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Helios Panoptes

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The circumstances of Cleopatra VII's rise to sole power are well-known. The beheading of Great Pompey, the accidental burning of the Great Library, Ptolemy XIII drowning as he fled in disgrace, the exiled Queen smuggled into Caesar's chambers in a carpet; the images have been told and retold through the centuries.

No less retold is the affair between Caesar and Cleopatra, the torrid six weeks in Alexandria where the stoic general uncharacteristically frolicked while there was still a war to be fought. True, Great Pompey was dead, but his sons still lived, commanding the faction loyal to the Senate and devoted to continuing the struggle in their father's name

After six weeks in sunny Egypt, Caesar was convinced by omens and advisers to set sail on the last day of February to return to war with the month and blessing of Mars. As he sailed under the Pharos Lighthouse that night, the general and the queen shared a last longing look over the wine-dark seas, perhaps aware they would never see each other again... or so hundreds of paintings would have you believe. In truth, Caesar was fighting a small bout of seasickness, and the young Cleopatra had gone to bed hours earlier to avoid being seen as a pining teenager.

She awoke in the pre-dawn gloom, screaming.



Once her servants had manged to calm her, her bodyguards were satisfied no attempt had been made on her life, and the high priests rudely roused from their beds, the Pharaoh proclaimed that her fellow god, Shai, Fate Itself, had announced Egypt's doom. No union between Rome and Egypt was possible (here her face was said to falter, sparking rumors that persist to this day that she intended to unite the two countries by having a son with Caesar). Egypt would suffer the fate of Carthage and she would be the last of the Pharaohs, if nothing was done.

The Sun rose on the first day of March, 707 AUC.

 
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alxeu

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I'm interested. Played this game a bit, but am terrible. Can't wait to see what you do with an Egypt in a Roman world.
 

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Egypt was fortunate to have her as its ruler during this time of crisis. Intelligent, educated, crafty, skilled in diplomacy and politics, and largely above corruption, Cleopatra embraced her subject people and their culture and was in turn beloved. She was the first of the Ptolemys to even learn to speak Egyptian, and she wholly adopted the Pharaoh's role as a god on earth, identifying with Isis, the Queen of Heaven, above all.

With the end of any hope to peacefully unite with Rome, Cleopatra would turn inward and fully commit to Egypt, determined to bolster its strength and change her fate.



The Ptolemys had for centuries regarded the native Egyptians as barbarians, unfit for government posts or even to take up arms for them. After a particularly disastrous battle with the now-defunct Seleucid Empire, these restrictions had been relaxed, but not repealed.

In her first official act, Cleopatra removed those military service restrictions utterly. The Egyptians showed their approval, as thousands of able-bodied men pledged themselves to defend their Pharaoh. In all, Egypt's total manpower had more than tripled, though it would take months to take a full account.

Even the Greek upper class agreed with the move, painfully aware of Egypt's isolation in what was becoming a Roman world. That didn't stop the more ambitious from making plans, however..



But with the unanimous popularity of the Pharaoh and the rock-solid stability of her reign, he could find no friends to even entertain the idea. At the same time, Cleopatra knew better than to provoke the upper class with a harsh punishment upon a so-far ineffectual plotter. So she assigned him command of the 1st Navy and ordered him to Rhodes to report on Roman movements in the Aegean.

The Roman Civil War was still raging, with far-distant Hispania now the battleground. The Loyalists held most of Asia Minor, and the fear was that when the Dictatorship's legions swept east, they would not stop at Egypt's borders. The Pharaoh officially maintained neutrality, though small gifts made their way to Caesar every now and then.

In late May, the line of Ptolemys finally reached its end. Cleopatra's younger brother, husband and official co-ruler Ptolemy XIV suddenly died in his bed at the age of 13. Other than the official procedures, no-one much mourned his passing, least of all Cleopatra herself.

But it did create a problem with succession - Cleopatra had no children despite her best efforts with Caesar. And in the Egyptian tradition (one of the few the Ptolemys embraced even before Cleopatra), the divine Pharaohs should not mingle their blood with their subjects.

Something of a compromise was reached on May 26th as the Pharaoh chose the High Priest of Osiris as her consort.



Horemakhet Oxymid was respected, but not loved. Strong and competent but blunt, he nonetheless carried the favor of the gods and was accepted as the consort of Pharaoh. He was also pure Egyptian, without a drop of Greek blood, another shift in the scales of power. The Egyptians cheered the couple, dressed as Isis and Osiris when announcing the union, the Greeks muttered, and sour Ganymedes in Rhodes called the Queen "Aegyptophilos", a name that has stuck, though not in the insulting way he meant.

A little over a month later, with the priesthood, army and people behind her, Cleopatra's reforms began in earnest.

 

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Ouch, is your stability at -3?
 

