Jesus was Caesar – Words and Wonders

Extracts from the book «Jesus was Caesar»

© Francesco Carotta, Kirchzarten, Germany

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

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Words and Wonders

In the previous chapter, ‘Crux’, we determined that Jesus was not crucified, and that a cross had indeed played the main role in Antonius’ presentation during the cremation of Caesar: the tropaeum. In that context we also saw that structures, requisites, and names correspond—mutatis mutandis. We have been induced to advance the hypothesis that the Gospels are a vita of Caesar sui generis. In spite of amazing parallels this has not been proven as yet.

We thus want to pick up the thread where we left it in Chapter II, ‘Vitae Parallae’. There we had established that during the siege of Corfinium Caesar drove out the hostile commander who occupied the city; parallel to that, Jesus drove an unclean spirit out of a possessed person in Capharnaum. Both ‘occupied’ and ‘possessed’ are the same in Latin: obsessus.

Now we first want to test the parallels we found and see if they yield any constants; with the next siege we must find the next ‘possessed’.

The Gerasene Demoniac

A year after crossing the Rubicon and besieging Corfinium, Caesar crossed the turbulent Ionian Sea in winter with just a few ships, and landed near the Ceraunic Cliffs where he dared the unbelievable: even though outnumbered, from the mountains he laid siege to all the troops of Pompeius, who controlled the coast.[331] This was not very successful, as history records it, because Pompeius drew an impenetrable line of defense. Both sides suffered greatly and after months of great exertion and enormous fortification and entrenchment, Caesar finally had to give up his position which had become untenable.

If our parallels hold up, we should soon find Jesus encountering the next ‘possessed’ person, this time an unbridled one staying on the other side of the stormy sea

And lo and behold: Jesus and his disciples cross the stormy sea with a number of ships and land in the country of the Gerasenes (or Gergesenes or Gadarenes, depending on the manuscript) just as Caesar did in that of the Ceraunians.[332] There they deal with a ‘possessed person’ who is ‘many’ and named ‘Legion’. He does not allow himself to be restrained and breaks the chains that bind him, just as Pompeius’ legions repeatedly broke the siege of Caesar and his troops.

Here there are also many striking linguistic parallels—Gerasenes/Ceraunians[333]—now and then with similar morphological transformations as with obsessus: the possessed in the Jesus story remains in the ‘tombs’, in the monumenta, the besieged Pompeius in his entrenchment, in the munimenta. [334] Even Matthew’s variation (8:28) which speaks of two demoniacs instead of one, finds its counterpart in Caesar and Pompeius who de facto besieged each other.[335]

Even the ‘swine’—in the Gospels, ‘there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding’ (Mk. 5:11)—are also found in Caesar’s story with insignificant phonetic variations: ‘farm livestock that came from Epirus in abundance…’[336]. Here too, two easily mistaken words: porcus and pecus, swine and farm livestock (which include swine). This surely was an understandable mistake because Caesar’s soldiers were suffering from such famine that they ate any animal, and eventually they began to dig for roots like unclean animals; from a root called chara they made, besides soup, also bread and ran towards the Pompeians throwing it triumphantly and full of contempt.[337] When Pompeius saw this bread he cried out: ‘What kind of beasts must we fight?’[338] Thêria—actually means small animals, in the sense of wild unclean animals, beasts. What he meant was, because of the fodder, ‘What pigs.’ Mk. 5:13: ‘And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine’. Into the swine: choirus. What appears phonetically and optically as a mix of chara and thêria.

As with Gaul/Galilee, as well as Corfinium/Capharnaum, similar names and requisites appear within similar structures and sequences. So, we want to see if the parallel sequencing continues.

Jesus walks on the sea

Due to a lack of ships, Caesar was only able to transport approximately half of his troops across the sea. He sent the ships back to Brundisium (modern Brindisi) and commanded Antonius to follow with the rest of the troops and their equipment. Antonius hesitated, however, because of the weather and the cruising enemy fleet. Desperate, Caesar slipped, alone and incognito, onto a small boat during the night to help bring his men across. Using the current of the river which flowed into the sea to his advantage, he wanted to glide across the breakers. However, when in the night the off-shore wind dropped and a strong breeze arose from the sea, the current collided with the sea surge and forced the boat back; the helmsman despaired. At that moment Caesar revealed himself and said: ‘Do not fear, you sail Caesar in your boat, and Caesar’s luck sails with us!’ At first it helped and everyone rowed with double the effort. In the end however, he reluctantly had to give up. Later his men reproached him when they heard what had happened.

This famous anecdote also appears in the Gospels in a slightly different form: Jesus walks upon the sea:

    ‘And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not…’[339].

Here too, the names are similar: Bethsaida/Brentesion. The same motive: ‘while he sent away the people.’ The same journey during the night, alone, unknown, in a small barge, the rowing, the wind, the fear, revealing himself, the encouraging words: ‘Do not be afraid, it is I’; then the abatement—here of the wind, there of the expedition; and the horror of the clueless men. The only difference: from the sea emerges not the breeze but Jesus himself. Jesus himself?

    ‘…they supposed it had been a spirit’—phantasma.

Thus a spirit. And what is the off-shore that which appears in the Caesar story called? Aura. And the fresh breeze? Pneuma.[340] Two words which not only mean air, but hint of a spirit, especially the second one, pneuma.

The only difference in the Caesar and Jesus anecdotes is in the different readings of the words aura and pneuma. Air or spirit. What remains is that Jesus’ spirit walked successfully on water—just as did Caesar’s luck!.

In Appian’s version of Caesar’s anecdote he not only speaks of ‘Caesar’s luck’, but also of ‘Caesar’s demon’,[341] which is very close to spirit. In the next paragraph pneuma is used again and after that Postumius, whom Caesar instructed to secretly cross over in his place and bring the army back. We even find the eponym of the ghost: Caesar’s Postumius became the posthumous Jesus; Postumius secretly crossing over the sea became the phantasma walking upon the sea.

Finally, even Antonius’ hesitation has parallels in the Gospels. Antonius eventually obeys Caesar’s repeated calls and ships the rest of the troops and equipment across in an adventurous and dangerous way. Doing so he almost perishes and is forced up to Dalmatia; in the end he fortunately reunites with Caesar. The parallel in the Gospel: the hesitating Peter starting to walk on the water becomes frightened and, beginning to sink, he cries for help until Jesus stretches his hand and catches him: ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ (Mt. 14:28-31).

Even the landing place—Dalmatia[342]—could be the same, stranded in a disconnected place:

    ‘And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.’[343]

However Dalmanutha does not exist, neither at the Lake of Gennesaret nor anywhere else in the entire region. But Dalmatia looks very much like Dalmanutha. Even though the context in which Dalmanutha is used is different and behind this name, as we will see, another port is hidden. Dalmatia, which here had become homeless, might have moved into Dalmanutha.

But the remarkable fact here is that by comparing the parallel stories of Jesus’ and Caesar’s defiance of the stormy sea, we can also explain small and big incongruities of the Gospel text, for which, to date, no rational explanation has been found.

For example, after forcing his disciples to go aboard and before boarding the ship himself, Jesus not only walks on the sea, but meanwhile he also goes up a mountain to pray (Mk. 6:46). The whole scene takes place at the sea, on the shoreline or on the water at the mouth of the river. Jesus leaves the scene and climbs a mountain, but did not really leave the scene, because then suddenly he is on the sea. This incongruity could easily be explained by the fact that oros, Greek for ‘mountain’, very much resembles ora, Latin for ‘shoreline’, respectively os, oris, ‘mouth (of the river)’..

However, this passage also contains a notorious and even severe case of incongruity within the Gospel. Here Jesus supposedly crossed Lake Gennesaret. Yet the Gospel writers do not speak of a lake, but of the sea. For example, when Jesus calms the storm, ‘He speaks to the sea: be still and cease!’ To the ‘sea’: thalassa.[344] But here it is about an inland lake, a fresh water lake. Therefore the correct word would be limnê,[345] but that is not what is written. Only Luke, who tells a shortened version of the incident, uses limnê. There has been no explanation up to today as to why Mark and Matthew systematically and repeatedly use thalassa.[346]

Thalassa only fits in the Caesar story because he crossed over a real sea: the Ionian.

Thus our first test not only highlights the fact that the parallels between Caesar and Jesus are systematic, but also demonstrates that perplexing vocabulary of the Gospel can be explained when traced back to that of the history of Caesar.

However, since the devil is in the details as everyone knows, we now intend to search for well-known details. For instance, the shoe’s latchet of John the Baptist, or the argument between the disciples of John and Jesus as to which of the two is really the Christ. As we saw in the beginning, John the Baptist is structurally related to Jesus as Pompeius is to Caesar. Also, Pompeius was Caesar’s political godfather, baptizing his career in a sense, before he attacked him and lost. So the latchets of Pompeius’ shoes too, should play a role in his argument with Caesar. On the other hand, within the same context there should also be a debate involving him or his disciples as to who is the real ‘Christ’ that is, if the correspondence of christos = pontifex maximus we have worked out is correct: who should become pontifex maximus in Caesar’s place.

The shoe’s latchet of John the Baptist

At the beginning of the Gospel of John, John the Baptist says:

    ‘He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.’[347]

He repeats this:

    ‘He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.’[348]

The Gospel of Mark combines both:

    ‘There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.’[349]

Thematically the parallel is clear: At the beginning of the civil war as well as at the beginning of the Gospel it was a question of determining who was the first and who was the mightiest; in one story Caesar or Pompeius, in the other Jesus or John. One could speculate about the names, too: on the one hand Pompeius Magnus, the ‘Great’, on the other hand Caesar, the (pontifex) Maximus, the ‘Greatest’, the Highest (Priest).

If we concentrate on the requisites we see that it is about ‘coming’ and ‘going’—the Greek verb erchomai can mean either ‘coming’ or ‘going’ depending on the point of view—and the fact that he who was in front can suddenly again be behind. It seems to be about fleeing and chasing: as at Pharsalos, where Caesar first fled, chased by Pompeius; later however, the roles were reversed.

We now have to look into the texts and see if Pompeius, on the run after the battle of Pharsalos and being chased by the now stronger Caesar, experiences anything in relation to ‘shoes’, ‘unloosen the latchet’, ‘stooping down’ and ‘worthiness’.

The scene is quickly found: After Pompeius fled with Favonius via Larissa to the sea and the two were taken aboard a freighter the following scene took place:

    ‘When it was time for supper the master of the ship was preparing everything according to what was available; Favonius noticed that Pompeius began to “take off” his “shoes” himself due to the lack of servants. He “ran to” Pompeius and “helped him with his shoes” as well as by anointing him. And from that time on he continued to give Pompeius such ministry and service as slaves give their masters, even down to the washing of his feet and the preparation of his meals, so that any one who beheld the courtesy and the unfeigned simplicity of that service might have exclaimed: “How well every task ‘conforms’ to a noble soul”.’[350]

The requisites sought are marked: the ‘shoes’; ‘helping take off’ for ‘unloosening the latchet’; ‘running towards someone and helping to take off shoes’ for ‘stooping’; ‘conforms to’ for ‘worthiness’. It is obviously the same scene. However, there are more requisites in the Pompeius story than in the John the Baptist story: in the latter story ‘service’, ‘slave’, ‘master (Lord)’, ‘dinnertime’ or ‘preparing the meals’ and ‘washing the feet’ are missing. Where are they? They appear in another, more appropriate place: the Last Supper of the Lord—of Jesus:

    ‘He riseth from “supper”, and laid aside his garments; and took “a towel, and girded himself”. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began “to wash the disciples’ feet”, and “to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded”. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, “Lord”, dost thou wash my feet?’[351]

Now we have all the requisites together, the ‘supper’, the ‘Lord’ and ‘washing of feet’, whereby the ‘towel’ and ‘girdle’ as slave garments stand for ‘slave’, and the ‘towel wherewith he was girded’ which he used ‘to wipe their feet’ symbolizes the ‘service of a slave’.[352]

The second part of the passage on Pompeius has simply wandered to another more useful, more ‘Christian’ place.

Apart from that, the first part too is not found where expected: it should be after Pharsalos, at the place where in the Gospel story the Baptist and Jesus have an encounter, and where it is determined who is the Christ (Jn. 3:22-36). We immediately can check whether this was the original place of the Pharsalos story.

Who is the Christ?

In the very first chapter of John’s Gospel, the Baptist confesses that he is not the Christ.

    ‘And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.’[353]

However, this question—who is the Christ—was explicitly posed only later, in the context of a quarrel started by John’s disciples:

    ‘Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying … John answered and said … Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ…’[354]

If Christ stands for pontifex maximus—as our hypothesis demands—then the argument in Pharsalos must have not only been about who was the strongest, but specifically who was to be pontifex maximus. And indeed, on the evening before Pharsalos, the battle that would decide the highest power in the empire, the most respected followers of Pompeius were arguing about who should afterwards be pontifex maximus in Caesar’s place. They did not expect Caesar to survive the battle:

    ‘…some of them even began to argue among themselves as to who would assume Caesar’s dignity as pontifex maximus.[355]

Against all expectations Caesar won the battle. Everyone ran to his side and he remained pontifex maximus. The power of the great Pompeius evaporated. All that was left for him was his young wife, whom he had just married. He went and saw her in Mitylene, in order to take her with him in his flight:

    ‘I see, my husband, that you are lost in sorrow.’
    ‘You know only of one lot in my life, Cornelia, the better one that perhaps also deceived you, because its faithfulness to me was unusually prolonged. But we must also suffer this because we are human…’[356]

This philosophical dialogue concerning the abrupt fall of the bridal couple from happiness into sorrow is reflected in the farewell speech of John that otherwise does not make sense about his bride and himself as groom:

    ‘He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly…’[357]

The repeating analogy found between John the Baptist and Pompeius leads us to question whether the conflict between light and darkness stressed at the beginning of John’s Gospel belongs in an editorial framework or if it is also borrowed from the history of the Roman civil war.

Light and Darkness

The Gospel of John first presents John the Baptist within a clash between light and darkness:

    ‘And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.’[358]

The context is the argument between Jesus and the Baptist, or more specifically between their followers, which once more is taken up and stated more precisely in Jn. 3:22.

The theme of the struggle between light and darkness forced itself on Caesar and Pompeius with fateful features the evening before the battle of Pharsalos.

    ‘As a light from heaven flew from Caesar’s camp to that of Pompeius and went out there, the Pompeians thought it was a sign of glorious triumph over their enemies, while at the same time Caesar predicted he would attack and wipe out the power of Pompeius.’[359]

Pompeius might have won if the darkness had comprehended the light. Now, however, the light shone in the darkness: Caesar won.

So the Evangelist John would have brought the Pharsalos story to the beginning of his Gospel, and in combination with the arming of Pompeius at the start of the civil war, he would already have anticipated the result—Pompeius’ defeat at Pharsalos.[360]

The baptism

There can be no Baptist without baptism. The activities of John and Jesus as baptizers correspond to the military mobilizations of Pompeius and Caesar before the outbreak of civil war. The armament of Pompeius had been such a fatal development because in his opinion it was a necessary measure of preparation against a much feared military battle. But in the eyes of Caesar it was an illegal declaration of war against him, the victorious conqueror of the Gauls, who was deserving of triumphal processions. Thus, the arming of Pompeius had provoked Caesar’s occupation of Italy and by that it counterphobically resulted in Caesar’s seizure of power, which he had feared so much.

