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  1. Some writers have proposed that Seneca, in his essay "On Anger"/"De Ira", alluded to Jesus when he spoke of a foreign crucified leader. It is perhaps relevant that Seneca dedicated "On Anger" to his older brother Gallio, who in the Book of Acts rejected a Jewish petition to punish Paul for contradicting the Torah. Since it was written after January 41 AD, Seneca could have reasonably known about Jesus when he composed De Ira. Volume I of De Ira in Latin is here: https://www.thelatinlibrary.com/sen/sen.ira1.shtml Volume II of De Ira in Latin is here: https://www.thelatinlibrary.com/sen/sen.ira2.shtmlIn his first chapter, Seneca introduces general philosophical criticisms of anger, also noting how angry people act like they are crazy. Then in chapter 2 in De Ira, in order to further criticize anger, give examples, and show the reader how it is harmful and cruel, Seneca lists manifestations of anger and then six cases of leaders who were the unfortunate victims of anger: The underlined phrase says in Latin, "alium in cruce membra diffindere". Seneca here is suggesting his own sympathy for the victims and finds that they were treated unjustly. He lists the crucified one last, which suggests that this victim was the latest in the list. By listing the crucified victim last, he also suggests that this one was dealt with most severely, since in the preceding sentences, Seneca builds up his list of manifestations of anger, going from "slaughterings" up to describing whole territories destroyed and turned into desert by anger. (Question 1) Would you have access to Léon Herrmann's book Chrestos, read French, or consider it helpful in understanding the passage? The reason that I ask is that I have found few scholars trying to interpret this passage. Livio Stechini draws several conclusions about the figures in the passage based on Hermann's book, writing: (Question 2) Could one of those killed really have been Pompey, as Stechini theorized above? The Wikipedia article says that Pompey was stabbed by three assassins, the first Achillas was head of the army, Lucius Septimius had been an officer, and the third was Savius (I don't know if he was a slave). Septimius "thrust a sword into Pompey and then Achillas and Savius stabbed him with daggers." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompey#Civil_war_and_assassination) The Tektonics webpage comments on Stechini's theory: It would make sense that Seneca did not name the leaders killed if they (like Jesus) were out of favour with or killed by Rome, since Seneca reasonably might not have wanted to openly appear to be supporting them. It also makes sense that the 6th person listed would be a foreigner, since he suffered crucifixion. (Question 3) Did Ptolemy of Mauretania have his throat was cut by a slave? Ben Smith of the Text Excavation project wrote: I am skeptical about the proposals for these candidates. Ptolemy of Mauretania was killed in 40 AD, but I couldn't find confirmation that his throat was cut by a slave. I am also very skeptical that the 6th figure listed above could have been Gavius or the crucified general Hannibal. Gavius was a Roman citizen, but I didn't find him described as a leader or "chief". Wenhua Shi writes about Gavius and Hannibal in his book Paul's Message of the Cross as Body Language: Furthermore, the Hannibal mentioned above was a general crucified in 238 BC or 257 BC, long before Pompey or Ptolemy of Mauretania, whom Seneca likely listed before the crucified, 6th "chief". While Hannibal's killing in the form of crucifixion was severe, it would have been foreseeable (unlike a particularly unlucky surprise fate) in that he was a general waging a war during a time when captives were sometimes crucified, as when Alexander of Macedonia crucified many people in Tyre after his conquest. There is a pattern of people in Seneca's list being killed in some treacherous circumstance, like stabbing someone in his bed or killing someone else when the rules of hospitality demanded their protection. General Hannibal's killing by his own men would fit that pattern, but the peaceful Jesus' betrayal by Judas and his accusation by the Sanhedrin and crucifixion for being a rebel "king of the Jews" despite seeking a heavenly kingdom instead of an earthly one would fit that mold too. (Question 4) Was the Carthaginian general Hannibal crucified in 238 BC after defeat in Sardinia or 257 BC after defeat in Tunis? Wikipedia has this entry for Hannibal: The Livius encyclopedia has this entry for Hannibal: (Question 5) Is it correct to say that Regulus was killed by crucifixion? Regulus was a Roman consul killed by the Carthaginians in 250 BC: Elsewhere Seneca does write about Regulus' crucifixion: Certainly Seneca reveres Regulus, and by including him in a book "On Providence" shows that Regulus was "ill-fated". Plus, he was killed in treacherous circumstances, since he was acting as a diplomat from Rome to Carthage. So he looks like a good candidate. However, Regulus was not a nation's "chief", nor did he die after Pompey or Ptolemy of Mauritania. One thing that makes me question whether Regulus was killed by crucifixion is how Seneca writes in an Epistle about Regulus being in a chest: Note Tetullian's passage about Regulus in On Martyrs and compare it with Seneca's description of the crucified chief in Latin ("alium in cruce membra diffindere"):
  2. caldrail

