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Author Topic: Chapter 7: Prince Alexander, Hannibal and Aemilius Paullus  (Read 2791 times)
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« on: January 10, 2016, 01:54:30 PM »

Chap. 7-Heroes of the Hellensitic Age (2016) Charles N. Pope

After Year 5 of Ptolemy IV, very little of interest occurred in Egypt.  The main action shifted to Rome and its conflict with Carthage, followed by Greece and then the main Seleucid Kingdom of Antiochus the Great.  The first major battle between Hannibal and Rome (at Lake Trasimene, Italy) is dated to June 24, 217 BC, which is only two days (!) after the equally significant Battle of Raphia (Gaza, Palestine) in Year 5 of Ptolemy IV against Antiochus III.  Because the very same royal figures were critical to both events, the 2nd Punic War between Carthage and Rome needs to be placed at least two years (not two days) after the Battle of Raphia.  

The goal of Hannibal was never to conquer Rome, but to pressure Rome into accepting tighter control by the royal family.  After a year as Dictator of Rome, Antiochus III (under the Roman alias Fabius Maximus) turned the city over to his son (as the new Consul) and returned to the East.  As an expendable prince of lesser rank, it was Alexander (the son born to Ptolemy II in his old age) that had been tapped to play the Carthaginian “Bogeyman.”  And once Hannibal had completed his mission of cowing Rome, he retreated to Carthage where Scipio, the grandson of Ptolemy Epigone, was sent to defeat him and thereby acquire the illustrious epithet of Africanus.

Antiochus III and Alexander had been an effective tag team in Italy (under their regional identities of Fabius Maximus and Hannibal).  Once this mission was completed around 201 BC, Alexander arrived at the court of Antiochus III and was soon put to other purposes, including being detailed to Egypt as its new High Priest.  Josephus states that the High Priest Simon (II) was succeeded (around 200 BC) by his “son” Onias (III).  Simon II corresponds to the reigning Seleucid king Antiochus III, who had succeeded his father Seleucus II/III (Onias II) as High Priest in “Jerusalem” (Thebes).   Also around 200 BC in Thebes, a High Priest (turned pharaoh), Haron-Wennefer, endured a temporary set-back, but was quickly back in charge of Upper Egypt.  Opinion is currently divided as to whether Haron-Wennefer was succeeded by a son at this time, or underwent a name change to Ankh-wennefer, “Wennefer-(Osiris)-Lives!”  The name Haron recalls the Hebrew priestly name Aaron, the Maccabean name Auran/Auranus, and also to the Barcid epithet Keraunos (especially as Hannibal was considered the son/successor of Hamilcar Barca/Keraunos).  The priestly name Eleazar and Egyptian epithet Wennefer are related to the Hebrew zealot/rebel name Issachar (derived from the Egyptian god Sokar/Osiris) and also suggests that this magnate had an Issachar (5th prince) typecasting.  Alexander (a.k.a. Hannibal) was the 5th prince born in the dynasty of Alexander the Great.

Prince Alexander made use of one primary Roman identity, Lucius Aemilius Paullus, whose career began fairly late in life, and dovetails quite neatly with that of Hannibal and Onias III/Hauron-Wennefer/Eleazar.  After being ousted from the High Priesthood around 190 BC, Alexander simply returned to Rome and cultivated a new career as a Roman optimate!  Between 190 and 188 BC, he campaigned in Spain as Paullus.  He returned briefly to Egypt in 186-185 BC, only to suffer a final defeat there again as High Priest and King of Upper Egypt.  Returning to Rome as Paullus, he first became Consul in 182 BC and again in 168 BC in order to make war on Macedon and earn a Triumph.  Paullus completed his Roman career as Censor.

Plutarch is careful to mention how Fabius Maximus deferred to his own son (by relating an incident in which he dismounted his horse to approach his son the Consul on foot), which parallels the sacrifices made by his alter ego Antiochus III to further the kingly career of his son, known variously as Ptolemy IV in Egypt, Scipio Africanus in Rome, Liu Bing in China and last but not least as Seleucus IV!  Surprisingly, Plutarch is far more effusive in praising the Messianic figure of Aemilius Paullus, not only as a devoted father, but in every other respect.  Paullus combines sterling Roman character and stamina with Greek sophistication.  He is from the highest class of Roman society, but receives the willing devotion of the masses, not only in Rome but in distant lands he conquered.  He is faithful in small things, as well as large.  He possesses priestly devotion to the gods and his actions are accompanied by signs and miracles.  In his life and death, he resembles Alexander the Great more than the current kings of Macedon (who explicitly claimed descent from Alexander).  In his generation, he is second only to (his own alter ego) Hannibal in military daring and prowess.  He chooses truth and wisdom over flattery and the hording of wealth.  His son Scipio Amelianus is more valiant than the son of Cato the Elder, however Paullus avoids the appearance of a kingly dynasty.  In fact, Paullus is a neo-Alexander and founder of a renewed dynasty descending from Alexander the Great.  Scipio Amelianus became the greatest military commander of the following generation.  This set the stage for the grandson of Alexander, another Alexander (Jannaeus), to “take the kingdom” in his generation when infertility and genetic disability caused the senior branch to fail.

Hannibal was hailed by the Roman chronicler Plutarch as the world’s greatest military commander after Alexander the Great.  “Pliny [1st Century AD] indeed complains, ‘All discrimination was so completely abandoned that in three places in Rome there may be seen statues of Hannibal, the only enemy ever to have thrown a spear inside the very walls of Rome.’ (34.32)  … And it is tempting to suppose they might at times have felt some kind of kinship with Hannibal.”  -Rome the Cosmopolis, Catharine Edwards & Greg Woolf, editors, pp 63-64.


