Reference to Mithras in the Commentary of Servius?

A strange Jewish anti-Christian site here has the following claim:

Plutarch (Pompey, 24, 7) and Servilius (Georgics, 4, 127) say Pompey imported Mithraism into Rome after defeating the Cilician pirates around 70 BCEE.

This is starting to circulate around the web, and caught my eye.  We all know the Plutarch reference, and it says only that the Cilician pirates worshipped Mithras (which may be a mistake anyway).  But the “Servilius” reference is new to me.  This, I presume, is Servius, the 4th century commentator on Vergil?

The commentary of Servius on the Georgics is online at Google books here.   The comment on the Georgics 4, 127 is on p.354 of the PDF, p.329 online. So, what does it say?

127. CORYCIVM Vidisse SENEM Cilica: Corycos enim civitas est Ciliciae, in qua antrum illud famosum est, paene ab omnibus celebratum. et per transitum tangit historiam memoratam a Suetonio. Pompeius enim victis piratis Cilicibus partim ibidem in Graecia, partim in Calabria agros dedit: unde Lucanus <I 346> an melius fient piratae, magne, coloni? male autem quidam ‘Corycium’ proprium esse adserunt nomen, cum sit appellativum eius, qui more Corycio hortos excoluit: quod etiam Plinii testimonio conprobatur. Vidisse Senem ordo est ‘memini vidisse’. dicimus autem et ‘memini videre’: Terentius memini videre, quo aequior sum Pamphilo, si se illam in somnis. Relicti deserti atque contempti; quis enim agrum non sperneret nulli rei aptum, non vitibus aut frumentis vel pascuis? et aliter: ‘Corycium’ autem Cilicia, a monte et civitate Cïliciae Coryco. alii Corycium non natione, sed peritia, quod haec gens studiose hortos colat. et sic dictum est, ut Arcades ambo.

No mention of Mithras.  But this states that Pompey settled the Cilician pirates, partly in Greece and partly in Calabria. 

I wonder what Servius’ source was?

10 Responses to “Reference to Mithras in the Commentary of Servius?”


  1. Rita Thompson

    Above, you say ‘A strange Jewish anti-Christian site…”

    This is **NOT** a Jewish site. You should read — on th site’s main page — the “IMPORTANT NOTICE & DISCLAIMER”

    It states:

    DISCLAIMER:

    Citation of Hebrew scripture and sources in articles or analyses is not in any way an acceptance, approval or validation of the Jewish religion, its works or scriptures. The Hebrew bible, like the Christian New Testament and Muslim Qur’an, is fictitious. From a 6-day creation of the universe; a cunning, walking, talking snake; big fish tales; world flood and an “Invisible Man in the Sky” ― it is all fiction, a bold sham perpetrated on mankind.

    This site is also mirrored at christanity-revealed.com

    These are atheist sites!

    Such a careless comment is an oversight — perhaps this is why you did not find the “Servius” REFERENCES YOU SEEK.

  2. Tom Schmidt

    Hi Rita,

    Then where is the reference to Servius?

  3. Rita Thompson

    Go to the athesist — NOT JEWISH — site and check its footnote!

  4. Roger Pearse

    Hi Rita,

    You rightly say that the material gets mirrored all over the place. But J.D.Stone and his pals are or were extremist orthodox Jews. I once found myself in a forum of them, you see. The site itself used to make this clear.

    I don’t know if the site has a confession of faith anywhere, or whether they are all atheists now; but there are tell-tales. You can see links to three Yahoo discussion groups on the front page – look at these. There is discussion of Christian “anti-semitism” (of little concern to anyone else). There’s stuff about “Noahide” (what?). This is stuff from a Jewish community of some sort.

    Take a look at this link. It says nothing to our purposes. But it did once! In the Google cache here is the revealing statement:

    Trademarks

    “Christianity Revealed,” “Truth of Judaism” and the “Anti-missionary” logos are trademarks of JDStone, which may be registered in certain jurisdictions. Other trademarks shown are trademarks of their respective owners.

    That’s pretty plain, isn’t it? So we have a site that is carefully removing elements that would betray a Jewish origin? Um. Well, hate-sites do this. They also have a page against the Torah; the phrase “window dressing” comes to mind.

    I’m not sure that Jewish extremist hate of Christians is controversial anyway, is it? Just search for “anti-missionary” in Google.

  5. Rita Thompson

    You write:

    ?”…J.D.Stone and his pals are or were extremist orthodox Jews.”

    An unprovable assertions sir. I can say you were an Mormon. Now how do you disprove that. You are making unfounded accusations; it is not becoming.

    You write:
    >I don’t know if the site has a confession of faith anywhere,

    Well don’t speak from ignorance, look at the site — I HAVE! The main page has a prominent quote:

    ” “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false and by rulers as useful.” -Seneca the Younger (c.3 BCE-CE 65)”

    That should preclude any idea of your search for a “confession of faith.”

    >or whether they are all atheists now; but there are tell-tales. You can see links to three Yahoo discussion groups on the front page – look at these.

    I suggest you look at these and their mission statements — they are atheist!

    ——–

    Christianity-Revealed says:
    Christianity-Revealed (CR) presents — The Institute for Advanced Religious Studies — Your diploma is “freedom from the lies of religion.” We fight religious extremism, anti-science and irrational thought.

