fought in over thirty battles and captured at least twenty cities. … Vitellius, increased the Guard to 16 cohorts, totaling 16,000 personal men. Shortly thereafter, however, when Vespasian emerged as the eventual victor, the Praetorians were reduced back to a more manageable nine cohorts. http://www.unrv.com/military/praetorian-guard.php

 

Trajan

 

Although Trajan did not hurry to Rome, he did think it necessary to solve the controversy surrounding the mutiny by the Praetorian Guards who had wished to punish the assassins of Domitian. Trajan sent for the conspirators, especially Casperius Aelianus – the guard who had engineered the mutiny – to meet him in Upper Germany to receive a special commission. According to historian Cassius Dio, Trajan offered “to employ them for some purpose and then put them out of the way.” http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Colonies were founded with one at Aprus (Colonia Claudia Aprensis) by Claudius or Nero, and at Deultum (Colonia Flavia Pacensis Deultum) under Vespasian. Trajan expanded further on settling Thracia …. http://www.unrv.com/provinces/thracia.php

 

During the Roman period, the Jewish population of Cyrenaica grew. …. Growing tensions between Jews and Romans in Cyrenaica erupted in rebellion in 115 CE. Known as the “Kitos War”[9] this revolt dragged on for two years, with massacres and atrocities that shocked even Roman historians. The province was virtually depopulated, and Emperor Trajan resettled it with Greek-speaking colonists brought in from other provinces. This may have been the occasion for an extensive coinage of silver drachms (3.2 grams) and hemidrachms (1.6 grams) bearing the stern face of Trajan obverse, and Zeus Ammon reverse.

http://www.coinweek.com/ancient-coins/coinage-kyrene-greek-city-libya/

 

 

Praetorian Guard

 

Vespasian

 

… Vitellius, increased the Guard to 16 cohorts, totaling 16,000 personal men. Shortly thereafter, however, when Vespasian emerged as the eventual victor, the Praetorians were reduced back to a more manageable nine cohorts.

http://www.unrv.com/military/praetorian-guard.php

 

Trajan

 

Although Trajan did not hurry to Rome, he did think it necessary to solve the controversy surrounding the mutiny by the Praetorian Guards who had wished to punish the assassins of Domitian. Trajan sent for the conspirators, especially Casperius Aelianus – the guard who had engineered the mutiny – to meet him in Upper Germany to receive a special commission. According to historian Cassius Dio, Trajan offered “to employ them for some purpose and then put them out of the way.” http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Parthia

 

Vespasian

 

Vologases …. Parthia was troubled throughout his reign on both its eastern and western borders.

….

Relative peace followed between Parthia and Rome, especially in the reign of Nero.

Vespasian had Vologases’s backing in 69, and the emperor even pondered sending him troops to aid in the defeat of the barbarian Alans. Better relations allowed domestic opportunities, as Vologases founded the city of Vologesia as a rival to Seleucia. ….

http://romanatoz.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/vologases-i-king-of-parthia.html

 

Trajan

 

The war began when the [Parthians] placed one of their own on the throne of Armenia, a Roman buffer state. This “upset the delicate balance of power” on the eastern frontier. Trajan intervened, and Armenia was made a province of Rome. The army continued on eastward and annexed Mesopotamia, including the Parthian capital of Ctesiphon. Under Trajan, the Roman Empire now stretched further than it ever had – from Scotland to the Caspian Sea. …. http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Jewish War

 

Vespasian

 

… Vitellius, increased the Guard to 16 cohorts, totaling 16,000 personal men. Shortly thereafter, however, when Vespasian emerged as the eventual victor, the Praetorians were reduced back to a more manageable nine cohorts.

http://www.unrv.com/military/praetorian-guard.php

 

But in AD 67 he was offered a province and an army command of three legions by Nero. If the emperor was mad and wanted to see Vespasian dead, he needed him now. The Jewish rebellion of AD 67 called for a commander who knew of ways to oust the Jews from their walled cities. Someone had obviously reminded the emperor of Vespasian’s record against the defensive earthworks in Britain.
At the age of fifty eight Vespasian headed for Judaea, directed the reduction of Jotapata in the north and began the preparations for the siege of Jerusalem.

