Jesus was Caesar – Crux

Chapter III of the English edition

© Francesco Carotta, Kirchzarten, Germany

© 2005, Uitgeverij Aspekt b.v., Soesterberg, The Nederlands

back to contents / previous chapter



We have shown some similarities and parallels between Caesar and Jesus. There are just as many to be found when we compare the narratives of their respective passions.
Both Caesar and Jesus were murdered. In both cases their elimination was of no gain to the murderers: Brutus died and so did Judas; Caesar had a successor, Jesus resurrected; Caesar was elevated to the gods, Jesus ascended into heaven.

The main discrepancy lies in the fact that Caesar was stabbed and Jesus crucified. At this point the parallels seem to come to an end.

So let us have a closer look at this essential difference.

Firstly, to get our bearings, we will recall the structure of their respective passion narratives.

The structure of the passion

Concerning Caesar we have (a) the conspiracy, (b) the assassination, (c) the posthumous trial, (d) the cremation, (e) the conflict about his heritage, (f) the succession.

Concerning Jesus we have (a) the conspiracy, (b) the capture, (c) the trial, (d) the crucifixion, (e) the burial, (f) the resurrection.

A structural correspondence is plain to see. The main discrepancy is that Caesar was murdered at the attack, whereas Jesus was merely captured. All the other differences are the result of this: regarding their trials, the only difference is that one is already dead whilst the other one is still alive. Whether we are dealing with funeral or crucifixion depends on whether Jesus was still alive or not at the time. Conflict about the inheritance on the one hand and the burial of Jesus’ body on the other only seem to be different: in both cases it is about the corpus. Succession or resurrection, it is about the Empire—whether on earth or in heaven.

A posthumous trial?

The first question we have to deal with is whether Jesus was still alive at his trial.
It is striking that Jesus says nothing more after his capture.
‘But he held his peace, and answered nothing.’[105]

And when he does finally speak, what does he say?

    ‘Thou sayest it.’[106]

Which again means nothing: the other one says it, not he himself.

It is not necessary to take Jesus’ last words into consideration: they are an invention in some phase or other of the tradition. This is something all scholars agree on. Namely, that it was a common literary topos in antiquity to put last words into the mouth of anyone famous who was dying. Indeed, Mark, and after him Matthew, have the famous ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’; Luke has instead: ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’; John, showing little respect, has him settle his last Will and Testament—‘Woman, behold thy son! … Behold thy mother’—then toast to it—‘I thirst’—and to set the seal on it—‘It is finished’. Everybody has put something different into his mouth: this proves that he said nothing, otherwise there would only be one version.[107]

The same can be applied to his conversation with those who were crucified along with him. Mark merely reports that they reviled him and offers no further elaboration. The conversation only starts with the later Evangelists.

Conclusion: Jesus is silent after his capture. He, the fearless individualist, acting alone against everybody from the beginning—he who had come not to bring peace but the sword—should suddenly become speechless? Here, the gifted orator with whom the word was from the beginning, and who had something eloquent and incisive to say on every occasion, whether it were Sermons on the Mount or parables, is now dead silent at his trial, the crucial moment when he finally has a stage? We immediately think of the apology of Socrates, the other famous orator who was unjustly condemned. This silence of Jesus is inexplicable—that is why there is such an extensive literature about it.

Was his trial conducted posthumously? Was he already dead?

The following sentence of Mark is also quite strange:

    ‘…and they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.’[108]

Here Mark says pherousin, ‘they carried him’, and not, as one would expect, ‘they led him’. We hesitate because, here, where according to the traditional story Jesus should still be alive, he is ‘carried’ to the place of a skull. Was he not capable of going by himself? We note that just before this, Simon the Cyrenian had been forced to take Jesus’ cross and carry it. So he must have been unable to do it himself. Of course this debility is usually attributed to the earlier flagellation that he had endured. But the fact is, if Mark is to be taken literally, he not only did not carry his cross, he even had to be carried himself.

If we take an objective look at the corpse of Jesus, we have to observe that it bears a very unusual feature for someone who was crucified, namely a stab-wound in the side, and one so open and fresh that blood ran out of it. Very peculiar indeed, so much so that John, who quotes this detail, feels himself obliged to provide us with an explanation for the inexplicable:

    ‘But when they came to Jesus ... one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.’[109]

And because it was apparently unheard of, John fiercely swears that it is true:

    ‘And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.’[110]

And because still no one believes him John explains why he should be believed:

    ‘For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled… (Zach. 12:10): “They shall look on him whom they pierced.”’[111]

Critical biblical critics smirk here and say that the passage obviously has been invented to ensure that the prophecy is fulfilled: and they are right, but only partly.

Here we are dealing with a so-called midrash, a very formalized method for interpreting something inexplicable. The idea is that everything must already be present in the biblia iudaica; if an unusual event takes place and one has to justify it, then at least one passage has to be found in the Jewish books that can serve as a vaticinium ex eventu, a prophecy after the event. Some Gospel critics even deem the events in the Gospel text eventus ex vaticiniis, which would mean they are entirely invented on the basis of the prophecies. They thus misjudge intention and mechanism of the midrash. For, one sees immediately that the unexplainable must already be present so that the corresponding passage can be sought, otherwise simply any passage could be sought to justify anything. But the Gospels do not contain just anything but something definite, and very precisely defined at that.

Thus we conclude that the passage in John is probably interpolated—the other Evangelists know nothing about it—however the reason to search for a corresponding passage was pre-existent: they had stabbed him. That we may regard as a certainty.

An indirect proof that John is speaking the truth here is brought to us by an apocryphon, which means a scripture not accepted into the canon, the so-called Gospel of Nicodemus, also known as the Acts of Pilate. There it is said that the soldier who perforated his side with a lance was named Longinus.[112]

Theologians speculate here that the name Longinus may have been invented: because lance in Greek is lonchê, the soldier was consequently named Longinus: in this they break the rules of the art. For ‘Longinus’ is a proper name, ‘lance’ a common term; the one rare and personal, the other one universally known. Experts speak of a lectio difficilior and a lectio facilior—by this they mean that in the process of tradition the easier word can replace the more difficult one: never the other way round. Thus Longinus is certain, and the pointed weapon was associated with his name and so became a lance. But the pointed weapon could have been of a different kind.

From where did John take the stab in the chest of Jesus? It can only have happened at his capture, where there was a violent engagement and the naked sword was drawn:

    ‘…and kissed him. And they laid their hands on him, and took him. And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.’[113]

We are accustomed to hearing sword used here and not dagger, because in the King James Version it was translated this way. But Mark does not say sword, but machaira, which primarily means knife, then dagger, or at most a short sword—like, for example, the Roman gladius.

That murderers were involved in the so-called arrest of Jesus is revealed by Mark’s choice of words in the next verse:

    ‘And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?’[114]

Luther translates: ‘…as against a murderer’. We can be confident that a gang went wild with daggers and other weapons, and indeed so wild that they wounded each other in the face. The arrest of Jesus seems to have been more murderous than it looks at first glance. Due to the fact that Jesus does not speak a word after the arrest and is later depicted with an open chest-wound, untypical for a crucified one, it is reasonable to assume that he was murdered at this point and that his so-called arrest was actually his capture, his entrapment, and—as Mark’s choice of words indicates—his assassination.

John could have easily borrowed the stab in the side of Jesus from here and have made use of it at the descent from the cross.

So while we are at it, let us have a quick look at the parallel passage in the assassination of Caesar. The supposition that the Caesar source could have been used as a model for Mark is substantiated by the following detail, mentioned by Appianus:

    ‘Many of the attackers wounded each other, whilst they stabbed with the daggers.’[115]

If we leave the servant in Mark’s account of the capture of Jesus out of consideration for a moment[116] and understand that the High Priest himself was the target of the stabbing, then Mark’s report superbly summarizes the attack on Caesar, pontifex maximus, High Priest.

And who stabbed him?—Longinus—C. Cassius Longinus:

    ‘Cassius stabbed into the face…’[117]

—says Appianus; and Suetonius:

    ‘Of all the many stab wounds, according the judgement of Antistius, his personal physician, only one was mortal, namely the second, which he took in his chest.’[118]

A posthumous crucifixion?

Well, the logical conclusion of this would be that the crucifixion of Jesus was actually his funeral, and therefore, either the crucifixion did not take place at all, or if it did, it too was posthumous.
But it is written that he was crucified, that Simon of Cyrene carried his cross and that there was a sign hanging over this cross. So we will have to investigate how the Evangelists, the writers of the Gospels, depict the crucifixion, the cross and the sign. Let us start with this last one.

The sign

Mark writes: ‘And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS’; Luke: ‘And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS’; Matthew: ‘And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS’; John: ‘And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZAREHT THE KING OF THE JEWS’.[119]

Here we have cited the four Gospels in the supposed order of their genesis: the oldest is thought to be Mark (the so-called Protoevangelium); then follow Luke and Matthew, which show a lot of conformity to Mark (that is why they are called Synoptics), but in contrast to Mark they present in places some ‘unpublished material’ (the famous source Q and the Sondergut, special material); John is supposed to be the latest of them all, but he belongs to a tradition different from the other three.

It is striking that the further away in time the Evangelist is from the events being reported, the more he has to say when it should be the other way around. Let us follow the thread from the other direction.

John has added the epithet Nazoraean (meaning from Nazareth), the cross and Pilate; Luke has added (in some manuscripts) that it was written in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew; Matthew for his part has added the name Jesus and that the sign was positioned above his head. And what was it that Mark added to his exemplar? After the word ‘king’, should he not have appended the words ‘of the Jews’? So we have to conclude that originally there was only the accusation of being king, which had been written (wherever).

But the case is no different with Caesar.[120] It is well-known that he was murdered because it was assumed he was striving for regality.[121]

The inscription over Jesus’ head in Mark was: (h)o basileus tôn Ioudaiôn, ‘the King of the Jews’.

But Iulius is written in Greek IOULIOS—Ioulios, in the accusative IOULIONIoulion, (the temple) of Iulius is named IOULIEION (HRWON)Ioulieion (hêrôon)—which both visually resemble IOUDAIWNIoudaiôn—because of the resemblance of D and L (D like L) in the graphic. Basileus did not always mean king, in Greek it could frequently indicate the Latin imperator, as also basileia could indicate imperium.[122]

‘King of the Jews’ and ‘Imperator Iulius’, or ‘Imperator (from the house) of the Iulians’ are confusable in Greek.

The cross

Was the inscription on the cross at all? Where did the cross stand?

It is only explicitly mentioned as being in the hands of Simon of Cyrene:

    ‘And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.’[123]

The King James Version lingers in our ears: ‘…to bear his cross.’ But Mark says arêi: ‘…to take up his cross, lift it.[124]

This is strange. According to Mark, Simon did not bear the cross in Jesus’ place but rather lifted it up, erected it. Did Jesus ever come in contact with that cross?


Let us look at the development of the sentence that tells us Jesus was crucified:
Mark: ‘And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them,…’

Matthew: ‘And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots…’

Luke: ‘…there they crucified him…’

John: ‘Where they crucified him…’[125]

It is striking that John and Luke first emphasize that he was crucified; Matthew and Mark speak of the parted garments and about the casting of lots. We learn that he was crucified because it happened just at the moment that they were parting the garments and casting the lots: incidentally, as it were.

The crucifixion seems to have graduated from a side issue to the central issue. And even after this metamorphosis, the speech is only about the act of the crucifixion itself, not about a cross: a verb rather than a substantive.

If we have a closer look at this verb, it turns out that staurô does not mean crucify, but to put up posts or slats or a palisade, or more precisely to fence in. Namely, the origin of the verb is stauros, which means stake, post, slat, and especially in the plural: palisade. First the Christians used the verb in the sense of ‘to put up a post’, then the post was interpreted as a stake and later on as a torture stake—a cross. So, ‘put up stakes or posts’ became ‘lift to the cross’, whereby in the mind, due to the iconography, the image of ‘nailed to the cross’ developed.[126]

Above we have utilized the ‘Christian’ translation of Mark’s sentence:

    ‘And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them…’

But a Greek of the first century would not have understood the sentence in this way, either not at all, or if so, rather in this sense:

    ‘…and when they were putting up stakes, posts or slats or a palisade around him, they parted the garments, and cast valuable pieces on it…’

—because the Greek word for lot—klêros—originally means all that is received as an allotment, especially an inheritance, an heirloom.

A strange sentence. It rather seems to describe the erection of a funeral pyre and the ritual casting of gifts for the dead on it than the erection of a cross.

The preceding sentence of Mark is even stranger:

‘And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.’[127]

This sentence does not say anything. We are informed that Jesus has not taken anything: a piece of non-news. It is inexplicable why this sentence should be here at all. Obviously, the other Evangelists could not interpret it either and started, each after his own manner, to make a ‘reasonable’ reorganization of the existing requisites.

Matthew, who likes to search through the Jewish scriptures, found the psalm (69:21): ‘They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.’ And he promptly rewrote it:

    ‘They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.’[128]

Some of the manuscripts refer to wine instead of vinegar. But it is assumed that the original word was vinegar and not wine, as otherwise Matthew would not have found it in the psalm. And because he found vinegar, the gall replaced the myrrh. Probably, Mark often used the word wine instead of vinegar—through the intermediate word oxys oinos ‘sour, vinegary wine’—because of the resemblance of the words and because myrrh was added to the wine, not to vinegar. But for the others, vinegar held its position. Therefore the myrrh had to fade out, only to pop up again in another place.

In fact, Luke simply left out the myrrh: the soldiers only offer vinegar to Jesus.

    ‘And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar…’[129]

He does not tell us if Jesus took it or not.

He makes the women bring the myrrh to the grave, interestingly enough not in the form of myrrh—myrrha, MURRA—but instead as ointment—myra, MURA:

    ‘…and [they] beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments;’[130]

At this point in Mark’s account he only speaks of ‘aromatics’, arômata. It looks as though Luke combined it because of the resemblance of the names arômata and myra.[131]

John lets this sentence disappear completely from this particular place where it explains nothing—because myrrh was not ingested but used externally, resulting in Mark and Matthew being forced to say: ‘…he would not drink’—and moves it backwards to places where it makes more sense. He separates the vinegar from the myrrh: he has vinegar being offered to Jesus, together with hyssop, and he takes it:

    ‘…and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar…’[132]

John has the myrrh being brought, not by the women, but by Nicodemus when Jesus’ corpse is collected: ‘…and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.’ Why the aloes are suddenly added to the myrrh is explained as follows: ‘…with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.’[133]

After we have reviewed the four canonical Gospels, it is certain that the original requisites are the following: MURRA or MURAmyrrha or myra, ‘myrrh’ or ‘ointment’, OXU(V)oxy(s), ‘sour’ (vine) and OUK respectively OUN ELABENouk/oun elaben, ‘did not take’ respectively ‘did take’.

Now, if we wanted to decide between these alternatives, we would have to give the first requisite myra priority over myrrha, because Mark does not say myrrh, but esmyrnismenon, i. e. actually ‘anointed’, but in Mark it still has the sense of ‘myrrhed, with a little bit of myrrh’.[134]

In the second and third requisite there is a resemblance in the lettering between oxy ‘sour’ and ouk/oun ‘not/but’. Because Mark does not have ‘oxy’ anymore, his ‘ouk’ would appear to be the residuum of it. And as ‘ouk’ is unstable—it is not by chance that John replaces it with ‘oun’—only ‘oxy’ and ‘elaben’ can be regarded as valid.

This means that we are only left with the requisites: MUR(A) / OXU / ELABENmyr(a) / oxy / elaben.

Thus we arrive at the following conclusion: Abstracting from the popular translations and taking them literally, the two verses in which Mark tells us that Jesus was crucified only attest:

    ‘myr(a) / oxy / elaben. And when they were putting up stakes, posts or slats or a palisade around him, they parted the garments, casting valuable pieces on it…’

Above we have noticed that the second verse of Mark seems to describe the erection of a funeral pyre and the ritual deposit of gifts for the dead.

If now the words of the first verse are read from the same viewpoint as in the second, it is conspicuous that MURA—myra—is nearly identical in lettering to PURA—pyra—meaning ‘pyre’, and that MUR—myr—can be confused with PUR—pyr—‘fire’ (think of e.g . ‘pyre’, pile to be burned, ‘pyromaniac’, incendiary, ‘pyrotechnic’, fireworks, or ‘pyrite’, firestone). OXU—oxy—also means ‘sour’, but originally ‘sharp’—and together with verbs of movement or action it takes on the meaning of ‘quickly’. Now, if we combine oxy and elaben, it takes on the sense of: ‘was promptly’, ‘took quickly’, ‘grasped the opportunity’.

Both verses of Mark can now produce a coherent meaning:

    ‘…and while the pyre caught fire, they quickly assembled stakes, posts, slats and palisades, placed them around it, tore up their garments and threw valuable pieces on it…’

It would be sufficient, if a copyist had confused PURA = MUR(R)A, pyra and myrrha, encouraged by the fact that in a Jewish funeral myrrh is used but no fire, to finally render ‘pyre’ as ‘myrrh’. Then follows the confusion of the one oxy, ‘quickly/sharp’, with the other meaning ‘sour’—and already we are attending a completely different funeral: instead of stake, pyre and cremation we have crucifixion and inhumation.

And since we find ourselves already there, let us take a closer look at Caesar’s funeral using three versions. The first is Appianus:

‘There they collected together pieces of wood and benches, of which there were many in the Forum, and anything else they could find of that sort, for a funeral pyre, throwing upon it the adornments of the procession, some of which were very costly. Some of them cast their own wreaths upon it and many military awards.’[135]


    ‘…and they hauled benches, barriers and tables from the place and heaped them around the corpse…’[136]


    ‘…and immediately the throng of bystanders heaped on it dry branches and the judges’ chairs with the court benches and whatever else came to hand and could serve as an offering. Then the flute players and actors pulled off their robes which they had taken from the equipment of his triumphs and put on for the occasion, tore them apart and flung them into the flames, likewise the veterans of the legions threw the arms with which they had adorned themselves for the funeral. Many of the matrons similarly offered up the jewels which they wore together with their children’s lockets and purple-fringed tunics.’[137]

It is easy to detect that the passage from Mark is an abridgment of Caesar’s funeral. The same requisites are present in both. The defining difference only exists in our minds. It is we who know that Caesar was burned and Jesus was crucified. But in the cited sentences and the original text, the required details are the same. The difference in interpretation is brought and applied by us.

