Anti-Christian posting and an inscription about Julius Caesar

The quantity of anti-Christian scribbling in online fora is extraordinary.  Much of it presents “evidence” which is supposed to undermine Christianity.  It can be an interesting task to take this material, and verify it — something that the posters never do, curiously — and see what, if anything it is based on.

I came across the following in the last few days, used as a “signature”.  This is the entire text:

“Gaius Julius Caesar…Chief Priest…God made manifest and common Saviour of Mankind.” (Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum 2957 [48/47])

I think we can see that this is intended as some form of anti-Christian comment, since there is no apparent reason to post it otherwise on all one’s posts.  But what is the argument?  It is insinuated, rather than stated.  This is a common way to cast doubt on something by means of an argument that wouldn’t bear examination, if clearly and openly stated.  That’s the first problem with this.

The next question is whether the item is what it appears to be.  It is a good general principle never to trust these sorts of “quotes”.  They can be wrong, misleading, selectively edited, and the “references” may be fake.  The presence of dots indicates some massaging is going on; the use of Christian-sounding language likewise.  But it’s fun to find out!

The CIG is a 19th collection of inscriptions, so is out of copyright.  Annoyingly it does not seem to be online.  But a google search reveals a quote from it in an online source, L. M. Sweet, Roman Emperor worship (1919).

The conclusion that Caesar favored his own deification has been questioned, but it seems to me the evidence indicates that he went rather far. At any rate, epigraphic evidence for the deification of Cassar at the time of his pro-consulship in Bithynia can be cited.95 Hirschfeld maintains that the deification of proconsuls was a customary and accepted procedure. Pompey and Antony were so honored as well as Caesar. It is interesting to note, and may go down on the credit side of Cicero’s career that he was offered honors like these and refused them, partly on the ground that they rightly belonged to the gods and the Roman people. 

95. An Ephesian inscription (C. I. G. 2957) of the year 48-47 B.C. speaks of Caesar in a way that is strongly reminiscent of Egypt and the Ptolemies as: τὸν Αρεω καὶ Aφροδείτης θεὸν ἐποφανὴ καὶ κοινὸν τοῦ ἀνθρωπινου βιοῦ σωτῆρα. Of like tenor are C. I. G., 2369, 2214g, 2215, 2957 and C. I. A., III 428.  …

Even from this, clearly incomplete quotation, we can see at once that using this description of Caesar as if he was a parallel to Christ is misleading.

A look at the Greek shows that it mentions Ares and Aphrodite.  The Hellenistic term “soter” (saviour) appears, as it does for so many Seleucid or Ptolemaic monarchs.

My Greek is still minimal and I don’t have my books, but some of this looks suspect, even now.  I’ll have to try it out in my Greek translator software!  It should be a good test.

And… does anyone have the full text?

Later: Silly me.  It’s in the PHI database:

Ephesos 948.    Honorary inscription for Gaius Iulius Caesar by poleis, [demoi], and ethne (of Hellenes) in Asia; 48 BC; found at Ephesos: CIG 2957; LW 142; Syll3 760; Tuchelt, Frühe Denkm. 141; *IEph 251.

IEph 251

αἱ πόλεις αἱ ἐν τῆι Ἀσίαι καὶ οἱ καὶ τὰ ἔθνη Γάϊον Ἰούλιον Γαΐοὸν Καίσαρα, τὸν ἀρχιερέα καὶ αὐτοκράτορα καὶ τὸ δεύτερον ὕπατον, τὸν ἀπὸ Ἄρεως καὶ Ἀφροδετης θεὸν ἐπιφανῆ καὶ κοινὸν τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου βίου σωτῆρα.

Soter at the end agrees with Kaisara, of course.

47 thoughts on “Anti-Christian posting and an inscription about Julius Caesar

  1. I feel your pain with regard to the anti-Christian propaganda on public forums. As an unbeliever, I feel embarrassed by it. As an ancient history enthusiast, I am enormously frustrated. I thank you for wading through it all to help answer questions like mine (I am hatsoff on freeratio).

    Now, to the text. Transcribing the strange font to unicode yields the following (no accents):

    αι πολεις αι εν τηι Ασιαι και οι δημοι και τα εθνη Γαιον Τουλιον Γαιου υιον Καισαρα τον αρχιερεα και αυτοκρατορα και το δευτερον υπατον τον απο Αρεως και Αφροδειτης θεον επιφανη και κοινον του ανθρωπινου βιου σωτηρα

    which in English comes out to be something like (with help from Yahoo babelfish):

    [ai] cities [ai en tei] Asia and the municipalities and the nations, Gaius Julius, Gaius’ son, Caesar, the archpriest and emperor and second supreme, from Eros and Aphrodite, god eminent and public of human life of savior

    I’m not sure if that helps, but there it is just in case.

  2. I don’t feel pained; merely mildly annoyed. It doesn’t help anyone to circulate false data.

    The Greek is already in unicode, actually! font is Palatino Linotype, as found on all Windows PC’s. I don’t know what other unicode fonts to specify.

    I appreciate your help, tho. It takes us a little further forward!

  3. The cities of Asia (apparently the Roman Province) and the people and the nations (=the tribal states) to Gaius Julius Gaius, son of Caesar, chief priest and emperor and second prefect, who comes (is blessed by? I am not sure how to translate it best) Ares and Aphrodite, emminent god and saviot of the common man’s life.

    This particular inscription is no big deal. Whoever is actually making a fuss aparently has no experience with inscriptions

  4. Thank you very much, ikokki! That helps a lot. How about this?

    The towns of Asia and the districts and the peoples, to Gaius Julius Caesar, son of Gaius, high-priest and autokrator, and co-consul, from Ares and Aphrodite, god manifest, and common savior of the life of mankind.

    * L&S lists hypatos as having a meaning of consul. So deuteros hypatos – second consul – i.e. co-consul?

    * Son of Gaius, rather than son of Caesar, because of the habit of placing the genitive before the word qualified.

    * epiphanes is an adjective, acc. sing, so referring to Caesar, so ‘manifest’, as in Antiochus Epiphanes.

    * koinos, tho, doesn’t seem to fit with sotera, the only obvious match in the area; bios and anthropinos are both in the genetive, and so I don’t see how koinos can be “common life of mankind”, although that fits the sense much better than “common saviour”. “Common” having the sense of vulgar, non-holy, etc, which is hardly appropriate.

    As you say, there may be issues — errors in the text — because this is an inscription, and I have no familiarity with Greek inscriptions. Perhaps there is a typo, or an error in carving somewhere? Your thoughts on this would be welcome.

  5. Indeed hypatos is translated in English as consul, in modern Greek we keep it hypatos and is used from time to time to describe the US Embassador to Greece.

    Rome had 2 consuls, with each one having different responsibilities, according to the inscription Ceasar is both field-marshal and second consul.

