Why this blog?

After some comments and discussions about this blog, I think I should answer the question why I’m writing this blog.

There is no one big reason, but many smaller ones.

One thing is that I have been interested in starting a blog ever since they were called weblogs or online diaries some 15 years ago. Facebook came along nicely to fill that need in many ways: I felt there is no idea of keeping up a personal website, blog and an online photo gallery added to Facebook. Facebook and LinkedIN answer all the needs in that respect for my private and professional life. Perhaps also that I have ever since 1997 been constantly involved in keeping up several websites of different purposes and in different roles, I have not really yearned to add my workload by keeping up a personal website. But still, there has been a spark in my mind, that I would like to keep up a blog.

Subject matter. About what I would like to have a blog about? Well, there are number of themes I could and I would be interested in to write. Political commentary, political satire, philosophy, music videos, ancient Roman culture and history, Cicero, military history, cultural history, advertising, communications, Apple products, food / desserts, scale models, cafes of Helsinki, Art galleries of Helsinki… Some of the themes that I’m interested in are heavily covered already both in web and blogosphere. That necessarily doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t add ones share there, but still it’s a thing to consider. I also felt that by taking too wide focus, I couldn’t decide about what to write – I need a framework. So a narrow focus it would be, nevermind the subject.

Last Spring I found out a new approach into opening my own blog. I asked myself by accident, that: what kind of blog I would like to read myself? That gave me an instant answer: I would like to follow a blog about republican era Roman nobility, which aims for historical accuracy, and in which every post would be easy to approach even for those who haven’t studied Roman history. Well, that was how I got the idea for this blog.

Why bother writing? That was partially answered by the subject: there are very few reliable secondary sources about the noble Roman families and their culture available online. The information currently online for general public is sadly of so low quality that I think it’s more often harmful than useful. So by providing information of better quality I would actually do something meaningful as well.

My main motivation however comes from the fact that as I wonder through the noble families in my research, I constantly come across interesting bits of Roman history and culture that I think are worth sharing. I do not think that every posting will be interesting for every possible reader this blog might have – I’ll leave it to the reader to choose what to read.

Also as much as I need a narrow focus I also need freedom, so you are going to see postings of different style. Some will be lighter or even gossipy, some more theorhetical heavy stuff. Consider that as a matter of literary principle, if you like. My take on historical research and relation of this blog to it are a bit the same. I have my own approach to history and historical research, not perhaps to be overstated, but not to be understated either. While this blog reflects in some aspects about my ideology for writing history, it doesn’t do it 100% faithfully. And while I have my own approach I want to underline that I do not feel myself compeating or preaching against any other approach – I think there is a room in this world for many voices.

For whom is this blog aimed for? For anyone who finds it interesting. I don’t think I’m writing a scholary blog nor I consider myself popularizing. I welcome comments and would love to have discussions about different families, politics of the late Roman republic and of course discussion about primary and secondary sources.

That is the long answer about why this blog exists, what it’s about and for whom it is aimed for.

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Licinius married with Mucia and Mucius married with Licinia

I would like to take a look into manyfold family connections of the three consuls discussed previously in the context of general Roman history, namely the consul of 96 Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus and consuls of 95 L. Licinius Crassus and Q. Mucius Scaevola.

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The family lines of three consuls.

There is a very strong connection between the Licini Crassi and Mucii Scaevolae through marriages. This is perhaps the reason why Crassi wished to send their son to serve with Ahenobarbus (cos 122). On the other hand we do not know anything about the marriages of Ahenobarbi before the children of Ahenobarbus (cos 96), so it might very well be that there had been connections there as well.

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The marriages of the Ahenobarbi are unfortunately very poorly known.

Consuls of 95 are an interesting pair: Licinius married with Mucia and Mucius married with Licinia. In fact their grandparents were sisters. Consul of 171 P. Licinius Crassus is grandfather of consul 95 Licinius Crassus while his sister is grandmother of consul 95 Mucius Scaevola. Grandfather Crassus also adopted the uncle of consul 95 Scaevola, thus making him also an uncle by adoption to consul 95 Crassus!

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Family relations of the consuls of the year 95.

