Aratos the Great
|Aratos the Great|
|Emperor of Aratais|
|Half-God King of Terses|
|Reign||3419 Ʋ-3452 Ʋ|
c. 3398 Ʋ|
Aratos the Great (Old Talavonaic: Aratós Magnisikos, born Aratós Lynsoidipos, lit. Aratos Son of Lynxes; 3398 Ʋ-3453 Ʋ) was the founder of the Aratoic Empire, the first Gnievic Mantí, and the first Grandmaster of the Companionship of the Heroes. Aratos was a prolific military leader, renowned for his innovative and unpredictable use of battlefield tactics. Aratos lead the city-state of Terses to become the supreme hegemon of all of Old Talavonais and even colonies further afield. As his Empire had been divided between his generals from his earliest days as Emperor, his death saw the immediate collapse of the Aratoic Empire and the subsequently violent War of the Aratoic Succession 3452 Ʋ. Aside from the greater political disunity between regions within his realm, Aratos oversaw a series of monumental construction in his permanent capital and hometown, Terses, with the Naósou Glaikenimoi and the Misótheon being considered some of the most significant architectural works of their time. Aratos' legacy carries legendary fame in modern Talavonais, where he is regarded as a folk hero and a national icon.
According to contemporary beliefs, Aratos was born the son of Vonos through his rape of a beautiful slave in the form of a linzo. The slavewoman's pregnancy was kept a secret from her master, and when Aratos was born his mother took him deep into the hills and left him to die. Legend says that Aratos was then adopted by an elderly, barren linza, and nursed as a child of her own. It is unknown how long Aratos spent in the forest, and it is widely believed that he was ten when he was captured by mercenaries and recruited into their band. Aratos became a master swordsman by the age of sixteen, assuming leadership of what had become a thriving popular militia in the increasingly political unstable Ancient Terses. After King Chanopes raped and murdered a free citizen without regard of consequence, Aratos and his Seven Heroic Companions slayed the King and took power. Aratos was thereafter recognised by the powerful Priest Apocroses as the trueborn son of Vonos, triggering the composition of the Vivialitheion and the development of Gnievism as an organised religion. Aratos thereafter sought to expand his realm to encompass all of Old Talavonais and beyond, in the widely accepted belief that he was the son of the King of Gods and therefore meant to rule over all of the mortal realm. This Aratoic Conquest saw the Tersesan domination of the Stenos Sea with the conquest of Itos, Mikos, Evgeni, and Enelaitos in only the first seven years of Aratos' reign.
Aratos' sequence of early military victories drew the attention of every remaining independent ruler in Old Talavonais, leading to the creation of the Therdaic League in 3426 Ʋ, a defensive alliance lead by the then-King of Therda, Hemofences. The provocative raids by Therdaic allies upon the outskirt villages of Tersesan controlled lands quickly escalated into a full-scale conflict between Terses and the League known as the Great Aratoic War. By 3430 Ʋ, Aratos had led his coalition of forces to a sweeping victory against the League, and his unification of the separate meglapolian regions into a single, centralised state that year is often widely perceived as the beginning of the true Aratoic Empire. Aratos began a long-lasting campaign of conquest and settlement on the fringes of his realm shortly after, in a drawn out period of intermittent, high localised conflicts known as Talavonisation. Aratos' reign over his own domestically administered realm, known as Inner Aratais, is remembered as a time of great prosperity and monumental advances in technology, theology, and philosophy. This densely populated, highly developed region was divided among his children at the time of his death in 3452 Ʋ. Outer Aratais was divided amongst his most trusted generals, leading to the near-immediate segmentation of his Empire among his various successors. The War of the Aratoic Succession broke out only a single year after his death, a bloody conflict which devastated Old Talavonais to a cataclysmic degree, seeing the near complete destruction of all that Aratos had strove to build.
The Cult of Aratos flourished in the centuries after his death and saw a peak in prominence during the First Tersaic Empire. In both branches of modern Gnievism, Aratos is held to be the second, but one of the most important, Mantís of the faith. He is widely regarded as a legendary folk-hero throughout Talavonais, particularly in the countryside around Terses, as his rule saw the development of a unique, thriving local culture that would form the underlying basis of modern Tersaic society as a whole. He is reported to have been a stern but empathetic and just ruler, and even in his own time he was a beloved figure among both the citizenry and the military. He is widely regarded as having been very attractive, and he is often held to be the epitome of Old Talavonaic standards of what was considered a beautiful man. He pursued many romantic interests over the course of his life, but only two of his concubines bore his legitimised heirs.
Behaviour and personality
The most influential source of Aratos' behaviour was his upbringing in the wilderness. Aratos is recorded as being a stern, understanding figure with a deep sense of destiny and an infatuation with global conquest. When Aratos was captured by the mercenary band at the age of ten, his captors believed him to be a strangely quiet, passive child. A widely shared episode of Aratos from this time relates to his wild sense of bloodlust when fighting. The mercenaries were taunting Aratos with a wardog, and when the dog snapped close to his skin, young Aratos took hold of dog's head and smashed it with a heavy stone until dead. His berserking battlefield aggression inspired those around him to fight to the death, and his personal involvement in the battlefield as a commander won the intense loyalty of his troops. The sheer brutalism of his warlike behaviour contrasted heavily with his behaviour among companions and strangers alike.