On hearing of Nero’s death Vespasian formally recognized the accession of Galba.

When news arrived of Galba’s murder in early AD 69, Vespasian was prompted to consider rebellion. He had on his side the governor of Syria, Gaius Licinius Mucianus. At first the two had not got along well, mainly due to Mucianus resenting that Vespasian’s military command had been given higher status by Nero than his governorship, but now they both needed allies to weather the crisis following the death of two emperors.

After Otho’s suicide in April AD 69 they formed plans to take action. They both acknowledged Vitellius’ accession, but meanwhile secretly enlisted the support of Tiberius Julius Alexander in Egypt. Mucianus had no sons of his own to be his heirs. Alexander was only of equestrian rank – and a Jew. Neither therefore could be considered as potential emperors. Vespasian though had two sons, Titus and Domitian, was of senatorial rank and had held the consulship. All three agreed, that he should be their candidate for the throne.

On 1 July, Alexander commanded the legions in Egypt to swear an oath of allegiance to Vespasian. Within two weeks the armies in Judaea and Syria had followed that example.
The plan was that Mucianus would lead twenty thousand men into Italy, with Vespasian remaining in the east, where he could control the all-important Egyptian grain supply to Rome.
….

Vespasian now headed for Rome, leaving his son Titus behind to capture Jerusalem, and arrived at Rome in October AD 70. He was almost 61 but he was still fit and active.
Soon after Titus in Palestine brought an end to the Jewish revolt (although the siege of Masada continued until AD 73) and in the north Cerealis defeated the Gallo-German uprising at Augusta Trevivorum. In effect Vespasian, an old military veteran, was the man who could finally deliver peace to the empire.

Vespasian possessed insight and the sense of how to maintain peace, too. Though the destruction of Jerusalem and the retaliation against the Jews were carried out with unnecessary severity, and restrictions were placed on some of their practices, Jews were excused from Caesar-worship. http://www.roman-empire.net/emperors/vespasian.html

 

Trajan

 

[Trajan’s] father, a career soldier also named Marcus Ulpius Traianus, had been governor of both Baetica in Spain and Syria, a commander during the Jewish War of 67 – 68 CE ….

Rebellion among the Jewish population broke out in Cyrenaica, spreading to both Egypt and Cyprus; however, when trouble broke out on the northern frontier, Trajan left his army in Syria and retreated to Rome. ….

http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Simple habits and virtues

 

Vespasian

 

…. the Flavians had succeeded the Julio-Claudians, and the simple habits and virtues of the Italian bourgeois replaced, at the court of the emperor, the epicurean wastefulness of the city-bred descendants of Augustus and Livia. ….

He scorned luxury and laziness, ate the food of peasants, fasted one day in each month, and declared war upon extravagance. When a Roman whom he had nominated for office came to him smelling of perfume, he said, “I would rather you smelled of garlic,” and withdrew the nomination. He made himself easily accessible, talked and lived on a footing of equality with the people, enjoyed jokes at his own expense, and allowed everyone great freedom in criticizing his conduct and his character. Having discovered a conspiracy against him he forgave the plotters, saying that they were fools not to realize what a burden of cares a ruler wore. He lost his good temper in one case only. http://erenow.com/ancient/durantromecaesar/87.html

 

Trajan

 

Cassius Dio wrote, “Trajan was most conspicuous for his justice, for his bravery, and for the simplicity of his habits.”  As an emperor who was concerned with both good government and the public welfare, he instituted an excellent domestic policy – providing for the children of the poor, restoring the dilapidated road system, as well as building new bridges, aqueducts, public baths, and a modern port at Ostia. Lastly, he continued his predecessor’s policy of undoing much of the harm done by Domitian by freeing prisoners and recalling exiles. http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

 

 

