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Author Topic: Chapter 13: Alexander Jannaeus, Ptolemy X Alexander and Gaius Marius  (Read 3437 times)
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« on: January 10, 2016, 01:34:15 PM »

Chap. 13-Heroes of the Hellensitic Age (2016) Charles N. Pope

The Hasmonean side of royal history is written from the perspective of Thebes/Jerusalem.  When it came time for John Hyrcanus to pass the torch, the legalistic Pharisees would have immediately rejected Aristobulus because of his chronic skin (“leprosy”) problem.  A leading Pharisee had earlier challenged the right of John Hyrcanus to be High Priest on an even lesser charge that his mother had once been taken captive.  Antigonus may have also had a skin condition, which may have precluded him from the High Priesthood, however it was not a impediment to his career as a king, nor did it necessarily effect his eligibility to become Great King (in the absence of any other candidates).

Note:  The Egyptian name Lathyros is synonymous with the contemporary Roman name Cicero.  Both mean “chic pea” and evidently described the color and/or texture of the facial skin affected by the disease or condition.  It is debatable then whether Sulla/Aristobulus or Cinna/Antigonus had the more severe skin problem, which may have precluded both from the High Priesthood and also must have been a factor in the favor of Jannaeus in the succession.  Blotchy skin was a known physical trait of Alexander the Great, and one that he obviously passed down to some of his royal descendants.

The birth of Antigonus occurred about 128 BC, and can be linked to the elevation of Alexander “Zabinas” as king in Seleucia in that same year.  This Alexander was either a representation of Alexander Balas (at the end of his life, see below) or his older royal son Alexander Jannaeus.  The implication is that by virtue of siring Antigonus, Alexander Balas was allowed to renew his kingship in Seleucia or that his older son Alexander Jannaeus was appointed as a king in Seleucia.  In retrospect, the birth of a second royal prince virtually guaranteed that the first son of Alexander Balas was going to gain the election as Great King.  The story relating to the brotherly competition for the priesthood in Jerusalem (between Aristobulus, Antigonus and Alexander Jannaeus) was a compressed version of what played out in the greater empire over a much longer period.  In other words, the scenario described at the Hasmonean court prefigured what was to take place in the larger empire over the following decades.  Aristobulus and Antigonus were going to be eclipsed by Alexander Jannaeus, the oldest royal son of Alexander Balas, which signified the end of one dynasty and the renewal of an earlier one that was cut short, that of Ptolemy II.

Ptolemy IX Lathyros (Antigonus) succeeded Ptolemy VIII (Simon) as pharaoh in 116 BC, however it had less to do with the “death” of Ptolemy VIII than with the birth of a prince in that same year to Cleopatra-Selene, the future Ptolemy XII (Hyrcanus II).  By 110 BC, Cleopatra III decided to elevate her favorite prince Ptolemy X (Alexander Jannaeus) to the status of pharaoh.  Ptolemy X had yet to produce an heir, so his appointment may have initially allowed Ptolemy IX to prepare for greater kingship and other princes, particularly Ptolemy X, to mate with Selene.  By 107 BC, Ptolemy IX had abandoned Egypt, but Cleopatra-Selene and her children Prince Ptolemy and Princess Berenice were left behind.  The birth of the next prince occurred by 106 BC and it nipped the career of Antigonus in the bud, because  Ptolemy X Alexander (Jannaeus) had become the father of his first royal son (Aristobulus II, future Ptolemy XI).  After the death/retirement of the Great King (John Hyrcanus) in 103 BC, Ptolemy IX invaded Egypt and fought a mock succession battle with Ptolemy X.  By 102 BC, Ptolemy X celebrated the (staged) defeat of Ptolemy IX, celebrated the birth of his second son either in this same year or by 100 BC, which further secured his succession to the Great Throne.  (A final attempt by Cleopatra-Selene to produce an heir by Aristobulus under his Seleucid identity of Antiochus VIII Grypos had failed by 103 BC.)

The mother of Ptolemy XI (Aristobulus II) was Cleopatra-Selene.  The mother of the younger prince was Selene’s daughter Berenice III.  This second son not only secured the succession for Alexander Jannaeus, but also allowed Selene to pass her status as Great Queen to her own daughter.  This was not a scenario that Ptolemy IX (Antigonus) was able to top, and therefore his son Ptolemy XII amounted to a dynastic dead-end, at least in retrospect.  After Cleopatra III’s death, her daughter Cleopatra-Selene (Alexandra Salome) allowed Antigonus to reclaim the throne of Egypt, but this was more of a consolation prize rather than a career-builder by this time.  Upon becoming Great Queen, Cleopatra-Selene upheld the favor of Alexander Jannaeus.  The succession had already been decided upon Ptolemy IX’s return in 88 BC.  It was now time for Ptolemy X to make his own Exodus from the burden of ruling Egypt to secure the greater kingship of the entire Empire and the future of his two sons after him.

The name of the Hasmonean prince known as Antigonus suggests that he was “born after” the death of his father.  The death/murder of Scipio Aemilianus is considered to have been in 129 BC, which makes a 128 BC birthdate for Antigonus consistent with his name.  Regardless of when Scipio actually died, Antigonus was certainly born to his father in his old age, and would have been adopted by other royal males in his youth.  He suffered setbacks, but lived a full life and was a major player in last days of the so-called Roman Republic under such names as the optimate Catulus (Capitolinus) and the popularis Lucius Cornelius Cinna.  He was the younger true son of Alexander Balas, whose line had now returned to power.  He was far too important to kill off on that basis alone.  However, Alexandra-Salome apparently did not consider her son by Antigonus, Hyrcanus II, to be fit for kingship based on physical and psychological factors, at least in comparison to her son by Alexander Jannaeus named Aristobulus II, as well as her daughter Berenice’s son by Alexander Jannaeus.  Regardless, Hyrcanus II was certainly essential as a back-up should the more highly regarded princes fail to live up to expectations.

