Ptolemies in Togas, Seleucids in the Senate

The following is an excerpt (#15 of 20) from:

"Jesus Among the Julio-Claudians"
copyright 2017 Charles N. Pope

Ptolemies in Togas, Seleucids in the Senate

The Roman Mating Game

After Caesarion was unsuccessful (under the guise of Marcus Claudius Marcellus) in siring a male heir by Julia the Elder, it should have been the turn of Tiberius to marry Julia. However, Tiberius had no doubt already tried and failed to produce a son by Julia, either during her marriage to Marcellus or within the full year after that marriage had ended. Julia’s subsequent marriage to Marcus Agrippa (the former Ptolemy XIV) was a mutually agreeable compromise on the part of the “big three,” namely Caesarion, Tiberius and Octavius/Augustus. Marcus Agrippa, as the fourth-ranking prince, was unlikely to gain the election in any event. His marriage to Julia provided a convenient and politically correct covering that allowed the leading royal males to continue trying to produce heirs by Julia. However, it can be deduced that Julia’s firstborn son, dubbed Gaius Caesar, was in fact sired by Julia’s actual husband Marcus Agrippa. Even so, this prince still did not pose much of a threat. When sons were later born to Caesarion and Tiberius, Gaius Caesar was ignominiously set aside.

As the eldest prince of the new royal generation (and eldest grandson of Julius Caesar), Gaius Caesar would have been placed in the role of Ptolemy III, the eldest prince of his generation and eldest grandson of Alexander the Great. The second son of Julia the Elder, dubbed Lucius Caesar, would have then been slated for the even more significant role of Antiochus III (“Antiochus the Great”), who became the true father of Ptolemy IV when Ptolemy III was unable to sire a prince of his own. Unlike Gaius, the birth of Lucius Caesar was cause for genuine alarm for Caesarion, as all indications point to Tiberius as being the true father.

Reference: Antiochus the Great as true father of Ptolemy IV.

Note: Marcella (a.k.a. Julia the Elder) divorced Marcus Agrippa so that he can marry Julia the Elder directly. Marcella in turn married Iullus Antonius (Tiberius).

Note: Prior to the birth of Lucius Caesar, a marriage between Julia and Tiberius would have been objectionable to Caesarion, as he was at that early date in no way ready to concede the succession. A direct marriage between Julia and Tiberius might have also been perceived as a dynastic power play in Rome. However, these two royals did eventually marry in 11 BC, and is an indication that their child Lucius Caesar was a candidate for succession, at least in Rome.

During this time, Caesarion (as Drusus I, stepson of Augustus) sired a healthy royal son named Germanicus, not by Julia but by Antonia Minor. A fourth prince, Drusus II, was then born to Tiberius by his wife Vipsania, however he was probably sired by Caesarion/Drusus I. (There will be more discussion about this in the next segment.) What Caesarion wanted most (in order to fully secure his dynasty) was a son by a senior princess rather than the lower-ranking Vipsania/Antonia Minor. He had failed with the highest-ranking princess Julia the Elder. However, when Julia became the mother of two healthy daughters, Julia the Younger and Agrippina, this presented Caesarion with two more golden opportunities. In pursuit of that objective, Caesarion did not even wait until Julia the Younger was of marriageable age in Rome before coupling with her! As the nominal “High God,” he exercised the prerogative to sire a child with a royal “nymph” out-of-wedlock, which in courtly parlance was also considered a “holy birth.” And when Julia did give birth to a son, the much older Caesarion promptly married her under the alias of Lucius Aemilius Paulus.

Table of Second Generation Associations:

Gaius Caesar = neo-Ptolemy III
Lucius Caesar = neo-Antiochus III (“Joseph”)
Germanicus = neo-Philip V of Macedon
Drusus II = neo-Prince Alexander (son of Ptolemy II in his old age)

Note: Lucius Aemilius Paulus is thought to have been born before 36 BC, which limits his possible royal associations considerably (and almost exclusively to Caesarion, a.k.a., Philadelphius/Drusus I).

Note: Caligula claimed that his mother Agrippina was actually the daughter of Caesar Augustus rather than Marcus Agrippa.

There had been a serious royal fertility crisis during the Ptolemaic/Seleucid Period, which occurred when the sole heiress, Cleopatra (the first Egyptian queen by that name), was unable to bear children with her “brothers.” In response, the fourth-ranking prince of that time, Prince Alexander of Egypt (born to Ptolemy II in his old age), was ushered back in the royal breeding pool. In order to provide a covering for this, Antiochus III married his daughter Cleopatra and gave her the curious alias, “Euboea of Chalcis.” Shortly after their marriage was born Alexander Balas (to Prince Alexander) and two additional royal princes, the future pharaohs Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII. Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII are assumed to have been the sons of Ptolemy V, simply because there are no other obvious candidates. However, it can be deduced that they had both been sired by Cleopatra’s own father, Antiochus III (“Joseph”). Cleopatra was subsequently able to bear at least one additional healthy royal child, a daughter Cleopatra II, and a dynastic disaster was averted. In retrospect, the “secret marriage” of Antiochus III and Cleopatra was later seen as the “charm” that allowed the House of Alexander to survive.

