The early co-reign of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus went famously. The Parthian capital was secured by General Avidius Cassius and the co-emperors shared a Triumph in Rome. The German frontier was pacified three years later with help from the governor of Pannonia named Bassus who mediated with the numerous German tribes. It was then that Lucius Verus suffered a stroke, which was more like a stroke of a “Genius” that granted his wish and “carried him off to heaven”. Lucius Verus would from then on attend to his own inheritance in the East and abandoned his former co-emperor to deal with a furious invasion of Germans and recurring outbreaks of plague.
Note: Bassus signifies the growing influence of the Bassianus line. It also alludes (back in time) to an ally of Triumvir Pompey Magnus by the same name (Bassus) who repelled two successive Roman armies from his stronghold in Syria. (Fergus Millar, The Roman Near East, p 28) A new Bassus was now drawing a line in the soil of Germany.
After the “death” of Lucius Verus near modern day Venice in 169 AD, the Empire was effectively split and the days of Marcus Aurelius and his dynasty from that moment were numbered. Six brutal years of war with Germans and Alans followed (as “Bassus” was no longer restraining them!). A temporary peace was achieved when a German opposition leader with the curious Indo-Parthian name Ariogaesus was captured and sent to Alexandria in Egypt! By early 175 AD, an exhausted Marcus Aurelius (who had been absent from Rome for seven years) declared victory in Pannonia, but was presumed to be dying. His wife called for Cassius, hero of the Parthian campaign, to take the throne alongside her. However, Marcus Aurelius miraculously recovered, Cassius was killed, Commodus (son of Marcus Aurelius) declared co-Emperor, and Faustina promptly forgiven for any wrong doing! (This strange episode was mined by Shakespeare for his play Othello, in which Desdemona is framed by Iago as an adulteress with Cassio. Othello has Cassio killed, but unlike Marcus Aurelius, Othello refuses to believe Desdemona or forgive her carelessness. The object lesson would have been clear to those who had “ears to hear”.)
Marcus Aurelius spent his final years once again dealing with the Germans along the Danube frontier. His successor Commodus either had no will to continue the desperate fight or decided it was futile. He sued for peace and sold out. The next Emperor would be one of the Eastern Caesar’s appointment in “Galahad-abad”. Commodus was obliged to become a Nero in preparation for a new savior king (ala Vespatian) coming from the East. True to form, Commodus began to perform like Nero as a gladiator in the Coliseum and madly put leading officials to death. He might have hoped to complete the fifteen years allotted to Nero, but after just thirteen the inner circle had witnessed enough. What a faithful actor died in Commodus!
The Senate denounced Commodus as “more foul than Nero”. They obviously felt he had been over-zealous in acting out his designated part, however his ultimate successor Emperor Severus knew otherwise and arranged his deification. The death of Commodus triggered a “Year of Four Emperors” scenario in which a number of rivals claimed the throne, but were ultimately trumped by the one intended to succeed Commodus all along, that being Lucius Septimus Severus. Severus was a native of North Africa who had been sent the previous year to be governor of Pannonia (in expectation of the dynasty change).
Note: The memory of the first claimant to the throne, Pertinax, was rehabilitated as he was to be considered a neo-Galba.
Note: The Roman Senate condemned Commodus as “more savage than Domitian, more foul than Nero” but he was nonetheless deified four years later by compulsion of Septimius Severus. Reference: Chris Scarre, Chronicles of the Roman Emperors, p 125
Note: Lucius is typecast as a Savior figure in Titus Andronicus:
Note: Lady Severa was a character of of Arthurian legend.
Note: The age of “nothing severe” was ended by Emperor Severus.
The name Lucius Septimus Severus relates to the former co-Emperor Lucius Verus. Upon becoming Emperor, Severus, based on an oracle, took a new wife, the daughter of High Priest of the Sun (God), Julius Bassianus (a.k.a., the Eastern Emperor Vasu-deva/ Bazo-deo, successor of Huvishka/Lucius Verus). Julius Bassanius was also called “Zabbai” (by his daughter Zenobia) and was certainly related to (if not one and the same as) the Roman strategos of Palmyra, Julius Aurelius Zenobius, also called Zabdilah/Zabdilas.
Note: For a popular biography of Zenobia, see Pat Southern, "Empress Zenobia" (2008).