In the same way, if in the next sentence the Caesar sources say that the pile was set alight, it is necessary to know beforehand that the corpse was burned. Because, as it often happens, so here too the Greek word may have totally different meanings. Which one is right depends on the context. Appianus:

    ‘Then they set it and all the people waited by the funeral pile throughout the night.’[138]

The translators add after ‘they set it’ ‘afire’, because they know what it is about, so in order that we—not being used to Greek mental gymnastics and acrobatics—do not loose the thread. The Greek does not add anything at all, he relies on the understanding and the knowledge of the reader: after all, he is a Greek like himself. But what happens if the reader a hundred years later has a different knowledge and a different understanding, lives in another country where Greek is a foreign language, finds himself in another political context wherein the text is possibly used for other purposes and where the listeners have different interests? Here we find ourselves wandering along the edge of a precipice: one can sense the abyss. But back to the text again.

The primary meaning of the word exêpsan is not even ‘set afire’, but actually ‘set on’. Plutarchus chose the version hyphêpsan: ‘to set on from underneath’. We can see what can become of it. There is something set on (from underneath). If this something is a fire, it burns; if it is a sign, then it is nailed on; or if it is even a man, then he is hanging on the cross.[139]

From this examination we can conclude that while Jesus’ crucifixion is not necessarily a crucifixion at all, it actually replicates the cremation of Caesar.

Coincidence or system?

Of course, all of this is still speculation and circumstantial evidence. But now the text itself gives us the opportunity to ascertain whether the parallels between Caesar and Jesus are coincidental or systematic. We merely have to check if, for example, the following or preceding sentences contain the same requisites in both sources. If this can be shown to be the case, then one cannot speak of coincidence anymore.

The preceding sentence in Appianus:

    ‘…but the people returned to Caesar’s bier and they bore him to the Capitol…’[140]

And in Mark:

    ‘…And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.’[141]

It is striking that both sources in the Greek language use the same verb pherô: ‘bear’, ‘carry’, ‘bring’. In Jesus’ case we would have expected the word ‘led’, for he still was alive. This expectation is so strong that it has been correspondingly corrected in some manuscripts.[142]

Even more striking is that the place has the same name: Capitol. In Mark, of course, it is translated: the place of a skull. The Romans derived Capitolium from caput. The tale is that an Etruscan king, Olus (i. e. Aulus Vulcentanus) was killed and buried there, and that the Capitoline temple and hill received its name after his skull was later found: ‘the head of Olus’—caput Oli—Capitolium.[143]

That Golgotha is the translation of place of skull and not vice versa is evident in Luke, who only has ‘the place of skull’ and says that the place was ‘called’ this way (and not translated), as well as in John, who says explicitly that the place was ‘said’ the ‘place of a skull’, which ‘means’ Golgotha in Hebrew.[144]

The wording ‘place of skull’ used by Mark—Kraniou Topos—seems a little stiff in the Greek, and Luke has replaced it by the more graceful ton topon tôn Kraniôn. Therefore the more original version of Mark—Kraniou Topos—was not an appellation, but the name itself. Strangely enough it represents not only the translation of Capitolium, but also its alteration: Capi > Kraniou; tolium > Topos—with the same first letter and confusable lettering of the second part, especially in the accusative: TOLIVM > TOLION > TOPON (the erroneous separation of Capitolium is inevitable because, unlike Latin, no Greek word can end with a ‘t’.)

Let us have a look at the same passage in Suetonius, where, associated with the igniting of the funeral pyre, other requisites are mentioned—this passage immediately precedes the one by Suetonius cited above. The irrelevant part is in parenthesis:

    ‘[…and while some were urging that it be burned in the temple of Jupiter Capitoline, and others in the Curia of Pompeius,] suddenly two unknown men, girt with swords and brandishing a pair of javelins, with blazing wax tapers set fire to it.’[145]

Where are the requisites in Mark?

    ‘And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.’[146]

We already know that ‘set fire to’ has become ‘crucify’; and here is the confirmation. The only bemusing thing is that in Suetonius it was they who lit the fire, whereas in Mark they are being crucified: in the one case an active, in the other, a passive role. But he who understands Greek knows that besides active and passive there is also the famous/infamous medium, so that one and the same form can mean both ‘to set on / to crucify’ and ‘be set on / be crucified’ it depends on how it is perceived and how one wants to see it.

The two guys girt with swords and brandishing a pair of javelins are explained simply as thieves. In fact, it was dangerous burning a body in the Forum, on the Via Sacra, directly in front of the house of the pontifex maximus and the old regia, in the midst all the temples: the regular funeral pyre for Caesar had been erected on the Campus Martius, the Field of Mars—as it had been for his daughter.[147] Only after Caesar’s being taken up among the gods, was it possible to reinterpret this sacrilegious act—burning his body in this most holy place—as his apotheosis, his ascension to heaven.

As these guys had two javelins in their hands, apparently one in the right and one in the left, and because they again were two, they themselves wound up on crosses—one to his right and one to his left.

Here too the requisites are the same: two anonyms / wrongdoers / the right and the left hand / to set fire to (to crucify).

However, there are many more requisites in Suetonius and Appianus than we have seen in Mark so far: the ‘two javelins’ for example; or above, when the people throw a lot of different things on Caesar’s funeral pyre: the crowd, the Forum, the flute-players, the actors, the triumphal garments, the long-serving soldiers, the legion, the weapons, the wreaths, the military decorations, the jewelry, the matrons, the golden lockets, the purple-fringed tunics, the children, the wearing of apparel and taking it off, the throwing upon, the sacrifice and offerings, the last respects.

What has Mark made of all this?

    ‘And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they called together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.’[148]

We recognize many of the requisites at once, even if Mark has rearranged them masterfully: the soldiers, the Legion (the whole band), the Forum (hall, or more precisely, Praetorium), the triumphal garment / purple-fringed tunic (purple), the greeting to Caesar at his last triumph ave rex (rendered literally: ‘Hail, King’), the actors (the mockery by the soldiers), the last respects (the worshipping), the donning of apparel, the disrobing, the throwing upon, (clothe, unclothe, reclothe).

Other requisites are more hidden, however: the flute-players—tibicines—now smite with a reed. Flute, in Latin tibia, ‘hollow cylindrical bone’, is correctly rendered in Greek as kalamos, ‘reed’ (in both languages the instrument is named after the material), the second part of tibi-cines, -cines, is derived instead from the Latin cano, ‘sing’, ‘play’ from the nearer sounding Greek kinô, ‘move’; the verb ruled by tibicines is inicere, which not only means ‘throw above’, but sometimes ‘smite on’: so both verbs fuse and the ‘flute-players’ become those who ‘smite with the reed’. The weapons and the wreaths of the soldiers are braided together to a crown of thorns: the weapons mentioned are the ‘spears’ (borne by the two strangers)—in Latin iaculum, in Greek akontion; stephanos ‘wreath’ was the next word; but akanthinos stephanos means wreath of thorns: out of ‘spear’ and ‘wreath’ we get a ‘pointed wreath’, a ‘wreath of thorns’, a ‘crown of thorns’. Consequently ‘throw upon’ here becomes ‘put on’—‘put on the head’. The ‘matrons’ together with ‘the children’ goneus, gonê are generally mistaken as gony ‘knee’ and that is why the soldiers fall down on their knees. Finally the ‘lockets’ on the necks of the children, being hollow in order to contain the heraldic amulet of the family, are named in Latin bullae, literally ‘bubbles’: misunderstood as ‘bubbles of saliva’, they become ‘spit in the face’.

So there is nothing missing. No word has been taken away or added. The same words were only taken in another meaning, which made a reorganisation of the story necessary in order for it to make sense again—but of course it becomes a different one. The interpretation changes, but the requisites—even though transformed—continue to exist.

In addition, this passage gives us the opportunity to prove the resistibility of the requisites. We have just seen how two different requisites in the Caesar story—the triumphal garment of the actors and the children’s purple-fringed tunics—compete with each other to represent the purple in which the soldiers in Mark’s story array Jesus. This means that one of the requisites in the Caesar sources has not been used. It hovers in the ether, wandering around, waiting for the opportunity to be put to a ‘sensible’ use elsewhere. It is easy to detect whether it is the triumphal garment of the actors or the children’s purple-fringed tunics: the purple and the wreath belong together with the triumphal garment, whereas the children’s tunics only have a purple fringe. So the still unused requisite is the children’s tunics. What is it called in Latin? Simply praetexta—literally ‘pre-woven’. The meaning was that something additional was woven at the front: in the case of the togas of officials and senators it was the well-known purple border; in the case of the children it would have been a tunic with purple borders as well, like we still see today with our choristers of the Catholic churches, sometimes even with floral patterns. This term ‘pre-woven tunic’ has not been used by Mark at all: we have to wait for it to turn up in another place. As we have seen, Matthew and Luke depend much on Mark, so it is better to seek it in John. We find it right away:

    ‘Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.’[149]

The King James Bible says coat for tunic. John says chitôn, i.e. exactly the same, even etymologically, as the Latin tunica. Praetexta, ‘pre-woven’ is understood as ‘woven before, not sewn’ and indeed ‘from the top throughout’ like the purple borders of the Romans as well.

The following sentence by Appianus (we already know the beginning):

    ‘[Then they set alight the pyre] and all the people waited there throughout the night.’[150]

And in Mark as read in the Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D):

    ‘And it was the third hour, and they watched over him.’[151]


    ‘And the people stood beholding.’ … ‘And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.’[152]

Here too, we can observe the congruence of requisites—the people keeping vigil, the darkness. In regards to the amount of time involved, it is obvious by the variety offered that they were later suggestions by the Evangelists. As a matter of fact, the Greek hôra can mean any arbitrary period of time, from the seasons right down to the hour, whether it be day or night. The ‘third hour’ of Mark could quite well be ‘the third night-watch’.

Before we continue comparing the whole Gospel with the entire Vita Caesaris, a brief interim assessment seems appropriate. Here we have seen that the Vita Caesaris and the story of Jesus, looked at from an arbitrary point, be it forwards or backwards, when comparing the oldest sources, in the original text, not only exhibit the same requisites, but in the same order, and in some passages they even show the exact same sequences. And if the requisites differ from each other, it is because another translation was made, but any resulting abnormalities still remain within the bounds of normal folk-etymologies and the mistakes of copyists.

Because such parallels are too inherent to be attributed to literary topoi and even more so because Caesar’s biography is history and not literature—there is only one interpretation left: the Gospel is a Greek version of the Vita Caesaris although an anomalous one. It looks as if the fact that Matthew (in particular), by infusing the text with so many citations from the Jewish Bible, adulterated the picture to such an extent that the most Roman story of all—which had belonged to the whole empire and its peoples—could emerge as a Jewish one.

We now want to test this concretized hypothesis by returning to the question we asked initially: Where is the cross in the Caesar story?

We have seen that in all likelihood Jesus was not crucified whilst alive, and perhaps not even at all. Then, we observed that his crucifixion shows a high structural conformity with Caesar’s cremation. Now, in the case of Jesus, the cross cannot be ignored. We are not inclined to think that Mark has simply fantasized the cross on the basis of a martyr’s stake due to the presence of all the court benches, judges’ seats and palisades. This would contradict his painfully meticulous treatment of the requisites, even if his result has fallen wide of the mark. If the Gospel is the hidden Vita Caesaris, then a dominant role must have been played by a requisite, that by its nature would have predestined it to be mistaken for a cross in a changed environment, and indeed, it would have to have been connected with Caesar’s funeral, even if it was a cremation.

Hence, let us follow the procedure of Caesar’s funeral with more attention, with special concern for the imagery used there. What we will behold is an unusual tropaeum with an unexpected image of Caesar attached to it, and we will hear the voice of an unsettling face of Caesar.

The new images of Caesar

As was usual at the funeral of a distinguished Roman, so here too the wax figure of Caesar was to be carried in front of the bier and then placed on the Rostra, so that during the funeral oration the people could see him as he had been in life.

But Caesar’s wax statue could not be adorned in full robes as was the usual custom: it would have been dressed with the triumphal robe which was none other than the red robe of the ancient kings,[153] the one that had made his murderers see red and decide to carry out their assault on the tyrant. Now at this time Brutus and Cassius were still in the city. They had managed to receive amnesty for themselves and buy the neutrality of several veterans with the promise to compensate expropriated landlords from the state treasury so they could buy their properties back. Marcus Antonius, friend and relative of the deceased and moreover holder of the office of consul and designated flamen Divi Iulii—High priest of Divus Iulius, the new god that Caesar was to become after his death—had to consider himself lucky to still be alive, and that Caesar’s estates had not been auctioned, that his acts had not been repealed, and that the Liberators who had at first planned to drag the corpse of the tyrant through the streets and throw it into the Tiber had instead complied with the insistence of Caesar’s father-in-law Piso that the Pontifex Maximus should be lain to rest with the customary honors.

In the midst of this stalemate, Antonius had the momentous idea of fashioning Caesar’s wax-figure in such a way that the people would see him as he had lain after the murder—with the blood-stained toga displaying all the rents of the daggers on his martyred body, and with his arms spread out just as he had fallen. Indeed nobody had seen him there where he had fallen because they all ran for their lives after the assault—both friend and foe. Antonius, who had remained outside, fled first. But from the house tops where the people had barricaded themselves, they could see Caesar’s injured face and his arms hanging out of both sides of the litter as three of his servants carried the body home through Rome’s narrow alleys to his wife Calpurnia.[154]

As this wax figure would not have been visible if it had lain flat on the bier, Antonius ordered it hung on the cross-like tropaeum where, as tradition required, the insignia of victory were affixed. This created an ironic, provocative, unbearable tropaeum, where the image of the victor himself was hung in the midst of the trophies of war. The wax figure was still clad in his passion garment, and the tropaeum was constructed in such a way that it could be rotated so that everybody could clearly see it.

When Piso brought Caesar’s body into the Forum, it was placed on the bier on the Rostra[155] so that the tropaeum stood at the head of the funeral bier—a golden ciborium after the fashion of the temple of Venus Genetrix, wherein lay the son of the goddess on a bed of ivory adorned with gold and purple, like the new Osiris on the womb of Isis.[156]

For the funeral obsequies a death mask of Caesar had also been made, as was the custom, so that the deceased himself could address the funeral guests by means of a masked actor who imitated his voice and gestures. This was sometimes done with some levity, but on this occasion with gallows humor and deadly earnest.

Both wax-images, the figure hanging on the tropaeum and the mask worn by the actor, were the main requisites of Antonius’ staging of Caesar’s funeral liturgy. And he employed them dramatically.[157]

    ‘During the performance verses were sung which would evoke emotions of compassion and indignation, such as the line from Pacuvius’ “Contest for the Arms of Achilles”:
    Men servasse, ut essent qui me perderent?—What, did I save these men that they might murder me!”
    —and others with a similar sentiment from Atilius’ Electra.’
    ‘The people could endure it no longer. It seemed to them monstrous that all the murderers who, with the single exception of Decimus Brutus, had been made prisoners while belonging to the faction of Pompeius, and who, instead of being punished, had been advanced by Caesar to the magistracies of Rome and to the command of provinces and armies, should have conspired against him, and that Decimus—who had betrayed him and lured him to the trap—should have been deemed by him worthy for adoption as his son.’[159]

With the reading of the will the atmosphere changed completely, because the supposed tyrant now proved himself a benefactor, bequeathing a remarkable amount to each individual Roman, in addition to leaving the Roman people his famous gardens on the banks of the Tiber. They slowly began to regret that they had been in favor of the amnesty. And from the enormous crowd of people flocked together there arose the increasingly loud sounds of lamentation and misery, and all those who were armored beat their weapons together.

In this situation it is easy to imagine which verses of the Electra the people chanted like a choir: namely those that served as improperia, as lamentations over the ingratitude of the murderers.

    ‘And now under the earth the immortal reigns.’
    ‘So that he emerge from the depths of the grave, / gracious, a saviour in the face of the enemy.’
    ‘And that you hear it, Nemesis of the recently deceased.’
    ‘The curses achieve their aim./ Alive are those who lay beneath the ground! / The murderous blow redounds on the head of the murderer, / led by those once murdered.’
    ‘…as for the father I must wreak vengeance on his assassins.’[160]

This was the time for Antonius’ funeral oratory. But:

    ‘Instead of the usual Laudatio, Antonius ordered a herald to read aloud the decree of the Senate which awarded all divine and human honours to Caesar, furthermore the oath of loyalty in which they had all pledged themselves to his personal safety. Antonius added very few words of comment.’[161]

He only commented on what the herald read out:

    ‘At each resolution, Antonius turned his face and his hand towards Caesar’s body illustrating his discourse by his action. To each appellation he added a brief remark full of grief and indignation. As, for example, where the decree spoke of the father of the fatherland, he added “This is a testimony to his clemency!” and again where he was made “sacred and inviolable” and “everyone was to be held unharmed who should seek refuge with him”—“Nobody”, said Antonius, “who found refuge with him was harmed, but he, whom you declared sacred and inviolable, was killed, although he did not extort these honours from you as a tyrant, and did not even ask for them.”’[162]
    ‘Whereupon the people, like the chorus in a play, mourned with him in the most sorrowful manner, and from sorrow became filled again with anger.’[163]
    ‘…somewhere in the midst of these lamentations Caesar himself seemed to be speaking, recounting by name his enemies on whom he had conferred benefits, and of the murderers themselves exclaiming, as it were in amazement: “Men servasse, ut essent qui me perderent?—Ah, did I save them that they might murder me?”’[164]

And the herald read all the decisions of honor and oaths of allegiance; Antonius indicated what they had made of that by pointing again and again towards the murdered man; Caesar’s voice resounded from behind the death mask; the people answered with a fitting strophe from the Electra. And thus the indignation increased.

When the herald read aloud the oaths wherein all obliged themselves to protect Caesar and his person with all their power, and wherein all had sworn that he who did not come to his aid in the case of a conspiracy should be condemned to death, Antonius lifted his hand toward the Capitol and cried ‘Father Jupiter, I am prepared to help him as I have vowed, but because the other senators have preferred an amnesty, I pray that they will bring us blessings.’ The senators were alarmed and hoped that Antonius would retract the accusations and threats; but Antonius distracted: ‘It seems to me, fellow-citizens, that what has come to pass is not the work of men but of an evil spirit’. So he blamed it on the devil—and conjured him up at the same time.