    Koinon is accusative and the only other word in accusative is swthra. Since there is an inversion the last part in more proper greek would go

    κοινον σωτηρα του ανθρωπινου βίου

  6. Caesar was also declared God in an inscription from Ceos (Carthaea), IG 12.5.557:

    http://epigraphy.packhum.org/inscriptions/main?url=oi%3Fikey%3D77788%26bookid%3D21%26region%3D7

    ὁ δῆμος ὁ Καρθαιέων
    τὸν θεὸν καὶ αὐτοκράτορα
    καὶ σωτῆρα τῆς οἰκουμένης
    Γάϊον Ἰούλιον Καίσαρα Γαΐου
    Καίσαρος υἱὸν ἀνέθηκεν.

    The sources on his outstanding savior and benefactor titles (soter, euergetes) are numerous, savior of the Greeks, of the Gauls, of the Romans, of Cicero, of the world etc. — and they are various: inscriptions, speeches, Caesar’s own writings, coins, his corona civica and so on. Here are a few inscriptions from Greece: Pergamum (IGR 4.303; 1677), Megara (IG 7.62), Chios (IGR 4.929), Athens (IG 2(2).2222), Mytilene (IGR 4.57).

    On the inscriptions in Ephesus, A.E. Raubitschek is still a good read: “Epigraphical Notes on Julius Caesar”, JRS 44 (1954) 65-75; cf. “Die Inschriften von Ephesos” Vol. 2, 1979

    Caesar’s divine honors were the role model for the later imperial cult. The best book on Caesar as the highest Roman state god is still “Divus Julius” by Stefan Weinstock, although there are a few minor errors in there. (For corrections one should refer to Alföldi’s review.) Another good book is by Ittai Gradel on the imperial cult, but he deals more with Divus Augustus than with Divus Iulius.

  7. I just dug out Raubitschek’s JRS article, but it’s not only about Ephesus; there’s yet another theos inscription on a Doric column capital from Demetrias in Thessaly which reads “Gaios Ioulios Kaisar, autokrator, theos”.

    On Ephesos in conjunction with the huge amount of other similar inscriptions he writes: “While repeated reference to the honoured person as saviour and benefactor of the honouring city is common and natural, the frequent extension from the particular city to all the Greeks cannot well be independent but must be the expression less of the common policy of the Greeks than of Caesar’s unified publicity.” That Caesar’s honors in the East (and in the West) were extraordinary, is a view shared by the vast majority of scholars (incl. myself—obviously). So you have to explain your conjecture against communis opinio that these outstanding honors are nothing but flattery meant for a “common” Greek savior. Even in Rome they had a pantokrator statue of Caesar as living divus after the victory of Thapsus (Cassius Dio XLIII 14.6, cf. also Ittai Gradel on the Greek variants of “divus” in Greek”).

    The dating of many inscriptions (incl. Ephesus) is shortly after the Battle of Pharsalus, which was in late summer of 48 BC. After the battle Caesar sailed to Egypt, where he was worshipped as “Caesar Epibaterios” upon arrival (Philo, leg. ad Gai. 22.151), where he was also offered the head of his mentor and adversary Pompeius. This is the first rock-solid historical (written) source of Caesar’s various deifications. (There are possible earlier sources, but these are vague or equivocal.)

    The posthumous evidence on his apotheosis is equally solid. Historical sources, coins etc., e.g. here — http://akropoliscoins.com/JCandAugustus.jpg — and here — http://imagedb.coinarchives.com/img/helios/002/image00220.jpg —, both showing Divus Iulius as theos and Augustus (Sebastos), his son (Divi filius, commonly translated in the East as θεοῦ ὑιός). But also Caesar was a Roman “Son of God”, because his celestial mother was Venus Genetrix. Logically the Ephesus inscription mentions Aphrodite.

  8. Many thanks for these details, which are very interesting.

    We’re slightly at cross-purposes, I think. I was aware from the Sweet volume in the original post (if not before), that Caesar was described as a god in the Hellenistic tradition in quite a few Greek inscriptions. I recall various Seleucid and Ptolemaic monarchs described as theos and soter.

    The problem we have at the moment is the use of the adjective koinon attached to sotera in that inscription. What does it mean?

  9. It means “universal”.

    Something like: “Caius Iulius Gaius, Son of Caesar, Pontifex Maximus and Imperator and second consul, descendant of Mars and Venus Genetrix, revealed God and universal savior of the human race.”

    Logically the οἰκουμένη is mentioned in other inscriptions.

    By the way, Caesar being son of Venus Genetrix is obvious from multiple sources. Him being a descendant of Mars is a little more complicated. It probably goes back to his funeral oration for his aunt Julia, where he stated that he not only comes from an ancestral line that stems from the divine sphere (Venus > Aeneas > Iulus > gens Iulia), but also from the royal sphere, from the Marcii Reges (Ancus Marcius etc.). “Marcius” means “dedicated to Mars”. An alternative would be his uncle Gaius Marius, with the gens Maria obviously having close ties to Mars. Marius and Caesar were themselves closely tied, especially since Caesar had brought him back from the Hades and had reinstated his cult in Rome.

  10. Sorry about the typo in line two: It should be “Caius Iulius Caesar, son of Caius”. (In Latin it’s Cai filius, widely known as: Caius Iulius Cai filius Caesar, but also the rare long version: Caius Iulius Cai filius Cai nepos Caesar, adding “grandson of Gaius”.

  11. By the way, there is a serious error in all of the translations, including mine: If I’m not mistaken αυτοκρατωρ does not mean the Latin imperator, which in Greek is most definitely βᾰσῐλεύς (basileus), but dictator. So the inscription would translate as: “Caius Iulius Caesar, Son of Caius, Pontifex Maximus, Dictator, second Consul, descendant of Mars and Venus [Genetrix], revealed God and universal Savior of the human race.”

  12. Thank you very much indeed for these. Reading koinon as “universal” does make sense – thanks! Your idea of seeing this as a Greek version of a Latin inscription is very interesting, and probably right.

    According to Liddell and Scott, autokrator can have a meaning of “emperor”, although a late one. It was a title of the Byzantine emperors, I believe. But at this period, “dictator” is a very attractive alternative! Thank you. “human race” is good too!

  13. I doubt that the complete Greek inscription was based on a Latin one. (With regard to the name, it’s obvious, but that was probably a general way of writing names in Graeco-Roman times.) The inscription itself is genuinely Hellenistic for sure, although Ephesus was part of Rome and although some orders to honor Caesar might have come from the West. (In any case there is no known parallel Latin inscription to the one in Ephesus.) And historians have noted that it was rather the divine honors in the Greek East that influenced Caesar’s divine honors in the Latin West, not the other way around. The Greek Romans apparently were more at ease with lifetime deification than the Latin Romans at first. (But that’s just my assumption.) And Ephesus was very serious about the cult of Julius Caesar. After his death and apotheosis they—together with Nicaea—pleaded to the “Son of God” Octavian to be the first ones allowed to erect a temple of Divus Iulius, a Caesareum.