Christians, Gladiators and Cult of Sol Invictus

 

 

 

“Similar to Vespasian, Trajan was a good soldier and a man of talent. He was also a man of tolerance and courtesy. He expanded the empire against the Parthians. He put down another rebellion by Jews. He favored applying the law against only those Christians about whom people complained, or Christians who had created disturbances, and he declared that the accused were to receive a proper trial in which they were able to face their accusers. During his nineteen years of rule he improved the empire’s roads and harbors, he beautified Rome and he provided support for the children of Rome’s poor. And although the Senate continued to have little real power, Trajan consulted it and maintained its good will. The historian Tacitus – who lived during Trajan’s rule – praised Trajan for restoring Rome’s “old spirit,” including the feeling that one could express oneself freely”.

 

 

 

Treatment of Christians

 

Vespasian, Trajan, treated Christians in a way that is generally perceived to have been tolerant – at least by the standards of that age.

 

Vespasian

 

Still more important to the subsequent progress of civilization was the period of tranquility for the infant Church which began in this reign. The official classes of Rome then regarded the Christians vaguely as a Jewish sect, and as such the latter was subject to the impost of half a shekel for rebuilding the Capitoline temple, which had been destroyed when Rome was stormed for Vespasian; but this tax does not seem to have been the occasion of any general harsh treatment. Tertullian (Apologia) and Eusebius (Church History) agree in acquitting Vespasian of persecution. St. Linus, the pope whose death occurred during this period, cannot be proved to have suffered martyrdom, while St. Apollaris of Ravenna, though a martyr, may very well have suffered at the hands of a local mob. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15379a.htm

 

Trajan

 

Art and learning flourished during Trajan’s reign. Among his literary contemporaries were Tacitus, Juvenal, and the younger Pliny with whom the emperor carried on an animated correspondence. This correspondence belonging to the years 111-3 throws light on the persecution of Christians during this reign. Pliny was legate of the double Province of Bithynia and Pontus. In this territory he found many Christians and requested instructions from Trajan (Ep. 96). In his reply (Ep. 97) Trajan considers the confession of Christianity as a crime worthy of death, but forbade a search for Christians and the acceptance of anonymous denunciations. Whoever shows by sacrificing to the gods that he is not a Christian is to be released. Where the adherence to Christianity is proved the punishment of death is to follow. The action he prescribed rests on the coercive power of the police, the right of repression of the magistracy, which required no settled form of procedure. In pursuance of these orders measures were taken against Christians in other places also. The most distinguished martyrs under Trajan were Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, and Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem. Legend names many others, but there was no actual persecution on a large scale and the position of the Christians was in general satisfactory. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15015a.htm

 

 

Gladiators

 

Vespasian

 

The Colosseum was built by Emperor Vespasian, founder of the Flavian dynasty, for Titus, his successor.

Colosseum is an elliptical building measuring 189 meters long and 156 meters wide with a base area of 24,000 m² with a height of more than 48 meter.

The Colosseum has over 80 entrances and can accommodate about 50,000 spectators.

It is thought that over 500,000 people lost their lives and over a million wild animals were killed throughout the duration of the Colosseum hosted people vs. beast games.

There were 36 trap doors in Arena allowing for elaborate special effects

All Ancient Romans had free entry to the Colosseum for events, and were also fed throughout the spectacles.

Festivals as well as games could last up to 100 days in the Colosseum.

The Ancient Romans would sometimes flood the Colosseum and have miniature ship naval battles inside as a way of entertainment.

