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Total War Heaven » Forums » Bardic Circle - War Stories & AAR forum » Sepia Joust I Submission Thread
Topic Subject:Sepia Joust I Submission Thread
Terikel Grayhair
(id: Terikel706)
posted 15 April 2009 06:57 EDT (US)         
Noble Lords, Fair Ladies,

It is my profound pleasure to announce the opening of the first-ever Sepia Joust.

Please note that this thread is for entrants only- please post comments and discussions in the discussion thread.

Only those entering the Jousts will be elegible to vote in the Voting thread, which opens in one week. Strangely enough, this Submission thread will close on that very day.

The Joust is open to all. To enter, merely post your piece here.

Now that the basics have been arranged, draw your quills, steep them in ink, and...

Let the Joust begin!
Terikel Grayhair
(id: Terikel706)
posted 17 April 2009 04:54 EDT (US)     1 / 2       
A Thracian's Letter to His Son

If you are reading this, my son, then you have Come of Age while I lie dead or enslaved on some distant battlefield, unable to tell you of our people other than through this missive. Luckily I have the Second Sight, and saw this unfortunate event, so that the history of our people does not die with me upon that distant field.

You should be on the peak of the mountain behind our village. Look to the north. The great river you see below is the Danube. We Thracians live along that valley from the Illyrian mountains to the west to its mouth in the Euxine Sea to the east, and from the borders of the Greeks to the south to the Scythian steppes to the north.

We are numerous, we Thracians, so much so that Herodotus the Greek called us the second-most numerous peoples in the world. But what does he know? He was a Greek, and considered we Thracians to be a single people. We are not. We are many tribes, ferocious warriors all, and we fight among ourselves as viciously as we do those who come against us. We are not a single entity. Disunity is our fatal flaw, and is often exploited by those who come against us.

Our weapons are unique in the world. Most swords descend from the axe, but ours descend from the knife, through the sickle. We kill and maim with a pulling motion, while almost all others use an outward slash. This became such a terrible weapon that the Dacians soon copied it with their falx.

We have been heavily influenced by the Greeks to our south. They had trading posts and colonies on our land for the last six hundred years, and from them we learned much. But we have taught them much as well- the light troops they use to screen the flanks of their hoplite phalanxes, and those that cast the javelins before them- they are called peltasts. And peltasts were originally Thracians, fighting with javelin and pelta- our small leathern-and-wood shield. The Greeks borrowed this from us.

As much as we dislike and yet admire the Greeks, their enemies the Persians were our enemies too. They came here five hundred years ago- a mere hundred years after the Greek colonists, and conquered all Thracian tribes south of the Danube excepting the Bessi. They remained for a century, before withdrawing. That was when we attempted to unite the tribes. Our first monarch was Teres, a noble of the Odrysai tribe, our tribe, and a mighty warrior he was. Through conquest and some diplomacy, he and he alone managed to create a unified nation of Thracians- the Odrysian state.

Our unified nation did not last long past his death, though. When Teres finally ascended to the heavens, our state broke into three parts that immediately fell to fighting amongst each other. Two of the three successor states were almost imediately conquered by the Macedonians, and the last Thracian state fell to Philip II Of Macedon two hundred years later. Our prowess had impressed that magnificent lord, so he granted us a measure of autonomy. We had an overlord, but remained our own. We became what is known as a 'client kingdom.' Our fighting men went east against the Persians with his son Alexandros, and helped him become Alexander the Great and conquer our former overlords.

After helping to divide the Persian empire among Alexander's successors, our Thracian warriors returned home to find a new threat- Celtic tribes invading our valley. They were large, fair-haired men, and tough warriors, but in the end they conquered us. They made shining Tylis their capital city, and lorded it over us until finally we rose up in revolt and annihilated them. Those Celts who survived migrated off to central Anatolia where I was told they founded a state named Galatia.

