Constantijn en de Sol Invictus



Dovnload 99.58 Kb.
Pagina1/2
Datum16.08.2016
Grootte99.58 Kb.
  1   2

Constantijn en de Sol Invictus

Venus met Amor die haar het zwaard van Mars overhandigt, Mars en Divus Iulius


Op de Iden (15) van Maart 44 BC wordt, door een complot, Gaius Julius Caesar Dictator Perpetuus, bij ons bekend als “Caesar” vermoord. Tempels gewijd aan Divus Iulius vinden we in Smyrna, Ephesos, Thessalonica, Philippi etc. In 45 BC, dus nog tijdens zijn leven werden standbeelden voor hem opgericht met de inscriptie “deo invicto” (aan de onoverwonnen god). Deze werden bij de ingang van tempels geplaatst, waaronder die van Quirinus en Sol(!!!). (Cicero verwijst hiernaar in Att 12.45.3(2))
Op 13 Oktober 54 AD overlijdt Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar Augustus Germanicus geboren als Tiberius Claudius Drusus en bij ons bekend als “keizer Claudius”, vergiftigd door zijn derde en laatste echtgenote, Agrippina. Hij wordt bijna onmiddellijk tot “divus Claudius”, “de god Claudius” verklaard door de senaat (op advies van het college van pontifices). Reeds ten tijde van Claudius bestaat er een groot spanningsveld tussen enerzijds de officiële Romeinse staatsgodsdienst die net zoals in Griekenland vanaf de klassiek periode meer en meer een politieke godsdienst geworden is (de godsdienst van de “polis”, de stad-staat) en anderzijds allerlei sekten en mysterie-cultussen. Claudius zelf bvb. promoot de Mysteriën van Eleusis. Hij introduceert tevens wetgeving om proselitisme tegen te gaan. Vrijheid van religie is een groot goed. Het is ook de tijd waarin een curieuze en lastige sekte: de kristenen, van zich doet horen. Seneca schrijft een spotdicht op de “apotheosis” (de “god-wording”) van Claudius en spreekt van de “apocolocynthosis”, de “pompoenwording”. Reeds tijdens zijn leven stemde Claudius erin toe dat een tempel gewijd aan Divus Claudius opgericht werd, maar niet meer dan 1, hij koos als locatie Britannia.

Op 9 Juni 68 AD pleegt zijn opvolger, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus geboren als Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, en bij ons bekend als “keizer Nero” zelfmoord. Zijn laatste woorden zijn “Quantus artifex pereor”, “Welk een kunstenaar gaat met mij ten onder”. Hij is het die na de grote brand van Rome in 64 AD de kristenen, terecht of ten onrechte, de schuld geeft en daarmee de eerste keizer wordt die de sekte der kristenen “vervolgt”. De grote Romeinse historicus Tacitus noemt de kristenen in die tijd . Nero zelf heeft steeds volgehouden dat hij op miraculeuze wijze geboren was en van goddelijke afkomst en liet een reusachtig beeld oprichten ter ere van Sol Invictus, maar met Nero’s gelaatstrekken: de Colossus van Sol Invictus.

Op 23 Juni 79 AD overlijdt Titus Flavius Vespasianus, bij ons beter bekend als “keizer Vespasianus”. Vespasianus had als generaal carriere gemaakt onder Claudius in Britannia en was onder Nero naar Judaea gestuurd om de Joodse opstand te bedwingen. In 69 draagt hij het bevel over aan zijn zoon de latere keizer Titus en keert terug naar Rome om er zijn de benoeming tot keizer door de senaat op te nemen (na het rampzalige 3-keizersjaar (Galba, Otho, Vitellius) dat volgde op de dood van Nero). Het was Titus die in 70 Jeruzalem innam en de tempel verwoestte. De laatste woorden van Vespasianus voor hij de laatste adem uitblies, waren: “puto deus fio”, een enigszins verbaasd “ik geloof waarachtig dat ik god wordt”. De Joodse historicus Flavius Josephus (zoon van een Joodse priester in Jeruzalem, genaamd Matathias), die oorspronkelijk deel nam aan de opstand tegen Rome maar uiteindelijk voor de Romeinen kiest en zelfs geadopteerd wordt in de keizerlijke familie, schrijft een boek over de Joodse geschiedenis waarin hij uiteindelijk ook alle Joodse sekten beschrijft die ten tijde van de opstand floreerden. Zo vermeldt hij in detail de volgelingen van Johannes de Doper (blijkbaar nog steeds een belangrijke sekte, ook na diens dood) en zelfs wonderdoeners zoals Oni de Cirkeltrekker. Maar hij vermeldt Jesus en de kristenen met geen woord, omdat de sekte in die tijd in Judaea blijkbaar geen noemenswaardige rol speelde.

In 112 schrijft Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, keizerlijk gouverneur van de provincie Bithynia-Pontus een brief (Lib. X, 96: C. PLINIUS TRAIANO IMPERATORI) aan keizer Traianus (Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus) waarin hij om advies vraagt in verband met de curieuze, lastige, maar schijnbare op zich vrij ongevaarlijke sekte van de kristenen. Het meest problematische is hun weigering om, wanneer ze opgeroepen worden als getuige bij een proces, respect te betuigen voor de rechtbank en de eed af te leggen (d.w.z. wierook te branden voor Jupiter en de keizer). Hij merkt nog op dat deze cultus zich als een besmettelijke ziekte verspreid heeft, niet alleen in de steden, maar zelfs in afgelegen dorpjes op het platteland, en dat mensen uit alle sociale geledingen, alle leeftijd en beide geslachten er aan ten prooi vallen, maar dat hij gelooft dat het tij nog gekeerd kan worden omdat er voldoende zijn die na toegegeven te hebben ooit lid geweest te zijn, er afstand van nemen ( … Multi enim omnis aetatis, omnis ordinis, utriusque sexus …Neque civitates tantum, sed vicos etiam atque agros superstitionis istius contagio pervagata est; quae videtur sisti et corrigi posse). Verder vermeldt hij dat de sekte aanhang gevonden heeft in alle lagen van de bevolking. In zijn antwoord schrijft Traianus (Lib. X, 97 TRAIANUS PLINIO) dat er geen eenduidige richtlijn mogelijk is omdat het probleem te complex is, maar hij adviseert Plinius om de sekte zoveel mogelijk te ignoreren, confrontaties uit de weg te gaan en enkel op te treden als dat onvermijdelijk is.

Men moet een onderscheid maken tussen de woorden “deus” en “divus”, en “divus” word in het Grieks altijd weergegeven als “hemitheos”, letterlijk “halfgod”. In wezen is de eerste “divus” de Griekse “heroos” (held) Hercules, die als mens geboren wordt maar bij zijn dood onder de goden opgenomen wordt. Ook Megas Alexandros aanvaardt dat hij door het Egyptische orakel van Siwah als geincarneerde godheid uitgeroepen wordt en laat om dit te herdenken munten slaan waarop hij met ramshorens afgebeeld wordt.