Just as Pompeius is reproached for illegal armament, John is reproached for illegitimately baptizing:

    ‘And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?’[361]

And just as Caesar justified his takeover by referring to the illegal levying of troops by Pompeius, so too did Jesus justify his authority by referring to the just as questionable legitimacy of the baptismal activity of John:

    ‘And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.’[362]

One may question how the armament and levying can become baptism. What the commander refers to as armament and levying is, in the eyes of his officers and even more so those of his soldiers: recruitment, inspection and weapon consecration, because that is what they experience.[363]

Well, inspection in Latin is lustratio, which actually means ‘cleansing’, ‘lustration’, but in military language it stands for ‘inspection’ because of the acts of ritual cleansing and expiatory sacrifices that accompanied it. Along with the lustratio, the inspection of soldiers, went the inspection of weapons, the armilustrium, the ‘cleansing of weapons’ in the sense of ‘ceremony of purifying the arms’. The word lustratio comes from luo, ‘to wash’ and in the second instance means ‘atone’, which finds its Greek pendant in the loutrón, meaning ‘wash’, ‘bathe,’ and comes from the corresponding verb louô, also ‘to wash’, ‘to bathe’. In the Christian sense these words became ‘baptism’, respectively ‘baptize.’ The transition from ‘inspection of soldiers with cleansing of arms’ (the Latin lustratio) to ‘baptism of repentance’ (the Greek loutrón) came about through the common concepts of ‘washing’ and ‘purifying’. The same meaning is also found in the other Greek word alternatively used for louô, baptizô, which in the Christian sense is also translated with ‘to baptize’ (probably because it comes from baptô, which means ‘to dunk’). Before becoming baptism, baptisma, too, simply meant washing: a further excellent literal translation of the Latin word lustratio, the inspection. And the fact that baptism was originally seen as the reception into the army of Christ is certainly not contradictory to this idea.

Having read the text through these glasses, Mark henceforth might have seen the classic word for levying, dilectus, as dilutum or even diluvies, diluvium, all words which have to do with washing, watering and rinsing.

Interestingly enough, Mark adds his own explanation to the word baptisma: ‘baptism of repentance for the remission of sins’, baptisma metanoias eis aphesin (h)amartiôn.[364] ‘Of sins’ in Greek is (h)amartiôn; armorum in Latin means ‘of the arms’. If this armorum from an older version was later read as (h)amartiôn, the ‘remission of sins’ would stand for armilustrium.[365] Since aphesis first means ‘release’, ‘discharge’, ‘dismissal’ and only as a derivative ‘remission’ we must turn our attention to something else. While Pompeius was arming his soldiers, his new father-in-law Metellus (Scipio) demanded that Caesar dismiss his men. ‘Remission of sins’ might therefore simply stand for dimissio armorum.[366] Since metanoias, ‘of repentance’, looks very similar to Metellus, and baptisma, ‘baptism’ is near postulatio, ‘demand’, as well as kêryssôn, ‘preaching’, is not far from Caesar, then kai kêryssôn baptisma metanoias eis aphesin (h)amartiôn would stand for a Caesare postulabat Metellus dimissionem armorum. In English, ‘and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins’ would simply stand for ‘Metellus demanded from Caesar the dismissal of his army’.

We have now seen that the Gospels of Mark and John find structural parallels in the Vita Caesaris. In the search for the corresponding passages, time and time again, we first looked at the context and then, within the context we sought the requisites.

A third class of clues also took shape: corresponding names. These are sometimes obviously similar—Gallia = Galilee, Corfinium = Capharnaum, (h)amartiôn = armorum—sometimes different, as if translated—lustratio = baptisma—or a functional equivalent: Christ versus pontifex maximus. This context-based research seems to confirm the parallels we found in the first list of people and their counterparts.

We therefore want to examine the texts more closely in order to more thoroughly test the tangibly emerging hypothesis that the Gospel texts are based on a Caesar source.

Should the Gospel text have found its basis in the history of Caesar’s life, then his famous quotations—as well as those not so well known—should be found in the Gospels, too. These quotations should be in the appropriate places within the corresponding context.

We instantaneously think of: alea iacta est and veni vidi vici; less well-known, but not less typical: Who is not on any side, is on my side; I am not king, I am Caesar; The best death is the sudden death; Have I saved them, that they may destroy me?!


Alea iacta est

‘The die is cast’, or alea iacta esto, ‘Let the die be cast’ as Erasmus rightly corrected, was said by Caesar while still in Gaul, on the Adriatic between Ravenna and Rimini, before crossing the Rubicon. There he saw Antonius and Curio completely distraught, riding towards him in the night from Rome. They had been unable to prevent Pompeius from declaring a state of emergency, a step directed against Caesar.[367] Caesar ventured to cast the die and gained a stroke of luck, for it was he who won the war. He appointed Antonius and Curio to military commands on the spot. The one was to distinguish himself during the crossing of the Ionian Sea, while the other managed to cross the sea to Sicily and from there to Africa.

We noticed that Galilee stands for Gallia, that John the Baptist plays the same role as Pompeius, and that Simon (Peter) has Antonius’ role. If these parallels are correct, then just after his baptism by John on the Jordan, we should look for Jesus on the coast of Galilee. We actually do find him on the Sea of Galilee where he encountered Simon and Andreas casting out their nets, because they were fishermen. Jesus said to them: ‘Come after me; and I will make you fishermen of men!’ (Mk. 1:16-17). Luke tells us that they had worked the entire night and had not caught anything. Simon then cast out his nets as Jesus instructed him and caught such a great number of fish that their nets began to tear. (Lk. 5:5-6)

These are striking similarities, but where is alea iacta est? It is only in the Greek text that we can see Caesar’s words. (He saw them), ‘casting: for they were fishers’—amphiballontas, êsan gar (h)aleeis.[368] Alea, Latin for die, once understood as (h)aleeis, Greek for fishermen, turns over the sentence. Alea iacta esto, ‘Let the die be cast’, becomes ‘Fishermen, let (it) be cast’. The cast remains aleatoric still: the fishermen must believe that they will catch something. (H)aleeis retains the sound of alea; the sense changes to a miraculous catch—or to fishers of men.[369]

For the rest here too, another incongruence in the Gospel texts can be explained. It was never comprehensible why the fishermen in the Gospels were called (h)aleeis. This refers to sailors more than fishermen. (H)aleeis is derived from (h)als, salt. The Sea of Galilee is supposed to be Lake Gennesaret which is the well-known inland lake of the Jordan. Not a sea. No sea, no sailors, no salt. (H)aleeis and ‘Sea of Galilee’ do not make sense.

In the Caesar text ‘sea’ makes sense twice. First, the Adriatic Sea is really a sea and secondly, it was really the Gallic Sea. Gallia (Gaul) was also the Cisalpine, what is today Northern Italy.[370]

‘Who is not on any side, is on my side’

This was Caesar’s answer to Pompeius’ declaration that he will count everyone who does not help the state as an enemy.[371] By that, Pompeius had meant everyone who remained in Rome while he and his men had declared a state of emergency directed against the invading Caesar—and thereupon left Rome in such a panic that they plundered their own homes, like robbers.

In a similar situation the same words are used. Namely when Jesus is reproached for being the prince of demons who drives out other demons.[372] Then he refers to a strong man who enters the house of another strong man and spoils his house. In Matthew and Luke: He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. In Mark and Luke as Jesus’ reply to John: For he that is not against us is on our part.[373]

This time it is not only a similar, but an absolutely identical expression, in word and sense, within the same context—the beginning of the civil war—with the same mutual demonization. It looks as if here an almost unchanged source has been reproduced.

Veni vidi vici

‘I came, I saw, I conquered’: Caesar’s pithiest words were also his shortest war report. Thus he reported his extremely swift victory over Pharnakes at the Pontic temple city of Zela (today Zile, in the north eastern part of Asia Minor). The saying was later carried as an inscription in front of the triumphal procession in Rome.

In the sources where the saying appears as a report sent from the Pontic town of Zela it is used not only in the first person, but also in the third by Dio Cassius:

    ‘…he approached the enemy, saw him and conquered.’
    ‘(I) came, saw, conquered.’[374]

Expressions formally corresponding with Caesar’s words can be found in two sections of the Gospels. In Mark’s text of the healing of a blind man and in John’s text of a person born blind, at the temple pool of Siloah.

In the Gospel of John it appears twice: once as a description in the third person just as in the Dio text, and then again from the mouth of a blind person after he has been healed:

    ‘He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.’[375]
    ‘I went and washed, and I received sight.’[376]

In Mark the blind man’s utterance is somewhat different:

    ‘I see men as trees, walking.’[377]

Two (‘come/go’, ‘see’) of the three elements (‘come’, ‘see’, ‘conquer’) found in the Caesar quotation can also be found in Mark and John. This is especially noticeable in the Greek text because the verb erchomai (êlthon) means ‘come’ and ‘go’ according to context.[378]

Only in the third element ‘wash’ versus ‘men as trees’ do the Gospel writers differentiate from not only Caesar, but also from each other. There is no path in either direction from the verb ‘wash’ used by John to the phrase ‘men as trees’ used by Mark. However if they are compared to Caesar’s ‘conquering’ then there is something noticeable:

In Greek ‘I washed’ and ‘I conquered’ are acoustically and visually so close to each other that the two can be confused: enikêsa / enipsa—pronunciation: ‘enikisa / enipsa’, graphical image in the manuscripts: ENIKHSA / ENIYA.

‘Men as trees, walking’ were seen in the triumphal procession in Rome: the commander with a laurel wreath on his head, the soldiers with every piece of green they could possibly collect, mostly olive branches, the lower the rank the larger the greenery.

So this expression of Caesar may have served as a source for both Gospel writers. The difference in their texts can be attributed to the fact that in Mark’s example the quotation is connected with the triumphal procession in Rome—as is the case with Suetonius—while John’s source reported in a chronological way and treated the quotation as a report sent from the Pontic town of Zela—as is the case with Plutarchus.

Even the place name continues to exist—Zela > Siloah—in almost the exact same pronunciation—zila > siloa. The word ‘pool/pond’ reminds us it was a ‘Pontic’ city. Pontos simply means ‘sea’.

But where is the blind man in the Caesar texts? Of course: Pharnakes was blind. In his opposition to Caesar he ‘did not see, was conquered and had to go.’ And just as Caesar ‘drove out’—expulit—the defeated Pharnakes, Jesus ‘spat’—exspuit—in the blind man’s eyes.

There is one difference between the Caesar texts and the Gospel passage that still needs to be explained. In the Caesar story the quotation, ‘I came, saw and conquered’ came from Caesar. In the Gospel it is the blind man who says, ‘I went, washed and saw.’ How did it come to be interchanged?

Probably because the name Caesar was confused with caecus ‘blind’:

    Caesar > caecus.

Notice the following: Since Pharnakes is not only conquered and forced out by Caesar but also beaten and murdered by one of his vassals, he is not only victus, conquered, but also caesus, ‘defeated’ and ‘killed’. Since caesus is easy to confuse with caecus, ‘blind’, Pharnakes might have become caecus via caesus. And since Caesar too can be confused with caesus the one might have replaced the other.[379]

I am not King, I am Caesar[380]

Caesar’s family descended via his father’s mother, from the Marcii Reges. Following his maternal lineage, he was also a ‘King’.[381] He used this word association to humorously play down the cheers of the people who wanted him to be king. As is well known, he was unsuccessful, for his opponents used this as further proof that he still wanted to be made king. Suetonius: ‘It was useless.’ Plutarchus: ‘Great silence followed these words as he gloomily and vexedly walked along.’

There is no historical agreement as to when and where Caesar used this expression. Plutarchus says, ‘As Caesar one day returned from Alba’; Appianus, ‘on the way home near the city gates’; Suetonius does not name the place or the occasion: ‘as the plebs greeted him as king.’[382]

In John’s Gospel the sentence is found when Pilate leads Jesus to ‘a place that is called the Pavement,’ saying to the screaming crowd:

    ‘“Behold, your King!”
    The chief priest answered:
    “We have no king but Caesar.”[383]
    Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified.’

In spite of all the uncertainty concerning the location, there is still a similarity in the situation: the road to Alba or the returning home at the city gate on the one hand, ‘the Pavement’ on the other; screaming crowds in both scenes; being addressed as ‘King’; the answer: ‘not a King, but Caesar’ (our differentiation between Caesar and Emperor does not exist in Greek). Hopelessness and leading away: ‘It was useless’ and ‘he gloomily and vexedly walked along’ on the one hand, ‘delivered to be crucified’ on the other.

The only difference is that Jesus does not say, ‘I am not King’ as Caesar does. Instead the chief priests say: ‘We have no king’. However, this is a difference that makes no difference, because Caesar himself was chief priest, archiereus, pontifex maximus.

The best death is the sudden one

    ‘The day before the next session of the Senate Caesar however went to supper at the home of Lepidus. Lepidus was his magister equitum. He took Brutus Albinus with him to drink and as the cup passed he raised the question, “What is the best method to die?” While one expressed this opinion and another that, Caesar himself praised sudden death above all. He thus prophesied his own end and spoke of what was to happen the following day.’[384]

For the next day, Decimus Brutus Albinus was to lead him to where his conspirators would be waiting for him; sudden death would overtake him and his blood would flow.

It is easy to recognize the Last Supper scene from the Gospel.[385] Caesar appears as dictator with his magister equitum, Grand Master of the Horse, the dictator’s second-in-command. In the Gospel the disciples are supposed to go into the city and follow a man carrying a stone jar and wherever he enters, say to the head of the house that the master needs a room for supper. Notice how ‘Master’—didaskalos—corresponds to dictator which in Latin can be misunderstood as schoolmaster. It is not by chance that it became ‘Dichter’, poet, in German. Lepidus was really head of the house, oikodespotês. The word resembles—what a coincidence—a mimicry of magister equitum, where despotês stands for magister, oiko for equitum, the first part in sense, the second in sound.[386] Finally, ‘stone jar’—keramos—is a translation of Lepidus, if it is mistakenly derived from lapis, lapidis—‘stone’—reinforced by the real meaning of lepidus, ‘pleasing’: a pleasing stone jar, a delicate ceramic.

Even the betrayer’s name is mentioned: Decimus Brutus. In the Gospel texts the betrayer is named as ‘one of the twelve.’ Decimus means the tenth! Just as Decimus was taken to feast with Caesar, so ‘one of the twelve’ dippeth with Jesus in the dish (Mk. 14:20).

Even the chalice is there, referred to in the Caesar story also as kylix, which with him too refers to his blood that is shed: already during that night his wife saw him in a dream, ‘covered in much blood’—a premonition of his sacrificial death.[387]

And finally the announcement of imminent death is found in both Caesar and Jesus.
However, one thing seems to be missing in the Gospels, namely the exact comment by Caesar we are looking for: ‘the sudden one’. It is not found in the synoptic Gospels. In John, Jesus does say to the traitor:

    ‘That thou doest, do quickly.’[388]

Here is the sentence, even if it is hidden: ‘What you do—namely lead me to death—do that quickly’. There it is—the sudden death, in the mouth of Jesus.

Thus we would have found the Caesar quotation we have been looking for in its appropriate context—[the best death is] the sudden one.