Philip V of Macedon foolishly tried to fight against Rome, and lost as any Greekling was doomed to do. His phalanxes were no match for the Roman legions- whose soldiers threw javelins then charged with swords much like Thracian warriors. His defeat a nearly a century and a half ago cost him dearly- he was forced to abandon all his Greek possessions, and he had to hand over our territory to be a client-state to Rome. He would be confined to Macedon and thereafter his son lost that too. It was with great pride that I tell you that we Thracians fought alongside the Romans at Pydna, and were rewarded with lands inside our former overlord Macedon ourselves, as a reward for fighting well alongside those Romans.

The Romans liked us, and we liked them as much as we disliked the Greeks and their cousins the Macedonians. The Romans were fond of fighting, and often had men fight for the amusement of others. These paid fighters were called gladiators, and we are proud to have a type of gladiator named for us- the Thracian. He was not the little pansy with a net, nor the huge, muscled devil of the Galli. No, the Thracian was like us- half-armored, and reliant upon speed and skill to make his kill.

But not all gladiators were happy ones. One rose up in revolt. He led the rebel army in the Third Servile War, and crushed Roman armies time and again before Marcus Crassus came and ended his life and his dreams upon the field of battle. This man was Spartacus, and I am proud to say he was a Thracian like us.

It is now seven hundred fifty four years since the founding of Rome. Gaius Caesar and Lucius Aemilius Paullus are the consuls, and a wonderful fabric called silk has been introduced to the Empire by merchants traveling far and wide. Closer to home, Areius Paianeius has become the Archon of Athens.

We are now Roman, and princeps Augustus rules the known world. I serve proudly in an auxilia unit in far-off Gaul while you, my son, become a man of our tribe and may one day become the first of us to serve as a legionary.

I told you before that I have the Second Sight. I use it now to look to the future. What I see is grim. Though we will thrive under the Romans, that very success will be the death of the Thracians. A great lord will come, an Emperor, who will be called Hadrian. He shall see the vital strategic value of our lands, and develop them fully. We shall become thoroughly Romanized, and honor this Hadrian with a city built and named by him. In our honoring of him we shall also take his ways, and our own language and culture will decay and fall away, leaving us Romans.

Hadrianopolis, his city, will carry an infamous burden. Nearly four centuries from now, an Emperor by the name of Valens shall attack a Germanic encampment nearby. Valens will die there, with most of his army. It shall be an embarrassment to the Empire to have its emperor killed in this tragic defeat, but we Thracians shall survive.

More Germans will come. The Empire will divide into two along lines West and East, and we will belong to the Eastern. The Western will fall, not having any Thracians, but the East shall use our lands as a battleground and eventually repel the Germans- and the Huns.

But a half-millennium after the Germans will come another tribe from the East. These will be the Bulgars, and they shall conquer our lands from the Eastern Romans and take them to be their own.

They shall not enjoy it long, my son, for soon will come more tribes out of the East- the Mongols- who shall raid the Bulgars through our lands almost thirteen centuries from now and leave death and destruction in their wake. Ninety years after the Bulgars come and conquer our lands, another tribe- this one from the south- will come and make deep inroads into Bulgar lands, those of the Dacians, and even into the lands of the West. They shall completely conquer the Eastern Romans, and make their capital a city subservient to their own- near that of the fallen Galatians. Then they shall conquer the Bulgars and take them as well.

They shall eventually be repulsed, the Bulgars will rise and throw off the Turkish yoke as we one did the Persians and Celts. The Greeks will rise up as well, and the borders will finally settle. Our people, though no longer called Thracians, will still dwell in the valley of the Danube between the Illyrian Mountains and the Euxine Sea, but as in the old days, shall pay homage to three separate realms- that of the Turks, that of the Greeks, and that of the Bulgars in place of the Romans, the Macedonians, and the Greeks.