The Colosseum only took 10 years to build starting in 70 AD and was completed in 80 AD using over 60,000 Jewish slaves.

http://www.aroundrometours.com/30-interesting-facts-about-the-roman-colosseum-art10-uid1.htm

 

Trajan

 

Trajan was a brutal warlord. The depictions on Trajan’s Column, thought to date to the years 101-106 tell a story of death and Roman ruthlessness on a grand scale. In this time span, Trajan enacted genocide on the Dacians – The king Burebista, Zalmoxis his philosopher/sage, and the entire nation were destroyed according to Strabo (7,3,5). In his rule 2,000 Jews of the town Emmaus were crucified, according to Florus, Epitome of Roman History (II,88)

In the “Temple of Augustus”, at Ankara, in Turkey, there is the following [inscription], placed there by Trajan:

 

“Three times I gave gladiatorial shows in my own name,
and five times in the name of my sons or grandsons, in
which shows about 10,000 men fought to the death”

 

This barbaric ruthlessness on a large scale are typically Roman qualities, as distinct from those whom the Romans themselves called Barbarians.

http://www.mountainman.com.au/essenes/article_001.htm

 

Sol Invictus

 

As far as religion went, Vespasian, Trajan, favoured the Mithraïc cult of Sol Invictus (“Unconquered Sun’), which divinity would become the official sun god of the Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers.

 

Vespasian

 

After the great fire of AD 64, in which a large portion of Rome was destroyed, Nero erected a colossal statue of himself one hundred and twenty feet high (Suetonius, Life of Nero, XXXI.1), which Vespasian converted to one of Sol, placing a radiant crown on its head (Suetonius, Vespasian, XVIII.1; Pliny, Natural History, XXXIV.45). Vespasian also was the first emperor to display the image of Sol on imperial coinage. By the second century AD, this autochthonous deity was being eclipsed by an Eastern cult of the Sun, Invictus appearing as an epithet in an inscription in AD 158. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/calendar/invictus.html

 

Trajan

 

Before Aurelian, Sol was no more prominent than many other deities. The denarius of Trajan [below], from 111 CE [sic], demonstrates this; it shows the heads of Sol and Luna being carried by Aeternitas, symbolising that day and night are component parts of eternity. Trajan and his successor, Hadrian, also struck coins much like those above, showing the radiate head of Sol; sometimes they were labelled Oriens, meaning the rising sun in the east.

 

The reverse of a denarius of Trajan showing Aeternitas.

 

Isis, Serapis and Dionysus

 

Vespasian

 

… from the time of Vespasian the worship of Isis and Serapis became firmly established, and remained in a flourishing condition until the general introduction of Christianity.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0104:entry=isis-bio-1

In Tarsus, where he served next, with its grand processions of the dying and rising God, Baal Taraz, Vespasian was introduced to the Mysteries of Dionysus, the only Olympian with a mortal mother. (Ralph Thorpe, The Gospel of the King of the Jews).

 

Trajan

 

According to Josephus, Caligula donned female garb and took part in the mysteries he instituted, and in the Hellenistic age Isis acquired a “new rank as a leading goddess of the Mediterranean world.” Vespasian, along with Titus, practiced incubation in the Roman Iseum. Domitian built another Iseum along with a Serapeum. Trajan appears before Isis and Horus, presenting them with votive offerings of wine, in a bas-relief on his triumphal arch in Rome.

http://www.crystalinks.com/isis.html

Built around 104 C.E, it is one of the finest monuments in Ephesus. It was constructed in honor of Emperor Trajan, and a statue of Trajan stood in the central niche on the facade overlooking the pool.

The pool of the fountain of Trajan was 20×10 meters, surrounded by columns and statues. These statues were Dionysus, Satyr, Aphrodite and the family of the Emperor. They are now on display in the Ephesus Museum.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Fountain_of_Trajan,_Ephesus,_Turkey_(18818526443).jpg

 

There is enough in this series, I think, to encourage one in the consideration of Trajan as a Vespasian-type, enabling for an imperial folding now of Nero (Domitius) with Domitian and of Vespasian with Trajan. Regarding Trajan’s supposed successor (but not son), Hadrian, who has been called “a mirror image” of the Seleucid tyrant, Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, he would likely be a composite figure, partly based upon Antiochus IV (and perhaps others), and, considering his reputation as a destroyer of Jerusalem, partly on Titus, the son of Vespasian, who really did destroy Jerusalem and demolish its Temple.