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Author Topic: Chapter 14: Jesus Among the Julio-Claudians (Ptolemies in Togas ...)  (Read 1704 times)
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« on: August 11, 2017, 04:21:30 PM »

The following is an excerpt from:

"Jesus Among the Julio-Claudians"
copyright 2017 Charles N. Pope

Ptolemies in Togas, Seleucids in the Senate: The Roman Mating Game

The Roman Mating Game

After Caesarion was unsuccessful (under the guise of Marcus Claudius Marcellus) in siring a male heir by Julia the Elder, it should have been the turn of Tiberius to marry Julia. However, Tiberius had no doubt already tried and failed to produce a son by her, either during her marriage to Marcellus or within the full year after the marriage had ended. Julia’s subsequent marriage to Marcus Agrippa (the former Ptolemy XIV) was a mutually agreeable compromise on the part of the “big three,” namely Caesarion, Tiberius and Octavius/Augustus. Marcus Agrippa, as the fourth-ranking prince, was unlikely to gain the election in any event. His marriage to Julia provided a convenient and politically correct covering that allowed the leading royal males to continue trying to produce heirs by Julia. It can be deduced that Julia’s firstborn son, dubbed Gaius Caesar, was in fact sired by Caesar Augustus himself and the second son, dubbed Lucius Caesar, by Tiberius.

The highly inbred condition of the Ptolemies/Seleucids had carried right over into the Julio-Claudian Period. Even with the emergence of a collateral line to power (represented by Marius), this new dynasty also quickly reached a point of collapse. As in the days of the first Cleopatra, an unappreciated fourth-ranking prince, Marcus Agrippa, had to be sustained in the breeding pool and even offered a most eminent marriage to the highest-ranking princess, Julia the Elder. However, unlike Prince Alexander in that earlier time, Marcus Agrippa did not sire the first son of a new generation of royal children. Nevertheless, for the sake of tradition, he was given credit for it!

As the eldest prince of the new royal generation (and eldest grandson of Julius Caesar), Gaius Caesar would have logically been placed in the role of Ptolemy III, who was the eldest prince of his generation and eldest grandson of Alexander the Great. The second son of Julia the Elder, Lucius Caesar, would have then been slated for the even more significant role of Antiochus III (“Antiochus the Great”), who became the true father of Ptolemy IV when Ptolemy III was unable to sire a prince of his own. The birth of Lucius Caesar was cause for even greater concern for Caesarion, as all indications point to Tiberius as being the true father, which made Lucius the first royal grandson.

During this time, Augustus sired another healthy royal son named Germanicus, not by Julia the Elder or even by Antonia Minor, but by his actual wife, the empress. This son was, however, declared to be that of Drusus I (i.e., Caesarion, stepson of Augustus). He was further declared the son and heir of Tiberius and his wife Vipsania under the name of Drusus II. Tellingly, a Roman magnate by the name of Asinius (“donkey, ass, idiot”) claimed to have been the father of Drusus II and this boast was not countermanded (much less punished) by Tiberius! Asinius Gallus Saloninus was something of a joke name that connoted “sterile smart-ass.” Caesarion overcame (rather spectacularly) his early stigma of infertility. However, his reputation as a jerk probably remained. The name Asinius also connoted “East” (and particularly China/Sino-) and associates well with an earlier alias, Antyllus (“of/from the East”), the epithet of Caesarion as the eldest son of Marc Antony. Caesarion (a.k.a. Asinius) was more like the former surly High Priest Onias in nature. Tiberius was more like Ptolemy II. Nevertheless, Caesarion bogarted both of these roles.

What Caesarion wanted most (in order to fully secure his dynasty) was a son by a senior princess rather than the lower-ranking Vipsania/Antonia Minor. He had thus far only been able to father a profoundly handicapped son by the highest-ranking princess Julia the Elder, and only after more than a decade of trying. However, when Julia became the mother of two healthy daughters, Julia the Younger and Agrippina, this presented Caesarion with two more golden opportunities. To wit, Caesarion did not even wait until Julia the Younger was of marriageable age in Rome before coupling with her! As the nominal “High God,” he exercised the prerogative to sire a child with a royal “nymph” out-of-wedlock, which in courtly parlance was also considered a “holy birth.” And when Julia did give birth to a son, the much older Caesarion promptly married her under the alias of Lucius Aemilius Paulus. The newborn prince was then dubbed Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (Paulus) the Younger, b. 6 BC.