Het begin van de keizercultus komt vanuit het Midden-Oosten waar steden uit “dankbaarheid” een tempel willen oprichten voor de keizer die in de buurt ervan campagne gevoerd heeft of een overwinning behaald heeft. De eerste keizers zijn hier zeer terughoudend in en proberen het gebruik binnen bepaalde perken te houden. Geleidelijk echter wordt de opname van de keizer onder de goden na zijn dood een standaardprocedure die men benut om de eenheid van het rijk te verstevigen. De enige uitzondering is Domitianus die reeds tijdens zijn leven wil aangesproken worden als “dominus et deus” (deus en niet divus, in leven en niet posthuum!!!). De cultus van de keizer wordt meestal ook verbonden met een zonnecultus. Ten tijde van Constantijn is het gebruik zo ingeworteld dat zelfs de “christelijke” keizers na hun dood nog steeds “divus” genoemd worden.

Op 27 februari van een jaar dat vermoedelijk 272 AD is wordt in Servie Flavius Valerius Constantinus geboren, bij ons beter bekend als “keizer Constantijn”, als zoon van Constantius Chlorus en zijn concubine Helena. Chlorus verstoot Helena in 288 om met Theodora, de stiefdochter van Maximianus te kunnen trouwen. In de door Diocletianus ingestelde tetrarchie waren er twee Augusti en twee Caesares. De Caesares waren ondergeschikt onder hun Augustus maar hadden hun eigen territorium. Diocletianus was Augustus van het Oosten (hoofdstad Nicomedia = Izmit in Turkije) met als Caesar, Galerius, (hoofdstad Sirmium = Sremska Mitrovica bij Beograd) en Maximianus was Augustus van het Westen (hoofdstad Mediolanum = Milaan) met als Caesar, Chlorus, (hoofdstad Augusta Treverorum = Trier). Constantijn wordt door de Britse legioenen tot keizer uitgeroepen na de dood van zijn vader in Eboracum op 25 Juli 306. Constantijn probeert de door Diocletianus ingestelde tetrarchie terug aaneen te smeden tot 1 enkel rijk, geregeerd door 1 enkel keizer.

Munt uit 313 afbeeldend Constantijn en Apollo. Omdat Apollo afgebeeld wordt als zonnegod en zijn eredienst kon gezien worden als een solair monotheïsme was een dergelijke afbeelding zelfs voor kristenen aannemelijk.

Constantijn besluit hiervoor niet 1 enkele religie te kiezen maar alle bewegingen die Sol Invictus, de Onoverwonnen Zon, centraal stellen. Een van zijn adviseurs, Eusebius, een christen en bisschop, weet hem ervan te overtuigen dat ook het kristendom een Sol Invictus-cultus is. Dat komt Constantijn goed uit om de volgende twee redenen. De meeste officieren in die tijd waren ingewijd in de Mithras-cultus die duidelijk voldoet aan de Sol Invictus-criteria, maar onder het voetvolk in de legioenen bevonden zich meer en meer kristenen en Constantijn had de totale toewijding van zijn troepen nodig, officieren zowel als voetvolk. Diocletianus had net daarvoor een algemene campagne tegen de kristenen gelanceerd door eerst al hun (private en gemeenschappelijke) bezittingen te confisceren en zich daarna zelfs door Galerius ervan te laten overtuigen dat ze gewoon uitgeroeid moesten worden. Maximianus en Chlorus hadden deze edicten echter niet of nauwelijks toegepast in het West-Romeinse rijk, daardoor genoot Constantijn als zoon van Chlorus reeds veel goodwill bij de kristenen.

Het beroemde voorteken voorafgaand aan de slag bij de Mulviaanse brug over de Tiber (Constantijn staat in die slag tegenover het leger van Maxentius (zoon van Maximianus) dat 2 keer zo groot is) wordt door Eusebius uitgelegd als een teken van de kristelijke god, echter het is voor Constantijn gewoon een teken van de Sol Invictus en was vermoedelijk een zonne-halo.

Er is een zeer goede reden om Eusebius niet altijd te vertrouwen, hij zegt immers zelf in zijn (Προπαρασκευη Ευαγγελικη) Praeparatio evangelica (xii, 31) waarin hij probeert aan te tonen hoezeer het kristendom superieur is boven heidense filosofie en religie: “ficties kunnen een medicijn zijn waarvan het wettig en gepast is ze te gebruiken”. In feite is Eusebius de architect van de mythevorming rond Constantijn en zijn doel is tweeledig: enerzijds Constantijn op te hemelen en zijn misdaden (uitmoorden van zijn naaste familieleden) te verdoezelen om er een soort kristelijke heilige van te maken (wat hij in de orthodoxe ritus ook is) en anderzijds om het kristendom voor Constantijn salonfähig te maken. Daartoe moest hij Constantijn helpen om het kristendom om te smeden van een samenraapsel van chaotische, taliban-achtige, elkaar te vuur en te zwaard bekampende, fanatieke en fundamentalistische sekten tot een gedisciplineerde en gestroomlijnde, centraal geleide, staatsreligie (caesaropapisme).

Het hoogtepunt van dit proces is het Eerste Concilie van Nicaea in 325. Het wordt bijeengeroepen en voorgezeten door Constantijn als hoofd van de uitvoerende en wereldlijke macht van alle Sol Invictus cultussen en Constantijn is vastbesloten om erop toe te zien dat het resultaat een keurig gestroomlijnde religie zal zijn. De officiële leer van de Kerk wordt vastgelegd: de Geloofsbelijdenis van Nicaea (Credo), die later, tijdens het Concilie van Constantinopel I 381 aangevuld wordt en zijn definitieve vorm krijgt. Deze geloofsbelijdenis steunt onder meer op de verzoeningsleer van Irenaeus, en aldus op het geloof in de erfzonde, en op het geloof in één God. Het Oude Testament wordt niet verworpen en de God van Jezus wordt gelijkgesteld aan de God van het Oude Testament, JHWH. De goddelijke natuur van Jezus wordt opnieuw bevestigd, en het idee van Jezus als hoogste schepping, zoals het Arianisme beweerde, wordt verworpen. Pas door het Concilie van Constantinopel I werd ook de 'status' van de Heilige Geest als derde persoon van God vastgesteld, waarmee de christelijke leer van de triniteit compleet was. Tijdens dit concilie werd ook de datum van Pasen vastgelegd. Het werd: de eerste zondag ná de volle maan ná de lente-equinox. Christenen die vasthielden aan de joodse berekeningswijze werden quartodecimanen genoemd. Aan de wildgroei van tegenstrijdige evangeliën wordt een eind gemaakt en er worden er 4 uitgekozen die min of meer te verzoenen zijn en inpasbaar in het Sol Invictus concept. Als men Ireneaus vraagt waarom er maar 4 evangeliën behouden worden is zijn antwoord duidelijk: “omdat er maar 4 elementen zijn”. Onder bijsturing van Constantijn ontstaat een nieuwe religie die de kristelijke mysteriereligie, ontstaan uit een joodse Rabbijnse sekte, stroomlijnt en aanvult met die elementen uit het heidendom en de Griekse filosofie die noodzakelijk zijn om er een beschaafde, centraal-bestuurde Sol Invictus-cultus van te maken. Er worden op het concilie ook 4 patriarchen erkend: die van Jeruzalem, Alexandrië, Antiochië en Rome (er is dus nog geen “paus”).

