Macrinus

The article “Macrinus and Diadumenianus” was originally posted in the Italian Tribune. The Famous and Infamous Rulers of Rome. The version below has been edited. Kindly note that a number of pictures and accompanying captions do not appear in the original version by the Italian Tribune.

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The history of the Roman Empire is perhaps unprecedented in its prosperity, with a stable economy, strong government and superb military. The men who ruled this empire varied greatly, from noble leaders like Antoninus Pius to oppressive despots like Caligula. The story of Rome’s rulers has it all – love, murder and revenge, fear and greed, envy and pride. Their history is a roller coaster that lurches from peace and prosperity to terror and tyranny. This article focuses on Macrinus and his son Diadumenianus, who took the throne when he was only ten years old.

A Roman aureus of Macrinus with the reverse side showing Macrinus with his son  Diadumenianus (Source: Classical Numismatic Group [CNG] in Public Domain).

Marcus Opellius Macrinus was the first emperor who was neither a senator nor of a senatorial family at the time of his accession. His 14-month reign was spent entirely in the East, where he proved unable to maintain the influence gained in the region by the campaigns of his predecessor, Caracalla, nor was Macrinus able to shake the suspicion that he was responsible for Caracalla’s murder.

Bust of Marcus Opellius Severus Macrinus Augustus at the Palazzo Nuovo, Musei Capitolini in Rome (Source: José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro in Public Domain). Macrinus’ reign was ephemeral, having ruled for just a year in 217-218 CE

Growing up Macrinus, born in 165, received a literary education that enabled him to rise high as a bureaucrat in the imperial service during the reign of the emperor Severus. Caracalla made Macrinus a praetorian prefect, an equestrian post that was second to the emperor in power. Macrinus shared the position with the experienced soldier Adventus, and the pair served Caracalla during the emperor’s campaigns in the East.

By the end of the second campaigning season in 216-17, rumors were flying that Macrinus was promoting himself as a possible future emperor. Caracalla must have been aware of the rumors concerning Macrinus, for the historian Cassius Dio notes the emperor was already reassigning members of Macrinus’ staff. Such personnel moves may have accelerated Macrinus’ plot.

Shortly before the campaigning season was to begin, Caracalla paid a visit to a temple near Carrhae. The emperor was accompanied by hand-picked bodyguards. The guards returned with Caracalla’s murdered body along with the body of one of the guards and a story that the dead guard killed the dead emperor. Not everyone was convinced, but Macrinus was able to translate his authority as praetorian prefect into that of emperor, being proclaimed by the troops in 217. Macrinus soon named his son, Diadumenianus, as Caesar and heir. The new emperor also got his former colleague, Adventus, out of the way by sending him back to Rome as urban prefect.

Macrinus immediately sent conciliatory messages to the Parthian ruler Artabanus V, but Artabanus sensed weakness and raised an army to avenge his losses from the previous year’s campaign. Macrinus hoped to avoid a battle with the Parthians, but fighting erupted between the armies while both sides were encamped around Nisibis. The Parthians gained victory and, during the following winter, peace negotiations were held. Macrinus ended up paying the Parthians large bribes and reparations. Settlements were also reached with the Armenians and with the Dacians, who had launched attacks on the Romans after learning of Caracalla’s death.

Parthian cataphract lancers attack the Roman lines during the battle of Nisibis in 217 (Source: Weapons and Warfare). Despite their successes, the camel’s feet proved highly vulnerable Roman caltrops that had been strewn on the battlefield.

By not returning to Rome in 217, Macrinus opened himself to criticism. Dissatisfaction was especially high in the city after a particularly violent thunderstorm started a fire that damaged much of the Colosseum and caused widespread flooding, especially in the Forum. Adventus proved himself incompetent as urban prefect and had to be replaced.

But grumblings in Rome were insignificant compared to the growing unease among the soldiers on campaign in the East. The defeat at Nisibis at the hands of Artabanus and the Parthian army disheartened the Roman troops. Macrinus also introduced an unpopular, two-tier pay system in which new recruits received less money than veterans.

