Hellenica Sinica: Han Empire of Greece
Part One: Flight from Oppression
221 BC - The King of Qin, Ying Zheng, united all of the seven kingdoms that comprised China under his iron hand. His brutal policies made him unpopular for peasants, nobles and Confucian scholars alike.
213 BC - As Ying Zheng's reign become more and more unpopular, scholars harshly criticized his policies. Infuriated, Ying Zheng ordered that the Confucian classics be burned and the scholars be buried alive. At this year, Liu Bang, a peasant decided to flee from the grip of Qin Empire. Many more peasants, disgruntled soldiers and Confucian scholars, including Huang Jin, an educated young scholar joined him in his flight. He brought along him countless books of Classics which his colleagues smuggled before being burned.
210 BC - After years of wandering, a strong wind from the west blew strongly against them. The wind ceased to blow and it revealed an abandoned city. This city was build by Alexander the Great during his campaign to the East to serve as beacon for the spreading of Greek culture in the region but was abandoned in his death at 323 BC. Liu Bang and his men explored the city and Huang Jin reported that "there are no inhabitants here, other than these scrolls with strange writings". They were at the fringes of the once mighty Persian Empire. With no inhabitants left in the city, Liu Bang declared the city was theirs and began establishing their own settlement inside its walls. They called the city Xi Feng, in Chinese West Wind. Liu Bang in turn, was made the king of the city. Quickly, Xi Feng was revitalized and its inhabitants prospered
Part Two: The Melting Pot of Civilizations
209 BC - After establishing their settlements, Liu Bang turned his attention to the ruins of the city. He uncovered numerous text but he was unable to read them. He summons Huang Jin the scholar and asked if he could read the text. Huang Jin replied "the thoughts of these strange writings and carvings are buried. There is only one place where we could find their meaning ... farther west."
208 BC - Huang Jin and Liu Bang's son Liu Ying began their journey into the western world. They traveled to Persia and further west into Egypt. In Alexandria, they learned to speak Greek, the language written in the texts. They journeyed further, into Greece. Huang Jin was amazed when saw the great intellectual wealth of the west that he thought of adopting the Greek language while maintaining their native tongue and their culture. In Athens, they befriended a man of great intellect, Apollodorus of Pergamum who joined them in their return trip.
204 - 171 BC - The people of Xi Feng adopted Greek culture. At this time, the scrolls that were recovered years ago were translated into Mandarin. The Iliad, the Odyssey and other Greek literary works were translated to Chinese. Abandoned temples which were already standing were renovated. Liu Bang also built a library to house the Greek texts as well as the Chinese Classics.
Part Three: The Beginning of the Road to Conquest
170 BC - Liu Bang expanded Xi Feng's control on regions bordering the Parthian Kingdom of Persia. He then declared the establishment of the Han Kingdom with Xi Feng as its capital.
168 BC - Liu Bang died at the age of 88, leaving the throne to his son Liu Ying. Liu Bang was given an imperial name, Emperor Gaozu of Han.
167 BC' - Inspired by the stories of the Great Conqueror Ya Li (Alexander the Great). Liu Ying drew up plans to conquer Persia. He restructured his military force, adopting both Greek and Chinese tactics and weapons. Siege crafts were developed and also new weapons.'
165 'BC - The Han Kingdom annexed the Hindu Kush and the Indus river valley west of Persia. The Indus River would become the bread basket Liu Ying's Kingdom. Cities of Gaofu (in Kabul) and Da Yuan (Fergana) were founded.
161 BC - Mithridates, the King of the Parthian Kingdom of Persia saw the prosperity of the Han Kingdom in his northeastern border. He sent an emissary to Liu Ying demanding that the Han pay an annual tribute of 1000 talents of gold. Liu Ying responded by challenging the Mithridates to a proxy duel. He replied to his letter "choose one of your strongest men to challenge one of ours. If he wins you can take our tribute, if our champion wins then I take half of your kingdom. But if you don't yield to this pact, swords will be sharpened and trumpets shall roar across the skies." Mithridates rejected Liu Ying's offer and prepared his army for war. He said "my army shall trample the Han kingdom like grass."
160 BC - The Parthian Army marched into Han. Their plan is to seize the Indus Valley and later advance into Gaofu and Xi Feng. The Han army however used the terrain to their advantage. Before the Indus, the Parthians would have to pass through the Bolan Pass (near the Indus). Upon reaching the Bolan Pass, the Parthians were surrounded and Han forces attacked them. Mithridates narrowly escapes death but thousands of his soldiers die and many more were taken prisoner. Mithridates returned to Persia empty handed.