Reference: Antiochus III as the Ptolemaic Joseph:

During the early Julio-Claudian Dynasty, the lack of royal children had not yet reached a crisis state. Notwithstanding, the fourth-ranking prince, Marcus Agrippa, was in fact offered a most eminent marriage to the highest-ranking princess, Julia the Elder, and he did sire a son by her. This prompted Caesarion to immediately and preemptively usurp the role of Antiochus III from the second son of Julia, namely Lucius Caesar. The young prince Lucius Caesar was not as yet even a teenager and therefore had not had any chance to sire children of his own (in fulfillment of the role). Nor had the only slightly older Gaius Caesar proven that he could or could not. However, if either Gaius or Lucius Caesar had been Caesarion’s own son, this likely would not have happened, at least not quite so quickly. The role of Antiochus the Great, and the associated epithet of “Joseph,” was so central to the Ptolemaic Era (and the Julio-Claudian repetition) that the possessive and controlling Caesarion coveted it all for himself.

Antiochus III provided a precedent for an older Great King (not a young prince) to marry the young heiress, and Caesarion seized upon this. All indications are that Caesarion claimed the role of Antiochus the Great as soon as Julia the Younger’s first son was born, because the two were married shortly thereafter. However, rather than disguise Julia's identity, Caesarion used an alternative identity of his own (again). Luckily for Caesarion, both Gaius and Lucius remained without a male heir in the decades to come, and his presumptive maneuver could then be fully justified and even hailed as divine prescience! Caesarion had essentially fulfilled the Ptolemaic precedent in reverse (or in advance).

Scholarly opinion is divided as to whether Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (the future husband of Princess Julia Drusilla) was the son Lucius Aemilius Paulus (and Julia the Younger), or that of his brother (and namesake) Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (likely an alias of Tiberius, brother of Caesarion). The former scenario emerges as the correct one. Nonetheless, unequivocal princely identity was not crucial in Julio-Claudian Rome and could even be a hindrance on the road to becoming Emperor. Any number of aristocratic/optimate, equestrian/knightly and even commoner/populare identities could be (and generally were) established in addition to explicit membership in the Julio-Claudian club. Consistent with this practice, the most prestigious office in Rome was actually that of Censor. The “business of names” was closely guarded by the royal family.

Paul was prominently featured in his youth (and throughout his life) under the name of Servius Sulpicius Galba (born circa 3 BC). Galba was considered a child prodigy and highly favored by Caesar Augustus and Tiberius, both of which predicted future greatness for him. He was also the darling of Empress Livia, who declared that Galba possessed the prerequisites to rule (i.e., royal standing), if not having the ideal disposition for it. She later left him a considerable fortune in her will. Galba was an effective leader and military commander in Europe. He was also credited with two children by a non-royal wife Aemilia Lepida. However, it may be that he had instead adopted the two sons of the royal lady by same name, Aemilia Lepida (wife of Torquatus), as his own. Galba committed an atrocity in Spain, if for no other reason than that the Ptolemaic Period Galba, a contemporary and alter ego of Ptolemy VIII, had also done so! Galba was known for his rhetorical combativeness, bullying, treachery and ruthless vindictiveness. He was openly homosexual (notably preferring adult males to boys). Galba also famously curried and enjoyed the patronage of wealthy women. In other words, Galba smacks of Pauline flavor!

The Chalice of Chalcis

When Julia’s younger sister Agrippina reached puberty, Caesarion pulled rank and imposed his will as the family Godfather once again. The Gospels indicate that the son of Caesarion (as the neo-Antiochus III) and Agrippina (as a neo-Cleopatra, Part II) was born out-of-wedlock. The Gospels also suggest that Caesarion (as the new “Joseph”) afterwards married her (“Mary”). This marriage was attested if only to more completely fulfill the precedent of Antiochus III and Cleopatra I, and even if it only existed in the realm of biblical story telling. In Rome proper Agrippina was not married to Caesarion (in any of his diverse manifestations), but to his son Germanicus instead.

Julia the Younger and Agrippina effectively divided the role of Cleopatra I between themselves. Julia was mother of the next heiress, Aemilia Lepida (a.k.a. Salome/Mary Magdalene), as well as the dynastic fixer Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (a.k.a. Paul). However, Agrippina quickly surpassed her older sister with respect to bearing viable royal sons. And she was ultimately the one that became associated with the place name of Chalcis (in emulation of Cleopatra/Euboea). In his history and royal genealogy of the period, Josephus used this small detail to encode the tortured path of kingly succession.

