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About gentleexit

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  1. gentleexit


    The Romans (and others) knew the one planet Venus was Lucifer and Vesper. It didn't stop the popular naming. Orators liked the pairing - I think Constantine and his father-in-law were likened to the two in a speech. The bible "Lucifer" is from Jerome's Vulgate I seem to remember. Hence Lucifer the devil. It's funny to read of those Bishop Lucifers in the fourth century before Jerome did a "Hitler" on the name.
  2. gentleexit


    It's the seventeenth. Saturnalia. "The Saturnian Reigns return" as Virgil said. Here's Herodian's take: There seems to be various accounts of its length (2 to 7 days). I wonder how it overlapped with New Years when the east made merry, gave presents. And when did it end? When did Merry Christmas crush Yo Saturnalia?
  3. gentleexit

    Roman roads Help!

    BTW, if you want town by town and links etc, the Peutinger tables are fascinating. See http://www.romancoins.info/Tabula-Peutingeriana.html and http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/Chronolo...a/tab_pe09.html.
  4. gentleexit

    The "Black Dwarf"?

    FYI, the black dwarf has been chased down. Amazing how "facts" spring to life and range wide. I wrote about "the chase" here: Chasing the Black Dwarf.
  5. gentleexit

    Roman influence on Christian doctrine?

    Interesting things. But these two (Hinduism and women) jump out. What would have happened to Christianity had Constantine not become Christian and that probably would never have happened were it not for his mother. Christians were a small(ish) sect. You hear of 10% of the empire when it was adopted but that's pure speculation. Archeology doesn't back that up at all. There's a lot of logic along the lines of "it dominated by the end of the fourth century, therefore it was around 10% at its beginning" or "Constantine used the Christians as a 'fifth column' (which isn't true) which means that they were sizable" or "why would Diocletian try to wipe them if they were less than that number (perhaps large in his area?)". And Hinduism - which I believe started formalizing its caste system in the early centuries (1-3). Platonists refer often to Brahmins, visiting them, learning from them. Greek "high thought" centered on re-incarnation, cycle of life etc, very "eastern" or maybe, western and common everywhere but in beliefs derived from Judaism. They interplay of India and Europe died when Christianity was adopted by the western state. What if, what if ...
  6. Impiety was a crime - after all if the gods turned on Rome, where would she be? So a refusal to respect them or the genius of the emperor was not only seditious in itself, but dangerous in general. The "martyr" stories always start with refusal to show respect to tradition. I think the best and rawest catalog of these stories is Eusebius' "The Martyrs of Palestine" (I have it here: http://www.conorpdowling.com/library/euseb...s-of-palestine). It's good because it is early - later accounts of martyrs talk up the miraculous and the unfairness, but here's a Christian apologist talking about what he saw during the great (and only organized?) persecution, Diocletian's (who ruled as one of four co-emperors). Right from the start, you get a look at the seditious side of these witnesses for God: "The first of the martyrs of Palestine was Procopius, who, before he had received the trial of imprisonment, immediately on his first appearance before the governor's tribunal, having been ordered to sacrifice to the so-called gods, declared that he knew only one to whom it was proper to sacrifice, as he himself wills. But when he was commanded to offer libations to the four emperors, having quoted a sentence which displeased them, he was immediately beheaded. The quotation was from the poet: The rule of many is not good; let there be one ruler and one king". The notion of country, loyalty was central. One man was asked his country said "Jerusalem was his country, meaning that of which Paul says,
  7. gentleexit

    Roman influence on Christian doctrine?

    And in part why the crucifix only rose as a Christian symbol from the mid fourth century onwards. Though persecution per se didn't banish a sect from respectability - Rome tried to suppress Isis, once disliked the Great Mother, Apollonius of Tyana was in and out of favor etc. I think Christianity's morphing to be more Greek (and so more widely understood and acceptable) was more positive than defensive. From early on, it was universalist. It (alone) knew the god of all and everyone should join it. To get everyone, its ways had be somewhat normal. As its numbers grew so did its normality and vica-versa.
  8. gentleexit

    The "Black Dwarf"?