  14. CORRECTIONS:

    (a) αυτοκρατωρ here probably does not stand for the Roman dictator. It’s of course possible, but the Greeks had δικτάτωρ as a regular term for that particular Roman office, and the Ephesus dedication is dated after the Battle of Pharsalus, so imperator (which is generally a military term) might suit better here.

    [On the other hand: Caesar’s dictatorship was also important in the East; even the Chronicon Paschale backdated the beginning of the Easter cycle computational system to 48 BC and recounted that Caesar was proclaimed dictator in Antioch in that year; thereby the chronicon followed the Antioch calender, which began with the year 48 BC as year 1, the “first year of Julius Caesar”.]

    (b) In addition Ares & Aphrodite are connected to the revealed god, so Caesar is “God from God” in that he “appears” from Ares & Aphrodite.

    (c) It’s literally “second consul”, but it must mean “consul for the second time”, not the “second of the pair of consuls”.

    (d) “Common” could also be preferred over “universal”, if “common” is not interpreted as “ordinary” or “inferior”, but as “widely known”, “public”, related to the community.

    Then the inscription would translate as:

    “The cities of Asia and the communities and nations [worship] Gaius Julius Caesar, son of Gaius, Pontifex Maximus and Imperator, Consul for the second time, appearing God [descending] from Ares [Mars] and Aphrodite [Venus Genetrix], the common Savior of all mankind.”

    I’m not 100% sure, but this should be a valid translation.

  15. I should add that αυτοκρατωρ can definitely mean imperator. E.g. Plutarch uses it for Pompey’s imperatorial honors in “Life of Pompey” 8.

  16. I quite often carry out Google image searches for Greek mythological figures for my teaching, and some of the stuff you see on these sites beggars belief (no pun intended!). There are a large number of sites entirely dedicated to ‘dis-proving’ Christianity, none of which seem to have the first idea about ancient religion, mythology or Christianity. Being a practising Christian and expert in ancient pagan religion and mythology, I find the only possible response is to laugh at it (its that or cry!).

  17. Juliette, I’ve had similar experiences. But no matter how they try, they can’t “disprove” Christianity, because it’s a fact. (Needless to say, they can’t disprove a god either. If a god is believed in, he does exist. End of discussion. No further arguments needed.) But the forum signature that Roger quoted is something a bit different. Judging from the posts of that author, he does have an anti-Christian agenda, which is despicable. Even more so, because ephigraphical sources like the above-mentioned CIG inscription are not about religion, but about the history and the archaeology of religion. Still the author (apparently) uses it to diminish Christianity in general, which is a categorical error. What I sense is something like the argument that if people like Caesar were made god and were already worshipped as god during their lifetime, then the god Christus is nothing special either, no god of real value, only yet another ancient deification of a normal human being, and a rather insignificant human being at that, too—if he ever existed. That’s more or less the argument “insinuated” here, am I right? (At least that’s what I have sometimes heard/read on the web.) As a Catholic I can only laugh at such nonsense. As a scientist I find it alarming that in order to diminish the Christian religions this forum user apparently interprets Caesar’s deification as a minor incident, as mere flattery without any real consequences etc.. But that was not the case. It was the imperial founding divinization, the most important apotheosis and ubiquitous religion of the new Roman empire, signified by contemporary historians, believed and followed by the people, the soldiers, the veterans and most (if not all) later emperors.

  18. I see the same, Juliette. It’s a little depressing to see so much hate (for what other motive can there be)?

    Hans, your feeling about the argument made is the same as mine. But it *is* telling that the poster has to insinuate it, isn’t it? I always resent having to work out what someone is saying.

    But the first thing to do is always to verify the sources. So often these arguments fall at this hurdle. In this case I think that the deception is in the editing — the omission of Ares and Aphrodite, etc, to turn a routine pagan inscription into something that looks like a Christian statement.

    How important was the divinisation of Caesar? I think that there might be several opinions on this. What policy did Augustus follow?

  19. In this case I think that the deception is in the editing — the omission of Ares and Aphrodite, etc, to turn a routine pagan inscription into something that looks like a Christian statement.

    With regard to Caesar it was not a routine inscription—the three theos inscriptions are quite extraordinary, like the fact that many of the Greek inscriptions refer to the whole world (oikumene), not just the worshipping city/community—, and even without the omissions it would still “ring” in a familiar Christian way: autokrator is close to pantokrator, the “Almighty” ruler god, Christ was also archiereus in the NT, the “God from God” is implied in there, epiphany goes without saying, “[descending] from Aphrodite” is in classical times nothing but “Son of God”, and the “Savior of all mankind” is probably the closest to Christian ideas, almost verbatim. Only “consul for the second time” doesn’t fit. There are similar inscriptions, e.g. the Priene inscription for Augustus that are even closer to Christian terms, including euaggelion etc.. There are a majority of “pagan” elements in Christianity, and I think that’s why these early imperial Roman inscriptions ring so familiar, not really because the poster omitted certain elements, although it probably enhances the impression for the casual reader, which he was surely aiming at.

    How important was the divinisation of Caesar? I think that there might be several opinions on this. What policy did Augustus follow?

    Caesar’s deification was of the utmost importance. Directly following his assassination opinions were split, many of his statues were destroyed, because the followers of the Optimates wanted to cast him not only into the Tiber, but also into oblivion by declaring him a tyrant. But somehow the people remembered that he was actually one of the greatest men and most clementine rulers who ever lived, so they made him God, which was the only safe way to keep the memory of their savior alive. Sure the Senate (with a Caesarian majority) had passed laws that Caesar (among many other honors) should become God after his death, but the murder and the funeral changed everything. He was “numbered among the gods, not only by a formal decree, but also in the conviction of the common people” (Sueton, Divus Iulius 88). A coin commemorated his resurrection as Divus Iulius during his funeral:

    http : / / imagedb.coinarchives . com /img/ubs/078/01107q00.jpg

    Later emperors always returned to the imperial founding cult of Divus Iulius, especially at decisive turning points in Roman history, when new dynasties or rulers took over and had to support their new rule with the founding tradition, e.g. the Flavians (especially Vespasian, who apparently reformed the cult) or Constantine, who replicated the coin’s imagery on his triumphal arch in Rome.

    With regard to modern scholarship, there was only debate whether Caesar was already worshipped as a divine being in his lifetime or only after his death. But the consensus is that the official apotheosis in 42 BC, based on the senatorial decree of 44 BC, only confirmed and solidified Caesar’s “inofficial” deification since 48 BC (or possibly even earlier).