In Rome, the “changing of the royal guard” was reflected by a sudden rise to prominence of the “new man” Marius (Jannaeus, a military hero in a long line of distinguished military heroes), who was first sent to replace the complaisant Metellus (the aristocratic alias of Aristobulus) in the African campaign against Jugurtha (another royal bogeyman), and then to deal with marauding European tribes.  In the process, he was elected consul in five consecutive years (104-100 BC).  An attempt was also made to cultivate the reputation of Antigonus in Rome (under the aristocratic alias Catulus), however the young prince (still in his mid-20’s) was indecisive and Marius had to direct the military operations for him.  Nevertheless, Marius was obligated to share a triumph with Catulus upon the successful completion of the “mission.”  (While John Hyrcanus was still alive, Jannaeus had to defer to Antigonus.)  Antigonus later became doubly famous under his populist identity of Cinna.

(Egyptian) Ptolemy IX = (Hasmonean) Antigonus = (Seleucid) Cyzicenus = (Parthian) Sinax/Sinnakes = (Roman) Cinna = (Gallic) Vercingetorix = (Parthian) Gotarze

Note: Mithridates Sinax/Sinnakes of Parthia may represent Cinna the Elder rather than the more famous Cinna the Younger.

The fall of Aristobulus as a distinguished Metellus coincided with the rise of Aristobulus as Sulla/Sylla, a presumed louche from a down-and-out branch of the Cornelian clan.  Representing the end-of-the-line for Epigone’s dynasty, Sulla was obliged to adopt the typecasting of a Noah-figure, that of an oppressor and prodigious copulater who renewed his kingship after an upheaval only to be disrespected.  Sulla was a notorious drunk and womanizer, who completed his return to power as Dictator of Rome in 82/81 BC after the traumatic “Social War.”  He died only a few years later in personal and political ruin.  The entire system of patronage in Rome had to be dismantled, so that it could be rebuilt under the new regime.  All the while, Sulla continued in his pursuit of another royal son, and found no lack of willing aristocratic ladies.

As a younger man, Sulla is said to have inspired awe with his blond hair and blue eyes, which flashed from his reddened skin and fiery disposition.  However, the Roman name of Sulla/Sylla itself connotes “darkened” (tsilla) in Hebrew.  It encoded the setting of his dynastic sun and the sinking of his health and skin condition, which became compared to an “oatmeal encrusted mulberry.”  Sulla was not the political outsider (or protégé of Marius) he is believed to be, but the former leading “son” of a Great King now on the dynastic skids.  Unlike other kings that were content to “pass the mantle” prior to their actual deaths, Sulla’s “retirement years” were lived out as himself and in full public view.  Despite his morbidly deteriorating body,” Sulla continued to desire more heirs, and was accommodated, shockingly, by an aristocratic cougar that bore him a daughter posthumously.  The dying and fatalistic Noah-figure Sulla wrote his memoirs and continued to dabble in politics, but was particularly known for “marrying and giving in marriage” and “eating, drinking and being merry” (even more than he was already famous for doing) until a plague of lice swept his life away.

The death or retirement of Jannaeus occurred only a couple of years later.  Josephus reports that Alexander Jannaeus ruled for a total of 27 years, which reaches back either to the death of John Hyrcanus, the birth of Ptolemy XI or his election as pharaoh, depending upon chronological factors.  However, Josephus makes him only 49 years at death, which raises a flag.  It is unlikely that Josephus believed that Jannaeus had died quite that young, and again he is forcing his readers to think.  Jannaeus cannot have been born (after Antigonus) in the 120’s and still have been the son of Cleopatra III.  It was three daughters of Cleopatra III – Cleopatra IV, Cleopatra Selene and Tryphaena that were producing the royal children during that time period.  Cleopatra Selene (Hasmonean Alexandra Salome) emerged as the dominant female of her generation, which meant that her sisters had to be disgraced.  This took the form of another lurid murder and avengement tale, which we should know by now to dismiss as royal play acting.  Royals simply were not in the habit of killing each other in this time period, but pretending to did have its benefits.

The number 49 (7 x 7) is highly significant in Jewish culture, as it represents the amount of time after which property returned to its original owner (in the “Year of Jubilee”).  Alexander Jannaeus likewise symbolized the return of the throne to the line of Ptolemy II, who was its original “owner” after the Conquest of Alexander the Great.  Jannaeus endured a number of high-profile deaths.  Ptolemy Memphitis (130 BC), Alexander Zabinas (122 BC), Antiochus X Eusebes 90/83 BC , Ptolemy X (87 BC) and Marius (86 BC).  Josephus relates that he was obese and in extremely poor health, but refused to retire from campaigning.  His death is generally placed in 76 BC, which would have given him a typical lifespan of about 70 years if born around 145 BC (the approximate date of birth of Ptolemy Memphitis/Alexander Zabinas).  However, as much as ten years need to be removed from the chronology of this time period.  Therefore, it is probable that his kingly career ended prior to the expected and typical 70 years of age.

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