Parthian Horse archers engage the Roman legions as they attempt to invade Persia. Unlike the Achamenid-Greek wars where Achaemenid arrows were unable to penetrate Hellenic shields and armor, Parthian archery was now capable of penetrating Roman armor and shields (Picture Source: Antony Karasulas & Angus McBride).

Earlier, Caracalla’s mother, Julia Domna, had toyed with the idea of raising a rebellion against Macrinus shortly after her son’s murder, but the empress was uncertain of success and already suffering from breast cancer. She chose to starve herself to death instead.

The grandchildren of her sister, Julia Maesa, would become the focus of the successful uprising that began in 218. Her 14-year-old grandson Avitus (known to history as Elagabalus) was proclaimed emperor by one the legions camped near the family’s hometown. Other troops joined the rebellion, but Macrinus ordered loyal soldiers to crush the revolt, and later promoted his son to the rank of emperor.

The forces met in a village outside Antioch in 218. Despite the inexperience of the leaders of the rebel army, Macrinus was defeated. He sent his son, Diadumenianus, with an ambassador to the Parthian king, while Macrinus himself prepared to flee to Rome. Macrinus traveled across Asia Minor disguised as a courier and nearly made it to Europe, but he was captured in Chalcedon. Macrinus was transported to Cappadocia, where he and his son Diadumenianus were executed and Elagabalus was declared emperor.

Contemporaries tended to portray Macrinus as a fear-driven impostor who was able to make himself emperor but was incapable of the leadership required by the job. Macrinus lacked the aristocratic connections and personal bravado that might have won him legitimacy. His short reign represented a brief interlude of Parthian success during what would prove the final decade of the Parthian empire.

Ancient Qanat discovered in Southern Iran

The report Ancient Qanat found in southern Iran” was first reported by the Tehran Times on November 15, 2018. The version below has been edited slightly. Readers are also referred to:

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Residents of Rostaq, a rural district in Iran’s southern Fars province, have discovered an ancient qanat, which is estimated to date from some 2,000 years ago.

A piece of orange-colored pottery with a diameter of 2 centimeters was found next within the aqueduct, which is probably related to the Parthian era (247 BC–224 CE), as reported by IRNA. As noted by a local official:

“The aqueduct is probably associated with a mother well and several shaft friction structures. Inside the aqueduct was completely flawless and there were only some sedimentary material created over time at the bottom of the canals”

The ingress of a Parthia-era qanat or aqueduct discovered in Rostaq (Source: Tehran Times).

According to the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, some 120,000 qanats have so far been recognized across Iran, of which some 37,000 are still in use in arid and semi-arid regions.

The concept of Persian Qanat, which provides exceptional testimony to cultural traditions and civilizations in desert areas, was registered on UNESCO World Heritage list in 2016.

New Book (2020): The Ladies’ Secret Society – History of the Courageous Women of Iran

Manda Ervin Zand has published the textbook entitled:

The Ladies’ Secret Society: History of the Courageous Women of Iran

(Order from Amazon here …)

This riveting and remarkable book reveals, in print for the first time, the long history of struggle against clerical domination partaken by Iranian women across the centuries. Rooted in the long-standing and distinguished history of ancient Iran across the millennia, where Mother-Gods were once revered, the Ladies’ Secret Society, an organization founded in 1909, was both the inheritor of this proud history, and the progenitor of the contemporary women’s rights campaign of Iranian women (inside Iran and the diaspora) today.

Iranian women from Malayer (near Hamedan in the northwest) engaged in target practice in the Malayer city limits in the late 1950s.  The association between weapons and women is nothing new in Iran; Roman references for example note of Iranian women armed as regular troops in the armies of the Sassanians (224-651 CE).