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Yeeah, passing Gender Equality is a -6 hit. Fortunately, Rome's still locked in civil war, and the only other major power left is Parthia, so I've got time to recover.
 

alxeu

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Guess it makes sense. Doing something so society changing as that is bound to annoy the established elite.
 
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Helios Panoptes

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Egypt had always been unique. While Greek and Near-East stories declared women the root of all evil, or even a curse sent by the gods, and their laws had followed suit, Egypt had held the sexes to be equals and powerful women had long acted in its government and religion (for in Egypt, those were one and the same).

The Greek conquest had not overturned these traditions so much as completely ignored them. By excluding native Egyptians from government entirely, attempting to import the system of city-states, and only allowing Greeks to hold high office, women had been excluded as a side-effect, though one the Greeks shed no tears over.

As such, Cleopatra's reform was somewhat less earth-shattering than Greek, Roman or Parthian observers described, though the Greek ruling class in Egypt itself was correctly worried. Cleopatra had turned her back almost entirely on Greek ways - the decrees that re-established womens' position in Egypt had also directly attacked Greek privileges.





In every aspect of society, Cleopatra favored Egyptian traditions. And while the (for now) Greek-dominated government shuddered and plotted...they found her unassailable.




Attempts to use the bureaucracy to block grain shipments to provoke riots or grind the government to a halt failed as Pharaoh used her personal wealth and land to provide for her people. An ill-conceived attempt to incite corruption ended with the official being put to death. The flood of Egyptian recruits stymied attempts to bring the army in for a coup, the marriage to the High Priest ensured all omens and signs favored her path, and the Roman Civil War (and Cleopatra's friendship with Caesar) meant no help was coming from foreign sources.



Indeed, the constant attempts to undermine her had only cemented the Pharaoh as a Just and Generous ruler. The final major attempt to undermine her came in 709 AUC, two years into her reign, and after a sacrifice had proven the gods approved of her actions.



The accounting had been made of the flood of Egyptian recruits, and Egypt's total manpower had swollen to nearly 80,000 able-bodied men (and some women). While they still held power, the Greek faction began to call for a war to use that resource to gain tribute and glory for Pharaoh (and hopefully get most of them killed and disgrace Cleopatra with a futile war).

Instead, Pharaoh simply asked.



The Roman Civil War was spilling into Anatolia and the Levant while Parthia was making rumbles of moving west, and the small Hebrew and Arab states had decided paying for Cleopatra's protection was better than going to war alone. The Greek faction had so fervently, and some say desperately, argued for war the sudden peaceful resolution to their demands utterly undercut their standing. Humiliated, most began to accept their fate as a minority in what was no longer a Hellenic Successor State.


The known world in the summer of 709 AUC.
 

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The Greek faction was humbled and Egypt had gained two new tributaries with no bloodshed at all. In earlier centuries, it would have been merely a stepping stone to further conquest, but Cleopatra was not the warrior type. She knew Egypt had very little to gain from mindless conquest, even separate from the fact that Rome now dominated the known world and pickings were slim indeed.

In fact, until the Civil War, Judea had been a Roman client state, and Egypt moving in had not been ignored. Messages arrived from both the Republic and the Dictatorship, ostensibly congratulating the Pharaoh for securing the Levant, but with a unsaid threat to go no further.



Egypt's position in the Roman Civil War was complex. She was officially allied to the Roman state, but both factions claimed to represent it. When Caesar left Alexandria, he had placed a legion there to ensure Egypt would be a client kingdom, but as the war dragged on those men were steadily pulled away. In the fall of 709, they left completely to assault the Republican-held Cyrenaica.



Though Egypt still tended to favor the Dictatorship (especially with gifts of gold), she refused to get involved militarily. neither faction could spare the forces to conquer Egypt without leaving themselves open to the other, and likewise, neither wanted to antagonize Egypt into siding with their enemy. Of course, if Egypt began to gobble up more of the former Roman client states, the two factions might unite against the 'foreign aggressor'.

So the Pharaoh waited and watched as Roman forces swarmed over the Sea like ants.



Of course, other states had different ideas.



In the spring of 711 AUC, stability had returned to the Egyptian government. The Greeks had largely given up thoughts of overthrowing Cleopatra, either from acceptance, political loyalty, or just the sheer fact that they'd have to ask Rome to do it for them, and neither Roman faction would be likely to leave them in charge afterwards.

Which made the Sinai revolt oddly-timed.



No single cause has ever been identified for the revolt - no Roman money was found in the camps, no records in the Greek aristocrats' libraries, not even any declaration of what they hoped to achieve. The best guess has been that a band of desert raiders from the wildlands south of Petra rode into Sinai for plunder. The populace, distant from the center of Egyptian power, rose up in a militia to fight them. Then, a few lesser noble Greeks who still resented Cleopatra's rule heard scattered reports and assumed the populace was rising up against her, so they threw together some volunteers and mercenaries and rode out to join the revolt.

