Re: Torsten's novel

From: george knysh
Message: 66311
Date: 2010-07-13

--- On Tue, 7/13/10, Torsten <tgpedersen@...> wrote:

> > Plutarch takes Olthacus' murderous intentions as a fact
> >
> > whereas Appian is divided between assuming that and assuming
> > Olcaba's intentions were those he stated himself
> > §79
> >
> >
> > GK: Given what we know of Mithradates' suspicious nature, and
> > his proclivities towards eliminating unreliable (to his mind)
> > elements from his entourage, I think the earlier Plutarch version
> > of Olthaces' motivation is preferable to Appian's dichotomic
> > musing. I don't see how Olcaba/Olthacus couyld have survived a
> > return to Mithradates if he had originally defected from him to
> > Lucullus on his own initiative rather than as described by
> > Plutarch.
> On the other hand, if the whole thing had been a preconceived plot,
> it is difficult to see how Oltacus could have fingered the would-be
> defector Sobdacus after his return to Mithridates, as Appian states.
> GK: No difficulty whatever. Sobdacus wasn't "in" on the
> preconceived plot. Many others had already defected to Lucullus
> before Olthacus' pseudo-defection. Sobdacus was just unlucky. He
> decided to defect and contacted Olthacus (then apparently in
> Lucullus' good graces) He didn't realize Olthacus was Mithradates'
> agent and paid the price.

So from Mithridates' camp Sobdacus contacted Olthacus in Lucullus' camp to tell him he was going to defect? That makes no sense. Why would he do that?

****GK: There is a vast literature dealing with treason, spying, defection, and the myriad of reasons and techniques involved with these activities. Who knows (in the absence of specifics in Appian)why (and what exactly) Sobdacus did that he is documented as doing? Maybe he was negotiating for a "defection deal" through a successful prior defector? There could be any of a hundred reasons. I won't hazard a guess since I am not writing a novel.****

> ibd.c
> 'Thereupon the Scythian mounted his horse and went immediately to
> Mithridates, either because he had plotted against Lucullus and now
> thought that he was suspected, or because he considered himself
> insulted and was angry on that account. He exposed to Mithridates
> another Scythian, named Sobdacus, who was about to desert to
> Lucullus. Sobdacus was accordingly arrested.'
> > > 73 BC
> > >
> > > Beginning of Third Mithridatic War (- 63 BC)
> >
> >
> >
> > >
> > > 63 BC
> > >
> > >
> > > Mithridates VI plans invading Italy
> > >
> >
> > GK: He seems to have planned this (initially) in Colchis in the
> > winter of 66/65: cf. Appian #101. Cf.
> It seems more likely to me that the Bosphorus mentioned was the
> 'real' Bosphorus, since that is connected with the legend of Hera's
> travels
> not the Maeotian one (as note 1 seem to imply), and that Mithridates
> was accordingly planning a tour around the Black sea and attack the
> Romans from the rear in Asia Minor.
> GK: He would probably arrange to attack the Romans everywhere.

Appian, 101
'wage war against them from the side of Europe while they were in Asia'

*****GK: You are partly right, in that Appian uses ambiguous language here. The "Bosphorus" could refer either to the Cimmerian one (in which case "waging war from the side of Europe" could be done from Panticapeion (which was in Europe). That is what the beginning of Appian's text implies:
"the idea of making the circuit of the whole Pontic coast, passing from Pontus to the Scythians around the Sea of Azov and thus arriving at the Bosphorus.[1] He intended to take away the kingdom of Machares, his ungrateful son, and confront the Romans once more; wage war against them from the side of Europe while they were in Asia,"

****GK: "the circuit of the whole Pontic coast" as described in #101, seems to terminate at the Sea of Azov [cf. "and thus"- the terminating point, the "Bosphorus" is "the kingdom of Macharus".*****

> But here the issue is his plan to invade Italy.

And the text talks of a two stage plan:
1) get to the sea of Azov, depose his ungrateful son, Machares
2) get from there to the Thracian/'real' Bosporus and attack the Romans from the rear.

****GK: It is point 2 which remains unclear. I agree that as described by Appian the "Bosphorus" in #101 seems the "real" Bosphorus. But in concrete terms we are not told what Mithridates intended after reaching Panticapeion (in Europe) except waging war with the Romans. He needed to win over many additional allies even for your version, and there is nothing yet in #101 about that. But we cannot rule out that the specifics of #102 were already in Mithradates' mind*****

Once in the Azov country, having accomplished stage 1, he contemplated 'other and more novel exploits', such as attacking Italy.

****GK: That is formally correct (as described in #102), though if we focus on "the whole Euxine" and the (real) Bosphorus of #101 it is arguable that the contours of such a plan were already in his mind in Colchis.*****

> The route painted in Appian#101 was obviously the main thrust.

