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"The Order is Eternal. You are ephemeral."
―Ptahmose to Bayek, 38 BCE.[src]-[m]

The Order of the Ancients, also known as the Order of Ancients and collectively as the Snake, was a secretive cabal which operated throughout the ancient world. It was an early incarnation of the Templar Order.[6]

Founded in 1334 BCE by Egyptian pharaoh Smenkhkare, the Order of the Ancients sought to use the relics of the ancient gods to promote peace and progress for mankind under their ordered rule.

Within time, their influence grew beyond Egypt and expanded into nearby Persia, where they influenced the reigns of generations of Achaemenid Emperors, including Darius I and his son, Xerxes I. During the late Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, the Order ruled Egypt from the shadows by exploiting the young Pharaoh, Ptolemy XIII, as their puppet. After Ptolemy's death, they shifted their support to Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, the latter giving them leverage to expand their influence throughout the Roman Republic. The Order also played a significant role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

History

Antiquity

Early years

The Order of the Ancients was founded by the Pharaoh Smenkhkare around 1334 BCE, with the aim of identifying and exploiting ancient Isu technologies. Having discovered the Isu vault Eeyoo Sekedoo Aat, Smenkhkare eventually had his own tomb connected to the vault in order to keep it hidden.[1] The Order spread across Egypt before expanding into Persia, where it sought to manipulate and control the Achaemenid Emperors. By the 5th century BCE, the Order had grown into a powerful organization that had dominated the empire for generations.[7]

By the time of the Second Persian Invasion of Hellas—during which the famed Battle of Thermopylae took place—the Order of the Ancients had long been in partnership with the Cult of Kosmos. Though both operated independently of one another, their aims often aligned, and as a result, both groups sought to install Xerxes I of Persia as overlord in Greece.[8] Despite this partnership, however, the Order was unaware of the Cult's part in instigating the Peloponnesian War—a conflict which brought chaos to the region, much to the disdain of the Order.[8]

Pursuit of Darius

Xerxes assassinated by Darius

Eventually, their existence and activities were discovered by the Persian elites Artabanus, and his friends Amorges and Pactyas, during the reign of Xerxes I. Forming a small group to oppose them, they successfully assassinated Xerxes in 465 BCE. The Order then turned their attention to Xerxes' son, Artaxerxes I, who had succeeded his father as Emperor. When Artabanus, fearing the potential for another puppet king, plotted his assassination, Amorges betrayed his friend and joined the Order. Amorges foiled Artabanus's plan and had him branded a traitor, which forced Artabanus and his family to flee. Amorges later became a leader of the Order and sent a branch of the Order led by Pactyas to pursue and eliminate Artabanus, who by then adopted the name Darius.[7]

Their pursuit of Darius notwithstanding, the Order of Hunters were principally charged with tracking and eliminating those they considered "Tainted Ones", human descendants of the hybrids who possessed enhanced strength and abilities. To this end, c. 429 BCE the Order of Hunters made its way to Makedonia, Greece in order to eliminate the Spartan misthios Kassandra, who they correctly suspected of being such an individual.[7]

Activities in Greece

Expanding their activities into Greece came with risks, however, and the Order's leadership became concerned that the Cult of Kosmos, who controlled much of Greece's aristocracy, might become aware of their existence. As such, strict orders were given to Echion. To draw out Kassandra, the Order of Hunters sent a letter to Kassandra anonymously to the village of Potidaia in Makedonia, a plan which succeeded. Pactyas started a fire in the village, which drew the attention of both Kassandra and Darius' son Natakas. Confronting both Kassandra and Natakas, Pactyas ordered the acolytes to eliminate them both, an attempt which failed.[7]

Despite this, Pactyas continued to expand the Order's operations in Makedonia, recruiting people into their cause and deploying wolfs around the region. The Order also penetrated high parts of Makedonian leadership and began to command local troops. Kassandra, working with Natakas and Darius, dismantled the Order's operation, eliminating Pactyas' lieutenants and destroying the Order's camps across Makedonia. As such, Pactyas resorted to eliminate Kassandra by manipulating the Macedonian population. Using a child to lure the misthios to a swamp containing a tree filled with numerous hanged individuals, Pactyas attempted to manipulate Kassandra with the family members of the victims.[7]

With that plan failing as well, Pactyas was confronted by Kassandra in a forest and was defeated. Fleeing to a nearby cave in the hills, Pactyas made his final stand before eventually being defeated by Kassandra. With the arrival of Darius and Natakas, Pactyas revealed Darius real identity as his former partner and his actions to Kassandra, before finally being killed by Darius' Hidden Blade. With Pactyas death, the Order's influence in Makedonia was eliminated.[7]

