Chapter XXII - Imperator Alio - Anno Quattuor Imperatorum - Part VI

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
[Another Emperor !]
The Year of the Four Emperors - Part VI
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
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Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Augustus
Vitellius was the son of Lucius Vitellius Veteris and his wife Sextilia, and had one brother, Lucius Vitellius the Younger.
Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus
Young Vitellius spent his early youth in Capri, close to Baiae, in the company of Tiberius's homosexual slave-boys, and it is said that he got his father a big promotion by being sexually 'accommodating' towards Tiberius.
Through flattery, cunning and manipulation, Vitellius managed to work his way up the 'Imperial ladder', and held a variety of positions in public office.
He married firstly before the year 40 a woman named Petronia, daughter of Publius Petronius or Gaius Petronius Pontius Nigrinus, by whom he had a son Aulus Vitellius Petronianus.
Vitellius married secondly, around the year 50, a woman named Galeria Fundana, perhaps the granddaughter of Gaius Galerius, Prefect of Egypt in 23.
They had two children, a son called Aulus Vitellius Germanicus or Novis, the Younger, and a daughter, Vitellia, who married the Legatus Decimus Valerius Asiaticus.
Suetonius describes his physical description: "He was in fact abnormally tall, with a face usually flushed from hard drinking, a huge belly, and one thigh crippled from being struck once time by a four-horse chariot, when he was in attendance on Gaius as he was driving..."
Vitellius was Consul in 48, and assumed Proconsul of Africa in either 60 or 61, in which capacity he is said to have acquitted himself with credit.
At the end of 68, Galba selected him to command the army of Germania Inferior, and here Vitellius made himself popular with his Tribunes, and with the Legionaries by outrageous prodigality and excessive good nature, which soon, and not surprisingly, proved fatal to order and discipline.
Vitellius Becomes Emperor

He owed his elevation to the Imperium to Caecina and Fabius Valens, commanders of two legions on the Rhine.
Fabius Valens of Anagnia (d. 69) was a Roman commander favoured by Nero. In 69 he was commander of Legio I Germanica based in Germania Inferior. When the troops refused to endorse the new emperor Galba after Nero's death, he had them proclaim Vitellius, the governor of Germania Inferior, as emperor.
The forces supporting Vitellius were divided into two armies for the march on Rome, one of them commanded by Valens. Valens' troops took a route through Gaul, probably to recruit additional soldiers, before eventually joining with the other Vitellian army, led by Caecina, at Cremona. By then Galba had been killed and Otho had been proclaimed emperor at Rome. Otho's forces met the combined armies of 
Vitellius at the first Battle of Bedriacum. Valens and Caecina won a decisive victory, and Otho committed suicide when he heard the news of his army's defeat. Vitellius was able to make a triumphant entry into Rome. One anecdote says that he appeared on the music-stage hall at Nero's coming of age celebrations, not at the command of Nero but voluntarily. At the time this was frowned upon, and many people thought that he was merely a 'man of fashion' - which, like most of Nero's associates - he was..
Through these two men a military revolution was speedily accomplished; they refused to renew their vows of allegiance to Emperor Galba on 1 January 69, and early in 69 Vitellius was proclaimed emperor at  Colonia (Cologne).
In 50 AD, the Romans founded Colonia on the Rhine, and the city became the provincial capital of Germania Inferior in 85 AD. The city was named "Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium" in 50 AD. 
More accurately, he was proclaimed Emperor of the armies of Germania Inferior and Superior.
The armies of Gaul, Brittania and Raetia sided with them shortly afterwards.
By the time that they marched on Rome, however, it was Otho (!), and not Galba, who they had to confront.
The confrontation with Otho has already been described in some detail in the previous chapter (Chapter XXI).
In fact, Vitellius was never acknowledged as Emperor by the entire Roman world, though at Rome the Senate accepted him, and decreed to him the usual Imperial honours with the title Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Augustus.
Vitellius advanced into Italy at the head of a licentious and rough soldiery, and Rome became the scene of riot and massacre, gladiatorial shows and extravagant feasting.
To reward his victorious legionaries, Vitellius unwisely disbanded the existing Praetorian Guard and installed his own men instead.
The Imperium of  Vitellius