First thrust.

*****GK: Appian #101 is my mistake. I meant Appian #102.*****

> ...
> > > The "Scythians" (Scythians proper
> > > and Sarmatians) were independent auxiliaries who had to be
> > > bought off by promises of dynastic alliances (Appian,#108). This
> > > did not work. It is very clear that apart from "his own army"
> > > Mithridates intended to draw on the Gauls, whom he had been
> > > cultivating for some time (#109). He intended to lead his large
> > > motley crew "through Thrace to Macedonia, through Macedonia to
> > > Pannonia, and passing over the Alps into Italy" (#102)
> >
> > You seem to want to imply that Scythians and similar folk (this is
> > Olthacus/Olcaba's home country, according to Plutarch) could not
> > be made interested in such a large undertaking.
> >
> > GK: The point is that Appian used the term "Scythian" quite
> > vaguely. He seems to include ancient Georgians (like the
> > Heniochi), Maeotians (like Dardanians and others, usually subject
> > to the Bosporan kingdom) and occasionally Scythians proper (whom
> > he confuses with Sarmatians at e.g. ) as well as Sarmatians. The
> > "Azov country" pertains to the Maeotians connected politically to
> > Bosporus, like Olthaces' Dardanians, like Sinds and others listed
> > by Strabo. These are the "princes" Mithradates initially drafted
> > via dynastic alliances as described in Appian #102, which you cite
> > here:
> >
> > Here is the full quote from Appian Mithridates §102
> > 'Mithridates finally reached the Azov country, of which there were
> > many princes, all of whom received him, escorted him, and
> > exchanged presents with him, on account of the fame of his deeds,
> > his empire, and his power, which were still not to be despised. He
> > formed alliances with them in contemplation of other and more
> > novel exploits, such as marching through Thrace to Macedonia,
> > through Macedonia to Pannonia, and passing over the Alps into
> > Italy. With the more powerful of these princes he cemented the
> > alliance by giving his daughters in marriage.'
> >
> > This text does not support your view.
> >
> > GK: But Appian #108/109 does. Mithradates needed to cement
> > alliances with the powerful steppe nomads (Scythians and
> > Sarmatians) who had earlier supported him. But he was betrayed. Cf.
> >
> > "Mithridates, observing these frequent defections, and having
> > suspicions of the army itself, lest it should fail him because the
> > service was compulsory and the taxes very heavy, and because
> > soldiers always lack confidence in unlucky commanders, sent some
> > of his daughters in charge of eunuchs to be married to the
> > Scythian princes, asking them at the same time to send him
> > reinforcements as quickly as possible. Five hundred soldiers
> > accompanied them from his own army. Soon after they left the
> > presence of Mithridates they killed the eunuchs who were leading
> > them (for they always hated these persons, who were all-powerful
> > with Mithridates) and conducted the young women to Pompey.
> >
> > [§109] Although bereft of so many children and castles and of his
> > whole kingdom, and in no way fit for war, and although he could
> > not expect any aid from the Scythians, still no inferior position,
> > none corresponding to his present misfortunes, even then found a
> > place in his mind. He proposed to turn his course to the Gauls,
> > whose friendship he had cultivated a long time for this purpose,
> > and with them to invade Italy, hoping that many of the Italians
> > themselves would join him on account of their hatred of the
> > Romans;"
> And here you have to argue that none of the many planned contingents
> went on with the plan, supported with Roman gold.
> GK: That is clear enough from Appian's description of the
> plan's collapse.

Erh, no.

****GK: Erh, yes. The plan was that of Mithridates and of no one else.****

> > > The expedition was to start from
> > > Panticapeion (today's Kertch in the Crimean Ukraine).
> >
> > I can't find your source for that?
> >
> > GK: It's in Appian #107. Mithradates made Panticapeion his
> > center of operations. He was there in Appian #108, when he was
> > drafting "his own army" (prior to his unsuccessful appeal to the
> > steppe nomads) and there is no record of his leaving it.
> Right.
> > > *Mithridates VI gives Olthaces the task of invading Italy.
> > >
> > > GK: Acc. to Appian, the King himself was to lead the army
> >
> > Where does he say that?
> >
> > > (there is no hint of any delegation in the text).
> >
> > I'll make an emendation: Olthaces was to be the leader of the
> > allied Dandarian/Scythian army / expeditionary force.
> >
> > GK: We don't know that.
> There might have been several such 'Scythian' (in the loose sense)
> armies, and Olthaces might have commanded only his own Dandarian
> army, but with financially powerful backers, who knows how many
> others could be enticed to join.
> GK: Certainly. But the plan centered on Mithradates. The
> Dandarians were subjects of the Bosporan Kingdom. They had no
> independent policy.