    ‘After these words he gathered up his garments like one inspired by God, girded himself so that he might have the free use of his hands, took his position in front of the bier as in a play, bending down to it and rising again, and first hymned him again as a celestial deity, raising his hands to heaven in order to testify to his divine origin.’[165]

Finally Antonius went to the tropaeum, where the symbols of Caesar’s victories were attached and in rapid and fluent speech counted out his wars, the battles, the victories, the spoils, extolling each exploit as miraculous and all the time exclaiming ‘Thou alone hast come forth unvanquished from all the battles thou hast fought. Thou alone hast avenged thy country of the outrage brought upon it three hundred years ago, bringing to their knees those savage Gallic tribes, the only ones ever to have broken into and burned the city of Rome.’ He counted out all the titles the people had awarded Caesar, conscious that no other man could equal his merits:

    ‘Therefore for the gods he was appointed Pontifex Maximus, for us Consul, for the soldiers Imperator, and for the enemy Dictator. But why do I tell you all this when in one phrase alone you called him Pater Patriae?’[166]

And here Antonius lowered his voice from its high pitch to a sorrowful tone, and mourned and wept as for a friend who had suffered unjustly:[167]

    ‘Yet this father, this Pontifex Maximus, this inviolable being, this hero and god, is dead, alas … murdered right here within the walls as the result of a plot—he who safely led an army into Britain; ambushed in this city—he who had enlarged its Pomerium; murdered in the Senate house—he who had reared another such edifice at his own expense; unarmed—the brave warrior; naked—the promoter of peace; the judge—near the tribunals; the magistrate—at the seat of government; at the hands of citizens—he who none of the enemy had been able to kill even when he fell into the sea; at the hands of his comrades—he who had so often shown mercy to them! Of what avail, O Caesar, was your humanity, of what avail your inviolability, of what avail the laws? Nay, though you enacted many laws that men might not be killed by their personal foes, yet how mercilessly you yourself were slain by your friends! … And now you lie dead in the Forum through which you often led the triumph crowned. Wounded to death you have been cast down upon the Rostra from which you often addressed the people. Woe for the blood-bespattered locks of grey, alas for the rent robe, which you donned, it seems, only to be slain in it!’[168]

And with his spear he lifted the garment hanging on the tropaeum and shook it aloft, rent by the dagger blows and red with the blood of the Imperator. With this movement he exposed the Simulacrum hanging on the tropaeum and rotated it in all directions by means of a turn-table.[169] And thus was Caesar’s martyred body suddenly revealed for all to see—like Christ on the cross.

The pitiful sight did not fail to have its effect. Blinded by wrath, the people rose up and hunted for Caesar’s murderers who were long gone, but they tore to pieces one whom they did find—a certain Helvius Cinna who was a good friend of Caesar but who had the great misfortune of bearing the same name as another Cinna who had made a speech against the deceased.

    ‘Without hearing any explanation about the identical names, they rent him to pieces in an act of savagery: no part of the body could be found for the funeral!’[170]

His head, however, was speared on a lance and paraded about.[171]

Now the furious crowd returned to the bier and took hold of it. Here, one wanted to take it to the place where he had met his death—the Curia of Pompeius—which they desired to reduce to cinders. There, another tried to convey it up to the Capitol for cremation as something consecrated in order to give him a place amongst the gods. The priests blocked their way because of the risk of fire. It went to and fro. The crowd raged. The soldiers intervened and the consuls had some of the more audacious men thrown down from the Capitoline rock.[172]

So the people placed the bier back in the Forum at the site where the ancient Roman house of the Kings and the house of the Pontifex Maximus stood.

    ‘…all of a sudden two strangers appeared, girdled with swords and with two spears in their hands and ignited the bier with wax-torches!’[173]
    ‘…and immediately the spectators assisted the blaze by heaping on it dry branches and the judges’ chairs and the court benches and whatever else came to hand. Thereupon the musicians and the professional mourners , who had walked in the funeral train wearing the robes that he himself had worn at his four triumphs, tore these in pieces and flung them onto the flames—to which veterans who had assisted at his triumphs added the arms that they had borne. Many women in the audience similarly sacrificed their jewellery together with their children’s breast-plaques and purple-fringed tunics.’[174]

Now the most daring stormed up to the houses of the murderers with torches and tried to set them on fire, but the neighbors hindered them because of their fear of a blaze and finally they persuaded them to forgo the arson. Meanwhile the people kept vigil at the funeral pyre and even stayed for some time more:

    ‘Public grief was enhanced by crowds of foreigners lamenting after the fashion of their own countries, especially Jews who came flocking to the Forum for several nights in succession.’[175]
    ‘The crowd established an altar on the place where the pyre had been—Caesar’s emancipees already had collected his bones and buried them in the family crypt—and wanted to sacrifice then and there and offer gifts to Caesar as to a god. However, the consuls threw down the altar and punished some of those who showed their dissatisfaction.’[176]

So says Dio. And the parallel conclusion by Appianus:

    ‘There an altar was first erected, but now there stands the temple of Caesar himself, as he was deemed worthy of divine honors. For Octavianus, his son by adoption and who took the name of Caesar, followed in his footsteps in political matters, greatly strengthened the government that was founded by Caesar and which remains to this day,[177] decreed divine honors to his father.[178]

Caesar a prototype of Jesus?

All events related to Caesar’s death were so dramatic—with treason, murder, and subsequent apotheosis—that the Passion story of the god incarnate becomes the centerpiece of each vita of Divus Julius. That is why a biography of Caesar, especially an ancient one always reads like a hagiography and leaves an impression of sacredness. So for example it could be said:

    ‘…the panegyric Emperor-biography, composed by Nicolas of Damascus, Chancellor and Historian of Herodes’ palace in the years 23-21 BC, reads in part like a Gospel-text.’[179]

This is not limited to the pro-Caesarean authors nor does it rely on subjective impressions. That the Christian Easter-liturgy follows the ritual of Caesar’s funeral like a script has already attracted attention:

    ‘The funeral ritual for Divus Iulius [is] a unique passion-liturgy … this celebration is one of the most essential events of history contemporaneous with the New Testament.’[180]

This is all the more striking as one would expect that the Easter-liturgy would follow the Gospel and not the funeral ritual of Caesar. Some details and requisites are not grounded in the Gospel Passion-story, but they find their counterpart in Caesar’s funeral. Think for example of the unveiling of the cross, accompanied by the chant:

    ‘Here is the cross of torture on which the salvation of the world hung.’[181]

It corresponds to the action of removing Caesar’s toga on the tropaeum and to the content of the words of Antonius. Think of the ensuing improperia, the lamentations of the crucified one over the ingratitude of the people of Israel which are sung in the Catholic liturgy of the Good Friday Mass. They conform to Antonius’ demonstrated repetitive example: the reading out of each of the benefactions conferred on his people which are counter-pointed by the lamentations over the murder of God. Consider the beginning:

    ‘My people, what did I do to you? How did I offend? Answer me. I led you out of Egypt, you lead your savior to the cross.’[182]

It sounds like the words spoken through Caesar’s death-mask: ‘Ah, did I
save them, that they should murder me?’ Only that here the liberation from the threat of the Gauls is spoken of, there it is the liberation from the hand of Egyptian oppression, and, instead of the lines from Pacuvius and the Electra, one seems to hear those verses from the Bible with a parallel meaning, which would have been recited by the Jews who, as Suetonius tells us, kept a long vigil at Caesar’s funeral pyre and sung ‘songs of lament’—‘according to their custom’.[183]

Think of the adoration of the cross, of the procession behind the cross, and finally of the renewing of baptismal vows. There is also the Easter-fire on Holy Saturday. While the congregation waits in the dark church for the Easter Light, the priest ignites a small pile of wood, a little pyre outside, on which the Easter candle is lit.[184] The correspondence with the funeral pile and Caesar’s apotheosis is striking, even in the re-enactment: the believers carry the fire into the night, as once the fire-brands were carried to the houses of Caesar’s murderers, whereas the holy water sprinkled and distributed in the church recalls the corresponding extinguishing of the fires. The Easter-communion itself—where nothing is permitted to remain—evinces an unsettling symmetry with the total annihilation of Caesar’s intimate, Cinna.

There even appears to be another corresponding custom preserved by the people independent of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. When the triumvirate finally managed to gain the upper-hand over the murderers of Caesar, they decreed that the Ides of March—which the murderers had celebrated on their coins as the day of liberation from the tyrant—be damned as dies parricidii, ‘the day of parricide’. Further, they converted the venue of the murder, Pompeius’ Curia, into a latrine, so that everyone had the opportunity to express their greater or lesser opinion of the self-styled Liberators.[185] The Catholic farmers in Germany, at least those from within the limes, seem to have conserved this practice until today, because they regard the celebration of Good Friday as a provocation, and on that day they vent their displeasure by spreading compost and manure on their fields.

A chronological Re-Orientation?

Now, as is well-known, Caesar is a century more ancient than Jesus (born exactly 100 years before the official birth of Christ) and he died still 76 years before Jesus (Caesar 44 BC, Jesus traditionally 33 AD). So four to five generations lie between them.

Thus the cult of Divus Iulius is older than that of Jesus, and in the face of change, liturgy tends to be conservative. We can rule out the notion that the similarities between the two rituals can be attributable to their both drawing upon collective oriental examples,[186] because Caesar’s ritual was improvised—it had to be—due to the context in which it fell. So it is more logical to consider the unconventional but nevertheless possible alternative, namely, that Divus Iulius could have been the prototype for Jesus.

And our texts even offer some circumstantial evidence for this assumption.

A praetexta?

In the reconstruction of Caesar’s funeral, Appianus was our main source with Suetonius serving as a guideline. Appianus is more elaborate, but his offerings have a repetitive character. These repetitions give rise to the supposition that he employed not only the Historiae of Asinius Pollio as a schema,[187] but used literary sources as well.[188] We can point to the funeral oration of Antonius as a possibility, which was published according to custom, or even a praetexta Iulius Caesar[189] which developed from it—a drama—written with classic Roman gravity. In fact, Appianus’ account reads like the libretto of a play, where the repetitions seem to arise from the arrangement of the different roles in sequences .

It is true that a praetexta Iulius Caesar has not been passed down to us, but it is quite probable that Antonius’ funeral oration was published.[190] And because Antonius, when giving his funeral oration, had the herald recite the decrees that honored Caesar while he himself only commented on them, and also selected the verses from the Electra and set the tone for the people’s chorus, then the text of his funeral oration must have had the character of a libretto. As flamen Divi Iulii, who on the basis of the honor decrees was beholden (like all the other priests) to liturgically celebrate Caesar’s victories annually, he would not have neglected to celebrate Caesar’s funeral, which precisely because of its staging and oratory could amount to his apotheosis. Had Appianus attended Passion-plays designed to honor Divus Julius? The immediacy that characterizes his account invites such a conclusion.

In light of this situation, it gives cause for thought that the tradition of the Passion play has been preserved right up to the present day—for which Appianus’ account could have served as an excellent exemplar.

Was it the original one?

In any case, in the sequence of Marcion, who saw Jesus on the cross as a mere phantasma (cf. Tert. adv. Marc. 4.42), and Nestorius, the Koran also rejects the notion that Jesus was crucified and it says, that ‘a very similar figure appeared to them’ or more precisely ‘was shown’ (sura 4.157). Hence it confirms that the idea of Jesus’ crucifixion was a later and contested one (as late as 325 ad, the Council of Nicaea in its creed, the Symbolum Nicaenum, in the original form does not say anything about crucifixion or Pilate[190b]). It even sounds as if it developed from a stage-setting that displayed Caesar’s wax-figure on the cruciform tropaeum. Was it the Passion play of the original Easter ritual? In actuality, Jesus is scarcely depicted dying on the cross throughout the whole of the first millennium (cf. also note 157 p. 384).

A delocalization?

In perusing the above cited historical texts, especially in the Greek original, it is striking that the sole reason we know that the whole scene occurred in Rome is because—we just happen to know it. The name itself is not mentioned: it is referred to as ‘the city’. It could be any city. The fact that Romans are involved does not locate the scene: at this time all the officials in the empire were Romans. Also the Senate is often called Synedrion,[191] so that we easily could imagine it to be in Jerusalem, all the more post festum, when only the mourning Jews remained at the reliquies. (cf. p. 79).

Caesar too, is barely mentioned by name:[192] we hear of the one ‘killed’, the ‘murdered’, the ‘martyred’, of the ‘dead’, the ‘corpse’, the ‘body’ and the ‘bier’, rarely of the ‘autocrat’, the ‘dictator’, the ‘king’, or the ‘tyrant’; but rather we hear of the ‘high priest’, ‘son of God’, of ‘God’; or of the ‘saviour’, the ‘father’, and if we do hear of him , then it is just ‘him’. It could easily be assumed that another person is being spoken of—Jesus.

The personae surrounding him play well-known roles too: there is a follower who betrays him, and a murderer who gets an amnesty; there is somebody who bears his cross, someone who demands his body, and somebody who proclaims his apotheosis.

The requisites also seem to be familiar: the cross-shaped tropaeum, the wax-figure on the cross, the spear, the passion-garment, the improperia, the Easter fire, the empty tomb, the stone that has rolled over. And—we even have the Via Dolorosa and the Pietà:

    ‘A little later, three slaves, who were nearby, placed the body on a litter and carried it home through the Forum. The wounds on the face and the arms hanging down were visible on both sides, as the curtain had been drawn back. There was no one who refrained from tears at the sight of him who for a long time had been revered as a god. Much weeping and lamentation accompanied them from either side, from mourners on the roofs, in the streets, and in the vestibules. When they approached his house, a far greater wailing met their ears, for his wife rushed out with a number of women and servants, calling on her husband and bewailing her lot in that she had in vain counselled him not to go out on that day. But he had suffered a fate far worse than she had feared.’[193]

All the participants in the Roman drama were incidentally old acquaintances of the Jews, who remained conspicuously long at Caesar’s cremation site. Because they all had also made an appearance in Jerusalem: Caesar’s adversary Pompeius had conquered the city and the temple in 63. It is no coincidence that Cicero (Att. 2.9.1) mocked him as noster Hierosolymarius, ‘our Jerusalemite’—with a play on words on ‘Marius’, Caesar’s uncle. Pompeius had brought the rebellious Aristobulos as a captive to Rome. After Crassus’ defeat against the Parthians in 53/52, Cassius Longinus had been able to hold Syria and renegade Judaea only with brute force, in the process he had had Pitholaos, who had defected and led the rebellion after Aristobulos, executed—i.e. probably crucified. At the beginning of the civil war Caesar had freed Aristobulos and sent him back to Jerusalem—without success, because some Pompeians poisoned him. For a long time the burial of his body was denied until Antonius later sent it, embalmed in honey, to the Jews to bury it in the royal tombs (cf. note 183).

Now all these Jerusalemite protagonists cast similar, appropriate respective roles in Rome also:

Pompeius was dead already, but it was in front of his statue, which incidentally Caesar had had re-erected, where Caesar was murdered. Thus Pompeius had his revenge, but also showed himself to be ungrateful posthumously.

Cassius Longinus had raged and murdered again. And the exposition of Caesar’s body as a wax simulacrum on the cruciform tropaeum had to have even more so called to mind the execution of Pitholaos by the hand of the same Longinus, as well as all the other crucified ones of Judaea.

And Antonius repeated the same act of piety on Caesar that he once had shown to Aristobulos: again he has the dead one buried anyway, against the resistance of the Pompeians. This time he does not have the martyred body embalmed in honey, but, appropriate for the cremation, duplicated and affixed to the cruciform tropaeum not least to the shame of Longinus.

Now all these players, well-known to the Jews, also appeared in a drama which happened during their most important holiday: Passover.

An accidental coincidence of the calendar?

For although Caesar had reformed the calendar one year earlier, switching over from the old-Roman one which had become a mess, to the solar one, called the Julian after him—which actually made the concurrence of the Roman Ides on the 15th of March, now reckoned according to the sun, with the Jewish Passover, still reckoned according to the moon, on the 15th of Nizan a rarity—it just so happened that in 44 BC the 15th of March, of all days, was a full moon day: that is to say that on Caesar’s Ides of March it was Passover at the same time (cf. note 183).

Due to an even less probable coincidence, Caesar’s funeral on the 20th of March fell on a Sunday, of all days, so that Caesar’s funeral which was perceived as his resurrection occured on the same day of the week as the resurrection of Jesus.

The simultaneous occurence of both ‘coincidences’, that there is a full moon on the 15th of March and the 20th is a Sunday, happens once every 532 years! (cf. note 183).
There is enough here to justify our looking for other evidence indicating that the cross of Jesus originated from Caesar’s tropaeum.

Let us first address the context.

The Crucifixion of Caesar

One of the more famous anecdotes concerning Caesar tells of when he fell into the hands of pirates during his youth. It happened near the island of Pharmakussa, on the Ionian coast between Miletus and Halicarnassus. Caesar wanted to go to Rhodes to hear the lectures of Apollonius Molo, the most eloquent teacher of that time. Pirates were greatly feared because they did not handle their victims with kid gloves, even killing or throwing overboard the more obstinate. The pirates that captured him only wanted twenty talents ransom which insulted Caesar because, as he advised them, he was worth at least fifty. He sent his companions into the surrounding area to raise this hefty sum and spent almost forty days alone with the pirates during which time he complained when they disturbed his sleep, gambled and competed in fighting with them and read aloud poems and speeches. Since they were not enthusiastic Caesar called them uneducated barbarians and promised and swore to hang them soon. All this delighted their hearts and they thought they had hooked the most hilarious of patrons. So when he paid them the fifty talents ransom they readily let him go. When he reached shore he manned some ships, set out to sea, and surprised the pirates still anchored on the island. He captured most of them and had them crucified as he had sworn under oath to do, which they had taken to be his joking. But because he abhorred cruelty even in revenge, he had them strangled first so that they would not suffer.[194]

By the way, we should note that the Church, of all institutions, followed suit in this leniency in punishment and was always anxious to have heretics strangled before they were burnt at the stake. But back to our theme.

We see that from the start of his career Caesar was associated with crucifixion, but not in the same way as Crassus and Pompeius who defeated the Spartacus slave rebellion and lined the streets with the crucified rebels. For Caesar himself had fallen into the hands of those pirates who had furnished Spartacus’ fleet, and had risked being speared or drowned by them with scorn and derision.

The terminology does not allow enough differentiation to know whether Plutarchus says that Caesar had the pirates crucified or impaled, and says that when Caesar spoke the threat he said he would have them kremân, ‘hung by the neck,’ ‘hung’, or ‘strung up’.[195] When Caesar carries out the threat Plutarchus says that he anestaurôsen them, he had them ‘impaled’, ‘speared’. Suetonius remains vague at first and says generally that ‘he had them executed’ (supplicio adfecit), and then becomes more precise by saying literally that he had them ‘fixed, stuck to the cross’ (cruci suffixit). Strictly speaking, it cannot be decided from Suetonius either whether it is about a crux punica, i. e. acuta, a ‘punic’ or ‘sharp’ crucifixion, which was an impalement. For the Roman pronounced the penalty; the executioner carried it out according to the custom of the country or his own taste.[196]

Assuming it was a crucifixion similar to popular iconography, with the arms outstretched and nails in the hands and feet, we see that Plutarchus used stauros as root for his verb anestaurôsen, ‘he speared’. Stauros means primarily ‘stake’, in this case in the sense of a ‘martyr’s stake’ and is used as the translation for crux. Thus, here we would have, independent of Christian literature, an equation stauros = crux, ‘martyr’s stake’ = ‘cross’, and in fact one referring to Caesar, not to Jesus. The other verb that Plutarchus uses, however—kremô, ‘hang by the neck’, ‘hang’, ‘string up’—is so very similar to the Latin cremo, ‘burn, cremate’, that the cremated Caesar could become the ‘crucified one’.
Be that as it may, one must assume that at Caesar’s funeral the tropaeum that Antonius raised with Caesar’s simulacrum hanging on it was seen by people who remembered his pirate-crucifixion, and regarded this as a crucifixion committed by robbers on a Roman. Thus the assassins of Caesar must have been regarded as common criminals: an unbearable exchange of roles crying out for revenge.

