An Alternative Theory of
the History of Antiquity
Article 1: The Roman Empire, the character
of the Romans, and their Emperors
"But there are no tribes beyond us,
nothing indeed but waves and rocks,
and the yet more terrible Romans,
from whose oppression escape is
vainly sought by obedience and submission.
Robbers of the world,
having by their universal plunder
exhausted the land, they rifle the deep.
If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious;
if he be poor, they lust for dominion;
neither the east nor the west
has been able to satisfy them.
Alone among men they covet
with equal eagerness poverty and riches.
To robbery, slaughter, plunder,
they give the lying name of empire;
they make a solitude and call it peace."
--- Calgacus (sometimes Calgacos or Galgacus)
Leader of the Caledonian Confederacy who fought the Roman
army of Gnaeus Julius Agricola at the Battle of Mons Graupius
in northern Scotland in AD 83 or 84. His name can be as
interpreted as Celtic *calg-ac-os, "possessing a blade" or
"possessing a penis".
The only historical source that features him is
Tacitus' Agricola which describes him as
"the most distinguished for birth and valour among the chieftains".
Tacitus wrote a speech for him in advance of the battle
in which he describes the exploitation of Britain by Rome
and rouses his troops to fight.
The above excerpt is a speech attributed
to Calgacus by the historian Tacitus in
the Agricola (30):
"I appeal to thee a woman.
I rule not, like Nitocris, over beasts of burden,
as are the effeminate nations of the East,
nor like Semiramis, over tradesmen and traffickers,
nor like the man-woman Nero, over slaves and eunuchs
-- such is the precious knowledge
these foreigners introduce among us --
but I rule over Britons,
little versed in craft and diplomacy,
but born and trained in the game of war, men who,
in the cause of liberty stake down their lives,
the lives of their wives and children,
their lands and property.
Queen of such a race,
I implore thine aid for freedom,
for victory over enemies infamous
for the wantonness of the wrongs they inflict,
for their perversion of justice,
for their contempt of religion,
for their insatiable greed;
a people that revel in unmanly pleasures,
whose affections are more to be dreaded
and abhorred than their enmity.
Never let a foreigner bear rule over me or these my countrymen;
never let slavery reign in this island.
Be thou forever O goddess of mankind and victory,
sovereign and Queen in Britain "(ibid.).
--- Bunduica/Voadicia/Bonducca/Boudica/Boudicea/Boadicea (circa 60 CE)
--- Dion Cassius, Xiphilinus Except
The Romans were the dominant professional rulers of the ancient western
world (particularly around the Mediteranean) during the period from 31 BCE for
many centuries. The empire was forged by war and conquest. Acquisition of lands
and their defence was achieved through the discipline and technology of the Roman
army, the closest thing to the public service in antiquity.
The quote above was specifically directed at the Romans circa 60 CE by Boadicea,
the queen of the Britons, who temporarily rallied opposition against the Romans.
Perversion of justice, contempt of religion, and insatiable greed are some of
the attributes applied to the Romans by their conquered subjects.
Conquest is followed by taxation. It is a simple formula that has not been
stopped even in today's world. The Roman empire existed because of its
ability to subject its empire (including all new dominions) to short-term
acquisition of treasures, and long-term taxation via revenue collection,
or via goods and produce.
The Roman Class Structure
The empire functioned at four levels in parallel, almost four separate
universes of humanity. This division of people into four classes was
very important to the Roman sensibility:
- slaves were owned by other people, having no rights at all,
- plebeians were free people, but with little say at all.
- equestrians (aka 'knights', 'riders') were rich, were cavalry conscripts.
- patricians were the highest class, and all the real power lay with them.
The Roman emperors were a mixed bag. There were purported some good ones,
and some bad ones, and some ugly ones, however just as it is with the
world of factals, sometimes it becomes difficult to separate the
foreground and the background. Antiquity was usually a hard life
by today's standards.
We are informed that there was a consecutive reign of the "Five Good
Emperors" between the years 90 and 180:
Antoninus Pius (138-161)
Marcus Aurelius (160-180).
