Dreams at the Crossroads
The Antonian Ventrue
(modified from Constantinople by Night, pp. 72-74)
The Antonian Ventrue, masters of politics and temporal powers, are the childer of Antonius the Gaul. It was he who helped Michael the Patriarch mold his Dream of a new and powerful empire of the spirit into the reality of Constantinople. Antonius knew that Michael’s vision would need tempering and direction if it was to become reality. Even from the heady dreams of philosophies and religions, Antonius helped craft the unity of the empire and the power of the emperor. He sought to ensure that Byzantium had the means to thrive and the will to govern, without the chaos and intrigue that had characterized Rome. Antonius and his family were only partially successful. Intrigue and betrayal plagued the family from the very beginning. Early conflicts stemmed from the increasing rivalry between Antonius and the Tzimisce Dracon, and it is rumored by dissidents that Michael took great pleasure in playing his companions against each other. As the Dracon promulgated the worship of his creations as holy icons, Antonius came to hate the practice.
Michael’s later efforts to mend fences only made things worse. He sought to restore the Trinity by bequeathing a gift of two brothers to his companions, but the Dracon’s delusional fledgeling Gesu Embraced Antonius’ promised Symeon. Enraged, Antonius took advantage of mortal Iconoclasm and attacked the Tzimisce power base.
Michael was incensed by Antonius’ actions, and the Trinity seemed shattered until Caius and Septima Dominica – two childer of Antonius – secretly approached Michael and the Dracon. In the secret Fourth Council, the two argued for their destruction of their sire for the sake of the Trinity – and their own desires for power. The two Methuselahs eventually sanctioned action and Antonius was put to the stake; Caius became the leader of the Antonian Ventrue, with Septima as his second.
The crime drove a wedge between the Ventrue and Toreador, though, and Caius withdrew, leaving Septima Dominica in effective control. In 1071, another intrigue claimed her life, and Caius was left completely alone, only able to play the factions of his family against each other rather than provide the strong leadership they needed.
At the top of the Antonian Ventrue order sits Caius, basileus (emperor) of the family. The family’s nightly affairs are directed by his caeser magister (second-in-command), a position filled by the conservative Nicepherus. Belisarius serves as the family’s Military Prefect. Ducas fullfills the positions of Palace Prefect, quaesitor, and chamberlain; he rules on interfamily conflicts, oversees family members, and controls access to the Imperial Palace. With so much influence, he is almost as powerful as the family’s two leaders. Both Ducas and Nicepherus report directly to Caius while Belisarius’ control of the military often allows him to circumvent the Antonian hierarchy entirely.
Below these top-ranked officials is a series of prefects, each of whom is responsible for an area of Antonian jurisdiction. Prefects supposedly take their daily orders from the caeser magister and are overseen by the chamberlain – all in service to the basileus. But in reality, the prefects are caught up in their own intrigue. They generally deal with Nicepherus or Ducas, depending upon whom they support, while others ignore both as best as they can, seeking to gain power directly from the basileus or Military Prefect.
The Antonian Cappadocians
It should be noted that, although offered the opportunity to become the head of her own Scion family, the Lady Alexia Theusa has always been curiously reticent to even accept that mantle. She has never sought to expand her mandate, and as a result, the city’s Cappadocians inhabit a unique position among the Cainites of Constantinople; they are both a Scion family and official members of the Antonian Ventrue. Alexia advised Antonius the Gaul on certain matters when asked, but she has become irreplaceable to his successor, Caius, especially since the demise of Septima Dominica. He trusts her above all others, and no one has such ready access to him as Alexia. Her ability to remain close to the evasive basileus amazes some Ventrue and infuriates others.
Lady Alexia has neither sired nor adopted, and until recently, she never suffered any other Cappadocian to exist within the bounds of the Dream. As far as the rest of the clan is concerned, Byzantium is hers alone. The arrival of Sister Geneviéve & Brother Gaurin of Cluny and her unexpected acceptance of the two neonates caused quite a stir among the Antonian courts.
A PARTIAL ROSTER OF THE ANTONIANS
- Caius, Basileus of the Antonians (Childe of Antonius[d], e. early 4th century AD)
- Nicepherus, Caeser Magister (Childe of Septima Dominica [d], e. early 7th century AD)
- Ducas, Palace Prefect (Childe of Septima Dominica [d], e. early 9th century AD)
- Belisarius, Military Prefect & Eastern Praetorian Prefect (Childe of Antonius [d], e. mid 6th century AD)
- Epirius the Masked, Domestic Prefect (Childe of Caius, e. early 7th century AD)
- Gregory, the Wondermaker (Alexandrite Ravnos, Childe of Icarus the Fool, e. early 7th century AD)
- Lady Alexia Theusa, Imperial Physician & Advisor (Childe of Byzar, e. early 3rd century BC?)