Eusebius en Constantijn kunnen gezien worden als de grondleggers van het concept van het Caesaropapisme dat eruit bestaat dat het hoofd van de staat (de Romeinse keizer, en later de Duitse keizer van het Heilig Roomse Rijk, maar ook Hendrik VIII en zelfs Elisabeth II van Engeland als hoofd van de Anglicaanse kerk) tevens het hoofd is van de kerk (en in het geval van Constantijn moet dit uitgebreid worden tot de “kerken”, namelijk alle Sol Invictus-cultussen). Dit is precies de omkering van de theocratie, waarin het opperste wereldlijke gezag onderworpen is aan het hoogste geestelijke gezag. Beide systemen hebben met elkaar gemeen dat wereldlijk en geestelijk gezag onlosmakelijk met elkaar verbonden zijn en er dus geen scheiding van kerk en staat mogelijk is. In het geval van Constantijn is er echter nog godsdienstvrijheid omdat alle Sol Invictus-cultussen naast elkaar kunnen bestaan en geen van hen een monopoliepositie bekleedt. De bewijzen hiervan zijn legio:


  • Zo specificeren de edicten van Constantinus en Licinius (de tetrarchen van het Westen) bekend als “edict van Milaan” (313 AD) de legalisering van het kristendom, maar ook veroordelen ze religieuze dwang, promoten religieus pluralisme en wordt de opperste godheid aangeduid in de algemene termen van “summa divinitas” (opperste godheid).

  • Verder vindt men bijvoorbeeld op de Triomfboog van Constantijn geen enkele christelijke referentie maar wordt wel Victoria (godin van de overwinning) afgebeeld naast offers aan Apollo (als zonnegod) en aan Diana en Hercules (de eerste mens die na zijn dood god werd).

  • De herbouwde Mulviaanse brug over de Tiber wordt aan Mithras gewijd en staat vol met referenties uit de Mithras cultus.

  • Tijdens de inwijding van Constantijn’s nieuwe hoofdstad, Constantinopolis, draagt de keizer het zonne-diadeem van Apollo.

  • In 321 geeft Constantijn een edict uit dat kristenen en niet-kristenen zich moeten verenigen in het vieren van de zondag ter ere van de Zon.

  • Ook blijft Constantijn tot zijn dood de titel van Pontifex Maximus voeren, als hoofd van het college van Pontifices, belast met de traditionele (heidense) staatsgodsdienst, al was daarin Jupiter vervangen door Apollo-als-zonnegod aan het hoofd van het klassieke pantheon (het klassiek Romeinse polytheisme wordt dus enigszins vernauwd tot een solair bijna-monotheisme).

Na Constantijn.

Doordat de nakomelingen van Constantijn bijzonder moordzuchtig te keer gaan in het uitmoorden van mogelijke rivalen binnen de familie en hun rivaliteit destructiever blijkt dan die van de bisschoppen in het streven naar de opperste macht, immers de taktiek van de bisschop bestaat eruit om collega’s die men als rivaal ziet te laten excommuniceren en te verketteren en dat is een tijdrovender proces dan de keizer die collega’s/rivalen kan laten vermoorde, valt het rijk na de dood van Constantijn zowel wat de staat als wat de kerk betreft opnieuw uiteen in een West- en een Oost-Romeins rijk met het volgende patroon:



  • De kristenen slagen er vrij snel in om een monopoliepositie te verwerven in de staat en het kristendom wordt de enige legale religie in zowel Oost als West.

  • In het Oost-Romeinse rijk houden het hoofd van de staat, de Oost-Romeinse keizer en het hoofd van de kerk, de patriarch van Constantinopel, elkaar nagenoeg in evenwicht. Deze situatie blijft min of meer stabiel tot 1453 AD.

  • In het West-Romeinse rijk eist de patriarch van Rome een rol op van “protos”, “eerste” onder de patriarchen en boven hen staand in geestelijk gezag en krijgt het woord “paus”, dat oorspronkelijk een benaming was voor elke West-Romeinse bisschop, langzamerhand de betekenis die het nog steeds heeft. De andere patriarchen erkennen weliswaar de bisschop van Rome als “protos”, maar niet het gezag dat hij aan deze “protos”-positie ontleent (Ravenna Document van 13 October 2007: Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church during the tenth plenary session of the Commission held in Ravenna from 8-14 October 2007).

  • De paus neemt na verloop van tijd de titel Pontifex Maximus over van de Keizer.

  • Eerst Karel de Grote en later de Duitse keizers beschouwen zich als de opvolgers van de West-Romeinse keizers en tot de tijd van Hendrik VIII zal regelmatig de strijd opflakkeren tussen het hoofd van de staat en het hoofd van de kerk om het opperste gezag.

  • Uiteindelijk zal er in West-Europa een scheiding van kerk en staat komen: de iure in de U.S.A (vanaf de stichting) en in de landen die door Napoleon bevrijd werden vanaf circa 1900 en de facto in de andere Europese staten. Na Garibaldi verliest de paus nagenoeg alle wereldlijke macht (behalve in het ministaatje Vaticaanstad) maar krijgt in ruil een bijna transcendente geestelijke macht (het dogma van de “onfeilbaarheid”).

Noot: sommige auteurs menen dat het kristendom afgekeken is van de Mithras-cultus, zelf geloof ik dat niet. Wel meen ik dat op aandringen van Constantijn, bisschoppen zoals Eusebius, Irenaeus et alii de twee cultussen dichter bij elkaar gebracht hebben om een zo groot mogelijke compatibiliteit tussen beide te bewerken. Anderen, zoals Carotta, menen dat het kristendom in zijn fase van Joodse sekte een Joodse hinein-interpretierung van leven en dood van Julius Caesar was (“War Jesus Caesar”). Zelf geloof ik dat niet, maar het is een feit dat Caesar enorm populair was bij het volk in het algemeen en bij de Joden in de diaspora in het bijzonder en het is zeer goed mogelijk dat sommige elementen uit de mythe van Caesar-als-messias (zoals koning Cyrus) in die van Jesus-als-messias geslopen zijn.