Men servasse, ut essent qui me perderent

‘Have I saved them that they may ruin me?’ This verse from Pacuvius’ Contest for the Arms of Achilles, the leitmotif of the people’s lament at Caesar’s funeral,[389] was strangely enough said by a mime playing Caesar and acting in combination with Antonius who began the lament while the people answered as the chorus in the tragedy.

During funerals it was the custom to have the deceased himself speak to the mourners in the person of a masked actor who imitated his voice and gestures. Normally this took place with humor and irony, but on this occasion it was with sarcasm and gallows humor:

    ‘…in the middle of the laments Caesar himself seemed to speak of it and to recount all his enemies by name, those he had treated well. And about the assassins themselves he said as if in unbelievable amazement: “Men servasse, ut essent qui me perderent?”—“Have I saved them that they may ruin me?”’[390]

As we know, these words did not miss their mark. The people were outraged and tried to lynch the assassins of Caesar.

The assassins themselves were afraid this would happen and tried to prevent the funeral. They wanted to drag Caesar’s body through the streets as the corpse of a tyrant, and then throw it into the Tiber. However, since Caesar was not only dictator but also pontifex maximus, his father-in-law, Piso, managed to have Caesar buried as such with the help of the consuls.[391]

So the sentence that we were looking for—‘Have I saved them, that they may ruin me?’—appeared in the middle of the funeral, in an exchange between Antonius and the chorus in the tragedy, from the mouth of the high priest himself as he is about to be cremated.

Mutatis mutandis we find the same sentence during the crucifixion of Jesus, in the same constellation and in the same mouth:

‘Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.’[392]

What the high priests say in Mark is obviously a translation of the Pacuvius-text, even though the second part has been weakened. We notice that Pacuvius counts as a scribe, while pontifex maximus Caesar, an actor himself in the person of his mime in the funeral play directed by Antonius, counts as one of the mocking chief priests.

This is not the first time this has been observed. Another quotation from the high priest Caesar—‘I am not King, I am Caesar’—was also placed in the mouth of the chief priests judging Jesus: ‘We have no king, but Caesar.’ As if exchanging roles with the high priests was the perfect solution in a delicate situation where one cannot or will not put certain words into his mouth.

Our hypothesis that the Gospels are based on a Vita Caesaris is so far confirmed. We now want to find more definite proof. This should establish certainty: either falsification or verification.


In order to maintain the parallels between the life of Caesar and the Gospels we had to make certain assumptions. For example, we had to assume that Caesar himself, in his position as pontifex maximus, lurks behind the high priests who say, ‘We have no king, but Caesar.’ We also had to assume that in the sentence, ‘I came, I washed, and saw’ the blind man was speaking and not Jesus, because Caesar was confused with caecus. The same applies to the man with the stone jar who does the leading to the head of the household, because Lepidus was mistaken for a lepidus lapis; or that Jesus in the same scene is called ‘master’ because the dictator Caesar was misunderstood to be ‘a dictating schoolmaster’, etc.

True, these assumptions are plausible. But as yet they have not been proven unless they truly correspond to a regular ‘habit’ of the Gospel writers. They can be systematized as: official titles misunderstood as professions (pontifex maximus as one of the high priests, dictator as schoolmaster, and in the end including even alea as fishermen), proper names as generic names (Pontos as pond, Lepidus as stone jar, Caesar as caecus), enemies as insane or lame people (obsessus as obsessed or caesus as caecus), who are proper candidates to be healed. From then on miraculous victories are interpreted as victorious miracles.

As can be seen, these word corruptions and bungles correspond not only to the well-known rule of philology that the lectio facilior replaces the difficilior, but also to the basic tendency of transferring copyists’ mistakes as well as to the nature of the oral transmission of information. The sermon is no different than the grapevine: the known replaces the unknown for the individual transmitting information, or, that which the public wishes to hear replaces that which he prefers to conceal.

So we remain within the norm so far. In order to see if this is the rule, or in our case only pure chance, we want to draw some conclusions from the description outlined above and then see if they can be verified in the text.

When an Asinius Pollio appears in the Caesar sources, we would have to expect that his name predestines him to metamorphose into an ‘ass’s colt’ in the Gospel. If then, in another well-known Caesar anecdote, someone should pop up with a name that can be misunderstood as an affliction, he, too, must accordingly be healed by Jesus. The Romans liked to use bodily characteristics (Rufus the Red-haired, Lentulus the Slow, etc.) as names, including many that refer to deformities, such as Claudius or Clodius the Hobbler or Caecilius the Blind. It is fitting that Caesar had conflicts solely with people with such names. In addition to a Lentulus there were many Claudii, especially a Clodius, as well as many Caecilii, so that, according to our constants, we must expect to find the healing of several lame and those with gout, as well as various blind people.

Now we will see if all this is accurate.

Asinius Pollio

He was with Caesar at the Rubicon and by his side during the civil war. After Pompeius—Corfinium having surrendered—had left Italy via Brundisium and crossed the sea to Epirus with part of the Senate, and while Caesar was on the verge of marching into Rome, Asinius went to Sicily by Caesar’s order to take the island from Cato, the governor appointed by the Pompeians. He accompanied the legate Curio who was to go to Africa from Sicily:

‘Eventually Asinius Pollio followed Caesar’s orders and went to Sicily, which at that time was under Cato’s leadership. When Cato asked if he came with an order of the Senate or the people in his pocket to invade a foreign area he received the following answer: “The Lord of Italy delegated this task to me!” Cato contented himself with the reply that he would not offer any resistance out of consideration for his subordinates. He then left for Kerkyra (Corfu) and from Kerkyra to Pompeius. In the meantime Caesar hurried towards Rome…’[393]

Since Asinius sounds like the adjective to asinus, ‘ass’, and Pollio like pôlos or pullus, ‘colt’, our constant—the assumption that proper names turn into generic names—requires that Asinius Pollio appears as ‘ass’s colt’, with the requisites belonging to him—two envoys, a legate, verbal arguments, questions of authorization, orders of the Lord, taking over, etc.—creatively organized around the colt.

We do not have to search for long. Just as Asinius Pollio is mentioned immediately before Caesar enters Rome, so we find our ass’s colt just before Jesus enters Jerusalem. Here is Mark’s version [the most important variations of the other Evangelists have been placed in brackets]:

    ‘And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, [unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, (missing in John)] he sendeth forth two of his disciples, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: [to the place opposite you (Luke)] and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, [(Matthew) an ass tied, and a colt with her / (John) an ass’s colt / a young ass] whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; [and straightway he will send him hither (missing in Luke)]. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.’[394]

Here we find our Asinius Pollio again, sometimes only as Pollio, ‘colt’, sometimes with the full name of ‘ass’s colt’ or ‘ass with colt’. ‘Tied’: is this legatus understood as ligatus, ‘legate’ as ‘ligated’? That makes sense. If Asinius Pollio is an ass’s colt then the legate Asinius Pollio can only be a ligated ass’s colt. The places are identical: before the entrance into the different capitals. Even the place they come from is there—Brundisium/Brentesion. The Gospel writers that actually name the place vary between Bethphage and Bethany and land not far from Bethsaida, which we found in the crossing of the stormy sea, there also in place of Brentesion. Sicily as place of the mission remains on the other side of the sea: katenanti, ‘over against / opposite’[395]—while the name of the ‘opposite’, Cato(n), the one to be replaced, blatantly echoes: anti Katônos, ‘in place of Cato’. Both Caesar and Jesus have two envoys. The question of authority appears when Caesar’s envoys want to replace the legate of the Senate and is also directed to the disciples of Jesus, ‘What do ye, loosing the colt?’ The same answer, ‘The Lord of Italy delegated this task to me’ and ‘the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither’. The second part of the sentence sounds like Cato giving up the province as well as announcing his withdrawal from Sicily.[396] And the giving in is there, which is also found in the final words, ‘and they let them go’.

The name Sicily is missing. Instead there is a fig tree with leaves:

    ‘And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves.’[397]

‘Fig tree’: sykê, pronounced siki. ‘Leaves’: phylla, pronounced filla. Sicilia is siki with filla, a ‘fig tree with leaves’.

Then a doublet appears. A few verses later the barren fig tree appears again.[398] This doublet too has its counterpart in the Caesar source, because there is a second trip to Sicily: first Asinius then Curio. Observe the sequence:[399] In one text there is Asinius Pollio’s mission to Sicily, in the other there is the mission to fetch the ass’s colt and there is a fig tree with leaves; here, a brief description of Caesar’s entrance into Rome; there a brief description of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem; here, Curio(n)’s appointment as governor of Sicily with the orders to cross over to Africa, there a second passing beside the fig tree, which is now xêron, ‘barren’; xêron = Curio(n) (XHRON = KOURION).[400]

Conclusion: As expected, we found Asinius Pollio as an ‘ass’s colt’, and as expected the context and requisites are identical except that they are creatively rearranged around the mutated leading actor, and adequately adapted if necessary.

And once again we have an explanation for the differences between the Evangelists! The one says ‘colt’ only and the other says ‘ass’s colt’ or ‘ass with colt’ instead, becomes understandable if it is assumed that one found only Pollio in his exemplar whereas the other found Asinius Pollio.

Caecilii and Claudii

Caecilii, ‘blind’, and Claudii, ‘lame.’ Many of Caesar’s enemies are so named, notably those who had played a decisive part in the outbreak of the civil war.[401] Some were given eyes for hindsight, others got healed legs and a kick in the hindquarters. ‘The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk’ as the Gospel states (11:5). Jesus healed so many blind and lame people that it became his trade mark.

Since Caecilii and Claudii remain in the shadow of Pompeius, for the most part it is difficult to look for a specific context in which they appear. The blind are partially eliminated for verification because as we have noted others might theoretically belong to this group; for example the caesi, soldiers killed in war. Moreover, one or the other Caecilius, with the surname Metellus must not necessarily become one of the blind, but could become one of the ‘mutilated’ (as if Metellus = mutilus).

However, one Claudius particularly stands out: Publius Clodius Pulcher. The way in which he crosses Caesar, and the way in which Caesar—contrary to all expectations—takes him under his wing so that in the end Clodius becomes one of his political friends, all this is so saliently typical for both Caesar’s clementia and his political superiority: ergo the Clodius-anecdote must be found in the Gospels. If not, it would have to be regarded as a falsification of our hypothesis. If we find it with all its requisites, however, the hypothesis can be regarded as verified. We expect to find the Clodius-ancedote as an important story in the healing of a lame person.

Publius Clodius

—at that time still Claudius, named Pulcher, ‘pretty boy’, wild and foolhardy, was a friend of Cicero’s, and the latter’s enthusiastic helper in the suppression of the Catilinarians as well as a ruthless bodyguard. Caesar tried however to give the Catilinarians a fair trial and put his own life in danger in the process. This is the background of the Bona-Dea-scandal.

Caesar had already been named pontifex maximus and had just been elected praetor, the highest judicial official, so he was staying in the city.[402] Thus, in that year the Bona Dea festival took place in Caesar’s home. Men were excluded from the secret celebrations of this feminine divinity. Clodius was under the nasty suspicion of violating the religious celebration because of Caesar’s wife Pompeia. With the help of Pompeia’s maids he supposedly dressed as a woman and slipped into the house in order to reach her chambers, but became lost in the house and was discovered.[403] Whether because of Clodius’ great popularity, or because he himself was seen as a great seducer of respected women,[404] Caesar did not accuse Clodius. Nevertheless, he had his wife served with divorce papers.

Caesar’s political opponents sensed the possibility of ridding themselves of both of them, and so took Clodius to trial for committing a sacrilege.[405] Because of his behavior the priests declared the holy ceremonies invalid, and the most powerful men in the Senate all stepped forward as witnesses against Clodius. They accused him among other evil deeds, of adultery with his own sister, and the husband[406] who was cheated on also testified against him. Even his political friend Cicero testified against him.[407] But Caesar, who was heard as head of the household, spoke in his defence and claimed he had heard nothing of the sort. Asked why he had divorced his wife in spite of hearing nothing, Caesar replied: ‘Because members of my household ought not only be free of guilt, but also free of the suspicion of guilt’.[408] Clodius was acquitted: whether out of fear of the people, who were apparently on the side of the sacrilegious Clodius, because of their hatred of the hypocritical self-righteous, or because they were bribed as Cicero claimed, most of the senators withheld their vote by handing in ‘voting stones’ with unclear letters. Thus Caesar’s wife who had implicitly been accused of adultery and sacrilege was also acquitted of any wrong doing.[409]

From that point on, Clodius was considered a political friend of Caesar who made him a people’s tribune: in order to make this possible Clodius became a plebeian and changed his patrician name from Claudius to Clodius. Then he turned against Cicero, accused him of having the Catilinarians executed without due process and actually managed to force him out of the city.

As expected we find the kernel of Clodius’s story again as the most famous healing of a lame person, who, as a one-sided paralytic, is called a gout sufferer in old translations.[410] This time too, we take the more differentiated reading of Mark [and place in brackets the most important variations of the other Gospel writers]:

    ‘…and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, [which were come out of every town (Luke)] insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they [men (Luke)] come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four […brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy (Luke) / …lying on a bed (Matthew)]. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.’[411]

Here again it is the same staging with the same requisites:

It was noised that ‘he’ was in the house: as the rumour went round about Clodius, so it went round about ‘he’—Jesus or the sick of the palsy? There are men who are not in the room, not even outside in front of the door: just as at the Bona Dea festival from which men were excluded. The festival, the nightly hustle and bustle, is missing. But Luke says that they came ‘out of every town’[412]kômê. And the word kômos[413] means festivity, cheerful procession, carousing, night music, noisy, drunk people: as at the Bona Dea festival.

Then we have Jesus who preached the word to them just as Caesar had to testify as a witness.[414] The paralytic, ‘borne of four, carried by four’ to enter the house as Clodius used the maids to gain entrance. ‘By four’: hypo tessarôn—hypo therapontôn means ‘by the servants’.[415] In the one story a lame person on a bed was brought in by four others and in the other the maids wanted to bring a person to bed: Clodius to the bed of Caesar’s wife. But where is the wife? Instead of bringing the lame person to the bed of the woman they rip off the roof: ‘of his wife’ uxoris suae[416]exoryxantes ‘ripping open’.[417]

Then Jesus recognizes their belief and forgives the paralytic his sins just as Caesar did not punish the sacrilege at the holy ceremony[418] because he chose to believe the accused, Clodius, his wife and the maids.

The scribes sit and secretly think that Jesus has no right to forgive sins, just as some accused Clodius: graphê in Greek means both script and accusation[419] and thus accusers could be seen as scribes. Just as Caesar, as pontifex maximus, was reproached for allowing a misdeed to go unpunished, Jesus was reproached for forgiving sins and making himself similar to God.

Both stories have a happy ending: just as Clodius was acquitted of adultery and sacrilege and set free with the help of Caesar, so the paralytic was forgiven his sins and able to take up his bed and return home, to the great horror of his accusers and the amazement of all, because the unbelievable had taken place in religious things.

Note the following: instead of ‘go thy way’, peripatei, some manuscripts have hypage, which not only means ‘lead away,’ ‘take away’, ‘break away’ (in a saving sense) it also means ‘accuse’ and finally also ‘to entice (away), to win for oneself’. It seems that in this polysemy we can also find the transition of Clodius to the man who saved him. The words of Jesus to the lame man also point to this transition: ‘Son’ and the command: ‘Arise’,—égeire—actually, ‘wake up, move’.