    What Caesar himself wanted, is unknown, but not really relevant, because the people and soldiers decided on their own that he was their god. We only know that Caesar didn’t want to become king, and that the allegedly planned kingship was part of a mockery scheme by his enemies. (The “dictator for eternity”-decree together with the divine honors probably was the Caesarians’ way of circumventing the proposed kingship, which would have been an outright scandal in Rome.) But Caesar didn’t reject the plans for his deification (and also the ongoing worship by the people), he knew and obviously approved what was becoming of him and what would finally become of him after his death.

    Octavian (the later Augustus) had already used the new religion for his own political purposes, definitely since the Julian star appeared in July 44 during Caesar’s funeral games. The people saw it as Caesar’s soul in heaven, and Octavian interpreted the star as a sign of his rebirth as “Son of God”, Divi filius, long before the official senatorial apotheosis. Whether Marcus Antonius and Fulvia wanted Caesar to become (or rather: remain) God, is unclear. Antonius only inaugurated as the first flamen of Divus Iulius in 40 BC, so there might be a possibility that they simply wanted to see Caesar as a heros in the Hellenistic sense, a blessedly deceased good man, a chrêstos, as Pompeius called him. Cleopatra chose the divine approach, because she herself was the new Isis-Aphrodite, with the other son of Divus Iulius, Kaisarion, presented as Horus, and Caesar (logically) as Osiris, e.g. on the Dendera temple reliefs.

    But Octavian won at Actium, and whatever plans Antonius, Fulvia and Cleopatra had had, was not important for imperial politics anymore. Octavian not only basked in the victories of his generals and in the people’s new worship after Actium, but also in his divine father’s achievements and (of course) in his father’s divinity, which for him (as “Son of God”) was necessary to become a god during his lifetime, and later an “official god” Divus Augustus Divi filius after his death at the side of his father. There is some debate whether the cult of Divus Iulius or the cult of Divus Augustus was actually the blueprint for the later imperial cult (cp. e.g. I. Gradel), but I guess it was a bit of both. I personally see Augustus as an incompetent (and impotent!) epigone of his father. But it’s feasible that his father’s religion would have died without him, but a what cost! He slaughtered hundreds (if not thousands) of enemies on the altar of Divus Iulius. He was a tyrant, who misused and defiled the Divus Iulius cult, and who is (strangely) regarded as a great Roman emperor.

    It’s a wonderful topic—at least I think so—, and I could go on forever. But I’ve got work to do. 😉

  20. Thanks for your note Hans, which I have only just seen! Interesting indeed. There are only three inscriptions where he is described as Theos? What are the other two?

    Apparently I was mistaken about the motive for editing in this sig by the way — it seems the chop was given mainly because the forum only allowed so many words!

  21. There were surely more inscriptions during his lifetime. One was e.g. in Rome on the pantokrator statue, which is mentioned by Dio (see below), but of actual and real inscriptions we only know these three:

    (1) Raubitschek (1954) inscription E

    Location: Ephesos
    Source: CIG, 2957; Dittenberger, Sylloge, ed. 3, 760.

    [This is the inscription originally referred to in the original blog post; see above. I should also note that I found another instance in which the end of the inscription was translated “universal savior”, not “common savior”. It seems that “universal” is a widely accepted translation.]

    (2) Raubitschek (1954) inscription H

    Location: Karthaia on Keos
    Source: CIG, 2369; IG, XII/5, 557.

    [ὁ δῆμος ὁ Καρθαιέων]
    τὸν θεὸν καὶ αὐτοκράτορα
    καὶ σωτῆρα τῆς οἰκουμένης
    Γάϊον Ἰούλιον Καίσαρα Γαΐου
    Καίσαρος υἱὸν ἀνέθηκεν.

    The first line belongs to an earlier inscription the rest of which was erased to make space for this unusually phrased honorary inscription of Caesar; see, below, p. 74, n. 26. [v.i. (4)]

    (3) Raubitschek (1954) inscription I

    Location: Demetrias in Thessaly
    Source: Πολέμων, I, 1929, pp. 201–6, no. 424 (cf. also Ἀρχ. Ἐφ., 1916, p. 151; Ἀρχ. Δελτ., X, 1926, παρ., 51; Ἀρχ. Ἐφ., 1929, p. 142).

    Γάϊος Ἰούλιος Καῖσαρ, αὐτοκράτωρ,
    Θεός.

    This unique text is inscribed on a Doric column capital which originally supported a bronze statue of C. Caelius C.f. Rufus, legatus pro praetore and tribunus plebis designatus. A.S. Arbanitopoulos has been accepted by E. Groag (Die römischen Reichsbeamten von Achaia bis auf Diokletian, col. 102, n. 411) and S. Accame (Il dominio romano in Grecia dalla guerra acaica ad Augusto, 227, n. 3). [… (n. 6)] It may be assumed, therefore, that the statue of Caelius was removed after Caesar’s victory at Pharsalus both because Caelius had been as tribune active against Caesar (Cicero, Ad. fam., VIII, 8) and in order to make space for a statue of Caesar. Considering the fact that the marble statue of Caesar was erected on an old pedestal, and remembering that Caesar ‘liberated’ the Thessalians who had been his allies (Appian, Civil Wars, II, 88), it is likely that the statue was erected soon after the victory at Pharsalus. The designation of Caesar as imperator and Θεός is found here and on the base from Karthaia (H) which was also re-used; see however, below, p. 74, n. 26. [v.i. (4)]

    (4) Raubitschek (1954), p. 74, n. 26:

    For this phrase [Nota Bene: σωτῆρα τῆς οἰκουμένης (“Savior of the world”)], see Cassius Dio, XLIII, 14, 6, who reports that after the victory at Thapsus it was voted to erect a statue for Caesar [N.B.: in the city of Rome] standing on the oikoumene and inscribed ἡμίθεεος [N.B.: hemitheos; not to be translated as “halfgod”, but as “God”, because it is not the inscription itself, but Dio’s scriptural rendition of the Latin inscription; here the term stands for Latin DIVVS (“God”), but used for a living person; on Dio’s terminology cf. Ittai Gradel, Emperor Worship and Roman Religion, Oxford 2002, pp. 61–9]: see E. Simon (Archäologischer Anzeiger, 1952, p. 131, n. 12, and p. 134, n. 22). Considering the fact that in the inscription from Karthaia (H) Caesar is called Θεός (and the same applies to that from Demetrias, I) and σωτἠρ τῆς οἰκουμένης, one may assume that the monuments at Karthaia (H) and at Demetrias (I) were set up after the victory of Thapsus, at about the same time as the statue at Thespiai (S) [N.B.: IG, VII, 1835; BCH, L, 1926, 439, no. 75]; for this date, see also H. Heinen, Klio, XI, 1911, 132, n. 3.

    [N.B.: Although the Ephesos inscription above (1 [= E]) has a very similar text, albeit much stronger (“universal Savior of all mankind”), including Caesar’s worship as Θεός, it has been commonly dated after Pharsalus, not Thapsus.]