158 BC - Liu Ying launched an invasion against the Parthian Empire. Han forces swept across Persia and the Parthian Army was in retreat.
157 BC - At Pasargadae, Han forces were met with resistance. Liu Ying responded by laying siege to the city. The siege took five days and on the fifth day, Han forces "retreated" and left a gigantic wooden falcon as a "gift" to the Persians. The falcon was taken inside the city and the citizens celebrated a victory feast. At night, 10 people who hid inside the wooden falcon opened the gates of Pasargadae and signaled the Han army hiding in a nearby hill. Zhou Fu, the general in command ordered his forces into the city. The surprised Parthians were unable to resist and the next morning, Liu Ying entered the city and announced its liberation from the tyranny of Mithridates.
157-149 BC - The Persian campaign continued. Gradually, the Parthian Empire began to crumble as cities such as Aspardana, Ecbatana, Susa and Babylon fell to Han forces. However, on 149 BC, Liu Ying died of old age at Babylon and he received his imperial name Huidi. His son, Liu Qi, who accompanied his father during the campaign, succeeded in the throne.
148 BC - The ruler of the Seleucian Kingdom of Syria, Antiochus Epiphanes, occupied the remnants of the Parthian Empire. Mithridates and his generals were captured and were death-marched to Damascus and finally at Antioch, were they executed.
The Han Empire now stretch from the river Euphrates to the Indus. The people in the empire enjoyed the rule of Liu Qi who treated his people with kindness, declaring the Imperial House as servant of the Han. It was almost a Utopian empire were everyone has place in the society. It was a vast empire teeming with prosperity in wealth and in culture. Greek ideas merged with Chinese philosophy. Works of western philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and countless more were translated to Mandarin, as well as the works of eastern thinkers such as Sun Tzu and Kung Fu Tze were translated into Greek. Many more books that were otherwise burned during the tyrannical rule of Ying Zheng were translated. To solidify this cultural merging, Liu Qi included the Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey; the unparalled stories of Achilles, Paris, Agamemnon, and Odysseus; into the Classics, a required reading for the members of the imperial house.
The Greek philosophers and literary works were not the only ones honored in the Chinese dominated Han Empire. The Greek gods too have their place in this empire ruled by eastern foreigners. Statues and temples were erected to honor them. One particular statue of Zeus was erected at Xi Feng. He is portrayed as a god hurling his thunderbolt against the Qin tyrant Ying Zheng, bringing justice to all he had wronged.
Lastly, Liu Qi, wrote a book dedicated to the Great Conqueror Yali (Alexander the Great) his father's inspiration. It was an epic biography written to immortalize the Great Conqueror. He was portrayed as a kind ruler who knows how to win the hearts of his soldiers and subjects. It even included a story of him in the underworld were he is seen fighting Ying Zheng and his henchmen. Indeed, even in death, Alexander the Great still fights, for the oppressed.
For all the wealth Han possessed, envy still rules in its western neighbors. However, they were about to be crushed by the might of the Han.
Part Four: The Hellenic Empire of Han
147 BC - The imperial adviser, Zhang Fu, advised Liu Qi to incite the Jews, subjects of the Seleucids, in Judea to revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes. Liu Qi heeded to the advice and sent an emissary to Judas Maccabeus, the leader of the Jewish group resenting the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes. In return, the Han would grant them religious autonomy. This is only part of the campaign against Antiochus. When the Jews revolt, the Han army would move into Syria and the Seleucids would be forced to fight on two sides.
146 BC - The Jewish revolt broke out. It started in Jerusalem and quickly spread across Judea. As expected, Antiochus Epiphanes sent his army to suppress them. He also asked Ptolemy VI Philometor to assist him in suppressing the rebellion. But as Antiochus Epiphanes moves south to Palestine, Han forces attacked Syria. With fewer troops to guard the eastern frontier, the Seleucids were defeated at the battle of Palmyra in eastern Syria. Liu Qi and his trusted general, Lu Qian marched into Damascus and finally reached the capital of the Seleucian kingdom at Antioch. Antiochus Epiphanes was captured and sent into exile at Gaofu, where he ended up teaching Greek to its inhabitants.