Zenobius is an anagram of Bassianus. The Hebrew/Aramaic name Zabd/Zabad is interchangeable with Issachar (Osiris) and is also an obvious transliteration of the Latin Sept (Septimus). Therefore, Septimus Severus was a Bassianus and was being directed to marry a woman from his own family, which should not be surprising. It is only further confirmation that Septimus Severus was closely related to the Eastern Emperor and was his personal selection as Emperor of the West.
Note: Zabad and Zabbai are Biblical Hebrew names, as well as Zabbud/Zabud (Zaccur), Zabdi (Zacchu/Zuchri) Zebudah and Zabdiel. Compare also the New Testament variant Zebedee.
The two daughters of Bassianus became the dominant queens of the Roman Empire. Julia Domna married Emperor Septimus Severus as his second wife. Her sister Julia Maesa married Julius Avitus Alexianus (from Emesa). By association, this Avitus ( the son of famous General Avidus Cassius?) was one and the same as Odenathus the wife of Zenobia. The two daughters of Julia Maesa/Zenobia, Julia Sohaemias and Julia Mamaea, became mothers of the Roman Emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus, respectively.
Note: Sohaemus was a former king of Armenia.
Note: Julia Mamaea married Gessius Marcianus, who seems to be one and the same as the Praetorian Prefect Opellius Macrinus and General Macrinus who usurped the throne after the end of Caracalla’s reign.
Severus and Julia Domna had two princes, Lucius Septimus Bassanius and Geta, only a year apart. The older was saddled with the fatalistic nickname Caracalla, an obvious play on the earlier mad Emperor Caligula. Although the senior prince, his younger brother Geta was the more favored, indicating that he was being groomed for a superior kingship in the East. (The Western Empire was now subordinate to the Eastern Empire.) The tale of a jealous Caracalla murdering his 22-year old brother (who supposedly ran to his mother’s arms crying out, “Mother … help, I am being murdered!” just isn’t credible. Caracalla, like Caligula, was eventually killed by one of his guards (while relieving himself), which is only slightly more believable.
During this period Parthia was also divided between two rival brothers, Vologeses V (Kanishka II?) and Artabanus V. Prior to his death, Caligula proposed a marriage with the daughter of Artabanus, and when this was rejected Caligula declared war on Artabanus. Artabanus was later the target of an Armenian upstart named Ardashir (a.k.a. Artaxerxes), who proved to be a more dangerous rival. Ardashir deposed both Artabanus and his brother Vologeses during the mid-220’s AD. (The Roman Emperor Geta was probably too young to correspond to Ardashir, but could be one and the same as Artabanus or Shapur.)
Note: Vologeses V (some sources call him Vologeses VI) was defeated in 222 AD. The co-regency of Kanishka II is thought to have ended that same year. The “Great King” Vasudeva, whose reign last at least until 225 AD appears to have been succeeded by Aradshir (Vahishka) instead, whose name appears as far away as Germany. The rule of Vashishka is estimated as 232-246 AD roughly corresponding to Ardashir before he was succeeded by Shapur. The Kushan kingdom became subordinate to the neo-Persian (Sassanid) Empire at this time of which Shapur was king.
Note: The shift in the Eastern locus of the Empire to the West (from India to Persia) was followed by a shift in the Western locus eastward (Rome to Byzantium).
Ardashir identified with the Persian king Xerxes/Artaxerxes, suggesting that his Parthian predecessors (Vologeses and Artabanus) were typecast as a Cyrus and Darius the Great, and their father in turn seen as a neo-Ahasuerus. Consistent with this, Parthia was experiencing significant spread of Persian culture prior to the triumph of Ardashir.
The origin of Ardishir/Artaxerxes was placed in Armenia for symbolic reasons. Armenia was where Noah landed and received a new deal (religion). Armenia was also the departure point for re-conquest by Noah’s sons. Ardashir was a new “Ham” (a new Krishna son of Vesudeva, in Hindu terms). Ardashir would have been a royal prince and closely related to Vasuveda. In fact, his revolution could not have succeeded without the blessing (and direction) of Vasuveda. It was part of the overall plan to shift the capital back to the East. India was obviously considered too far east for the primary throne. Vasuveda settled on Persia. (It appears that Palmyra was originally intended to replace Rome as capital of the West, however Constantinople was eventually decided upon.
Note: The earlier Persian king Artaxerxes was of the Ham/Benjamin typecasting.