Note: Antiochus III took a young wife from Chalcis named Euboea (“Good Ox”), which was presumably the Chalcis in Greece, not Coele-Syria. Chalcis was a prominent city on the important island of Euboea directly across from Athens. It later became the name of a small kingdom in Coele-Syria (Ituraea), which incorporated the renowned temple complex of Baalbek restored during the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.

Note: One of the epithets of the island of Euboea (“good ox”) was Ağriboz. Similarity of Ağriboz with Agrippa/Agrippina probably would not have been lost upon the Julio-Claudian family.

Although a central theme of the Gospels, there is even less surviving Roman record of the birth of Agrippina’s firstborn son than that of Julia the Younger. (Precedent required that Caesarion not be directly acknowledged as the father of the two princes placed in the roles of Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII.) However, the marriage of Julia the Younger’s own heiress daughter Aemilia Lepida to an aristocrat named Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus is a complete give-away. Torquatus was the noblest name a Roman could bear as it was associated with the salvation of Rome from certain destruction. Significantly, this name/epithet first appeared in Roman lore at the time of Alexander the Great and may have even been associated with Alexander himself. The first Torquatus distinguished himself by the courageous/reckless “slaying a (Gaulic/Goliath-esque) giant” and also for ruling Rome as a popular dictator (ala King David). The renewed prominence of the name Torquatus during the Julio-Claudian Dynasty reflects a conscious decision to revere all-things-Alexander and essentially become an entire dynasty of Alexanders.


Note: Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus would have also been considered a “repetition of births” of Darius III and Alexander III (“The Great”), who were conceived in much the same way by the “Zeus-figure” Artaxerxes II Memnon. Paul and Jesus may have been deliberately excluded from official genealogies for that reason alone.

Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus (“Jesus”) and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus the Younger (“Paul”) would not have been expected to gain the succession based upon their Ptolemaic typecasting alone. Neither of their respective role models, Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII, were able to sire a royal son and remained “dynastic accessories.” Ptolemy IV and Ptolemy V eventually both sired a son by a younger princess (i.e., Cleopatra II, the sole daughter of Cleopatra I). However, in the Julio-Claudian repetition, Julia the Younger was not the literal daughter of Caesarion (as Cleopatra had been the daughter of Antiochus III). That meant the odds of these princes siring heirs of their own would have been somewhat greater than their Ptolemaic analogs.

Caesarion continued to sire additional princes (under various aliases, such as Asinius and Sejanus), but Paul and Jesus remained separate from their brothers due to the special typecasting that they fulfilled. To wit, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus was not explicitly named as a brother to the heiress Aemilia Lepida. Likewise, Torquatus was not named as the older brother of Nero, Drusus III and Caligula. The closest we come to connecting Torquatus with the other sons of Agrippina (from Roman sources) is the mention that Titus Flavius Sabinus (Nero) and Vespasian (Drusus III) had an (unnamed) older brother.

Note: According to Tacitus (Annals), after the "death" of Agrippina in 33 AD, Tiberius smeared her as “having had Asinius Gallus as a paramour and being driven by his death to loathe existence.” Asinius Gallus Saloninus was something of a joke name that connoted “sterile smart-ass.” Caesarion overcame (rather spectacularly) his early stigma of infertility. However, his reputation as a jerk probably remained. The name Asinius also connoted “East” (and particularly China/Sino-) and associates well with an earlier alias, Antyllus (“of/from the East”), the epithet of Caesarion as the eldest son of Marc Antony.

Note: The story (as told by Josephus) of lewd Saturninus and the young, naïve Paulina is a contemporary Roman parody of the royal and ancient “holy birth” scene (depicted in Egyptian temples).

Note: Paul actually had a superior rank within the royal family than Jesus. If Paul had produced a viable heir and royal lineage, then we would now be discussing his “immaculate conception” rather than that of Jesus! Tellingly, the sordid account of Paulina and her roguish lover is placed immediately after the sole mention by Josephus of the Christ.


The Julio-Claudian Dynasty was a dynasty of “Johns.” Julius Caesar was a “fifth prince” (Osiris) or “John.” Caesarion also cultivated the role of a “fifth” prince, and certain aliases of Caesarion included a play on the name John, such as Hasmonean High Priest Jonathan (II), the Roman strongman Sejanus and Scythian/Kushan King Jihonika. The two sons of his that ultimately perpetuated the royal line also shared a John typecasting, namely Emperor Claudius (ancestor of Trajan and Hadrian) and Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus (Kushan Great King Kujula Kadphises forebear of the Eastern Emperors, son of Mariamne/Mary, husband of Salome and stepson of Herod of Chalcis). These two magnates are better known colloquially as the stammering John the Baptist and enamoring Jesus of the Gospels.


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