Their marriages are also of an interest in this context. Crassus was married with Mucia, a daughter of cousin of Scaevolas father. This means that the line of Licinii Crassi that consul 95 Crassus belongs to is allied by adoption and marriage into both surviving lines of Mucii Scaevolae.

Perhaps not to be left second in this bonding, consul 95 Scaevola married not just one, but two Liciniae. The family connections of them are not clear, but I think it is a pretty safe to guess that they were close enough the consul of 95 Crassus, although we must keep in mind that Licinii were a rather large family with many lines.

In any case the three generations of Crassi and Scaevolae were closely connected with each other by several ties in family. Consul 171 Crassus, consul 175 Scaevola, consul 174 Scaevola, consul 133 Scaevola, consul 131 Scaevola (adopted as Crassus), consul 117 Scaevola, consul 95 Crassus and consul 95 Scaevola make a formidable multi-generation power block of 8 consuls in 80 years with close family ties! To these ties we know to add also Laelia and Claudia. Laelia was a daughter of C. Laelius Sapiens, consul of 140, she was married with consul of 117 Scaevola. Claudia was a daughter of C. Claudius Pulcher, consul of 177, and she was married with P. Mucius Scaevola (adopted as P. Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus, consul of 131. We might perhaps see here a finger print of either his biological father consul of 175 Scaevola or of adopted father consul of 171 Crassus – in any case this Claudia was very nicely connected with Claudii Pulchri, being also a sister of consul 143 Pulcher.

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Connections of the extended families of the consuls of 95.

While not omnipotent, these family ties alone certainly made Crassus-Scaevola family block a force to reckon for anyone active in politics in Rome during the years of 170 – 95.

Licinii Crassi and Mucii Scaevolae had further interesting family ties with two powerful group of families: the Cornelii Scipiones and Caecilii Metelli. These ties were forged through marrying the daughters of Licinii with these families. Daughter of consul 131 Crassus (Scaevola) and Claudia was married to C. Sempronius Gracchus, who was a son of Ti. Sempronius Gracchus and Cornelia Africana, daughter of famous hero of Punic Wars, Scipio Africanus.

Daughter of consul 95 Licinius Crassus was married with P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio, who was consul at 111. Their son Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica was adopted by Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius (consul of 80) who in turn was married with Licinia of unknown relation to the Licini Crassi. Another daughter of consul of 95 Crassus was married to C. Marius, who was son of famed C. Marius, seven time consular.

Also Scaevola consul 95 had ties to the Caecili Metelli. With his first Licinia he had a daughter Mucia, who was married first with same C. Marius, consul of 82, as Licinia of his fathers consular colleague. Second time Mucia married with Cn. Pompeius Magnus and for third time with M. Aemilius Scaurus, who was son of M. Aemilius Scaurus, consul of 115 and famed princeps senatus, and Caecilia Metella. To close the circle the first Licinia of Scaevola consul 95 married with Q. Caecilius Metellus Nepos, consul of 98, although this might not have had any particular political advantage to Scaevola, because he divorced the first Licinia because of her adultery!

cos 96 and 95

All known family connections of the extended families of the consuls of 95.

With the additional contacts between Cornelii Scipiones and Caecilii Metelli as well as between Caecilii Metelli and Claudii Pulchri, we have with these few families a sizeable collection of most known Roman statesmen of the era as well as about 20 consuls. This small group of people had a genuine and deep impact to the history of Rome and therefore history of western civilization.

Heart of lead, mouth of iron, beard of brass

This was how consul of 96 Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus was described by his colleague as censor L. Licinius Crassus, himself consul of 95.

Noble and base metals, greed and violence: end of Allobroges and Arverni

Metals of noble and base nature are pretty much how we could describe the Rome of their era also. After the Punic Wars Rome became the sole great power of the middle Mediterranean: Iron of Rome won the gold of Carthage. Great cities of Carthage and Corinth are destroyed while Africa and Macedonia are made provinces of Rome at 146.

The rise of Rome has brought undreamt riches into Rome and the most noble families are getting ever more rich and powerful. There is a growing sense of injustice amongst both poorer Romans and non-Roman Italians. Some 10 years after the end of the last Punic War the elder brother of Gracchi, Tiberius, rises into brief spotlight of fame by his campaign for land distribution to the poor, but he is murdered.