The Chalice of Chalcis

When Julia’s younger sister Agrippina reached puberty, Caesarion again pulled rank and imposed his will as the family Godfather. The Gospels indicate that the son of Caesarion and Agrippina was also born out-of-wedlock, and likely for the same reason as Aemilius Lepidus (Paulus the Younger). The mother was not yet even of proper marriageable age! The births of these two new princes also allowed Caesarion to usurp the role of Antiochus III of the Hellenistic Period (from the sterile Lucius Caesar). The Gospels also suggest that Caesarion (as the new Antiochus III/“Joseph”) afterwards wedded her (“Mary”). This marriage was attested if only to more completely fulfill the precedent of Antiochus III and Cleopatra I, and even if it only existed in the realm of biblical story telling. In Rome proper, Agrippina was not married to Caesarion (in any of his diverse manifestations), but to Germanicus instead. However, according to Tacitus (Annals), after the “death” of Agrippina in 33 AD, Tiberius smeared her (like Vipsania mother of Drusus II) as “having had Asinius Gallus as a paramour and being driven by his death to loathe existence.” Caesarion (Sejanus/Asinius) made Agrippina a powerful woman due to their three sons (Torquatus, Nero Julius Caesar and Drusus III). That doesn’t mean they necessarily got along.

The two daughters of Julia the Elder, i.e., Julia the Younger and Agrippina, effectively divided the role of Cleopatra I between themselves. Julia was mother of the next heiress, Aemilia Lepida (a.k.a. Salome/Mary Magdalene), as well as the dynastic fixer Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (a.k.a. Paul). However, Agrippina quickly surpassed her older sister with respect to bearing viable royal sons. And she, under the Herodian alias Mariamne (III), was ultimately the one that became associated with the place name of Chalcis in emulation of the earlier “young wife of Joseph,” Cleopatra/Euboea. In his history and royal genealogy of the period, Josephus used this small detail to encode the tortured path of kingly succession.

Although a central theme of the Gospels, there is even less surviving Roman record of the birth of Agrippina’s firstborn son than that of Julia the Younger. (Precedent required that Caesarion not be directly acknowledged as the father of the two princes placed in the roles of Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII.) However, the marriage of Julia the Younger’s own heiress daughter Aemilia Lepida to an aristocrat named Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus is a complete give-away. Torquatus (after Titus Manlius Torquatus) was the noblest name a Roman could bear as it was associated with the salvation of Rome from certain destruction. Significantly, this name/epithet first appeared in Roman lore at the time of Alexander the Great and may have even been associated with Alexander himself. The first Torquatus distinguished himself by the courageous/reckless “slaying a (Gaulic/Goliath-esque) giant” and also for ruling Rome as a popular dictator (ala King David). The renewed prominence of the name Torquatus during the Julio-Claudian Dynasty reflects a conscious decision to revere all-things-Alexander and essentially become an entire dynasty of Alexanders.

Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus (“Jesus”) and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus the Younger (“Paul”) would not have been expected to gain the succession based upon their Ptolemaic typecasting alone. Neither of their respective role models, Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII, were able to sire a royal son and remained “dynastic accessories.” Ptolemy IV and Ptolemy V eventually both sired a son by a younger princess (i.e., Cleopatra II, the sole daughter of Cleopatra I). However, in the Julio-Claudian repetition, Julia the Younger was not the literal daughter of Caesarion (as Cleopatra had been the daughter of Antiochus III). That meant the odds of these princes siring heirs of their own would have been somewhat greater than their Ptolemaic analogs.

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The prequel "Heroes of the Hellenistic Age" is posted at the page below:
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