Literature / One Nation Under Jupiter

One Nation, Under Jupiter is an ongoing Alternate History Web Serial Novel released in 2016.

The year is 312 AD. The Roman Empire is plagued by civil war. The forces of the Emperor Constantine advance on Rome to usurp the Emperor Maxentius, bolstered by a vision that Constantine would triumph in the name of Christianity. The two armies meet at the Milvian Bridge, only for the pagan Maxentius to triumph.

The year is 2766 AUC. Most of the world worships the Roman pantheon. Tensions are rising between China and the nation of Nova Roma. A cult of Isis-worshippers known as the Sons of Horus has protested Roman activity in the Middle East. The Senate has recently decided to lift the ban reading Kee Kanuntee's theory of evolution, all while the Emperor continues to push piety as the greatest of all virtues. In the midst of it all, a journalist named Diagoras Cinna has decided to investigate the impact religion has had on modern society.

The book can be read on Reddit and Tumblr, with new chapters posted regularly.

One Nation, Under Jupiter contains examples of:

  • Ab Urbe Condita: How all the years are numbered, as Christianity never became the dominant religion.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Getting drunk on the Bacchanalia inspires Diagoras to pull out his gun at the Temple of Bacchus.
  • The Alleged Boss: Turbidus, the editor for the New Antioch Tribune, who seems to be subject to Diagoras' whims.
  • Alternate History Wank: Ghana controls most of West Africa, while Japan is more of a colonial power than it ever was in real life. Partially subverted with Nova Roma: While it's very much a superpower, it suffered great loss along the way and no longer controls any of the territory of the former Roman Empire.
  • All There in the Manual: Much of the information about the setting is located in online side material outside the book itself.
  • Altum Videtur: Although most of the Latin is subject to Translation Convention, a few phrases are left untranslated.
  • Ancient Grome: Much of Nova Roma's religion, particularly the emphasis on myth, is more Greek than Roman. Justified as Maxentius' campaign of piety changed traditional Roman paganism to be more substantial.
  • Anti-Hero: Diagoras is dedicated to revealing the truth about the negative impact Roman religion has had on society, but is also a narcissistic, violent slaveowner.
  • Anti-Villain: ...Emperor Piissimus, on the other hand, although a warmongering dictator, appears to believe he is doing the right thing, frowns on Taurus' excessive cruelty, and is polite during his interaction with Diagoras, to the point of forgiving Diagoras for attempting to kill him!
  • Appeal to Nature: Diagoras invokes this, claiming homosexuality goes against evolution.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: Diagoras can't stand beer of any kind, due to it being generally disliked in Roman culture. Servius enjoys it, though.
  • A Wizard Did It: Parodied at the Museum of Faith and Science, where Quintus claims that life could not have occurred by chance, meaning the Roman pantheon must exist.
  • Band of Brothels: The Temple of Venus.
  • Bargain with Heaven: The belief in the pax deorum, that the gods will protect Rome in exchange for proper religious practice, is still alive and well.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Servius, forced to work as Diagoras' slave during his quest to debunk the gods despite still believing in them himself.
  • Berserk Button: Never insult Relicta in front of Diagoras.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Discussed. Diagoras finds the suicide of Cato the Younger to be admirable. Servius responds by asking if Diagoras would do the same thing.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Despite being her younger brother, Diagoras acts this way towards Relicta.
  • Bilingual Bonus: An excerpt from Youtai's book was posted before the novel itself was. Chinese speakers would be able to recognize it as the beginning of the Book of Genesis.
  • Blood Magic: Animal sacrifice is still practiced to uphold the pax deorum.
  • Bread and Circuses: Having descended from the Trope Namer, it's something of a given Nova Roma would employ this. Diagoras even refers to it by name.
  • Byronic Hero: Diagoras is well-intentioned but cynical, and his hatred of religion often makes him as extreme as those he criticizes.
  • Cargo Cult: The cult of Ignistelum, god of firearms, arguably qualifies.