It is therefore understandable why, when the tropaeum with Caesar’s wax effigy nailed to it was displayed, the people seized the first Cinna that they met, tore him apart, stuck his head on a pole and carried it around: occidit caputque eius praefixum hastae circumtulit, says Suetonius. We see here how this praefixum hastae, which is normally translated with ‘fixed on a lance’, but could as well be rendered as ‘hefted to a stake’—the original meaning of hasta is ‘pole’, thin ‘stake’, only later via ‘shaft’ did it come to mean ‘lance’—joins that suffixum cruci, ‘nailed to a martyr’s stake’ we came across with the pirates. Since Helvius Cinna co-suffered the martyr death of Caesar—lat. cruciatus—because of a mix up of names, the carrying around of Cinna’s hasta with his head on it can, under changed conditions, be perceived as co-carrying Caesar’s martyr stake, i. e. the cross of Jesus. Thus cruciatus becomes crucifixus, the martyr death becomes the crucified one and Helvius Cinna confused with Cornelius Cinna becomes one of the two crucified with him.

The tragedy within the tragedy

The decisive impetus for perceiving Caesar’s cruciatus as crucifixion was given by the repetition of Caesar’s assassination carried out on his successor and namesake Gaius Caesar, i. e. Caligula.

This time, too, the main ringleader was a Cassius (Chaerea), and that it was meant as a repetition of the ‘tyrannicide’ of the other Gaius Caesar is clarified not least by the watchword chosen by the murderers, which they shouted while stabbing with the daggers: Repete!—‘once more’ (cf. Suet. Cal. 58).

This second act of the assassination of Gaius Caesar took place during a mime play that was written by a Catullus (coincidentally also a namesake of Caesar’s bosom foe, the poet Catullus) and named after an infamous brigand: Laureolus—‘small laurel’. From Flavius Josephus we learn that in this mime play ‘the bandit chief was nailed to the cross’, and this had been consciously chosen as the background scene for the ‘spectacle of the tyrannicide’ performed on Caligula (Jos. A.J. 19.1.13 [§94]).

This, too, was no coincidence. Because it had been Caesar who had particularly supported the mime plays and himself had maintained mimes. And then a mime had also performed at his funeral, as we saw, imitating gesture and voice of the deceased and speaking, as if from beyond, the famous verse of Pacuvius: ‘Alas, did I save these men that they might murder me?’

Now Gaius Caesar had been murdered as a tyrant again, during a mime play, in which a bandit chief was crucified. It was inevitable that this would rub off on the later depictions of Caesar’s funeral—whether in Passion plays or in the liturgy. As a result, the exposition of his body as wax figure had to be perceived as crucifixion and mockery from the time of Caligula’s death.

Speaking of repercussions, let it be mentioned briefly here that the execution of Vitellius by followers of Vespasian might have molded the image of Jesus’ Via Dolorosa also. Suet. Vit. 17: ‘They dragged him to the Forum with his arms bound behind his back, a rope around his neck, with rent garments and half-naked. All along the Via Sacra he endured the grossest abuses by deeds and words…’.

The image of the flagellation of Jesus, which accompanies the crucifixion, however, was co-influenced by the manner of execution of Antigonus which Cassius Dio described as outrageous. Antigonus was flagellated and crucified in Jerusalem—by the hand of the same Antonius who performed Caesar’s funeral (cf. note 183).

But Caesar had himself already experienced a flagellation of sorts. His political enemies had a man flagellated in order to challenge and insult Caesar by demonstrating that the Roman citizenship rights he had granted to the man would not be honored (cf. p. 310).

Suppression by Decree?

What may have contributed to perceiving Caesar’s cruciatus as crucifixion, might have its roots in the original charter from the time of the Divus Iulius Cult.

The day of Caesar’s assassination, the Ides of March, was declared dies parricidii, the day of parricide, the dies ater, nefastus, the black day, the abominable day. Any recognition of the day and the deed was forbidden, because this would have led to its celebration by the anti-Caesar side also. The place of the assassination was even made into a latrine and thus the deed itself was presented as filth. The obvious consequence was the detachment of day and place from the memory of Caesar and the worship of the Divus Iulius. In a religious sense, the stabbing took place on no day and in no place, never and nowhere, i. e. it was rendered undone. The resurrection of Divus Iulius, rung-in with the people’s revolt at his funeral and completed by the victory over his assassins in Philippi, undid his death even more in retrospect, all the more since with Octavianus the new, younger Caesar, Divi Filius, existed, live and in the flesh. There was no death and no murder anymore. That which remained alive was the memory of the Passion, of the cruciatus, which naturally had to be relocated, while the expositio, the presentation of Caesar’s martyred body in the form of an exposed wax figure hanging on a tropaeum, had to be reinterpreted as a crucifixion (ill. 115 in note 157). That means that the first impetus to the reinterpretation of Caesar’s stabbing as the crucifixion of Jesus was the inherent necessity and inner logic of the Divus Iulius Cult. The mistakes of copyists and translators, who made cruciatus crucifixio, cremo kremô and the dagger of the conjuror Longinus the spear of the soldier Longinus, are not the result of their stupidity, but are their creative attempts to bring the history of the Passion in accord with the political and theological necessity of undoing the stabbing of Caesar.

An important point in the lex templi—the law that decreed the building of the Divi Iulii Temple on the place of Caesar’s cremation in the Forum Romanum initiating the worship of the new God throughout the entire empire—was the ban placed on the Gens Iulia from thenceforth carrying along images of the dead Caesar in the funeral processions of his family members. (In funeral processions it was the custom to carry the image of the newly deceased in front of the procession; from the family mausoleum the images of the dead family members came to meet him halfway, to welcome him, and to accompany him to the family grave). The reason was that, from that point on, he was no longer to be considered as a dead person—as his murderers, Cicero imprimis, would have wanted it—but as a living god, as the people demanded and Octavian decreed it. This ban had an iconographic effect and resulted in his image as Divus Iulius no longer having the facial features of Caesar (see ill. 48, 92, 98). This means that the uncoupling of Divus Iulius from Caesar was deliberate and desired from the beginning. So that the God—who, unlike the man from whom he emerged like a butterfly from a caterpillar, was never born and never died but always was, is and will be, eternally—having discarded everything human, is received, perfectly celestial, amongst the Gods.

The tropaeum


The Tropaea of the Pompeians and Caesar’s Cross


Sun, Moon and Stars


The Habitus of Divus Iulius


The Resurrection of Divus Iulius


Christophorus and other symbols


Caesar’s Saints


Divi Filius


The Trinity of Divi Filius


[ for the missing passages please refer to the printed edition ]

[ Excursus: Re-Orientation ]


Notes to III. Crux

[ for a Greek text with diacritic signs please refer to the printed edition or to the PDF of the German notes ]

[105] Mk. 14:61: ὁ δὲ ἐσιώπα καὶ οὐκ ἀπεκρίνατο οὐδέν. Mk. 15:5: ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς οὐκέτι οὐδὲν ἀπεκρίθη […]. [<]

[106] Mk. 14:62: o de IhsouV eipen, Su eipaV oti egw eimi (Qf pc arm Or); 15:2: o de apokriqeiV autw legei, Su legeiV. [<]

[107] Mk. 15:34: Elwi elwi lema sabacqani; o estin meqermhneuomenon O qeoV mou o qeoV mou, eiV ti egkatelipeV me; Mt. 27:46: Hli hli lema sabacqani; tout¢ estin, Qee mou qee mou, inati me egkatelipeV; Lk. 23:46: Pater, eiV ceiraV sou paratiqemai to pneuma mou. Jn. 19:26: Gunai, ide o uioV sou. 19:27: Ide h mhthr sou. 19:28: Diyw. 19:30: Tetelestai.
It should be noted that Caesar’s biographers reproduce different traditions of Caesar’s last words as well. Appianus (2.117) speaks of Caesar’s loud clamor when he was still trying to resist, but that after Brutus’ stroke he wrapped himself in his robe and fell to the floor in a dignified posture. Plutarchus (66) agrees with Appianus but knows that initially Caesar shouted to the first attacker Casca in Latin: ‘Wicked Casca, what are you doing?’ Dio Cassius (44.19) also reports that when they all stabbed at him, Caesar was unable to say or do anything and only wrapped up his face, but that some add, that when Brutus stabbed at him he said the famous: ‘You too, my son?’ Suetonius also has this dictum, which had come down to him by others. He specifies that Caesar expressed it in Greek, but besides that speaks of Caesar’s silence and claims that he only uttered a single sigh. That is to say, with Caesar, as well as with Jesus, the constant factor is the silence with clamor and finally a sigh, while the alleged last words do not appear in all reports, and, when they do, they are not the same. [<]

[108] Mk. 15:22: […] kai ferousin aujton epi ton Golgoqan topon, o estin meqermhneuomenon Kraniou TopoV. [<]

[109] Jn. 19:33-4: epi de ton Ihsoun elqonteV […] all¢ eV twn stratiwtwn logch autou thn pleuran enuxen, kai exhlqen euquV aima kai udwr. [<]

[110] Jn. 19:35: kai o ewrakwV memarturhken, kai alhqinh autou estin h marturia, kai ekeinoV oiden oti alhqh legei, ina kai umeiV pisteu[s]hte. [<]

[111] Jn. 19:36-7: egeneto gar tauta ina h grafh plhrwqh, […] Oyontai eiV on exekenthsan. [<]

[112] Acta Pilati XVI, in Schneemelcher (1990), vol. 1, p. 413. [<]

[113] Mk. 14:47: eiV de [tiV] twn paresthkotwn spasamenoV thn macairan epaisen ton doulon tou arcierewV kai afeilen autou to wtarion. [<]

[114] Mk. 14:48: kai apokriqeiV o IhsouV eipen autoiV, WV epi lhsthn exhlqate meta macairwn kai xulwn sullabein me; [<]

[115] App. BC 2.117: polloi te diwqizomenoi meta twn xifwn allhlouV eplhxan. [<]

[116] Servants appear at the attempt on Caesar as well. We will see later in what role; cf. Suet. Jul. 82. [<]

[117] App. BC 2.117: kai KassioV eV to proswpon eplhxe. [<]

[118] Suet. Jul. 82: Nec in tot vulneribus, ut Antistius medicus existimabat, letale ullum repertum est, nisi quod secundo loco in pectore acceperat. [<]

[119] Mk. 15:26: kai hn h epigrafh thV aitiaV autou epigegrammenh, O basileuV twn Ioudaiwn. Lk. 23:38: hn de kai epigrafh ep¢ autw, O basileuV twn Ioudaiwn outoV. Mt. 27:37: kai epeqhkan epanw thV kefalhV autou thn aitian autou gegrammenhn: OutoV estin IhsouV o basileuV twn Ioudaiwn. Jn. 19:19: egrayen de kai titlon o PilatoV kai eqhken epi tou staurou: hn de gegrammenon, IhsouV o NazwraioV o basileuV twn Ioudaiwn. [<]

[120] For the written fixation of the accusation against Caesar cf. Cic. Phil. 2.85-7: […] adscribi iussit in fastis ad Lupercalia C. Caesari dictatori perpetuo M. Antonium consulem populi iussu regnum detulisse: Caesarem uti noluisse.
Cf. also the writings on the tribunal of Brutus (App. BC 112; Plut. Caes. 62). [<]

[121] Cf. i. a. Suet. Jul. 79-80: proximo autem senatu Lucium Cottam quindecimvirum sententiam dicturum, ut, quoniam fatalibus libris contineretur Parthos nisi a rege non posse vinci, Caesar rex appellaretur. quae causa coniuratis maturandi fuit destinata negotia, ne assentiri necesse esset. [<]

[122] Cf. Magie (1905), p. 62, 68. [<]

[123] Mk. 15:21: Kai aggareuousin paragonta tina Simwna Kurhnaion ercomenon ap¢ agrou, ton patera Alexandrou kai Roufou, ina arh ton stauron autou. [<]

[124] The form arh is an active one (conj. aor. I a., 3. s.). One could only translate it with ‘would carry’ if the respective medium: arhtai—‘he carried for himself, he carried away’ were in place here. For airô in contrast to pherô cf. Mk. 2:3: kai ercontai feronteV proV auton paralutikon airomenon upo tessarwn. Mk. 6:8 does not contradict it, because there airô is used in the sense of ‘to carry with themselves; to take along’. [<]

[125] Mk. 15:24: kai staurwsanteV auton diamerizontai ta; imatia autou, ballonteV klhron ep¢ auta […]; Mt. 27:35: staurwsanteV de auton diemerisanto ta imatia autou, ballonteV klhron […]; Lk. 23:33: […] ekei estaurwsan auton […]; Jn. 19:18: […] opou auton estaurwsan […]. [<]

[126] ‘Cross’ in the sense of ‘to make a cross’ is in classic Greek chiasma respectively chiasmos, ‘to order anything cross-shape’ chiazô. These words are also familiar to us, for example as chiasma, the ‘crossing over’ of chromosomes in biology or as chiasmus, ‘to put crosswise’ in the syntax. The basis was the letter chi = X, for the Greeks the genuine symbol of the cross. ‘Cross’ in the meaning of ‘to carry his cross’, hence for ‘pain’ is called ponos, penthos or lypê. Stavros, which as noted above originally meant ‘stake’, ‘slat’ or ‘palisade’, was never associated with the cross in classic times, and even when in the course of the Christianization it took on the meaning ‘cross’ in the sense of the ‘martyr-stake’, its symbol was a T and not a †.
This originates from the fact that in the Greek word stavros the crossing of beams is not constitutive, so little so, that the Christians themselves originally did not translate it with the Latin crux either. They should have done that if it had been its back- translation, instead they translated it with lignum, ‘wood’. This is still preserved in the well known Good Friday formula: ‘Ecce lignum crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit’, which is officially translated as: ‘Behold the wood of the cross, on which the salvation of the world was hung’, and which could also be translated differently, for example as: ‘Here is the wood of torture, wherewith the salvation of the world was paid’. Here it is important however, that it doesn’t say crux alone, but lignum crucis, whereby stavros is not rendered by crux as one might think but by lignum, which means ‘wood’ in the sense of the substance primarily, thus ‘piece of wood’ and in the plural, ligna, ‘firewood’. And thus we are at Caesar’s funeral pile again. [<]

[127] Mk. 15:23: […] kai edidoun autw esmurnismenon oinon: oV de ouk elaben. [<]

[128] Mt. 27:34: edwkan autw piein oxoV meta colhV memigmenon: kai geusamenoV ouk hqelhsen piein. [<]

[129] Lk. 23:36: oi stratiwtai prosercomenoi, oxoV prosferonteV autw […]. [<]

[130] Lk. 23:55-6: eqeasanto to mnhmeion kai wV eteqh to swma autou, upostreyasai de htoimasan arwmata kai mura. [<]

[131] It should not be a surprise that ‘aromatics’ respectively ‘aromatics and ointments’ is found here: aromatics were used at funerals in both forms to alleviate the cadaverous smell, they were used in cremations to an even greater extent. Besides incense, sometimes whole dolls of cloves were burned as well. Oils and ointments were used for the same purpose and for the preservation of the corpse before the cremation, which sometimes happened many days later, see below. [<]

[132] Jn. 19:29-30: spoggon oun meston tou oxouV usswpw periqenteV proshnegkan autou tw stomati. ote oun elaben to oxoV—‘Ysop’ usswpw or ussw—(h)yssô(i)—looks like a doublet of vinegar oxw—oxô(i)—but on the other hand like the anagram of ‘Piso’, Caesar’s father in law, who took charge of the funeral and who brought the body to the Forum. [<]

[133] Jn. 19:39-40: […] ferwn migma smurnhV kai alohV wV litraV ekaton. elabon oun to swma tou Ihsou kai edhsan auto oqonioiV meta twn arwmatwn, kaqwV eqoV estin toiV IoudaioiV entafiazein. [<]

[134] This word comes from SMURNA—smyrna—variation of MURRA—myrrha—like for example smikros could stand for mikros, ‘small’: The sigma tends to proliferate in Greek. The use of smyrna for myrrha could be based on the fact that these, like the other oriental aromatics, were imported into Greece through the port of Smyrna, located at the mouth of the Persian royal trade route, which stretched from Susa over Sardes to Ionia. But because with the MURA—myra—of Luke only the part myr is common—esMYRnismenon (the beginning of the word es- can be a prefix in Greek)—so only MUR(A)—myr(a)—appears to be certain. For that matter the difference between ‘rr’ and ‘r’ in MURRA and MURA is irrelevant, because in the late classical period the double consonants were pronounced like single ones. Cf. Charalambakis (1984), S. 88 7.1.7: Ta dipla sumfwna (al-loV, am-moV) arcisan na aplopoiountai sthn profora. [<]

[135] App. BC 2.148: […] kai xula autw kai baqra, osa polla hn en agora, kai ei ti toioutotropon allo sunenegkonteV, kai thn pomphn dayilestathn ousan epibalonteV, stefanouV te enioi par¢ eautwn kai aristeia polla; epiqenteV […]. [<]

[136] Plut. Caes. 68: […] autwn to paqoV, alla tw men nekrw periswreusanteV ex agoraV baqra kai kigklidaV kai trapezaV […]. [<]

[137] Suet. Jul. 84: […] confestimque circumstantium turba virgulta arida et cum subsellis tribunalia, quicquid praeterea ad donum aderat, congessit. deinde tibicines et scaenici artifices vestem, quam ex triumphorum instrumento ad praesentem usum induerant, detractam sibi atque discissam iniecere flammae et veteranorum militum legionarii arma sua, quibus exculti funus celebrabant; matronae etiam pleraeque ornamenta sua, quae gerebant, et liberorum bullas atque praetextas. [<]

[138] App. BC 2.148: exhyan kai thn nukta pandhmei th pura paremenon […]. [<]