The reason for this is as simple as it is shocking.  The Julio-Claudian Dynasty felt complete kinship with Hannibal as they were his direct descendants!  Hannibal was merely the Carthaginian identity of Prince Alexander, born to Ptolemy II Philadelphius just before the end of his reign.  A grandson of this Alexander recovered the Great Throne for the line of Ptolemy II, therefore it was expedient for Hannibal to be recognized by his own royal posterity for having possessed extraordinary favor and greatness, and as we shall see, the son of Hannibal was likewise celebrated as the greatest military commander of his generation.  The royal family primarily exalted its own ancestors (rather than dynastic dead ends).  It was self-serving.  Hannibal is venerated for the same reason that his own grandfather Alexander the Great was venerated.  The scarlet thread of Messianic kingship passed through them both.  In contrast, Ptolemy III and Ptolemy Epigone did not command the same respect, not necessarily because they were unworthy of it, but because their bloodlines ended.

Matching statues of Hannibal and Caesar, side-by-side in the Louvre, Paris:


Note:  In later Roman history, the Spanish born Trajan was summoned to take the Empire after being appointed successor by the Joseph-styled Emperor, Nerva.  However, Trajan did not make a direct approach to Rome, but an extremely lengthy delay (in emulation of Hannibal and to elicit a similar submission).

In order to further increase the reputation and might of Rome, Antiochus III arranged to be defeated by Roman forces (under the command of his son Scipio Africanus) at the symbolic location of Thermopylae.   The first Battle of Thermopylae had been a moral victory for the Greeks against Xerxes and Persia.  Thermopylae II became an actual victory for Rome.  However, as in previous “defeats,” Antiochus III was the ultimate winner in the sense that he and his dynasty were firmly in control of Rome as well as the rest of the known world!  With the subsequent “defeat” of Antiochus III at Magnesium in Asia Minor, the Seleucid kingdom was effectively defunct.  Its purpose became solely to collect a war debt placed upon it by its new overlords, who were merely the old overlords in Roman clothing!

During the reign of Ptolemy IV and the 2nd Punic War, the royal baby factory sputtered.  Only one prince (Ptolemy V) was born around 210 BC and no princesses at all!  In fact, only one princess is known after the end of Ptolemy II’s reign - a daughter of Ptolemy III and Berenice III also named Berenice, who died before reaching puberty and whose death was considered a national tragedy in Egypt.  The sole surviving royal heir was Ptolemy V and even he was a royal disappointment.  This was a family in crisis and something had to be done about it.  The answer came in the form of a new princess, whose mother is essentially unknown, but whose father was said to have been Antiochus III.  Her firstborn son of this “daughter of Joseph” was interestingly enough sired by Prince Alexander, who had probably written himself off as ever being a candidate for succession.  However, the failure of other princes to sire heirs worked to his advantage, even as it had for Alexander the Great.  Her next two sons were evidently sired by Antiochus III or the former Ptolemy IV, who was consequently able to make a political comeback as Seleucus IV.  The odd man out was the younger prince Antiochus.  By the time he managed to gain an heir (or one was produced for him) the succession issue was largely settled.
Note:  There is strangely no indication that Arsinoe was the mother or not, nor is there a record that she had adopted Cleopatra as her daughter to help legitimize the queenly succession.  In later Christian era histories, Cleopatra even seems to have been conflated with Arsinoe III herself.  Josephus also refers to Arsinoe III by the name or epithet of Cleopatra.

Note:  It was not until the end of Antiochus III’s reign in 191 BC that he took a new wife named Euboea of Chalcis, however it is not known if they had any children (or if this was a pseudonym adopted by Cleopatra).   Curiously, the three princes (Alexander Balas, Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII) were born shortly after this marriage took place.

The formidable half-brother of Antiochus III, Perseus of Macedon, was locked out of the Seleucid and Egyptian thrones until after the death of Antiochus III, and until such time as he had produced a qualified princely successor. Only then did he gain the Seleucid throne under the name of Antiochus IV and make a play for the High Priesthood in Egypt, and seemingly for the sole purpose of pilfering both for Roman benefit.  Perseus corresponds to the younger son of Ptolemy Epigone, who was born after his father became Great King and therefore held a very special status.  He was however not appointed as king of Macedon during his childhood, but the grandson of Epigone was instead and ruled there for over 40 years.  Without a natural grandson, Philip V was eventually required to share power with his princely rivals, and was humbled in Macedon in 197 BC by the imperious Titus Flamininus (the future Perseus). Philip V was eventually succeeded in Macedon by Titus Flamininus/Perseus in 179 BC.  Prince Alexander/Hannibal was excluded from succession under his Macedonian name of Demetrius, who is called “innocent” by Plutarch.  However, Alexander got the last laugh when Rome later called upon him to end the reign of Perseus and parade the King (or his substitute) in Triumph. Although Perseus asked that he be spared the indignity, it was denied by Paullus, who it seems would not tolerate hypocrisy even among his royal superiors!  Despite his status, Perseus was made to endure rejection and humiliation, at least of his Macedonian identity, by walking the Roman equivalent of the Via Dolorosa.

Note:  Philip V would have been nine years old in 336 BC, not 229 BC, which indicates that the end of Demetrius II Aetolicus’ reign needs to be adjusted as well as his predecessor Antigonus Gonatas.

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