Suetonius
Suetonius, whose father had fought for Otho at Bedriacum, gives an unfavourable account of Vitellius' brief administration: he describes him as unambitious, and notes that Vitellius showed indications of a desire to govern wisely, but that Valens and Caecina encouraged him in a course of vicious excesses, which threw his better qualities into the background.
Vitellius is described as lazy and self-indulgent, fond of eating and drinking, and an obese glutton, eating banquets four times a day, and feasting on rare foods he would send the Roman navy to procure.
For these banquets, he had himself invited over to a different noble's house for each one.
He is even reported to have starved his own mother to death - to fulfill a prophecy that he would rule longer if his mother died first; alternatively there is a report that his mother asked for poison to commit suicide-a request he granted.
Other writers, namely Tacitus and Cassius Dio, disagree with some of Suetonius' assertions, even though their own accounts of Vitellius are scarcely positive ones.
Vitellius made two important contributions to Roman government which outlasted him.
Tacitus describes them both in his Histories:
Vitellius ended the practice of Centurions selling furloughs and exemptions of duty to their men, a change Tacitus describes as being adopted by 'all good emperors'.
He also expanded the offices of the Imperial Administration beyond the imperial pool of Freedmen, allowing those of the Equites (Knights) to take up positions in the Imperial Civil Service.
Vitellius also banned astrologers from Rome and Italy on 1 October, 69. - an obvious response to the encouragements that Otho had received from Chaldeans.
Sporus
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Following in Otho's footsteps, Vitellius took up with young Sporus, (the boy who Nero had castrated and then 'married' (an action which to a great extent turned Gracchus against Nero).
Subsequently, Vitellius planned for Sporus to play the title role of the 'Rape of Persephone' (the same theme of the finger-ring Sporus gave to Nero at the Calendas), for the viewing enjoyment of the crowds during one of the Ludi he was planning to stage in Rome.
The calends (Latin: kalendae) was the first day of every month in the Roman calendar. The Romans called the first day of every month the "calends", signifying the start of a new lunar phase. On this day, the pontiffs (priests) would announce the number of days until the next month at the Curia Calabra; in addition, debtors had to pay off their debts on this day. These debts were inscribed in the kalendaria, effectively an accounting book. The calends was a feature of the Roman calendar, but it was not included in the Greek calendar. Consequently, to postpone something 'ad Kalendas Graecas' ("until the Greek calends") was a colloquial expression for postponing something forever. 
Sporus, on being informed that he would appear naked, and be raped in public, then committed suicide.
He was almost certainly under 20 years old at the time of his death.
The story of the abduction of Persephone by Hades, against her will, is traditionally referred to as the 'Rape of Persephone'. It is mentioned briefly in Hesiod's 'Theogony', and told in considerable detail in the Homeric 'Hymn to Demeter'. Zeus, it is said, permitted Hades, who was in love with the beautiful Persephone, to carry her off as her mother Demeter was not likely to allow her daughter to go down to Hades. Persephone was gathering flowers with the Oceanids along with Artemis and Athena - the Homeric Hymn says - in a field when Hades came to abduct her, bursting through a cleft in the earth.
Vitellius, in staging this myth as part of a Ludi (Games), to be held in Rome, was simply continuing the tradition long followed during 'Ludi' (Games), already referred to in previous chapters.
The obvious example in our story is where Petronius and Marcus stage 'tableaux' representing certain historical/mythological subjects.
 'Rape of Persephone'
The difference with Vitellius was that, for reasons of his own, he wished to humiliate Sporus - who had been given (at least at one stage, when was married to Nero), the status of Roman 'Empress', whereas in the case of the presentations staged at the 'Amphitheater Gracchii', and most other such presentations in other amphitheaters, the participants were either slaves, or 'noxii' - individuals condemned to die in the arena by local magistrates.
To make the proposed event even more shocking and blasphemous, the myth of the Abduction of Persephone was a central aspect of the Greek 'Eleusinian Mysteries' (which even the debauched, immoral Nero respected).
Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια - Eleusinian Mysteries - were initiations held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone, based at Eleusis in Greece. They are the "most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece". It is thought that their basis was an old agrarian cult which probably goes back to the Mycenean period (c. 1600 – 1100 BC), and it is believed that the cult of Demeter was established in 1500 BC. The mysteries represented the myth of the abduction of Persephone from her mother Demeter by the king of the underworld Hades, in a cycle with three phases, the "descent" (loss), the "search" and the "ascent", with the main theme the "ascent" of Persephone, and the reunion with her mother. It was a major festival during the Hellenic era, and later spread to Rome. The name of the town, Eleusís, seems to be Pre-Greek and it is probably a counterpart with Elysium. The rites, ceremonies, and beliefs were kept secret, and consistently preserved from antiquity. The initiated believed that they would have a reward in the afterlife
Those who were 'superstitious', or religiously inclined, would suggest that this proposed event, to be staged by Vitellius, was sufficiently blasphemous as to be directly related to the new Emperor's eventual fate.
From these considerations it is possible to see that Sporus was probably more than simply concerned with his own physical and sexual humiliation, but rather that he was not prepared to be involved in such a irreligious event.
At the Villa