This is an era characterised by personal greed – one could say an era during which the traditional petty fights over privileges of families of a ruling elite in a small or medium city grow into larger scale of empires.

One amongst many determined to grab his share of this oyster of a Mediterranean world was Q. Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus. He was governor of Hispania in 123 and recieved reprimands of the Senate, by the initiative of C. Gracchus, brother of a murdered tribune Ti. Gracchus. Maximus had been extorting Hispanic cities of gifts, not so uncommon practice of Roman governors.

Father of the consul of 96 Ahenobarbus, also named as Cn. Domitius Aheneobarbus, was consul at next year 122. He went to war against the Gauls to secure land route into Roman areas in Hispania and got his command prolonged after his consulship as proconsul to continue the war. His successor as consul was above mentioned Maximus, who had a big personal interest in Hispania, and who also succeed elder Ahenobarbus as proconsul of Gallia Transalpina. They won the war against Gallian tribes of Allobroges and Arverni and held a spectacular triumph and secured financial base for their families for a long period from the loot.

Enter Crassus, securing of Gallia Transalpina

Alongside father Ahenobarbus and Maximus in the arrangements of the conquered province was a rising politician Crassus, who had been training Roman law under the most famous Roman lawyers of this era, the brothers Mucii Scaevolae (consuls of 133 and 117). He was involved in the establishing of the city of Narbo (modern Narbonne) at 118 with elder Ahenobarbus. Ahenobarbus also constructed the first Roman road in Gaul, the Via Domitia. By these arrangements the Romans made clear that the Mediterranean coast of Gallia beyond the Alps was theirs to keep.

Interlude: Making of Marius, a tale of bribery

During the years of 112-106 there was an episode of Roman history that is often described as disgraceful or embarrassing, namely the Jugurthan War. Events began at 118 when king of Numidia Micipsa died. He left his kingdom into his two sons Adherbal and Hiempsal and an adopted nephew Jugurtha. Hiempsal was assassinated by Jugurtha and Adherbal fled to Rome. The Senate divided Numidian territory half, but Jugurtha bribed the Roman embassy and got himself the best parts of Numidia. At 113 Jugurtha attacked against Adherbal and after bribing Romans again got permission to kill him and take his territory. However, when sacking Adherbals capital Cirta and Jugurtha got several Romans or Italians living there killed as well. Senate declared war at 112 against Numidia of Jugurtha.

This was followed by an invasion by L. Calpurnius Bestia (consul 111), upon which Jugurtha surrendered and was given so blatantly favourable terms, that bribery was evident. Jugurtha was called to Roman to stand and testify in the court. Jugurtha bribed Roman tribunes to prevent him testifying and tried to get his cousin killed while in Rome. Jugurtha was expelled. At 110 Jugurtha defeated the army of a praetor A. Postumius Albinus Magnus, whose brother Sp. Postumius Albinus was consul that year. Behind defeat was again bribery. Consul of 109 Q. Caecilius Metellus followed into Numidia and won Jugurtha on the field, but waited to deliver final blow against him in order to win a triumph for himself.

His waiting proved to be a mistake because his sub-commander C. Marius was eyeing his position. Marius promised to end the war within a year if he would be elected as consul. After years of bribery and failure this homo novus outside the ruling nobility was able to gather massive support and was elected as consul and arranged a voting at comitia tributa to grant command in Numidia for himself. This was actually a breach in the custom where the Senate should have been the one deciding about military commands.

Marius won the war eventually with the aid of his sub-commander L. Cornelius Sulla Felix. Sulla and Marius were not finished with each other at that point: after having six consulships, victories over several enemies and Sulla being appointed as consul to end the Social War, Marius and Sulla fought a civil war against each other, but let’s look that at some another time in more detail.

Summer eternal: Ahenobarbus, Crassus and Scaevola

The story of younger Ahenobarbus and Crassus continued during the Jugurthan war and Marius’ consulships between years 104 and 100. Elder Ahenobarbus died at 104 after serving also as a censor and pontifex. As Censor he is remembered from expelling over thirty senators from the Senate.

