Biographies from Ancient History

Feb 2011
300
NY, NY
Did anyone do Aulus Plautius yet? I mean, he was an Eisenhower of sorts back in 43 AD anyway, if in reverse.

I also wonder if Gnaeus Julius Agricola has been synopsized here. I just can't go through all these pages. Is there not a working link that we can review? What a great, great Thread.
 
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Feb 2016
4
Mumbai
Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Maurya Empire and the first emperor to unify most of Greater India into one state. He ruled from 324 BCE until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favour of his son, Bindusara, in 297 BCE. Prior to his consolidation of power, most of the Indian subcontinent was divided into mahajanapadas, while the Nanda Empire dominated the Indo-Gangetic Plain. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering and subjugating almost all of the Indian subcontinent by the end of his reign, except Tamil Nadu and Odisha.
In Greek and Latin accounts, Chandragupta is known as Sandrokottos and Androcottus. He became well known in the Hellenistic world for conquering Alexander the Great's easternmost satrapies, and for defeating the most powerful of Alexander's successors, Seleucus I Nicator, in battle. Chandragupta subsequently married Seleucus's daughter to formalize an alliance and established a policy of friendship with the Hellenistic kingdoms, which stimulated India's trade and contact with the western world. After unifying much of India, Chandragupta and his chief advisor Chanakya passed a series of major economic and political reforms. He established a strong central administration patterned after Chanakya’s text on politics, the Arthashastra. Chandragupta's India was characterised by an efficient and highly organised bureaucratic structure with a large civil service. Due to its unified structure, the empire developed a strong economy, with internal and external trade thriving and agriculture flourishing. In both art and architecture, the Maurya Empire made important contributions, deriving some of its inspiration from the culture of the Achaemenid Empire and the Hellenistic world. Chandragupta's reign was a time of great social and religious reform in India. Buddhism and Jainism became increasingly prominent. According to Jain accounts, Chandragupta abdicated his throne in favour of his son Bindusara, embraced Jainism, and followed Bhadrabahu and other monks to South India. He is said to have ended his life at Shravanabelagola (in present-day Karnataka) through Sallekhana.
 
Feb 2016
4
Mumbai
Ashoka the Great

Ashoka Maurya, commonly known as Ashoka[4] and Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over a realm that stretched from the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan to the modern state of Bangladesh in the east. It covered the entire Indian subcontinent except parts of present-day Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The empire's capital was Pataliputra (in Magadha, present-day Bihar), with provincial capitals at Taxila and Ujjain.
n about 260 BCE, Ashoka waged a bitterly destructive war against the state of Kalinga (modern Odisha). He conquered Kalinga, which none of his ancestors had done. He embraced Buddhism after witnessing the mass deaths of the Kalinga War, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. "Ashoka reflected on the war in Kalinga, which reportedly had resulted in more than 100,000 deaths and 150,000 deportations, ending at around 200,000 deaths." Ashoka converted gradually to Buddhism beginning about 263 BCE. He was later dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia, and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha. "Ashoka regarded Buddhism as a doctrine that could serve as a cultural foundation for political unity." Ashoka is now remembered as a philanthropic administrator. In the Kalinga edicts, he addresses his people as his "children", and mentions that as a father he desires their good.
H.G. Wells wrote of Ashoka in his book The Outline of History: "Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star."
 
