|Reign of Sapiens:|
1113 (360)-1148 (395)
1148 (395)-1184 (431)
|Last of the Antoninae:|
1184 (431)-1205 (452)
By gifting the office of Caesar to a natural heir, Sapiens broke the continuous line of meritocratic succession which had bolstered the Antonine dynasty and set a precedent of hereditary rule for his descendants. This was a reversal of Rome's prosperity, and opened the way for incompetent and destructive Caesars.
Caesar Aurelius (395-402)Edit
When Marcus Aurelius Sapiens became Caesar on September 11, 395, the empire stood at a historic peak. Although the new emperor was not a detriment to his country, he lacked the acumen of the last eleven emperors. Caesar Aurelius is remembered for trying to emulate his father's policies, working hard to live up to that great man's reputation. While painfully aware of his dullness, Aurelius spent days deliberating on decisions that his father could have made in minutes, slowing the administrative procedures of the Roman government.
Growth of ChristianityEdit
Believing that religious unity was key to national stability, Aurelius labored to support the growth of Christianity outside the major cities whose populations already converted. Christian priests were hired by provincial governors to travel the countryside preaching the state religion. Tall churches were commissioned in villages and small towns and in the cities, which were hubs of regional commerce, huge churches were built as the homes of bishops or archbishops. These would become the centerpoint of Christian authority for their dioceses.
One major step in Rome's transition to Christianity was the translation of the Bible into Latin by Eusebrius Sophronius Hieronymus. By making scripture available to the literate public, the Church could expand into many a Roman household. The same Sophronius led a doctrinal attack against the theologian Helvidius to assert the perpetual virginity of Mary, the mother of Jesus. His letters helped solidify this doctrine in the early Church.
Advising Aurelius since 398 was publisher of De Doctrina Christiana, Augustine of Hippo. His council called for the government to repair the schisms that plagued Africa - Manichaeism and Arianism - reuniting Christianity. This could be accomplished, he said, by expanding the didascalia (theological schools) in Mauretania, Numidia and Egypt and forcing the instruction of Orthodox doctrine. While his measures helped stamp out doctrinal splits over the decades, Aurelius' open persecution of Manichaeans after Augustine returned to Hippo in 401 almost ensured the final dissolution of that sect within the empire.
Another product of Augustine's genius was the official endorsement of individually prominent churches in different regions - as wide as the Hellenic world, the Celtic world or the Coptic world - as leaders of regional liturgies. The jist is that these primary churches were given authority by the Catholic Church to determine their own liturgical practices within the confines of Orthodox doctrine.
These efforts evened out the spread of belief in Roman Christianity, when comparing citizens with non-citizens, and raising the proportion of believers to 78% by 402 CE.
The Barbarian ThreatEdit
Taking over during the decline of the Visigothi, Vandal King Gundigisel had amassed a force of tens of thousands of Germans which he intended to use in a conquest of Greece. Approaching the Vallum Alutanum on horseback, Gundigisel began taunting the Romans out of weapons' range, hoping to goad them into open battle. After several days of this affair in 396, a daring archer snuck down the wall as the sun fell and fired an arrow into the gut of the bothersome monarch. Enraged, Gundigisel's army charged in the direction of the archer, kicking up dirt and dust onto their leader. Not only was the archer safely lifted onto the wall but the German army was repulsed with minimal casualties on either side and Gundigisel died four days later from infection.
In the chaos of losing their king, the Germans quickly elected a new leader, King Alar of the Visigothi, uniting what remained of the Goths with the massive Vandal kingdom. For now, Alar would bide his time to assemble a stronger force for a future invasion and for defense against the approaching Huns.
The actual proximity of this Hunnic Empire to Rome seemed to become too close for comfort when an emissary arrived from King Alybsi in 398 carrying the head of Burgundian King Rindomer. Whether this was meant to instill fear or serve as an olive branch, the people of Rome were terrified of what was coming. Rumors abounded that the Huns led a force worth a hundred legions though the truth was obscured by hundreds of kilometers of dense forests and fearful Germanic tribes.
In order to provide a sense of security for Romans, Aurelius declared the construction of the Vallum Raetianum along the first 312.5 km of the Danube, leaving a gap where Raetia meets Germania Superior north of the river - one of only two gaps along the northern limites of the Roman Empire.