In any event, the sorry mess was quickly put down.



Throughout this, the Pharaoh remained strangely quiet and distant, causing some to spread rumors about her health.



The truth was much happier.



In a sop to the Greek faction, and in part to ensure continuity of government, Cleopatra continued the scheme set up centuries earlier and named her son Ptolemy. He was not the daughter she hoped for, but at least the succession was secured. The young lad was embraced by the whole government as the heir to the throne of Egypt, and when he was presented to the crowds (dressed as Horus, naturally), they roared their acclaim.

The boy was fortunate, for the next year all of Egypt was peaceful and stable while other powers continued to war. Egypt continued to build up her army and navy, of course, but overall, things were good.



Even Cleopatra's next reform caused barely a ripple. Once the doors of bureaucracy had been thrown open to women, little fuss could be made about the (as-yet nonexistent) daughters of the divine Pharaoh assuming her throne.

That April brought foreboding news, however.



Caesar was dead.


The known world after the death of Caesar on April 14, 713 AUC.
 

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I guess it's time for Octavian to take power. Are you planning on playing to the end of the game or until Cleopatra dies?
 

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Are you planning on playing to the end of the game or until Cleopatra dies?
The mod I'm using, Reign of the Ancients, removes the end date limit. So, I'm not sure yet. I am going to play until Cleopatra dies, at the very least, and then I'll see if the world is interesting enough to play further.
 

Helios Panoptes

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The death of Gaius Julius Caesar should have ended the Roman Civil War. It was a natural death, the Dictator slipping into a unresponsive seizure from which he never awakened. With no-one to blame, the faction that had formed around the charismatic leader should have collapsed immediately. That it didn't was based on two major facts.

First, after nearly a decade of civil war, a war that saw the Senate flee Rome in its first two months and then saw the Loyalists defeated again and again, reduced to only Cyprus, Libya and (ironically) Carthage, even the most stalwart Romans were losing faith in the Republic.

Second, Caesar had a son.



The boy had been kept secret to avoid making him a target. Even Cleopatra's network of informants had not alerted her to his existence, so concerned were they with keeping Caesar friendly. Calpurnia had maintained the cover that she was barren to protect the boy, and Caesar's personal letters indicate he intended to reveal his son after crushing the Loyalists, ensuring stability in the new Dictatorship.

Instead, as soon as Caesar was declared dead, his son was revealed to keep some order in Rome.



Lucius Julius Caesar, cousin of Gaius, got himself declared Dictator on the strength of his record of loyal military service to his cousin, and having once served as consul. The elderly Lucius made it clear he was only acting to protect his young cousin until he could come of age, but the clearly monarchical succession rankled the populace. Lucius' nephew Marcus Antonius, Dux of Macedonia, and Gaius Octavius, the commander of the large Roman navy in the Tyrrhenian sea, both declared their loyalty, but farther-flung provincial governors saw their chance to revolt.



As Rome convulsed, Egypt received the blessings of the gods.




Then in January 717 AUC, ten years almost to the day since Cleopatra had come to power, a new opportunity arose to the west.



Seventy years before Cleopatra's reign, Cyrenaica had been split from Egypt as an independent kingdom to place the eldest son of Ptolemy VIII out of the way. When the son died heirless, his will had given his kingdom to the Roman Republic. Now, with the Republic entering its twelfth year of civil war with no end in sight, the governor had declared the region an independent republic and the Roman Loyalists were unable or unwilling to divert their forces to retake it.

So they sent a delegation to Alexandria, to ask the divine Pharaoh to honor her alliance with the Roman state and conquer the rebellious province, with the full blessing of the Senate and People of Rome.

Cleopatra suspected a trap, just as she had years before when the Greek faction had bellowed for war to gain tributaries. Political realities forced her hand this time, however. Caesar had died before he could end the civil war, and the child now in Rome wasn't hers; far from seeing her as an ally, the idle talk in the Dictatorship held she had delayed Caesar in Egypt too long, and lost him the war as a result. With the Loyalists gaining ground against the elderly Lucius, Cleopatra chose to endear herself to them.

And so Egypt went to war.


Spring, 717 AUC.
 

HIMDogson

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So succession is handled with female preference? If 4chan existed in ancient Egypt they would go insane.
 
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DKM

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So do the Rebel Romans lack a significant navy? Most provinces they haven't captured from the Romans appear to be overseas and disconnected from a land route.
 

Helios Panoptes

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So succession is handled with female preference? If 4chan existed in ancient Egypt they would go insane.
To be totally honest, I have no idea how the "Egyptian Succession" works, other than allowing female inheritance. It says it tries to alternate, so a Queen would have a male heir, while a King would have a female heir (assuming there is one), but it seems to recalculate my heir every now and then. Fortunately, since Cleopatra and her kids are the only Ptolemys left, it just shuffles among them. The council seems to happily go along with whoever is in the running that day (except for that sourpuss holdout in the screenshot), so ...?