[139] This polysemy of verbs occurs in every language. For example in German when a car ‘hält an’—literally ‘holds on’—it stops; but if the rain ‘hält an’—also literally ‘holds on’—it continues; if a law is ‘aufgehoben’– literally ‘lifted up’—it is ‘repealed’ and gone, but if milk is ‘aufgehoben’—also literally ‘lifted up’—it is ‘retained’ and you still have it; if a synthesis occurs and ‘hebt auf’—‘lifts up’—thesis and antithesis, it ‘resolves’ them, although the student of philosophy might ruminate: ‘aufgehoben’ as in the case with law or milk?
In Greek the polysemy is more extreme: even the most everyday verb, erchomai, means ‘to come’ as well as ‘to go’—it depends. The Greeks do not have a problem with that, they even seem to apply their particular verbal gymnastics to other codes. When the foreign driver in Greece unexpectedly sees a street-sign at a crossing with an arrow pointing down, he should not search for the entry to a tunnel that leads to the village named on the sign: it simply means the village is located behind you; if you want to go there, you have to make a U-turn and go back. [<]

[140] App. BC 2.148: […] o de dhmoV epi to lecoV tou KaisaroV epanelqwn eferon auto eV to Kapitwlion […]. [<]

[141] Mk. 15:22: […] kai ferousin auton epi ton Golgoqan topon, o estin meqermhneuomenon Kraniou TopoV. [<]

[142] agousin Df lat—cf. Aland & Nestle (181957). [<]

[143] Arnobius Adversus gentes VI 7; Servius Aeneid-Commentary VIII 345; the chronograph of the year 354 specifies that ‘caput Oli regis’ was written on the skull in Etruscan letters; cf. also Isidor Origines XV 2.31. [<]

[144] Lk. 23:33: […] ton topon ton kaloumenon Kranion […]; Jn. 19:17: […] ton legomenon Kraniou Topon, o legetai Ebraisti Golgoqa […]; Matthew does not contradict this, because both times he says ‘called’: 27:33: topon legomenon Golgoqa, o estin Kraniou TopoV legomenoV […].
This passage gives us the opportunity to clearly see how ideologically biased the work of latter-day bible translators is. As late as the beginning of the 17th century the King James Version translates Jn. 19:17 (v. s.) verbatim:
‘[…] tòn legómenon Kraníou Tópon, (h)ó légetai (H)ebraïstì Golgothá […]’—‘[And he bearing his cross went forth into a place] called (tòn legómenon) the place of a skull, which is called (légetai) in the Hebrew Golgotha’.
But by now word has got around that légô sometimes must also be understood in the sense of ‘to mean’, which would advise to translate the second ‘called’—légetai—as ‘means’. Accordingly one would have to write (the rest of sentence remaining the same):
‘[And he bearing his cross went forth into a place] called (ton legómenon) the place of a skull, which means (légetai) in the Hebrew Golgotha.’
This, however, apparently is intolerable for the orthodox scholars and actually one has turned up who does not just attenuate the testimony like e. g. the KJV but outright distorts it. The Worldwide English (New Testament) (WE) plainly reverses the terms and makes it:
‘[They took Jesus and led him away. Jesus went out carrying his own cross. They went to a place] that the Jews called Golgotha. That means “the place of the skull bone”.’
Thus out of the name’s Hebrew translation they make the name itself, and out of the Greek name they make its explanation. Why?—one wonders. The answer is very simple: in order to maintain and reinforce the fiction that the Hebrew name is the original one, and with it to pseudo-scripturally support the delocalization of the whole story from Rome to Jerusalem by an again distorted translation of the Greek text. The thing about it is that they are not even liars: they really believe it is the correct translation. Their ideological glasses sit so firmly on their noses that they do not even notice anymore how they twist the meaning of the text right round. Misrepresentation has become second nature to them. And in order to guard their contorted minds against doubts they distort the letter—without feelings of guilt. After all, the spirit prevails over the letter, doesn’t it?
In order to guard against misunderstandings: We do not think that (h)ó légetai (H)ebraïstì Golgothá must absolutely denote ‘which means in the Hebrew Golgotha’. The established meaning of légetai is ‘(it) is said’, like of legómenon it is ‘the so-called’, ‘as the saying goes’. ‘Tòn legómenon Kraníou Tópon’ could thus be translated as ‘according to legend called place of skull’—which leads us back to the saga of the caput Oli, ‘Skull of Olus’, found on the Capitoline hill (cf. text p. 70) and which suggests that the continuation of the sentence (h)ó légetai (H)ebraïstì Golgothá, conceals a prior (h)ó légetai Rômaïstì Kapitôlion, ‘which is called in the Latin Capitolium’, representing its bowdlerizing misspelling.
Thus, at the same time it would be shown, though, that our latter-day bible translators still have the ‘right’ wrong attitude of mind: they are doing nothing else but continuing the concealment of the ‘Julian’ origin of the Gospel which already occurred in the old manuscripts behind an allegedly ‘Judaic’ one. [<]

[145] Suet. Jul. 84: Quem cum pars in Capitolini Iovis cella cremare, pars in curia Pompei destinaret, repente duo quidam gladiis succinti ac bina iacula gestantes ardentibus cereis succenderunt […]. [<]

[146] Mk. 15:27: Kai sun autw staurousin duo lhstaV, ena ek dexiwn kai ena ex euwnumwn autou. [<]

[147] Suet. Jul. 84: Funere indicto rogus instructus est in martio campo iuxta Iuliae tumulum […]. This was independent of the fact that it was part of the honor decrees adopted for Caesar that he should be interred within the Pomerium (cf. Dio Cass. HR 44.7.1). [<]

[148] Mk. 15:16-20: Oi de stratiwtai aphgagon auton esw thV aulhV, o estin praitwrion, kai sugkalousin olhn thn speiran. kai endiduskousin auton porfuran kai peritiqeasin autw plexanteV akanqinon stefanon: kai hrxanto aspazesqai auton, Caire, basileu twn Ioudaiwn: kai etupton autou thn kefalhn kalamw kai eneptuon autw kai tiqenteV ta gonata prosekunoun autw. kai ote enepaixan autw, exedusan auton thn porfuran kai enedusan auton ta imatia autou. kai exagousin auton ina staurwswsin auton. [<]

[149] Jn. 19:23: Oi oun stratiwtai ote estaurwsan ton Ihsoun, elabon ta imatia autou kai epoihsan tessara merh, ekastw stratiwth meroV, kai ton citwna. hn de o citwn arrafoV, ek twn anwqen ufantoV di olou. [<]

[150] App. BC 2.148: exhyan kai thn nukta pandhmei th pura paremenon […]. [<]

[151] Mk. 15:25: hn de wra trith kai estaurwsan (D: efulasson) auton. Here the lection of D has to be preferred, as lectio difficilior. An emendation to ‘and they crucified him and watched over him’ would not change anything. [<]

[152] Lk. 23:35: kai eisthkei o laoV qewrwn. 23:44: Kai hn hdh wsei wra ekth kai skotoV egeneto ef¢ olhn thn ghn ewV wraV enathV […]. [<]

[153] The wax-figure of Augustus at his funeral was clad in the triumphal garb—as later that of Pertinax was as well (cf. Dio Cass. HR 56.34.1; 74.4.3). Conversely Traianus was represented at his posthumous Parthian triumph in 117 AD by his imago (cf. SHA Hadr. 6.3; J.-C. Richard, REL 44, 1966, p. 358). [<]

[154] Cf. Nicolaus Damascenus, Bios Kaisaros, FGrH, ed. F. Jacoby, 26.97: oran d¢ enhn enqen kai enqen apestalmenwn twn parakalummatwn, aiwroumenaV taV ceiraV kai taV epi tou proswpou plhgaV.—‘as the curtains were drawn back, the dangling arms and the wounds on his face could be seen from both sides.’ Cf. also Suet. Jul. 82: Exanimis diffugientibus cunctis aliquandiu iacuit, donec lecticae impositum, dependente brachio, tres seruoli domum rettulerunt.—‘After all had fled he lifelessly lay there for some time until three young slaves placed him in a litter and carried him back home with one arm hanging over the side.’ [<]

[155] Suet. Jul. 84: pro rostris—‘in front of the Rostra’; App. BC 2.143: epi ta embola—‘on the Rostra’. [<]

[156] Suet. Jul. 84: […] et pro rostris aurata aedes ad simulacrum templi Veneris Genetricis collocata; intraque lectus eburneus auro ac purpura stratus et ad caput tropaeum cum ueste, in qua fuerat occisus.—Cleopatra, who stayed in Rome at that time and whose statue stood in the temple of Venus Genetrix (evidently in her role as incarnation of Isis and hence equated with Venus) apparently co-led the direction. [<]

[157] Shakespeare is unfortunately of no help here, because he follows Plutarchus who does not report anything about the ritual of the funeral. Dio’s speech of Antonius seems also rhetorically finessed. We reconstruct the situation here mainly from Suetonius and Appianus, who agree with each other; but where Appianus says (BC 2.146) that Antonius ‘recited many other things’, we refer to Dio. We follow partly Stauffer (1957), p. 21-23. But he overlooks that the effigy of wax had to be hanging on the tropaeum, because according to Suetonius (Jul. 84, first paragraph: Funere indicto rogus instructus est in martio campo iuxta Iuliae tumulum et pro rostris aurata aedes ad simulacrum templi Veneris Genetricis collocata; intraque lectus eburneus auro ac purpura stratus et ad caput tropaeum cum ueste, in qua fuerat occisus.) the toga was hanging there right from the beginning. It must have covered the effigy, as is evident from Appianus (BC 2.146: to swma tou KaisaroV egumnou kai thn esqhta epi kontou feromenhn aneseie, lelakismenhn upo twn plhgwn kai pefurmenhn aimati autokratoroV.): When Antonius removes the toga, the effigy is exposed. Also the fact that Antonius uses a spear to remove the toga (l. c.), speaks for it unambiguously. With to swma tou KaisaroV—‘the body of Caesar’—Appianus could only mean here the andreikelon autou KaisaroV ek khrou pepoihmenon—‘the effigy (literally: the mannequin) of Caesar himself formed from wax’ (BC 2.147)—because Antonius as priest—apart from being flamen Diui Iulii and lupercus he was also augur—was not allowed to see a corpse (cf. Weinstock 1971, p. 354(5), with further proofs); besides—Caesar’s body was lying in the death bed as Appianus himself reports: to men gar swma, wV uption epi lecouV, ouc ewrato. to de andreikelon ek mhcanhV epestrefeto panth.—‘as the body, lying flat on the bier, could not be seen. But the model, with the help of a mechanical device, could be turned in all directions.’ This ‘mechanical device’ could only have been set up in advance, and therefore only at the tropaeum. So the previous sentence of Appianus refers to the erecting of the tropaeum itself, together with the mannequin, or to the heaving of the wax mannequin onto the tropaeum: Wde de autoiV ecousin hdh kai ceirwn egguV ousin anesce tiV uper to lecoV andreikelon autou KaisaroV ek khrou pepoihmenon:—‘While they were in this temper and already near to violence, somebody raised above the funeral couch a mannequin of Caesar himself made of wax.’
On the relation of mêchanê and cross in the liturgy cf. Ignatius, Ephes. IX, I: anaferomenoi eiV ta uyh dia thV mhcanhV Ihsou Cristou, oV estin stauroV—‘raised above by the mechane, the “theatrical machine” of Jesus Christ, which is the cross’.
Unless there were several tropaea because, after all, Caesar had celebrated at least four triumphs, or two tropaea, like on the denarius of Caldus, ill. 22, one with the arms of Vercingetorix and one with the wax model of Caesar. This is conceivable insofar as there are two different crosses to be seen in our churches or Ways of the Cross as well: on the one the figure of Christ is attached, on the other the instruments of the crucifixion, what is called croix des outrages, ‘cross of insults’, or creu dels improperis, ‘cross of improperies’, in other languages. In English, like in German, it is not by chance called by the Latin name Arma Christi, which stresses its proximity to the Roman tropaeum on which the ‘arms’ of the succumbing commander were appended as well. Compare ill. 114 with ill. 21 p. 90 and ill. 33 p. 97, i. a.

Based on the descriptions that are preserved by Suetonius (Jul. 84.1), Appianus (BC 2.146-147), and the parallel tradition, the Utrecht artist Pol du Closeau has tried in a first approximation a drawn reconstruction of the central scene of Caesar’s funeral.

The perspective is from the Forum Romanum, from the side of the Basilica Aemilia on the Rostra, the rostrum, where Antonius is just delivering the funeral oration to Caesar. On the left we perceive the gable of the temple of Saturnus and in the background the rocky Capitol with the temples of Jupiter and Iuno. We are in the year 44 BC, so the temple of Vespasianus, which was built later, does not yet exist so we have a clear view of the capitol. The Tabularium which was attached to the Capitol on the end of the Forum remains just outside the section of the picture on the right from this angle.
Caesar’s body is laid out in a gilded model of the temple of Venus Genetrix. One perceives the frieze with the egg-motif, the symbol of birth (Genetrix), which in Christianity was to become that of reincarnation (Easter eggs). Beneath, the carrying poles can be seen. At head height of this little temple of Venus stands the tropaeum-like device (Suetonius: tropaeum; Appianus: mêchanê) on which the mannequin made of wax is hanging with the wounds on the body caused by the dagger thrusts. Marcus Antonius is just about to pull away Caesar’s gown, the bloodstained toga which first covered the wax figure and the tropaeum, by dint of a lance, and in this way reveals the corpus. In the background the people are crying out, filled with indignation, as can be seen through the bier.
Caesar’s wax figure on the tropaeum has outstretched arms not only because on a tropaeum the arms could only be fastened like that (cf. also ill. 61) but because somebody who falls down dead stretches out his arms and because Caesar’s body had been seen like that when three servants carried him home with the arms hanging out of the litter on both sides (cf. quotation from Nicolaus Damascenus, p. 83, note 193). For Antonius wanted to show how Caesar had lain there, murdered. But because the body would not have been visible if lying on the Rostra, he had the wax figure produced and erected it—like a tropaeum. Thus Caesar’s wax simulacrum which should have depicted him lying, appeared as if it were hanging on a cross.
The tropaeum is made of plain planks instead of round posts here because a wax figure could be affixed better to those. The artist has purposely not drawn any fastenings for the wax figure in this reconstruction. When wax manufacturers were asked about this detail, they said that full-scale representations made of wax can only be held upright by a scaffolding, or a structure. It is known that in antiquity wax figures had a structure made of wood; they were actually wooden figures with a wax outer-layer (cf. Marquart-Mau (1886), p. 354). The most functional and direct way to fasten such a wooden figure coated with wax to a tropaeum would involve nails through the hands. This would explain why the ‘Crucified one’ has nails through his hands in spite of the fact that for a real man hanging on the cross, one would best use rope. Anyway, nails would have to be driven through the wrists because if attached to the palms the body weight would tear through the flesh.
As said, this drawing is a first attempt and unfinished: the rents and blood stains on the toga caused by the dagger thrusts are still missing. The drawing was not yet ready when it was shown at the lecture and subsequent discussion in the Lutherse Kerk (Lutheran Church) in Utrecht on Nov. 28th 2002, and also during the telecast ‘Buitenhof’ in the contribution of Prof. Paul Cliteur Ph. D. on the following Dec. 1st. Both times it caused a sensation. Therefore we want to reproduce it here as incomplete and as effective as it was first shown, with some slight improvements.
It might appear strange because it is not done in an archeologically correct and anatomically perfect late Hellenistic style. It is from the hand of a contemporary artist with his personal style affectionate to popular art. But for that very reason it has an eminently documentary nature, since it brings home to us for the first time how the exposition of Caesar’s ‘body’ during his funeral might have looked, true to the original, according to the sources, but at the same time in an anachronistic, almost naive way so that we can already get a feel for the alienation that the depiction of these scenes was to experience in Christian art in the course of time. As an identikit picture this drawing serves very well: it realizes graphically what the eyewitnesses had seen and makes it possible for us to catch a glimpse of the instant in which the genesis of the ‘crucified one’ occurred.
This moment was short because as we have seen the sight was unbearable: the people revolted, became enraged, pursued the assassins and burned Caesar’s body right there at the Forum. This was interpreted as his resurrection. Accordingly the moment of the re-erecting of the body on the pyre was frozen on Caesar’s coins (cf. ill. 67, p. 108) together with the ascension in the apotheosis (cf. ill. 85 and 86, p. 116 as well as ill. 87, p. 117). For the exhibition of Caesar’s martyred body had indeed fulfilled its function to incite the people to revolt, but it still belonged to the assassination, i. e. to what one wanted to overcome, to the parricide, the commemoration of which should be wiped out by the execration of the day of murder as dies parricidii, ater, funestus (cf. referring to this, p. 88). So it is not astonishing that this image was never shown except for in the liturgy of Passion Week.
A glance at the appearance of the ‘crucified one’ in Christian art confirms this. In the Christian iconography there are pictures of the ‘crucified one’ dating only from the 5th century on, and as one who suffers only in the second millennium. Prior to that, the cross appears alone initially as crux invicta, as the invincible laureate cross, which the victorious Christ carries like a tropaeum in triumph (compare the way Simon a Cyrenian carries the ‘cross’ on the late Constantinian passion sarcophagus of 340/370 AD (ill. 116, left) with that of Romulus resp. Mars carrying the tropaeum in ill. 23–25, p. 91.

Also notice in the second scene from the left side that the crown of thorns really is a laurel wreath which is held above the head of Christ like in the triumph of the imperator, Christ who is depicted beardless and in toga just as a Roman, the roll in his left hand like the commander’s rod; on the right he authoritatively instructs Pilate).

And after 420/430 ad, when the first depictions of the ‘crucified’ Jesus Christ surface, he doesn’t appear as dead man but as one who defies death, victorious, anticipating his resurrection in his posture—like on this ivory relief on the London casket in the British Museum, even emphasized by the anticipated death of Judas by hanging (ill. 117, left).

Also note the way Longinus applies his ‘lance’-stab to the heart region: like a dagger thrust. And here also, Jesus is beardless, i. e. in Roman symbolism: without mourning—like Divus Iulius.

If one then looks at the development of the picture of the ‘crucifixion’ through the course of history, two things are detected: firstly the earliest pictures preserved were also popular-naive, and sparsely classical, and secondly there is no effect of gravity at all initially.

It was not until the second millennium and then only slowly that gravity becomes apparent in the ‘crucified one’—and slowly pulled him down. In former times it was different and in Byzantine resp. Greek Orthodox art it has largely remained that way to date.