Traveling to lead the inauguration of the new wall, Caesar Aurelius was forced by illness to stop in the city of Virinum. Unfortunately, his condition worsened until he died on January 7, 402. His second oldest brother, Gaius Antoninus Aurelius, next in line, was all too eager when he heard the news of his brother's demise and ordered a grand ceremony worth 24 million denarii to mark his ascension.
Imperator Antoninus (402-408)Edit
Imperator Antoninus embodies the stereotype of the mad monarch. The Caligula of the Christian world, he was fond of saying that he could talk with God, even halting the celebrations for his ascension as Caesar to tell the entire assembled people of Rome that he was receiving visions of Jesus coming down to bless him.
In emphasis of his "divine" nature, Antonine made it a priority to carry Christianity into a period of historic dominance by not only persecuting polytheists but executing anyone suspected of supporting a non-Christian faith. Over six years, nearly 500,000 non-Romans and 30,000 Romans were put to death in brutal public execu-tions that the emperor forced the Pontifex Maximus to openly condone. Churches were built like under his predecessors' but the image on crucifixes and statues were designed to look like the emperor - who more and more tried to portray himself as a messiah-like figure. To satisfy his egomania Antonine renamed several cities like Alexandria and Constantinople as Antonidianna or Antonopolis and changed the names of major roads like the Via Appia to Via Antonina, sullying his family name. Adding to this the numerous monuments and buildings dedicated to himself, the Senate's opinion of him rapidly fell.
News of unrest in the patrician order reached the emperor through his thick network of spies. He needed to react quickly but in a characteristic move that helped earn him his nickname, Stultum (the Fool), Antonine sent assassins to openly attack members of the Senate - senators who were still protected by the Praetorian Guard, which he personally expanded to 20,000 troops. His advisors failed to inform him of this inconsistency as Antonine found himself baffled by the continuous failure of what would become 396 attempts to assassinate government officials. Those who he openly ordered to be executed were secretly carried away to enjoy exile outside Italy until the inevitable demise of the mad emperor.
Seeking fame in military endeavors, Antonine sought to achieve great victories in a conquest of Africa, where the two major expeditions - by Scipio Africanus and Augustus Caesar - brought their generals tremendous prestige. Since his advisors kept the existence of the wealthy Kingdom of Aksum a secret from him, Antonine resorted to unleashing Rome's armies on the Berber tribes of the great desert. Unfortunately, much to the Senate's surprise, he sent 18 legions on this ill-fated invasion and instructed them to find payment in "the spoils of war".
Were it not for the timely circumvention of the emperor by the Senate, and the patient leadership of many of the generals involved, this two year campaign could have ended in disaster. Payed a full four years salary in 407, the legionaries were returned to their original posts and a potentially fatal crisis was averted.
The emperor's ineptitude caused many attempts to assassinate him in turn which, to his credit, he avoided. While his immense paranoia made this possible, he fell victim to what little piety remained in him, preventing him from committing fratricide. This proved his undoing when his youngest brother, Lucius Antoninus Aurelius, entered his room on the ides of March, 408, and slit his throat at his desk. Lucius was caught by his older brother, Sextus Aurelius Sapiens, and the eldest son of Caesar Aurelius, Gaius Aurelius Maximius, who immediately noticed what had transpired. It was plain that allowing the murder of a reigning head of Rome to go unpunished would set an awful precedent but Sextus wasn't bright enough to go through the proper channels and charged at his treasonous sibling. Their clash for the dagger ended in victory for the elder who, much to his surprise, turned around to see his nephew clutching a gladius moments before insertion into his chest. With no witnesses, Maximius had wisely taken the opportunity to prevent his simple uncle from gaining power. Later, he described to a court of law how he discovered his uncles in the midst of killing the Caesar and valiantly fought them to the death. His words guaranteed his legitimacy to the throne in the eyes of the Senate and people of Rome.
Caesar Maximius (408-417)Edit
While the Legion and Senate could forgive the excesses of Antoninus, the people who suffered crippling taxes and witnessed the defamation of their cities and religion suffered a crisis of faith in their emperors. Maximius was left with the difficult task of restoring their trust in Caesars; otherwise, he could be Rome's last.