Here again, we find our most significant ‘paralytic’, Clodius, again in his context. It is obvious, however, that this Clodius anecdote is much longer and that the story of the healing of the lame is insufficient in comparison. Sin is only spoken of in general terms and there is no specific reference to sacrilege. There is no crossing over of Clodius to Caesar’s side, no change of Clodius’ name nor the ousting of Cicero from the city. Most importantly, the accusation of the woman’s adultery, the corrupt judges, the voting stones with illegible letters, the writing of divorcement, etc. are all missing from the story.

However, we need only glance at the Gospel of Mark, before and after the passage of the paralytic, to find the rest of the story: the opening is found in the healing of a leper, the closing in the calling of Levi. It is striking that these three parts have been preserved as a coherent story in Mark. Only the aspect concerning the woman, Jesus and the adulteress, is missing. Excluded in Mark, it became stranded in John—Mark and Matthew retain the writing of divorcement.

The healing of the leper[420] appearing in Mark is, sensibly enough, located directly before the healing of our paralytic, and in its structure it seems to be a summary of the following story and could be seen as a doublet, if a leper had not replaced the paralytic here:

    ‘And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion [some manuscripts: And he was incensed], put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.’

Just as the paralytic is forgiven his sins so here the leper is cleansed. Jesus is moved with compassion or is incensed, without reason, but Caesar has reason to feel resentful towards Clodius. Jesus stretches out his hand and cleanses the leper just as Caesar stretches out his protective hand over Clodius. Noticeable is that Jesus straitly charges the leper, forthwith sends him away and says to him: ‘See thou say nothing to any man.’ Caesar did the same: he pushed his wife away and Clodius had to deny everything in order to be cleansed. The fact that the paralytic shows himself to the priest also has its pendant: Clodius first justified himself before the pontifex maximus[421] Caesar and then Caesar has to appear as a witness himself.

The interesting point here is that for the priest the cleansing is about what Moses has commanded: Môsês. Mos: the ‘customs’, the ‘mores’, were what the pontifex maximus had to keep watch over.[422]

Instead of the story remaining secret, it was made known, here as well as there. Whereby the end of the story is anticipated: he could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places; and they came to him from every quarter. That is exactly what Cicero experienced: Clodius’ pushy endeavours forces him into exile, and it did not help that his political friends accompany him a great part of the way.[423]

Looking closer, this passage of the Gospel may also have its parallel in Caesar’s proconsulship in Gaul, which Clodius helped him achieve and is mentioned by Appianus in the same breath as the expulsion of Cicero.[424]

Now that we know we are definitely dealing with Clodius, we should look at the names more closely, because here Clodius is not the paralytic but the leper, lepros. Clodius was pollutarum caeremoniarum reus, ‘accused of polluting ceremonies’, in a quaestio de pollutis sacris, a trial about ‘polluted worship.’ In the sense of sacrilege. But the sound of pollutor, or pollutarum reus is closer to lepros, ‘leper’ than asebês, ‘sacrilegious person’, just as polluta sacra to lepra, the ‘leper’, especially since this disease is the quintessential ‘pollution’ in the eyes of the people, while disease in general is seen as God’s punishment for personal sin.[425]

Thus we would have found our sinner again, this time as a leper.

The calling of Levi in Mark immediately follows the healing of the paralytic and corresponds structurally to Clodius joining Caesar after his acquittal. The only difference: he has yet again another name and he has changed his profession: Levi, son of Alphaeus.

    ‘And as he passed by, he saw Levi [Jacob (variant of some manuscripts of the Mark Gospel)] the son of Alphaeus [a publican, named Levi (Luke); a man, named Matthew (Matthew)] sitting at the receipt of custom, and said to him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’[426]

Paragôn, ‘as he passed by’ as it is normally translated, could also mean ‘brought into (court) as witness’ and ‘enticed, tempted’. That is what Caesar’s leniency towards Clodius did. This corresponds to the next words also: ‘Follow me!’ Which he did, here the publican, i. e. tax collector Levi, there Clodius. And already he is in the splendid company of bon vivants, here the publicans and sinners, who surround Jesus, there the tax farmers, whom Caesar had just exempted from a third of their obligations, and from whom he then borrowed money to finance public shows that were far more lavish in décor and costumes and dazzling gifts than had ever been known before. In the eyes of the outraged senators this represented great sin, because tax-farmers normally did not belong to their class but to the equestrian order.[427] Well, tax-farmer and publican are the same in Latin: publicanus.

Here we get a poke in the eye concerning the name. As we know, the full name given to Clodius is Publius Clodius Pulcher. In the Gospel his pendant is the ‘publican Levi, son of Alphaeus’—telônês Leui (h)os tou Alphaiou. If we write the full name of Clodius in capital letters without spaces in the usual manner of the time:


It is obvious that if the name is separated incorrectly –


—it gets a completely different meaning.

PVBLIVSC can easily be read as PVBLICVS and understood as PVBLICANVS, ‘publican/tax collector’. LODI leads to ‘Levi’. VS is a popular form of the Greek ‘son’[428] and resembles (h)os, ‘the/that (masculine)’. PVLCHER sounds as if it were derived from puls, ‘porridge’[429] in Greek alphi.[430] Thus we would have for VS PVLCHER (h)os tou Alphaiou, ‘that (= the son) of the porridge maker’, or ‘son of Alphaeus’.

We have seen that in Appianus the name Clodius is followed by Gallia—Cisalpina and Ulterior—of which Caesar became proconsul with the help of Clodius: Galatia (h)ê entos Alpeôn kai (h)yper Alpeis, ‘Gaul on this side and the other side of the Alps.’ Did the Alps become Alphaeus, did Cisalpina become (h)os (tou) Alphaiou, ‘that of Alphaeus’, i.e. ‘son of Alphaeus’? Did Mark find his inspiration for the translation of Pulcher as ‘son of Alphaeus’ in the Alps?

Altogether we can see that:

    Publius Clodius Pulcher > ‘publican Levi, son of Alphaeus’.

The variant Iakôbos, ‘Jacob’, as seen in some manuscripts is revealed to be a hebraized version of Clodius with the usual Greek article:

    (h)o Klodios > Iakôbos

—here the proper name of the ‘called one’ would be maintained, whereas the variant ‘Matthew’ (Greek: Matthaios) stresses the evil deed: mataios—‘the sacrilegious one’.

In between we note that tracing the Gospel back to the corresponding Caesar source can explain why the Gospel writers show such variance in what names they use for one and the same person—here Levi, another time Jacob, then Matthew[431]—for which neither the old exegetes nor the modern textual critics have a plausible explanation.

The pendant for the adulterous wife of Caesar is the pericope of the adulteress; this pericope is not found in the synoptic Gospels, but exclusively in John.

It may appear improper for us to use this pericope, but it is well known that it only landed in John because it was deleted elsewhere: Where exactly, the textual critics do not know. We can only say that we are lucky to have it at all, for again and again, attempts have been made to remove this ‘foreign body’ from John, ultimately for so-called purely formal reasons, because it does not fit the style of this particular Evangelist. Augustine delivers the real reason: the leniency Jesus demonstrates towards the adulteress might be misunderstood![432] Even in the bible text used today, it is only referred to in parentheses or with a preceding question mark, meaning it is mentioned with reservation:

    ‘? And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.’[433]

Here we have the persons and requisites from the Clodius anecdote that were not used yet:

The ‘scribes’—whom we already know are the ‘accusers’ (see above)—and the ‘Pharisees’—who represent the ‘patricians’ in Caesar’s version, because his opponents were in their majority optimates, ‘high society’: pharisaioi / patricii, PATRICII / FARISAIOI.

The adulteress—the fact that she is not the unfaithful wife of Jesus is of no importance, because Jesus as a cuckold would have been more than the church fathers could handle when you consider that they considered his leniency towards the adulteress a thorn in their collective eye.

Caught in flagrante—both of them.

The trial—with both of them: here the woman is placed ‘in the midst’.

The threatened sentence—here stoning, there being hurled from the Tarpeian Rock.

The law, which must be obeyed and which is placed in question, by Jesus and by Caesar—here the law of ‘Moses’, there the mos, the mores.

The questioning of Jesus as well as Caesar as competent people and as witnesses—but in both cases only for ‘tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.’

For the woman the liberating, biarticulate pronouncement—here ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her’, there ‘Because members of my household ought not only be free of guilt, but also free of the suspicion of guilt’.

The stones that kill—here the stoning stones, there the voting stones.[434]
The unreadable signs—here when Jesus stoops down and writes with his finger on the earth, there the senators, who also write ‘on the earth’ because the voting stones on which they made their illegible signs were made of clay.[435] What only seems to be a difference: here the illegible signs are written by ‘…the one stooping down with his finger’ there they are written by the ‘sentencing judges’: ‘stooping down with the finger’, katô kypsas tôi daktylôi—katapsêphisamenoi tôn dikastôn means ‘the sentencing judges’.[436]

None of the accusers are without sin—here the transgressions are unspecified, there the supposed sins of adulterous and bribed senators.

The vote, in the usual sequence—here ‘beginning at the eldest’, while there, as usual in Rome, the senators vote according to rank.

The acquittal and the refusal to convict—here Jesus’s as there Caesar’s.

Finally the sending away of the woman—here ‘go’, there ‘repudiation’.

The writing of divorcement is missing here, too. Certainly it is so because otherwise, the woman sent away would then have been revealed as being the wife of Jesus. But since it was a sensitive matter to add words to, or subtract words from the Scripture, we have to expect that the writing of divorcement is to be found somewhere else, for Caesar did divorce Pompeia.[437]

The problematic issue of divorce is found in all of the synoptic Gospels, the writing of divorcement is found in Mark as well as twice in Matthew. In both cases—in opposition to Moses—it is stressed that divorce is admissible only in cases of adultery:

    ‘They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery.’[438]

This corresponds precisely to the case of Caesar, who felt devotedly attached to his previous wife Cornelia and later Calpurnia.[439] While the ‘man of principle’, Lucullus, accused the woman he divorced of incest with her own brother Clodius; While Mr. Clean, Cicero, wanted to divorce his wife in order to marry the other sister of Clodius, whom people called ‘quarter whore’ (cheap whore), and whose brother he wanted to dispose of because of the family’s reputation; while the vice hunter, Cato, ceded his young wife to a rich old man and then remarried her when she had become a well-to-do widow,[440] there on the other hand was the supposedly immoral Caesar, who only divorced the clumsy Pompeia. He declined to marry rich Cossutia in his youth. He was true to Cornelia in spite of Sulla, whose treacherous assassins followed him. The immoral proved to be more moral than the moral ones—Jesus more Moses than ‘Moses’, Caesar teaching mores to the moralizers.

Thus we find almost all of the requisites from the Clodius anecdote in the Gospels, spread out in different pericopes, but at least in Mark they form a whole. Only the pericope of the adulteress is separated and has stranded with John. However it remains in another place in some manuscripts: at the end of Luke 21, which begins with the widow who contributes her mite.

From Mark, who also used this pericope, we learn that the mite of the widow was a quadrans, a Roman ‘quarter’. Quadrantaria, ‘quarter whore’ (cheap whore), was the name given to Clodia, Clodius’ sister. Her relationship to Cicero—who wanted to marry her, but out of fear of his wife Terentia he spoke out against Clodius—would have been the undoing of her brother if Caesar had not taken him under his wing.

At the end of the Clodius anecdote we want to see how the story of the quadrantaria Clodia relates to the one of the poor widow with the mite.

Clodius’ sister Clodia was married to Metellus Celer, who died shortly after the Bona Dea trial (59) and even during his lifetime did not stand in the way of Clodia’s love affairs. Apart from Cicero, who later paid her back with burning hate and helped to establish her reputation as the most immoral lady in Rome, the merry widow maintained relationships with many men, among others with Caelius Rufus, whom she later accused and who was then defended by Cicero. She became famous, however, as the lover of Catullus, who sang her praises as Lesbia. Plutarchus tells us how she received her nickname:

    ‘The latter [Clodia] was called Quadrantaria, because one of her lovers had deceived her with a purse of small copper money instead of silver, the smallest copper coin being called a quadrans [a quarter of an as]. Upon this sister’s account, in particular, Clodius’s character was attacked.’[441]

Let us compare this quadrans of Clodia with the mite of the widow. This is a word for word translation of the Greek [and in brackets are the word variations as found in most bible translations]:

    ‘And he sat down opposite the treasury [collection plate], and watched the multitude putting copper coins [money] into the treasury [collection plate]. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two small copper coins [mite], which make a quadrans [penny, tuppence]. And he called his disciples to him and said to them: Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury [collection plate]. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.’[442]

In both cases we deal with small copper coins instead of a great deal of money which the rich have; in both the small copper coin is called quadrans—observe how the Gospel writer hangs on this quadrans although half quadrants were apparently also in circulation at that time: lepta dyo, ‘halfpenny two’ (= ‘halfquadrans two’). The difference is in the fact that the quadrantaria corresponds to the ‘poor widow’. However, it is theoretically not impossible that the words ‘poor widow’ might have been in the Latin example of Plutarchus, since this reflected Caesar’s opinion—compare the expression ‘the poor woman’ which Caesar used to refer to the ‘working and money-making’ widow of Cato (see above, note 440). Anyway, it is striking that the second part of ‘halfquadrans two’—lepta dyo—graphically almost completely resembles that of Clodia (dyo/dia), while the first parts both contain an ‘l’ (if the text had normally said, without inversion, ‘two halfquadrans’—dyo lepta—this would not have been the case).

Thus we have finished with our ‘paralytics’. To check the checks, or so to say, casting out the nines, we want to see what happened to that other ‘blind man’, Caesar’s unfortunate opponent about whom we wrote that because of his surname Metellus, he was a candidate to be seen as a ‘mutilated one’ (as if Metellus = mutilus).


Metellus was the Pompeian tribune who, shortly after the civil war broke out, tried to stop Caesar from using the public treasury which was kept in the temple of Saturn for the maintenance of his soldiers. It is a famous anecdote exploited as propaganda by Caesar’s opponents in order to accuse him of acting illegally.

We must therefore expect to find a parallel in the Gospels where Jesus is blamed for breaking the law by taking something out of the temple for his disciples or taking something from the temple with their help and that a mutilated person intervenes who is properly healed. Since this happened to Caesar at the beginning of the civil war, we must search in the first part of the Gospels.

And lo and behold! Once again we immediately find what we are looking for:[443] The disciples are plucking grain on the Sabbath, David is there who in his need takes the shewbread for himself and his people out of the temple, there is a man with a withered hand who on the Sabbath steps into the middle and is healed. Apparently the Gospel writer not only took our Metellus for a mutilus, but also confused Saturn with sata, satorum—seed, grain—on the one hand and with Sabbat on the other, the latter probably because of Saturni dies—Saturday.

If we go into detail here, the parallels become so precise that we gain insight into the methods of the Gospel writers. Think of the Caesar anecdote first.