Note: Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (Muhammad) was said to have come from Armenia as was Saladin.
Note: Ardashir built a power base in Armenia at a time when Armenia was a Roman province and the king of Edessa was appointed by Rome rather than the East.
After the reigns of Elagabalus and Alexander Severus, the Western Empire was taken over by the family of Gordian. It stands to reason that Gordian was the representative of Ardashir. (Gordian is an anagram of the Armenian king name Tigranes.) However, with the passing of Ardashir and succession of Shapur in Persia, Gordian III was assassinated by Philip the Arab who became Emperor in his place. It was shown elsewhere that Philip the Arab was the brother of Shapur (Roman C. Julius Priscus, “Rector Orientis”, that is, ruler of the East.
Note: Shapur commemorated his victory over of the Gordian dynasty by renaming a city as Peroz-Shapur, “breaking out of Shapur”. This recalls Biblical David’s victory (“breaking out”) over an earlier “Greek” world, that of the Philistines.
The prospect of peace and security under Philip the Arab and Shapur was dashed when Philip founded a new colonial city in his (and his brother’s) homeland of Hauran (in the Arabian Trans-Jordan) and named it after himself, Philippopolis. He then broke his treaty with Shapur by invading Armenia. Philip was subsequently deposed by a general named Decius, who replaced him as Emperor. Philip is believed to have died, but there are indications that he instead retreated to his power base in Arabia and Syria and continued the struggle (or at least the appearance of one) against Shapur under the alias Septimus Odenathus. It must also be considered that Philip ultimately reclaimed the throne in Rome at the end of his career under the name Claudius II. (Recall that this was the pattern set by the Philip II of Herodian times, who started out as a regional king in the Trans-Jordan and died as Caesar Claudius.)
Note: The name Odenathus probably also should be linked to ‘Amr ibn ‘Adi, ruler of the Arabian Lakhmid tribe.
Note: A Roman, L. Trebonius Sossinaus (Cf Sassan/Bassianus) paid tribute at Philippopolis to Priscus [Shapur] as “rector Orientis” (Fergus Millar, The Roman Near East, p156).
Philip the Arab had been favorable toward Christianity. Emperor Decius became a notorious persecutor of Christians and Christian Bishops. After a short reign he was killed along with his eldest son in battle with Goths, or so it was said. His eventual successor Valerian, also harsh toward Christians, was taken alive at Edessa by the Persian forces of Shapur and became a prisoner in the East. A comparison of Valerian with the former Triumvir Crassus (also defeated and humiliated at Edessa) was inescapable. It also inspired another prince, Aurelian, to conspire against Valerian’s son and successor Gallienus (in league with Odenathus) and ultimately claim the throne and the role of a new Julius Caesar.
Note: Compare the name Gallienus with the earlier Callienus (associated with the Alain invasion of Medea in the reign of Vespatian).
It was Aurelian that engaged Zenobia of Palmyra in an epic contest of wills. After the murder of he (Western) husband Odenathus, Zenobia became Empress. She claimed descent from Cleopatra and extended her rule from Syria to Egypt. Her firstborn son was Septimus Airanes/Hairan (and perhaps also masquerading under the alias Uranius), but better known as Vaballathes. As Vaballathes he not only claimed the imperial title, but was boldly proclaimed “King of Kings” (suggesting he was claiming the Eastern throne and not merely regional control over Palmyra or even Egypt). He likely corresponds to the corresponding heir to the eastern throne, Hormuz. After the premature death of Vaballathes, a younger son named Antiochus was then put forth as successor. He likely corresponds to the short-lived brother of Hormuz named Bahram.
Note : Compare the Persian king name Bahram with Brahma and Abram.
When defeat became certain, Zenobia abandoned Palmyra for refuge with Shapur (the likely father of her sons if not Odenathus), but she was captured by Aurelian’s men before crossing the Euphrates. Cleopatra was flaunted before the Roman people by Julius Caesar. Later, Ocatavius intended to humiliate her in his Triumph. The treatment of Zenobia was a combination of the two. Zenobia was featured in the Triumph of Aurelian at Rome, but instead of degrading her Aurelian paraded her in all her eastern splendor, after which she enjoyed a comfortable retirement in Italy. Aurelian on the other hand met his end at the hands of rivals only too pleased to indulge his pretension as Julius Caesar and assassinate him en route to a planned Eastern conquest.