Appeasing the PeopleEdit
Opening his reign by returning taxes to normal rates, renaming cities defamed by Antonine's pride, and shrinking the bloated Praetorian Guard to moderate size Caesar Maximius showed he would make every effort to retake his family's reputation as benevolent sovereigns. He was not above subterfuge, however, printing the image of his grandfather, the great Sapiens, on coins to imply a return to the stability of his reign. Ostensibly, he was paying homage to a great leader of the empire but private letters point to an attempt to make the simpler inhabitants of the empire believe their Caesar had returned. Another clever exploitation of the unwashed masses took advantage of the confusion some had investing money in a bank. His offer for citizens and non-citizens alike was for publicani to invest their money for them and return it with interest after a set amount of time. Since interest rates were a mystery to most people, which was the whole point of getting the government to manage investment for them, no one noticed that they were receiving less than the actual returns on their investment. To the investing public, they gave money to the government and got more money back a few months later. It was a brilliant scheme that strengthened the banking industry with a greater volume of private investment and saving.
The system did, however, suffer from rampant corruption of the publicani tasked with negotiating the investments and returning the funds. Some would take the investment without recording a transaction while others would pocket a large portion of the returns, leaving a growing number of cheated plebeians in a state of discontent. Although the state was making 9 million denarii a year in profit, later emperors were forced to shut the practice down and pay back nearly 25 million denarii to settle the growing discontent.
As an attempt to please Romans outside Italy, Maximius restructured grain shipping lanes from Egypt to bring the province's produce to a wider and equally demanding audience. As major cities started to be serviced by Egyptian grain, imperial subsidies for Egyptian farmers allowed steady increases in their agricultural capacity for the next twenty years as Maximius' successor wisely kept the subsidies flowing.
Maximius brought forward a great cultural reform. Due to his Greek heritage, the emperor was very interested in Ancient Greek culture for most of his life. He spoke Greek to all of his friends, and even the Senate occasionally. In support of his interest, Maximius began a Graecian Renaissance throughout most of Europe. While the whole affair started small, with only a dozen handfuls of senators, other patricians and equestrians sought to emulate the emperor and his favorites in supporting the growing resurgence of Greek thought and art.
A rebirth of Greek culture amounted to several long-term events. Firstly, the amount of Greek speakers rose significantly, by over 1500% among the upper class citizens. Secondly, Ancient Greek architecture became the norm for most buildings built during this period and Greek art, in the form of urns, saw a huge resurgence among craftsmen catering to rich patrons. Thirdly, Greek nationalism reappeared during this period, and though this would initially have no effect on the empire's stability, it did leave a permanent mark on the ethnic Greeks from that time onward. This cultural shift become a permanent part of the empire, speaking Greek remaining an integral part of a wealthy lifestyle. Another facet of these changes was a rise in marriages of Italians to Greek women.
Part of the rise of Greek culture was the return of Greek philosophical texts. The works of Aristotle began to be recopied in greater volume, Plato's dialogues saw renewed popularity, and the ancient school of Pyrrhonian skepticism came back to the fore.
Aristotelian science breathed new life into Roman intellectualism. Patricians in Egypt took up geology, seeking to verify the Philosopher's claims of the River Nile. Antipedes of Alexandria became famous for his work on a principle of Transformism based on observations in Meteorologia that rivers, mountains and the whole face of the Earth could not be permanent features but must be in flux, changing over time from land to sea. In Athens, the membership of the Lyceum - the leading school of peripatetic philosophy - swelled. Aristotle's physics; on the primacy of rest, the necessity of a prime mover, the continuity of space and time, and the impossibility of void; became dogma for a large portion of 5th century natural philosophers.
In the libraries of Pergamum, philosophers reacted to oppose Aristotelianism. These atomists followed the texts of Leucippus, Epicurus and, most significantly, the Roman Lucretius in postulating a material cosmos consisting of indivisible particles and empty void. The regrowth of the Lyceum in Athens sparked a counter-movement by the atomists who, until now, were academically unchallenged, if only due to silence on these issues by the rest of the Roman world. Conflicts on: infinite divisibility vs indivisibility; cosmogenesis vs eternalism; plenum vs void; virtue ethics vs ethical naturalism and, in extreme circles, Christianity vs Epicurean atheism, set the stage for the next few centuries of philosophical debates.
