King Slayers – Emperor Caracalla and the Case of the Full Bladder

Emperor Caracalla

Seriously, bruh? Couldn’t wait until I was finished?!

 

Emperor Caracalla falls among a long line of dickish Roman Emperors who, if anyone recalls his name at all, will be forever remembered in infamy for good ol’ fashioned tyranny and the pathetic way in which he met his end.

But this same emperor made many mistakes because of the obstinacy with which he clung to his own opinions; for he wished not only to know everything but to be the only one to know anything, and he desired not only to have all power but to be the only one to have power. Hench he asked no one’s advice and was jealous of those who had any useful knowledge. He never loved anyone, but he hated all who excelled in anything, most of all those whom he pretended to love most; and he destroyed many of them in one way or another. [1]

-Cassisus Dio. On Caracalla but without the context, could easily be confused for a different modern leader of today.

Following the reign of his father Septimius Severus, the dude who JK Rowling probably named Snape after, Caracalla began a joint rule with his brother Geta in 211 AD until he had him murdered because he just didn’t like to share or settle differences in a reasonable manner because what Roman Emperor needs to possess sound judgment? But even before this moment, Caracalla had already started his laundry list of assholery that began with the exile and murder of his wife, whom sources aren’t entirely sure why he hated so much (and keep in mind divorce in Rome at this time was quite common), and her father for being responsible for half of her gene pool. [2] To make matters worse, after Caracalla had his younger brother gutted in the arms of their own mother, he went on to order a damnatio memoriae which attempted to erase his name and memory from public record and history. Anyone who had a problem with the murder or even spoke Geta’s name out loud was rounded up and murdered. All in all, an estimated 20,000 people were killed over an affair that could have probably been solved with a nice family chat over wine. [3] So clearly, Caracalla was a fun guy to be around.

When the Egyptian population was touched by Caracalla’s heavy handed politics, they rebelled by their sense of humor of making Caracalla the object of their satire. Jokes and puns were devised on his account, to which Caracalla was not a ready audience… [3]

Robert Morgan, History of the Coptic Orthodox People and the Church of Egypt.

(In response, Caracalla tricked the City of Alexandria into a display of extended respect by promising to pick from the city’s youth to back fill the employ of his legions. When the candidates had eagerly gathered to await their choosing, Caracalla ordered his soldiers to slaughter the entire crowd.)

Baths of Caracalla

I wonder how many people peed in these.

Not everything he did was entirely shitty, however. He built baths in Rome which are essentially the ancient equivalent of a YMCA, paid his military handsomely, and issued the edict of Constitutio Antoniniana which gave all freed men living in the borders of the empire Roman citizenship. [4] There were some exceptions of course, but this was a big deal because at this time Rome was at the height of its expanse, with only a small percentage of the population enjoying all of the benefits of being a true Roman, which included protection from being crucified as capital punishment.

 

Roman Empire 117AD

This is only one hundred years before Caracalla. That’s a whole lot of taxes.

But like all things in Carcalla’s life, when he was spurned, his immediate response was to kill things. So when he offered a marriage alliance between himself and the daughter of a Parthian king in an attempt to gain more territory for Rome but was rejected, he responded by launching a military campaign to take it by force with bloodshed. [1]

It was on one of these campaigns when Caracalla couldn’t resist the urge to urinate. Stopping off the side of the road to relieve himself, a disgruntled soldier unhappy by his lack of promotion approached him unnoticed. Apparently not even giving the emperor a chance to finish, the soldier stabbed Caracalla in the back shoulder until he fell dead, but hopefully not on his newly relinquished stream. [5]

Cause of Death: Inopportune bathroom break

 

Fact Check it, yo!

 

[1] Cassius Dio, Roman History; Epitome of Book LXVIII. Via URL: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/78*.html

[2] Dorothy King’s PhDiva. (n.d.). Retrieved January 05, 2018, from http://phdiva.blogspot.com/2011/11/damnatio-memoriae-geta.html

[3] MORGAN, R. (2016). HISTORY OF THE COPTIC ORTHODOX PEOPLE AND THE CHURCH OF EGYPT. S.l.: FRIESENPRESS. URL: Google Books

[4] Benario, H. (1954). The Dediticii of the Constitutio Antoniniana. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, 85, 188-196. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/283475?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

[5] Herodian, History of the Roman Emperor Since the Death of Marcus Aurelius; Murder of Caracalla. Via URL: http://www.livius.org/sources/content/herodian-s-roman-history/herodian-4.13/?