Where does this illogical manner of representation stem from? Traditionally two reasons are given: The basis is said to be that originally no one wanted to portray a suffering one but rather one overcoming death-and for that a man in a standing position is better suited. Additionally there must have been a fearfulness of depicting one’s own Godman as a crucified one, a fear that allowed cross representations to develop in art only after Theodosius I had abolished the penalty of crucifixion and when the cross no longer triggered negative associations. Meanwhile, one refrains from this earlier prevailing interpretation (the Rabula-Codex and the casket in Sancta Sanctorum in Rome, both from the 5/6th century, indeed show a standing as well as suffering Jesus on the cross), opining that it simply originates from the fact that the Christian artists had no ancient examples of crucified ones available—the crucifixion was sporadically described in texts from classical times, but never portrayed, neither by painters nor by sculptors—and that no pictures nor descriptions of Jesus’ crucifixion had been passed down either. These two competing arguments, neither of which are very convincing, point to the helplessness of the circles of experts, who are still struggling for a plausible explanation. The more so as it is obvious that as soon as the man on the cross was perceived to be a crucified one, the artists immediately started to let him hang and fall down more and more. And although the artists in these instances did not have examples either, they knew that somebody who is hanging on a cross just hangs.
This is confirmed by the third century signet stones and gems from the fund of numerous small pilgrim’s souvenirs which were produced to satisfy the great demand for them after Helena the mother of Constantine had discovered the pretended ‘true’ cross of Christ in Jerusalem—at least according to tradition—and brought a part of it to Constantinople and had built a church in Jerusalem, ‘(To the) Holy Tomb’ while Constantine had further memorial buildings erected, all of which attracted more and more pilgrims in the course of time.

Irrespective of whether the signet stone resp. the gem reproduced here is about Christ, Bacchus, Dionysos or somebody else and whether they evolved from a Orphic-Christian syncretism or served for pagan-magic use, they do show that not only the artists of the second millennium but also artists from late Antiquity knew clearly, that one who was crucified has to hang on the cross and not stand up straight. One has to ask oneself whether there was a model for the atypical and unnatural representation of Christ standing on the cross which was the exclusive way of depicting him for a thousand years, a model that counteracted the hanging Christ and demanded that the ‘crucified one’ was not to hang.

The return to Caesar’s funeral again explains this paradox: originally it was not the presentation of a crucified one but the expositio of a stabbed one lying on the floor who was only erected that all could see him. Thus his arms should not be stretched upwards but rather downwards, or straight out at the most. And this is exactly what can be observed in the antique ‘crucifixions’.
The solution to the mystery of the late and anomalous appearance of the ‘crucified one’ in Christian art would then be easy. The ‘crucified one’ was at first only shown in the liturgy of the passion of Divus Iulius. This meant, according to tradition during the first centuries, that a wax simulacrum had to be made for it year after year, that was to be burned in the Easter fire. This was very important because it signified the moment of the resurrection, when the people cry out Christos anesti! resp. resurrexit! Only later, when the Christian aversion to cremation established itself and beginning with Constantine, inhumation became traditional for the emperor as well, could the liturgy be partially adjusted to the texts of the Gospels too. The Easter fire remained in symbolic form, but ‘Jesus’ was no longer burned in it, and instead of his wax simulacrum only the Easter candle, possibly together with a co-burned Judas (instead of Julius). From then on the simulacrum could also be made of different materials, out of gypsum or carved in wood, and could, for use in the next year, be preserved in the churches, which had been built in the meantime after the acceptation by the emperors. That was more economical too, which was certainly welcome in the meager years that accompanied the triumph of Christianity.
Then it was only a question of time as to when these pictorial representations of the crucified one would occur in art also, for instance at the gates of churches like in Santa Sabina in Rome where it is still visible today. However, since they not only emblematized the suffering of the Christians from the persecutions but also the victory from Constantine’s time on, they did not emphasize the suffering, but rather the victorious aspect of the crucified one, for quite some time. It was only after the decay of the Roman Empire and the triumph of the barbarians—and the accompanying subjugation of the free Roman peasants as serfs—that the suffering Christ alone remained as symbol, and of the former victory not even the remembrance remained and if any still did, then it was as a painful one also. The never-ending suffering of the Christians summoned the permanently present and everywhere visualized suffering of Christ. The age of the Crucifixus, of the Crucified one, had dawned. Caesar’s tropaeum had finally become Christ’s cross. [<]

[158] Suet. Jul. 84: Inter ludos cantata sunt quaedam ad miserationem et invidiam caedis eius accomodata, ex Pacuvi Armorum iudicio «Men servasse, ut essent qui me perderent?» et ex Electra Atili ad similem sententiam.—‘Emotions of pity and indignation for Caesar’s murder were aroused at the funeral games by singing verses like the line from Pacuvius’ play Contest for the Arms of Achilles—‘What, did I save these men that they might murder me?!’—and others with a similar sentiment from Atilius’ Electra.
Pacuvius was a Roman tragedian poet (220-130 bc); the sentence that is cited here is taken from a piece about the Trojan war. Atilius composed an apparently very literal translation of Sophocles’ Electra in Latin (cf. Stauffer 1957). [<]

[159] App. BC 2.146.611: ouk eferen eti o dhmoV, en paralogw poioumenoV to pantaV autou touV sfageaV cwriV monou Dekmou, aicmalwtouV ek thV Pomphiou stasewV genomenouV, anti kolasewn epi arcaV kai hgemoniaV eqnwn kai stratopedwn proacqentaV epibouleusai, Dekmon de kai paida autw qet;n axiwqhnai genesqai. [<]

[160] We follow Ethelbert Stauffer here, cf. Stauffer (1957), p. 21-23: Soph. El. 839 sqq.: kai nun upo gaiaV- HL. E e, iw. CO. pamyucoV anassei. 453 sq: aitou de prospitnousa ghqen eumenh / hmin arwgon auton eiV ecqrouV molein. 792: HL. Akoue, Nemesi tou qanontoV artiwV. 1418-21: CO. Telous¢ arai: zwsin oi / gaV upai keimenoi: / palirruton gar aim¢ upexairousi twn / ktanontwn oi palai qanonteV. 33 sq: otw tropw patri / dikaV aroimhn twn foneusantwn para.
A resonance of these improperia of March 44 is even found in Cicero in October 44 in his speech against Antonius: illum interfecerunt, quo erant conservati (Cic. Phil. 2.3.5)—‘they have killed the one who had kept them alive’. [<]

[161] Suet. Jul. 84: Laudationis loco consul Antonius per praeconem pronuntiauit senatus consultum, quo omnia simul ei diuina atque humana decreuerat, item ius iurandum, quo se cuncti pro salute unius astrinxerant; quibus perpauca a se uerba addidit. [<]

[162] App. BC 2.144.601-3: ef¢ ekastw de toutwn o AntwnioV thn oyin kai thn ceira eV to swma tou KaisaroV epistrefwn en parabolh tou logou to ergon epedeiknu. epefqeggeto de pou ti kai bracu ekastw, memigmenon oiktw kai aganakthsei, enqa men to yhfisma eipoi ¢¢patera patridoV,¢¢ epilegwn: ¢¢touto epieikeiaV esti marturia,¢¢ enqa d¢ hn ¢¢ieroV kai asuloV¢¢ kai ¢¢apaqhV kai ostiV autw kai eteroV prosfugoi,¢¢ ¢¢ouc eteroV,¢¢ efh, ¢¢twde prosfeugwn, all¢ autoV umin o asuloV kai ieroV anhrhtai, ou biasamenoV oia turannoV labein tasde taV timaV, aV oude hthsen.¢¢ [<]

[163] App. BC 2.146.611: ef¢ oiV o dhmoV oia coroV autw penqimwtata sunwdureto kai ek tou paqouV auqiV orghV enepimplato. [<]

[164] App. BC 2.146.611 : kai pou twn qrhnwn autoV o Kaisar edokei legein, osouV eu poihseie twn ecqrwn ex onomatoV, kai peri twn sfagewn autwn epelegen wsper en qaumati: ¢¢eme de kai tousde periswsai touV ktenountaV me, […]¢¢. [<]

[165] App. BC 2.146: Toiade eipwn thn esqhta oia tiV enqouV anesurato, kai perizwsamenoV eV to twn ceirwn eukolon, to lecoV wV epi skhnhV periesth katakuptwn te eV auto kai aniscwn, prwta men wV qeon ouranion umnei kai eV pistin qeou genesewV taV ceiraV aneteinen […]. [<]

[166] Dio Cass. HR 44.48: dia gar touto arciereuV men proV touV qeouV, upatoV de proV hmaV, autokratwr de proV touV stratiwtaV, diktatwr de proV touV polemiouV apedeicqh. kai ti taut¢ exariqmoumai, opote kai patera auton eni logw thV patridoV epekalesate; [<]

[167] App. BC 2.146.609. [<]

[168] Dio Cass. HR 44.49: all¢ outoV o pathr, outoV o arciereuV o asuloV o hrwV o qeoV teqnhken, oimoi, teqnhken ou nosw biasqeiV, oude ghra maranqeiV, oude exw pou en polemw tini trwqeiV, oude ek daimoniou tinoV automatwV arpasqeiV, alla entauqa entoV tou teicouV epibouleuqeiV o kai eV Brettanian asfalwV strateusaV, en th polei enedreuqeiV o kai to pwmhrion authV epauxhsaV, en tw bouleuthriw katasfageiV o kai idion allo kataskeuasaV, aoploV o eupolemoV, gumnoV o eirhnopoioV, proV toiV dikasthrioi o dikasthV, proV taiV arcaiV o arcwn, upo twn politwn on mhdeiV twn polemiwn mhd¢ eV thn qalassan ekpesonta apokteinai hdunhqh, upo twn etairwn o pollakiV autouV elehsaV. pou dhta soi, Kaisar, h filanqrwpia, pou de h asulia, pou de oi nomoi; alla su men, opwV mhd¢ upo t'n ecqrwn tiV foneuhtai, polla enomoqethsaV, se de outwV oiktrwV apekteinan oi filoi, kai nun en te th agora prokeisai esfagmenoV, di¢ hV pollakiV epompeusaV estefanwmenoV, kai epi tou bhmatoV erriyai katatetrwmenoV, af¢ ou pollakiV edhmhgorhsaV. oimoi poliwn hmatwmenwn, w stolhV esparagmenhV, hn epi toutw monon, wV eoiken, elabeV, in¢ en tauth sfaghV.¢¢ [<]

[169] App. BC 2.146 (cf. note 157): to swma tou KaisaroV egumnou kai thn esqhta epi kontou feromenhn aneseie, lelakismenhn upo t'n plhgwn kai pefurmenhn aimati aujtokratoroV. App. BC 2.147.612: Wde de autoiV ecousin hdh kai ceirwn egguV ousin anesce tiV uper to lecoV andreikelon autou KaisaroV ek khrou pepoihmenon: to men gar swma, wV uption epi lecouV, ouc ewrato. to de andreikelon ek mhcanhV epestrefeto panth, kai sfagai treiV kai; eikosin wfqhsan ana te to swma pan kai ana to proswpon qhriwdwV eV auton genomenai. Dio Cass. HR 44.35.4 and 44.49.3-4. [<]

[170] App. BC 2.147: thnde oun thn oyin o dhmoV oiktisthn sfisi faneisan ouketi enegkwn anwmwxan te kai diazwsamenoi to bouleuthrion, enqa o Kaisar anhrhto, kateflexan kai touV androfonouV ekfugontaV pro pollou periqeonteV ezhtoun, outw dh maniwdwV upo orghV te kai luphV, wste ton dhmarcounta Kinnan ex omwnumiaV tou strathgou Kinna, tou dhmhgorhsantoV epi tw Kaisari, ouk anascomenoi te peri thV omwnumiaV oud¢ akousai, diespasan qhriwdwV, kai ouden autou meroV eV tafhn eureqh. [<]

[171] Suet. Jul. 85: caputque eius praefixum hastae circumtulit. [<]

[172] Dio Cass. HR 50.3. [<]

[173] Suet. Jul. 84: [Quem cum pars in Capitolini Iovis cella cremare, pars in curia Pompei destinaret,] repente duo quidam gladiis succinti ac bina iacula gestantes ardentibus cereis succenderunt […]. [<]

[174] Suet. Jul. 84: […] confestimque circumstantium turba virgulta arida et cum subsellis tribunalia, quicquid praeterea ad donum aderat, congessit. deinde tibicines et scaenici artifices vestem, quam ex triumphorum instrumento ad praesentem usum induerant, detractam sibi atque discissam iniecere flam mae et veteranorum militum legionarii arma sua, quibus exculti funus celebrabant; matronae etiam pleraeque ornamenta sua, quae gerebant, et liberorum bullas atque praetextas. [<]

[175] Suet. Jul. 84: In summo publico luctu exterarum gentium multitudo circulatim suo quaeque more lamentata est praecipueque Iudaei, qui etiam noctibus continuis bustum frequentarunt. [<]

[176] Dio Cass. HR 44.51.1: bwmon de tina en tw thV puraV cwriw idrusamenoi (ta gar <osta> autou oi exeleuqeroi proaneilonto kai eV to patrwon mnhmeion kateqento) quein te ep¢ autw kai katarcesqai tw Kaisari wV kai qew epeceiroun. oi oun upatoi ekeinon te anetreyan, kai tinaV aganakthsantaV epi toutw ekolasan, […]. [<]

[177] Which is at the time of Appianus. [<]

[178] App. BC 2.148: enqa bwmoV prwtoV eteqh, nun d¢ ejsti newV autou KaisaroV, qeiwn timwn axioumenou: o gar toi qetoV autw paiV OktaouioV, to te onoma eV ton Kaisara metabalwn kai kat¢ icnoV ekeinou th politeia prosiwn, thn te archn thn epikratousan eti nun, errizwmenhn up¢ ekeinou, meizonwV ekratunato kai ton patera timwn isoqewn hxiwsen […]. [<]

[179] Stauffer (1957), p. 28—where in Bios Kaisaros we read ‘Emperor biography’, rather than ‘Caesar-biography’, because Nicolaus Damascenus starts by writing about the life of the young Caesar—Octavianus Augustus—then inserts an excursus about the elder Caesar, resulting in it becoming a central part of this ‘Emperor’-biography. [<]

[180] Stauffer (1957), p. 21. [<]

[181] Cf. Gregorian massbook, Good Friday: ‘Ecce lignum Crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit.’ [<]

[182] Cf. Gregorian massbook, Good Friday: ‘Popule meus, quid feci tibi? Aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi. Quia eduxi te de terra Aegypti: parasti Crucem Salvatori tuo […].’ [<]

