Persia 40: Successors (Antipater and Cassander)

Persia 40: The Successors of Alexander (Antipater and Cassander)

The assassination of Alexander did not include a definite plan (among the conspirators) for orderly succession. Ambiguous statements were later attributed to the dying Alexander, such as the kingdom going to the most “worthy” or the “strongest”. Ultimately, none was strong or worthy enough to impose their right as the next Great King and a great competition arose between the various contenders (which was interpreted as Alexander’s “funeral games”). Collectively, those members of the royal court that carved up the Empire among themselves were called the Diadochi, “Successors”. Eventually, a number of independent rulers and kingdoms emerged from them:

1) Antipater and his son Cassander
2) Ptolemy son of Lagus
3) Seleucus (discussed in the previous segment)
4) Antigonus “One-Eyed”, who was forced out of Asia by the Seleucids but held on in Greece where it eventually eclipsed the line of Cassander.
5) Attalus (through a strategic alliance with Lysimachus)
(See discussion of Attalus below in End Note)

The name of one of Alexander’s generals, Craterus, actually means “strong”, however his military power was not as great as Antigonus the “One-Eyed”. The most worthy in terms of royal pedigree had been Perdiccas/Oxyarthes, and he was in fact acknowledged as Regent for the younger heirs Philip Arridaeus (a son of Philip of Macedon) and Alexander IV (posthumous son of Alexander the Great and Roxanne). Perdiccas was killed in an attempt to oust the defiant Ptolemy from Egypt. Consequently, his young charges, Arridaeus and Alexander IV, were soon thereafter murdered along with Heracles, another son of Alexander the Great by Barsine.

Antipater had been Regent of Greece during the campaigns of Alexander, and was exceptionally well-placed upon Alexander’s death to establish his own kingly line. However, he made the unexpected move of passing over his leading son Cassander for succession in Greece. Instead, he made Cassander the chiliarch (“second in authority”) to the appointed successor Polyperchon. There was more wisdom (or at least strategy) in this arrangement than meets the eye. It made Cassander less of a direct threat to the other successors of Alexander. It also established Cassander as a Joseph-figure, and one that would inevitably possess the birthright in Greece. In response to the claim of Seleucus to the typecasting of Joseph in the East, Cassander was made Joseph of the West.

Cassander conspired with Polyphercon who then killed Hercules son of Alexander the Great and Barsine. Next Cassander arranged for the death of Olympias followed by that of Alexander’s son by Roxanne, Alexander IV. He had in effect denied Alexander the Great three times, that is, struck three lethal blows to the survival of Alexander’s kingly line. This precedent was clearly remembered in New Testament times, but fulfilled in a more innocuous way in the Gospels. In remembrance of Cassander, Peter denies Jesus three times before the cock crows. Peter was operating as a neo-Cassander and had been since his father Antipas took over the role of Antipater.

Despite his name Antipas (a variant of the name Antipater), he was not of the line of Antipater “eldest son” (Reuben/Geb) of Herod the Great according to Josephus. Technically he was of the Judah line within the extended Herodian/Julian Claudian family). He was the son of Gorian/Tiberius, implicitly the fourth “son” (again within the system developed by Josephus). As Emperor, Tiberius persecuted the line of Antipater intensely. The two leading sons of Germanicus son Antipater (Roman Drusus Claudius Nero) were reportedly put to death by him (although in reality only stripped of their royal status). Tiberius then authorized that his own son Antipas take over the eldest son (Reuben) typecasting, a blatant and undoubtedly controversial usurpation.

Peter (Roman Gemellus grandson of Tiberius) was in the end killed by one of those very sons of Germanicus, who was forced to take the equestrian name of Vespatian. Vespatian’s cruel treatment of Peter was no doubt motivated by revenge.

Peter’s brother James met a similar fate. James was placed in the role of Perdiccas, a name which connoted “House of Righteousness” to the multi-lingual royal family. James was put to death by Paul in retribution for the attack of James upon him (doctrinally if not militarily). This was seen as a fulfillment of Ptolemy arranging for the murder of Perdiccas after Perdiccas rejected Ptolemy’s claim to kingship in Egypt.

Note: Per, Egyptian for “house”. Dike, Greek for “righteous”.

Note: The mention of the cock (galla in Roman) in the Gospels reveals that boastful and sadomasochistic Paul (Roman Galba) had a crucial part in the Passion Play.

During the Julio-Claudian Dynasty, Jerusalem was the Empire’s second city. It was the analog of Athens in the Persian Era. Athens had rebelled against Antipater but was put down first by Antipater himself and then by his son Cassander. In an attempted fulfillment of this precedent, Tiberius placed his own son Antipater (Antipas) over Jerusalem. His grandson Gemellus/Simon Peter was expected to follow him, not only as king/governor of Jerusalem but ultimately as Emperor in Rome as well.