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Early Byzantium

(History Notes!)

Byzantium didn't start the fire.

Byzantium didn’t start the fire.

Early Byzantium

A) Official policies:

  • Persians- WE ARE AT WAR!
  • Barbarians- Go west and GTFO. Make it seem like they can rule by allowing them to. They are there because we say so. Whatever helps us sleep at night.

B) Chalcedonian. Enforce Orthodoxy. (Remember the Council of Chalcedon? Statement that Jesus has two natures)

C) Heraclius (608-641) First Byzantine Emperor. “Basileos ton Rhomaioi”

  • Wins Persian Wars!
  • Greek for ruler of Romans.
  • Arrives as usupur. Brief civil war. Hated Phocas because he sucks at wars.

-Phocas couldn’t stop Avars who came from central Asia and settled the Balkans.

  • Persians attack when Heraclius is ruler, they take Syria and Anatolia (Turkey)

-Lost Uruslum.

-Took the True Cross (Jesus’ cruxification cross. Errybody mad)

  • Strengthen forces at home and borders. THEN ATTACK THOSE JERK PERSIANS!

-Now all of Persia belongs to Rome. Oh snap.

Arab Invasion (633-659) AKA “A Wild Arabia Appears”

  • Arabs take Syria for funsies.

-Roman resources depleted by Persian War. Never really get back poor old Syria.

  • Arabs now have Syria and Egypt (Those Monophysite heretics!)
  • Yarmuk River (636)

-Byzantines completely f’d into a corner.

-After battle, cannot stop Arab advancement.

Constans II (641-668)

A) Reorganize Roman military.

  • Themas (A province)

B) *The Themata* Byzantium, 7th c. Constans II

  • Military unit stationed in a themas or province.

Why this is important: Each unit responsible for themas and owned property. Turns military into land holders. Instead of paying them, they got land.

  • Coinage disappears. Wide spread commerce declines.
  • Massive Urban Decline in Byzantium.
  • Makes soldiers very reliable. Fighting for their land, not yours. Defending Empire makes it strong enough to survive another thousand years.

Urban Decline

  • Cities belong to the Arabs. Whoops.
  • Themata
  • Exception: CONSTANTINOPLE!

Recreating Rome? Justinian’s Wars 6th c. AD

Eh, who cares. We still have Constantinople for another thousand years.

Eh, who cares. We still have Constantinople for another thousand years.

 

Emperor of Constantinople

  • Re-assert authority over lost territory. BELISARIUS = Greatest. General. Ever.

 

The Vandal Wars (533)

  • Believe Jesus has less authority than God. Arian! (Heretic)
  • Vandal conquest of Africa (429-442)

-Quick conquest of Vandal, HUGE influx of ka-ching!

-If we can retake Africa…then what else?

The Gothic Wars (535-553)

  • Theodoric as King in Italy (489-493)
  • War drags on for 20+ years.
  • Romans sack, pillage, loot.
  • Barbarians sack, pillage, loot.

-LOL this sends Italy to the stone age! Dark Ages for the win!

The Persian Wars (537-532; 540-545, and 549-561 or “Why won’t these guys stay dead?”)

  • Sassanian Persia (c. 224-641)

-Cataphract. Fucker horse units for Persia! Also star in Civilization games.

  • May have payed off the Persians to get them to go away….a few times.
  • Client Kingdoms

-Iberia, as buffer state. If they get invaded immobilize! Lazica too.

-Persian wars continue until 641 AD happens and Persia goes bye.

Justinian: Model Roman Emperor

  1. Fought Wars
  2. Corpus Iuris Civilis (Made Laws)
  3. Get involved with Religion. And all of its disputes.
  4. Last to govern in Latin. After him it is all Greek.

 

 

 

 

 

Rome in Transition

History Notes!