When they heard that Caesar had crossed the Rubicon, the Pompeians and the followers of the Senate party left Rome in such a hurry that they could not take the public treasury and votive offerings with them.[444] After Corfinium was taken and Pompeius had also left Italy, Caesar came to Rome where the citizens, full of joy, replaced their mourning clothes with festive clothes of peace which up till then they were not permitted to wear.[445] For Caesar had confiscated the public treasury remaining in the temple of Saturn instead of taking money from the citizens remaining in Rome as they had feared, and as the Senate party had loudly trumpeted would happen. Since the key could not be found—the consuls had taken it with them—he called for locksmiths and had the bolt torn off and the doors forced open. At that moment the tribune of the people, Metellus, stepped in and wanted to use his right to intercede as tribune and the power of the law to prevent Caesar from taking the money, in particular, the temple treasure. Except in the case of another invasion by the Gauls, nobody was allowed to touch this treasure, which had been stored in the sanctius aerarium since the time of Brennus. Caesar commented that he had completely conquered the Gauls and thus freed the city of that curse. He was the commander-in-chief, and not only was the treasure in the temple of Saturn in his power, but so also was Metellus and any other opponents, he could do with them as he desired. As Metellus, supported with some public approval, tried to step in, Caesar became so angry that he threatened Metellus with death and added: ‘You know, boy, that it is more difficult for me to say this than to carry it out’. The threat worked and the intimidated Metellus left, and Caesar was given everything he needed for the war, quickly and without difficulty. Then he went to fight Petreius and Afranius in Spain…[446]

Let us now turn to the parallel passage in the Gospel:

    ‘And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
    And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
    And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
    And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
    And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.’[447]

We now see how the Gospel writer has creatively reorganized all requisites surrounding the main misunderstanding—Saturn. He thus even varies his misunderstanding.

Once Saturn is confused with sata, which happens easily with the genitive plural satorum—and indeed we find the Greek correspondent in the genitive plural: dia tôn sporimôn, ‘through the seed-fields’, which is translated in English ‘through the corn fields’—the fantasy of the Gospel writer allows the temple of Saturn its antique function, not to keep the aerarium, the ‘public treasury’, but to be the holy horreum, the last ‘silo’, the sacrosanct reserve for emergencies. From there on, the disciples of John and the Pharisees (observe how precisely he differentiates between the Pompeians and the other followers of the Senate party), who do not touch these seeds (for they had not been able to take the public treasury with them), are people who fast; the disciples of Jesus, on the other hand, do not fast and pluck the ears of corn (and indeed the soldiers of Caesar took the public treasury). Once placed in this fasting and gorging logic, that other similarly appearing word—satis, ‘satiated’—did not escape the sharp eyes of the Gospel writer. He begins to circle about the impression of a wedding dinner, confirmed by the never before worn festive clothes, whereby Caesar-Jesus must now function as a bridegroom as long as he is there: for he soon had to go to war again in Spain. Now the Gospel writer had a problem with the old clothes that people had taken off: where should they go? The idea occurred to him to combine this problem with his other problems, because the torn off bolt and the doors broken open were embarrassing to him. He darned this story together with the old garment which tears with the new piece and about a rent that becomes worse. And because not only the bolt but also the doors were there, he varied the story with new wine which bursts the old bottles—after all, man does not celebrate with bread alone.

That is where he lost the thread of the story. When he tries to return to his story he has to start a new one: The soldiers sent into the temple of Saturn are suddenly disciples who go through a seed-field on the Sabbath; they are no longer at the wedding of the bridegroom, but are plucking the ears of corn. You can imagine that they also eat it—and Matthew later says so—but Mark has Jesus talk about David instead, how he went into the house of God during the time of the high priest and not only ate the bread which no one but the priests are allowed to eat but shared with those who were with him. With this Mark actually suggests that Jesus did the same as David, but at the same time he veiled it brilliantly because Jesus only justified the behavior of his disciples: they had plucked some grain, but had not eaten it. That his Lord was a war lord did not need to be said: Lord was enough. Lord, not of the temple treasure, but of the Sabbath: Saturn, saturni dies, Saturday, sabbat. And just as the law forbid taking the holy moneys, it was also forbidden to pluck the ears of corn on the holy day. He also elegantly hid Divus (Iulius) behind David, chrêmata, ‘the moneys’ behind chreia, ‘the want’, the time of ‘Brennus’ behind that of ‘Abiathar’ and the pontifex maximus behind the ‘high priest’. Where is the problem?

Well, the problem is finding the thread again. From the banquet to the cornfield with a detour through the temple. And now? We have to tell the story of attempted intercession by Metellus. Where do we go when we do not know where to go? Obviously into the synagogue. Synagogue simply means ‘meeting’, ‘assembly’ and there was indeed a crowd of people who met at the temple to see what became of the treasury. There we find our man whom the Lord has ‘in his hands’ just as he has the aerarium, the state funds. And since Metellus sounds like mutilus, which in Latin means ‘mutilated’, and because there is also this ‘torn open’ door of the aerarium we prefer to call his hand exêirêmenê, ‘torn off’. That can be misunderstood in Greek as exêramenê,[448] ‘dried up’, ‘withered’—as if it came from xêron, ‘dry’ instead of airô, ‘tear’—and since Latin aridum, ‘dry’ is similar to aerarium we interpret Metellus as: ‘man with the withered hand’. Healing a man with a withered hand is much more believable than healing one who had his hand torn off. Of course, nothing is impossible for the Lord, but it is always good to be careful with credibility. And what are we going to do about the intercession? Intercession, what does that mean? To interpose! So let him step in the middle. The lord says so to him: Stand forth! That emphasizes who has something to say here. And the death threat? That is a touchy one: Jesus as murderer in the temple! Let us do it like this: He only said it and did not do it—although the second would have been easier for him. Besides, the temple is that of Saturn: Which has already become the Sabbath. So let him say: ‘Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?’ Then no one has anything negative to say and everyone remains silent—finally even Metellus. The justified anger, however, we leave in, and that he was grieved for the hardness of their hearts. But what happens to our man with the withered hand? He does not touch it and remains whole—he stretches out his hand and is healed. One last thing: The lord returns to war and kills even more. We phrase it differently: Why did he go to war? Because they wanted war. Ergo, we say: ‘They held counsel about how to destroy him’. Counsel with whom? With Petreius and Afranius, the legates of Pompeius in Spain? No way: they can be confused with Petrus and Andreas. Instead let’s say with Herodes, the murderer of John. You cannot go wrong with that idea.

Even after understanding how the metamorphosis of names can enable us to track down the source of many Gospel miracles, we still must remember that even if there were no real miracles in Caesar’s story, there were miraculous signs. Namely, after the victory at Pharsalos and at his death. What happened to these miraculous signs?


More than in miracula, ‘miracles’, the Romans believed in signa, ‘signs’, omina, ‘omens’, prodigia, ‘prodigies’, and even maintained separate collegia for sign reading, especially augures and haruspices: ‘bird- and sacrifice seers’. The first observed birds, how they flew and how they ate, the second studied the innards of sacrificed animals, their constitution, and understanding these things to be signs they drew conclusions about the near future and even made praesagia, presages. Antonius was proud to be an augur and had himself portrayed as such on coins. Octavianus trumped him by taking augustus as his last title. Because Caesar as pontifex maximus superintended all priestly collegia he knew the job. He did not take sign readers very seriously, least of all the haruspices. If the omens were bad he ignored them, even if they predicted his death, with the reasoning that the reader could have laid things out differently if he had wanted. Or, he even made fun of them with the dictum—if for example no heart was found in a sacrificial animal—‘a heartless animal, well that is no wonder’. At the same time he tried to weaken their importance because he knew all too well the power of superstition with the people: if the axel of his triumphal wagon broke he continued on his knees and climbed the stairs of the Capitol on them; if he stumbled when arriving in Africa while falling he quick-wittedly opened his arms and said: ‘Africa, I have tight hold of you’; and in war he coldly exploited any dejection in the enemy caused by bad omens. But there is not a hint anywhere that he himself was superstitious. He did not believe in life after death either. As an Epicurean he saw death as the end of everything, joy and suffering, as his speech about the Catilinarians shows. Is that the reason he became immortal? Only once did he himself use the word credo, ‘I believe’: but he means ‘I think, I suppose’.[449]

The fact that he listed the miraculous signs that accompanied his victory over Pompeius at Pharsalos therefore has special meaning. He never makes mention of the word ‘miracle’ nor even just the word ‘sign’. Strictly speaking there is no sign, none, that predicts his victory. He considers the first and greatest one the fact that simple news of his victory and arrival prevented the legate of Pompeius from plundering the treasure of Artemis of Ephesos; he thus saved the temple treasure once again. He then mentions that the statue of Victoria in the temple of Elis had turned around on the day of his victory; that battle cries, sounds of trumpets and timpani were heard in Antioch in Syria, Ptolomais and Pergamon; and that finally in the temple of Victoria in Tralles where a statue was dedicated to Caesar the people’s attention was drawn to a palm that sprouted from between the tiles on the floor and grew to reach the ceiling.[450]

According to ancient understanding these were all signs, but not necessarily special ones; they only bore witness to the tense anticipation with which the cities of Asia awaited the outcome of the world civil war, how fast and with what effect the news of Caesar’s victory spread over the world. The fact that he saved the treasures of the temple, that was his character and political way of acting; the fact that the statue of Victoria turned around was only a typical propaganda method used by party members; that the noise of the battle was heard all the way up to and including Syria, well that had to be since so much depended on the outcome, everyone listened eagerly. Only Caesar’s victory palm was special, even though it was not an omen either.

Apparently, some found this gap to be painful, for it was filled by the prediction of Gaius Cornelius, a seer from Padua,[451] who prophesied Caesar’s victory. On that very day he happened to observe birds and noticed how some birds not only gave information about the battle, but in a certain sense acted it out, and he said to the people standing around: ‘The outcome is about to be decided’ and as he saw new signs he shouted: ‘Caesar, you are victorious!’ They were all in consternation and refused to believe the seer’s interpretation. The anecdote is found in Dio Cassius as well as in Plutarchus. In the latter only the signs of the palm and the birds are mentioned—and they directly follow each other.[452] Appianus and Suetonius do not mention any signs at all.

That is why we expect to find at most a palm in the Gospels, eventually one accompanied by birds.

Chronologically, Pharsalos follows the Metellus anecdote that we just studied. In between there is only the Spanish campaign, which is important militarily but hardly plays a role in the biographies of Caesar. There is no palm. Shortly after the healing of the man with the withered hand, however, there are two parables dealing with growing plants—the parable of the sower and the parable of the mustard seed—and even birds appear. In the parable of the mustard seed we recognize a number of the requisites we seek:

    ‘And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the Kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
    It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.’[453]

No palm sprout, but a mustard seed, a small plant that, here too, is first beheld on the ground and then as it grows—as with Caesar’s palm; birds are also observed here, in the sky—like the bird show—as well as in the shade—like the palm under the temple roof. If we look at the Greek we see that palm and mustard do not look as different as they do in English: phoinika and sinapi, FOINIKA > SINAPI, or pronounced: finika and sinapi.[454]

It is questionable, however, whether these are the same birds seen by the seer of Padua, because the entire context is missing. There is neither a battle of the birds, nor any ravens or crows. As we have come to know our Mark he might have easily made Cornelius a cornix, a ‘crow’. Mark does not refer to his birds as oiônoi, ‘foretelling birds’ as Plutarchus does, nor simply as ornithes as Dio Cassius. Instead he chooses peteina, a word seldom used, which in former days had the form ptêna and in fact means ‘winged fowls’. Did he choose the unusual word because peteina looks more like phoinika, ‘palm’? Was he unhappy with sinapi, because it was not similar enough to phoinika and did he place peteina on its branches because it sounded more similar?[455]

We have the opportunity to investigate this. The palm sprout complex is not completely finished with the mustard seed. The essential element is missing: The palm sprang from between the tiles on the floor, where no plant can lay roots since there is no earth; it grew to the roof of the temple, where there is no light and where it actually should have withered; and no one sowed it or set it there, it planted itself and grew. That was the wonderful, the miraculous; that is how it showed itself to be a sign.

Conscientious Mark did not miss this and so he added the parable of the sower just before the parable of the mustard seed. He mobilized everything he knew about agriculture and conducted an idyllic, picturesque Sunday sermon for his audience which was apparently a community of farmers.

This was after Pharsalos. Caesar had won—Mark had already reported about his power over evil spirits—and everyone ran to him. He was pursuing Pompeius, who was fleeing to Egypt, and so arrived on the Ionic coast. Now the peoples of the islands and on the continent were to be on his side. As the signs recorded by Caesar indicate, he stopped in Ephesos, the capital of the Roman province of Asia where he received homage from Elis, Antioch, Ptolomais, Pergamon and Tralles. The situation found in Mark is similar:

    ‘And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.’[456]

Now Mark has a problem: It is not about his words, which Mark easily could repeat, it is also not about his deeds which he could turn into miracles. It is about signs which are being interpreted. He might use the correct Greek word, sêmeia, which Plutarchus also used. Mark used it himself in another place where Jesus is asked for signs from heaven (8:11). Whether it was because parabolai seemed closer to prodigia than sêmeia, or because the signs were less important to him than the lesson to be learned, Mark made them into parables:

    ‘And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine.’[457]

In truth it was Mark’s own doctrine or a sermon from the last wandering preacher to pass by, but then again it is not completely untrue because it was exactly these signs that Caesar himself enumerated. Now Mark has to somehow find a way to mention the palm—instead he speaks of seeds:

    ‘Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.’[458]

Here he has almost everything together: the rocky ground without deep soil—like the gaps in the tile floor; the impossibility of growing roots there and that the palm should have withered; that plants without light suffocate—whether under thorns or under the temple roof. And in spite of this they shot up as if on good land. Perhaps not one hundred percent, as on fertile land, but still sixty, or thirty percent. He is missing only one thing here: the palm that grew from the temple floor. Instead he has ‘fowls of the air that devour the seeds fallen by the way side’. Again he obviously confused phoinika, ‘palm’ with peteina, ‘fowls’ and as a result mistook epese, ‘fell’ for ephyse, ‘grew’: as the palm sprouted, so something fell for the birds. Now Mark recalls that it was only about a sign:

    ‘And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
    And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables…’[459]

Thus he did not mention Caesar’s victory, but at the same time he did, because thus began the Kingdom of God. With Caesar’s victory the Kingdom, i. e. the Empire, belonged to him, and at the same time he was God of the Empire. Of all that can be said, one thing is for sure: with Pharsalos a new era was ushered in. The mints in the East, which had earlier dated coins after the era of Seleukos, and later after the era of Pompeius, now counted the years starting from Pharsalos.[460] God’s Kingdom held no secrets for those who were in Pharsalos at the time. Those in the Empire ‘that are without’ only heard about it through the signs. Those who ‘had eyes to see’, such as the seer, they saw it, and those who could not see only had to listen. However, those who had neither eyes nor ears were members of the opposing party and nothing could help them. Thus Mark found it fitting to add a quotation from Isaiah to the Sunday sermon: that made the whole thing even more believable and stopped evil tongues which claimed to have heard the story differently:

    ‘…that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.’[461]

After placing the signs and the warning Mark also has to explain them. For the signs were only important because they were seen as victory. Since there are no more signs, no wondrous palms and no ominous birds, but only a very ordinary sower, Mark’s interpretation can no longer be an explanation of signs, but a simple parable. But to keep an ominous element in the story he makes a secret of it and has Jesus secretly give a banal explanation for a banal story (Mk. 4:13-20). This of course has the additional advantage that when someone accused him of not following tradition and adding new, unbelievable things to the story Mark could say: It was his secret teaching, that is why it has only now become known. That he ordered us to do so:

    ‘And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.’[462]

By that the Gospel writer has protected himself against accusations of heresy: Marcion sends his compliments. But there was still something left: the palm, it sprouted by itself, without any seed. There the story halts. That has to be prevented, the last tracks must be covered up:

    ‘And he said, So is the Kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.’[463]

Now Mark is completely freed from the palm, but he has pointed out something very important: that his victory brought about the Kingdom of God, meaning that veterans were given land, divided in a proper way. To some more was given and to others less, all according to how fertile the land was—still full of thorns and undergrowth, but fertile. And from this land sprang those who listened to him, the children of the children of the veterans. For them the true palm of victory was the piece of land that their fathers had received and they had inherited. They did not pluck dates, but reaped the corn with sickles. Incidentally, they now understood only a little Latin: meanwhile they spoke Greek, like the others in the east, mixed with Aramaic, the dialect of their area and of their mothers. So he spoke as they wanted to hear, of things they understood!