  • Close Enough Timeline: Although no time travel is involved, the ending implies Diagoras will kickstart a religion similar to Christianity.
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Discussed. Diagoras notes the gifts offered to the gods are usually low-quality.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Diagoras starts wearing one of these after he's attracted notoriety.
  • Culture Police: The Roman office of censor is still alive and well in Nova Roma.
  • Crappy Holidays: Diagoras' run-in with his parents during the feast of Parentalia doesn't go well.
  • Da Editor: Turbidus is a milder example.
  • Darkest Africa: Inverted. Ghana has become a major power, though it has gone downhill in recent years.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Diagoras shoots a target made to look like a priest at the Temple of Ignistelum.
  • Days of Future Past: Culturally, Nova Roma has changed little compared to its Roman counterpart.
  • Death of the Old Gods: Averted for the most part, as the entire setting is based around this never happening at least not yet. Played straight with Isis, whose cult is slowly beginning to die out due to Nova Roma's growing animosity for the Middle East.
  • Defiant to the End: Aquilinus Agricola, the captured member of the Sons of Horus forced to act in The Death of Hercules, refuses to play along.
  • Definitely Just a Cold: As the book goes on, Diagoras' health deteriorates further. He usually ignores it.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Nova Roma is theocratic, nationalistic, militaristic, and xenophobic. Diagoras himself isn't much better.
  • Democracy Is Flawed: Gaius seems to subscribe to this belief, claiming to be a demigod to manipulate voters.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: One of the girls at Camp Piety.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: The entire interview with the oracle, who claims to be Apollo speaking through her. Diagoras has no problem mocking a god to their face.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Quintus Pernus, the director of the Museum of Faith and Science, claims that the Hydra and other mythical creatures were dinosaurs.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Discussed when Diagoras interviews "Apollo," asking how killing Niobe's children was fair.
  • Divine Parentage: Emperor Piissimus claims this not only for himself, but for the entire population of Nova Roma, claiming them to be descendants of Romulus, who was in turn the son of Mars. More directly, Senator Gaius Scortus claims to be the son of Jupiter.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Servius gets frightened by the gunshots at the Temple of Ignistelum.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: Diagoras dreams about himself at the Battle of Milvian Bridge, seeing Maxentius kill Constantine.
  • Drink Order: Both Diagoras and Servius are partial to Falernian, a wine popular in ancient Rome but now lost in Real Life.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Youtai appears several times before he's properly introduced, though Diagoras never describes him as anything more than a Chinaman.
  • The Emperor: Emperor Piissimus, naturally.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Played with. During the feast of Compitalia, Diagoras eats the cakes Servius made as an offering to their household god. Of course, being a statue, the household god would never have eaten them to begin with.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Camp Piety is designed to "cure" any suspected atheists.
  • Excrement Statement: Diagoras tries to make Servius urinate on the wall of the censors' office, though unsuccessfully.
  • Fainting Seer: The oracle at the Temple of Apollo, who delivers a foreboding prediction to Diagoras before collapsing.
  • Famous Ancestor: Dinkee Kanuntee is the grandson of Kee Kanuntee, the biologist who pioneered the theory of evolution.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Sol Ocellus, a Platonic Buddhist, claims the entire Roman pantheon is the result of one god doing this to embody different virtues.
  • Fictional Document: Several in-universe writings were made to establish the setting, most notably The Eagle and the Dragon.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Diagoras calls Lucia a pathicus, a Latin slur for men who submit to anal sex.
  • Friend to Bugs: Dinkee adores his pet tarantula, Anansi.
  • The Fundamentalist: Most of the religious extremists interviewed. Diagoras himself could qualify as an atheistic example.
  • General Ripper: Legate Aurelius Taurus, a Roman war hero who's more than happy to decimate an entire city if he thinks it's necessary.
  • Germanic Depressives: Gottlieb, a German immigrant who's morose about how his gods are treated in Roman society.
  • Give My Regards in the Next World: Diagoras says "Give Ma'at my regards" after shooting the Sons of Horus.