Feb 2016
4
Mumbai
Emperor Samudragupta

Samudragupta, ruler of the Gupta Empire (c. 335 – c. 375 CE), and successor to Chandragupta I, is considered to be one of the greatest military geniuses in Indian history. He was the third ruler of the Gupta Dynasty, who ushered in the Golden Age of India. He ranks with Ashoka, though in fundamentals both differed radically from each other. 'While Ashoka' says R.K. Mukerjee,'stands for peace and non-violence, Samudragupta for the opposite principle of war and aggression. The one had contempt for conquests, the other had a passion for them'.
The main source of Samudragupta's history is an inscription engraved on the Allahabad pillar. In this inscription Samudragupta details his conquests. Written on this inscription is, "whose most charming body was covered over with all the beauty of the marks of a hundred confuse wounds caused by the blows of battle axes, arrows, spears, pikes, swords, lances, javelines".
The beginning of Samudragupta's reign was marked by the defeat of his immediate neighbours, Achyuta, ruler of Ahichchhatra, and Nagasena. Following this Samudragupta began a campaign against the kingdoms to the south. This southern campaign took him south along the bay of Bengal. He passed through the forest tracts of Madhya Pradesh, crossed the Odisha coast, marched through Ganjam, Visakhapatnam, Godavari, Krishna and Nellore districts and may have reached as far as Kancheepuram. Here, however, he did not attempt to maintain direct control. After capturing his enemies he reinstated them as tributary kings. This act prevented the Gupta Empire from attaining the almost immediate demise of the Maurya Empire and is a testament to his abilities as a statesman. His ambition was inspired by becoming "Raja Chakravarti" or greatest emperor and "Ekrat", undisputed ruler. In the North, he adopted the policy of "Digvijaya" which meant the conquest and annexation of all territories. In the South, his policy was "Dharma Vijaya" which meant conquest but not annexation.
The details of Samudragupta's campaigns are too numerous to recount (these can be found in the first reference below). However it is clear that he possessed a powerful navy in addition to his army. In addition to tributary kingdoms, many other rulers of foreign states like the Saka and Kushan kings accepted the suzerainty of Samudragupta and offered him their services.At first he subjugated the rulers of Western UP and Delhi and brought them under his direct rule. Next, frontier states of Kamrupa(Assam),Bengal in the East and Punjab in the West, were made to accept his suzerainty. He also brought the forest tribes of the Vindhya region under his rule.
Samudragupta is also known to have been "a man of culture". He was a patron of learning, a celebrated poet and a musician. Several coins depict him playing on the Indian lyre or veena. He gathered a galaxy of poets and scholars and took effective actions to foster and propagate religious, artistic and literary aspects of Indian culture. Though he favoured the Hindu religion like the other Gupta kings, he was reputed to possess a tolerant spirit for other religions. A clear illustration of this is the permission granted by him to the king of Ceylon to build a monastery for Buddhist pilgrims in Bodh Gaya.
Samudragupta was a man of exceptional abilities and unusual varied gifts - warrior, statesman, general, poet and musician, philanthropist, he was all in one. As a patron of arts and literature, he epitomized the spirit of his age. Coins and inscription of Gupta period bear testimony to his 'versatile talents and indefatigable energy.
 
Feb 2016
4
Mumbai
Chandragupta II

Chandragupta II (also known as Chandragupta Vikramaditya) was one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta empire in India. His rule spanned c. 380–413 – c. 415 CE during which the Gupta Empire reached its peak. Art, architecture, and sculpture flourished, and the cultural development of ancient India achieved new heights. The period of prominence of the Gupta dynasty is often referred to as the Golden Age of India. Chandragupta II was the son of the previous ruler, Samudragupta. He attained success by pursuing both a favourable marital alliance and an aggressive expansionist policy in which his father and grandfather (Chandragupta I) set the precedent. Samudragupta set the stage for the emergence of classical art, which occurred under the rule of Chandragupta II. Chandragupta II extended great support to the arts.
Chandragupta II controlled a vast empire, from the mouth of the Ganges to the mouth of the Indus River and from what is now North Pakistan down to the mouth of the Narmada. Pataliputra continued to be the capital of his huge empire but Ujjain too became a sort of second capital. The large number of beautiful gold coins issued by the Gupta dynasty are a testament to the grandeur of that age. Chandragupta II also started producing silver coins in the Saka tradition.
Culturally, the reign of Chandragupta II marked a Golden Age.
 