Zand Ervin relates the stories and records the accomplishments of generations of individual women activists, who fought for every iota of freedom they gained, only to witness their hard-won rights virtually stripped overnight after the arrival of the pan-Islamic establishment into Iran in 1979. During the early days of the establishment of the pan-Islamic theocracy, Zand Ervin witnessed the execution of several innocent people, including her high school principal, who, as stated by Zand Ervin, was executed simply because she was a woman – and the Secretary of Education. She offers dramatic and compelling eyewitness testimonies of strong and emancipated women who were forced against their will to live under a pan-Islamist system. These same women, as Ervin Zand documents, have fought back often under near-impossible odds, and continue to fight for women’s rights inside Iran to this day. Manda Zand Ervin’s History of Iran (with its compulsory imposition of the veil upon women since 1979) offers insight and context into the distressing news of today dominating the headlines and the ensuing dangers of the clerical gender apartheid system.

The board of directors of “Jam’iat e nesvan e vatan-khah”, a women’s rights association in Tehran (1923-1933) (Source: Manda Zand-Ervin)

Born in Iran, and educated in the United States, Ervin was the managing director of the department of statistics and international affairs at the Customs Administration of Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 1980, Ms. Zand Ervin came to the United States as a political refugee and became a US citizen three years later. As a women’s rights activist and leading expert on Iranian affairs, she has been frequently consulted by Members of Congress and has testified at Congressional briefings, the Helsinki Commission, and the United Nations. In February 2008, Zand Ervin was appointed as the United States’ Delegate to the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women. She was also the featured speaker at the G8 Summit in Rome, on Violence against Women in 2009.  In 2012, she received the EMET Speaker of the Truth award.

Manda Zand Ervin is the founder and president of the Alliance of Iranian Women, an organization that brings the voices of Iranian women living under the gender apartheid policies of the pan-Islamic establishment’s Sharia Laws to the West. Her articles have appeared in; American Thinker, the Washington Times, PJ Media, Gate Stone Institute and many others. She has appeared on CNN, Fox News, BBC and regularly speaks on human rights, women’s rights and Middle East issues. Readers are encourage to consult her interviews on the Alliance of Iranian Women.com.

The 1,500-Year-Old Love Story Between a Persian Prince and a Korean Princess that Could Rewrite History

The article The 1,500-Year-Old Love Story Between a Persian Prince and a Korean Princess that Could Rewrite History” written by Mark Oliver was originally posted in Ancient Origins on May 8, 2018. The version printed below has been slightly edited from the original version that appeared in the Ancient Origins venue.

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More than a thousand years before the first European explorer reached Korea’s shores, the Persian Empire was writing love stories about Korean princesses.

It’s a little-known story that could change the way we see our history. Recently, historians took a second look an old Persian epic written around 500 CE (during the time of the Sassanians) and realized that, at the center of the tale, was the unusual story of a Persian prince marrying a Korean princess.

It’s an incredible discovery. Up until recently, we weren’t sure that the Persians of that time even knew Korea existed. This new revelation shows Persia didn’t just make contact with Korea – these countries were intimately connected. And it might just call for a total rewrite of history.

The Kushnameh: A 1,500-Year-Old Persian Epic About Korea

The story is called the Kushnameh, and, in itself, it’s hardly a new discovery. It’s one of the most popular stories to come out of the Persian Empire, one that’s been told and retold countless times in the 1,500 years since it was written.

The Kushmaneh is a massive, epic poem about an evil creature with elephant tusks named Kus who terrorizes a Persian family throughout the generations. The whole story spans across hundreds of years and thousands of lines of poetry – but the really interesting part is somewhere around the middle. There, the author sat down and dedicated an incredible 1,000 lines of poetic verse to describing life in Korea during the Silla dynasty.

King and Queen of Silla. South Korea, Seoul National Folk Museum – Traditional Korean Costumes of Silla Kingdom (57 BC – 935 AD) (Source: Ancient Origins).

A Love Letter to Korea

Korea comes into play when the story starts to focus on a young, noble prince of Persia named Abtin. For his whole life, Abtin has been forced to live in the woods, hiding from the evil Kus the Tusked. He has only one thing to keep him safe: a magic book that tells him his future.