  • Gladiator Games: Diagoras and Servius attend one. However, in the present day they're more about the sport itself than violence, and neither gladiator is killed, or even seriously hurt.
  • God Guise: The oracle at the Temple of Apollo claims to be Apollo speaking through her. Diagoras doesn't buy it.
  • Good Samaritan: Joannes saves Diagoras by claiming him as under the protection of the Temple of Prometheus.
  • Gun Nut: Sicarius Columbus, the head priest at the Temple of Ignistelum, literally worships guns.
  • The Gunslinger: Diagoras is able to rapidly shoot all of the Sons of Horus without even thinking about it.
  • Guns vs. Swords: The Battle of Marida in 2055, the Roman military's first use of firearms, against Turks still wielding medieval weapons. Guns win.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Slavery still exists in Nova Roma, though treatment of slaves is heavily regulated. Diagoras usually treats Servius as more of a roommate than anything.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Diagoras, if he can be called a hero. Being an open atheist puts him at odds with Roman society.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Diagoras' drive to disprove the gods and denounce Roman religion leads to him performing some Activist Fundamentalist Antics of his own. In addition, the Sons of Horus are shown to have aspirations just as tyrannical as the government they hope to overthrow.
  • High Priest: Emperor Piissimus, who serves as both Emperor and Pontifex Maximus. Verus and Falsa Sperus fill this role to a lesser extent as well.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Taurus believes so, claiming "When freedom wants to be, it can be worse than even the nastiest dictator."
  • Hollywood Atheist: Diagoras has shades of this, actively hating the Roman religion and its followers to the point that he's as dogmatic as they are.
  • Hollywood Exorcism: Subverted. The Lemuria isn't dramatic at all. Diagoras even finds it silly.
  • Hufflepuff House: Though there are many alternate countries, only Nova Roma and China get significant attention.
  • Human Sacrifice: Sicarius' justification for when a shooting happens at the Temple of Ignistelum.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Servius, Diagoras' slave, asks Diagoras what there is to live for, Diagoras says not to "throw your whole life away doing whatever some stupid asshole tells you to."
  • I Have No Son: Diagoras' parents ultimately do this to both Relicta and him.
  • IKEA Erotica: Diagoras describes himself having sex with a prostitute as "I did what it took to get an interview," and nothing more. Justified, as he doesn't care about the sex itself at all.
  • Illegal Religion: Judaism and Christianity become this in the backstory. In the present day, Taoism is illegal in Nova Roma, as is an anti-Imperial Isis cult known as the Sons of Horus. Roman paganism itself is forbidden in China.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Lepus Argentus, the priest at the Temple of Mercury, does this when he sees Diagoras' swastika necklace.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Diagoras sees himself as one. Whether others agree with him is another story.
  • Istanbul Not Constantinople: The real-life United States is split between Nova Roma and Mexica. Many regions are still called by the names the Romans used for them, such as Gaul and Hispania.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: During Taurus' initial conversation with Diagoras.
    “Don’t flatter yourself.” Taurus pulled a lighter from his other pocket, lighting the cigarette. “If the Emperor was afraid of you, we would’ve nailed you to a cross and hung you out somewhere you could serve as a warning to others months ago. You’re not a threat. You’re just a mediocre writer with a big mouth and a crazy plan. But even you have your uses. That’s why you’re here.” The legate held out the pack of cigarettes towards me. “Smoke?”

    “…Mediocre writer?” I repeated, adjusting my position in the chair.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: Or at least Australia, Alaska, and Hawaii.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: According to the censors, publishing a book about the gods that doesn't praise them would lead to the gods annihilating all of Nova Roma.
  • "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal: Diagoras asks Servius if he'd castrate himself just to please the gods. Servius points out some people do just that.
  • Junkie Prophet: The oracle inhales unidentified fumes before being possessed by Apollo. Diagoras and Servius wear masks when speaking to her for this reason.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: In-universe, the Museum of Faith and Science uses an animatronic dragon to attract guests.