In July 69, back in sleepy Baiae, where, despite all the problems besetting the Empire, the 'summer season', was well under way, and Gracchus continued to receive regular reports from Rome.
It was clear to him that Vitellius would not last long as Emperor.
At the end of the reign of Nero, Roman Legions had been quelling a Jewish rebellion (yes, yet another one) in Palestine.
Despite all the problems in Germania and Gaul, while rival claimants to the Imperium had fought, Roman arms had been successful in the East.
Titus Flavius Vespasianus
Gracchus, while having informants in the North (Germania and Gaul), and Rome, - also had his 'clients' (and many of his lucrative investments) in the Eastern provinces and especially Egypt, and these clients were able to inform him that the Legions in the Eastern provinces had declared, as Emperor, their commander, Titus Flavius Vespasianus, despite the fact that Vitellius was still, (only just), Emperor in Rome.
At the villa, too, there were changes in the offing.
Gracchus needed some new, very high profile slaves, as there were no suitable candidates at the villa, or in Gracchus' other establishments, suitable for promotion.
He needed someone to act a deputy to Servius, as Servius was now Tribune responsible for security.
In addition, as Petronius was legally responsible to Marcus, (although still managing, to a large extent, the Amphitheater), there needed to be a new 'assistant manager' of the Amphitheater, directly responsible to Gracchus, but also subject to Petronius and Marcus.
As usual, Terentius was given the task of filling these situations - but he was required to do with some alacrity.
So yet again there was one of those meetings.
In this case, a meeting between a somewhat weary Gracchus, and a definitely worried, and overworked Terentius.
"You look worried, Terentius ?", Gracchus queried, as his senior freedamn approached.
"And well I might be.
One Emperor after another, Dominus, and all theses changes in the villa, and that's to say nothing of all the problems to our commercial operations caused by all this turmoil in the government.", Terentius explained, handing Gracchus a sheaf of parchments for him to sign.
Gracchus slowly started signing, while a slave-boy stood beside him with a small silver ladle of hot wax, so that Gracchus could seal the documents.
"Alright, boy....go !", Gracchus ordered, as soon as the last document was signed.
The slave-boy bowed, and instantly left.
Gracchus and Terentius were now alone.
"There is much to be done.", Gracchus began.
"I need, in the very near future, to go to Rome.
I will take Marcus, of course, - Servius, as my Tribune, Petronius, as personal bodyguard to Marcus, and Adonios and Cleon as Marcus' personal slaves. I will take Ariston as my valet.
You will already be in Rome, and will open up the Villa Gracchii, and also the Villa Pastorali in Tibur.
I want a complete refurbishment - for Marcus - and the purchase of the necessary household slaves."
"And when is this visit going to happen ?", Terentius asked.
"That's the problem, my friend !", Gracchus replied.
"I want to be in Rome when Vespasianus arrives - so you need to have everything ready well in advance - as I do not know how swiftly things are progressing on the political front.
Now, Terentius, I have a special and rather difficult task for you.", Gracchus continued, sitting heavily at his marble topped table.
"We need replacements for Servius and Petronius.
Not just any old slaves, but young men with proven experience and skill.
While you are in Rome, preparing for the visit, I want you to look up old contacts, and find me a young slave to manage the amphitheater, - under the direction of Petronius, of course, - and also a young man to be a coach for Marcus to assist Servius, who will now be busy with security.
Acquire these slaves, - but on the basis that they may be returned to their original masters if they do not prove suitable, but keep them in Rome, at the Villa Gracchii - where I will interview them on my eventual arrival.
And remember - these slave are for Marcus - so price is immaterial."
"Yes Dominus !", Terentius responded.
"It will all be attended to."
He bowed and left Gracchus' study.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
Vespasianus, the Imperium, Marcus and Rome
'The empire, which for a long time had been unsettled and, as it were, drifting, through the usurpation and violent deaths of three emperors, was at last taken in hand and given stability by the Flavian family.'
Seutonius: from 'De vita Caesarum'
De vita Caesarum ('About the Life of the Caesars'), commonly known as 'The Twelve Caesars', is a set of twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. The work, written in AD 121 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, was the most popular work of Suetonius, at that time Hadrian's personal secretary, and is the largest among his surviving writings.
for more information about
'De Vita Caesarvm'
go to:

 _________________________________________________________

Gracchus, taking advice from Novius, was looking to Flavius Vespasianus as the 'sōtēr (saviour) from the East, as referred to in Apollo's prophecy.
Soter derives from the Greek epithet σωτήρ (sōtēr), meaning a saviour, a deliverer.
Gracchus, therefore, saw Flavius Vespasianus as bringing an end to the year of disruption and political uncertainty, and bringing about a 'new beginning' - a 'novum initium', as the prophecy stated.
He therefore felt it wise and politic that, as soon as Vespasianus appeared in Rome, he should be there, with Marcus, so that the boy - his 'heir' - could be associated with this 'new era'.
In addition, Gracchus, aware that his own time appeared to be running out, wanted to show Marcus the inheritance awaiting him in Rome and Tibur.


INTERLUDE - DINNER WITH GRACCHUS

Gracchus had a beautiful triclinium at the villa, with a portico looking out over an enclosed garden.
Roman gardens (Latin: hortus) and ornamental horticulture was highly developed in Roman civilization. The garden was a place of peace and tranquility – a refuge from urban life – and a place filled with religious and symbolic meanings.
Gardens were usually built in various structures:

  • Townhouse "Domus" - This free-standing structure is usually one story, containing multiple rooms for everyday activities, an atrium toward the front of the house to collect rainwater and illuminate the area surrounding it. Toward the back of the house a hortus or peristylium(an open courtyard) is found.
  • Rustic Villa "Villa Rustica" – A large farmhouse used when the landowner would come to visit.
  • Urban Villa "Villa Urbana" – These villas are where Roman citizens would go on holiday excursion or they would stop and rest when traveling late through the night.
  • Suburban Villa "Villa Suburbana" – A Roman take on the country home, used specifically for recreational use.
  • Palace Villa – Such as Gracchus' Villas in Baiae and Tibur - reserved for the very wealthy. Very large and extravagant.
Peristyle Garden - Gracchus' Villa
Peristyle is a Greek word, when broken down "Peri" means around and "style" means column. So it is a type of open courtyard connected to the home, that is surrounded by walls of columns supporting a portico. The Hortus or xystus often overlooked a lower garden, or ambulation. The ambulation consisted of a variety of flowers, trees, and other foliage and served as an ideal milieu for a leisurely stroll after a meal, some mild conversation, or other Roman recreation activities. The gestation was a shaded avenue where the master of a home could ride horseback or be carried by his slaves. It generally encircled the ambulation, or was constructed as a separate oval shaped space. Paths or walkways were often constructed for easy routes around the garden. These were made with loose stone, gravel, sand or packed earth. Gardens featured many ornamental styles, from sculpture to frescoes to sundials. These depict nature scenes or were put in place as a shrine (aediculae) to the gods.
As it was now Summer, Gracchus liked to eat in the evenings, while viewing his private garden, and often invited Marcus to join him.
Once the slaves had laid out the food, Gracchus dismissed them.
Unlike many patricians, Gracchus did not imagine that his slaves were mindless 'manikins', who could be allowed to witness the most intimate acts or the most intimate conversations.
Some patricians were quite content, while they copulated,  to have their slaves remain in attendance, or equally have slaves in a room where a highly confidential conversation was taking place - and this had been the cause of the downfall of many who were careless with regard to what a slave may know or witness.
Slaves were able to give evidence against their master in legal trials, but only on condition that such evidence had been provided as a result of torture.
"Tell me, Marcus,", Gracchus began, relaxing as he laid back on his couch.
"How do you like having Petronius as your slave ?".
"He is an excellent slave, and probably the best gift that you have given to me, sir.", Marcus replied, rather formally.
"And what about at the amphitheater ?
Are you still working well together on the summer events.?"
"I think, sir, things are going well.
Attendances are up - but there are just two problems...."
"Yes... Go on !"... Gracchus said, encouragingly.
Well..... We would both like you to attend the Games more often - we need your comments and advice regarding what we are doing.
And also - but please don't be annoyed by this - we would like to go ahead with the tableau about Achilles and Patroclus.", Marcus added.
"Well.. as for coming to the amphitheater - I will do my best.
As for the other matter..... I can see no reason why you should not present this tableau in a few weeks, now that things in Rome seem to be calming down.", Gracchus replied.
"And that brings me to what I wanted to talk to you about, this evening.
Things are calming down, because the Legions in the East and Egypt, have given their support to Vespianus.
So let me tell you something about this Vespasian....
Now, Vespasian comes from the Sabine country, and was born five years before the death of the Divine Augustus.
As a young man he served in Thrace as tribune.
In the reign of Claudius he was sent in command of a legion to Germany, through the influence of that rather odious freedman, Narcissus.
Later, he governed Provincia Africa Proconsularis.
Interestingly, on Nero's tour through Greece,  he offended the Emperor by either going out often while Nero was singing, or falling asleep, if he remained.