It’s almost like breaking the fourth wall – Abtin has a copy of the book we’re reading, and he’s not above flipping ahead a few pages to see how it all ends. In fact, that’s just what he does. He reads the next chapter and finds out that he’s supposed to go to the Silla kingdom of Korea, and – after briefly getting confused and going to China – he winds up being welcomed with open arms by the king of Silla.

From here, the story is just page after page of lavish descriptions of how beautiful Korea is. Admittedly, some of it seems a little over-the-top. It says, for example, that Korea is so overflowing with gold that even the dogs are kept on golden leashes. But on the whole, the description is so accurate that modern historians are sure the author must have visited it himself .

Abtin is mesmerized by the beauty of the country, and, soon after, by the beauty of its princess Frarang. He falls madly in love with Korean princess, begs the king for her hand in marriage, and she soon becomes his wife and the mother of his firstborn son.

Marriage of Abtin and Frarang (Source: Ancient Origins).

The Story of a Korean Hero

It’s unlikely that any of this really happened, of course. For one thing, there’s limited evidence that Persia spent 1,500 years being terrorized by an immortal monster with elephant tusks, and even less that any early Persian princes had magic books that could tell them the future.

But the symbolism of having a Persian prince taking refuge in Korea and falling in love with a Korean princess is undeniable. This is hard proof that Persians didn’t just know about Korea 1,500 years ago; they had a deep, profound admiration for their nation.

What happens next, though, is what makes it a really big deal. Frarang’s son isn’t just a minor character. His birth is a turning point in the whole story.

The fully Persian prince spends his whole life in hiding and, when he finally returns to his homeland, ends up getting killed by Kus’s men. But it’s his half-Korean son who turns things around.

Frarang and Abtin’s son ends up raising up an army and leading the revolt against Kus. For centuries, in this story, Persia gets tormented by an evil, tusked monster. It’s only under the command of a half-Korean boy and his mother that Persia finally wins its freedom.

This 14th-century Persian painting portrays a scene from the Kushnameh in what scholars believe could be the betrothal of prince Abtin (kneeling) and Silla princess Frarang (sitting) (Source: Ancient Origins).

A Secret Hidden in Plain Sight

For 1,500 years, people have been reading this story without any idea what they were looking at. For a long time, we assumed that the story was just about China.

In the story, the Korean Silla kingdom is referred to as “Chin”, a name that could refer to either China or Korea. It’s even a plot point in the story, in fact. At first, Abtin, like most historians, misreads the “Chin” in his magic future-telling book and thinks he’s supposed to go to China. And, just like modern historians, it takes him years before he realizes that it’s actually talking about China.

Recently, though, historians have taken a look at those descriptions again and realized just how perfectly they really do match up with Korea . The descriptions in this book don’t sound anything like China, but they’re a perfect, vivid description of 6th-century Korea – a place where, believe it or not, they really did keep their dogs on leashes of pure gold.

A Total Rewrite of History

This really might completely change the way we see history. For a long time, Korea has seemed an isolated, distant place from the Western world; but this story suggests that the east and west may not have been so disconnected after all.

It took until 1653 before the first European explorer reached Korea. That’s more than 1,100 years after Kushnama was written.

We’ve always known that Persia had some kind of contact with Korea. They were both a part of the Silk Road, and we’ve known for some time that Persian goods somehow ended up in Korea. Generally, though, it was assumed that they were just part of a bigger trade network.

In this story, though, Korea isn’t a trade partner. They’re a trusted ally, and they’re so important to the Persians that they literally can’t overcome evil until they trust the leadership of a half-Korean, half-Persian prince. It’s an incredibly symbolic marriage of cultures.

It puts other relics under a new light, as well. In an ancient tomb in Gyeong-Ju, for example, there is an old monument to a Korean war hero who looks an awful lot more like a Persian soldier than a Korean one. Now, some people are starting to wonder if this might really be the monument to a forgotten Persian hero who fought for Korea.

There’s no telling how far this could go. It could change everything about how we see the history of these countries. After all, this is far more than a love story between two people. It’s a love story between two nations.