  • Kidnapped by the Call: Youtai and Aurelius Taurus both kidnap Diagoras to convince him to join their cause.
  • Language Barrier: Youtai gives Diagoras a book he claims to be of the utmost importance. It's entirely in Chinese.
  • Language Fluency Denial: The Chinese man Diagoras saves on the Parilia claims to not speak Latin. It's actually Youtai, who speaks it fluently.
  • Libation for the Dead: Offering wine to your ancestors is a common practice during the feast of Parentalia. Diagoras sees it as a waste of good wine.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Both of Diagoras' parents are devout Roman citizens.
  • The Ludovico Technique: Odia employs similar methods at Camp Piety to make kids develop an aversion to atheism.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Most of the Sons of Horus wear animal masks.
  • Married to the Job: Diagoras considers his work "better than any woman."
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Was Diagoras' vision of Mercury real, or just a hallucination?
  • Meaningful Name: Almost everybody. For starters, Diagoras is named after Diagoras of Melos, an ancient Greek philosopher known for his atheism.
  • Million Mook March: The Roman military holds a parade before the war in Arabia.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: Played with. Ordinary followers of the Egyptian pantheon have had a hard time distancing themselves from The Sons of Horus.
  • Modern Mayincatec Empire: Mexica has slowly been returning to its Aztec roots since declaring independence from China.
  • Morality Pet: Relicta serves as one for Diagoras.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Subverted. Taurus faithfully serves Emperor Piissimus despite often disagreeing with him. However, Taurus' point of contention is that he doesn't think the Emperor is violent enough.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Subverted with Judas Porcius, who's friendly and not treacherous at all, although like the Biblical Judas he does commit suicide.
  • National Anthem: Horace's ''Odes'' has become this for Nova Roma.
  • Naughty Nuns: While not nuns, per se, the priestesses of Venus fit this trope, doubling as prostitutes.
  • Nay-Theist: Gottlieb, at least for the Roman pantheon.
  • Non-Nazi Swastika: Gottlieb gives a swastika necklace to Diagoras, calling it a symbol of Thor. Justified as the Nazis never existed in this timeline.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Diagoras has no sympathy for the Nova Roman government, and only takes up their offer to investigate the Sons of Horus in hopes of saving Relicta.
  • Nuclear Option: Nova Roma drops an atomic bomb on the Asian city of Nanking.
  • The Oathbreaker: Relicta breaks her Vow of Celibacy.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Taurus asks Diagoras to spy on the Sons of Horus, offering both a large sum of money and amnesty for his past crimes in return.
  • Oh My Gods!: Quite often, usually by Pollux.
  • The Pardon: Diagoras receives one after the Bacchanalia.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Diagoras pummels Odia after seeing the things she'd been doing at Camp Piety.
  • Perfect Poison: Judas dies painlessly not long after drinking the hemlock.
  • Persona Non Grata: Relicta is exiled to a swamp for breaking her vow of chastity.
  • Phony Psychic: How Diagoras sees Augurs, haruspices, and sibyls.
  • Platonic Prostitution: Subverted. Diagoras attempts this with Lupa, but she refuses.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: In addition to his hatred for the Roman religion, Diagoras displays racist and homophobic traits as well.
  • Prayer of Malice: Diagoras learns he's the target of several of these at the Temple of Venus.
  • Prematurely Bald: Servius is described as bald, despite being around the same age as Diagoras.
  • Pretext for War: Emperor Piissimus uses the growing anti-Roman unrest in Arabia to deploy troops there.
  • Public Execution: One of the Sons of Horus is forced to act out a play that ends with his death, and Nakhthorheb himself is crucified.
  • The Purge: Maxentius does one for Christians and Jews shortly after the Point of Divergence .
  • Purple Is Powerful: Emperor Piissimus is never seen without a purple suit.
  • Questionable Consent: The circumstances around how Relicta broke her oath are never made clear, including whether it was even consensual sex or rape. Ultimately, all Nova Roma cares about is that she broke it.
