THE SECOND EMPIRE
361 - 591
1: The Empire at its serene zenith : 361 - 478
THE AIMS AND IDEALS OF ATLANIPHON I
Iustos Atlaniphon I was the first of the Emperors to be given a throne-name (Atlaniphon), a practice which most subsequent emperors followed. He came to power as a result of the civil wars of the previous few years, and was supported chiefly by the Civil Governors, Class 2s, plus the "middle classes" of the main towns. Atlaniphon, in a series of measures, now deliberately reduced the powers of the Military Governors of the Empire, and instituted a proper Imperial government, based on the Controllers, who formed a sort of Inner Cabinet with the Emperor, overriding the Civil and Military Governors of the Provinces.
Atlaniphon came to see his own role, partly through the influence of political philosophers of the time, as one which involved minimum interference in the way the Empire was run. He liked to call the Empire a gigantic clock, and saw himself as a sort of imperial clock maker, who only needed to interfere very occasionally with the running of the empire, which should be able to work almost automatically, just like a clock. (Note that clocks, as such, had quite recently been invented, and were large, cumbersome, spring-driven affairs in this period.)
"Iustos aiseathe ena dao, per ca exehe, ena ditehesuya dao. Teahe en can ca damuasierathe ceriehesil"
"I shall be a god, but if possible, an inactive god. I shall act only is something goes wrong in the Empire."
(Atlaniphon I, 362)[Note the classical use of the third person in the original Atlantean.]
In particular, he set up the Court of Ethics in 368, led by the "Chief Philosopher of Atlantis". This body was manned by a number of eminent thinkers, philosophers and divines, and was to act as a Court of Appeal, a "think-tank", especially on legal matters, and, most famously, a judge of all new inventions (e.g. gunpowder, print, steam power) and forms of art and behaviour. It had the power, with the Emperor's approval, to ban or censor, - or approve - any of these things. Despite this ideal, Atlaniphon kept a firm grip on the government, along with his personally chosen Advisers. The Council, and the Court of Ethics, were intended to act as counterbalances to an over strong and over-centralised government (i.e. the Emperor, his Advisers and the Controllers), but in fact they lacked any real, independent powers.
Atlaniphon himself was a highly cultured man, typical of the best of his class at this time. He was a true polymath, highly educated and enlightened, in the sense that he followed the up-to-date philosophers of the period in accepting nothing on trust. In religion, he was a sceptic, like most of the upper classes, though he believed religion was necessary and useful for the population as a whole, and that it served as backing for morality. He thought that the government should not interfere in people's private lives, nor with their political opinions any more than was necessary, and he was himself liberal and tolerant according to the standards of the time. Nevertheless, like most "enlightened" rulers in all periods of history, he applied this tolerance more to his own upper class than to the vast majority of the population of the Empire. Certainly this period, and especially this Emperor's reign, was looked back on in later years, as the greatest and most glorious period in Atlantis' whole history.
THE EMPIRE EXPANDS TOWARDS ITS NATURAL BORDERS
Atlaniphon believed whole-heartedly in the mission of Atlantis to extend its empire and the benefits of its rule as widely as possible, at least as far as its natural borders (i.e. the Gestix mountains in the east, the great deserts in the south). Though he himself rarely led or even accompanied his armies, as he did not consider this to be the role of the Emperor in his new order, he nevertheless oversaw the expansion of the Empire eastwards and southwards with efficient armies led by a number of brilliant generals, of whom Giallonni was perhaps the greatest. New Provinces were created - Yallandix Thissandix, Meistay´eh, Nunkeltan´eh and Dravid´eh, and the Atlanteans came up against the formidable Ughans, led by their emperor, Yrultzik, in wars in the 390s.
Atlaniphon did not wish to be a destroyer - on the contrary, he wanted to be seen by posterity as a creator, and he oversaw and encouraged the rebuilding and improvement of many Atlantean and Chalcran cities. These included a great new Palace and government offices, as a summer residence for the Emperor and Court, in what was soon to become Cennatlantis ("New Atlantis") hundreds of miles inland from Atlantis city itself. He also built new roads throughout his expanding Empire, created a new naval base at Meisting in Th.Thiss to protect the Empire's southern Provinces, and set up lighthouses, dockyards and harbours all round the coasts. He was particularly keen on memorial statues and monuments, thereby initiating a trend which would continue throughout the history of the Empire. He had many monuments put up around the fringes of the Empire, extolling the virtues of Atlantean civilisation, and also as memorials to those Atlantean soldiers killed in the wars to expand the Empire.