    Learn the falsehoods of christianity—Pauline Christology—its Hebrew and mythological roots. For 2,000 years churches have hidden behind a cloak of “blind faith,” that Jesus and the New Testament are FICTION!

    Anti-missionary says:
    The Anti-Missionary (AM) Group responds to the lies of Christianity and exposes the devious solicitation tactics of missionaries, clergy and their cohorts. As Samuel Clemens said; “Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.”

    NOTICE: AM oppose all religious extremism, irrational thought and anti-science.

    [...]

    The “dead man-god” religion victimizes people by guilt and fear. The fiction of Christianity and its Hebrew source are exposed for all to see. One of AM’s most important goals is to engage people to help secure the future of reason, the freedom of inquiry and science.

    All religious brainwashing, especially of children, is intolerable and abhorrent. This results in a mindset of ‘MY GOD’ is better than ‘your god.’ The result is bigotry, discrimination, hatred and distrust of others and even evil perpetrated in the name of one’s god.

    NoachideChassid?
    NoachideChassid? was established to identify and expose false Jewish claims and teachings for their invented Seven Universal Laws (Noachide) religion for Gentiles. People have been unable to find factual, non-opinionated and accurate information regarding these Seven Laws and what Judaism really demands from Gentiles. In this pursuit, NoachideChassid? fights all religious extremism, anti-science and irrational thought.

    Join us now as we critically analyze this newly invented religion. NoachideChassid? exposes the 7Laws fallacy; the fiction of Torah; mans’ opinions called Talmud and those self-appointed internet experts profiting from it all while asking for your money.

    NoachideChassid?’s most important goal is to engage people and secure the future of reason and freedom of inquiry.

    ——–

    I suggest you do your own research before accusing people of being a certain religion or whatever. Simply click on the site and look for yourself!

    >There is discussion of Christian “anti-semitism” (of little concern to anyone else). There’s stuff about “Noahide” (what?). This is stuff from a Jewish community of some sort.

    Noachide? is addressed above — go to the groups page yourself:
    Again, it says:

    Join us now as we critically analyze this newly invented religion. NoachideChassid? exposes the 7Laws fallacy; the fiction of Torah; mans’ opinions called Talmud and those self-appointed internet experts profiting from it all while asking for your money

    >I’m not sure that Jewish extremist hate of Christians is controversial anyway, is it? Just search for “anti-missionary” in Google.

    You sure are hung up on this Jewish thingy? Maybe it is because of your deep roots in Mormonism where you think of yourself as the lost tribe.

    But seriously, who gives aq damn anyway? You aure are hung up on it!

  6. Dioscorus Boles

    Please, Roger, just ignore. Those anti-Christian of this calibre, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, atheist or non-atheist, do not deserve a response. Just look at their websites: non-professionalism is the word that comes to the mouth. And consider the response that is posted above – a low IQ one, I would say.

  7. Roger Pearse

    > I don’t know if the site has a confession of
    > faith anywhere,

    Well don’t speak from ignorance, look at the site — I HAVE!

    Ah, so you are in fact the site owner? Thanks for your comments.

    Now, if you deny being Jewish in religion, of course I believe you! Be an atheist if you wish. But you definitely placed a statement on your site claiming you trademarked “Truth in Judaism”. Why was this? Or do you deny this?

    Little of this matters; but let’s have the facts, whatever they may be.

    Incidentally do you deny being Jewish in culture too? Am I allowed to describe you as a Jewish atheist?

  8. Roger Pearse

    Dioscorus – quite right. But I’d like to get my facts straight, whatever they may be.

  9. (cyp)

    Somewhat late, but returning to the point…

    The notion that Plutarch says something about the introduction of Mithraic teletaí to Italy is due to Cumont (no surprises there):

    “according to Plutarch (loc. cit.), Mithra [sic!] was introduced much earlier [than the 2nd/3rd century] into Italy. The Romans, by this account, are said to have been initiated into his Mysteries by the Cicilian pirates conquered by Pompey.” (MM, 1903, p. 36)

    However, Plutarch says nothing about anyone getting their mysteries from pirates. And, while Plutarch (28) does refer to resettlement of pirates in Greece and Asia Minor, he is silent about Italy.

    This is somewhat mitigated by Severius, who refers to Pompey’s resettlement of pirates “partly in Greece and partly in Calabria”. As Roger has pointed out, there is no mention of the Mysteries in Severius. This has not however prevented numerous treatments from adducing a connection.

    With respect to Severius’ reference to Lucan: The relevant lines (Bellum Civile 1.344-46) read: quae rura dabuntur / quae noster ueteranus aret, quae moenia fessis? / an melius fient piratae, Magne, coloni?
    Although lacking specifics, this is assumed to imply much the same as Severius.

    Now, one might wonder what any of this has to do with Judaism. The answer lies in the continuation of the Cumont paragraph quoted above. In it, Cumont draws a specious analogy between the importation of Mithraic and Jewish communities: “Plutarch’s testimony has nothing improbable in it. We know that the first Jewish community established trans Tiberim was composed of captives that the same Pompei had brought back from the capture of Jerusalem (63 B.C.).”

    Urgh! This free association (and the associated interpretation of Plutarch) was uncritically adopted by numerous “challenge to Christianity” champions, whence no doubt the stuff on the web.

  10. Roger Pearse

    Thank you for these notes! Cumont DOES do this free association trick, and it is quite annoying. But we probably ought to remember that he trained in the 19th century (!) and there was certainly a lot of that around then.



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