    Source: A. E. Raubitschek, “Epigraphical Notes on Julius Caesar”, JRS, Vol. XLIV, 1954, pp. 65–75

    Addendum: On p. 75 Raubitschek writes:

    In three of the documents under consideration (E, H, I), Caesar is addressed as Θεός, which cannot be considered as a translation of the Latin divus since Caesar was still alive at the time.

    He continues later in the text that the descent from Ares and Aphrodite is the most logical explanation for the attribute theós. This latter conjecture is however moot, because the argument that Caesar was still alive at the time is wrong. Gradel 2002 has shown that the above-mentioned pantokrator statue in Rome called Caesar Divus, which Dio translated as ἡμίθεεος in his historical writings—his term for a living Divus. But on Greek inscriptions DIVVS was always translated as Θεός, the reason obviously not being that the Greeks didn’t know what to do with the term divus, but being that the Romans themselves never distinguished between divus and deus at the time. That distinction was introduced by Varro around 44 B.C., when Caesar’s official deification was decreed, and in a theopolitical maneuver he placed divus above deus as meaning “highest, eternal god”, and specifically not “deified person”. It was Servius, who pointed at the decline of the imperial cult and consequently reversed this Varronian interpretation. Since then divus still meant “god”, but with the specification “deified person”—and even only “blessedly deceased emperor” in later Antiquity. This final distinction by Servius still affects modern scholarship, where the late interpretation of divus is projected onto earlier theological realities from Divus Iulius to Divus Marcus Antoninus Pius, the deified Marcus Aurelius and last “real Divus”.

  22. I’ll have to look into Gradel’s book for the Servius reference. I do remember that Varro’s definition is deduced from Servius’ writings, which i.a. used his earlier texts. But the first starting point is that divus and deus were at first two completely interchangeable words meaning the same, namely only “god”. I think it was Commodus (or Pertinax?) who was the first emperor to be deified without a temple of his own etc.. After that the imperial cult began to degrade, and even before the empire was “christianized”, the cult had already been reduced in importance and substance.

  23. Servius quoted Varro’s interpretation of divus/divi and its meaning with respect to deus/di(i)/dei.

    (1) Servius, Ad Ad Aeneidem 12.139 (= Varro, De Lingua Latina fragment 2, edition Goetz-Schoell)

    Deus autem vel dea generale nomen est omnibus: nam quod graece δέος, latine timor vocatur, inde deus dictus est, quod omnis religio sit timoris. Varro ad Ciceronem tertio: “ita respondeant cur dicant deos, cum [de] omnibus antiqui dixerint divos”.

    Translation: “Deus or dea is the general term for all [gods]. […] Varro to Cicero in the third book [of De lingua Latina]: ‘That is the reply they would give as to why they say dii, when the ancients said divi about them all.'”

    (2) Serv. Ad Aen. 5.45 (= Varro fr. 424, Grammaticae Romanae fragmenta, ed. Funaioli)

    divum et deorum indifferenter plerumque ponit poeta, quamquam sit discretio, ut deos perpetuos dicamus, divos ex hominibus factos, quasi qui diem obierint; unde divos etiam imperatores vocamus. Sed Varro et Ateius contra sentiunt, dicentes divos perpetuos deos qui propter sui consecrationem timentur, ut sunt dii manes.

    Translation: “The poet [Virgil] usually employs ‘of the divi‘ [divum] and ‘of the dii‘ [deorum] indifferently, although there should be a distinction in that we call the immortals dii, whereas divi are created from men, inasmuch as they have ended their days; from which we likewise call [dead] emperors divi. But Varro and Ateius hold the opposite opinion, claiming that divi are eternal, whereas dii are such as are held in honour because they have been deified, such as is the case with the dii manes.

    So we can see the following:

    (a) The Romans did not distinguish between divi and di(i) (cf. also Thesaurus Linguae Latinae 5.1649). Accordingly, Caesar was during his lifetime not only called divus on statues, but also deus (DEO INVICTO, Rome). Still, there seem to have been distinctions from time to time.
    (b) Varro tried to reform this in the face of the new theopolitical changes in Caesar’s times—most probably due to the decreed official name of the new and highest state god: Divus Iulius—and defined di(i)/dei as the general term for all gods, whereas divi were the elite category of eternal gods. A logical theopolitical move. Language is power. And Divus Iulius needed power to be the ruling god of the empire.
    (c) In the Servius quote we already find evidence for the artificiality of Varro’s interpretation: “[the dii] are held in honour, because they have been deified, such as is the case with the dii manes.” This is however only half the truth, because the term divus also has its archaic roots in honored and deified humans, e.g. the Diva Rumina or the Diva Angerona. Furthermore the term Divi Manes was also in use, if I’m not mistaken.
    (d) Divus Pertinax Pater was the last of the traditional imperial divi. Commodus was deified belatedly and did not receive a separate temple. For Gradel (2002) this is the turning point in the imperial cult. In any case the cult began to deteriorate quickly, and Christianity finally took over.
    (e) Servius wrote in the early 5th century and reversed Varro’s interpretation completely. But this doesn’t change the fact that Servius’ interpretation was as artificial as Varro’s. In terms of the meaning of words, divus was still the same as deus. But here we’re talking about political moves: In the same way we can follow Varro and his need to define divus the way he did back in Caesar’s times, we can understand Servius, who was looking at an imperial cult that had completely faded into unimportance. The emperors deified in Servius’ time were undoubtedly simply honored dead men. Furthermore, Servius might have been influenced by Christianity.
    (f) Since Servius’ interpretation was the final one and was made in Christian times, Christianity was itself happy to adopt this opinion, because they had always been critical against the cult of the emperor (and any allegedly “pagan” religions). This late interpretation is having repercussions even in today’s scholarship, because Christians are still Christians, but even if Servius’ interpretation is completely understandable from his point of view, it’s still wrong, when looking at historical realities at the beginning of the empire, and it’s even more wrong for modern scholars to project Servius’ view on the early divi. That’s a categorical error.

  24. Addendum: This Ateius by the way would be Gaius Ateius Capito, a Caesarian, which is additional evidence that Varro’s and Ateius’ interpretation of divus was in fact a Caesarian interpretation, aimed at cementing the new (or planned) divine rule of Divus Iulius. Looking at Servius, it would however be wrong to say that Servius was “anti-Caesarian”, because the cult of Divus Iulius vanished when Christianity surfaced—although Del Mar believed to have located Julian priesthood in the 7th century, which is (most probably) wrong. In any case, Servius was simply being realistic about the emperor cult, which had been declining since Commodus.

  25. 2nd addendum/specification: There were apparently two persons by the name C. Ateius Capito, and the one in question would be the jurist, who was later also an avid supporter of Augustus’ principate. He wrote lots of works, some of them on the ius sacrum. So Capito reiterated Varro’s earlier interpretation, which is also logical, because declaring Divus Iulius an eternal and elite god was in Augustus’ interest, because it strengthened his power as Divi filius (“Son of God”).