Trajan was a brutal warlord. The depictions on Trajan's Column, thought to date to the years 101-106 tell a story of death & 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
In the "Temple of Augustus", at Ankara, in Turkey, there is the
following incription, 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.
This emperor collected philosophical writings, it is told, and letters
from philosophers and sages during his rule. There was a penalty however,
if one was not absolutely impeccably consistent with one's philosophy,
as Ben Edwin Perry's translation of
Life of Secundus the Philosopher will attest.
The writings of Marcus Aurelius attest a keen Stoic philosophy.
He is regarded by many, as the exemplar of "Roman Virtue",
and is the winner of the God's estimation of all the Roman Caesars,
as is explicitly outlined in Emperor Julian's satire
aka Symposium or Kronia, written c.362 CE.
A well-preserved bronze equestrian sculpture of Marcus Aurelius is located in Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome. In fact, it is the only surviving bronze statue of a pre-Christian Roman emperor - because following Rome's conversion to Christianity, when statues of Emperors were being melted down to make statues for the Christian churches, it was incorrectly thought that the statue was of the Emperor Constantine, and so it was left alone.
The Roman Emperors and their role as "Pontifex Maximus"
Extracted from Cambridge Ancient History Volume 12
Religion in the Roman Empire was governed
by the princeps, as "Pontifex Maximus"
a member of all priestly colleges and
responsible for all public morals and well being.
The following is evidenced by coins and temple foundations:
Claudius: magnified the cult of Cybele.
Gauis: in Rome introduced Osiris (and other Egyptian deities accepted in Italy)
Vespasian: favored Isis and Sarapis.
Domitian: was a benefactor of Isis, Minerva and Jupiter
Hadrian: built the temple of Venus and restored many temples in Rome.
Severan Dynasty: sponsored Bacchus, Hercules and Sarapis.
Illyrian Dynasty: were devoted to Vesta.
Aurelian: built the temple of Sol Invictus, celebrated 25th December and established priestly colleges.
Diocletian: supported Sol Invictus, Isis, Sarapis, Jupiter and Hercules.
For the duration of the Roman Empire up until Constantine the Emperors had assumed the role of "Pontifex Maximus",
the head of all the "Pontifices" or "Priests", and their "Sacred Assembly", of the Egypto-Graeco-Roman milieu of religions.
The emperors before Constantine had patronised the divinities of their selection as is set out above.
Religion of the Emperors' Coinage
The following diagram lists coinage of the Roman Emperors from 054 CE to 324 CE.
The source of this table and data is Asclepius: The God of Medicine - By Gerald D. Hart: (p.177)
Indicates that the forty six of the Roman emperor for the period of almost three centuries depicted on their minted coins the figure of Asclepius or Salus. This represents a fairly extensive and persistent tradition. Notably the practice ceases in the year 324 CE, at which time the military supremacist Constantine secured the entire Roman empire as his own.
At this time, Constantine destroyed the temples of Asclepius and had some of their chief priests executed.
For the details, see this article on the "Council" of Antioch
or the article Knowledge Burning in the 4th Century
A Description of Diocletian's Palace from Edward Gibbon
The following is extracted from Chapter 13 of Edward Gibbon's " The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire ".
It covered an extent of ground consisting of between nine and ten English acres. The form was quadrangular, flanked with sixteen towers. Two of the sides were near six hundred, and the other two near seven hundred, feet in length. The whole was constructed of a beautiful freestone, extracted from the neighbouring quarries of Trau, or Tragutium, and very little inferior to marble itself. Four streets, intersecting each other at right angles, divided the several parts of this great edifice, and the approach to the principal apartment was from a very stately entrance, which is still denominated the Golden Gate. The approach was terminated by a peristylium of granite columns, on one side of which we discover the square temple of Asclepius, on the other the octagon temple of Jupiter. The latter of those deities Diocletian revered as the patron of his fortunes, the former as the protector of his health.
The patronage of Asclepius by Diocletian is consistent with the commentary associated with the recently
discovered inscription to Apollonius of Tyana,
and it is elsewhere suggested that the books authored by Apollonius were physically located at the major Asclepian temples
that were first destroyed by Constantine, immediately upon securing absolute control of the eastern regions.
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