More or less in this way, our Mark, or his ancestor the proto-Mark, probably defended his creative, shoddy work against the superintendence of Rome. He certainly did not listen to any criticism that he had put together his own Jesus but firmly maintained that what he preached was Divus Iulius, just as before: the God of the veterans, the God of the forefathers of his Anatolian, Syrian, or Palestinian community. He merely spoke in ways that their descendants—who had not experienced civil wars, who did not know that the Kingdom of God on earth had been born in the labor of civil war and who only connected evil with it—could understand. In their conception, their son of God and God, had not led a civil war, but simply brought peace. He might have had to convince some hardened sinners and he was a bit intense sometimes, but that was all. What he did do was alleviate hunger, and give land to those without. And in doing so he healed the sick, and brought medical help for them. That was the Kingdom of God. And so it should remain.


Quod erat demonstrandum. Our question as to whether or not the Gospel is based on an original Caesar source has been answered positively by successfully verifying our suppositions. From now on it is no longer a question if this happened, but how.
We started from the prominent words of Caesar and tried to find them in the Gospels. We saw that they can be found there with subtle changes: ‘Who is not on any side, is on my side’ was found as ‘He that is not against us, is on our part’; ‘I am not King, I am Caesar’ as ‘We have no king but Caesar’; ‘The best death is the sudden one’ is ‘That thou doest (lead me to death) do quickly’; ‘Have I saved them, that they may ruin me?’ as ‘He saved others; himself he cannot save’. Only in two of the quotations do the subtle changes lead to distortion of the meaning: ‘Alea iacta est(o)’ became ‘casting: for they were (h)aleeis (fishers)’; and ‘veni vidi vici’ became ‘I came, washed and saw’. The last two quotations were embedded in miracles: ‘Casting: for they were fishermen’ later attained in Luke the honorable status of the miraculous draught of fishes; ‘I came, washed and saw’ says the healed blind man. Another quotation turned into a complaint about a miracle that failed to materialize: ‘He saved others; himself he cannot save’. But this transformation of words into miracles only happened when the words were spoken in a warlike context: ‘Alea iacta est’ at the beginning of the war at the Rubicon; ‘veni vidi vici’ announcing victory over Pharnakes; ‘Oh, have I saved them that they may ruin me?’ as a dark threat of a posthumously revenging campaign. The main characteristic is: Miraculous victories become victorious miracles. In an analogous way successful sieges are healings of possessed, victories over Caecilii and Claudii are miraculous healings of blind and lame, the crossing of the stormy sea by the army is a walk on the lake.

We have hinted that this habit of referring to Caesar’s victories as miracles began during his own lifetime. Plutarchus reported that the people regarded it as a miracle that he brought the statues of the demonized Marius from Hades into the city and Appianus tells us that Antonius in his funeral oration for Caesar described Caesar’s victories as miracles. In this respect the Gospel writers did not do anything new, but only further decorated the legend Caesar was. The deeds of Caesar became the miracles of Jesus.

Just as the miracles developed out of victories, the parables came from the signs that denoted the victories. It would be easy to show how miracles and parables proliferated, how Matthew and Luke fought in the gap opened by Mark and packed and inserted entire cycles of miracles and series of parables. But that has already been done by traditional textual criticism, and here we only need mention it.

As far as language is concerned, we have observed that some parallels between Caesar and Jesus point to misunderstandings of the Caesar source (e.g. obsessus: ‘possessed’ instead of ‘besieged’). Logically every besieged in the Caesar texts should correspond to a possessed in the Jesus story: we were able to see that this indeed was the case. Since it seemed that Caesar sometimes had been confused with caecus, ‘blind’, Lepidus with a ‘stone jar’, dictator with a ‘schoolmaster’ we investigated if also Asinius Pollio, in accordance with the meaning of his name, changed into an ‘ass’s colt’, and likewise diverse Caecilii and Claudii into ‘blind’ and ‘lame’. Once again we saw that this was the case: we found the people we sought in the figures we expected. Even more: In the complicated Clodius-anecdote we saw how different articulations were divided among different pericopes which appear very much coherently in Mark. In each of these pericopes the Clodius we are looking for appears with another name: as ‘the lame’ sometimes also called ‘gout sufferer’, as ‘leper’, as ‘publican Levi, son of Alphaeus’, as ‘Matthew’ or ‘Jacob’. With this, altogether, all the variants, surnames and meanings of Clodius are found, either as translation (though vulgarized) or according to sound or writing (though corrupted).

Finally we saw that the same thing happened with Metellus who was taken for a mutilus, ‘mutilated’. Moreover, in the context of his story we were able to recognize which specific confusion led to the pivotal point—here Saturn with ‘seed’—which allowed the entire story to tip so that its reorganization became possible as well as necessary. The misinterpretation of the Latin termini was the condition and basis for the Greek evangelical editing. This was not original, but a new editing.

The number of misinterpretations, which seem to have taken place at the time the Gospel texts developed, may surprise. But they remain within the bounds of what folk etymology can bring about, and only insignificantly exceed that which took place when later Gospel texts were handed down—in the Greek handwritten copies as well as in translations into each of the other languages used in bible tradition beginning with Latin—which is easily seen by glancing at modern textual criticism.[464]

The only thing that is new is our tracing everything back to an original Latin source. However, the presence of Latin in the original Greek text, and especially the many Latinisms in Mark, have long hinted at Latin sources.[465] So far, the extent to which this has been studied is of hardly any consequence, although the hypothesis conforms to the tradition that the Gospel of Mark was written in Latin in Rome (see below).

The result we arrive at—that the Gospel of Mark looks like a rustic-naïve Greek retelling of a Latin vita of Divus Iulius—puts tradition in a new light. Since the misunderstood expressions in the Gospel of John were sometimes Greek—for instance enikêsa, ‘I conquered’, as enipsa, ‘I washed’—his exemplar might already have been a Greek translation, unless he knew absolutely no Latin instead of only having a poor knowledge of it, like Mark. That might explain why there are so few miracles in John: the obsessi, Caecilii, Claudii or Metelli are simply not available to become ‘possessed’, ‘blind’, ‘lame’ or ‘cripple’.

In spite of all the differences among the Gospel writers, we were able to see that the passages examined from the Caesar sources and the Gospels can be read parallel over some length. We also noticed that in places where Mark broke down the original coherent story into separate pieces, he nevertheless left the pericopes to a large extent in the original sequencing.

A Caesar-Jesus synoptical comparison is therefore conceivable.

This is what we will systematically dedicate ourselves to in the next chapter.

Inscription ‘Archiereus Megistos’


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

[ Chapter V: Synoptic Comparison ]


Notes to IV. Words and Wonders

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

[331] Near Dyrrhachium, in mountainous Epirus, today Durres (Durazzo) in Albania. [<]

[332] Mk. 4:35-5.20; Caes. Civ. 3.6: Cerauniorum saxa. [<]

[333] This is even more striking in view of the fact that the Gospel manuscripts differ at least as much among each other—Gerasenes/Gergesenes/Gadarenes—as they respectively do from the Ceraunians of Caesar, which really presents itself as the source for the variants. [<]

[334] Mk. 5:3 mnhmasin, Vulgata: monumentis. Vell. 2.51.2: mox etiam obsidione munimentisque eum complecteretur. Caes. Civ. 3.43 sq and passim: munitiones. [<]

[335] Vell. 2.51.2: Sed inopia obsidentibus quam obsessis erat grauior. [<]

[336] Caes. Civ. 3.47: pecus vero, cuius rei summa erat ex Epiro copia, magno in honore habebant. [<]

[337] Caes. Civ. 3.48; Plut. Caes. 39. [<]

[338] App. BC 2.61: o de ouc hsqh, all¢ eipen, ¢¢oioiV qhrioiV macomeqa.¢¢ Plut. Caes. 39: hqumoun gar oi stratiwtai, thn agriothta kai thn apaqeian twn polemiwn wsper qhriwn orrwdounteV. [<]

[339] Mk. 6:45-51. [<]

[340] Plut. Caes. 38: thn men ewqinhn auran, […] poluV pneusaV […]. [<]

[341] App. BC 2.57.237-58.239: to pneuma d¢ authn kai to kuma metewron eV taV ocqaV dierriptei, mecri plhsiazoushV hmeraV oi men ededoikesan wV en fwti katadhloi toiV polemioiV esomenoi, o de Kaisar, tw daimoniw caleyamenoV wV fqonerw, efhke thn naun epanienai. H men dh pneumati tacei ton potamon aneplei, Kaisara d¢ oi men eqaumazon thV eutolmiaV, oi d¢ epememfonto wV stratiwth prepon ergon eirgasmenon, ou strathgw. o d¢ ouketi lhsesqai prosdokwn Postoumion anq¢ eautou prosetaxe diapleusai te kai frasai Gabiniw ton straton euquV agein dia qalasshV. [<]

[342] Antonius landed in the port of Nymphaeum at Lissos, then part of Dalmatia, today Lesh (Alessio) in Albania (App. BC 2.59.245). [<]

[343] Mk. 8:10: Kai euquV embaV eiV to ploion meta twn maqhtwn autou hlqen eiV ta merh Dalmanouqa. [<]

[344] Mk. 4:39: kai eipen th qalassh, Mt. 8:24: en th qalassh; only Luke ‘improves’ it to eiV thn limnhn (8:23). In the old Bible translations we correctly read ‘sea’, in modern editions it is of course ‘corrected’ to ‘water’, or ‘waves’, evidently in order to prepare the ground for the ‘lake’ of the last Gospel, Luke. [<]

[345] Thalassa for a limnê is otherwise only applied to the Caucasian (Caspian) Sea (Arist. Mete. 1.13 p. 351 a, 8), but as a wilful naming by the local population because of the number and volume of the discharging rivers, and also because of the lack of a visible outlet: all¢ h ge upo ton Kaukason limnh, hn kalousin oi ekei qalattan: auth gar potamwn pollwn kai megalwn eisballontwn ouk ecousa ekroun faneron […]. Thalassa / thalatta in Greek always indicates salt water only, for example a spring with salt water in the Erechtheion at Athens (cf. also Sicilian la salata, literally ‘the salt water’, for ‘the sea’). [<]

[346] Mt. 4:18, 8:24, 13:11, 14:24 sq, 15:29; Mk. 1:16, 2:13, 3:7, 7:31; Jn. 21:1; i. a. [<]

[347] Jn. 1:15: O opisw mou ercomenoV emprosqen mou gegonen, oti prwtoV mou hn. [<]

[348] Jn. 1:27: o opivsw mou ercomenoV, ou ouk eimi; [egw] axioV ina lusw autou ton imanta tou upodhmatoV. [<]

[349] Mk. 1:7: Ercetai o iscuroteroV mou opisw mou, ou ouk eimi ikanoV kuyaV lusai ton imanta twn upodhmatwn autou. Cf. also Mt. 3:11. [<]

[350] Plut. Pomp. 73: epei de kairoV hn deipnou kai pareskeuasen o nauklhroV ek twn parontwn, idwn o FawnioV oiketwn aporia ton Pomphion arcomenon auton upoluein prosedrame kai upeluse kai sunhleiye. kai to loipon ek toutou periepwn kai qerapeuwn osa despotaV douloi, mecri niyewV podwn kai deipnou paraskeuhV, dietelesen, wste thn eleuqeriothta thV upourgiaV ekeinhV qeasamenon an tina kai to afeleV kai aplaston eipei'n: Feu toisi gennaioisin wV apan kalon. The citation is from Euripides, fg. 961, from an unknown drama. [<]

[351] Jn. 13:4-6: egeiretai ek tou deipnou kai tiqhsin ta imatia kai labwn lention diezwsen eauton: eita ballei udwr eiV ton nipthra kai hrxato niptein touV podaV twn maqhtwn kai ekmassein tw lentiw w hn diezwsmenoV. ercetai oun proV Simwna Petron: legei autw, Kurie, su mou nipteiV touV podaV; [<]

[352] It should be noted here, that behind the expression ‘to girdle oneself’—‘to gird oneself up’ could be hidden. This was the typical course of action for men of antiquity when they wished to run, especially when taking flight, so as not to be hindered by the lengthy garment. A further indication of the origin of this situation: Pompeius was fleeing. [<]

[353] Jn. 1:20: kai wmologhsen kai ouk hrnhsato, kai wmologhsen oti Egw ouk eimi o CristoV. [<]

[354] Jn. 3:25-28: Egeneto oun zhthsiV ek twn maqhtwn Iwannou meta Ioudaiou peri kaqarismou. […] apekriqh IwavnnhV kai eipen, […] autoi umeiV moi martureite oti eipon [oti] Ouk eimi egw o CristoV […]. The fact that the text here says metà Ioudaiou, ‘with a Jew’, and not, as we would expect ‘with Jesus’, has irritated many commentators. Accordingly there are numerous conjectures that suggest ‘with Jesus’, cf. Aland & Nestle ((18)1957): Ihsou Bentley cj : tou Ihsou Baldensperger cj : twn Ihsou Osc. Holtzmann cj. These conjectures would require fewer letters to be changed if one took as starting point, as in our hypothesis, that meta Ioudaiou—metà Ioudaiou, was based on an original meta Iouliou—metà Iouliou, ‘with Iulius’—which would not have been covered by the nomen-sacrum-abbreviation IC because of the genitive ending—and hence could not have been influenced by Iêsous but by Ioudaiou. [<]

[355] App. BC 2.69.285: eisi d¢ oi kai peri thV KaisaroV arcierwsunhV eV allhlouV hdh dihrizon. Cf. also Plut. Caes. 42: wste filonikein uper thV KaisaroV arcierwsunhV Domition kai Spinqhra kai Skipiwna diamillwmenouV allhloiV—‘Domitius, Spinther and Scipio fought earnestly amongst each other for Caesar’s office of Pontifex Maximus […]’. [<]

[356] Plut. Pomp. 74-5: ¢¢Orw se,¢¢ eipen, ¢¢aner, ou thV shV tuchV ergon, alla thV emhV, proserrimmenon […]¢¢. Tauta eipein thn Kornhlian legousi, ton de Pomphion apokrinasqai: ¢¢Mian ara, Kornhlia, tuchn hdeiV thn ameinona, h kai se iswV exhpathsen, oti moi cronon pleiona tou sunhqouV paremeinen. alla kai tauta dei ferein genomenouV anqrwpouV, kai thV tuchV eti peirateon. ou gar anelpiston ek toutwn analabein ekeina ton ex ekeinwn en toutoiV genomenon.¢¢ [<]