Downfall of the Persian branch

With Pactyas' failure, Amorges made the decision to travel to Greece himself to hunt down Darius. Posing as an elderly merchant named Orontas, he tracked Darius and his son Natakas to Achaia, where they planned to depart east from the port city of Patrai. To disrupt his plans, he appointed Phila, and the Order of the Storm  to blockade the port city with her fleet and instruct her men to look for Darius and Natakas.[9] Kassandra released several stranded people in the Cult of Kosmos fortress Teichos of Herakles and leading them to safety in Boura with Kleta. While in Achaia, the Order developed a new weapon, Chimera's Breath, a flamethrower mounted on a ship. Their attempts at building it and installing on the Skylla failed and its chief engineer defected. Kassandra then installed it on the Adrestia and used it to break the naval blockade. Phila escaped her destroyed ship and was defeated by Kassandra. [citation needed]

Amorges confronted by Darius and Kassandra

With Phila's defeat, Amorges brought down the entire order on Dyme, Natakas' and Kassandra's home. Amorges brought the remainder of its fleet, the Immortals, and an army to kill the family. The army burned most of the village Kassandra arrived in time to kill both of the Immortals, but was too late to stop Natakas from being killed or her son Elpidios from being captured. She and Darius pursued them to the Order's stronghold in the Greek World, Messenia. Kassandra and Darius, with the help of an Athenian general, worked to destroy the Order's influence in Messenia. Eventually Kassandra and Darius lit several fires in Messene to lure out the guards. With the General's distraction, Kassandra was able to reach Amorges. Amorges was killed by Darius and told them the location of her son. Kassandra then hunted down the rest of The Order of Dominion.[10]

Ptolemaic Egypt

Search for the Siwa Vault

By the 1st century BCE, the Order had a solid foothold in Egypt, holding a number of high ranking positions in the during the reign of pharaoh Ptolemy XII Auletes. Pothinus served as a eunuch within the royal court while Berenike served as the Nomarch of Faiyum.[1] Around this time, Pothinus recruited Lucius Septimius, one of the Gabiniani stationed in Egypt to protect the pharaohs, into the Order.[11]

Following the death of Auletes in 51 BCE, his children Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra succeeded him as pharaohs, co-ruling the kingdom. Seeing this as an opportunity to gain further power, the Order attempted to persuade Cleopatra to their cause, though this plan ultimately failed. After discovering that the Queen was not as easy to handle as her brother, the Order instigated the expulsion of Cleopatra from Egypt in 49 BCE. They chose Ptolemy, knowing that Cleopatra was a much more cunning ruler and a better strategist than her younger brother, who was more interested in the superficiality of power and was easily swayed by them.[11] By this time, the Order in Egypt was led by Flavius Metellus, a high-ranking general who served alongside Gaius Julius Caesar.[1]

The Order with Bayek and Khemu in the Siwa Vault

At some point, the Order of the Ancients discovered a vault beneath the Temple of Amun in Siwa, which they believed to be connected to the Apple in their possession. Given said belief, several of the Order's members journeyed to the vault in 49 BCE and attempted to unlock its mysteries. They kidnapped the Medjay Bayek and his son Khemu, bringing them to the vault entrance, believing them to either know something about the vault or be able to open it. The Order had figured out that the Apple was one part of the key, and apparently believed the Medjay bloodline to be the other part.[12]

As it turned out, their attempts were in vain; neither Bayek or his son had knowledge regarding the vault, nor did the vault door react when they placed the Apple in Khemu's hands. Before they could further interrogate the Medjay, they were interrupted by the news of Ptolemy XIII's awakening, and of his desire to come to the Temple of Amun. Most of the Order members present left, leaving Bayek and Khemu within the chamber, telling them to open the door. With Khemu's aid, Bayek freed himself and attempted to fight off the Order, though Khemu was killed in the process.[12]

Hunted by the Medjay

Rudjek confronted by Bayek

Having failed to open the vault, the Order abandoned their search and left the village. They appointed Medunamun, who used the cryptonym the Ibis and served as the Oracle of Amun in the temple, to remain in the village, giving him the Apple in order for him to learn more about the relic.[13] Later that year, Bayek went on a quest of vengeance against the Order, seeking revenge for his son's death. In 48 BCE, he located Rudjek, the Nomarch of Saqqara Nome and a member of the Order who went by the cryptonym of Heron, hunting him to the Bent Pyramid. Bayek knocked out Rudjek's personal bodyguard, cornering Rudjek in the tomb. Rudjek attempted to retaliate with a throwing knife, but the Medjay blocked it with Rudjek's mask before shoving it into Rudjek, killing him with the blade embedded in it.[14]