  26. Hans, this is great stuff, and very, very interesting. You ought to have a blog yourself, you know! The quotations from Servius really lay it out, don’t they? Thank you for posting and translating these.

    As you say, Servius must reflect to some extent the usage of his day. So Constantine could be referred to as divus but not deus?

    I read recently that in the Christian empire the term “sacred” was applied to all sorts of government institutions. Any thoughts on this?

  27. (a) About the blog issue: I’ve thought about it. Maybe I’ll open one in the future together with a colleague. We’ll see. 🙂

    (b) Yes, Servius is important for a better understanding of Roman religion, and especially these two passages are important to understand not only how the political meaning of the term divus changed over the centuries, but how insignificant the imperial cult had become. It was a completely different kind of Rome in Servius’ times. But there is one more thing: Lots of people say that Christianity “killed” the imperial cult. That’s fantasy. If at all, the imperial cult more or less killed itself, and it may be feasible to see its pre-Christian decline as one very early factor of Rome’s overall demise. (After all, religion is power.) It was probably easier for Christianity to take over than we think. 😉 If Christianity hadn’t come, the empire may have crumbled much earlier.

    (c) I’ll post something on Constantine later.

    (d) On the term “sacred”: That would be a direct continuation of “pagan” Roman customs. The Romans themselves had their ius sacrum. Politics and religion were not only equal, they were one and the same. Mommsen already wrote that the “pagan” sacred law was the “state law” (Staatsrecht), and the pontifex maximus was probably one of the most important political offices in Rome. So also in this aspect Christianity followed pre-Christian Rome, where everything from the emperor’s curule chair to the bench in the park was sacred, sometimes even distinctively divine, every political office had religious connection, and even financial and political contracts were guarded by gods like Fides. Etc. pp.

  28. NOTE: This is a repost. The original one got lost, because one URL was still intact. If necessary, delete the original.

    On Constantine (partially based on Manfred Clauss, Kaiser und Gott, Stuttgart/Leipzig 1999, pp. 196 sqq.):

    Constantine was deified in 337 as Divus Constantinus (and Divus Constantinus Pius in some places). So he was in fact a Divus. Since divus also meant “god” in his time, the term “deification” would be correct. It was more than 140 years after Pertinax, so normally one might assume that it was just a posthumous honor, maintaining the tradition and the terminus technicus of the imperial cult. But Constantine was different. He was (for Christian and non-Christian Romans alike) one of the great Caesars after Iulius, Augustus, Vespasianus, Hadrianus etc.. He was worshipped as god (deus) already during his lifetime, and it was definitely not just flattery. And even the Christians didn’t mind.

    He founded his claim for power on his descent from Divus Constantius, also called Chlorus, who was deified and consecrated under Constantine in 306. So we can see that in Constantine’s time it was still important to be the son of a Roman state god, whether it was just flattery for a mediocre emperor or true deification of great emperors like Constantine. Constantine’s father was ruler on earth and god in heaven: imperator in terris et in caelo deus (310 A.D., Panegyrici Latini 6 [7].4.2). In addition, Constantine postulated descent from yet another god, Divus Claudius (Claudius Gothicus, deified in 270, CIL 6.31564 = D 702, Rome). So we can see that Constantine definitely followed the Roman custom of deification during one’s lifetime. Eusebius didn’t object, obviously and for good reasons because in Christian eyes Constantine was beyond criticism, even for later Christian writers.

    Constantine received the usual divine attributes of course, but it was stronger than for other emperors. His divine numen was large (Pan. Lat. 6/7.1.1), i.e. he was acting as a divinity, he was called sacratissimus imperator (“most holy imperator”, Pan. Lat. 6/7.1.1 & 12/9.1.1), his soldiers believed he was a deus, who had divinitas (Pan. Lat. 6/7.17.4), Constantine was a praesentissimus hic deus, a “well and truly present god” (Pan. Lat. 6/7.22.1), a salutary god like Apollo (Pan. Lat. 6/7.21.6). He was Hercules (CIL 1(2), 1086.1 = D 681). He was an omnipresent god, because he was agile and swift (Pan. Lat. 6/7.7.5), which was a common character of many gods, but especially of the divi since Divus Iulius, who actually had been speed personified. 😉 Even later Christian writers referred to Constantine’s swiftness as proof of his divinity. Since Julius Caesar had been identified with Sol, it was—with some exceptions of course, e.g. during the tetrarchy—common for emperors to be the sun god as well, in Constantine’s time [Deus] Sol Invictus, plus a very infamous direct identification with Apollo in a vision of a myst at the imperial court, in which Constantine was crowned several times by Victoria and “his Apollo” (Pan. Lat. 6/7.21.4).

    After his victory in 312, Constantine was celebrated as founder of Rome (conditor) and god (deus; Aurelius Victor, Caesares 41.4). Being a founder of Rome was very important since Caesar and Augustus, the latter even having been offered the name/title Romulus instead of Augustus, in reference to the first founder of Rome, while Caesar’s living-god statue had been erected in the temple of Quirinus, the deified Romulus. Statues were erected for Constantine, including the famous colossal statue. In Africa the gens Flavia of Constantine received a new flaminate, surely including lifetime worship of Constantine (Aur. Vict., Caes. 40.28), while the same happened in Hispellum (CIL 11.5283 = D 6623). There was a new prominent cult of the Constantinian-Flavian dynasty in the empire, and a clear worship of Constantine himself as god during his lifetime. Constantine is guided by a deus called “heavenly spirit” (divina mens) or “heavenly divine force” (divinum numen; Pan. Lat. 12/9.2.2 & 12/9.4.1), he is a deity himself, who is to remain in the world forever (Pan. Lat. 12/9.26.4). He was guided by and identified with an elusive deity (Pan. Lat. 12/9.13.2), which had attributes of Jupiter, but strangely remained unnamed. The god was called the creator and ruler of the world, which some think is a later variation of Jupiter. But it could as well be Divus Iulius, because his cult was “enclosed” and elusive (like that of Magna Mater, cf. Gradel 2002), and because Caesar (as the first Divus) was in essence the new “imperial Jupiter”—DIVVS (pronounced “dius”) was chosen for its etymological connection to DIEVS (also pronounced “dius”), which is why scholars have also referred to him as “Iuppiter Iulius”. Divus Iulius was in fact the founder (= creator) of the world (cf. Weinstock 1971), ruler and savior of mankind etc.. On his triumphal arch Constantine commemorated this founding Divus by recreating the imagery of Caesar’s resurrection, which we see on this coin — http://imagedb.coinarchives.com/img/tkalec/2008/image00265.jpg — where Caesar’s funeral wax effigy is shown (left), as the shepherd king Endymion resurrecting from death/sleep with Selene (right) and a winged deity with a torch (center), probably Amor as Victoria. We find it on the arch here — http://img15.imagehosting.gr/out.php/i719280_selene-endymion-constantine-bild2.jpeg —, with Selene and Victoria having switched sides. The Endymion posture of Caesar was apparently so important that it was even copied on Christian sarcophagi and catacomb paintings, for Jonah reclining in the same pose, often identified with Christ, and sometimes including the beast, a context that signifies the resurrection:

    Sta_Maria_Antiqua_Jonah.jpg (via here.