Even in the far future, my son, we shall not be unified. Disunity is indeed our fatal curse. The more things change, the more things stay the same. But a father's love for his son never changes. So be strong, my son, for you are now Paterfamilias. Use this scroll to know your past, find your way in the future, and ensure our blood survives this vision though our ways will not. Our ways may die, but our blood shall go on.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
posted 26 April 2009 14:59 EDT (US)     2 / 2       
A Brief History of the Kingdom of Pontus

The Hellenistic Age was a period of violence and almost constant change. It began ominously enough with the death of Alexander the Great in Babylon, and with his death began the bloody struggle for succession amongst his friends and confidants. As the Diadochi unleashed a maelstrom of death and slaughter that grew and enraptured the people of the Known World, there emerged a select few that evaded the wrath of the aspiring kings and by either chance, cunning or sheer luck survived the great power struggle only to find themselves poised to become kings themselves.

One of these men so favored by Tyche was a man known as Mithridates. Mithridates father, who was also named Mithridates, was executed by the diadoch Antigonus Monopthalmus in 301 BC. It was not long after this that Antigonus began to grow wary of the younger Mithridates, and this suspicion was more than enough for Antigonus to contemplate sending the son on a journey to be reunited with the father. Fortunately for Mithridates, Antigonus’ own son Demetrius Poliocertes had formed a close friendship with the young noble and upon learning his father’s intentions quickly warned Mithridates and urged him to swift flight. With only a handful of followers he fled to the great fortress of Cimiata in Paphlogonia, and over roughly two decades he attracted hundreds of bandits and wandering soldiers to his banner and extended his reach across the whole of Pontus. Following his assumption of the title basileus (king) of Pontus in 281 BC he spent the latter years of his reign forming anti-Successor alliances with the Greek cities of northern Anatolia, and cementing his family’s burgeoning authority across his kingdom.

He died in 266 BC after a reign of thirty-six years, and in honor of his accomplishment of establishing the Pontic kingdom he is remembered as Mithridates I Ctistes (the Founder).

Upon his death Mithridates’ son Ariobarzanes succeeded him as king of Pontus. Ariobarzanes may have lacked the ambition of his father, but he made up for it with his competence and cool temperament. His reign was quiet and uneventful save for his acquiring of the city of Amastris, which was surrendered to him for reasons unknown. He dies somewhere between 258 and 240 BC and was succeeded by his young son Mithridates II.

Mithridates II was only a minor when he ascended the throne, but later in his adult life he proved himself to be as ambitious as his grandfather and a competent general on the battlefield. Early in his reign his kingdom was invaded by a horde of Galatians (Gauls), which were eventually defeated and driven out by his forces. Later on he married the Seleucid princess Laodice, and was given the land of Phrygia as a dowry by her brother Seleucus II Callinicus. Despite Seleucus’ generosity and favor Mithridates attacked him during the “War of the Brothers” when Seleucus was fighting his brother Antiochus Hierax for control of the Seleucid territories in Anatolia. Soon after Mithridates inflicted a crushing defeat upon Seleucus killing nearly twenty thousand of his soldiers near the city of Ancyra. Many years later he gave his daughter Laodice III in marriage to a young Antiochus III shortly after he ascended the Seleucid throne.

Following this he dedicated the last years of his reign unsuccessfully attempting to incorporate the great city of Sinope into his kingdom. He was succeeded by his son Mithridates III.

The reign of Mithridates III is unfortunately shrouded in mystery. Its reasonable to assume that his reign was fairly quiet and peaceful given that the Seleucid Empire was dealt a telling blow by the Romans and reduced to impotence as far as Anatolia was concerned, and therefore no longer posed a threat to the Pontic kingdom. In its absence the Attalids of Pergamon emerged as the new overlords of Anatolia, but unlike the Seleucids they were content with simply upholding the status quo between the various kingdoms and city-states.

Mithridates III was succeeded by his son Pharnaces I who quickly revealed himself to possess a lust for power and conquest far surpassing that of his grandfather. His reign, which began somewhere between 200 and 183 BC, was initially marked by his conquest of Sinope, a feat that not even his celebrated grandfather could accomplish. A few years later he went to war against both Eumenes II of Pergamon and Ariartahes IV of Cappadocia. This war raged on and off for two years before Pharnaces came to the realization that he could not defeat both kings alone, and so in return for peace he yielded all of the conquests he had made to the victors with the sole exception of Sinope. He reigned for somewhere between fifteen and twenty more years before he was succeeded by his brother Mithridates IV.