Mar 2012
3,474
Redneck Country, AKA Texas
Mithridates VI of Pontus (135–63 BC)

Claiming descent from Darius I and Alexander the Great among others, and well known for his mastery of poisons and their antidotes, Mithridates VI of Pontus was one of the greatest enemies of the late Roman Republic. He was born in the Asia Minor kingdom of Pontus. When he was in his teens, his father, Mithridates V, was assassinated and his mother (who most likely had a hand in the plot) took up the regency. Fearing for his life (his mother preferred his docile younger brother), Mithridates and several close friends fled the capitol, making allies among his father's commanders and the border regions. After several years, Mithridates returned, poisoned his mother and brother, and became de facto ruler, taking his sister Laodice as the first of several wifes he would have in his lifetime.

After his mother, Mithridates trusted no one in his family. He kept his younger sisters under virtual house arrest to prevent them from siring potential rivals to his power. After Laodice gave birth to a son that was clearly not her brother-husband's, he poisoned her. Several of Mithridates' wifes and their children met similar gruesome fates. When his nephew Ariarathes VII of Cappadocia rebelled against being a puppet of his uncle, Mithridates personally killed his nephew and installed the son that was not his as the new king. Eventually, the power plays among the kingdoms of Asia Minor caught the attention of the Roman Republic, as several of said kingdoms were client states of Rome. Mithridates attempted to overthrow Nicomedes IV of Bithynia, but this failed, and Rome sent two legions to assist Nicomedes in retaliation. Their attack failed, and Mitrhidates went on the offensive, starting the First Mithridatic War.

Mithridates seemed to have endless armies at his disposal. Many of the cities of Anatolia sided with him, and he drew support from barbarians all around the Black Sea region. In addition, Tigranes the Great, King of Armenia, was his son in law, and waged his own campaigns against the Romans in Syria. In 88 BC Mithridates orchestrated a wide spread slaughter of Romans in Asia Minor, an episode called the Asiatic Vespers. Alarmed by both this and the siding of Athens and other Greek city states with Pontus, the Republic sent Sulla and several legions to defeat Mithridates. Sulla defeated Mithridates' top general Archelaus at the battle of Chaeronea, but not before besieging Athens, which ended in a sack of the once great city.

Sulla was in a precarious position: his enemies had taken over the Senate and had sent rival legions to finish the job. He and Mithridates were both in dire need of peace, and a treaty was hastily written up. In it, Mithridates promised to evacuate all the regions he had conquered, and Rome promised not to invade Pontus itself. While Sulla went back to Rome to slaughter his enemies there, Mithridates dealt with the other legions, called the Fimbrians. They foolishly attacked Pontus, were defeated, and Pontus for the moment was left alone. This was called the Second Mithridatic War. The third war was started when Rome attempted to annex Bithynia after Nicomedes died and left it to Rome in his will. Calling the will a forgery, and declaring Bithynia his by birthright, Mithridates drew up another huge army and attacked Rome once again, defeating Sulla's subordinate Lucullus, who had also failed to invade Armenia, Mithridates' key ally.

Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, who had recently defeated Quintus Sertorius and Spartacus, was the next person called up to defeat Mithridates. Pompey defeated Mithridates in Pontus in 66 BC, but the king fled to first Armenia (which Pompey would also subdue), then the Caucasian mountains, where he reached the Bosporus. His son Machares had been ruling Bosporus for some time, and had cast his lot with Rome. After killing Machares, Mithridates further plotted to attack Rome once more. But another son, Pharnaces, led a revolt against his father. Trapped in a citadel with no means of escape, Mithridates and several other family members took poison. Ironically, Mithridates' experiments with poison and antidotes meant that the poison failed to kill him, and he had to ask a Gallic bodyguard to kill him with a sword.

Mithridates' secret master antidote, the Mithridate, would be sought after by emperors and kings long after his death.
 
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Mar 2012
3,474
Redneck Country, AKA Texas
I'm surprised no one's done anything in this thread since I posted about Mithridates in June.

How many of the Tetrarchy have been done already? I was considering doing a series of mini biographies here for some of them.
 

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