    Constantine’s family members were included in the worship, because they descended from a divine gens, Constantine’s mother Helena became the wife of Divus Constantius, and the Caesares he chose for the empire were also closely connected to the dynasty. The theopolitical propaganda utilized many of the earlier divi as ancestors: Constantius, Aurelianus, Maximianus, Claudius. Even his father-in-law Maximianus Herculius, who had organized a coup d’état against Constantine, might have been forgiven, restituted and deified. Constantine probably worshipped Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius as his own ancestral gods.

    Eusebius didn’t object to any of these honors and deifications, but didn’t mention Constantine’s own posthumous consecration, i.e. the official senatorial consecratio, because it would have created theological tension with Christian beliefs. But Constantine became Divus after his death, then still the official name of the deified emperor, for which there are several sources, e.g. Eutropius 10.8.3.. Many inscriptions and coins call him Divus, venerable and august, so it’s quite clear that his deification during his lifetime was followed immediately by an official senatorial consecration after his death.

    His ascension was prominently minted — http://imagedb.coinarchives.com/img/cng/066/enlarged/661629.jpg —, where we can see Divus Constantinus on a quadriga ascending to heaven, with the hand of god reaching out to him. This is in fact a 100% Caesarian depiction, because Caesar’s ascension as Divus Iulius introduced this iconography — http://img15.imagehosting.gr/out.php/i719370_ascension-divusiulius.jpg —, including the hand of god, which was Jupiter’s hand reaching out to Caesar from the clouds in his last dream, foreshadowing his own ascension and apotheosis a few days later. So by maintaining a logical series of succession one could hypothesize that on the coin Divus Constantine, the new founder, is actually reaching out to the creator god Divus Iulius during his ascension. These images were also Christianized, e.g. Caesar’s dream and ascension and Constantine’s own ascension respectively as Christ’s ascension here (featuring the hand of god) — http://www.hp.uab.edu/image_archive/ulg/ivory07.jpg — and as the famous ascension of Christ as Sol:

    Christ as Sol

    via here —, interestingly depicted in the center of St. Peter in Rome, in the mausoleum of the Julian dynasty, Caesar’s family (!!). Might be a coincidence, but it’s quite intriguing.

    Eusebius does write about his ascension, even describes the coin in detail (v. Const. 4.73), but what’s interesting is that he (a) leaves out all Christian terminology, and (b) doesn’t call him a god, but “the blessed” (μᾰκάριος). Clauss views this as the first sign of Christian re-interpretation of “pagan” Roman proceedings, and I partially agree. But there’s more to it. In later Christian times divus was interpreted especially as “blessed”, also for Christian saints. Constantine is of course a Christian saint, and Eusebius’ choice of words is surely from a Christian standpoint, not from a “pagan” one. But Eusebius was smart to use a “pagan” term, μᾰκάριος, because it is closely related to the Greek heros and hemitheos, whose final resting place (i.e. more or less heaven) was the “island of the blessed”. And from Cassius Dio we know that heros was a perfectly valid Greek translation of an unspecified divus. So Eusebius chose a very diplomatic approach here. 🙂

    In any case these were transitional times, with Christian and “pagan” cults and beliefs mixing freely, especially with the common people. But also on the “official” level we have “Christo-Pagan bastards” like a Christian flamen of the religio Romana, a flamen Christianus. For many common Christians Constantine was definitely divus and also deus, as he had been during his lifetime, and only much later was Constantine remodeled into a “blessed” saint. Philostorgius reports of 5th century Christians, who still worshipped Divus Constantinus as god at his statue in the center of Constantinople, where he was portrayed as Helios/Sol Invictus (cf. Philostorg., Hist. Eccl., 2.17; cf. also Theodor., Hist. Eccl. 1.32, who also mentions posthumous worship by Christians). Statues and inscriptions of earlier emperors like Caracalla were rededicated to the god Constantine, and the official Christian church didn’t intervene, often not for two centuries (see above). So the evidence is clear: For Christian and non-Christian Romans alike Constantine was a god, divus and deus, like all great emperors deified during his life.

  29. Good morning. Hope today finds you all well — especially Roger, who has been under the weather lately. Hope you’re feeling better today. 😉

    With regards to the inscription:

    [i]“Gaius Julius Caesar…Chief Priest…God made manifest and common Saviour of Mankind.” (Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum 2957 [48/47])[/i]

    Did a little research, was able to get hold of Manfred Clauss, Professor of Ancient History at the Free University of Berlin. I sent him an e-mail with the above inscription, and he graciously took the time to respond with the following response:

    [i]From: email***********
    Subject: Re: PLEASE HELP–1 LAST TIME!!!
    Date: June 24, 2009 2:16:51 AM EDT
    To: seanh*********

    Dear Sean,
    thank you very much for your letter.
    Your translation is correct:
    The complete text of CIG 2957 is:

    ] / poleis ai en te Asia kao[ikousai] / kai ta ethne Gaion Ioulion Gaio[u ui]/on kaisara ton archierea kai auto/kratora kai to deuteron upa/ton ton apo Areos kai Aphrode[i]/tes theon epiphane kai koinon tou / anthropinou biou sotera

    Unfortunately I cannot write the Greek text.
    Best refards
    manfred

    ———-

    Prof. Dr. Dr. Manfred Clauss
    Hossenberg
    D-53773 Hennef

    Tel.: ************
    Fax: *************

    email: email**********

    homepage: http://www.manfredclauss.de[/i%5D

    So, a least, we know what the ICG states with regards to said inscription. I will let those of you far more knowledgeable in linguistics (had two years of Koine Greek as per requirement for my classics major — but that was some 20 years ago!) take it from here. 🙂

    Also, I contacted Karen L. King, Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the Divinity School, Harvard University, who was familiar with the inscription. Professor King stated the inscription can also be found in Taylor, “The Divinity of the Roman Emperor,” p. 267.

    Lastly, I came across another version of the inscription (URL below), that reads:

    [i]Page 336:

    The cities of Asia, along with the [citizen-bodies] and the nations, (honor) C. Julius C. f. Caesar, the high priest, imperator, and twice consul, the manifest god (sprung) from Ares and Aphrodite, and universal savior of human life.26

    *26 The English translation is the author’s; the Greek text is from Wankel, Die Inschriften von Ephesos, 2.49, #251. The reference to Ares and Aphrodite (Mars and Venus) is to the mytho-logical origins of the Julii from a union of these deities (through Aeneas).[/i]

    SOURCE: Westminster Theological Journal 54 (1992) 331-340.
    http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildeb…viorAll-WTJ.htm

    Hans … Thanks for all the terrific information. Brilliant! 🙂

    Hopefully this will all be of some use.