Noot: de officiële theologische reden voor het schisma van 1054 AD tussen de Westerse (katholieke=volledige) en Oosterse (orthodoxe=rechtgelovige) kristelijke kerk is de volgende: in het West-Romeinse rijk was de gewoonte ontstaan om in de zin betreffende de Heilige Geest uit de definitieve versie van het Credo (concilie van Constantinopel I in 381 AD) de woorden “filioque” toe te voegen en wel als volgt.

  • Oorspronkelijke (orthodoxe) tekst: Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum, et vivificantem: qui ex Patre procedit. En in de Heilige Geest, de heer en Levendmaker, die uit de Vader voortkomt.

  • Katholieke tekst: Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum, et vivificantem: qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. En in de Heilige Geest, de heer en Levendmaker, die uit de Vader en de Zoon voortkomt.

De voornaamste reden hiervoor was om te beklemtonen dat het Arianisme, dat beweerde dat er een oer-tijd geweest was waarin de Vader wel bestond maar de Zoon nog niet, “fout” was: beiden zijn vanaf den beginne, en daarom komt uit beiden de Geest voort.

In het Griekse neo-platonisch denken is zoiets echter onzin: in den beginne is de Vader, die zich in de stof manifesteert als “de Zoon” en zich in de geest manifesteert als “de Geest” en Zoon en Geest zijn beide emanaties van de Vader.



Appendix I: Artikel van Gary Courtney naar aanleiding van het boek "War Jesus Caesar?" van Francesco Carotta.

Where did the God "Jesus Christ" come from?  Why has this mystery eluded more than two centuries of research and speculation?  And why has this particular deity been so endurable, with all attempts at eradicating his supremacy by force in the Christian world, such as during the English and French revolutions, having led to failure?  Why did the brutal policy of enforced atheism in the Soviet Union - which even shared the status of being regarded as a superpower for lengthy decades - come to nought?  Not only did it come to nought - it achieved the exact opposite of what is was designed to achieve. By forcing the ancestral religion underground, it prevented any progressive development within the Eastern Church, so that when the wall of repression collapsed we were left with an Orthodox Christianity far more conservative than its great Western counterpart.  A radical change in religion is as difficult to achieve as a radical change in the calendar. Calendars in fact are an essential part of religion, and as far as the Western calendar is concerned, it has only been altered superficially since it was introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. There have been many warps and weaves in the rich tapestry of Western history, but at the end of the day, Christianity endures. Why is this so?

The traditional view is that this religion originated in the tragic life and death of an obscure Jew who trod the dusty back-roads of Palestine more than two thousand years ago. Indeed, this Jew is so obscure that many serious thinkers doubt his existence altogether. If they were right, however, we would be left in an even worse quandary than if we only had to ponder how such a great religion could  develop from the life of an obscure nobody, we would be faced with contemplating the mystery of the existence of a great religion with no founder at all.  It is the very absurdity of the notion that Christianity could have had no founding figure which throws the weight of uninformed opinion back onto what seems to be the common sense position of loosely accepting the gospel accounts of the life of "Jesus of Nazareth" - minus the odd miracle, of course.   

This has been called the "minimalist" Jesus theory - an attempt to reconcile the apparent absurdities and the established anachronisms of our received gospels with the facts of history. This paring down of "Jesus the man" has led to comical results, and has thrown up for our perusal a veritable kaleidoscope of variations of "the historical Jesus".  In recent decades we have had Jesus the Jew, Jesus the hippie, Jesus the faith healer, Jesus the rebel, Jesus the flower child, and even Jesus the mushroom when psychedelic drugs were fashionable.  As we look back through the time-line, we see that these evanescent characterizations of Jesus come and go like the passing parade in a circus, the successive incarnations of Jesus reflect popular trends in the culture. But the religion itself survives - sturdy as Gibraltar - which should give us the clue that the very phenomenon of Christianity must have a solid historical basis.

   Now, if we take a bird's-eye-view of Western history, one fact is ineluctable.  The strongest domain of Christianity and its deity Jesus Christ  is the territory of the ancient Roman Empire, followed by the extended territories of the Roman sphere of influence and its legacy -  including the vast territories of the New World, coastal Asia (where Western influence has been strongest), and much of Africa.  Looking back over two millennia, we have the luxury of a clearer historical perspective than our ancestors had, and it is true to say that, seen in the context of this lengthy time frame, Christianity arises in tandem with the ascendancy of the Roman empire, crystallizing into view and taking form under the auspices of the pax romana, without which it would never have been possible.  Protestantism, for all its vehement opposition to the status and office of "the Pope of Rome" and the orthodoxies of the Catholic church, has really only changed the window dressing - a few different baubles and froll de dolls - leaving the essential grist of the religion intact. 

   Should we be surprised that the story of Jesus Christ might be integral to the very foundation of that great empire?  Today Rome is still the principal and most prestigious center of Christianity in the world, and of course, it is also still the domicile of the pontifex maximus - the great bridge-builder to God - chief priest, the Pope.  Many people are unaware that the Roman Empire was in fact founded by a pontifex maximus - Julius Caesar - the first Roman traceable in history to have become a God by popular will of the people, later ratified by the very Senate itself - the lost deity divus iulius, the deified Julius.  I use the term "lost" because Caesar is constantly overlooked when people discuss the gods extant in the Greco-Roman world just prior to the sudden appearance of Christianity. Attis, Hercules, Dionysius, Osiris, Tammuz, Mithra, Perseus etc - the usual suspects - are all trotted out for inspection to find precedents for the biography of the gospel Jesus - as if Julius Caesar had never existed. This in itself is quite amazing.  Almost everybody knows of Caesar as a great military commander and reformist, but how many people are aware of him as a God? Why is he never mentioned in the company of the above mentioned deities? In fact, he is not to be found in any standard listing of the so-called "Roman Gods" . 

I venture that the reason for this is that he is so tangibly historical and real that it is difficult for us to think of him as a God.  All the gods listed above, with the possible exception of Hercules, are usually only known for one or two major exploits. Is it because Julius Caesar did and achieved so much that we firstly turned him into a God, and then could no longer conceive of this God as having been a man? Fact is we are all well aware that we have a record, in several forms, of the life of Julius Caesar as a man, but where is the vita of divus iulius, the legendary life of Julius Caesar as a God?  