Tiberius had appointed Caligula son of Germanicus as his immediate successor in Rome even as Macedonian Antipater had appointed Polyperchon, that is, as a necessary (prophetically speaking) “fall guy”. The unfit Caligula was only intended to prepare the way for a true descendant of Tiberius, namely Gemellus, to take the Great Throne. However, the scripted scenario of Tiberius was aborted after his death. Claudius, the brother of murdered Germanicus, was declared successor of Caligula and established as a more rightful neo-Cassander son of Antipater. Herod Antipas was suppressed by Claudius not only in Rome but also in Jerusalem and forced into exile in France. The two older (more competent) sons of Germanicus were then able to make a steady political comeback, however still under their equestrian names Titus Sabinus and Vespatian. (They are called James and John the sons of Zebedee in the Gospels). The two were at that point in their careers still sharing in the royal “cup of suffering”. One of them did ultimately ascend the Messianic throne, ironically something that Jesus himself never attained (although descendants of his evidently did).

Claudius was eventually killed by his wife Agrippina, and Agrippina was in turn killed by her son Nero. This would have served to typecast Nero as the son of Cassander who seized power by killing his own mother Thessalonike. This was the sorry end of Macedonian Antipater and Cassander’s dynasty and provided inspiration for Nero’s enemies. However, the “House of Herodian Antipater” was not yet finished. As the dust settled over the Year of Four Emperors, Titus Sabinus secured Rome and younger brother Vespatian and nephew Titus moved on Palestine. They were in no disposition to spare a rebellious Jerusalem (as Athens had formerly been spared by Cassander), or the zealot prince (Simon Peter/Gemellus) of Tiberius’ line that had once dared to play the role of Cassander.

Note: An echo of the Macedonian succession is also to be found after the death of Julius Caesar (the neo-Alexander of his generation). Lepidus (in the role of Antipater) received the West, but he was the first among the “Successors” of Caesar to expire (as was Antipater and Cassander’s). The Roman Battle of Philippi was symbolic of the earlier struggle for Macedonian Philip II’s throne (which became the Great Throne).

End Note: Discussion on the Dynasty of Attalus (without the faux-Rastafarian lingo of an earlier post ).

The Roman poet Martial summed up the meaning of Attalus succinctly:,M1

Attalus was mostly of the Joseph type with that of Judah mixed in, kind of like mad King Theseus of Athens in Attica. Attalus was a hard-driving, ever-striving usurper of another man’s place - self-consumed, and ultimately self-consuming. Workaholic Biblical Joseph was “bound” to get the "birthright".

The root att/add means "to increase" and Joseph was all about increasing. Related Hebrew names/words are Addar, Adiy, and Adiyr, with meanings of "advance, ample, abundant, large vine, threshing, magnificent, glorious, honorable, excellent, lordly, goodly, adorned, etc". But att/add is also related to Adad/Atti/Dod, the "god" Judah. The name Attila is defined as, "little father", a direct association with Dod/Daddy. In the Amarna Tablets the future pharaoh Aye son of Yuya was called Rib-Addi.

Attalus was a major rival in the time of Alexander the Great. He arranged for his niece (and adopted daughter) to marry Philip II, so an heir could be produced to replace Alexander!! Once Alexander succeeded Philip, he had Attalus killed. Even so, the line of Attulus evidently did not end. Under the alias “Attalus of Tias" he was father of two prominent sons. The elder allied himself with Lysimachus (one of the Successors of Alexander), but felt threatened by the wife of Lysimachus (Joseph and Potiphera style?) and switched his alliance to Seleucus. Seleucus then defeated Lysimachus and the line of Attalus became kings of the ultra-rich “Joseph” city of Pergamum.

The Dynasty of Attalus was one “born almost too late in time” to use an expression of Paul, and was a dynastic precedent that was probably also claimed by the desperate Paul (as he saw all other hopes slipping away).

The claim to fame of the first Attalus king of Pergamum was his victory over the Gauls. This later became the dying mission of Attila the Hun. The Attalus kings fought against Greek kings, especially another Philip (the Fifth) of Macedon, but were friends of Rome. Likewise did Attila. The Attalus kings of Pergamum were not democratic leaders but autocrats. So was Attila the Hun. The Attalus kings were devoted to family, which was also a priority of Attila. The Attalus kings were persecuted by their brothers, the descendants of Seleucus. The friends and allies of Attila were very few. His quest to win the west was not blessed.

The other name of Attalus was Priscus. This name again relates to Persia (Persicus). Priscus Attalus got his power by becoming ruler of the Huns in the East. His role model in this regard was not so much the Attalus kings of Pergamum, but a much more recent figure, Julius Priscus, second only to Philip the Arab, Emperor of Rome in the 3rd Century BC. Julius Priscus came to power after the demise of Emperor Gordian. Priscus Attalus rose after the fall of Emperor Gratian (a variant of Gordian). Julius Priscus became king of Persian under the name of Shapur. Priscus Attalus was denied the throne of Persia (by Theodosius, who took the name of Shapur and the throne of Persia for himself). However, Attalus very nearly carried away the kingship of both Persia and Rome with help from the Huns.