I think what it's doing is something like Elective in CK, where the "best" candidate assumes the throne (which is a lot closer to how the Ptolemys did it than a strict 'eldest inherits'), but since all possible heirs are still children, the 'best' changes rapidly with minor fluctuations in stats. Sounds fun, I think. What's Egypt without a snarled dynasty? :p

So do the Rebel Romans lack a significant navy? Most provinces they haven't captured from the Romans appear to be overseas and disconnected from a land route.
I was curious about that, so I loaded up as the Rebels and Republic to check and no-o-o-o sir. The Rebels have an enormous navy of 133 ships, and the Republic has 1. The Rebels also outnumber the Republic army 3-to-1.

I think the big difference is game-Caesar had to fight for every inch of Asia Minor and Syria, while real-Caesar famously veni, vidi, vici'd the east with one great battle.
 

Selzro

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Very nice! I wouldn't have thought to start a game with the Roman Empire already so powerful, but Egypt (or possibly Parthia) is definitely the most interesting faction for something like that.
 
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Yakman

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interesting attempt to introduce rights to ptolemaic egypt. try not to be sucked into too many roman entanglements like our historical cleopatra...
 

Helios Panoptes

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The utter disaster of the first battle of the war came as a surprise to the confident Egyptians. Sosicles, Consul of Cyrenaica, had been expected to huddle in his capital, preparing for a siege. Instead, he had thrown his entire army across the border to smash an Egyptian force, largely composed of archers, that was intended to reinforce the main army.

Ten years of peace and the enormous growth of the army meant most of Egypt's soldiers were untested recruits, and the battle-hardened ex-legionaries made short work of them. The fortress of Marmarica also surrendered far faster than expected.

Cleopatra herself took the news hard. She had avoided drawing Egypt into a war in case of just this occurance, and even now there were whispers that only a male Pharaoh could truly win victories. Sosicles seemed to share that opinion, as he sent a humiliating proposal to Alexandria.



Cleopatra had seriously considered calling off the war after that crushing defeat, but the arrogant demands from an upstart consul inflamed her anger. She roared to her fellow gods if she was meant to accept this ignominy, and they answered.



And so the Pharaoh turned her wrath on Cyrenaica.




Even as her armies marched to victory, though, the Pharaoh was unsettled. If the gods were not against her, someone on Earth was. Her spies and informants confirmed neither Roman faction was too concerned - the Dictatorship was shaken again by the death of Lucius Julius Caesar and accession of Lucius Cornelius Balbus (Gaius' friend and secretary, but a naturalized foreigner), while the Loyalists found their invasion of Gaul stymied by a massive Gallic uprising.




But then a drunken boast in an attempt to impress a lady revealed the traitor.



Zeteres Nehmid, Commander of the Navy and Chief Physician. A native Egyptian, he had no particular dislike for Cleopatra herself, other than she sat on the throne he coveted. Unlike the fool Ganymedes years before (who was still moping around Rhodes, utterly forgotten), Zeteres was skilled, charismatic and popular, a dangerous combination. Cleopatra would have to tread carefully to prevent civil war.

First, with the sieges secured and no threat to Egypt's armies, Pharaoh recalled Ganymedes Aratid to Alexandria and held a triumph in his honor. The general was over 70 years old, but had ably commanded the absolute destruction of the Consul's veteran troops. He was also unshakably loyal - his presence in Alexandria would give pause to any attempt to incite the army to rebel.

Second, a harsh peace was dictated to Cyrenaica...but not a total one.



The breakaway Roman province was reduced to a mere city-state. Sosicles, huddled in his fortress, told anyone who'd listen that 'that woman' had been turned aside by the warnings of the gods that Cyrene's walls were impregnable. Not many believed him. For her part, Cleopatra said that several omens had convinced her to show mercy.. for a time. Of course, the 15,000 loyal soldiers who where never bloodied by assaulting said walls now marching back towards Alexandria was a happy coincidence.

Third, Pharaoh issued formal decrees of protection for Egypt's two tributaries. With Parthia snapping up minor states in the Levant, the assurances were welcomed heartily, which also secured the eastern border in the even of disaster.



In the spring of 720, with her position as secure as possible, Pharaoh ordered the arrest of Zeteres Nehmid for treason. The Trierarchos, no fool, had realized his own position had become untenable and he would be unlikely to survive openly rebelling.

So he ran.



Or sailed, rather, using his authority to commander a small fast ship and make his way to Numidia. Numidia, for her part, had no desire to provoke a war with Egypt. The King allowed Zeteres sanctuary but little else, and while Egyptian agents kept track of him, Cleopatra considered the threat neutralized.


Spring, 720 AUC.
 
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