As a result, he was banished, not only from the intimate circle of the emperor, but even with his public receptions, and so he withdrew to a little 'out-of-the-way town', until a province and an army were offered him.
While Otho and Vitellius were fighting for the Imperium, after the death of Nero and Galba, Vespasian, who was putting down a revolt by the Jews in Judea, began to look to gaining the Imperium.
According to Suetonius, a prophecy ubiquitous in the Eastern provinces claimed that from Judaea would come the future ruler of the world - Apollo's Sibylline oracle, given to Gracchus - the 'Soter ab Oriente' (Saviour from the East). Vespasian eventually believed that this prophecy applied to him, and found a number of omens, oracles, and portents that reinforced this belief. While Vespasian was at Caesarea, he was proclaimed emperor (1 July 69), first by the army in Egypt under Tiberius Julius Alexander, and then by his troops in Judaea (3 July according to Tacitus).
"So, Marcus, according to the information being sent to me, it looks like Titus Flavius Vespasianus is to be the new Emperor - the fourth Emperor in one year !", Gracchus lay bak, looking very self satisfied.
"And will he make a good Emperor ?", Marcus asked, fascinated to hear all this about a man of whom, before, had had no knowledge.
"That...", Gracchus replied, pausing, significantly, "is difficult to say.
"So have you met him ?", Marcus persisted.
"Yes.... Only once - when he was in disfavour with Nero - whom he never really liked, or respected, for that matter."
"And ?...", Marcus prompted.
"Reliable, even dull, maybe, but unfortunately too superstitious.
So now he believes all these prophecies, about a 'Ruler from the East' - but, of course, we have the true prophecy, from the lips of the Sybil herself - the words of Apollo - the guardian deity of the Divine Augustus, and your guardian deity also, young Marcus."
Gracchus raised himself up on his gold brocade cushions, and looked at Marcus intently.
"I believe that he is the 'sōtēr from the East', of whom the Sibyl spoke, and that he will become Emperor, and create a new beginning  ('novum initium') for Rome.
And you, my boy, must become part of that beginning."
Gracchus then looked away, reflectively.
"I think that you do not really understand your position, young Marcus.
Throughout the reigns of the 'bad Emperors', (Claudius excluded), I have hidden myself away here in  Baiae, in my little villa. (Marcus' eyes widened when Gracchus referred to the immense villa as 'little').
As the years passed, I built on my already significant wealth - which was left to me by my father.
Unlike many of my contemporaries, I survived - the Emperors ignored me - and I, on many occasions, was able to acquire some of the wealth, and the markets and interests left by those who had succumbed to the acquisitiveness of the various Julio-Claudians.
And so I became very, very rich.
I did not seek power, or influence, - only wealth - although I was made a magistrate, and later a senator.
So Marcus, as my heir, you are going to be immensely rich !
When you inherit, - you will be one of the richest men in the Empire.
Everyone will want to know you, and have you as their 'patron'.
And, in addition, you will inherit a huge number of 'clients', all sworn to your service."
Gracchus then rose from his couch, obviously to impress on Marcus the importance of what he was saying.
"It is for this reason that I will take you to Rome, when Vespasian reaches the city, and introduce you to him and, if possible, to his son and heir, Titus."
Now Marcus hasn't a clue who Titus is - apart from a son of Vespasian - so here's some information for you:
Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus 
Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus was born in Rome, probably on 30 December 39 AD, as the eldest son of Titus Flavius Vespasianus - commonly known as Vespasian - and Domitilla the Elder. He had one younger sister, Domitilla the Younger (born 45), and one younger brother, also named Titus Flavius Domitianus (born 51), but commonly referred to as Domitian. Decades of civil war during the 1st century BC had contributed greatly to the demise of the old aristocracy of Rome, which was gradually replaced in prominence by a new provincial nobility during the early part of the 1st century. One such family was the 'gens Flavia', (the Flavians), which rose from relative obscurity to prominence in just four generations, acquiring wealth and status under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. The political career of Vespasian included the offices of quaestor, aedile and praetor, and culminated with a consulship in 51, the year Domitian was born. As a military commander, he gained early renown by participating in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43. What little is known of Titus's early life has been handed down to us by Suetonius, who records that he was brought up at the imperial court in the company of Britannicus, the son of emperor Claudius, who would be murdered by Nero in 55. Further details on his education are scarce, but it seems he showed early promise in the military arts and was a skilled poet and orator both in Greek and Latin. Vespasian  sent Titus to greet the new princeps, Galba. Before reaching Italy, Titus learnt that Galba had been murdered, and replaced by Otho, and that Vitellius and his armies in Germania were preparing to march on the capital, intent on overthrowing Otho. Not wanting to risk being taken hostage by one side or the other, he abandoned the journey to Rome and rejoined his father in Judaea. Meanwhile, Otho was defeated in the First Battle of Bedriacum and committed suicide - as you should already know. Interestingly, Titus was obsessed with attractive, teenage boys.

