Your post sums up my conclusions.
I don't necessarily think that PhraatesIV "is" Herod though. Only that, as you point out, both the Arsacids and the Herodians had exactly the same motives, and the timing of their actions suggests their common links to both ancestry and a lesson learned in the wake of the Alexandrian conquests. As you say, they couldn't have seen Rome coming, but when they did, they knew what to do.
Just to clarify the 'cleopatra' thing a bit. I was wrong when I speculated that the twins were girls. They are actually attributed and documented as follows.
Cleopatra had 4 kids.
by Julius Caesar- Caesarion, who was executed in 30 BC.
by Mark Antony-
and born 37bc
After Mark Antony and Cleopatra met their fates in 30bc, These children were adopted by Mark Antony's wife Octavia, who was also Octavian's (Caesar Augustus') sister. They were raised along with Octavia's and Mark Antony's two girls Antonia Major, and Antonia Minor. By the time of the "trade" with PhraatesIV, Cleopatra Selene (Tethmuses) would have been 17 or 18, and of course, a perfect princess for a Parthian court for all the reasons we have discussed.
I'd like to try and speculate what became of the other 2 boys. It is especially interesting, since Antonia minor was the mother of both Germanicus, and Claudius. Since Augustus himself was adopted by Julius Caesar, these children of Ant. and Cleo. were on equal terms as far as succession in Julio Caudian Rome.
Heres a link with Julio Claudian geneaology: http://www.roman-emperors.org/jclaud1.htm
I need some help with the Tethmuses etymology.
I'd also like to figure out what became of the boys.
Here's an essay on Augustus' succession problems that could also help flesh it out
After Actium (Mark Antony and Cleopatra's death), Augustus moved on the succession problem quickly. He began to show signs of favor to his nephew, Marcellus. He himself only had one natural child, Julia, his daughter by his second wife, Scribonia. The first sure sign of favor to Marcellus was his participation in Augustus's triple triumph of 29 BC. In 25 BC, Marcellus was married to Julia, forming a closer family link with Augustus. The following year, Marcellus became aedile and, on Augustus's request, was granted the privilege of sitting as an ex-praetor in the senate and of standing for the consulship ten years in advance of the legal age. By 23 BC he was widely considered, in Velleius's words, Augustus's "successor in power" (successor potentiae). Then, a surprise. Augustus fell seriously ill in 23 BC. As he lay on what he thought was his deathbed, he handed an account of the state's resources to the consul Cn. Calpurnius Piso, and his signet ring to Agrippa. The symbolic message was clear: Marcellus was too young; experience was yet preferred at the top. Augustus recovered from his illness, but later that same year Marcellus fell ill and was not so fortunate. He was nineteen when he died and was entombed with all due pomp and ceremony in Augustus's family mausoleum. []
The career of Marcellus, short though it was, already revealed the elements of Augustus's methods: he was to use family links (marriage or adoption) in conjunction with constitutional privileges (office-holding and the privilege of standing for office early) to indicate his successor. His inspiration appears to have been his personal experience: as Caesar had presented Octavius to the public at his triumphs of September 46 BC, so now did Augustus display Marcellus at his own triumphs in August 29 BC; as the senate had Octavius granted the right to stand for the consulship ten years in advance of the legal age in 43 BC, so Augustus had the same right granted to Marcellus in 24 BC; and just as Caesar had bound Octavius to him by a familial link, so now did Augustus with Marcellus's marriage to Julia (although such political alliances through family ties had long been a staple of the Roman nobility). Each event had its precedent; it was their combination that was significant. []
Marcellus was soon replaced by Agrippa. Shortly before Marcellus's death, Agrippa had left for the East. In the face of Marcellus's earlier preferment, the sources abound with rumors of Agrippa's voluntary departure in high dudgeon or of his forcible exile, but such speculations are demonstrably without merit. Agrippa had been favored when Augustus was ill in 23 BC and subsequently went East with a grant of imperium proconsulare, a share in Augustus's own powers. This is not what Augustus would have done with a man of whom he was suspicious or who had fallen in any way from favor. Augustus had business in the East, to which he was shortly to attend personally, and Agrippa was doubtless sent ahead to pave the way. Maecenas, Augustus's other chief advisor and no friend of Agrippa, is reported to have commented in 21 BC that Agrippa had now been raised so high that either Augustus must marry him to Julia or kill him. Augustus chose the former route. Julia was married to Agrippa in that year. Until his death in 12 BC, Agrippa was clearly intended to be Augustus's successor. Aside from his marriage to Julia, in 18 BC Agrippa's proconsular power was renewed and, more significantly, he received a share of tribunician power (renewed in 13 BC). []