He was regarded as being a quiet, listening ruler, who concerned himself deeply with the affairs of his subjects. He was exceptionally generous, especially to the citizens of Terses, and held many city-wide feasts inviting as many people as possible, both citizen and slave. As a master he was very kind, treating his slaves with the utmost respect and never laying a hand on a single one of them. Among his companions he was soft-spoken and indulgent, often hosting many personal feasts and drinking contests with his closest companions. Aratos is believed to have been a bisexual, entering into many different relationships with both men and women throughout his life. It is widely attested that Aratos had as many lovers as there were cities in Tersa. To his concubines he was extremely intimate and typically deeply infatuated, and he preferred to spend his time with them whenever he had the opportunity for personal time. Aratos fathered several children at the end of his life, who he treated well while instilling a sense of competition, intending to foster a sense of ambition alike his own. This move as a parent is widely regarded as one of Aratos' biggest failures, as the intense rivalry between his children was a primary reason for the collapse of his Empire.
Aratos was a skilled general that never lost a single battle, even though he often fought numbers which greatly outmatched his own and commanded a diverse array of forces from regions which often held rivalries between them. A combination of cavalry tactics, ground leadership, and fiercely loyal subordinantes are the key factors which saw his success on the battlefield. Aratos used a wide variety of weapons, though he was most proficient with a single shortsword and a rounded shield. He involved himself with the groundwork of his soldiers on the front lines, and he was often known for prioritising the protection of his men whenever they were in danger, typically inspiring them to fight harder on behalf of his honour. Aratos' deep sense of ambition and destiny typically rubbed off onto those that he encountered and interacted with, and many subordinantes described feeling a deep sense of duty towards him in a blend of his particularly persuasive rhetoric and his empathetic nature. Aratos was a gifted orator, and his speeches which preceded his battles typically rallied his forces into absolute loyalty to his orders, even if their actions might have led to near-certain death. There is widespread belief that this ability to control the people around him was due to his divine parentage.
Aratos was particularly effective as a fighter when working in a team of companions which doubled as friends and bodyguards. These Seven Heroic Companions enjoyed a great deal of fame both in their lifetimes and in the centuries afterwards, with the Cult of the Companions considered a significant branch of Ancient Gnievism, especially in Talavonais. Aratos would lead the Heroic Companions at the front lines of his forces, and his brandish, brazen aggression on the field was counterbalanced by their protective and self-discretionary roles. Despite his focus on actual fighting, Aratos was known to have a Companion hold his horse at the ready at all times should a matter urgent to the victory of his forces arise. This ability to shift from front line warrior to flank cavalry officer was particularly sharp in his style as an unpredictable and impulsive commander. Aratos would often wear no armour for maximum control over his body, a style of fighting which he grew accustomed to in the wilderness, and he typically only wielded a simple shortsword and round shield. He occasionally fought on horseback with a spear, though he true secondary weapon of choice was the bow and arrow, with which his was extremely proficient.
Over the course of his life, Aratos made a wide variety of acquaintances and formed companionships with many different people of a variety of backgrounds. After his absolute conquest of Old Talavonais, Aratos founded the Companionship of the Heroes, a fraternal order of skilled warriors which grew from his original Seven Heroic Companions into the widespread guild of warriors which played a significant role in Post-Aratoic Talavonais. Aratos made friendships with many of these Companions, frequently holding large, lavish feasts with his bodyguards and other military personnel. Aratos was particularly generous to the veterans of his Companions who took grave injury on his behalf. The case of the Heroic Companion Kounes is a particularly widespread account of Aratos' kindness. Kounes was partially blinded and disfigured when he used his own head to block an incoming strike that would have otherwise grievously injured Aratos. Kounes was only saved from death by his helmet and a quick response to his incapacitation, as Aratos carried Kounes in the midst of battle to protect him and bring him to safety. After the battle was won, Aratos gave Kounes the city of Ksias as a gift, along with as much gold as he could carry in a wagon.
At the time of his death, Aratos had 11 living, male and female concubines. Of these, only two bore him children, Demetra and Lamprone. Aratos did not live with all of his concubines in a single locater, either. Many of them detested the others, and they often inhabited a palace or castle formally possessed by Aratos a good deal of distance from their peers. Nonetheless, his three most preferred concubines, his two mates as well as the male concubine Charos, lived together with in the Misótheon, the grand palace that served as his primary residence in Terses. By the end of his life, Aratos began spending larger amounts of time with his children, who he instilled a great deal of competitive spirit into, fuelled by his belief that he had accomplished all that he had in an attempt to best his supposed father, Vonos, the Thievma of Kings. Upon his death, this spirit caused his children to divide the Empire among themselves, ultimately leading to each claiming to be the true successor of their father, and resulting in the devastating War of the Aratoic Succession. Despite this failure, Aratos was otherwise considered a kind, benevolent father.