Mithridates IV Philopater/Philadelphus (of brotherly/fatherly love) succeeded his brother as king somewhere in the 150’s BC. Not much is know of his reign, save that he sent a body of troops to aid the Pergamene king Attalus II against forces Prusias II of Bithynia. This show of support marks the beginning of a period of friendship between the Pontic kings and the Roman Republic and her allies.

Mithridates V Euergetes (Benefactor) was the son of Pharnaces I who ascended to the throne after the death of his uncle. Following the example set by his uncle he set out to strengthen his kingdoms alliance with the Romans by sending ships and soldiers to aid them in the Third Punic War, and in the war against Aristonicus of Pergamon who was a pretender or bastard successor to the Pergamene throne. Out of gratitude the Roman consul Manius Aquillius awarded him with the land of Phrygia, which, despite opposition from the Roman senate, remained in his possession until his death in 120 BC. Despite his political and territorial successes a conspiracy formed around him, fueled perhaps by his philroman and philhellenic tendencies. He was assassinated sometime in 120 BC by a combination of traitorous underlings and relatives.

Mithridates VI Megas (the Great) was only a child when his father dies, and so when he was crowned king his mother Laodice (who may have organized the death of his father) ruled in his place. The life of Mithridates VI is too great to be truly expressed on a page and a half, but suffice to say he grew up to become the greatest and most famous king of the Pontic kingdom. During his life he faced three of the greatest generals of the Roman Republic: Sulla, Lucullus and Pompey Magnus. He was the first of his dynasty to use philhellenism as a form of propaganda where he claimed descent from many famous Greek figures, including Alexander the Great and Seleucus I Nicator, and appealed to the dissatisfaction of the Greek cities living under Roman rule.

However, despite all of his many talents and resources he was repeatedly defeat by the Romans in the Mithridatic Wars. After having been humiliated too often with defeat, his son Pharnaces II and his army turned against him and in 63 BC he committed suicide either by consuming poison or ordering his Gallic bodyguard to dispatch him after a reign of fifty-six years.

Pharnaces II was the last true king of the great dynasty to rule Pontus. Following his father’s death he made several overtures to Pompey Magnus to bring peace to his exhausted kingdom, including sending the body of his father as proof of his sincerity. Content wit this display, Pompey agreed to a peace treaty and awarded Pharnaces with the Bosporan kingdom as an appendage to his own. Fourteen years later during the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, and having perhaps lost his fear of the Romans, Pharnaces broke the peace treaty and conquered Colchis and parts of Armenia with an overwhelming. He later defeated an inexperienced Roman army sent against him, but his temperament quickly changed when he found out that Caesar himself was marching against him.

His attempts to buy time for his army to recover from their recent conquests failed, and he was swiftly defeated by Caesar at the Battle of Zela after a mere five-day campaign leading to the famous quote “Veni, vidi, vici”. Following this he fled to the Bosporus and managed to muster a small army made up of Scythians and Sarmatians before he was killed in battle. After his death his son Darius was placed as a puppet king of Pontus by Marc Antony.

Given the powerful neighbors and enemies the Pontic kings had to contend with, and the scant resources they had at their disposal by comparison, it’s a wonder that they ruled for as long as they did. Yet, it must be recognized that they would not have been able to do so had they not been as capable and cunning as they were. By appearing as the last descendants of the royal house of the Achaemenids they endured their Asian subjects to them, and by showing themselves as philhellenes of the most enthusiastic variety they obtained the respect and admiration of their Greek subjects and allies. Many of them also showed an innate ability to lead and command men, and this hereditary trait allowed them to emerge victorious over many of their rivals and enemies. Perhaps if they had commanded men and resources comparably to what the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kings possessed they would have left and even greater mark upon the history of the world, but as it stands only their tombs and the ruins of their cities stand as silent monuments to their all-too-often overlooked kingdom.

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
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