The rise of his son into highest offices was obviously helped by his contacts inside the ruling elite and by the immense wealth gathered from the wars by him and his father. Younger Ahenobarbus still showed his gifts also by prosecuting his political enemies in the courts of law, including the leading Roman statesman M. Aemilius Scaurus, who had been protesting against Jugurtha and his bribery. Younger Ahenobarbus was also dismayed by not being selected as pontifex after his father died. As consequence he intiated a law that pontifices would be elected by people in the future, not by the collegium pontificium. He was elected as Pontifex Maximus at 103.

Crassus and younger Ahenobarbus were probably close in age and it might be that they had served together under elder Ahenobarbus back in the war against Gallic tribes. Crassus excelled in his public career through his skills in public speaking and in law courts. He is also known because he trained young M. Tullius Cicero when he arrived into Rome from his home town Arpinum (from which also his relative C. Marius was from originally). Crassus was politically allied with Marius and his daughter married Marius’ son. Crassus himself married with daughter of Q. Mucius Scaevola Augur, consul of 117, whom we remember being a tutor of Crassus also. It is telling that the uncle of consul 117 Scaevola was married with Licinia, a sister of consul 171 P. Licinius Crassus. Their grandson was consul of 95 Q. Mucius Scaevola, who also married a Licinia.

So both Crassus and Scaevola followed younger Ahenobarbus as consuls at 95.

As Consuls Crassus and Scaevola enacted the Lex Licinia Mucia which decreed all but the citizens to leave the city of Rome. This law sparked events that woke up the long dormant crises between Rome and other Italian cities thus eventually erupting into the Social War some five years after their consulship.

Before that, at 92, three years after their consulships, both younger Ahenobarbus and Crassus were elected as censors. Both Ahenobarbus and Crassus were public figures with high profile and there are numerous anecdotes about their joint office and quarrels. Ahenobarbus had a violent temper and he favoured simple ways of life whereas Crassus was much more polished and enjoyed luxuries. They did agree one thing however: they enacted a statement that forbid the Latin rhetorical schools, and thus effectively preventing men of lower social status from rising into prominence – education was also back in those days an issue of power politics.

Crassus died the next year 91, consequently the same year his pupil Cicero got his toga of manhood. His other daughter married P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (consul of 111).

Ahenobarbus died few years later at year 88 during the consulship of Sulla. Into his position as Pontifex Maximus Scaevola (consul of 95) was elected, thus rising him into the highest elite of Roman republic. Between his consulship and election as Pontifex Maximus Scaevola served as a governor in the province of Asia. He was a model of just Roman governor and his edict of administration became a model for future Roman provincial governors. He also prosecuted harshly the unjust tax collectors. As Pontifex Maximus he also proved to be a model one by making sure that the traditional rituals were followed. He was also a celebrated writer of 18 volumes of treatise on civil law.

Scaevola was actually married twice with Licinia. First Licinia was famed for her beauty, but unfaithful. Their daughter became the wife of Cn. Pompeius Magnus. This first Licinia married later on Q. Caecilius Metellus Nepos, consul of 98. The second Licinia of Scaevola is of unknown relation.

Scaevola died at 82 in the commotion of the struggle between Sulla and Marius. Scaevola refused to join the Marian party and finally chased by mob into the temple of Vesta, killed and thrown into Tiber.

Period between the end of Punic Wars and the start of Social War

The period of 146 – 90 is about 50 years full of wars small and big and very profilic Roman senators, unimaginable suffering of victims of wars, unimaginable riches flowing into Rome, stories of pride, heritage, adultery, greed, valor, enlightment, science, arts and acts of individual courage and skills – one might get a feeling of ever faster spnning spiral of grand historical events. The period is one most admired and most condemned in the history of Roman republic.

Through these three figures: Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus (cos 96), L. Licinius Crassus (cos 95) and Q. Mucius Scaevola (cos 95), a many sided and rich glimpse into this fascinating period be can be casted. Their deeds, their connections and actions, the events they were part of, all tell the tale of true Roman history and how Roman society worked, what drove the individuals on and how they eventually met their fate.