Presented here is the theory that Caesar has not been swallowed by history, that his ghost has been with us, in transmogrified form, all along, that the gospel story of Jesus Christ has developed from the lost vita of divus iulius, a vita manifested in the miraculous terms that we should expect of a divinity. The dependence of the gospel story of Christ on the life of Julius Caesar is most apparent  in the so-called "Passion" accounts - roughly from Christ's "triumphal entry" into the capitol, Jerusalem, to his betrayal, murder, and ultimate resurrection. Francesco Carotta agrees with this, so here I first want to highlight some of the parallels between the real life murder of Julius Caesar and the historically received accounts of the death of Christ in point form, and then expand on those points.  After that I provide an outline of some of the similarities in their respective careers, parallels which I believe stretch the bounds of coincidence to breaking point.  But first - the Passion:

1.  Christ is famously regarded as promoting forgiveness and love - the legendary and controversial "love thy enemy!" 

 2.  He is portrayed as being hailed as, or about to claim the title of, King of the Jews. He is then betrayed by his friend, Judas Iscariot, and abandoned by all his supporters ("..and they all forsook him, and fled." Mark 14:50).

 3.  The evening before his execution, he attends the "Last Supper", where wine is passed around and he speaks prophetically of his death.  The traitor Judas is present at the table. 

 4.  Immediately prior to his execution, he is mocked in a purple robe, and crowned with a wreath made of thorns.

 5. When his tribulations begin, his religious deputy Peter denies knowing him, although he had sworn unswerving allegiance to him.

 6.  He is led to his fate, and then to his burial, in the accompaniment of grieving women.

 7. Judas Iscariot suicides in remorse.

 8. Christ resurrects to glory.

Now consider these parallels in the Caesar tragedy:

1. Although it is not common knowledge, Caesar was renowned for his magnanimity in introducing a comprehensive policy of clementia, wherein he pardoned even his most bitter enemies.  The ancient historians comment on this policy with incredulity.

 2.  On the verge of being proclaimed King, he was betrayed and murdered by those he had saved.  His friend Marcus Brutus sanctioned this act and participated in it.  And his trusted general, Decimus Brutus, was an essential part of the conspiracy. 

 3.  The evening before his murder, he attended an intimate supper where wine was passed around and he prophetically described the nature of his death. The arch-traitor, Decimus Brutus, was present at the table. 

 4.  Immediately prior to his assassination, Caesar was mocked in his royal purple robe whilst wearing his crown of laurel.

 5.  When Caesar was attacked, his 1st lieutenant and religious deputy, Mark Antony, who feared for his own life, fled, disguised himself, and hid well into the night.  All others present who had sworn to protect Caesar fled in fear (they all forsook him, and fled?).

 6.  Caesar's body was ferried home amidst public mourning and wailing women.  

 7.  Marcus Brutus later committed suicide, when he realized that his Republican cause was lost.  Decimus Brutus was later executed.

 8.  Caesar was subsequently resurrected as a God - divus iulius.

Now, expanding on these points about Caesar:

 1.  During and after the civil war against Pompey, Caesar became famous for his policy of pardoning almost all his enemies, excepting some that he had pardoned previously. Suetonius e.g. praises Caesar's "wonderful restraint and clemency" (Life of Julius Caesar, 75); Velleius Paterculus describes his pardoning of his enemies as defying human credence (Historia Romana , II, 56), and Pliny the Elder assigns to him "the peculiar distinction of clemency in which (even to the point of subsequent regret) he surpassed all men, thereby affording an example of magnanimity that no other can parallel..." (Book VII, 93).  Contrasting his actions with the cruelty of Sulla, Dio wrote "Caesar..removed the ban from the survivors of those who had warred against him, granting them immunity on fair and uniform terms; he promoted them to office; to the wives of the slain he restored their dowries, and to their children he granted a share of the property, thus putting Sulla's cruelty mightily to shame and gaining for himself a great reputation not just for bravery but also for goodness, even though it is generally a difficult thing for the same man to excel both in war and in peace." (Dio XLIII, 50).  To honor all this, the Senate decreed the construction of a temple, to be dedicated to Caesar and the goddess Clementia - the temple would house statues of Caesar and Clementia holding hands.

This virtue of clemency was no doubt an important factor in making possible Caesar's deification, as it has obvious religious significance - especially in view of his position of pontifex maximus .  Antony used it in his demagogic speech at Caesar's funeral, and it certainly would have been used in the "trial" of Caesar conducted in the Roman Senate during the unprecedented deification procedure. Caesar's clemency stands in stark contrast to the proscriptions of his predecessor Sulla, and the later reign of terror brought about via the proscriptions issued by the Triumvirate in their war against Caesar's assassins. The Triumvirate even pointed to the failure of Caesar's clemency program as a justification for their own ruthlessness (App IV, II:8).  Caesar's ground breaking policy of Clementia was destroyed by the ingratitude and callousness of men - paving the way for the very kerygma of Christianity.

 2.  One of the lures that Decimus Brutus used to bring Caesar to the Senate on the Ides of March was the promise that the Senate would proclaim Caesar King of the Roman provinces.  The word "King" symbolized everything that the Roman Republicans hated, and they had an ancient tradition that regicide, the killing of Kings, was justified and even honorable.  Marcus Brutus represented this Republican tradition, as he was held to be descended from the earlier Lucius Junius Brutus who had driven the great tyrant, King Tarquin, from Rome in days of yore.  Although Caesar had pardoned Marcus Brutus twice, even sending personal orders to the battle front to ensure his survival, he threw in his lot with the conspirators. Brutus was the lynch pin in their hope of claiming legitimacy for their regicide.  He is reported to have agonized over his decision to take part in the murder as Caesar had granted him many favours in promoting him to prestigious office, and is widely reported to have been fond of him.  Because of the roles played by these two Brutuses, the name Brutus became a by-word for treachery.  I maintain that Brutus sicarius - Brutus the assassin - is the historical root of the name Judas Iscariot.

  3.  It is widely reported that Caesar attended a supper with friends on the eve of his murder, at which the wine beaker was passed around and the subject of conversation turned to death (see e.g. App II:115). Caesar precipitately proffered the opinion that a sudden and unexpected death was the most desirable.  Some reports have him exclaiming "Let it come swiftly!".  Now, Marcus Brutus' distant relative and fellow conspirator - Decimus Brutus - whom many historians regard as a more perfidious traitor than Marcus Brutus, having been one of Caesar's most trusted generals - was present at the dinner conversation, and of course this Brutus also was fully aware that Caesar would be murdered on the morrow.  In fact, Decimus Brutus came to fetch the tardy Caesar that fateful day, taking him by the hand and leading him to the Theatre like a lamb to the slaughter.  This must be what inspired the Midrash used in the gospels where Christ refers to Judas - "He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me" (Jn 13:18) - which is modified from Psalm 41:9: "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."  (Notice that the midrash changes the tense from past to present).  This is paralleled in John's version of Christ's "Last Supper", wherein Christ foretells his imminent death whilst the traitor Judas Iscariot is present at the table - eating bread no less!  Christ then turns to Judas and says "What you have to do, do quickly" (Jn 13:27) - which connects with Caesar's prophecy of his own death "Let it come swiftly!" whilst Decimus Brutus was present at the table. Judas then leads the arresting posse to Christ. In respect of the role of the two Brutuses in Caesar's betrayal, it is worthwhile noting that John's Passion account has two "Judases" partaking of the supper-  see Jn 14:22. 