The Bosporan Kingdom was under Pontic kings 108 - 16 BCE
Olthacus was a prince of the Dandarii, and the Bosporan kingdom was in civil war, so of course they would have their own policy at that time.

*****GK: The only "policy" they would have was that of choosing which of the pretenders to the Bosporan throne they were ready to support. They weren't independent states as to foreign policy.****

> > In any case this, "Mithradates' own army", which he organized from
> > Panticapeion, was to be assisted by the steppe nomads, and
> > (hopefully) Burebista (since Mithradates wished to reach Italy via
> > Thrace and Pannonia). But they never got started.
> Not on that path, which any contemporary historian would have noted.
> But would they have noted a 'Scythian' army/armies moving into
> Przeworsk? This is the time of the suddenly appearing 'upper layer'
> there.
> GK: The plan to invade Italy died with Mithradates.

You don't know that.

****GK: It was his plan. There is no record of anyone else having such a plan. And the Dandarii, subjects of Bosporus, did not have an independent foreign policy. There is no evidence that the Romans or anyone else wished to dismember the Bosporan Kingdom at any time. And the Dandarians, Sinds etc.. were its subjects both before and after the Pontus connection.*****

> There is no evidence to the contrary.

There's no literary evidence to any activity north of the Bosporan Kingdom at the time.

> BTW you still haven't provided anything concrete about the inventory
> of the 'upper layer' Przeworsk inhumations of that period. This is
> crucial if you wish to establish a "Dandarian" or other "Scythian"
> connection. I've told you this many times. Otherwise we must fall
> back on "Celtic" or other local explanations.

The stuff they have is Roman. That's the interesting thing.

****GK: Where is a description of the whole inventory? Surely you don't mean that the entirety of these graves' contents is "Roman"?*****

In the princely graves from later centuries, also the one at Mus^ov, you find battered heirlooms from the 1st century BCE along with contemporary Roman stuff, but nothing from the period in between. This is what we would expect if Crassus had financed and equipped the army which seems to have overrun Przeworsk at the time.

****GK: That is as good a nonsequitur as any of your previous ones. Are you suggesting that all Germanic graves "from later centuries" containing "battered heirlooms from the 1rst c. BCE" are evidence of Crassus' financierings? That is unacceptable as such (without further evidence) to proper historians or archaeologists (but quite all right with novelists)! There are many other ways in which such "heirlooms" might have reached their final resting place. In any case what is required is a better description of the mid-1rst c. BC Przeworsk inhumations. Do you have this?*****

> > > *Olthaces as leader (*wod-in-) of an army (*wod-)
> > > *invades Przeworsk by 'Schlieffen plan'
> > > *going around Burebista's Dacia
> > >
> > > GK: The Mithridatian army gathered near Panticapeion, but the
> > > expedition never got under way. There is no mention of any
> > > out-movement by anyone.
> >
> > Movements in Scythian lands would be beyond the Roman horizon of
> > interest.
> >
> > GK: Appian was certainly interested enough to point out that no
> > such movement occurred in the steppes (#109)
> I can't find that in §109?
> GK: The steppe nomads weren't drawn into the plan.

As a group, yes. But what happened with various contingents after Mithridates' suicide, we don't know.

> Appian is clear on this.

No, he isn't.

****GK: You're consciously distorting my statement. What I said is that Appian is clear on the fact that the steppe nomads weren't drawn into the plan. As to your words : "what happened with various contingents after Mithridates' suicide, we don't know", we can only draw (unless we are novelists when anything goes) the obvious conclusion all other scholars have: that Mithridates' Italian invasion plan died with him. "The various contingents" were a part and parcel of that plan. When he died, the princes of the Bosporan kingdom recognized Pharnaces. End of story.****

> > > Mithridates VI commits suicide
> > >
> > > GK: With the assistance of a Gaulish warrior.
> >
> > Named Bituitus, a name known otherwise only from a king of the
> > Arverni
> >
> >
> >
> > so perhaps the Arverni were the Gauls Mithridates was in contact
> > with?
> And perhaps that's why Caesar mentions the old Arverni/Aedui
> conflict in connection the recent one between Sequani and Aedui,
> although he doesn't detail any involvement of the Arverni in the
> latter.
> > > End of Third Mithridatic War
> > > *Olthaces, the wod-in- in Przeworsk,
> > > *must give up attempt for 'Schlieffen plan' against Italy and
> > > *reconsider his options
> > >
> > > GK: This is pure novelistic fantasy. There is no evidence which
> > > would link the career of Ariovistus to the figures of
> > > Mithradates and Olthaces.
> >
> > Well, there's Snorri, of course (*hides under sofa*).
> >
> >
> > > BTW it is possible (though hardly certain) that the Olthaces in
> > > Pompey's triumph in 62 was Olthaces the Dandarian. He seems to
> > > have been a very trusted ally of Mithradates, who just might
> > > have appointed him "king" of reconquered Colchis (or parts
> > > thereof) after the unsuccessful attempt on Lucullus.

