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Herod and Augustus

Posted By: Charles Pope
Date: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, at 6:08 p.m.

I haven't been able to locate any good (readable, comprehensive) Roman genealogies on the web. Tim linked to a good Herodian genealogy awhile back, but I can't locate it either.

http://www.roman-emperors.org/jclaud1.htm
http://virtualreligion.net/iho/caesar.html
http://virtualreligion.net/iho/hasmon2.html

Anybody have better ones?

By superimposing the Roman genealogy and Herodian genealogy a few more associations can be made by inspection:

- Marcus Agrippa, right hand man of Octavius/Augustus would correspond to Herodian Phasael son of Phasael/Ptolemy Alexander Helios. His sons Gaius Caesar, Lucius Caesar and Agrippa Poshumus by Julia correspond to the sons of Herodian Phasael by Salampsio, namely, Antpater, Herod, and Alexander. The Herodian name Salampsio seems to be an adaptation of the Roman name Vipsanius, which made up the fuller name of Marcus Vispanius Agrippa.

- The line of descent from Claudius Nero to Nero Drusus to Emperor Claudius corresponds to the prominent Cappadocian line of Archelaus. As deduced in previous posts, this was the line of Herod the Great's half-brother named Jospeh. Although Joseph died young, his son, also called Joseph and Archelaus, carried on his line. By Olympias daughter of Malthace she was mother to Glaphyra/Mariamne IV/Helen (who was in turn mother of Jesus/Aristobulus III). This Joseph/Archelaus was also for a time considered husband to Herod's sister Salome. As her husband, he is called Costobarus (by Josephus) and the father of Berenice and Antipater. He also emerges as the king of Petra called Aretes IV. His Roman name was Nero Drusus father of the crippled Emperor Claudius.

- Another obvious pattern is the line of Tiberius-Drusus-Gemellus. As deduced in previous posts, Gemellus was Simon Peter son of Herod Antipas. By association, Drusus was the Roman name of Antipas and Tiberius was the unnamed fourth son of Herod the Great. His wife Vipsania corresponds to Malthace (mother of Antipas).

There are some discrepancies when overlaying the two genealogies:

- Gemellus supposedly died very young circa 38 AD while Peter died circa 70 AD. Gemellus is assumed to have been murdered by Caligula. But probably this is mistaken.

- The first husband of Livia Drusilla is assumed to have been the consul Claudius Nero. However, Nero Drusus is probably the grandson of that Claudius Nero rather than the son. In the Cappadocian court there are three kings named Archelaus in succession. The first was husband of the first Glaphyra. The third was father of the second Glaphyra.

- The fourth son of Herod, even if not literally his own, is thought to be the son of Hasmonean Mariamne. Tiberius was the son of Livia Drusilla, who does not appear to be one and the same as Mariamne/Scribonia.

The wife of Iullus Antonius (Herod the Great) is called Marcella daughter of Octavian/Augustus’ sister Octavia. Herod had a number of wives, but the one recognized in Rome would naturally have been the one that was the niece of the Emperor. It is not entirely clear though whether she was Herod’s first wife, the Herodian Doris, or one of the others.

There is still one more prominent brother of Herod the Great, that being Pheroras. His Roman identity is not readily discernible. But perhaps Marcella and her brother Marcellus were really Cleopatra Selene and Ptolemy Philadelphos, and only the adopted children of Octavia (brought up as heirs to her former husband Claudius Marcellus). Roman elite were fond of adoption.

The cultural taboo against polygamy would have posed a serious problem for eastern royals. Infertility caused by inbreeding motivated royals to try all the various combinations of male-female pairings within the family in order to ensure that the next generation of rulers would be as healthy as possible. It is of importance that Octavian/Augustus had no royal sons and only one daughter, which may not have even been his own. (And this despite the quip from Mark Antony that he could screw any leading lady he liked.) Despite his competence and favor within the Claudian family, Octavian appears to have been unable to produce children through his close relatives. He was an evolutionary dead end, at least within the royal breeding model. Succession ultimately passed to the male line of Antony which was far more successful in fatherhood. That line included Iullus Antonius (Herod the Great), Marcus Agrippa (Phasael/Ptolemy Helios), Nero Drusus (Archelaus of Cappadocia), and Pheroras (Ptolemy Philadelphos/Marcellus?). The battle of Actium had only postponed the emergence of that line as dominant.

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