Emperor NOT Keanu Reeves

Emperor NOT Keanu Reeves

New Rome: Constantinople 324AD

  • Founded as Roman Capital in the East by Constantine.
  • Viable defendable capital.
  • Walls 30 feet above and under ground.
  • Best part of the Empire fo’sho!
  • Everything of old Rome, Constantinople emulates too!
  • (Grain Dole- Free food for Urban poor)

 

Barbarian Vs. Roman (Because we all saw this coming)

  • Generals- Barbarian. Barbarians have the army (Because that’s what happens when they are your soldiers), use puppets.
  • Stilicho (c. 359-408) vs. Aetius (c. 396-454)
  • Stilicho tells Honorius what to do.
  • So we don’t need Roman Emperor…
  • Stilicho’s father is barbarian, mother is Roman.
  • False Idea- Barbs taking over. Wanted citizenship.
  • 455- Vandals sacked Rome. “Vandalism”.
  • Bishop= Elite ministrator. Bishop would negotiate with Huns and Vandals.

 

Christianities

  • Settle an issue, another issue comes up!
  • Ecumenical Council, all Bishops of world get together and argue until they can agree. Establishes correct belief.
  • But can be overturned by later Councils so a lot of good that did…
  • If Jesus is equal to god, is he human? Christiological; about Christ’s Nature.
  • Nestorius, doesn’t like calling Mary “Mother of God”.
  • One Nature believers; Monophysites
  • Two Nature believers; Duophysites
  • God dammit…COUNCIL CALLED!

*Council of Chalcedon*

An Ecumenical council summoned to determine Christ’s nature. One or two? 5th century, Late Roman Empire. 451AD.

WHY it is important:

  • We believe Jesus has two natures.
  • Monophysites DO NOT ACCEPT THIS CRAZY TALK. (Egypt and Syria; Eastern)
  • EAST VS WEST. Soon to be Catholics vs Orthodox!
  • Patriarchies. City where Bishop is given higher authority than others.
  • Rome (WEST)
  • Constantinople (EAST)
  • Jerusalem (EAST)
  • Antioch (EAST)
  • Alexandria (EAST)
  • …See what is happening here?

 

The Henoticon (482)

  • Crap! Can’t piss off Egypt, they feed us. = Statement of Faith to make Monophysites happy without overturning council decision.
  • Acacius (Constantinople Bishop) gives this statement to Patriarchs. Rome Bishop gives resounding GTFO in the form of EXCOMMUNICATION.
  • Acacian Schism. 483.
  • LOL shunned. West and East.

History Notes! Society and Culture of Rome (3rd-4th Century)

"Don't worry, friends! The lion has come to join us in prayer!"

“Don’t worry, friends! The lion has come to join us in prayer!”

 

Elite Men: Triumph of Otium (Leisure, remember?)

  • Senate has no status, cities suck. Elite Men run to the countryside and neglect responsibilities.
  • Someone else must pick up the burden….*Cough* Middle Class *Cough* Sound familiar?

 

Elite Women: Triumph of Christianity

  • Earlier, had role of Wife and Mother.
  • Christianity now gives the role of “Virgin”.

-Higher calling than Wife or Mother.

-Celibacy elevated to a new ideal.

  • They could act like men! Manly virgins!
  • Patronize shrines of martyrs. (Cult of the Leader. Christians wouldn’t participate so Diocletion starts offing them during The Great Persecution)
  • Martyrs get survivor remorse. They essentially become heroes of Christianity, like super Christians.
  • Build shrines around the tomb!

Curicale Class and the Urban Plight

A) Curiale Class, lowest class of the Elite. Barely made the cut-off! (Middle Class)

  • Stuck with the bill. Cannot afford it, obviously. Cannot join the army either. Lulz ensue.
  • Also can’t become priests. CAN’T LEAVE THE CITY.

B) Bishop (Leader of church community)

  • Makes sure to take care of his people.
  • Good administrators, not good Christians…
  • Move into position of maintaining cities.

AD 312- Christianity Becomes Legal.

A) Multiple Christian groups competing with each other over correct belief.

B) Constantine: “All Christians believe same thing!! NOW!” because that’s realistic given these problems:

  • Issue of Forgiveness: If you survive persecution, are you still Christian?

-NO! Sin, against teachings. DENOUNCE DENOUNCE!

-OF COURSE, God forgivessss.

  • Relationship of the Trinity: (God the father, God the Son, Holy Spirit) What is the status?

-Father, OBVIOUSLY!

-They were equal, The Word was ‘Jesus’.

C) So. Correct belief?

  • ALWAYS determined through argument and compromise.
  • If not….then HERETIC!