 4.  The supplications that the conspirators made to Caesar - bedecked in purple robe and crown of laurel - in the Theatre of Pompey were a mockery, as their intention was to murder him. The conspirator Metellus Cimber reportedly had pulled Caesar's regal purple robe down from his shoulder as the signal for the others to attack him. To Caesar's supporters, this would have appeared as a great indignity.  In other words, the conspirators were paying mock homage to Caesar, just as the soldiers do with Jesus (e.g. Mark 15:17-18). 

 5.  Shortly prior to his murder, Caesar had dismissed his Spanish bodyguard.  Mark Antony was Caesar's military lieutenant and held the position of consul.  But much more importantly, Antony was Caesar's religious deputy, as the Senate had only recently appointed him as personal priest to Caesar and therefore head of the embryonic Caesar cult "like some flamen dialis " (Dio, XLIV, 6, 4). This is pithily confirmed by Cicero - "As Jupiter, As Mars, as Quirinus have their priests, so is Mark Antony priest of the god Julius." (II Phil.,110). It was unprecedented for any living Roman to have a personal priest.  But, rightly or wrongly, Antony deserted Caesar in his moment of need. He had been detained outside Pompey's theatre by the conspirator Trebonius, and Plutarch reports that he fled immediately upon hearing the uproar in the Theatre when the attack on Caesar began.  He disguised himself as a slave, and hid well into the night, making contact with the assassins early in the morning before dawn (Life of Antony , Plut 14; Dio XLIV, 22; App II, 126).

6.  We hardly need a more elegant description of the mourning which accompanied the bringing of Caesar's body back home to his residence of chief priest (pontifex maximus) on the Via Sacra than that by Nicolas of Damascus.  It evokes the imagery of the Via Dolorosa and even the pieta - "A little later, three servants, who were nearby, placed the body on a litter and carried it home through the Forum.  The wounds on the face and the arms hanging down were visible on both sides, as the curtain had been drawn back.  There was no one who refrained from tears at the sight of him who had just lately been honored as a god.  Much weeping and lamentation accompanied them from either side, from mourners on the roofs, in the streets, and in the vestibules.  When they approached his house, a far greater wailing met their ears, for his wife rushed out with a number of women and servants, calling on her husband and bewailing her lot in that she had in vain counseled him not to go out on that day.  But he had suffered a fate far worse than she had feared." (v 26).  Consider that those who were on the roofs looking down on the narrow lanes leading to the Via Sacra would have seen him in a cruciform position - with arms spread outwards.  

7.  After the battle of Philippi, Marcus Brutus regarded the Republican cause as lost.  He killed himself by climbing up on a rock and throwing himself down on his sword. Another version has him throwing himself forward onto a sword held by his friend Strato.  The purpose of this was death by disembowellment. Compare the similarity of this description to that of the death of Judas from Acts: "this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out" (Acts1:18). Rather than being hailed as the man who saved the Republic, Brutus now received the reputation of a parricide.  His doppelganger in treachery, Decimus Brutus, was ignominiously executed.

8.  The deification of Caesar was a watershed event, and in itself signalled that the Republicans had completely failed. They had murdered Caesar because they thought he was setting himself up to be a King, now he became the first man in Rome to become a God (Romulus is either too ancient to accurately identify or mythological - his deification was rather an evolutionary process by which his name became identified with the existing deity Quirinus).  As the legal heir and son of Caesar, Augustus later assumed the title divi filius - son of a God.

I regard the above parallels between the deicides of Caesar and Christ as the most essential, but before proceeding there are some secondary ones I would also point to:

1.  Not long before his murder, and in accordance with what Dio describes as a "remarkable" privilege recently granted him (Dio XLIV, 4,3-4; 10,1), Caesar rode into Rome on horseback when returning from the Latin Festival which was held at the Alban Mount.  As he entered the Capitol, some members of the crowd hailed him as King.  He ambiguously rejected the title, and his enemies were offended by the event. Similarly Christ being hailed as a King when riding into the capitol Jerusalem on an ass (the ass fulfills prophecy) is portrayed in the gospels as signifying his claim to Kingship, and similarly Christ's enemies (here the Pharisees) protest the event (Lk 19:39).

 2.  Because of his Plebian affiliations and royal pretensions, the Roman nobility conspired to murder Caesar.  Likewise the gospels portray the Jewish authorities (collectively referred to as the "scribes and pharisees" or the Sanhedrin - [Senate?]) as conspiring to execute the man of the people and pretender Christ - out of envy.

 3.  Many etymologists think that Iscariot may be a corruption of the Latin sicarius, meaning "assassin". This is interesting, as Judas does not directly play the role of assassin in our received Passion accounts as Brutus does in the real-life drama of Caesar's assassination .  This might indicate that the betrayal scene in our gospels, which is depicted as taking place in front of an assembly of men representing the authorities, may have originally been the scene of the murder i.e. the senatorial assembly in the theatre of Pompey.

 4.  The senatorial conspirators thought they could claim legitimacy for an act of regicide in killing Caesar, in like fashion the Sanhedrin trial of Christ has specious legitimacy but smacks of conspiracy - being hurriedly convened at night with the calling of "false" witnesses.  All of Caesar's assassins perished by various and mostly ghastly means in the civil war which followed his murder.  In like manner Christian apocryphal traditions ascribe all manner of horrible fates to the authorities who presided or were allegedly involved in the death of Christ - Caiaphas, Pilate, the various Herods, etc.

  5.  The deaths of both Caesar and Christ disturb the natural order, dimming the sun. The gospels have the sun being darkened for three hours (e.g. Mk 15:33).  No commentator outside of the gospels noticed this particular blackout.  On the other hand, the supernatural dimness of the sun after Caesar's murder is one of the most widely attested phenomena of that period of antiquity. Josephus records Mark Antony saying of the murder –

“…for the sake of which we suppose that it was that the sun turned away his light from us, as unwilling to view the horrid crime they (the assassins) were guilty of in the case of Caesar” (AJ, XIV, 309)

Pliny the Elder – “ Portentous and protracted eclipses of the sun occur, such as the one after the murder of Caesar the dictator and during the Antonine war which caused almost a whole years continuous gloom” (Bk II, 30)

 

Plutarch – “The brightness of the Sun was darkened, which all through the year rose very pale and shined not out, whereby it gave but little heat. Wherefore the air was rather cloudy and dark by reason of the heat that could not come forth, causing the earth to bring forth but raw and unripe fruit, which rotted before it could ripen.” (Life of JC, 69)



 

Manilius – “Even the god Caesar fell victim to deceit unspeakable, whereat in horror of the world Phoebus brought darkness and forsook the earth.” (Bk II, 595)