Eudoros and Pothinus plan their next move

At the same time frame, Aya of Alexandria, Bayek's wife, also began her own quest to hunt down her son's killer. She enlisted the aid of Apollodorus, Cleopatra's follower, to locate the members. She eventually located Actaeon and Ktesos, two members of the Order who operated in Alexandria. For her actions, she was declared wanted by the city's Phylakitai, Gennadios, who worked with another member and the Royal Scribe, Eudoros.[15] Alarmed by these events, Eudoros and Pothinus wrote a letter to Medunamun in Siwa, informing him of their relentless influence on Ptolemy and reminding him to act with caution.[16] However, Medunamun fell to Bayek, who had returned to Siwa following his assassination of Rudjek and bludgeoned the oracle to death with the Apple of Eden. As a result, the Order's possession of the Apple was handed over to Bayek.[12]

Taharqa assassinated by Bayek

Eudoros himself was later hunted down to the Bathhouse of Alexandria by Bayek, who believed that he had eliminated the last of its members.[16] In reality, the Order remained strong, with its members controlling key regions of Egypt, such as Khaliset in Giza, Hetepi in Memphis, and Berenike in the Faiyum.[17] Meanwhile, Taharqa sought to expand the Order influence in Sapi-Res Nome by reclaiming the city of Letopolis from the consuming desert, using his role as steward as a façade.[18] Despite so, he failed to eliminate Bayek, who proceeded to assassinate him in the Temple of Horus.[19]

Alliance with Julius Caesar

In late 48 BCE, Pothinus and Septimius conspired to assassinate Cleopatra in Herakleion. Septimius made use of his previous affiliations to the Gabiniani, recruiting Venator and his men. Venator stationed an arsonist to enter the palace through the docks, with an archer stationed at a nearby tower and a soldier infiltrating the palace through a disguise. However, one of the Venator's men, Livius, was captured, which led the Queen to discover the plan. Bayek was thus sent by her to eliminate the assassins, thwarting the plan. In a last ditch effort to eliminate Cleopatra and her followers, Venator and his men confronted them in the courtyard, but were defeated.[20]

At the same time, the Order also learned of Pompey's newly formed alliance with Cleopatra to reclaim the Egyptin throne.[21] To prevent this from happening, Septimius was sent to find Pompey, due to his previous service under the general in 67 BCE. After Pompey and his troops landed northwest of Herakleion, Septimius and his men abushed the general, slaughtering all his men.[20] After doing so, Septimius cut off Pompey's head and brought it back to Alexandria, intending for Ptolemy to use it to gain an alliance with Caesar instead.[22]

Nevertheless, the plan failed when Caesar instead chose to side with Cleopatra, who managed to infiltrate the palace with the help of Apollodorus, Aya and Bayek. Furious with this decision, Pothinus and Septimius planned to trap Caesar and Cleopatra in Alexandria with secret orders from the Flavius, while also imprisoning Roman emissaries at the Akra Garrison.[22] While in the Tomb of Alexander the Great, Flavius secretly recruited Caesar with the aim of having him as the figurehead of the Order.[1]

However, Caesar was able to escape the siege with the help of Aya, who lit the fire at the Lighthouse of Alexandria to alert Caesar's fleet, while Bayek escorted the general to the lighthouse with a chariot.[22] A year later, Pothinus and Septimius joined Ptolemy XIII in a battle at the Nile Delta in a final attempt to rid Egypt of Cleopatra. Ptolemy ultimately drowned while trying to flee and Potinus was killed by Bayek, while Septimius was spared from being killed by Bayek on the orders of Caesar, who declared that Septimius would be punished under Roman law.[23]

Return to the Siwa vault

Flavius unlocking the vault in Siwa

Using his influence, Flavius was able to convince Caesar to spare Septimius and allow him to serve alongside the general.[1] In addition, with the crowning of Cleopatra as sole ruler of Egypt and as Caesar's ally, the Order now had the power of the two powerful empires at its disposal, and convinced Cleopatra to release Aya and Bayek from her services.[24]