D) *Theodosian Decrees* (391-392)

  • All people living in Roman Empire are now Christian! (Paganism outlawed)
  • WHY Is this important: For most of history, Rome was an incorporator. Major reversal of this practice! Didn’t want to offend, kept everyone happy, now though…safety comes from making sure everyone believes in one single idea to create uniformity! (Encourage stability and stop the fireeesssss)

 

History Notes! Restoring Order in Rome

The beginning of a beautiful relationship between Barbarians and Rome...

The beginning of a beautiful relationship between Barbarians and Rome…

 

The Dominate =”Late Empire”

a) 284AD- Diocletian “Dominus” =Lord and Master (Make status sacred because that’s never been done before ever…)

  • Problems:

-Size

-Army (In the business of “Emperor Making”. Also not big enough to do the job. That’s what she said.)

-Economy and Urban Decline (INFLATION! Moved out of cities due to epidemics and high inflation)

  • Solutions:

-Augusti and Caesars. Appoints co-ruler. Establishes the Tetrarchy. (Rule by 4.)

-2 Senior Emperors (East and West)

-Emperor didn’t live in Rome

-Also a “Caesar” or junior partner in East and West.

-Was trying to stabilize by putting Emperor in trouble spots

-Augustus would step down after 20 years and the Caesar would be promoted.

  • Soooooo did it work?

-Call Failblog.

b) 284-5th century. Emperor in East and West.

c) Constantine!

  • Comitatus and Mercenaries

-Cavalry Unit! Instead of foot soldiers, make forts and send our cavalry when there is trouble!

-Hire Mercenaries! Why not have barbarians fighting barbarians? Doesn’t this sound like the most spectacular idea ever? /sarcasm.

-Army becomes barbarian! Whoohoo! Offer status and citizenship to join! That’ll keep the barbarians out of Rome! …er…wait.

  • Tax Reformation

-Caput (head); That’s right! A Head tax! Pay it in coin, beetches.

-Iugum (Land tax); taxed by how much your land could produce. A “Tax in kind”

-These were all designed to pay the army…the barbarian army. Will contribute to decline of cities, without Army consumers–demand falls; economy falls.

 

 

History Notes! Society and Culture During the Principate

(Short and sweet history TL;DR! Previous–>The Principate)

"Why don't you go read a book, WOMAN."

“Why don’t you go read a book, WOMAN.”

 

 A) Elite  Men: “Paideia” (Greek word for education); Read Greek works.

  • Greek Rhetoric, the art of crafting an argument. Hey-o, Aristotle!

-Elite men took up the role of Patron of someone who was of lesser status.

-They would help them out, obligated, argue on behalf of.

  • Negotium (work)-  Job of being a Patron. Expected of all Elite Men, all men should be useful.
  • Otium (Leisure; Not at work;)- Life of leisure, doing what you want.

-LOL Vomitorium? Nah, that’s just an amphitheatre passage, bro.

 

B) Elite Women: Educated, almost as well as a man.

  • Never citizens, never adults. (Britany Spears song insert) Legal minor. Cannot make legal decisions on their own.

-Always needed a legal guardian. (Typically husband or father)

-When they could CHOOSE their guardian, however, NEVER the husband or father. Someone with less authority, obviously.

  • “Fiction” of not being in charge but, ladies were sooooo in control of their guardians. The neck moves the head, afterall.
  • Uncommon not to be married.

-Had responsibility to discuss politics with their husband. Give advice.

-Manipulate the system like we doooo, naturally.

 

C) Lower Class: Clients

  • Soldiers. People would cut off their toes to avoid this.
  • Merchants. Oh how the tides have turned.
  • Freedmen (Former Slaves): Always at bottom of social status because reasons.

 

D) Culture:

  • Literature: Virgil, anything before Octavian. Homer, Greek philosophy.
  • Art: Fresco (Wall paintings), Hellenistic style (anatomically correct)
  • Science: High understanding. Incredible architecture. Indoor plumbing. (Take that, Middle Ages)
  • Medicine: Galen (Physician in gladiatorial arena). Dissection, stitching. Generally decent understanding of the human body and the foundation of medical knowledge but then there was…

-Humoral Theory; Four Fluids: Blood (Heat), Phlgem (Cold), Green Bile, Black Bile

  • Geocentric: Ptolemy.
  • Philosophy and Religion: Stoicism.
  • Mystery Religions: Because why the hell not? Concerned with Salvation. Agape= “Unconditional Love”.