By virtue of these powers and privileges, had anything happened to Augustus in the years 21-13 BC, Agrippa would have been ideally placed to take over the reins of government. Coins of the period 13-12 BC depict Agrippa as virtual co-emperor with Augustus, although the latter was always the senior partner. This straightforward interpretation of the situation in these years has been complicated by Augustus's treatment of Agrippa and Julia's sons, Gaius (born in 20 BC) and Lucius (born in 17 BC). When Lucius was born, Augustus adopted them both as his own sons and they became Gaius and Lucius Caesar. A further complication is added when the ongoing careers of Augustus's stepsons, Tiberius and Drusus, who were also advanced over these years, are taken into consideration. The intent behind these labyrinthine machinations appears to have been to create a pool of eligible candidates, headed by a frontrunner. Any other princes as were advanced in the background are best considered as insurance against fate or as indicators of Augustus's preferences for the third generation of the Principate. In this way, Agrippa was to succeed Augustus, but the adoption of Gaius and Lucius signalled Augustus's desire that one of them succeed Agrippa (which one was to be preferred remains unclear, given subsequent events). Tiberius and Drusus, as imperial princes, can be expected to have enjoyed high public profiles and earned various privileges, but they were very much on the backburner in these years. Notions of Regency (Agrippa over Gaius and Lucius) or paired succession (Gaius and Lucius, Tiberius and Drusus) proposed by modern scholars seem remoter possibilities. []
Augustus's vision for the succession can be seen in action again in 12 BC, when Agrippa died. Julia, now widowed a second time, was married to Tiberius the following year. Tiberius was Augustus's stepson and the most senior and experienced of the "secondary" princes in the imperial house. As such, he was a natural choice. Not long afterward, Tiberius left for campaigns in Germany and Pannonia, possibly with a grant of proconsular imperium. In 7 BC he entered his second consulship and the following year his position was made plain when he received a large commission in the East and a grant of tribunician power. In short, between 12 and 6 BC Tiberius was upgraded to take Agrippa's place in Augustus's scheme and was installed to be Augustus's successor. But it was to be a rocky road indeed that led to his eventual succession in AD 14. In 6 BC Tiberius unexpectedly "retired" to Rhodes, despite his prominent public position. Augustus, apparently angered by Tiberius's action, had little choice (Drusus, Tiberius's brother had died in Germany in 9 BC). He appears to have relied on his increasingly robust health to see his adopted sons Gaius and Lucius Caesar to their maturity. But fate intervened once more and both young men died, Lucius in AD 2 and Gaius two years after that. In a burst of dynastic activity in June of AD 4, Tiberius was rehabilitated and adopted by Augustus, as was Agrippa Postumus (the youngest child of Julia and Agrippa); Tiberius was constrained to adopt his nephew Germanicus. Again, debate has swirled around these arrangements but, following the suggestions made above, it is probably best to avoid notions of regency or paired succcession and see here an attempt by Augustus to re-establish a "pool" of princes from which to draw candidates, with Tiberius as the favored successor and Germanicus to come behind him. The adoption of Agrippa Postumus remains puzzling, but he was still only a teenager at the time and the move may have been intended only to secure his prominence in future succession plans. Germanicus, twenty years old at the time of his adoption by Tiberius, was clearly the frontrunner for the third generation of the Principate. Through him, also, Augustus could hope for a Julian heir to the throne, but it is far from clear whether this remote consideration played any decisive role in Augustus's thinking. []
The succession issue was not a happy one for the imperial house and carried in its train some domestic tragedies. Aside from the deaths of the various princes, Augustus banished his own daughter Julia in 2 BC and her daughter, also named Julia, in AD 8. In AD 6-7 Agrippa Postumus was disinherited and banished to the small island of Planasia, only to be murdered shortly after Augustus's death. The banishment of Julia the Elder is emblematic of this group of events. Julia's marriage to Tiberius had not been successful and she appears to have sought solace in the arms of various noblemen and equestrians. In 2 BC her indiscretions were brought to Augustus's attention and, enraged, he banished her to the island of Pandateria. She never returned to Rome. The sources unanimously ascribe Julia's fate to her licentiousness and immorality, but modern scholars have rightly questioned this presentation and seen instead dynastic scheming behind Julia's actions and subsequent banishment. Whatever the actual degree of Julia's political acumen, the informal and allusive nature of the succession system itself was the root cause of her demise. For, in the Augustan system, an imperial princess who had been married to no less than three indicated favorites (Marcellus, Agrippa, and Tiberius) and who then brought outsiders into her bed was also bringing them into the heart of the dynasty. That could not be tolerated. That Augustus interpreted his daughter's misdeeds in political terms, at least in part, is suggested by the trial for treason of one of Julia's lovers, Iullus Antonius, and his subsequent execution or suicide; others of her lovers were banished. The same can be said for the fall of Agrippa Postumus and then of Julia the Younger. However murky the details in each case, they can all be seen as victims of the Augustan succession system. []
In all, then, the succession problem was a difficult one for Augustus, and his solutions only perpetuated it for all future emperors. Despite the internal difficulties engendered by the issue, Augustus was keen to present a united image of the imperial house to the populace. This is best illustrated by the "Altar of the Augustan Peace" (Ara Pacis Augustae), dedicated in January, 9 BC, and laden with symbolic significance largely outside the purview of this biography. For our current purposes, most important is the presentation to the people, on the south frieze, of the imperial family--women and children included--as a corporate entity. The message of dynastic harmony and the promise of future stability emanating from the imperial house is palpable. The reality, as we have just seen, was rather different.
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