  • Racial Remnant: Despite Maxentius' purge of Jews and Christians from the Roman Empire, a small group of Jews were able to flee to China, where they've lived in secret to this day.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Diagoras both gives and receives a good amount of these. Verus' speech to him is probably the most notable.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The energetic Diagoras is red, while the relaxed Servius is blue.
  • Reign of Terror: The Sons of Horus plan to drive out anyone who doesn't abide by the Principles of Ma'at once they're in power.
  • Retro Universe: Besides the obvious (see Days of Future Past), Nova Roma's present-day technology is still in The '70s, as The Space Race never occurred in this timeline.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Nakhthorheb is convinced Nova Roma can be defeated only through violent means.
  • Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman: The Prophet Muhammad was an atheist, Martin Luther was an attorney, and Kim il-Sung was a staunch anti-authoritarian.
  • Robbing the Dead: Diagoras pulls a coin from Judas Porcius' mouth after he dies.
  • Seen-It-All Suicide: Judas' main motivation.
  • Seers: Augurs, haruspices, and sibyls all still exist in Nova Roma.
  • Self-Restraint: Despite Diagoras' repeated offers to free her, Relicta insists on serving her punishment and continuing to live in exile.
  • Smash the Symbol: After beating Odia, Diagoras breaks her household god in half. The Sons of Horus decapitate a statue of Julius Caesar.
  • Snuff Film: While not a film, Diagoras watches a play called The Death of Hercules, with the title role played by a captured member of the Sons of Horus. It ends with the prisoner being burned alive.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Servius can't stand the sight of Anansi.
  • Super-Fun Happy Thing of Doom: Camp Piety, where children suspected of atheism are tortured.
  • Taking You with Me: Diagoras unsuccessfully attempts to attack the Emperor after learning there's no way for him to save Relicta.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Gottlieb, Youtai, and Emperor Piissimus all show up in Diagoras' nightmare.
  • The Theocracy: Nova Roma, as the title may suggest, is a governed by the church of Jupiter.
  • Toilet Humour: During the visit to the College of Augurs, a pigeon poops on a statue of Apollo. Servius cleans it with his sleeve.
  • Token Good Teammate: Verus holds this role for the high-ranking members of the Nova Roman government.
  • Token White: Interbreeding with Arabs (and later Native Americans) have caused the people of Nova Roma to take on a very mixed-race appearance. When Diagoras meets Gottlieb, a German immigrant, he remarks on the strangeness of his blonde hair and pale skin.
  • Tragic Bigot: Diagoras' intense hatred for the Roman religion stems from his sister being exiled for breaking her vow as a Vestal Virgin.
  • Trans Equals Gay: Diagoras seems to think this in regards to the Galli.
  • Translation Convention: Everyone is actually speaking Latin.
  • The Trickster: Discussed. Gottlieb believes Mercury is secretly Loki due to both of them being trickster gods.
  • Turbulent Priest: Joannes Lacus, the priest of the cult of Prometheus, is pretty vocal in his disdain for the rest of the Roman gods.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Youtai is Chinese and Jewish.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Both Diagoras himself and Secundus Fidenas, the author of The Eagle and the Dragon.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Emperor Piissimus, the Legate Aurelius Taurus, and the regina sacrorum Falsa Sperus all qualify.
  • Virgin Power: The Vestal Virgins, priestesses of the goddess Vesta allowed to occupy an elite role in Roman society in exchange for a vow of chastity, are a Truth in Television example.
  • Vow of Celibacy: As one of the Vestal Virgins, Relicta is sworn to these. She doesn't keep it.
  • War Hawk: Emperor Piissimus, who pushes Nova Roma into a war with Arabia.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Diagoras wakes up the morning after the Bacchanalia with no memory as to what happened.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Diagoras gives a savage beating to Odia, the woman who runs Camp Piety.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Odia is not above using violence against her patients at Camp Piety.
  • You Are in Command Now: Fusangus Fortunatus, the Governor of the province of Nova Roma at the time Antioch fell, making him the Emperor of all that remained of Rome.
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