- Sister Geneviéve, Lady of the Pale (Childe of Odette, e. early 11th century AD)
- Brother Gaurin, Imperial Scribe & Secretarius (Childe of Maeiul, e. early 11th century AD)
These are difficult times for the Antonians. The imperial throne, which has always been the source of their strength, is now their greatest weakness. Each Ventrue appears to be operating on hidden agenda, and internal divisions regarding the best imperial candidate are rife and acrimonious- particularly between Ducas’ and Nicepherus’ factions. Caius refuses to act decisively, and Epirius is more interested in controlling access to the city than actually influencing it for the betterment of the state and the Dream. Were it not for the return of Belisarius, the mortals might actually find themselves in command of the empire for the first time in centuries.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER FAMILIES
The Antonians oversee the Lexor Brujah scion family led by the diligent Tribonius resulting in a curious anomaly in the normally acrimonious relations between the Ventrue and the Zealots. The Lexor Brujah are keepers of the Codex of Legacies, the Cainite laws of Constantinople, and are also overseers of the mammoth Byzantine bureaucracy. They are looked upon quite favourably by the Antonians who respect the Senator’s devotion to the city and their duties.
Relations with the other members of the Trinity are extensive and complex. At present, the Michaelites and the Antonians maintain cordial if not exactly cooperative relations. Petronius and his fellow Muses are always invited to the Antonian blood feasts, and indeed are quite welcome, for their aesthetic sensibilities, talent for carousing, and artistic creations. However, that is essentially where association ends. The Michaelites are caught up in their own devolution as a family, and while individual members of each family maintain relationships with the other, there is no cooperation as the Triumverate originally intended.
The Antonian and Obertus have been rivals since the families were formed. The Ventrue still perceive the Tzimisce as fiendish, incomprehensible lunatics, and tend to look upon their use of icons with distaste. Yet, an unlikely détente formed between the Antonian and Obertus families in the wake of the destruction of Antonius the Gaul. When Michael rejected Caius, the Ventrue as a whole felt abandoned. By the 11th century it had become clear to the Antonians that the Michaelites were completely oblivious to the dangers facing the empire and were unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to right matters. The secular Obertus, led by Quaesitor Symeon and his childe Myca Vykos proved quite susceptible to the empire’s woes. Together, the resurgent Belisarius and Symeon began guiding the empire out of trouble after the disastrous Battle of Manzikert in AD 1071. The irony of the fact that Symeon, Antonius’ intended heir, had been of such excellent assistance to the empire is lost on few of the Antonians, and some privately wonder at what might have been accomplished if fate had not taken such an ill turn. In any case, while Gesu and his monks have become increasingly insular in recent decades, Symeon and his childer are most welcome at the blood feasts, and their support is frequently sought both in matters of external security and in the internal intrigues that belabour the Ventrue.
More than any other family, the Antonians despise outsiders. To them, the Latins represent the degenerate bastards of Rome and the barbarous West.
RELATIONS WITH OUTSIDERS
The members of the Ventrue hierarchy are not exclusive to the city itself. More than any other family, the Antonians have laid down roots in the provincial cities. The princes of Nicaea, Chalcedon, Trebizond, Nicomedia, Phillippopolis, Arcadiopolis, Monemvassia, and Nikopolis all claim a place in the Antonian hierarchy, and no few ancillae have been sent out to oversee minor Domains within a few days or weeks of the capital. New Cainites can easily find their way into this great family, provided that they are of an eastern lineage. A Ventrue of the west will be scorned and spurned, in accordance with an ancient grudge.
The conflict between the Byzantine Ventrue and their feudal brethren from the West is common knowledge. This conflict stems from the fall of Rome, and the failure of the western Ventrue to hold back the barbarian invasions. The Eastern Ventrue have always maintained their superiority for hanging on to the true glory of Rome, and the Western Ventrue have always resented them for it. Now that the Byzantine empire is weak, and the Antonians are failing, the Ventrue of France, Italy, and the Holy Roman Empire are crowing with delight in their drafty Elysiums.
Coteries that associate themselves with the Antonian Ventrue are slowly and inevitably drawn into their intrigues. Cainites may be forced to choose whom to support between Ducas and Nicepherus, or may find themselves drawn into the murkier intrigues of Epirius, Belisarius or even Basileus Caius himself.
Much of the work on this page was written by Haligaunt for his chronicle The Concord of Ashes . I have made some minor changes to ensure the wiki’s are suitable for my setting and game. Many thanks to Haligaunt chronicle for all his hard work and allowing me to use his work.