In the Bassianus Era, Rome received its first “Moorish” emperors, Severus, Philip the Arab, Macrinus, and possibly also Gordian (who was governor in North Africa before becoming Caesar. The Caesars also embraced the imperial title of Arabicus in this era. The first historical mentioning of “Saracens” dates to this period, as well. Enathos (Odenathus) was called king of Saracens, ruler of Arabia, and his wife Zenobia the Saracen Queen. (Fergus Millar, The Roman Near East, pp 140, 141, 161)
The Bassianus Era was the last extended period of cult proliferation before the establishment of Christian mono-culture in the West. In different regions, the royal family aggressively promoted solar/sun deities, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zorastrianism, Manichaeism, and Christianity.
Note: Vasuveda (Bassianus) was a convert to Hinduism in India.
Note: Mannos/Manu was a prominent figure and king of Edessa, birthplace of all the major Near Eastern religions. The founder of Manichaeism was called Mani and likely associated with Edessa. Compare the contemporary Roman name Manilius Fuscus
Note: The Mandaeans, and John the Baptist revering cults in general, were on the decrease (as Christianity and Jesus cults increased).
Note: Manichaeism, a revival of Gnostocism with a Zorastrianism twist, became very popular in the early Sassanid period.
Note: A prominent Roman royal name of the period was Macrinus and the variant Marcianus, which may reflect renewed reverence for Marcian (successor of the Apostle Paul). The name Marcian also continued to be used by kings of the Sassanid dynasty.
Empress Zenobia was particularly noted for her catering to Jews. However, the Bassianus Era was more widely known for “Jew-baiting”, intentional or otherwise. Jewish unrest was a concern of Marcus Aurelius in 175 AD, only a generation after the Bar Kokba Revolt. (Fergus Millar, The Roman Near East, p 117) In the following decades potential Jewish rebels were brought out into the open by the prospect of “liberation” from Parthian and later Persian forces. When these forces failed to materialize (or came and then withdrew), Jews were betrayed and delivered up to Roman authorities.
Julia Maesa (Zenobia) solicited Christian priests but was an ardent devotee of the Sun cult. Priests (called galli) of the sun god (related to those of the goddess Cybele) practiced genital mutilation, apparently in emulation of the sun god (Helio-Gabalus/Re) and/or Attis (Osiris) who was in effect sacrificed to the sun god (Re).
High Priests of the Sun cult were members of the royal family, and included the youthful Emperor Elagabalus, who built a temple to Helio-Gabalus in Rome and horrified Romans with his extreme effeminacy. Nevertheless, sun worship was championed by future emperors, such as Gordian (who honored Sol Invictus), Aurelian and especially Constantine the Great (who also honored Sol Invictus).
During the Bassianus Dynasty, there was a renewed emphasis on incest by the royal family, although it was disguised somewhat by the use of regional names. Incest, as well as effeminacy, seems to be related to the sun cult - the most famous example of incest and sun worship being the Amarna court of Akhenaten (depicted in statuary as effeminate and even completely emasculated), Queen Tiye, and the maximally inbred princes Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun. The two young Bassianus princes Elabgabalus and Alexander Severus were perhaps modeled after Smenkhkare and Tut.
The Grail king corresponding to this time (and who following Josephes and Josue) is called Aminadab, an alternate name for Moses (a Biblical character fashioned after the sun god Re, and played by historical kings - most notably Akhenaten).
In short, the Bassianus Era provided an ideal model for the Medici during the tumultuous end of the Middle Ages. Palmyra, the Bassianus capital of Zenobia became an inspiration for Florence of the Medici family. (Florence is even an anagram of Palmyrus, the Latin form of Palmyra.)
The source of Bassianus confidence was their power base in the East, originally in Kushan (Northern) India. We must then expect that the Medici had similar connections. Candidates would be the heroic Indian king Raja Vikramaditya (Shah Hemu), the Deccan Dynasty of Central India, and most especially the Mughul Dynasty of Northern India. The Mughul Dynasty produced two “Prester John” kings, Jahan-gir and Shah Jahan, both of which took wives from the family of Persian magnate Itmad-ud-Daula. The intermarriage of these families led to the Mughul Renaissance of India (and architectural marvels like the Taj Mahal), which mirrored the contemporary European Renaissance of the Medici in the West.
Note: Itmad and Medici are suspiciously similar names ... but this is a subject for another day.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.