145 BC - Ptolemy VI Philometor negotiated peace with the Han. He admired the Han and Emperor Liu Qi for their unparalled success in conquest and governance of their large empire. Already tired of politics, Ptolemy VI Philometor decides it is time to hand over the throne his family held for two centuries to a rightful successor.
144 BC - Ptolemy VI Philometor announced his abdication to his people and that Egypt will be ruled by the "rightful successor of Alexander the Great." Emperor Liu Qi was invited to Alexandria were he was crowned as Ptolemy VII Soter (Saviour), Pharaoh of Egypt. All of Egypt rejoiced Emperor Liu Qi took his office as the "Saviour" of the Nile.
142 BC - The wars of Asia Minor broke. The kingdoms of Lydia, Cilicia, Cappadocia and Phrygia vie for hegemony of the area.
Han now extends from the Indus in the east to the Nile in the west. The Mediterranean islands of Crete, Cyprus, Rhodes, Samos and many minor islands were also under the control of the Empire. To defend these islands, Liu Qi ordered the building of a navy and naval bases at Alexandria, Crete, Samos and Tyre to keep the envious Roman Empire at bay. A fleet at the Black Sea was also organized with Phasis at the eastern coast serving as its naval base. Another fleet, this time patrolling the Persian Gulf and lower Mesopotamia was built. Its naval base, situated at the mouth of the merged waterway connecting Tigris and Euphrates river to the Persian Gulf was built, later it will become the capital of the Han empire and will serve as a gateway to the East.
With the seas now secured, the empire establishes colonies in Arabia, Crimea, India and Ceylon. Cities were built in these colonies and a mixture of Hellenic and Chinese culture flourishes in these areas. One particular city in Ceylon, named Kelunpo (Colombo), become a hub of maritime trade routes sailing across the Indian Ocean. Traders from Greece, Egypt, Persia, India, and Siam sell their goods in this city. Soon this city will become the first stop for eastern people fleeing the tyrannical rule of their Qin emperors to the west were they could enjoy the liberal reign of Emperor Liu Qi. A group of intellectuals and generals from Qin would soon escape to this city.
140 BC - The Kingdom of Phrygia launches an all-out offensive against Cilicia and Cappadocia. The Phrygian army defeated these kingdoms in a decisive battle at Tarsos. Their King Lysander II declared himself the King of Asia. To deter future rebellions, Lysander launched a terror campaign against the cities they have conquered. He drew lots to determine the city by which he will terrorize and Ancyria was the unfortunate city. Lysander and his troops went to the city and crucified its male population. The older women were massacred and the rest were raped and expelled from the city, never to return under the pain of crucifixion.
News of the massacre reached Lydia and the Greek mainland. The King of Lydia, Nicomedes, agreed to abdicate and pass the throne to Lysander, sparing the Lydians from the terror campaign. In Athens, now ruling all of Greece and Macedonia, the atrocity was condemned, declaring it to be a displeasing act to the gods. The Archon of Athens, Apollodorus seeks his long time friend, the former king of Egypt, Ptolemy VI Philometor for some advice. The aging Ptolemy told Apollodorus to seek the help of the Emperor of Han, Liu Qi. As a good emperor, Liu Qi hated tyranny above all others. He says, "it is injustice for a kingdom have a tyrant sit in its throne. People will bleed dry just to satisfy the greed of its ruler who lusts for power." The emperor signs the treaty of alliance with the Athenians. Should Athens be threatened with war from Phrygia, the Han would lend a helping hand.
Despite all of these, Lysander kept his arrogance. He defy a letter of warning from Liu Qi and Ptolemy VI sent by Han ambassadors, urging him to stop his atrocities or be crushed. He is also reminded that he gained the displeasure of the gods for his tyranny and he will be punished soon. The proud Lysander just laughed to the letter of Liu Qi "how could the Han defeat Phrygia, a kingdom ruled by a god?" The ambassadors return to Liu Qi and he realized that there is no point of arguing with the arrogant tyrant and he prepares the Han forces for war. He also urged his Greek allies to prepare to fight against Lysander.
