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Friday, November 10, 2017

Episode B47 - Zenobia

Synopsis:  Following the murder of the Emperor Gallienus, Zenobia successfully defends Palmyra against both Roman and Persian aggression. 

“Zenobia then took upon her the administration of affairs.  She was the wife of Odaenathus, but had the courage of a man, and with the assistance of her husband’s friends, acted in every respect as well as he had done.” – Zosimus, The History
“This Heraclianus, however, on setting out against the Persians, was defeated by the Palmyrenes, and lost all the troops he had gathered, for Zenobia was ruling Palmyra and most of the East with the vigour of a man.” – The Historia Augusta
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B47_Zenobia.mp3

Friday, October 27, 2017

Episode B46 - Melek Melek

Synopsis:  Odaenathus declares himself King of Kings, twice besieges the Sasanid capital, and combats Gothic pirates on the Black Sea coast.  At the height of his power he’s betrayed and murdered, and Palmyrene power passes to Queen Zenobia.

“While Valerian was growing old in Persia, Odaenathus the Palmyrene gathered together an army and restored the Roman power almost to its pristine condition.” – The Historia Augusta
“Him will glory attend.  He himself, unblemished and great, will rule over the Romans, and the Persians will be powerless.” – The Thirteenth Sibylline Oracle
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B46_Melek_Melek.mp3

Friday, October 13, 2017

Episode B45 - Odaenathus

Synopsis:  Odaenathus helps drive the Persians from Syria and preserve Gallienus’ throne.  After his peace offering is spurned by Shapur, Odaenathus prepares to invade the Sasanid Empire.

“Had not Odaenathus, prince of the Palmyrenes, seized the imperial power after the capture of Valerian, when the strength of the Roman state was exhausted, all would have been lost in the East.” – The Historia Augusta
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B45_Odaenathus.mp3

Friday, September 29, 2017

Episode B44 - Edessa

Synopsis:  After his humiliating defeat at the hands of Shapur, Valerian joins tens of thousands of Roman captives deported to the heartland of Persia. 

“Going without consideration to Shapur with a small retinue, to treat for a peace, (Valerian) was presently laid hold off by the enemy, and so ended his days in the capacity of a slave among the Persians, to the disgrace of the Roman name in all future times.” - Zosimus, The History
“Whatever treatment the unfortunate Valerian might experience in Persia, it is at least certain that the only emperor of Rome who had ever fallen into the hands of the enemy, languished away his life in hopeless captivity.”  - Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter X, Part IV
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B44_Edessa.mp3

Friday, July 14, 2017

Samsigeramus, Zenobia, and the End of the Bloodline

After listening to Episode B43, astute listener Jacob asked (on the TAW Facebook page): "So with the death of Samsigeramus is that technically the end of the Bloodline as far as we can prove?"  My answer is a reluctant but unqualified “yes.”  Samsigeramus, like Severus Alexander, may well have been a tenth generation descendant of Cleopatra and Mark Antony - though it’s worth noting that the generations (and exact connections) between Gaius Julius Alexio and Julius Bassianus are pretty sparsely documented.  In the Bloodline series I’ve proposed what I think is a reasonable reconstruction to span the requisite gaps.

But even that’s a six-lane freeway compared to the dusty unmarked trail connecting Cleopatra’s descendants – in any reasonable way – to the Palmyrene Queen Zenobia.  My initial research hinted at connections, and I used those connections to frame the series.  But I’ve since read works by modern historians who argue (convincingly) that there’s just no “there” there.  Zenobia’s claims in this regard were pretty clearly propaganda, designed to appeal at a critical time to a very critical power base.  This revelation does little to diminish her stature - and she remains a remarkable, heroic, and ultimately tragic figure.  But it does throw a monkey wrench into the series structure, by forcing the end of the family through-line with the death of Samsigeramus.
So…what now?  Well, never fear – I’m still fully committed to finishing the story of the meteoric rise and fall of the Palmyrene Empire, and the series will still conclude with the ultimate fate of Zenobia.  In a broader sense it’s also the story of a particular time and place: the Syria of the late third century, precariously balanced between a distant Rome, an aggressive Persia, and the rising power of Palmyra.  At the same time it’s the story of Emesa - modern Homs in Syria - the Jerusalem of the Sun God and cradle of the Severan Dynasty.  Even after Samsigeramus’ death the city will remain a historical nexus, and witness the murder of a King, the defeat of an Empire, and the first declaration of monotheism by a sitting Roman Emperor.
I hope you enjoy the ride.
Scott C.
PS  A quick word about timing.  Due to an overflow of competing commitments, it’s recently proven extremely challenging to post episodes on a regular basis.  It’s my general intention to complete the series before the end of the year, but aside from that I really can’t provide much in the way of details.  So please keep subscribed to the Bloodline feed and look forward to the occasional happy surprise as new episodes (or groups of episodes) make it your way.  And, as always, thanks for listening!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Episode B43 - Sibylline

Synopsis:  Samsigeramus saves Emesa from Sasanid destruction, then proclaims himself Augustus.  The arrival of Valerian marks the end of his reign and the elevation of Odaenathus to provincial governor.

“And then there shall be a flight of Romans; and thereafter there shall come the priest heard of all round, sent by the sun, from Syria appearing, and by guile shall he accomplish all things.  And then too the city of the sun shall offer prayer; and round about her shall the Persians dare the fearful threatenings of the Phoenicians.” – The Sibylline Oracles, Book XIII
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B43_Sibylline.mp3

Friday, May 26, 2017

Episode B42 - Iotapian

Synopsis:  The revolt of Iotapian shows Eastern nobles the possibilities among the chaos.  Shapur’s invasion of Syria drives Samsigeramus to make a bold stand.

“As there were at that time many disturbances in the empire, the eastern provinces - which were uneasy, partly owing to the exactions of exorbitant tributes, and partly to their dislike of Priscus, their governor, who was a man of an intolerably evil disposition - wished for innovation, and set up (Iotapian) for emperor.” – Zosimus, The History, Book 1
“So rapid were the motions of the Persian cavalry, that, if we may credit a very judicious historian, the city of Antioch was surprised when the idle multitude were fondly gazing on the amusements of the theatre.  The splendid buildings of Antioch, private as well as public, were either pillaged or destroyed; and the numerous inhabitants were put to the sword, or led away into captivity.” – Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter X, Part IV
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B42_Iotapian.mp3