At this point, everything seemed to slow down.
While Vespasian had been declared Emperor in Egypt tn July 69, he remained in Egypt, ostensibly to secure the grain supply for Rome.
However, for reasons better known to himself, he lingered in Egypt, and while there, he visited the Temple of Serapis, where reportedly he experienced a vision and, as the 'New Serapis', healed two men.
Agora - Alexandria
Tiberius Julius Alexander, who had led the province of Egypt in proclaiming Vespasian Emperor on 1 July 69 CE , prepared a lavish 'adventus' reception for Vespasian in Alexandria. Vespasian was received in the city as the 'New Serapis'. Two Alexandrians – one blind, the other lame – approached the emperor at the tribunal seeking healing at Serapis’ command. Vespasian at first rebuffed them, but they persisted, so the emperor, with the encouragement of those around him, made the attempt.
Attached to Suetonius’ and Tacitus’ accounts of these healings is a second 'wonder'.
Vespasian spent time alone in the sanctuary of Serapis, and there saw in a vision a man named Basilides,who, being detained by illness, was supposedly miles away.
Basilides conferred upon Vespasian certain objects – loaves, crowns, and boughs – that were associated with Ptolemaic royalty.
The experience appears to have been a kind of miraculous 'coronation ceremony'.
All of this, of course, confirms Gracchus' remark to Marcus, that Vespasian was 'over superstitious'.