    Blessings to all.

    Sean

  30. I know this discussion is a bit old now (!), but I would like to comment on a few things.

    I’m curious to know why this is considered “anti-Christian”. My first question would be when are these inscriptions dated, particularly the one you cited at top (CIG 2957; I don’t have a copy at hand to view)? It seems anachronistic to say this is anti-Christian, especially with the mention of Gaius Julius Caesar. My next question is, would this inscription be dated to the Augustan era?

    There is already a well-known inscription cited, dated to c. 9 BCE from Priene, as Hans points out, but this is 9 BCE. Augustus Caesar is praised as Savior of “good news” (ευαγγελιον) (see further Craig Evans’ article in the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism found here: http://www.craigaevans.com/Priene%20art.pdf). It would be anachronistic to say this one (and the Caesar one above) is ‘anti-Christian,’ since it is dated well before any of the NT documents were written. The laudatory language was already known. By the time the Gospels were written (e.g., Mark), the language was already commonplace to be associated with imperial figures (more so in the eastern provinces of the Empire) that I think some of the material in the Gospels and elsewhere are countering those concepts: i.e., here is the real Son of God (Jesus), not Caesar.

    So I don’t see it as “anti-Christian”. There may be more examples, but the only inscription I see as “anti-Christian” is the second century CE scrawling of “Alexamenos worships [his] god,” depicting a boy/man looking at a donkey being crucified. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexamenos_graffito

    I would say that various parts of NT literature are anti-Imperial, rebutting imperial concepts of Caesar Filius Divi (Caesar Son of God), etc. See in particular NT Wright, Richard Horsley, William Carter, D. Crossan, et al. I don’t see how these inscriptions and/or scrawlings would be anti-Christian until well after the movement of Christianity was underway.

    As Christianity began to take shape and spread, many pagans considered Christians atheists for not accepting the traditional gods.

    So the vocabulary was already known. As another example, εκκλησια (church, assembly) was already a well-known term. Plato uses it and it is found in many, many inscriptions. Can we say that this is a Christian term being used in pagan literature and inscriptions? Absolutely not — the vocabulary was already known, even already known in the LXX.

    Why am I mentioning this? Just to be careful that the material we cite is not anachronistic.

  31. A slight misunderstanding here; the inscription is not anti-Christian, as you rightly say. Chronology makes that impossible. But the quotation of it in a modern post on the internet was.

  32. A slight misunderstanding here; the inscription is not anti-Christian, as you rightly say. Chronology makes that impossible. But the quotation of it in a modern post on the internet was.

    Exactly. It’s clear from his other posts that this user meant it as anti-Christian.

    One remark though: It’s not at all clear that the graffito blasfemo is anti-Christian. It’s more probable that it’s not. Sure, Christian scholars have told us (and wikipedia eagerly iterates) that it’s supposed to mock an early Christian, since it depicts Alexamenos’ worship as onolatry, because the Jews were sometimes referred to as practicing onolatry, and since Alexamenos’ god is depicted on a cross. Therefore it has to be a mockery of Jesus and of Christian worship. However, these are a lot of assumptions and conjectures, a whole chain, to be precise. Not very scientific. Furthermore, Jews are not Christians, the ass is actually a horse—typical neck, size of the ears etc., so it’s hippolatry, probably an ancient Persian cult (cf. A. Alföldi)—, and the cross has a suppedaneum, which became part of Christian crucifixion iconography only much later.

  33. I don’t think the Alaxamenos graffiti can be anti-Jewish, because of the cross. But the links between Christians and Jews were fairly well known.

    I don’t think we can deduce much from the abilities of a graffiti artist to accurately represent a horse rather than an ass!

  34. Thanks, Roger, for clearing up the misunderstanding (I suppose the hint beforehand was “online fora”). And thanks, Hans, for your insight. All the best.

  35. Good morning all. As Roger mentioned, this inscription was not anti-Christian. And I know this with absolute certainty. How so? This whole post is based upon a signature I used. Long story short, Roger and I mended fences, and I explained to him in an email the following:

    “Good morning Roger. Thank you for accepting my apologies. I’m glad we can start off on a new foot (pun intended) I hope you will also accept my apologies with regards to my former signature. Upon reflection, I can certainly see how someone of deep faith can regard that as provocational. However, as I mentioned in a prior post, that certainly was not my intent. Like you, I have a tremendous passion for classics — Graeco-Roman studies (Bachelor of Science, Classics/History, Ball State University). Of interest lately … is emperor worship. Again, I certainly understand your side of the argument — especially after living so much of my own life as a devout Christian (evangelical). I should’ve been more considerate.”

    Again, not ant-Christian … But, as I mentioned to Roger, I understand how someone of deep faith can interpret it that way. Certainly was not my intent.

    Most kindly,

    Sean

  36. With regard to the coin mentioned above (the link seems to be bad now) (Endymion, Caesar etc.):
    I believe the author is referring to Grueber’s BMC RR 4160 and 4161 (a book available on Internet Archive): H. A. G., Coins of the Roman Republic in the British Museum, vol. 1, London 1910.
    Grueber writes on p. 546:
    Sulla’s dream ; in the foreground, on the 1., Sulla reclining against a rock; his 1. arm supporting his head ; on the r. is seen Selene descending from a mountain ; crescent on her forehead, and above her head, a floating veil; in r. hand she holds a lighted torch ; in the background, facing, is Victory, holding palm branch.
    M. H. Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, vol. 1, Cambridge 1974, p. 487 also interprets BMC RR 4160 as Sulla’s dream.
    I wonder where the reinterpretation as the “resurrection of Caesar” is coming from. At best it’s tendentious.
    J. G. Cook

  37. Thank you for this.

    Most of those image links do seem to have vanished in the last 6 years although I found a couple and uploaded copies (after a mighty struggle, I might add – no wonder I didn’t archive them) The evanescence of images online is a real problem.

  38. My apologies for posting to nearly dead dissension.
    Regarding the prior notice:

    —– Then the inscription would translate as:

    “The cities of Asia and the communities and nations [worship] Gaius Julius Caesar, son of Gaius, Pontifex Maximus and Imperator, Consul for the second time, appearing God [descending] from Ares [Mars] and Aphrodite [Venus Genetrix], the common Savior of all mankind.”

    I’m not 100% sure, but this should be a valid translation.
    Comment on Jun 6th, 2009 at 7:33 pm —-

    The word (worship) is hypothetical. A word like acknowledge, recognize, commemorate, honor, are also fitting the context. The word -appearing- might better be manifesting as, seeming as, becoming like.
    Was Caesar transformed to god or did he looked like a god?
    I think Greek gospels, especially Mark, used imperial cult language to Jesus, as substitute for hard to translate ideas about messiah.

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