[183] Suetonius does not say anything about why the Jews were so eager here. Although he is the only one amongst the ancient historians to report the presence of the Jews at Caesar’s cremation site, his testimony is generally not doubted by the commentators—there is speculation about their reasons, however.
Some say the reason for the affection of the Jews was Caesar’s pro-Jewish policy, since he had granted them many privileges and the right to practice their religion freely. Others say that the Jews were very thankful to Caesar because he had defeated Pompeius, who had conquered Jerusalem and desecrated the temple. They had seen in Caesar the avenging angel—or even the Messiah?
Both arguments seem to suggest themselves, even though they are not without certain contradictions.
The first one—that Caesar had granted a number of privileges and free exercise of religion—is based mainly on Flavius Josephus (Jos. JA 14.10.1): Caesar had declared the Jews living in Alexandria as ‘fellow citizens of the Alexandrians’—which was not a small thing, because only as such could Egyptians obtain Roman citizenship (cf. Plinius, ep. X, 6; 7; 10)—and allowed Hyrcanus to keep the office of Jewish high priest because he had come to his help with 1500 men in the Alexandrine war (Jos. AJ 14.10.2). In fact, however, according to the same Flavius Josephus, the Idumean Antipater governed Judea at that time, only pro forma on Hyrcanus’ order, and it was he who joined Mithridates with 3000 (that is, twice as many) ‘foot soldiers of the Jews’ (cf. Jos. BJ 1.9.3), made a good showing at the capture of Pelusium, was repeatedly wounded during the campaign, and persuaded the Egyptian Jews, who were fighting against Caesar, to change sides (Jos. JA 14.8.1). The Idumean Antipater whose wife Kypros, the mother of the later Herod the Great, was a Nabatean sheik’s daughter (Jos. BJ 1.8.9) apparently also lead the troops of his Nabatean father-in-law along with the cavalrymen of the Nabatean Malchus, whom Caesar had called for help, and who joined Mithridates Pergamenus, who was gathering auxiliary troops from Cilicia and Syria and was advancing by land on his way (B. Alex. 1.1 and 26). As reward, Caesar made Antipater a Roman citizen and procurator of all of Judaea after the war.
So he had allowed Hyrcanus to keep the religious office (of Jewish high priest), but had given the political one into the hands of an Idumean and his non-Jewish descendants. However, many among the Jews were glad about this also, the opponents of Hyrcanus as well as those who rejected all Hasmoneans as non-Davidians—e. g. the Pharisees—or were generally opposed to the kingship.
Anyhow, all were glad about Caesar’s clemency which they had experienced again, because the Egyptian Jews, especially those from the Onias destrict in Leontopolis—where since the conquest of Jerusalem by the notorious Antiochos Epiphanes stood a small copy of the Temple of Jerusalem—had fought against Caesar at first and only changed sides after the situation had already tilted in favor of Caesar, and only on massive pressure of Antipater who could produce letters of Hyrcanus on this matter. So they had reason to fear Caesar’s revenge. But he tempered justice with mercy this time also.
This could explain why the Jews were especially attached to him from then on.
How grateful they were to him can be recognized by a decree of Augustus whereby he affirmed the regulations of his adoptive father, which Flavius Josephus cites as one of the main records for the privileges granted to Hyrcanus (Jos. AJ 16.6.2[§162-165]).
Therein Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus (arciereuV), tribunicia potestas permits, with reference to the fact that the nation of the Jews was found to be friendly (eucariston—socius et amicus populi Romani?) not only in his time but especially in the time of his father, the dictator Caesar, as well as due to the agreement of the Roman people: Jews are allowed to pursue their customs according to the ‘fatherly’ law as at the time of Hyrcanus, the high priest (arciereuV) of the ‘Highest God’ (qeoV uyistoV).
It is interesting here that ‘fatherly’ law means the ‘Caesarean’ one, the law of the ‘father’ of Augustus, i. e. Caesar’s law (cf. Noethlichs p 86). It may be asked whether the confusion with the ‘fatherly’ law of the Jews, i. e. their father Moses’, which suggests itself—incidentally, editors and translators usually blunder into it—was intended by Augustus who, as is generally known, aimed at identification (starting with his own with Caesar, whose name he did not take over by chance). QeoV uyistoV, ‘Highest God’ is what Jupiter was called (cf. thereto i. a. A.D. Nock, «The Guild of Zeus Hypsistos», Harv. Theol. Rev. 29, 1936, p. 39-88), an equating that was certainly intended by Augustus, a clear interpretatio Romana of Jahve = Iove.
High priest of the ‘Highest God’ (arciereuV qeou uyistou), anyway, was not only Hyrcanus but also Caesar, who was not only pontifex maximus but flamen Dialis, too, high priest of Jupiter: And he had appointed Hyrcanus as a smaller duplicate in Jerusalem, as it were. However, the deified Caesar himself was equated with Jupiter also, it is not by chance stated expressly with Cassius Dio (HR 44,6,4: kai teloV Dia te auton antikruV Ioulion proshgoreusan), so that Caesar appears here not only as father of Augustus but also of Hyrcanus and the Jews themselves, God the Father and Moses at the same time: As new Romulus he analogously was also a new Moses and as new Jupiter a new Jahweh as well. And as Augustus was his adoptive son, it seems here that Hyrcanus together with his God becomes adoptive too—to plagiarize Tertullian, who distinguished di adoptivi from di captivi (cf. Tertullian, apol. 10.5). This, incidentally, is confirmed by the fact that Augustus does not mention Judaea among the provinces nor the allies in his account of his deeds, thus expressing a personal relationship.
Hence, when Antonius lamented that Caesar, of all people, who had freed Rome from the Gallic threat like a new Camillus, had been murdered and all foreigners joined in suo more, ‘according to their customs’ and sang dirges, the Jews will probably have praised him as a new Moses, who had led them out of Egypt again and for whom they now prepared the ‘stake’: his stavrós—by which, at least for the Caesareans among them, was meant not the ‘cross’, the lignum crucis, but the ‘flammable wood’ for the pyre, as was right and proper for their savior, yes, their father and God (cf. note 157). The lament became an improperium addressing those who had joined the murderers thus making themselves co-responsible for his cruciatus.
So this fateful hour, on which opinions differed in Rome and the whole Empire, had also divided Jewry: The Caesareans among them—those who did not celebrate with Brutus and Cassius on the Sabbath after Caesar’s Passover and would rather be Sabbath desecrators than not mourn for him—had carried out the break with the old law and gone over to the new religion born in that hour: the cult of Divus Iulius which was to become Christianity after the Jewish war.
As for the second assumed reason: the fact that Pompeius, by capturing Jerusalem and storming the Jewish temple, did not make only friends among the Jews cannot be disputed. In the Jewish tradition he was never forgiven for entering into the holy of holies, which was forbidden not only for strangers but even Jews themselves (Jos. AJ 12.145sq). Still under Traianus when the insurrections broke out in Egypt in 115-117 the Jews exhumed the head of Pompeius from the grove, where Caesar had had it buried, out of revenge for the sacrilege of 63 bc (App. BC 2.90.380). But the fact of the matter is that in the process, Pompeius had entangled himself in inner-Jewish quarrels over the throne, in which the two brothers fighting over regality had made him arbiter, and he then had to support, together with the older one whom he favored, the younger one who was barricading himself in Jerusalem. ‘For this calamity of Jerusalem, only the conflict between Hyrcanus and Aristobulus was to blame’, Josephus himself realizes (Jos. AJ 14.4.5). He also gives great credit to Pompeius for not touching the temple treasure-unlike Crassus later on his unfortunate campaign against the Parthians, who took all the gold with him—and ‘behaving as one could expect of his virtue’: for he had the sanctuary purified again and appointed Hyrcanus as high priest (Jos. AJ 14.4.4). Also, we see that in the following Roman civil war ‘the people of the Hebrews and their Arabic neighbors’ (App. BC 2.71.294) stood on Pompeius’ side: so Pompeius must have come to an arrangement with not a few Jews after the capture of Jerusalem and they with him. That Caesar, inversely, did not only make enemies amongst the Jews by freeing Aristobulus, who had been arrested by Pompeius, cannot be disputed either. Aristobulus was an opponent of Hyrcanus though, who also had his sympathizers. Thus not all Jews will have been furious that the Pompeians poisoned Aristobulus soon afterwards, still in Rome, while in Syria Pompeius’ new father in law, Q. Metellus Scipio, had Aristobulos’s son decapitated. Furthermore Caesar had later not supported Aristobulus’ presumptuous and unreliable young son Antigonus but instead favored Antipater, who had more actively supported him and possessed scars all over his body. So one has to come to terms with the thought that Caesar had intervened in a biased manner with the Jews, as with all other peoples and nations, and as a result had aroused sympathies as well as antipathies—depending on one’s point of view.
The one who must have been hated by all Jews, whether Caesareans or Anti-Caesareans, is Cassius Longinus. Because in 53/52, after Crassus’ defeat against the Parthians, he had still been able to maintain control of the province Syria, then had turned against the rebelling province of Judaea, captured 30,000 Jews and in so doing had Pitholaus, who had defected and led the rebellion after Aristobulus, executed on Antipater’s advice, whom he held in high regard (Jos. AJ 14.7.3, Jos. BJ 1.89). Flavius Josephus does not say how Pitholaus was executed. So it will have been the usual way of execution for rebels, in Judaea normally crucifixion. Not the least significant was the fact that it was Aristobulus’ father Alexander Jannaeus, himself king of the Jews who had set standards in that respect. After he had killed umpteen thousands of Jews who were rebelling against him he had 800 of the captives nailed to the cross in the middle of Jerusalem and their wives and children slaughtered in front of their eyes, while he himself, boozing and lying with his concubines, was watching (Jos. BJ 1.4.5).
But now, nine years later, the same Cassius Longinus had made his mark for himself by murdering Caesar, and as a result the same Antipater joined him. Because of that, Caesar must have, for the Jews of Rome, inevitably become one of theirs, and the attempt on him an attempt on them too. They had suffered from the same deadly hand and naturally found themselves together in mourning, beyond all partiality. Caesar’s death from the hand of Cassius Longinus must have carried more weight for them than the fact that it had occurred in front of Pompeius’s statue. The exhibition of Caesar’s body, tortured by all the wounds, at the tropaeum must have seemed a crucifixion to them particularly.
This being true all the more so in recollection, by the time when Suetonius, one and a half centuries later, writes and reports of the conspicuously long time that the Jews remained at Caesar’s cremation site. For history had soon repeated itself among the children. The son of Aristobulus, Antigonus, who during an invasion of the Parthians in the year 40 as the last of the Hasmoneans, with their help had managed to become king instead of the captured Hyrcanus (in his hatred he had bitten off one of Hyrcanus’ ears, so that he could no longer be high priest, since bodily integrity was a pre-condition for that). Soon afterwards, in 38, he is captured himself by the Romans and brought to Antonius in Antiochia, where Herod, the son of Antipater, bribed Antonius to have him killed (Jos. BJ 1.357; Jos. AJ 14.489-491; 15.9sq). Here too, Flavius Josephus does not say what kind of execution it was. Cassius Dio however (HR 49.22.6) speaks about a flagellation and crucifixion of Antigonus before his killing, a punishment that no other king had ever suffered under the Romans. One may ask oneself how much this flagellation and killing of Antigonus by Antonius may have affected the transformation of the exhibition of the tropaeum with the wax figure during Caesar’s funeral, directed by the same Antonius.
But for the moment, Antonius’ act of piety towards Caesar, preventing his body from being dragged like that of a tyrant through the streets of Rome and then thrown in the Tiber—as his murderers had planned—must have evoked, especially among the Jews, the memory of a previous act of piety by the same Antonius towards Aristobulus. This man had been brought captured to Rome by Pompeius in 63, and was able to flee together with his son Antigonus seven years later in order to take possession of Judaea again. But the rebellion failed and Aristobulus was brought to Rome a second time. However, in 49 Caesar freed him to fight the civil war for him against Pompeius in Judaea, for which he gave him two legions (Cass. Dio HR 41.18.1)—whereupon he was poisoned by Pompeians. His body, too, was denied a burial in home soil until Antonius finally sent it to the Jews, embalmed in honey, to be buried in the royal tombs (Jos. AJ 13.16.1-14.7.4; BJ 1.5.4-9.1).
Furthermore, it must be taken into consideration that Caesar did pay back, with high interest, all the money he had borrowed for ‘his Gallic tarts to pay’, as his soldiers had poked fun during the triumphal procession, and the amount was not negligible. But he was already about to go to war again, namely against the Parthians in order to grind out the defeat of Crassus. For that he had put 19 legions on stand by and sent them ahead. To finance the forthcoming greatest of all wars—after crushing the Parthians he wanted to attack the Germans from the rear in the East, marching around the Black Sea through the regions of the Scythes and the Sarmatians, and thus close the gap to Gaul—he had borrowed great sums of money again. We know about the hectic minting activity of those last months of his life. For it the financially strong Orientals will have been asked to pay up also, without exception—according to his well-known maxim: ‘One needs money for the soldiers and one has soldiers for the money’. We thus have to assume that the Jewish financial circles took part one way or another. He will have particularly considered their inclusion for the reason alone that the Jews of the Adiabene were under Parthian sovereignity and a pro-Parthian party was active in Judaea. Therefore, after Caesar’s assassination all was at stake for the Jews on Caesar’s side as it was for all other Caesareans—not least the return of the temple treasure formerly purloined by Crassus, which could have been expected from a Caesar victorious against the Parthians.
For these reasons it can be concluded that Caesar’s policy was not hostile towards the Jews, even if it was not conflict-free, and that it obligated as well as involved the Jews living in the City and the Empire. That is why Suetonius’ remark that the Jews in Rome stayed and mourned at the site of Caesar’s cremation for a long time can be regarded as certain and justified.
But is this sufficient to explain why they lingered there for a conspicuously long time?
Fortunately, as is often the case, the solution to the mystery is simpler than one might think. We have seen that the fifteenth of the Aramaic month Nisan (Hebrew Abib), i. e. the first month of spring, beginning with the new moon, corresponds with the Ides of March. This is based on the calculation of the Jews for their Passover-feast ‘after the cycle of the moon beginning from the spring equinox (= depending on calculation, between the 20th and 25th of March)’ (Philo zu Ex. 12.2). But because all the other nations in principle did the same, as a rule they used the month of the civilian calendar of the respective areas wherein the spring equinox occurred—so in Syria it was regularly the Xantikos, in Alexandria the Parmuthi and in Rome just March. On the full moon of this month the Passover was celebrated (cf. G. Gentz, RE s. v. ‘Ostern’ Sp. 1647-48). But now, one year earlier, 45 bc, Caesar had introduced the solar calendar, named the Julian calendar after him. Chance has it that on the Ides of March 44 bc it was full moon as can easily be calculated on the basis of Julian calendar which is still valid in the Eastern Church, as well as with the help of the Easter tables of Dionysius Exiguus. The month of March perfectly corresponded to Nizan.
So the Jews among the Caesareans, respectively the Caesareans among the Jews, celebrated their Passover in Rome in the year 44 bc on the same date as the Romans did the Ides, which also included the ritual offering of a lamb—ovis Idulis—to Jupiter. This happened at the end of the 14th and in the beginning of the 15th, because the day was reckoned as beginning at evening. But for the Jews, the feast of the unleavened bread (matzoth) followed from the 15th till the 21st of Nisan (Lv. 23.6). This means that they still had at least one holiday left until the end of the Matzoth festival after Caesar’s funeral, which happened presumably on the 20th (cf. u. a. Drumann-Gröbe 1.417). So, even if they did not have more reason to keep vigil at Caesar’s funeral site than other denizens of Rome, they had more spare time.
It should be pointed out here that this fact—Matzoth festival following Passover in the Jewish religious calendar—later led to to continual arguments with the Christians, when they began to reckon Easter according to the solar/lunar system in order to prevent ‘dark Easter’ without a moon (which happened regularly during the use of the purely solar Julian calendar; that the Christians originally always celebrated Easter in March is substantiated by Tertullian, de jejun. 14: pascha celebramus annuo circulo in mense primo). Because, whereas the Christians fasted until the resurrection of the Lord, the Jews terminated their fasting on the evening of the 14th, which led to the impression that they were scoffing at the death of Jesus or even that they were glad about it (cf. Epiph. 70.10 sq). But when the Christians joyfully celebrated the resurrection, the Jews still ate unleavened bread and bitter herbs for some days (namely the Matzoth is celebrated en pikrisin, ‘in bitterness’, cf. Ex. 12:8), leading again to the assumption that they were mocking Christ’s resurrection. This led to continuous irritations and finally to the determination of the Christian Easter so that it no longer coincided with the Jewish celebrations.
However, this later Easter dispute was pre-programmed because of the calendrical coincidences of Caesar’s funeral. As it happens, the day on which Caesar’s funeral took place, the 20th of March, was a Sunday. On the previous day, the Sabbath, there was a holiday for the Romans also: on that day fell the Quinquatrus, the fifth day after the Ides (according to Roman counting, cf. our phrase ‘in eight days’, ‘in fifteen days’); for that reason the funeral was allowed to take place only the day after. This means that at that time already, while the Caesareans were mourning and, putting aside the Sabbath rest, preparing the funeral that was to be become the resurrection, the Anti-Caesareans however were celebrating the old-Roman holiday, respectively the Sabbath, ostensibly: in truth however they celebrated the successful murder of Caesar. Here the first connubium between the murderers of Caesar and the ‘law-abiding’ Jews took place, who not by chance will be allies in the soon rekindling civil war. Therefore, even later the celebrating of Easter with those still being Jews remained dubious and a bone of contention.
In order to realize the improbability of this coincidence that the moon phases as well as the week days correspond between Caesar’s and Jesus’ Passion one has to take into account that the Julian calendar has 365 days, ergo 52 weeks plus one day (52x7=364). Thus the week days should recur every seven years. However, because a leap day is inserted every four years the week days recur only after 28 years (7x4=28). The moon phases, however, recur every 19 years so that for both, week days and moon phases, to match one has to wait as many as 532 years (19x28=532). That is to say that since Caesar’s death the same week days and moon phases have recurred only three times, the fourth concurrence would then fall in the year 2084. This alone suffices to completely rule out the possibility of a merely coincidental calendrical concurrence between the Passion of Caesar and Jesus.
Whereas the calendrical and astronomical dates of the Gospel Passion account coincide with those of Caesar—death on a full moon day, funeral with resurrection on the following Sunday—Jesus would have to have lost his life either simultaneously with Caesar or 532 years after him so that all dates fit again.
The fortunate coincidence in Dionysius Exiguus’ Easter tables was that there was a year in them—563 AD—in which a full moon fell on the 24th of March and Easter Sunday on the 25th, wherein the basic data of the Gospel could be squeezed in, making it possible to declare the year 31 ad occurring 532 years earlier the ‘historical’ Easter.
But this fortunate coincidence, turned into an ingenious idea, can only reduce the statistical improbability but by no means nullify it, because thus the alleged historical Easter date occurs 76 years—i. e. one Easter cycle—after Caesar’s calendar reform. A fortuitousness that, coupled with the fact that the Julian leap years occur on years of Jesus’ age divisible by four and that Jesus’s birth even occurs exactly 100 years after that of Caesar, adds up to a sheer probabilistic impossibility.
This apart from the inner inconsistency of that bold solution—that way in which Jesus could not have been crucified on Friday because in the evening he had to take his Passover meal—there was just not enough time—Jesus was captured, taken to court, on the way from Pontius to Caiphas, back to Pilatus, before the people, etc., flagellated, crucified, taken off the cross and buried—and then the legal difficulties—the capture, trial and crucifixion all on a Passover Sabbath.
For comparison: With Caesar a whole week passed from the death to the gathering of the ashes – incidentally, this was according to the established custom. Leaning on several places in Vergil, the commentator Cruquianus says to Horat. epod. 17.47: Apud antiquos moris fuit, ut triduo corpus defuncti iaceret domi […] et post triduum in rogum ponebatur. […] item post triduum cinis in urnam condebatur et tumulo mandabatur.—‘With the ancients it was the custom that the body of the deceased lay at home for three day […] and after three days it was put on the pyre […] also after three days, the ashes were gathered into the urn and buried in the tomb.’ Two times three days plus the Quinquatrus, which came in between, made the week complete for Caesar. Interestingly enough, the Christian liturgy speaks of a Triduum, from Good Friday until Easter Sunday or Easter Monday, therein distancing itself from the alleged historical Easter of Dionysius, where everything should have happened in an even shorter time span. One sees what happened: By reinterpreting the exposition of Caesar’s wax figure on the tropaeum at the cremation as his crucifixion, the first triduum was understood as the time of the court case between Jesus’ capture and crucifixion and thus only the second triddum remained. The notion of the Passion Week, however, was preserved.
But back to Caesar and our question:
A clear indication of this associating by some of the Jews with the murderers of Caesar is given by Flavius Josephus himself.
Among the Roman benefactors of the Jews—who secured their cult which encountered resistance in the whole Empire and especially in the free towns or those allied with Rome in Asia minor—Josephus (Jos. AJ 14.10) counts, besides Caesar, who apparently made a start, and Augustus who confirmed it, a proconsul Marcus Iunius Brutus, Son of Iunius, of all people, who according to the predominant opinion of the commentators is the murderer of Caesar (AJ 14.10.25 [§262-264]; cf. Benedictus Niese, Flavii Iosephi Opera, Berlin 1892, vol. III, p 288, among other things the lection Marcus Iunius Brutus, Son of Caepio, as well as Noethlichs (1996), p. 85 and note 480). It is said that this Brutus had been requested by the Jews of the town of Ephesos that they might practice Sabbath and traditional customs without interference and he as the proconsul had conceded this to them. Hence the Ephesians decided: According to the Romans nobody shall prevent a Jew from celebrating the Sabbath or for this reason convict him to pay a fine, but the Jews may do everything according to their laws.
If Jews should have stayed particularly long at Caesar’s cremation site out of gratitude to him, then other Jews should have abstained from it out of gratitude to Brutus. Even if one assumes that Brutus gave that permission to the Jews of Ephesos only later, e. g. 42 bc when he was in Asia, one would hardly want to suppose that Brutus had favored the Jews then, shortly before his Philippi, where the demon of the dead Caesar was to appear before him again, if they all had been with the mourners and so had been counted among those who had caused his flight from Rome. On the contrary: Just then, at the time of Caesar’s funeral, the association between Brutus and likeminded Jews must have arisen and it must have had to do with the Sabbath celebration. Had they celebrated the Quinquatrus falling on the Sabbath of the week of Passover not only at the same time, but also together?
A coincidental similarity in the appearance and manner might have also contributed to the fusion of the image of the Jews with that of the murderers of Caesar. These, who posed as liberators, ostentatiously wore the pilleus, a felt hat or cap, the traditional Roman liberty cap. Brutus had it stamped on his coins, between two daggers and the inscription eid(ibus) mar(tiis), ‘on the Ides of march’ (cf. ill. 30, p. 95), as a sign of the regained liberty of the Roman citizens from the alleged tyrant. Now, the same pilleus was also worn by freedmen as a sign of their personally won liberty (cf. Marquardt–Mau (1886) p. 355 u. Anm. 8: Nonius p. 528: Plautus in Amphitruone (462): Ut ego hodie raso capite calvus capiam pilleum.—‘in order that I, with shaved head, receive the cap of liberty today’). It was far from uncommon that the Jews gained Roman citizenship by way of manumission, and so they presented exactly this habitus (which Jews, bound to tradition, interestingly maintain until today). It was a similarity that was even completed by the fact that Brutus wore a beard in order to emphasize the connection with the old Brutus, while those mourning over Caesar did not shave either anymore (according to custom). Since in times of tumults, in dangers, in war, and eminently during civil war, it was usual practice servos ad pilleum vocare—‘to call the slaves to the liberty cap’, which means promising them liberty so that they joined in the battle instead of running away or defecting. And since Brutus did call all to insurrection, it probably resulted in many a confusion with fatal consequences. Caesar’s friend Helvius Cinna had indeed been lynched by the enraged crowd only because he was mistaken for the homonymous Cornelius Cinna, who had spoken against Caesar. So the uncanny situation arose that Caesar’s freedmen, especially those named in the testament, who according to tradition walked alongside the relatives and heirs in front of or beside the bier out of gratitude, that they wore the same cap as the conspirators and all those to whom Brutus had given liberty in the heat of the battle. On that day all wearers of caps lived in danger, all the more so if they wore a beard also. And if the conspirators had left Rome even before the funeral reception (cf. Nic. Dam. 17, Plut. Brut. 21), the same crowd that tore Helvius Cinna into pieces on the spot without listening to explanations, certainly caught many another man, whether he was the right one or not.
A reverberation of this ambivalent relationship, first of the Caesareans and then of the Christians, towards the Jews could also resonate in Suetonius’ account. Writing between two Jewish wars, the secretary of Hadrian—who soon had to cope with the Bar-Kochba insurrection—at any rate, always reports on the negative attitude of the emperors towards the Jews and with a preference to issues connected with money or expulsions at that. (The famous passage that we already dealt with in the chapter ‘Re-Orientation’—Suet. Claud. 25.4: Iudaeos impulsore chresto assidue tumultuantis Roma expulit—does not make an exception either, since we meanwhile know, how it is translated correctly: ‘…he banished from Rome the Jews, who were practicing usury and by that continually created unrest’). So that one finally is quite surprised to learn that Jews stayed particularly long at Caesar’s cremation site, when he has not given a reason for it. What did he want to say? Look, all emperors after Caesar treated the Jews badly, only Caesar did not: for they mourned especially long over his murder? Does Suetonius here really want to praise their reverence—that the Jews had stood at his bustum out of attachment and adoration to Caesar and stood there longest of all, even longer than the Gauls themselves—or rather to report gossip—that they had stood there longest of all, at night, in order to hush up the fact that they together with Antipater, were already about to reach an agreement with the murderers of Caesar, or even, to have the opportunity to screen the ashes for gold. Or both?
Suetonius remains silent about why the Jews were so eager here. But by the sequence of his account he seems to suggest ironically to the reader what they might have been looking for in a place where such a lot of jewelry had come under the ashes—relics? Because staying longer than necessary at a bustum, a spent funeral pyre, was suspicious, for it was implied that one might search through the ashes for the remnants of the molten valuables that had been thrown into the fire by the mourners.
That even respected personalities were not immune to that suspicion is shown by Plutarchus who reports an accusation of Cato, who was above suspicion, a reproach which probably was raised by Caesar in his Anticato against the upholder of moral standards he was in conflict with. When Cato’s brother died, Cato had arranged a splendid funeral, in which a lot of incense goods, many precious garments and much jewelry donated by cities and rulers had been burnt together with the dead. Cato pretended to not want to accept money and gifts, but had to put up with being reproached in writing of having sieved the ashes of the deceased in order to get hold of the melted gold (Plut. Cato Minor 11). Since the reproach against Cato had been taken up by Caesar himself in his Anticato (cf. Tschiedel (1981) p. 113 sqq), Caesar’s followers will hardly for their part have sieved Caesar’s ashes: ergo it remained a ‘valuable’ relic in that respect also. The oldest sacral law, recorded in the twelve tables, forbade giving the dead person gold into the grave (‘Neve aurum addito … Cui auro dentes iuncti escunt, ast im cum illo sepelirei ureive se fraude esto.’: cf. Cic., leg. 2.24.60. This was probably in order to not encourage desecration by plunderers). In Caesar’s case, at any rate, it is said that only the bones which remained after the cremation were picked up for burying in the family tomb (cf. Dio Cass. HR 44.51.1-2: ta gar <osta> autou oi exeleuqeroi proaneilonto kai eV to patrwon mnhmeion kateqento—‘for his freedmen had already picked up his bones and buried them in the family tomb’), so that the relics now would have been available for picking up by the mourners, i. e. in the case of Caesar by the whole people, because except for the murderers all were mourning.
This, however, was risqué. Because the robbing of dead people was punishable with the death penalty and for its imposition during the civil war, the suspicion was sufficient. After Philippi, Antonius spread his very precious purple robe across the body of Brutus and instructed a freedman to take care of the burial. When he later learned that the freeman had not burnt the purple robe together with the body and also had embezzled a big part of the money destined for the burial, he had him executed (Plut. Ant. 22, Brut. 53) (Mark’s lection—‘…and when they had crucified him, they parted his garments casting lots upon them…’—could still retain a memory of that). And as burial gifts belonged to the dead person it is hardly conceivable that those, of all people, who had thrown the offerings on Caesar’s funeral pyre—and everyone had thrown just what they had with them, the actors their triumphal garments (cf. Suet. Jul. 84), the veterans their gold and silver decorated splendor weapons (cf. Suet. Jul. 67), the family mothers their pieces of jewelry and even the golden breast-plaques and purple-fringed tunics of their children—now went there again and fetched back remains of the melted things: A gift is a gift. But they must have been pikked up, those relics, because they were too valuable, in every respect. Since at first an altar was erected at the cremation site, where the people carried on bringing offerings, and later the temple of Divus Iulius was added, one could assume that those relics were kept in that temple, like exvotos. But did they all get there? Did they all still exist? That altar was first knocked over by the consuls, the initiators were killed, even crucified, and years passed until the temple of Divus Iulius could be consecrated. Had the same freedmen of Caesar, who had ‘picked up his bones and buried them in the family tomb,’ also saved the relics and did their status succor them in doing so, because being Romans and strangers at the same time, they were less affected by the religious taboos? And had they handed them over to the followers of Caesar from all the peoples of the earth whom Suetonius calls ‘the many foreigners who lived in Rome’, who ‘had sung dirges in groups according to their respective customs’ and who had thus now become the moving force of the cult of Divus Iulius? Had they distributed them among Caesar’s followers and thereby scattered them over the whole Empire, where they were kept in all the caesarea resp. basilicas, which had already emerged everywhere in the Empire and continued to emerge? And did ‘especially the Jews who even visited the cremation site for many nights in a row’ distinguish themselves in that respect too? In any case, when centuries later St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, let the allegedly ‘true cross’ be searched for and wanted to find it in Jerusalem and found it, it is said that the place was revealed to her by an inspired Jew (Cyriacus: cf. Paulinus of Nola, ep. 31.5). Had the tradition about it already formed from the relics at Caesar’s cremation site? Was it therefore regarded as a matter of course that ‘particularly the Jews’ knew where some, and not the unimportant ones, of ‘His’ relics were hiding? Did the traditional collecting of relics on the part of the Christians as well as the dealing in relics that inevitably went along with it, originate at Caesar’s cremation site? [<]