Atlaniphon wished above all to be tolerant to the customs of the many different peoples now within the Empire, especially those of Juralic background. One of his particular passions was for languages, and apart from learning all four main Juralic tongues, as well as the basics of Keltish and Phonerian, he maintained a great interest in the survival of these languages. In particular in 372-3, he finally removed all restrictions on the use of the Helvran language, as well as many other political limitations, he gave the province full citizenship in 372), which dated back to the victory of the Atlanteans in the Helvran War a century earlier. Of course, Atlantean remained the language of government and the ruling classes throughout the Empire, but from now on, Helvran (and Chalcran and Yalland) were used freely in local government, literature, and names of people and places. Indeed, most imperial and provincial government documents and decrees were deliberately issued in one or more of these local languages, as well as Atlantean, until the 530s. The local tongue of the citizens of the future Cennatlantis was Chalcran, but after the 530s it was ignored, and despite a revival in the time of the Republicans, it declined to extinction in the seventh century. .
ATLANIPHON I's PRIVATE LIFE - THE RELATIONSHIP WITH CARAYA
Atlaniphon I was married twice, the first time in 355 when he was 21. This seems to have been a genuine love-match, though little is known about it, partly because his first wife died very young (only 26) in 360, leaving no children, and partly because of the more interesting romantic entanglements of Atlaniphon's later life. He remarried in 366, his wife this time being a "suitably" well-bred young woman from the family of one of his closest Advisers. This wife had four children, two daughters, and two sons, the eldest being Lasso, in 374. The whole family was deliberately not kept in courtly isolation, as was the practice of earlier Emperors. Imperial sons and nephews and cousins were placed in the Empire's governmental structure as Advisers or Governors, or on the military staff. The Council did object to such nepotism, from time to time, but Atlaniphon ignored such criticism, and in view of his increasing popularity over the years, opposition dwindled away. It did, however, lead to true nepotism under later Emperors.
The Emperor's home life appeared conventional enough, and he certainly retained a real affection for his wife, and their children, all his life. However he had another love in his life, famously and endlessly retold by historians and dramatists of later generations. In his own lifetime, though, this liaison was kept completely secret, certainly from the public at large, but also from his own family (although it is generally accepted his wife knew of it in later years). He came to know, and soon love the novelist Suyosa Caraya (344-407). Caraya was a very talented author, who virtually invented the psychological novel of character, from what had been merely short stories up until the 360s. She founded a school of novelists, nearly all of whom were women, as a sort of opposition to the generally accepted (male) traditional literary art-forms of poetry and drama. Atlaniphon was himself very interested in all the arts, and thus had ample chance to spend time alone with Caraya. He became so infatuated with her after 374, that he asked her to marry him, proposing to divorce his wife.
Caraya, however, had entanglements of her own, which the Emperor was not at first aware of. Firstly she too was married, with a family of, ultimately, 5 children. Secondly she, like Atlaniphon, also had a secret relationship of her own, which went back to 368, with an up-and-coming philosopher, who from 370 was a member of the Court of Ethics. Caraya refused to abandon her husband for the Emperor, but was willing for their secret relationship to continue - as it did until her death 30 years later. Atlaniphon accepted her decision. Later he came to know of her own secret liaison, and this at first greatly shocked and upset him, especially as she admitted that she had had a child by him, which was being brought up as one of her family, and as if the child were hers by her husband. Again Atlaniphon came to accept the situation, for the sake of Caraya, whom he knew to be greatly in love with this man, - but was equally in love with Atlaniphon himself. Atlaniphon showed his true magnanimity in 383, when Caraya's lover was elected to become the new "Chief Philosopher" of the Court of Ethics. The Emperor could so easily have forbidden this out of pique or jealousy, But he allowed the election to go ahead. What is more, he took his advice, after 405, on subordinating the Chief Justice, and hence the whole legal system to the Court of Ethics.
Caraya died in 407 (and the Emperor's wife had died earlier in 405). Atlaniphon then seems to have lost interest in life, and almost quietly slipped away in 409, literally beloved and revered by the whole Empire.
To read the next part of this history, click on (2) 409-478