Flavius and Septimius then resumed the Order's goal of unlocking the Siwa Vault, infiltrating the Tomb of Alexander the Great to retrieve Alexander's personal Staff of Eden, which they believed was connected to the Siwa Vault. After stealing the Apple of Eden from Apollodorus and distracting him with soldiers, Flavius and Septimius travelled to Siwa, using the Apple to enthrall and disable Siwan villagers. Left unopposed, Flavius combined the Apple and Staff, successfully unlocking the Vault and caught a glimpse of a globe projected within. Having learned of its contents, Flavius took the Apple with him back to Cyrene, while Septimius took the Staff to Alexandria.[25]

Along his return through Cyrenaica, Flavius used the Apple to further spread his influence amongst the Egyptian and Greek residents in the region, before basing himself at the Temple of Ares at the Akropolis of Cyrene. There, he was confronted by Bayek, who had learned of his location with the help of Praxilla and Diocles. Despite making use of the Apple and its abilities, Flavius was defeated by Bayek and the Apple was once again reverted to the Medjay's possession.[25]

Expansion to Rome

Meanwhile, Septimius reached Alexandria and returned to Rome with Caesar, serving as his right-hand man.[26] A new branch of the Order was thus established in the Roman Republic,[1] and the Staff was handed over to the Order. To ensure that the Order remain in power in Cleopatra's kingdom, Caesar appointed the general Gaius Julius Rufio as the leader of the Roman troops in Egypt, using the Sinai as the main base of operations.[5]

By 44 BCE, Caesar had crushed much of his competition in the civil war and was to be declared Dictator of the Republic.[1] Aya, who now formed a group of Hidden Ones to oppose the Order, recruited the Roman senators, including Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus and Servilius Casca.[27]

At the Theatre of Pompey, Septimius was confronted by Aya at the arena while Caesar attended a meeting at the curia with the senators in attendance. After being defeated by Aya, Septimius revealed to her the fate of the Staff in his possession and that Caesar was their "Father of Understanding". Left defenseless, Caesar was assassinated by Aya from behind and stabbed by the rest of the Sentators.[27]

Middles Ages

Northern Europe

By the time of the early Middle Ages, the Order of the Ancients had spread north to Europe through the Roman expansion. At some point, they managed to establish influence in Scandinavia[28] and Great Britain.[4]

Tang dynasty

By the 8th century, the Order of the Ancients had spread into the Tang dynasty during the reign of Xuanzong. The Order exerted an influence in the royal court through Empress Yang Guifei, who placed her trust in the officials and Order members Yang Guozhong and An Lushan. However, a conflict between both members led to a split into two factions: Golden Gudai and Yeluohe.[29]

Eventually, An Lushan rebelled against the Emperor and established his own state, proclaiming himself as Emperor of Yan.[29]

Overview and ideology

Foundations and memberships

By the time Egypt had been under the control of the Ptolemaic dynasty over one thousand years, the Order comprised of various men and women at the upper echelons of the ruling class; these individuals retained positions of power and, for the most part, were involved in political, religious, economic and military proceedings. Members of the Order of the Ancients symbolically wore identical masks, headdresses, and robes when they met in congress—a visual display of their loyalties. Each key member of the Order was responsible for their own sphere of influence within Egyptian society and they were scattered all over Egypt, due to the antiquated constraints of communication and transport.[1]

Within the Persian sect, members carried a necklace featuring the Faravahar, an emblem of the Achaemenid Empire, with a stylized wings design.[7]

During the 9th century, the Order in Anglo-Saxon England adopted a hierarchy system being led by a Grand Maegester with five Maegester while the remaining members were either of the Palatinus or Preost rank.[4]

Goals and beliefs

"I have served them and your beloved Egypt. And I'll be rewarded in the Afterlife. An eternity of drinking and whoring with my brothers."
―Lucius Septimius, explaining his beliefs to Aya.[src]-[m]

Unlike the residents of ancient Egypt, the Order of the Ancients, much like their future incarnation the Templars, were deistic in their faith and were not polytheistic. However, they did believe in the afterlife and the idea of a figurehead such as the Father of Understanding.[1]

During the Greco-Persian wars, the Order was primarily situated in Persia and had influenced the reigns of centuries of Achaemenid Emperors. Members of the Order believed their work to be divine and that few hundreds had to be sacrificed for tens of thousands to achieve long lasting peace and prosperity. The Order were also on the hunt for the Tainted Ones, humans who were direct descendants of the Isu, since they believed that the Tainted Ones have the power to oppose them and burn down their centuries of work. However, they were not opposed to recruiting Tainted Ones into their organization, with one such member, Phila, even rising to the rank of Maji in the Order of Ancients due to her enhanced abilities and strategic brilliance.[9]