The only thing we know of Olthaces/Olcaba is the Luculus episode in Appian and Plutarch and his part in Pompey's triumph.

> > > It is however equally plausible that these Olthaces were
> > > distinct personalities.
> > >


> ...
> > > Olthaces was not Ariovistus.
> >
> > There's exactly fourteen years between Olthacus' defection to
> > Mithridates
> >
> > GK: ?? what defection?
> Come on. Appian mentions it as a possiblity.
> GK: Cf. above for a refutation given what we know of
> Mithradates' character in such matters.

Cf. above for what that refutation was worth.

****GK: And for what the refutation of that refutation was worth (:=)).****

> Defection or return, then. No matter.
> > and Ariovistus telling Caesar that his army had been without a
> > roof for fourteen years.
> >
> > GK: This is incoherent. Olthacus the Dardanian certainly had a
> > roof with Mithradates.
> Incoherent yourself. Whatever roof Olthacus had with Mithridates was
> made of canvas, M. was constantly at war. The third, to be exact,
> 75-63.
> GK: Well then the numbers would have been 17 not 14 (:=)))

Don't be an ass.
Olthaces - Lucullus episode 72 BCE
Arivistus - Caesar meeting 58 BCE
We discussed this many times.

*****GK: It's you who pointed out that "to be exact" Mithridates (and Olthacus) were "constantly at war" from 75, not just 72. So who's the ass? (:=))). And if Olthaces "had a roof" between 75 and 72, why couldn't he have had "a roof" afterwards? How do you know that he did not occasionally return to his Dandaria between 75 and 63? The "fourteen years" of Caesar's Ariovistus just don't fit. (Nothing else fits either). Except in your novel of course.*****

> > > And we have no evidence the Germanics were involved in
> > > Mithradates' Italian plans.
> >
> > By 60/59, Burebista
> >
> > conquers the Boii and Taurisci; in 65 he would already have been a
> > force to avoid, and Olthaces would have been in a position to know
> > that better than Mithridates.
> >
> > GK: Mithradates didn't seem to think so in Colchis. Cf. Appian
> > #101. ****GK: And also #102 in Panticapeion.****
> The mutiny you pointed out yourself took place because of his
> troops' very different assessment of that.
> GK: Not of Burebista, but of the fact that since the steppe
> nomads had not been drawn in, Mithradates' army wasn't even sure of
> safe passage out of the Crimea...

> A more cautious general would have agreed.
> GK: And consequently would hardly have embarked on a hopeless
> raid with a small army such as you postlate for Olthacus and his
> Dandarians (assuming that the man was not the same as Pompey's
> captive).

If the reason for that was apprehension about the attitude of the nomadic peoples, the remedy would have been to obtain at least safe passage from them.

****GK: Had Mithradates survived he might well have attempted this. But with his death everything went back to "normal", since the new King of Bosporus, Pharnaces, had a different policy, which his subjects followed, incl. the Dandarians.*****

BTW if the three loci describe the same man, here'a scenario which will satisfy that:

*****GK: Why not? Everything goes in a novel (:=))))). I could think up even more interesting scenarios, but you're the author of the novel, so you might as well stick with yours.*****

63 BCE Crassus and Caesar obtain assurances from Pharnaces that he will carry out Mithridates' plan, but only to a territory outside the boundaries of Rome, on the condition that sufficient financial backing will continue, as under Mithridates. C & C dump Catilina, who starts his insurrection

61 BCE Olthaces is led in Pompey's triumph and released afterwards. C & C meet with him to discuss the revival of Mithidates' plan. Olthaces goes home to Dandaria, equips the army from those he knows were interested in 63, and begins moving north.

60 BCE L. Afranius, a consul of 60, goes to war somewhere in the Alps from the border town of Aquileia (Mommsen, based on the fact A. was accorded a triumph), in my opinion with Noricum to put an end to the disturbance Olthaces / Ariovistus is causing there and in the Agri Decumates. C and C obtain a deal with Pompey (first triumvirate) to defuse the dangerous situation with Pompey's veterans roaming the streets of Rome breadless: get Ceasar elected consul so he can pass agrarian laws to benefit the veterans. Accordingly they tell Olthaces/Ariovistus, to go screw himself. Olthaces/Ariovistus instead allies himself with the Sequani against the Aedui.

59 BCE In recognition of the extremely dangerous situation the Lex Vatinia proposed by Caesar's man P. Vatinius is passed, giving Caesar the provinces Gallia Cisalpinia and Illyricum for five years, in order to combat this threat. Later, when it seems Olthaces/Ariovistus will concentrate his activities to Gaul, Caesar receives Gallia Transalpina as province too.