Sunday 21 September 2014

it happened on the way to the forum: rebel alliance

Of course, there was no broad historical force opposing Rome but it make a pretty cool assembly of action figures of underdogs. Most saw their resistance ultimately crushed after being provoked into battle but a few did define the furthest reaches of the Empire and remained unconquered. One could collect the heroines—like Cleopatra who was the first Ptolemy to show more than passing regard for the Egyptians and tried to preserve the Republic in her own way, and Boudica, the warrior queen of the Britons, whose only transgression was in believing that the treaty with the Romans would remain in effect after her husband the king died and she assumed the throne—however, as the chauvinistic Romans did not recognise female inheritance, they merely annexed her kingdom. One could collect the Germans, like Arminius of Cherusci tribe (Hermann der Cherusker), who was held as a hostage during his youth and even received a Roman military education, and graduating with hounors never succumbed to the Stockholm Syndrome and returned to led his people against their occupiers and after orchestrating several demorialising defeat, the Romans never tried to advance beyond the Rhein again.

Decebalus, the last king of independent Dacia led three campaigns against the Romans as they tried to stabilise their borderlands to the north of Greece and on towards the banks of the Danube, no longer content to let some non-assimilated client kingdom to guard the frontier. There were those pesky Christians, led by the missionary Paul, Apostle to the Roman. Mithridates IV was a fearsome prince and general of Armenia and Anatolia who very nearly succeeded in keeping Rome out of Asia Minor altogether.
There is of course the old nemesis Hannibal, the Carthaginian military commander that seemed virtually unbeatable, and who in defeat cursed Rome with its visions of manifest destiny. And there is, among my favourites but certainly not an exhaustive list of personalities or portrayals, since the majority of source material—even for patriotic artists, come from victorious Roman accounts—the Welsh king Togodumnus who refused to pay tribute to Rome and had successfully driven them out until ambushed by his own men. Who else ought to be included? It could be a whole universe of players.