 

Virgil – “The sun, too, pitied Rome when Caesar died, and hid its shining face in dim dusty red, and that impious generation feared eternal night." (Georgic 1, v 466)



 6.  Most importantly, the modern "Good Friday" Mass carries the same theme as that which Appian records of Caesar's funeral. Caesar's "voice" (an actor behind a mask) called out the names of all his assassins and recited all the benefits that he conferred on them, then exclaimed  "Did I save these men for them to murder me?" (App II, 146).  In the Catholic Mass, Christ is identified with the Father-God Yahweh, and his "voice" (the priest acting as intermediary) describes what he did for his people in terms of Hebrew mytho/history - planting them as his "fairest vine", sending them manna from heaven, shepherding them through the Red Sea etc etc. - only to be ignominiously executed by that very people.  He then exclaims (as if in amazement?) "O my people, what have I done to you?  How have I offended you?  Answer me!"  Now, according to Christian soteriology - its salvation theology - God's sacrificing of his son Jesus is a marvellous gift - the famous "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life"  - an integral and pre-ordained part of God's plan for the salvation of mankind.  But the Good Friday liturgy does not express Christ's death as a wonderful blessing, it expresses it rather in terms of treachery, as a travesty against a great and merciful benefactor - and thereby retains the original and historically intelligible theme of Caesar's funeral.  The notion of the event as a soteriological blessing must be post hoc - a later religious accoutrement.

 7. In the authentic pre-gospel Christian writings, from Paul through to Clement, Christ is never referred to as a King, or the King of the Jews (1 Tim. is pseudo-Pauline).  For sixty years the Christian writers never mention it.  Nor is there ever any suggestion in their writings that Jesus either thought he was the King of the Jews, or claimed to be such, or was falsely accused of trying to usurp the position of King.  Yet this very theme is central to the gospels' Passion drama, where Jesus' royal pretensions are the basis for Pilate ordering his execution - and Mark's earliest gospel has this very "accusation" clearly displayed on Christ's cross, "THE KING OF THE JEWS" (Mk 15:26 - the other 3 gospels give variants, but all retain this title).  Such an accusation is an absurdity in ancient Judaism, for, although the Jews may have constantly bickered and fought about who should be their King, they had no qualms about actually having one.  The hatred of Kings was a particularly Roman obsession.

   Even if there had been a skeletal Jesus figure, there is no way that the development of a tradition of the "death of Christ" could not have been influenced by the cult of Julius Caesar.  The truly momentous drama at the beginning of our era was the agonized transition from the old Roman Republic to the Roman Empire, and most historians seem to agree that the murder of Caesar and its aftermath was the great turning-point in the process.  Some indication of the psychological impact of Caesar's murder is expressed in religious language in the poetry of Ovid's Metamorphoses 1, where he compares the assassination of Caesar to "evil" Lycaon's attempt on the life of Jupiter himself, and writes of "the shedding of our Caesar's blood" piercing the hearts of all mankind.  Also, the "Daphnis" in the religious poetry of Virgil's 5th eclogue seems to be a fairly clear allegory of Julius Caesar.  The "cruel death" of Daphnis occasions all of nature and the wild beasts to weep - "even the lions of Carthage roared their grief at your extinction"; the whole land mourns until Daphnis arrives at the threshold of Olympus, causing the hills and forests to sing with delight.  This identification of Caesar's fate with the sad tale of Daphnis suggests that it is possible that echoes of Caesar's death may have found their way into other forms religious expression.  Is not the greatest of such expression staring us in the face in the form of the legendary Passion of Christ?

One way that the drama of the death of Christ could have come to reflect the fate of Caesar would be if it were modeled on a religious play commemorating Caesar's death.  There is no clear record of such a play, but Stefan Weinstock suggested such a play as a possible explanation for contradictions in the received records of Caesar's funeral (Divus Julius. Oxford Press, London, 1971; p354).  It is interesting that the line reportedly spoken by Caesar's "voice" at his own funeral - the rhetorical "Did I save these men for them to murder me" - recorded by Appian and Suetonius, was itself from a play by Pacuvius (which only survives in fragments).

There are a number of factors which would have led to the creation of a religious play about, or religious re-enactment of, Caesar's fate:

1.  Caesar died in the religious role of Pontifex Maximus and even a god - Jupiter Julius, in a "sacred place" (App II, 118), in a ritual-like killing.

 2.  He was murdered in a theatre (the annex of Pompey's Theatre) in front of an audience (the Senate) - factors which would easily lend themselves to a theatrical reproduction.

 3.  The Ides of March was hallowed as the "Day of Parricide", a day on which the Senate was forbidden to meet, and it would seem likely that some kind of memorial would take place in the Caesarean temples which had been constructed in various parts of the Roman sphere of influence, including Antioch and Alexandria (which were also, importantly, early centers of Christianity), for the promulgation of the Caesar cult.

4.  The historical accounts of Caesar's funeral read like Passion narratives, being presided over by Caesar's appointed personal priest, Mark Antony.

5.  Dramatic representation of mysteries - especially relating to the death of a god - are well known in antiquity (e.g. the mysteries of Attis, Osiris, Dionysius, etc.) But the festival of Attis and Cybele, because of its timing, is particularly relevant to this case.  The calendar was thus -

   March 15 -   Canna Intrat -  procession of the reed-blowers.

   March 22 -   Arbor Intrat (equinox) -  burial of Attis in effigy strapped to a stake.

   March 24 -   Sanguis -  day of mourning, sacrifice, and bloodletting.

   March 25 -   Hilaria -  day of Attis' resurrection.

   March 27-   Lavatio -  day of ablution.

Note carefully the three day schedule between the burial of the God and his resurrection - right at Easter time! This calendar was incorporated into the state religion of Rome in the time of Claudius in the fifth decade of our era.  Claudius would presumably have given the festival the state imprimatur in order to take control of what must have been a growing religious practice.  Previously the priests of the cult, the Galli, had all been Phrygian eunuchs.  Claudius made a number of reforms to the festival, decreeing, for example, that the priests of the cult would in the future have to be Roman non-eunuchs.  Claudius' intention was to restrict the more extreme practices of the cult, and there can be little doubt that the blood letting would have been severely discouraged. 

The festival began on the 15th of March with performances by a special class of reed-blowers to lament the hapless Attis.  This was already the hallowed Day of Parricide commemorating the deicide of Julius Caesar.  The common people would fairly easily interpret the mourning reed-blowers as lamenting the loss of Caesar.  This would seem to be of particular importance to the Jews, as they would identify the Ides of March with their own solemn festival of Passover, which falls on the 15th of their corresponding month of Nisan (and which could very possibly have fallen on the Ides of March in the year of Caesar's murder because of the inaccuracies and variations in the then current Hebrew calendars).