    An Open Answer

    There I was, sat at a computer in my local library happily webbing and internetting, when some bloke stolled past, leaned over, and whispered to me as he passed by. "Turn to christianity and all your problems will go away" He said. Well, problems are just part of life, which means his offer has an unintended fatal aspect. The thing is though, what he just offered can be considered at best unsavoury opportunism, or at worst, a form of blackmail. If he can stop my problems, then his morality in not stopping them until he benefits from it - and lets be straight about this - he intends to profit from me - is typical of the greedy Romanesque attitudes that christianity harbours to this day. I had actually decided not to post this issue on my blog after al - my temper having subsided - but since I've been threatened by some anonymous person to take back what I said or else, I've decided 'or else'. I'm not a servant. Not that long ago, a woman I used to know from my school days engaged me in conversation. Or more accurately, a sales pitch. She told me how one of her colleagues astounded doctors with a medical miracle as his ailing heart was mysteriously replaced by a healthy strong one following prayers when his mortal fate seemed imminent. I too could be part of her movement and enjoy the patronage of her favourite supreme being. To be honest, I suspect modern medicine and some obvious dishonesty by her colleagues has more to do with the man's recovery, if indeed he was ever ill. This is an issue that's been part of my life since I was a child. My mother made my conversion more important than any other aspect of my upbringing, and even to the end of her days, tried to get me to adopt her religion. Her methodology was to create situations so that I would learn about life and God. All she succeeded in was rendering me utterly baffled as to why things happened the way they did. And most importantly, she had made this very same offer. That I could be everything I wanted to be - if I signed up. She was however a somewhat misguided woman, however well intended, and don't they say that the Path to Hell is paved with god intentions? The structure of christian belief hides a form of virtual enslavement that I cannot agree to. I am, after all, somewhat Roman in my desire to preserve my free will and self determination despite the best efforts of those who want to pull my strings. Indeed, why would I turn to something I do not believe in? God will not rescue me from my problems because firstly I'm almost certainly too insignificant as an individual compared to the scale of the cosmos, and secondly because he doesn't exist. He's fiction. Invented by a society thousands of years ago to perform a social purpose that I refuse utterly to comply with. The truth is that divine intervention has a rather more mundane and mortal origin. Fate is the sum of all decisions and natural forxes. So my answer to you, Sir, whoever you were, is mind your own business. I'm not interested in your stupid cult, your false god, or your dishonest offer.
  3. caldrail

    Thou Will Be Silent

    Many many years ago in that Jurassic era I call my childhood, I sometimes made a journey across the countryside to Lydiard Park. Back then West Swindon didn't exist. Just abandoned railway yards, farmland, and overgrown flak emplacements from WW2. I always remember passing through a village on the way where beside the road was a brake of trees that never seemed to grow any leaves, just existing as towering stalks of dark grey, always surrounded by flocks of crows that made the most unholy noise. Of course now the village is absorbed into West Swindon and the unholy noise is made by late night drunkards. The crows have gone. Maybe that's because they had more sense than to stay. After all, crows and ravens are very clever birds. I've seen a video clip of a crow using its puzzle solving abilities. Within seconds it retrieved a little metal basket full of food from an upright plastic cylinder by using a small metal rod with a hook at one end. I have to say, it was a very impressive display of animal intelligence. A few weeks ago I was taking a shortcut through my local park. Normally it's quiet, a useful quality for a remembrance garden, but on this occaision four crows were having a bit of a tiff. They flapped their wings ceaselessly, hopped from branch to branch in some avian parody of martial arts fighters, going at each other hammer and tongs. I can't remember what I said. Something like "Oh shut up" as I remember, and whaddya know? The crows stopped making noises, stopped moving, and the garden returned to its normal peaceful condition. Thank you. So there you have it. Crows and ravens are not only quite intelligent, but very polite too. Don't know where they learned that from. It clearly wasn't the average Swindon youth. Sermon Of The Week I lost my temper. I really did. There I was, minding my own business as I strode homeward, when I encountered those pesky christian preachers. As they often do, one bellowed praise of Jesus and excerpts from his best seller whilst his mate handed out little cards with his phone number on them. Out of the corner of my eye I couldn't help spotting his approach (the card distributor, not Jesus), grinning like a cheshire cat and determined to intercept me. That was when I lost my temper. "How many times do you have to be told NO!" I barked at him. Poor bloke. He backed off ever so quickly. He wasn't in much danger of course - a policeman was but yards away chatting to a member of the public and must of heard me explode. Funnily enough the preacher stopped shouting too.