The primary aim of the Order during the 1st century BCE was to bring back a strong dynastic power, equal to that of previous dynasties which had ruled during the glory days of Ancient Egypt, prior to the arrival of the Ptolemies. This was reinforced by the belief that the pre-existing system had been founded on order, on the divine power of the Pharaohs. In this perspective, the Order was looking for means of control, be they political, religious, military or cultural, to regain what had been lost. In addition, they also had people looking for the secrets of the past, such as the Pieces of Eden, and how to unlock said secrets' potential.[1]

During the 9th century, King Alfred the Great had sought to create a new Order and align it with strict Christian principles and practices. He did this in hopes of creating a new Order of the Ancients which was strictly dedicated to establishing peace. They would accomplish this goal by spreading harmony and progress through improving each other's and society's lives.[4]

Members

Ancient Egypt

Achaemenid Empire / Greek City-States

Order of Dominion

Main article: Order of Dominion


Order of the Storm

Main article: Order of the Storm

Order of Hunters

Main article: Order of Hunters

Ptolemaic Egypt / Roman Republic

Roman Empire

Briton England

Tang dynasty

Frankia

Anglo-Saxon England

Warden of War

Main article: Warden of War

Warden of Law

Main article: Warden of Law

Warden of Wealth

Main article: Warden of Wealth

Warden of Faith

Main article: Warden of Faith

Zealots

Main article: Zealots

Crusades

Allies and puppets

Achaemenid Empire and Ancient Greece

Ptolemaic Egypt / Roman Republic

Roman Empire

Tang dynasty

Trivia

  • Many of the Ptolemaic era members' aliases are representations of various deities in Egyptian mythology:
  • The ankh that accompanies the crowned snake hieroglyph resembles the cross pattée of the Order's future incarnation, the Knights Templar.
  • The serpent wears the pschent, the double crown, symbolizing the Order's desire to rule all of Egypt.
  • The Order's symbol and name, The Snake, contrasts the Assassins' association with the eagle.
  • The masks and associated headdress the Ptolemaic-era members wore at their meetings were crafted with icons related to divinity and sovereignty within Egyptian mythology: the double feather crown (swty) evoked Amun, and as usual, was adorned with a solar disc and uraeus, and their masks had the braided postiche, a fake beard related to Osiris.

Gallery

Appearances

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Assassin's Creed: Origins
  2. 2.0 2.1 Assassin's Creed: OdysseyLegacy of the First Blade
  3. Assassin's Creed: Origins comic
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Assassin's Creed: OriginsThe Hidden Ones
  6. Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide, 2nd ed.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Assassin's Creed: OdysseyLegacy of the First Blade: Hunted
  8. 8.0 8.1 Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Legacy of the First Blade: Bloodline
  9. 9.0 9.1 Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Legacy of the First Blade: Shadow Heritage
  10. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Legacy of the First Blade: BloodlineLegacy of the First Blade
  11. 11.0 11.1 Assassin's Creed Origins: Official Game Guide
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Assassin's Creed: OriginsThe False Oracle
  13. Assassin's Creed: OriginsThe Oasis
  14. Assassin's Creed: OriginsThe Heron Assassination
  15. Assassin's Creed: OriginsAya
  16. 16.0 16.1 Assassin's Creed: OriginsEnd of the Snake
  17. Assassin's Creed: OriginsEgypt's Medjay
  18. Assassin's Creed: OriginsThe Scarab's Sting
  19. Assassin's Creed: OriginsThe Scarab's Lies
  20. 20.0 20.1 Assassin's Creed: OriginsWay of the Gabiniani
  21. Assassin's Creed: OriginsPompeius Magnus
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Assassin's Creed: OriginsAya: Blade of the Goddess
  23. Assassin's Creed: OriginsThe Battle of the Nile
  24. Assassin's Creed: OriginsThe Aftermath
  25. 25.0 25.1 Assassin's Creed: OriginsThe Final Weighing
  26. Assassin's Creed: OriginsLast of the Medjay
  27. 27.0 27.1 Assassin's Creed: OriginsFall of an Empire, Rise of Another
  28. Assassin's Creed: Last Descendants – Fate of the Gods
  29. 29.0 29.1 Assassin's Creed: Dynasty

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