[357] Jn. 3:29-31: o ecwn thn numfhn numfioV estin: o de filoV tou numfiou o esthkwV kai akouwn autou cara cairei dia thn fwnhn tou numfiou. auth oun h cara h emh peplhrwtai. ekeinon dei auxanein, eme de elattousqai. O anwqen ercomenoV epanw pantwn estin: o wn ek thV ghV ek thV ghV estin […]. [<]

[358] Jn. 1:5: kai to fwV en th skotia fainei, kai h skotia auto ou katelaben. [<]

[359] App. BC 2.68.282: wV de kai selaV ex ouranou diaptan apo tou Kaivsaro" eV to Pomphiou stratopedon esbesqh, oi men amfi ton Pomphion esesqai ti lampron autoiV efasan ek twn polemiwn, o de Kaisar sbesein autoV empeswn ta Pomphiou. [<]

[360] This would explain why Jn. 1:5 sqq has a doublet at Jn. 3:22 sqq. [<]

[361] Jn. 1:25: kai hrwthsan auton kai eipan autw, Ti oun baptizeiV ei su ouk ei o CristoV oude HliaV oude o profhthV; [<]

[362] Mk. 11:28-30: kai elegon autw', En poia exousia tauta poieiV; h tiV soi edwken thn exousian tauthn ina tauta poihV; o de IhsouV eipen autoiV, Eperwthsw umaV ena logon, kai apokriqhte moi kai erw umin en poia exousia tauta poiw: to baptisma to Iwannou ex ouranou hn h ex anqrwpwn; apokriqhte moi. [<]

[363] It is symptomatic here that in his commentaries Caesar always speaks only of dilectus, ‘recruitment’, but when his officers take up the pen they use the alternate word lustratio—as in the last book of De Bello Gallico or in the commentaries about the Alexandrian, African or Hispanic war (Caes. Gal. 8.52; B. Afr. 75.1; B. Alex. 56.5). [<]

[364] Mk. 1:4: kai khrusswn baptisma metanoiaV eiV afesin amartiwn. [<]

[365] Armilustrium is translated by Lydos as kaqarmoV oplwn, in the glossaries as oplokaqarmoV, oplokaqarsia respectively oplwn kaqarsiV. Cf. Magie (1905), p. 33 and p. 150. [<]

[366] Plut. Caes. 30.1-2: Ou mhn all¢ h ge para KaisaroV axiwsiV to proschma thV dikaiologiaV lampron eicen: hxiou gar autoV te kataqesqai ta opla, kai Pomphiou tauto praxantoV amfoterouV idiwtaV genomenouV euriskesqai ti para twn politwn agaqon, wV touV auton men afairoumenouV, ekeinw d¢ hn eice bebaiountaV dunamin, eteron diaballontaV eteron kataskeuazein turannon. Plut. Caes. 30.4: en de th boulh Skipiwn men o Pomphiou penqeroV eishghsato gnwmhn, an en hmera rhth mh kataqhtai ta opla Kaisar, apodeicqhnai polemion auton.
Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio became Metellus by adoption. His former name was P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica. Consul for the year 52, he became father-in-law to Pompeius after the death of Caesar’s daughter Julia and Pompeius’ subsequent new marriage. The new father-in-law was a fierce opponent of the former one, Caesar, and he spoke on behalf of his son-in-law, who at first stayed in the city but later joined his troops outside the walls for formal juristic reasons. Cf. Caes. Civ. 1.2.1: Haec Scipionis oratio, quod senatus in urbe habebatur Pompeiusque aderat, ex ipsius ore Pompei mitti uidebatur.
Caes. Civ. 1.11.1: Erat iniqua condicio postulare, […] exercitum Caesaris uelle dimitti, dilectus habere.
Suet. Jul. 29: Cum adversariis autem pepigit, ut dimissis octo legionibus […].
Vell. 2.48.1: […] cum iustissimus quisque et a Caesare et a Pompeio uellet dimitti exercitus; quippe Pompeius in secundo consulatu Hispanias sibi decerni uoluerat easque per triennium absens ipse ac praesidens urbi per Afranium et Petreium, consularem ac praetorium, legatos suos, administrabat et iis, qui a Caesare dimittendos exercitus contendebant, adsentabatur, iis, qui ab ipso quoque, aduersabatur.
Vell. 2.48.5: Ad ultimum saluberrimas et coalescentes condiciones pacis, quas et Caesar iustissimo animo postulabat et Pompeius aequo recipiebat, discussit ac rupit, unice cauente Cicerone concordiae publicae.
Cf. also Suet. Jul. 30: Et praetextum quidem illi ciuilium armorum hoc fuit; […]—where armorum means ‘civil war’ rather than ‘weapon’, ‘army’. Hence the eiV afesin amartiwn in Mark could theoretically also mean ‘averting of the civil war’ however afesiV, ‘dismissal’, argues against it.
Also, because of this permanent demand for demobilization of the adversarial army and simultaneous recruiting of one’s own, Mark could have had difficulties differentiating dilectus, ‘recruitment’, from discessus, ‘departure, decampment’ (cf. Caes. Civ. 1.26.4: […] ab armis sit discessum […]). [<]

[367] App. BC 2.32.133; 35.140. [<]

[368] Mk. 1:16: amfiballontaV [en th qalassh] : hsan gar aleeiV. p) has ballontaV amfiblhstron. The nets, however, are mostly lacking in Mark (cf. Aland & Nestle (18)1957). [<]

[369] That the sentence in Mark does not necessarily originally refer to fishermen is indicated by the fact that in most of the Markan manuscripts, as in the papyri, no nets are mentioned. They only emerge later in the sequence of redaction—at first as amphiblêstron, casting-net in the singular, then gradually they become diktya, trawling nets in the plural, until in Luke they are no longer ‘cast’ at all, they are instead lowered down (the reference to ‘cast’ has now disappeared): calasate ta diktua. Also that (h)aleeis had been a singular form like alea becomes believable through Luke, where Jesus speaks to Simon alone: eipen proV ton Simwna (Lk. 5:4). [<]

[370] Politically north of the Rubicon, but geographically far south of it, which city names today—like for example Senigallia (near Ancona)—still testify to. [<]

[371] Suet. Jul. 75: Denuntiante Pompeio pro hostibus se habiturum qui rei publicae defuissent, ipse medios et neutrius partis suorum sibi numero futuros pronuntiauit. Cf. Caes. Civ. 1.33 u. 1.85. Plut. Caes. 33; Pomp. 61. Dio Cass. HR 41.6.2. App. BC 2.37.148. [<]

[372] Mk. 3, Mt. 12, Lk. 11. [<]

[373] Mk. 9:40. Variant: ‘for he that is not against us is for us’ (Lk. 9:50); see also Mt. 12:30 and Lk. 11:23. [<]

[374] Plutarchus: hlqon, eidon, enikhsa / Dio Cassius: kai hlqe proV ton polemion kai eiden auton kai enikhse / Appianus: egw de hlqon, eidon, enikhsa / Suetonius: veni, vidi, vici. [<]

[375] Jn. 9:7: aphlqen oun kai eniyato kai hlqen blepwn. [<]

[376] Jn. 9:11: apelqwn oun kai niyamenoV anebleya. [<]

[377] Mk. 8:24: Blepw touV anqrwpouV oti wV dendra orw peripatountaV. [<]

[378] 1st element, with Caesar: hlqon / hlqe, with Jesus: apelqwn / aphlqen / peripatountaV; 2nd element, with Caesar: eidon / eiden, with Jesus: anebleya / blepwn / blepw / orw; 3rd element, with Caesar: enikhsa / enikhse, with Jesus: niyamenoV / eniyato / anqrwpouV wV dendra. The transition of orw / eidon to blepw depends on the period and the linguistic register. [<]

[379] Here we document but a few of the innumerable Latin sources that show the regular appearance of caesus (and derivatives) with those fallen in battle. Amongst others Vell. 2.4.4 (on the killing of Tib. Gracchus): iure caesum; 2.52.3 (on the Pompeians fallen in the battle of Pharsalos): caesos uiros; or 2.55.1 (on the death of Curio in the battle in Africa): occiso Curione; 2.117.1 (on the Varus-battle): caesi Vari; Suet. Jul. 25.2 (on the ambush of the Germans on Caesar’s winter quarters): legatis per insidias caesis; 30.4 (on Caesar viewing the soldiers killed in action at Pharsalos): caesos profligatosque aduersarios prospicientem; 76.1 (on the question, whether the killing of Caesar had been legitimate): iure caesus; Liv. Periochae A.U.C. 12.3 (on L. Caecilius, perished with his legions): cum legionibus caesus est; 22.8 (on the consul Flaminus, died in war against Hannibal): cum exercitu caesus est; 25.15 (on Centenius Paenula, also defeated by Hannibal): cum exercitu caesus est; 27.2 (idem): cum exercitu […] caesus est; 27.19 (on Hasdrubal conquered on his part): cum milibus hominum LVI caesus est; 103.2 (on Catilina): cum exercitu caesus est; 110.18 (on Curio, killed in action against Juba, see above): cum exercitu caesus est. Cf. also the vocabulary of the Periochae 82.2 of Livius, referring to Pharnaces’ father Mithridates, defeated by his then opponent Sulla, in similar situation: caesis hostium C et castris quoque expugnatis; and 97.8, victory of Lucullus in Pontus: caesis hostium amplius quam LX; referring to murdered Roman citizens, A.U.C. Perioch. ex P. Oxy. 668.37.1: […] in Hispa]nia Romani caesi.
Of course our argumentation presupposes that Latin sources were used, if not directly by the Evangelists nevertheless by their exemplars, the so-called Proto-Gospels.
The direct use of Latin exemplars is generally accepted for all of the three Greek writing historians and biographers who are often quoted here, Dio Cassius, Appianus and Plutarchus. (For Dio cf. i. a. Ed. Schwartz, RE III 1684 sqq; for Appianus cf. Gabba (1956), p. 246; for Plutarchus Ziegler, K. & Sontheimer, W. (1979), s.v. Sp. 951.)
Dio Cassius certainly followed Livius for the part we are concerned with (from book 36 onwards), Appianus followed Asinius Pollio, likewise Plutarchus, albeit together with other sources.
Plutarchus himself admits to the insufficiency of his linguistic ability in Latin. Appianus’ proficiency in Latin was such that his Greek is full of Latinisms (cf. Demosth. 2). Dio Cassius had the best knowledge, if for no other reason than that his father and he himself held high offices in the Empire (senator, praetor, consul suff.). However, translation errors of his are attested, too, or assumed (amongst others is his much discussed alleged ‘Iupiter Iulius’, HR 44,6,4: kai teloV Dia te auton antikruV Ioulion proshgoreusan, with it many authors assume that Dio only falsely reproduced the title Divus with his Dia. Cf. list of pros and cons in Gesche, H. (1968), p. 35-6, n. 80: Both positions take a Latin exemplar as the starting point).
In our text of Pharnaces we have the possibility of ascertaining their recourse to a Latin exemplar by comparing a parallel text by Dio Cassius and Appianus. This is especially interesting for us because the Latin exemplar must have contained the word caesus.
In Livius’ Periochae (A.U.C. 113.15) it is said of Pharnaces, that he is victus: Pharnaces, Mithridatis filius, <r>ex Ponti, sine ulla belli mora victus est. Referring to Pharnaces, unfortunately it cannot be seen directly that in the Latin Caesar sources there probably was also caesus to be found, because Suetonius and Velleius do not report in detail, just as little as the Periochae of Livius. However this can be deduced from the Bellum Alexandrinum (76)—where Pharnaces at first manages to flee, but where it is regretted that he could not be captured ‘alive’—and more precisely from the Greek adaptations. In the more extensive Greek source of Dio Cassius it is written that Pharnaces fell, if not directly in the battle with Caesar then at least in the immediately following battle. (HR 42.47.5):
‘Pharnaces escaped to the sea and later tried to force his way into Bosporus, but Asander repulsed and killed him.’
‘Killed him’—apekteine. Here in the according Latin source from which Dio also scooped, caesus est must have occurred, accordant to established Latin usage.
This is confirmed by a comparison between Dio and Appianus who report in parallel that before Caesar’s arrival, Pharnaces had looted the city of Amisos in the haughtiness of his victory over Domitius. Dio:
‘[…] Pharnaces was greatly elated, and after acquiring all the rest of Pontus, captured Amisus also, though it long held out against him; and he plundered the city and killed all the men of military age there.’
Here also Dio says ‘killed’—apekteine. However in the parallel place with Appianus it says ‘made them eunuchs’—tomiaV epepoihto: ‘Being much elated by this affair he had subjugated the city of Amisus in Pontus, which was friendly to the Romans, sold their inhabitants into slavery, and made all male descendants eunuchs.’
The deviation becomes explicable only if one assumes a common Latin exemplar in which excidi was written, literally ‘cut off’, which in Latin means ‘struck down, exterminated’, in Greek however it can very well be misunderstood as ‘castrated’: ektemnw—ek-temno. This ex-cidi, verbal adjectiv ex-cisus, stems from caedo, whose verbal adjectiv is caesus. Probably in the source there was just the passive caesi sunt, according to Latin style. Then Dio would have translated analogously ‘cut down’, Appianus literally ‘cut, castrated’. The fact that both are right is shown by Bellum Alexandrinum (70), where Caesar blames Pharnaces of having committed an irreparable crime, namely ‘killing’ or ‘castrating’ Roman citizens who were out on business in Pontus—though for clear differentiation other, synonymous words are used here, interfectis and exsectis: ‘itaque se magnas et graves iniurias civium Romanorum, qui in Ponto negotiati essent, quoniam in integrum restituere non posset, concedere Pharnaci: nam neque interfectis amissam vitam, neque exsectis virilitatem restituere posse; quod quidam supplicium gravius morte cives Romani subissent.’
Since the examined place is part of the assumed model for John’s healing of a blind man, that passage, uncertain even for the classical Greek historians—‘struck (cut) down’ versus ‘castrated’—could have encouraged the Evangelist who was blinded by the word ‘saw’ to an even more creative translation: ‘blind man’. A classical topos, by the way, that can already be found with King Oedipus, whose ‘blinding’ at the end of the tragedy is said to have stood euphemistically for his ‘castration’, the condign punishment for incest with the mother. [<]

[380] Suet. Jul. 79: Neque ex eo infamiam affectati etiam regii nominis discutere ualuit, quanquam et plebei regem se salutanti «Caesarem se, non regem esse» responderit […]. Cf. also Plut. Caes. 60: kai katabainontoV ex AlbhV KaisaroV eiV thn polin, etolmhsan auton aspasasqai basilea: tou de dhmou diataracqentoV, acqesqeiV ekeinoV ouk efh BasileuV, alla Kaisar kaleisqai kai genomenhV proV touto pantwn siwphV, ou panu faidroV oud¢ eumenhV parhlqen; […]. App. BC 2.108.450: o de touto men hnegken eustaqwV, eterwn d¢ auton amfi taV pulaV ionta poqen basilea proseipontwn kai tou dhmou stenaxantoV, eumhcanwV eipe toiV ajspasamenoiV: ¢¢ouk eimi BasileuV, alla Kaisar,¢¢ wV dh peri to onoma esfalmenoiV. [<]

[381] Caesar was proud of this, cf. his funeral speech about his father’s sister Iulia, Marius’ widow, Suet. Jul. 6: ‘Amitae meae Iuliae maternum genus ab regibus ortum […] est ergo in genere et sanctitas regum […]’. [<]