    You wont make a good hagiographer; too much checking sources zeal! Maybe an apologist. The other source I'm trying to track down is who said Constantine wore colorful wigs in his later years. Gibbon said that "he is represented with false hair of various colors, laboriously arranged by the skilful artists of the times". And in a footnote, he quotes three sources: Julian in the Caesars (whose satire just says that his uncle "led the life of a pastrycook and a hairdresser? Your locks and your fair favour betokened this"), Eusebius (who acknowledges the dressing up but doesn't touch the hair) and "a learned Spanheim, with the authority of medals" (presumably Gibbon's contemporary who knows coins and could see in them not only fake hair but its color). Perhaps, Gibbon's flight of fancy made this "fact" or ...
  9. gentleexit

    Roman influence on Christian doctrine?

    That demotic Greek was the lingua franca of the eastern side of the Roman empire is a well established fact. Actualle, when Roman law was introduced in the conquered Palestine, the legal language that displaced the local Aramaic was Greek, not Latin Just check on HM Cotton: "Having previously used Aramaic and Nabatean, they now resort to Greek in their legal documents, for no other reason, it seems, than to make them valid in a Roman court of Law". Yep Greek in the east if you were literate, with Syriac, Coptic, Hebrew/Aramaic written too. The law as you say was Latin - so Beirut was both law school and presumably a latin bastion. From Antioch, Libanius bemoans Latin's influence, how it was watering down learning. Still, beyond the law, Latin stayed west. Important (for Christianity and otherwise) was the loss of Greek among the upper classes in the west as the empire went on. Augustine, the product of fine schooling, knew little or no Greek and Constantine only knew enough for simple conversation but not for speeches or writing. Learning-wise, the Rome and west of the fourth century was a shadow of its former Ciceronian self.
  10. gentleexit

    The "Black Dwarf"?

    thanks for checking. These (and other) (seemingly) unattributed "facts" fascinate me. It's usually easy to remember things. Perhaps this has an ancient source but I'd love it if it started with a later, creative historian.
  11. gentleexit

    Roman influence on Christian doctrine?

    Crudely, two opponents define Christian literature and dogmas. First non-Jesus Jews and then Plato's Greeks. When Titus burnt the Jerusalem temple, Jewish Christianity withered (along with most other Jewish sects), leaving one Christianity, the Greek. It takes a lot of bile to justify taking another nation's history, to tell it that it doesn't understand its writings but these Greeks were up to the task - as Asclepiades and others say, their writings (the gospels) reflect that. But I think placate-the-Romans is overemphasized. The focus was wrestling holy texts and their legitimacy from the last rival standing (the forerunners of the rabbi's). Jesus as a god was very Greek and the doctrine was refined debating Greeks. The "begotten, not made" son of God admitted by the vast majority of Christians today only crystallized in the early fourth century. It is beyond the gospels, even "logos" John - certainly, I defy anyone to find the creator of the universe in the the demon-chasing, faith healer of Mark (28 short pages!). Here Rome (western, latin-speaking, Augustus, eternal Rome) again has at most a secondary part. Constantine summoned Nicea but the dispute and its "resolution" was not his, not Rome's. p.s. On Language. "the gospels were written in Greek for the general Roman population". Um. Language use and spread (how much Berber used in North Africa, any "Celtic" left in Gaul, use of Greek vs Coptic in Egypt, how much Greek, known by the upper classes in the west) is a huge topic in itself. Not necessary here 'cause the west had little influence on Christianity. But it's a good'un too!
  12. gentleexit

    The "Black Dwarf"?

    Look up Athanasius on the web and you are told that his enemies called him 'the black dwarf'. The "black" part has some calling for the great church infighter to be mentioned during "black history month". But no one sources the insult and I've looked for it in the histories of the time but with no luck. Anyone know who said the little (Julian said he was a manikin) man was called the "black dwarf" by his enemies?
  13. gentleexit

    Roman influence on Christian doctrine?

    I think it's better to say that Christianity was "tidied up" or even made for Greek tastes, to live up to Plato and his ilk. The Latin west was a late comer to the Christian party. Nicea says it best. The dilemma there (is Jesus the son as high and mighty as God the Father or is he a creature of the father) is very Greek. This wasn't Jewish stuff and it wasn't a game for worthy, ritual-loving Romans or any westerners for that matter. The first "universal" conference of the Church was all Greek, all the way - Greek Alexandrians against Greeks from Nicomedia and Antioch and Palestine. And of course, the bible was Greek - the Septuagint for the Jewish writings, the Christian, all in Greek that drew on that "inspired" Greek. Now the Romans should have known better. Their greatest poet told them to beware of Greeks and their gifts.