Among the Roman emperors that were polytheists, ruling from 27 BCE until about 325 BCE (with one exception afterwards), the good were few and all the rest were more or less bad. Since it was the ambition of Julius Caesar that had laid a foundation for the empire, after he had waged bloody wars against the Gauls and his adversaries in the Senate, it is no wonder that it should be so difficult to judge the good leaders of such a deformed and ugly entity. The legacy of Alexander, a proud and bad polytheist indeed, had already established a precedent for extreme conquest in Europe, and the Romans took up the task soon after defeating the Carthaginians. The Romans, though generally a religious and traditional people, were corrupted by this lust for growth and wealth, which gradually wore out their original piety; their love for their own ways and Gods often proved at the expense of foreign cultures and Gods. The truth is, the period following Alexander was a time of decline for polytheism in general, or at the very least, a time of failed experiments. Empire was now a common thing in the world, one that seemed more honorable to raise and more secure to keep than any other form of government. Even the best Roman emperors inherited a heavy dilemma that they could not escape from: either to preserve and make the most of what they have, or lose all to ambition and war. The disease of empire was pandemic, although nobody could truly see it, because nobody could comprehend it. However we judge of details, it is necessary to understand that the Roman empire, and certain actions by Roman emperors, gave rise to many evils, including the one which put an end to polytheism altogether, i.e. Christianity. Below is a list of the most notable emperors with notes on their respective reigns and deeds.
These three parts are all united by a common theme of relations with Rome, either noble resistance, or dishonorable treason. The stories of the good polytheists are also well known by their respective native peoples and don’t require too much elaboration, although several links are provided for the curious.
POTITUS & BARBATUS
Lucius Valerius Potitus and Marcus Horatius Barbatus were two senators who distinguished themselves during the troublesome time of the Decemviri as well as the secession of the Plebeians in 449 BCE. Conflicts between the aristocratic senate and the common citizens of Rome had increased since the overthrow of the monarchy in 509 BCE, and in time the bad blood in the state made the Plebeians (or common citizens) secede, or break away, in 494 BCE. Although the troubles ended when the senate conceded some power by the formation of the office of Tribune of the Plebeians, with inviolable privileges, new disturbances began to brew about forty years later. Because Rome was not in a condition for civil broils during a time of war with its neighbors, it was determined by the senate to appoint a special committee of 10 men to establish a code of laws that would prevent future disagreement at home. These men, who were all senators, were called the decemviri, and were given extraordinary powers for each term in office, which lasted one year. However, upon the end of their second term in 450 BCE, they remained in office by force and suspended indefinitely the office of Plebian Tribune as well as the Plebian right to appeal.
In the first essential distinction, the tree was used as the beautiful emblem of the polytheist in general, and the forest represented community in its collective strength of many trees. Here the emblems will be natural once again, suitable to the topic in hand; nothing can be better compared to evolution and revolution, as notions and modes of change, than the children of the Earth. As all change is inevitable, it remains for us to understand how we can best benefit from it, rather than be swept away by its current. When any polytheist looks back in time, this idea of change is of great concern, considering how ethnic and original religions waned into oblivion; by looking at future time with foresight, a polytheist will also feel a sense of anxiety, as to how this budding religion, painfully restored, will survive and grow on.