On the sidelines were the schools of Stoicism, Neoplatonism and Pyrrhonism. The Neoplatonists for their part were gradually splitting into two factions - the Chalcidenians and the Tyrians. The former were more mystics than real philosophers, teaching the way to rejoin the Source of creation (θεουργία); the latter taught a similar meta-physical system but approached it as a description of nature instead of a religion. Chalcidenian Neoplatonism fell in influence as Proclus (412-489) chipped away at their doctrine and asserted the positive implications of his own Tyrian school. The "cult" died away in the 6th century. The Tyrian school saw its greatest rise after the foundation of the New Platonic Academy in 412 by Plutarch of Athens. This is where Proclus was instructed.
Due to its practicality, Stoicism was most popular outside the circle of influence of academic philosophy. It was closely followed by a great number of patricians and equestrians. Out of all the ancient philosophies, it probably had the strongest influence on the development of Roman culture. The great Marcus Aurelius' text, Meditations, was still one of the more popular Roman books after nearly three centuries.
On the economic end, Maximius' reign returned Rome's wealth to its status at the death of Caesar Aurelius, the national treasury holding a satisfactory 400 million denarii. The empire's GDP was at its highest ever, and still growing, and the wealth disparity between the lower and middle classes was smaller than ever. Although the economic growth was not quite what it was during the time of the Imperatores Boni, there was certainly nothing about which the citizens of Rome could complain.
Aside from one major war, Maximius' reign was one of peace and prosperity. In 408 CE, the Visigoths returned to the Roman border in force. Arriving at the decaying Noricum Wall, they attacked it with siege weapons they had acquired from the Sarmatians, a group of people who made up almost one tenth of the Visigothic army.
Having easily broken through the wall, the Visigothic King Alar began a reign of terror across the Roman countryside, damaging the famous Noricum Iron Mines and taking the province's governor captive. Though he was enormously successful during those first two years, once the Winter of 410 was rolling in, his forces grew tired. Forced to constantly evade the Roman army, thereby giving up many opportunities to pillage, Alar's army was low on food, rest and women, not good things for rag-tag group of barbarians to be lacking. As this made them an unwieldy lot, Alar was finally caught in a face-to-face confrontation with the Legion.
Though his forces numbered in the hundreds of thousands of men, the Romans had brought in an equally large, but more advanced army, over the past two years. Completely boxed in, the Visigoths were cut down and their king taken prisoner to await judgement before the Caesar of Rome. Obviously sentenced to a painful death, there still remained the matter of what to do with the body. Eventually, it was decided to bury it under the portion of the wall he had destroyed, and then to rebuilt the wall on top of this. Furthermore, a monument displaying Alar's personal symbols was built there, with a larger monument of the Roman eagle and the phrase SPQR VISIGOTHOS VINCIT towering above this.
Caesar Antonius (417-431)Edit
Coming peacefully onto the throne, Publius Antoninus Aurelius, Caesar Antonius was under high expectations from the Senate, who wished to see a return to the economic growth of the old emperors. Although no such thing came to pass, Antonius' reign is considered one of the more pleasant ones. No land was lost, no military defeats were suffered and the empire only became more stable. His time in power is remembered as the calm before the Hunnic storm. In 444, after Antonius, Rome would come face-to-face with perhaps its greatest threat.
Antonius' decade and a half on the throne was a peaceful period in Rome's history. No news of barbarian invaders reached the cities and legionaries were kept in their forts. Even the remote province of Caledonia saw enough rest to receive proconsular status in 419. Ironically, for such an non-militaristic emperor, Antonius made one of the largest contributions to Roman military strength. In 420, he founded the Academia Carthaginia Bellica on the coast of Africa. The purpose of this institution was to train former soldiers for commanding posts in the military.
Over time, it has expanded into the foremost military academy on Earth, holding an even more vital place in its own field than other academies in theirs. All of the greatest Roman generals and many Caesars, including Gnaeus Comptus and Faustus Pertinax, walked its halls. With the addition of a naval academy several decades later, Carthage was well on its way to becoming the center of Roman militarism. Eventually, these facets of the city would lead an emperor to designate it the military capital, with control of armed forces across all five continents.