Serapeum - Alexandria
Serapis
Σέραπις -  Sarapis is a Graeco-Egyptian god. The cult of Serapis was introduced during the 3rd century BC on the orders of Ptolemy I - Soter - of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm. The god was depicted as Greek in appearance, but with Egyptian trappings, and combined iconography from a great many cults, signifying both abundance and resurrection.  A Serapeum (Greek Serapeion) was any temple or religious precinct devoted to Serapis. The cult of Serapis was spread as a matter of deliberate policy by the Ptolemaic kings, who also built an immense serapeum in Alexandria.
Vespasian’s motivation for participating in the cult of Serapis at the time will have been, at least in part, to continue receiving support from the gods and priesthoods of the East.
It was anticipated that these gods and their priests would throw their lot in with Vespasian, and even produce some signs predicting his victory.
At the same time, it is doubtful that the approval of Serapis in Alexandria would have had much immediate impact on the political situation in Rome, a fact that raises questions about the nature and extent of the wonders’ reportage in the direct aftermath of their occurrence.
Suetonius’ statement that the healings imparted to the Emperor an 'auctoritas et quasi maiestas quaedam' (authority and a certain majesty) that he had previously lacked must thus be carefully interpreted.
Alexander the Great
Zeus Ammon
Indeed, it is unlikely that the emperor’s healing of provincial commoners by personal touch in the manner of a magician or holy man – persons of dubious reputation in Rome – would have inspired other Romans, particularly the elite , such as Gracchus, to attribute greater 'auctoritas and maiestas' to him.
The explicitly Hellenistic elements of the accounts of Vespasian’s stay in Alexandria point to the development of a Philhellenic 'Vespasian myth', that stressed echoes of Alexander the Great’s exploits which would undoubtedly appeal to patricians like Gracchus.
The impact of such a tradition on Roman accounts is obviously apparent
In Tacitus, the desire ('cupido') that spurs Vespasian to visit the sanctuary of Serapis alludes to Alexander’s famous 'pothos' (‘a yearning always to do something new and extraordinary’), and the visit itself parallels Alexander’s visit to the oracle of Ammon at Siwa), where the young conqueror is identified as the son of 'Zeus Ammon' - another 'Egypto-Hellenic' god.



Hot, dusty, and very superstitious Egypt is, of course, a long way from the cool, calm peristyle gardens of Gracchus' 'little villa' - as he described it to young Marcus
While Gracchus and Marcus walked and talked, under the watchful eye of the ever faithful Petronius, Marcus knew nothing (yet), of the 'weirdness' of what was happening in Alexandria.
"So now, Marcus," Gracchus said, as they softly crunched their way along the gravel paths, with the fountains splashing and the birds twittering, "we have a new Emperor - maybe a bit odd, but a fine soldier, and a steady hand for the Empire - so you and Petronius had better start planning for 'Ludi honorem in Vespasiani' - " (and that will be the subject of the next Chapter).

Subsequently, however, it was not until December of 69 that the Senate, in Rome, declared Vespasian Emperor.


'and the story continues -  Vespasian, the new Emperor returns to Rome -
and Marcus and Petronius, on behalf of Gracchus, stage the 'Ludi honorem in Vespasiani''
    
go to the link below to continue the story
(not yet operative)
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
'LVDI HONOREM IN VESPASIANI'
(Anno Quattuor Imperatorum - Ultima Partem)

warning: this section features nudity, explicit sexuality and extreme violence in images and text - do not view if you may be offended


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