[184] In Jerusalem the Greek patriarch lights the Easter fire in the Holy Sepulchre. As he leaves the tomb, he lights the torches of the believers who then run with them out of the church and announce the resurrection: Christós anesti! In the Eastern churches (Greece, Armenia, etc.) the Easter fire is enormous, and in some rural parishes there is still an effigy of ‘Judas’ on top, understood by the people as the burning of Judas. A comparable custom is seen in the West too, indeed not always at Easter, but in the week between the 15th and the 20th of March, presumably the ancient date of Easter. For example at the ‘fallas’ of Valencia and environs they also burn a huge fire with effigies of Judas in multifarious variations. Does ‘Judas’ here stand for ‘Julas’, i. e. ‘Julius’? (Compare: IVLIVS > IOULAS > IOUDAS). With this custom the people would be faithfully re-enacting the cremation of Caesar’s body—which in the meantime had become incomprehensible to them—so they would have changed its meaning to the desired burning of Judas. [<]

[185] Cf. Dio Cass. HR 47.19.1. [<]

[186] Stauffer (1957), p. 135, note 4, does just this, but does not specify the common archetypes. [<]

[187] Cf. Gabba (1956), as well the Introduzione van Gabba (1958). [<]

[188] That Appianus could have used novel-like sources has often been suggested, cf. i.a. Schwartz (Ed.), RE, s. v. Appianus, Sp. 222-37, explicitly in reference to Antonius’ funeral speech: Sp. 230; André (1949), p. 41 sqq. [<]

[189] Weinstock (1971), p. 354. He points out that a praetexta Cato by Curiatius Maternus existed (Tac. Dial. 2.1; cf. Teuffel-Kroll 2.296, s. v. Vespasian), which leads us to assume a praetexta Iulius Caesar, in the same way that the Cato by Cicero was followed immediately by Caesar’s Anticato—and they were read in counterpoise. [<]

[190] Even if this is not absolutely confirmed by Cic. Att. 14.10.1 and Phil. 2.90 sq (cf. Drumann & Groebe, 1899-19222, reprint Hildesheim 1964, i p. 74), yet the publication of the oratio funebris by Antonius in accordance with Roman tradition is probable (cf. Bengtson (1977), p. 82 sqq). Hence the speech as rendered by Appianus can be regarded as authentic. [<]

[190b] The Original Form of the Nicene Creed, as adopted at Nicæa (A.D. 325), does not mention Pilate nor the crucifixion:
Pisteuomen eiV ena QEON PATERA pantokratora, pantwn oratwn te kai aoratwn poihthn.
Kai eiV ena kurion IHSOUN CRISTON, ton uion tou qeou, genneqenta ek tou patroV monogenh, toutestin ek thV ousiaV tou patroV, qeon ek qeou, fwV ek fwtoV, qeon alhqinon ek qeou alhqinou, genneqenta, ou poihqenta, omoousion tw patri: di ou ta panta egeneto, ta te en tw ouranw kai ta epi thV ghV ton di hmaV touV anqrwpouV kai dia thn hmeteran swthrian katelqonta kai sarkwqenta kai enanqrwphsanta, paqonta, kai anastanta th trith hmera, kai anelqonta eiV touV ouranouV, kai ercomenon krinai zwntaV kai nekrouV.
TouV de legontaV, oti hn pote ote ou hn, kai prin gennhqenai ouk hn, kai oti ex ouk ontwn egeneto, h ex eteraV upostasewV h ousiaV faskontaV einai, [h ktiston,] trepton h alloiwton ton uion tou qeou, [toutouV] anaqematizei h katolikh [kai apostolikh] ekklhsia.

And here its Latin Version according to Hilarius Pictaviensis (between A.D. 356 and 361):
Credimus in unum Deum Patrem omnipotentem, omnium visibilium et invisibilium factorem.
Et in unum Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei, natum ex Patre unigenitum, hoc est, de substantia Patris, Deum ex Deo, Lumen ex Lumine, Deum verum, de Deo vero, natum, non factum, unius substantiæ cum Patre, quod Græci dicunt homoousion; per quem, omnia facta, sunt, quæ in cælo et in terra; qui [propter nos homines et] propter nostram salutem descendit, incarnatus est et homo factus est, et passus est; et resurrexit tertia die, et ascendit in cælos; venturus judicare vivos et mortuos.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum.
Eos autem qui dicunt: 'erat, quando non erat,' et 'antequam nasceretur, non erat,' et 'quod de non exstantibus factus est,' vel 'ex alia, substantia' aut 'essentia,' dicentes ['creatum, aut] 'convertibilem et demutabilem Filium Dei,' hos anathematizat catholica [et apostolica] ecclesia.
Cf. The Creeds of Christendom with a History and Critical Notes, Volume II. The History of Creeds, by Philip Schaff:
Pilate and the crucifixion appear later, in the enlarged Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed (A.D. 325 and 381):
Notice that also numerous and important ante-nicene Church Fathers do not mention Pilate and the crucifixion in their Creed, i.a.: Cyprian (Carthage) A.D. 250, Novatian (Rome) A.D. 250, Origenes (Alexandria) A.D. 230, Gregory (Neo Caesarea) A.D. 270, Lucian (Antioch) A.D. 300, Eusebius (Caesarea, Pal.) A.D. 325, Cyril (Jerusalem) A.D. 350. [<]

[191] Cf. Nicolaus Damascenus, Bios Kaisaros, FGrH, ed. F. Jacoby, 26.82, i. a. [<]

[192] Suetonius does not mention the name Caesar at all in his report on the funeral (Jul. 84). [<]

[193] Nicolaus Damascenus, Bios Kaisaros, FGrH, ed. F. Jacoby, 26.97: oiketai de dh treiV, oiper hsan plhsion, oligon usteron enqemenoi ton nekron eiV foreion oikade ekomizon dia thV agoraV. oran d¢ enhn enqen kai enqen apestalmenwn twn parakalummatwn, aiwroumenaV taV ceira kai taV epi to' proswpou plhgaV. enqa oudeiV adakruV hn orwn ton palai isa kai qeon timwmenon: oimwghi te pollhi kai stonwi sumparepempeto enqen kai enqen olofuromenwn apo te twn tegwn kaq¢ ouV an genoito kai en taiV odoiV kai proquroiV. kai epeidh plhsion thV oikiaV egeneto, polu dh meizwn uphnta kwkutoV: ex<ep>ephdhkei gar h gunh meta pollou oclou gunaikwn te kai oiketwn, anakaloumenh ton andra kai eauthn oduromenh, oti mathn proulege mh exienai thn hmeran ekeinhn. twi d¢ hdh moira efeisthkei polu kreittwn h kata thn authV elpida. [<]

[194] Plut. Caes. 1-2: eit¢ apoplewn, alisketai peri thn Farmakoussan nhson upo peiratwn, hdh tote stoloiV megaloiV kai skafesin apletoiV katecontwn thn qalattan. Prwton men oun aithqeiV up¢ autwn lutra eikosi talanta, kategelasen wV ouk eidotwn on hrhkoien, autoV d¢ wmologhse penthkonta dwsein: epeita twn peri auton allon eiV allhn diapemyaV polin epi ton twn crhmatwn porismon, en anqrwpoiV fonikwtatoiV Kilixi meq¢ enoV filou kai duoin akolouqoin apoleleimmenoV, outw katafronhtikwV eicen, wste pempwn osakiV anapauoito prosetatten autoiV siwpan. hmeraiV de tessarakonta duein deousaiV, wsper ou frouroumenoV alla doruforoumenoV up¢ autwn, epi pollhV adeiaV sunepaize kai sunegumnazeto, kai poihmata grafwn kai logouV tinaV akroataiV ekeinoiV ecrhto, kai touV mh qaumazontaV antikruV apaideutouV kai barbarouV apekalei, kai sun gelwti pollakiV hpeilhse kreman autouV: oi d¢ ecairon, afeleia tini kai paidia thn parrhsian tauthn nemonteV. wV d¢ hkon ek Milhtou ta lutra kai douV afeiqh, ploia plhrwsaV euquV ek tou Milhsiwn limenoV epi touV lhstaV anhgeto, kai katalabwn eti proV th nhsw naulocountaV, ekrathse twn pleistwn. kai ta men crhmata leian epoihsato, touV d¢ andraV en Pergamw kataqemenoV eiV to desmwthrion, autoV eporeuqh proV ton dieponta thn Asian Iougkon, wV ekeinw proshkon onti strathgw kolasai touV ealwkotaV. ekeinou de kai toiV crhmasin epofqalmiwntoV (hn gar ouk oliga), kai peri twn aicmalwtwn skeyesqai faskontoV epi scolhV, cairein easaV auton o Kaisar eiV Pergamon wceto, kai proagagwn touV lhstaV apantaV anestaurwsen, wsper autoiV dokwn paizein en th nhsw proeirhkei pollakiV.
Suet. Jul. 4: […] Rhodum secedere statuit, et ad declinandam inuidiam et ut per otium ac requiem Apollonio Moloni clarissimo tunc dicendi magistro operam daret. huc dum hibernis iam mensibus traicit, circa Pharmacussam insulam a praedonibus captus est mansitque apud eos non sine summa indignatione prope quadraginta dies cum uno medico et cubicularis duobus. nam comites seruosque ceteros initio statim ad expediendas pecunias, quibus redimeretur, dimiserat. numeratis deinde quinquaginta talentis expositus in litore non distulit quin e uestigio classe deducta persequeretur abeuntis ac redactos in potestatem supplicio, quod saepe illis minatus inter iocum fuerat, adficeret.
Suet. Jul. 74: sed et in ulciscendo natura lenissimus piratas, a quibus captus est, cum in dicionem redegisset, quoniam suffixurum se cruci ante iurauerat, iugulari prius iussit, deinde suffigi […]. [<]

[195] Plut. Caes. 1-2: kai sun gelwti pollakiV hpeilhse kreman autouV kai proagagwn touV lhstaV apantaV anestaurwsen, wsper autoiV dokwn paizein en th nhsw proeirhkei pollakiV. Appianus also uses the same verb kremô for ‘to crucify’, for example when he reports that Antonius had the slave followers of Amatius crucified. App. BC 3.3.9: ewV eterwn epipemfqentwn ex Antwniou amunomenoi te anhreqhsan enioi kai sullhfqenteV eteroi ekremasqhsan, osoi qeraponteV hsan, oi de ejleuqeroi kata tou krhmnou katerrifhsan. As the rebellion originated because Amatius had erected an altar on the site of Caesar’s funeral pyre, the confusion of ‘to cremate’, cremo > kremô, ‘to crucify’, could have originated here. As statues of Caesar are also concerned here, called by Appianus—andriantes—similar to the word for the wax simulacrum on Caesar’s cross—andreikelon—the confusion could have been executed backwards there as well. To make it more complete, we note here that during the slaughter of Amatius’ followers, as well as during the cremation of Caesar, people were hurled from the Tarpeian rock—in the one instance the free citizens amongst the followers of Amatius and in the other the daring fellows who wanted to cremate Caesar’s body on the Capitol. Appianus calls the Tarpeian rock krêmnos ‘overhanging bank’—the root of which is the same as for kremô. Not by chance are both words found in the above cited quotation from Appianus—as if the one would demand the presence of the other: this could have given the last kick to the confusion. [<]

[196] Namely the fashion of crucifixion was not uniform: cf. Mommsen (1899), p. 918 sqq. [<]

[ Excursus: Re-Orientation ]