Here we can see precisely how Julius Caesar's death could be religiously enmeshed with a ritualistic burial of the deity followed three days later by the celebration of his resurrection.  The timing of Caesar's murder could not have been deliberately planned more perfectly to allow for such a syncretism.  The creation of a mystery play incorporating these elements may have been developed so that the religious festival could be observed within the confines of the walls of the Temples to Caesar within the Caesarea which were built throughout the Roman Empire.  The plan of the priests of the Caesar cult, in the terms of this case, would therefore have been to syncretize the popular religious practices by Romanizing the Phrygian Attis cult and utilizing the three day formula between burial and resurrection (as opposed to cremation and ascension) to further institutionalize the deification of Caesar.

In its earliest form, this mystery play would not have included such later historical persons as Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas etc., but would rather have been a dramatization of the death of the deity - the centerpiece of the sect's developing soteriology.  These names belong to a later layer of tradition in the Judaizing process, after the venue had been relocated in Jerusalem. With the passing of time more details would be added to the play, it would take on narrative form (perhaps for the purpose of reading to congregations) and later be taken to be a record of real events (worth noting, for example, is that the primitive gospel of Mark does not provide the names of the high priests in the Sanhedrin trial of Christ, whereas the later accounts furnish just such details. Luke extends the locating process the furthest of all the gospels, as his intention was to link the church of his time directly to "Jesus of Nazareth").  All along the way the story would be corrupted and modified, and tailored to the specific social and spiritual needs of the various parishes.  My view is that the Passion accounts still bear the signs that they were developed from a play.  But it should not be understood that I am saying that the play came into being ex nihilo , rather that as it developed it slowly disguised the tragedy of Caesar.

Here I must draw attention to the relationship between Julius Caesar and the Jews.  If a Jewish mystery play of the death of the Christ was modeled on the death of Caesar, it would necessitate the ancient Jews (or a sect of ancient Jews) having held Caesar in high esteem.  Contrary to popular modern perception, this was precisely the case, and there were solid reasons for it:

1. Caesar had messianic credentials from the Jewish point of view. His opponent Pompey the Great had defiled the temple in Jerusalem by entering the Holy of Holies, and consequently his demise was called for, and then described, in psalm 2 of the Psalms of Solomon – (aka the Psalms of the Pharisees). The psalm calls for a “son of David” to arise and defeat him, which is just what Caesar did.This is from an old commentary on the psalm by Herbert Ryle and Montague James –

“The ‘sinful man’ (ver.1) ‘the dragon’ (ver 29) whose purpose had been to rule the world, who had set his ‘greatness’ against that of God (33), is pierced and slain in Egypt (30), his body lies neglected, unburied, on the waves (30,31). This description agrees closely with the fate of Pompey. He made a bid for supreme power against Caesar; he was surnamed ‘the Great’. He was treacherously assassinated on the shores of Egypt (Sept. 28, 48 BC). The overthrow of the oppressor heralds the triumph of the lowly (v 35). It is worth noting that while, as appears from this Psalm, the Jews regarded Pompey as a tyrant, they glorified Caesar on account of his clemency and consideration toward their own race. The concluding burst of triumph in our Psalm probably indicates the satisfaction of the patriot Jews at the complete success of Caesar’s arms. After arranging matters in Egypt, and overthrowing Pharnaces, king of Pontus, with extraordinary suddenness, he returned to Syria, and in July of 47 was in Antioch, making provision for the good government of the province of Syria and dispensing favours to the states who had supported him during his recent campaign. The special privileges that he awarded to the Jews are recorded in Jos. Ant. XIV. x, 1-10.” (Cambridge Uni Press, 1891).

So Pompey, setting his "greatness" against God, was thoroughly vanquished by Caesar. It is not impossible that Caesar was regarded as an honorary "son of David". A certain level of culture will always interpret a heroic or fabulous figure as being one of their own.  Even today the British Israelites, for example, still believe the Queen of England to be a descendant of King David - Jesus is a pom, and their genealogies manage to link Jesus to such august figures as Zeus and Prometheus.

2.  Caesar's special legislation in favour of the Jews (as in above quote, listed in Josephus' Antiquities Bk 14, ch 10):  Michael Grant e.g. agrees with the description of the decrees as a "veritable Magna Carta "guaranteeing Jewish rights and privileges (The Jews in the Roman World. Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 1973, p 59).  Many of these Jewish rights were of a religious nature, such as protection of Jewish Sabbath customs.  Very importantly, Caesar had exempted synagogues from a general ban on workers' associations in Rome.  So it is correct to say that Caesar's decrees not only advantaged Jewish people in Rome and abroad, but would have helped to promote the very status and appeal of Judaism itself.  Caesar's favor of the Jews is particularly notable, as all surviving references to the Jews I can find by Caesar's Roman contemporaries tend to be at least negative or even derogatory.

  3.  That it is possible for the ancient Jews to have regarded a "gentile" like Caesar as a Messiah (christos) is confirmed by the precedent of Cyrus the Great, who is portrayed as a servant of God in Ezra 1; and as the "anointed" (meaning Messiah - christos ) of the Lord in Isaiah 45:1.

  4. Caesar's assassin Cassius later aroused the hatred of many Jews by exacting heavy taxes in Palestine, particularly Judea, and selling the inhabitants of the Jewish towns Gophna, Emmaus, Lydia and Thamna into slavery (Josephus Antiquities Book 14 vs 271-6).  The notoriety of Cassius, Gaius Cassius Longinus , in the murder of Caesar has survived in the Christian tradition, wherein the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (formerly known as the Acts of Pontius Pilate) refers to the Roman soldier who stabs Christ in the side as "Longinus" [ch 7: v 8 "..then Longinus, a certain soldier, taking a spear, pierced his side.."].  Cassius Longinus, the Roman soldier, is regarded by many as the ringleader in the plot against Caesar, and he took part in the attack.  Although we don't know whether it was he himself who stabbed Caesar in the chest, the autopsy concluded that it was  the chest wound, and the chest wound alone of the full twenty-three, which actually caused Caesar's death (Suetonius JC 82).

  5.  Caesar's death on the 15th of March is around the time of Passover - itself a commemoration. It would be only natural for Jews in reverence of Caesar to search their scriptures for some kind of description of him.  I see a commemorative reading of Isaiah 53 on Passover as an initial possibility, especially as the Passover takes place on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan - the month which most closely approximates the Roman month of March - both months were centered around the (northern) Spring equinox. The coincidence of dates could hardly have been missed.

  6.  Suetonius describes the Jews in Rome as the most assiduous mourners at Caesar's funeral.  He singles them out as returning to the funeral site for several nights in succession, lamenting "..after the fashion of (their) country" (The Deifiej Julius, 84).

 



  1   2


De database wordt beschermd door het auteursrecht ©opleid.info 2017
stuur bericht

    Hoofdpagina