Hail Caesar!

Time to make a Super Bowl weekend prediction.

The Eastern identity of Julius Caesar will turn out to be Hasmonean Alexander son of king Aristobulus II son of Jannaeus Alexander. Alexander was also the nephew and son-in-law of king/high-priest Hyrcanus II.

Josephus is extremely hush-hush about this Alexander, especially considering his high princely standing. In fact so much so that it is telling, and as the similar downplaying of Herod the Great’s fourth "son", the "Judah", Gurion/Gioras/Tiberius/Biberius.

Alexander Jannaeus has previously been associated with Ptolemy X of Egypt, rival brother of Ptolemy IX (“Lathyrus”). Ptolemy X died in 88 BC, the year Alexander Jannaeus suffered a major defeat at Shechem and then committed atrocities in Jerusalem. Alexander Jannaeus is thought to have lived until 76 BC, however this is likely due to the confusion in the Josephus narrative between him and the next Alexander, both of which were married to an “Alexandra”.

Both of these Alexander’s may also have been known as “Antipater” in Idumea/Edom. It is also interesting that Jannaeus was said to have died from over-drinking, and that Caesar essentially swore off alcohol.

The wife of this Alexander is apparently handled in a similar manner as "Cypros", the mother of Herod the Great and his "brothers". That is, Alexandra was probably not one woman only, but a composite of two or more leading queens.

The second wife of Julius Caesar was Cornelia daughter of the consul Cornelius Cinna, Cornelia was mother to Caesar’s only legitimate daughter Julia. The Roman name Cornelius Cinna transposes well to the Hasmonean Hyrcanus. However, Cinna is thought to have been killed in 84 BC. The same (or another) Cornelius Cinna was a conspirator in the assassination of Julius Caesar. Consistent with this, Hasmonean Hyrcanus was still living after the death of Julius Caesar. Likewise, the father of Julius Caesar is thought to have died around 85 BC, but this may be mistaken or indicate that the true father of Hasmonean Alexander was not Aristobulus II but Alexander Jannaeus. (That is, Alexander/Caesar may have been “Antipater son of Antipater”.)

Cinna's daughter Cornelia is thought to have died in 69 BC, after which Caesar married Pompeia and also married his own daughter Julia to Pompey. Unless the date of Cornelia's death is badly mistaken, she could not have been the same “Alexandra” that became the mother of Mariamne and mother-in-law to Herod the Great, as well as mother to the short-lived High Priest Aristobulus killed by Herod the Great. In fact, if the death of the teenaged Aristobulus is an account of how Caesar's teenaged son Caesarion was put to death, then the character of “Alexandra” (in Josephus) includes not only Cornelia but also Cleopatra VII.

The identification of Julius Caesar as a Hasmonean prince certainly explains the premium placed by Josephus on Hasmonean heritage. However, it also reveals that Herod the Great was himself Hasmonean. His rejection in Israel then had more to do with his lineage through the hated Lathyrus. Both Lathyrus (Ptolemy IX) and Jannaeus (Ptolemy X) were descendants of Ptolemy VI Philometer (Hasmonean Mattathias).

A son of Lathyrus by a minor queen was sent from the court of Mithridates VI of Pontus to become pharaoh of Egypt (as Ptolemy XII). As noted in the above post, King Alexander Jannaeus/Ptolemy X corresponds to the Parthian king Mithridates II, whose reign also came to an end in 88 BC. After his death, the Parthian throne was in a state of flux until it was taken by Orodes, whose name and succession in 80 BC matches that of Auletes (Ptolemy XII) in Egypt, also in 80 BC. Like the reign of Auletes, the long reign of Orodes (I + II) was not continuous. With Roman support, Auletes recovered his thrones in Egypt (55 BC) and Parthia (57 BC), and gained a further throne in Nabatea/Petra (56 BC) as Malchus (corresponding to his Roman name, Marcus Antonius).

The downfall of Mithridates VI of Pontus and Aristobulus II son of Jannaeus came in the same year, 63 BC. Aristobulus is logically one and the same as Mithridates. The career of Julius Caesar also began to take off in that year due to the appreciation in Rome of his exploits against Mithridates VI. In 74 BC, Nicomedes the former patron of Caesar in Bithynia (a region adjacent to Pontus) died and bequeathed his province to Rome. When Mithridates VI moved to add Bithynia to his dominions, Caesar raised an army and prevented him from taking it. This again points to Caesar/Alexander not having been a true son of Mithridates/Aristobulus II, but of Jannaeus/Ptolemy X. Years later, Caesar returned to put down a revolt (probably staged for publicity) in which he defeated Pharnaces the successor of Mithridates VI. Pharnaces would correspond to Antigonus “brother” of Caesar/Alexander.

There are some additional distortions on both the Hasmonean and Roman sides to work through, but the association between Alexander and Julius Caesar feels right. The implications are staggering. It means that Rome did not actually conquer the East, but the Eastern monarchy took over Rome, and in fact had been dominating Rome for centuries. The transfer of the primary royal court to Rome must have been planned for a few generations at least, and as evidenced by the rule of queens in Egypt. It was traditional for a queen to rule (as Isis) during an "Exodus". It was also her role to resist that Exodus. There must also have been tremendous resistance to abandoning Alexandria on the part of the entire royal family. As in previous transfers of the royal court, lines were divided between those in favor and those opposed. Ultimately, the move was accomplished as just one more grand metamorphosis of the royal family from one cultural center to another. The clay frontier town in Italy was made over in glorious marble.