Once construction was virtually complete, the Academy consisted of six main buildings. Second largest was the Biblioteca Bellica, which was filled with any military texts the empire could procure - included among these were prominent pieces of Chinese and Indian literature (e.g. Ars Bellis by Suncius). Third largest, the Atrium Deorum, or Hall of the Gods, was a grand series of halls and rooms with the spoils of past wars, artifacts that weren't on display elsewhere in the empire. Some pieces were symbolic of Rome's defeated enemies, military heirlooms like the sword of Alaric or the menorah of the temple. Statues stood between doorways honoring great generals in the Legion who deserved to be immortalized in stone.
Largest of the Academy's facilities is the Grammaticus Bellicus (Military School). With over 70 classrooms for teaching students, the Academy's school for officers can host over 2,600 students for annual courses. Originally meant for young returning legionaries, the grammaticus eventually become the centerpiece for the post-lower school level of tactical and combat education of the Academy.
Erected in front of these hallowed halls in 426 CE was the Arch of Sulla, honoring that great emperor and general from so long ago for his military victories in Magna Germania and Caledonia.
Antonius' only actions beyond the limites of the empire was the construction of the Pannonian Wall from 418 to 424 which finally allowed Romans to relax without the possibility of another small barbarian invasion.
Statistics for the Roman Empire of 431 ADEdit
Population: 95 million (24.7% of humans)
Area: 7,113,000 km²
GDP: 28 billion denarii (~USD840 billion)
Treasury: 50 million denarii (~USD1.500 billion)
Government revenue: 890 million denarii (~USD26.70 billion)
Military spending: 443 million denarii (49.8% of revenue or 1.6% of GDP)
Size of the Legions: 166,400 legionaries (32 legions), 320,000 auxiliaries and 15,000 praetorian guards
Legislature: 900 senators
State religion: 83% of citizens and 69% of free residents
Origins of the Maya ConglomerateEdit
Saying Qhich'en Ch'onle Mayapan was smart would be a gross understatement. Succeeding at virtually every endeavour he attempted, he quickly grew in status within his native city-state of Calakmul. Much like the Caesar Sapiens of Rome, Quich'en was already working side by side with government officials before the age of 18. His efforts greatly improved the efficiency of the state, bringing it greater prosperity than surrounding cities. However, administrative work with so little control was not to his liking and he grew quickly bored of its many mundane aspects. For this reason, he spent much time laboring alone in his home with various botanical and geological compounds, seeking to uncover the inner workings of nature.
Falling short of this noble goal, his discoveries were nevertheless a great leap forward for his people. No one on the continent had even approached the epistemic heights Mayapan reached. In 417, he formulated a mixture that he would used to make cement two years later. At the age of 19, he found a simple way to extract metal (copper) from its ore and, a year later, how to work it into simple shapes as it cooled. This marked the start of the practice of Mayan metallurgy. These discoveries paled in comparison with what came next.
It was in 419 CE that, working with sulphur, bits of charcoal and urine extract, the man found a particular proportion (~20%, ~20%, ~60%) which released energy when heated. Under sparks, it seemed to detonate. The mixture he discovered was the first chemical explosive - black powder. Despite lacking the military applications that would color its future, the mixture was sufficiently useful for entertaining people for Mayapan to become wealthy.
On top of black powder, metallurgy and cement, Mayapan combined plant pulp into crude paper and mixed herbs into a rudimentary toothpaste. He also recommended several uses in 428 for a wooden-wheeled vehicle of his own design, a sort of hand-drawn wagon. Friends persuaded Mayapan to demonstrate his inventions to the local ajaw (king), who was astounded with the young man's works. Applications for Mayapan's carts and toothpaste were commissioned by the king, with such vehicles confering a benefit for military, agricultural and civic purposes. A year later, Mayapan brought his designs for a wind-powered grain mill into reality.
Two years later, as Mayapan's influence in the royal courts peaked, the people of Calakmul called for him to be named their ajaw; they believed the gods were acting through him, such was his genius. When Mayapan finally took power in 431, the control he dreamed about was finally in his hands.
Statistics for CalakmulEdit
Population: 57,420 people (0.0149% of humans)
GDP: ~USD212.3 million
|Reign of Sapiens:|
1113 (360)-1148 (395)
1148 (395)-1184 (431)
|Last of the Antoninae:|
1184 (431)-1205 (452)