[382] Cf. the preceding note. One suspects that it was at the ovatio ex Monte Albano. Cf. Degrassi (1947), p. 87, 567. Weinstock (1971), p. 326-331. [<]

[383] Jn. 19:13-15: O oun PilatoV […] hgagen exw ton Ihsoun kai ekaqisen epi bhmatoV eiV topon legomenon Liqostrwton, […] kai legei toiV IoudaioiV, Ide o basileuV umwn […] apekriqhsan oi arciereiV, Ouk ecomen basilea ei mh Kaisara. [<]

[384] App. BC 2.115.479-480: o de Kaisar pro miaV toude tou bouleuthriou cwrwn epi deipnon eV Lepidon ton ipparcon, ephgeto Dekmon Brouton Albinon eV ton poton kai logon epi th kuliki prouqhke, tiV aristoV anqrwpw qanatoV: airoumenwn de etera eterwn autoV ek pantwn ephnei ton aifnidion. kai o men wde proumanteueto eautw kai eleschneue peri twn eV thn aurion esomenwn. Cf. also Plut. Caes. 63: empesontoV de logou, poioV ara twn qanatwn aristoV, apantaV fqasaV exebohsen: ¢¢o aprosdokhtoV.¢¢—‘when the conversation turned to what sort of death was the best, before anyone else could answer Caesar exclaimed “The sudden one!”’ [<]

[385] Mk. 14:12 sqq; Mt. 26:17 sqq; Lk. 22:7 sqq; Jn. 13:21 sqq. [<]

[386] Like for example the German Regensburg from Castra Regina—cf. note 80. [<]

[387] App. BC 2.115.480: epi de tw potw nuktoV autw to swma nwqron egigneto, kai h gunh Kalpournia enupnion aimati pollw katarreomenon idousa katekwlue mh proelqein. quomenw te pollakiV hn ta shmeia fobera. [<]

[388] Jn. 13:21-27: legei oun autw o IhsouV, O poieiV poihson tacion. Luther translated tacion as ‘bald’ (‘soon’), which it can mean in a certain sense. [<]

[389] Cf. note 158. [<]

[390] 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, […]¢¢. [<]

[391] App. BC 2.136.567: ‘Then Piso yelled out as loud as he could and demanded that the consuls reconvene the senators, who were still present, which was done, and then he said “These men who talk of having killed a tyrant are now setting themselves up over us as a group of tyrants instead of one. They want to prevent me from burying the Pontifex Maximus […]”’. EkbohsaV oun o Peiswn oti megiston kai touV upatouV eti parousan oi thn boulhn axiwsaV sunagagein, eipen: ¢¢oi turannon legonteV ena anhrhkenai tosoide hmwn anq¢ enoV hdh turannousin: oi qaptein me kwluousi ton ajrciereva […]. Note here that Appianus uses the same word archierea for pontifex maximus which in Mark stands for ‘High priest’ (cf. next note). [<]

[392] Mk. 15:31: omoiwV kai oi arciereiV empaizonteV proV allhlouV meta twn grammatewn elegon, AllouV eswsen, eauton ou dunatai swsai […]. [<]

[393] Caes. Civ. 1.30: Mittit […] in Siciliam Curionem pro praetore cum legionibus III, eundem, cum Siciliam recepisset, protinus in Africam traducere exercitum iubet. App. BC 2.40.162: AsinioV te Polliwn eV Sikelian pemfqeiV, hV hgeito Katwn, punqanomenw tw Katwni, potera thV boulhV h tou dhmou dogma ferwn eV allotrian archn emballoi, wde apekrinato: ¢¢o thV ItaliaV kratwn epi tauta me epemye.¢¢ Kai Katwn men tosonde apokrinamenoV, oti feidoi twn uphkown ouk entauqa auton amuneitai, diepleusen eV Kerkuran kai ek KerkuraV eV Pomphion: o de Kaisar eV Rwmhn epeicqeiV […]. Then, after a brief description of Caesar’s entrance into Rome, Appianus continues with the nomination of Curio as governor of Sicily (2.41): Lepidon de Aimilion efisth th polei kai ton dhmarcon Markon Antwnion th Italia kai tw peri authn stratw. eV te ta exw Kouriwna men anti KatwnoV hreito hgeisqai SikeliaV […]. We can conclude from these passages that Asinius had been an ordinary legate of Caesar with the special mission to take Sicily from the Pompeian governor Cato—in fact for the legatus pro praetore, the governor Curio, who would follow him and who had to cross the sea from Sicily to Africa. It seems that Asinius was sent directly from Brundisium whereas Curio did not advance with the army until he had been authorized in Rome (where Lepidus and Antonius received their orders too).
The fact that Caesar does not mention Asinius alongside Curio has raised the question of the status of Pollio in Sicily. But since Asinius Pollio is not mentioned at all in Caesar’s De bello civili—for whatever reasons—neither here nor at the Rubicon nor at Pharsalos (with Appianus and Plutarchus he is not only present, but ‘the’ eyewitness), Asinius’ not being named as legate in De bello civili cannot be considered as an argumentum e silentio. [<]

[394] Mk. 11:1-6: Kai ote eggizousin eiV Ierosoluma eiV Bhfagh kai Bhqanian proV to OroV twn Elaiwn, apostellei duo twn maqhtwn autou kai legei autoiV, Upagete eiV thn kwmhn thn katenanti umwn, kai euquV eisporeuomenoi eiV authn eurhsete pwlon dedemenon ef¢ on oudeiV oupw anqrwpwn ekaqisen: lusate auton kai ferete. kai ean tiV umin eiph, Ti poieite touto; eipate, O kurioV autou creian ecei, kai euquV auton apostellei palin wde. kai aphlqon kai euron pwlon dedemenon proV quran exw epi tou amfodou kai luousin auton. kai tineV twn ekei esthkotwn elegon autoiV, Ti poieite luonteV ton pwlon; oi de eipan autoiV kaqwV eipen o IhsouV, kai afhkan autouV. Mt. 21:1-6; Lk. 19:29-34; Jn. 12:12-15. [<]

[395] Lk. 19:30: Upagete eiV thn katenanti kwmhn […]. [<]

[396] Theoretically Curio’s moving on could also be expressed here. [<]

[397] Mk. 11:12-13: Kai th epaurion exelqontwn autwn apo BhqaniaV epeinasen. kai idwn sukhn apo makroqen ecousan fulla hlqen, ei ara ti eurhsei en auth, kai elqwn ep¢ authn ouden euren ei mh fulla: o gar kairoV ouk hn sukwn. [<]

[398] Mk. 11:12-14; Mk. 11:20-21. [<]

[399] App. BC 2.40.162-41.165, see above Mk. 11:1-21. [<]

[400] Mk. 11:20: ‘And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.’—Kai paraporeuomenoi prwi eidon thn sukhn exhrammenhn ek rizwn. Here we not only have to compare Curio(n) with xêron, ‘dried up’, but perhaps also with ek rizôn, ‘from the roots’, then Africam with aridam (Lat. ‘withered’, cf. Vulgata) and exêrammenên (Greek ‘withered’) with exercitum (Lat. ‘army’). Cf. Caes. Civ. 1.30: in Africam traducere exercitum iubet. This iubet of Caesar—the order to bring the army to Africa—would correspond to kai apokriqeiV eipen auth of Mk. 11:14—Jesus’ command that the fig tree wither. Finally in the word ‘wither’ Curio’s defeat in Africa could linger.
The picture of the fig tree with Jesus (standing for Sicily) could have been summoned from the figs of Tusculum, which Pompeius’ comrades-in-arms were craving for and with which they incited him to wage the decisive battle at last: so that they finally could go home and taste the famous figs before the season was over (so sure were they that they would defeat Caesar, since after Dyrrhachium he already was virtually defeated; but it turned out differently at Pharsalos and they did not taste the figs of Tusculum ever again). Cf. Plut. Caes. 41: FawnioV de thn KatwnoV parrhsian upopoioumenoV manikwV, escetliazen ei mhde thteV estai twn peri Tousklanon apolausai sukwn dia thn Pomphiou filarcian.—‘Favonius, mimicking Cato’s free way of speaking his mind, complained bitterly that he could eat no figs this year from his manor at Tusculum, because of Pompey’s lust of power.’ [<]

[401] The most well known: Q. Caecilius Metellus Celer, opposed Caesar’s land legislation in 59 bc (he was unhappily married to Clodia, sister of Clodius); Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica, whose daughter Cornelia married Pompeius after the death of Julia, was co-consul in 52 BC (defeated at Pharsalos and again at Thapsos, he committed suicide); L. Caecilius Metellus, tribune of the people in 49 BC, unsuccessfully opposed Caesar’s loan for armaments from the Aerarium (in the temple of Saturnus); Publius Clodius Pulcher, (changed his name from Claudius to the plebeian Clodius for political reasons in 59 bc), the infamous tribune of the people who in 62 BC intruded into Caesar’s house during the feast of the Bona Dea in order to seduce Caesar’s wife (he was accused of sacrilege, charged by his friend Cicero, but exonerated by Caesar and so was set free; from then on he opposed Cicero and supported Caesar); Appius Claudius Pulcher, brother of Clodius, father in law of Marcus Brutus, Censor 50 BC, then he was Proconsul in Greece as a follower of Pompeius (died before Pharsalos); M. Claudius Marcellus, Consul for 51 BC (accepted Caesar’s mercy 46 BC, but was killed in Piraeus 45 BC); C. Claudius Marcellus, cousin of the previous, he was also an opponent of Caesar although he was married to his grand-niece Octavia, Consul 50 BC: he proclaimed the state of emergency against Caesar—without a decree from the Senate (changed sides to Caesar in 49 BC); C. Claudius Marcellus, cousin of both of the aforementioned, Consul 49 BC, together with L. Lentulus Crus: he declared Caesar’s soldiers enemies of the state and drove the tribune of the people Antonius out of the Senate (in 48 he was still an admiral of Pompeius’, died before Pharsalos); L. Cornelius Lentulus Crus (Crus, ‘leg’, was his nickname: Lentulus Crus, ‘lame leg’), in 61 BC he was the chief prosecutor of Clodius, Consul in 49 BC, together with C. Claudius Marcellus (see above). After Pharsalos he fled to Egypt with Pompeius, where he was arrested and killed.
It is known that in their fescennini, the old-italic mocking and teasing verses which they sang during a triumphal procession and which often degenerated into coarse and unrestrained sprees, the legionaries did not even spare the triumphator, their imperator. By the way this tradition lives on in our carnival processions and carnival speeches. If Caesar was mocked like that as we know (cf. page 276 and note 599) it is easy to imagine how they will have sneered at the ‘blind’ (Caecilii) who did not get a look in, and the ‘lame’ (Claudii, Lentuli, Crus, etc.) who were made to get a move on! And since Caesar was looked upon as the therapist of the state (cf. Plut. Caes. 28.6) he thereby became the ‘healer’ of those ‘lame’ and ‘blind’ ones in the vernacular—like Jesus. It is a pity the biting irony got lost in the change. [<]

[402] The ceremony called Damia had to take place during the first week of December with the participation of the vestal virgins at the wife of a magistrate cum imperio who himself had to leave the house. At the time of the event Caesar already was Praetor designatus elected as praetor for the following year, as Pontifex maximus he lived in the time-honored domus publica at the Forum. The secret ceremonies of the female deity who was associated with Faunus/Lupercus resp. Dionysos/Liber were said to occur at night also, with wine, music and dancing as well as myrtle twigs playing an important role in them. Plutarchus says about them (Caes. 9):
‘Now the Romans have a goddess whom they call the Good one, the Greeks call her Gynaecia, i. e. the goddess of women; the Phrygians who draw on her for themselves say she had been the wife of king Midas whereas the Romans regard her as a nymph of the woods who united with Faunus and the Greeks take her for that mother of Dionysos whom they dare not name. When therefore the women hold the festivity they cover the tents with vine-twigs and lay a snake beside the goddess according to the myth. While the holy mysteries of the goddess are celebrated no man is allowed to attend not even to stay inside the house. Completely apart the women perform many actions during the divine service which are said to resemble those of the orphic mysteries. So when the time of the feast approaches which must be celebrated in the house of a consul or praetor, the same and with him all male persons go out. The wife takes over the house and prepares everything for the ceremony. The most important activities are celebrated at night. Frolic and much music accompany the nightly goings.’
The cult of the Bona Dea, mother of Dionysos, had survived the ban on the Bacchanals in Italy (resolution of the Senate of 186 bc: under penalty of death!), seemingly by perpetuation of the original form as an all women’s cult. Clodius’ creeping in had to be classified as an attempt to alter the feast of the Bona Dea into a Bacchanal. The active help given to Clodius by the lady’s maids argues for the continuing popularity of this festive form. Probably he also felt encouraged by Caesar’s attitude towards it, who lifted the ban on the cult of Bacchus (Liber Pater) again (cf. Serv. B. 5.29: ‘hoc aperte ad Caesarem pertinet, quem constat primum sacra Liberi patris transtulisse Romam. &Mac220;curru&Mac221; pro &Mac220;currui&Mac221;. thiasos saltationes, choreas Liberi, id est Liberalia.’ Caesar’s final victory in Munda was to come at just the right moment, on the Liberalia: on the 17th of March.). [<]

[403] Cf. App. BC 2.14.52-4; Plut. Caes. 9-10 and Cic. 28-30; Suet. Jul. 6 and 74. According to Plutarchus the beardless ‘beauty’ dressed up as a female harp player and sneaked into Caesar’s house with the help of one of Pompeia’s lady’s maids, but his voice betrayed him. [<]

[404] It is reported that amongst them were also the wives of Sulpicius, of Gabinus, of Crassus and even of Pompeius and last but not least Servilia, sister of Cato and mother of Brutus, and also her daughter Tertia. Cf. Suet. Jul. 50. [<]

[405] As a serving magistrate—he was praetor in this year—Caesar was granted immunity. But if Clodius had been sentenced for sacrilege, Caesar—who had not persecuted him although he was pontifex maximus and praetor, making him a praefectus morum, ‘arbiter of morals’, twice over—would have found himself in a bad situation and certainly would have had to pay for his former dedication to the Catalinarians. [<]

[406] Lucullus. [<]

[407] Plutarchus reports that Cicero was forced into it by his wife Terentia. She was jealous of Clodius’ sister Clodia, called quadrantaria, ‘quarter-whore’ (cheap whore). Cicero had a special relationship with her and had even promised to marry her. [<]

[408] This is less to be seen as a reprimand of Pompeia whom he backed with it but as a side blow at his own mother Aurelia and sister Julia who had accused Pompeia (cf. Suet. Jul. 74). This family quarrel could also explain the divorce. Differing from Suetonius—‘Because members of my household […]’—Plutarchus reports Caesar’s answer as : ‘Because my wife should not only be free of guilt but also of suspicion’, but he adds that ‘only some believed that Caesar spoke seriously’. Indeed the quick witted answer was taken to be an expression of the ironia Caesaris. Appianus and Dio Cassius do not mention this sentence. [<]

[409] In the case of a conviction Clodius could have been whipped to death and Pompeia could have been either buried alive or thrown from the Tarpeian rock. [<]

[410] Mk. 2:1-12; Mt. 9:1-8; Lk. 5:17-26. [<]

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[ Chapter V: Synoptic Comparison ]