139 BC - Meanwhile in Asia Minor, Lysander continued his odious acts of tyranny. This time it will take on a new level of terror and arrogance. He moved his capital to Pergamum, a major naval base and center of Hellenistic culture. Then he declared himself a god, banning the worship of Zeus and other Greek gods. Temples were desecrated and replaced with a statue of himself. Priest who resist are executed and their remains are hanged outside the city. He passed a law for a new state religion, the cult of Phrygia were the ancestors of Lysander and himself are deified and people should pay homage to them. Those who refused are imprisoned and executed by crucifixion, decapitation and by gladiatorial combats. He ordered the renovation of an amphitheater at Pergamum, were dramas glorifying the himself and the Phrygian dynasty are performed. Executions of condemned prisoners and gladiatorial combats are performed here. A Roman historian, Lucius Crassus who traveling to the Han made a stopover at Pergamum and was invited by King Lysander to watch a show. Lucius described it as a terrible show of atrocity and barbarism, but nevertheless, entertainment to the eye of Lysander. He wrote to his Chronicles:
It is a show designed to entertain their God [Lysander II]. On the day I arrived at Pergamum, King Lysander gave an honorable invitation to the Roman traveler[Lucius], and his guards escorted me to the Amphitheater providing me a seat reserved for a noble. The first show was a combat between two groups of gladiators turning the stage like a battlefield. Later only two of them[gladiators] remain until one of them was killed and the other emerged victorious. The next was public executions, crucifixions and decapitations of people declared as criminals. The viewers were entertained as robbers, pirates, thieves and murderers are crucified. Next was the torture and execution of a woman accused of planning to assassinated Lysander. She looks very young and beautiful as she was led to the scaffold. The executioner stripped her and she was bound to a table. The show was not pleasing to my eyes and to others for it is no longer entertainment but an arrogant show of barbarous atrocity. The yelling of the crowd seemed to have died out as she is tied to that vicious wooden bed of agony. Then the executioner flogged her and she began to cry in pain. Blood began oozing at the scaffold. Lysander seems to have sensed my displeasure that he reluctantly ordered to halt the execution. She was taken out of the scaffold and later, Lysander secretly asked me to take her to Alexandria with 100 talents of gold so she could start a new life there. The highlight of the show was a drama glorifying the divinity of Lysander and his ancestors. It shows a scene about Lysander II's ancestor, Lysander I, slaying Zeus and other Greek gods, overthrowing the Olympians and "paving way to the new gods."
The tortured woman, named Antigone of Pergamum, came from a family of priest dedicated to Apollo. When Apollo banned the worship of the old [Greek] gods, Antigone's family were executed. After the execution, a plot of assassination against the tyrant [Lysander] was discovered. An investigation ensued, implicating Antigone and officials of Pergamum. Antigone was sentenced to death by being flogged and the others were decapitated and so, she ended up in the amphitheater. After her near encounter with death was taken aboard to Lucius' ship were she recovered from her wounds. After a night of feasting Lucius takes leave of his host and set sail for Alexandria to visit the Han. Upon arriving, he met the former Pharaoh and friend of Han Emperor Liu Qi, the aging Ptolemy VI Philometor. Lucius told everything he saw in Pergamum, including the barbaric spectacles in the Amphitheater to the former ruler. Antigone was later introduced as one of the would-be victims of the show if Lysander was not sensitive enough to sense his guest's displeasure. Ptolemy took pity of the girl and he adopted her and treated like her daughter.
Lucius Crassus continued on his journey across the Han, traveling through Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Persia and further still into the Indus River Valley were he boarded a ship going to Kelunpo. He stayed there for five until he decides to return to Rome. However, he needs to stop at the Babylon because the of the raging war between Athens and Phrygia.
138 BC - At a visit to Ptolemy's palace, Emperor Liu Qi met Antigone, the adopted daughter of Ptolemy who was once victim of Lysander's atrocity. Antigone was amused by Liu Qi eloquent kindness, his cultured upbringing, courage in battle, his sense for justice and desire for a more peaceful settlement conflict over war.
137 BC - Emperor Liu Qi declares Antigone as his consort, making her empress of Han. At the same year, all of Greece was united under the rule of Athens. It was named Empire of Hellene. Although a democracy were people exercise power, the people decided that there should be an emperor to guide them. The Phrygian Empire in Asia Minor sends ambassadors to Athens, telling them to crown Lysander II as their Emperor. The council of Greeks rejected the idea of a tyrant taking the throne, sending back the Phrygian ambassadors. The arrogant tyrant sends another message to Archon Apollodorus of Athens saying Greece has one year to sign the treaty with Phrygia "before Athens and other Greek cities are razed to the ground" The treaty demands the following:
1. Dissolution of the alliance with Han Empire.
2. Secession of all the territories and colonies of the Empire of Hellene to Phrygia.
3. Coronation of Lysander II as the Emperor of Hellenes.
4. Setting up of temples for Lysander and his ancestors and desecration of the temples of Greek gods.
5. Declaration of war with Han Empire.
Apollodorus read aloud the treaty to the assembly and unanimously, the members rejected Lysander's demands. Athens immediately prepare for war. Nicanor, commander of the Navy was declared a strategoi (general) for the defense of Greece. The Han honors its commitment to Athens. Fortifications at the border with Asia Minor were raised and Han deployed soldiers at the Phrygian front under the command of the general Zhao Jin. Han naval forces in the Mediterranean patrol the waters of the Aegean. At the Euxine (Black Sea), the navy stationed at Phasis prepared for a possible attack by Phrygia of the Crimean colony. Tao Guan, the strategoi of Han, suggests a plan to launch an amphibious assault at Pergamum as a pre-emptive strike to this threat of Phrygian invasion but Liu Qi turned it down because "as the capital of a nation, Pergamum would be defended by heavy fortifications pose a risk to invading naval forces.
136 BC - Phrygian forces launched their offensive against Greece. Lysander marched into Thrace, taking Byzantion and Odessa and now are poised to attack the Han colony of Crimea. The young naval officer Xuan Yu was given a dangerous task to raid port of Byzantion. He took command of the two small ships he named Charon and Styx. The names were designed to terrify the enemy because of their association with death and the underworld. At nightfall, Xuan Yu reached the harbor were Phrygian navy ships were anchored. With favorable winds, he ordered his men to discharge the Liquid Fire, a weapon that sends an unquenchable fire to enemy ships. Upon discharging, the liquid fire was blown to the Phrygian ships by the wind. The fire did not stop at the harbor. Near to it was an encampment of Phrygian soldiers tasked to take the colony of Crimea from the Han. The attack surprised the soldiers and by daylight, the harbor of Byzantion becomes a graveyard for ships and soldiers alike. Han forces from Phasis and Crimea occupied Byzantion and surrounding areas, cutting off the supply lines of Phrygian forces at Thrace.
Lysander ordered a rescue mission of his troops trapped at Thrace. Their fleet at the Aegean began carrying retreating soldiers from Thrace back to Ephesus. The Greeks launched a counterattack and Thrace was back at the Greek hands. Draco, commander of the Phrygians ordered the defense of the area surrounding a Thracian stronghold at Hellespont were they waited for ships to take them back. Nicanor, the Greek strategoi, wasted no time in inflicting heavy casualties against their enemies. The Greeks surrounded the Phrygians and attacked them. With limited supplies, Draco and his men could barely hold the attacking Greeks. In a single day, a thousand of Phrygians die in the field. Finally, the Phrygian fleet came to rescue them. The evacuation is not that easy, however. The combined Athenian and Han navies bagan harassing Phrygian ships as soon as they sail back, throwing their fleet into a state of confusion. From Byzantion, Xuan Yu was tasked to attack the Phrygian fleet at Hellespont with his two ships. Already famous for the destruction of the enemy fleet at Byzantion harbor, Xuan Yu lead another daring attack, this time at the command ship of Draco, Tarsos. Archers from his ship, the Styx fired flaming arrows against Tarsos, however, it did not burn the ship. Xuan Yu and his men boarded Tarsos and engaged hand to hand with the Phrygian crew. Xuan Yu attacked Draco and nearly killed him and the Phrygian general fled. The commander of the Phrygian navy, however, was killed and Xuan Yu have his head hoisted at the top of the mast before torching the ship and leaving.
In the end, the Phrygians were able to save three thousand soldiers out of twelve thousand who went to Thrace. This was a huge blow to Phrygia, but the arrogant Lysander is still determined to take Greece to his empire.
Phrygia launched another attack, this time at Crete. Lysander believes if he could take the island of Crete, Han navy will not be able to thwart the Phrygian naval offensive against Athens and the city will immediately fall to Phrygia. Liu Qi decides to end Lysander's tyranny, after all he heard the story of Antigone's agony in the hands of this atrocious Phrygian king. Han forces, led by the Emperor himself marched into Asia Minor and seized the city of Tarsos. At the same time, Nicanor marched from Thrace into the Phrygian territory of Bithynia and Mysia. Lysander now faced a war on two sides.