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"When Alexander the Great bridged the gulf dividing Occident and Orient, the Greeks had attained to a state of maturity in the development of their national art and literature. Greek culture and civilization, passing beyond the boundaries of their national domain, crossed this bridge and spread over the Asiatic world. To perpetuate his name, the great Macedonian king founded a city, and selected for this purpose, with extraordinary prescience, a spot on the banks of the Nile, which, on account of its geographical position, was destined to become a centre, not only of international commerce and an entrepot between Asia and Europe, but also a centre of intellectual culture. The policy of Alexander to remove the barriers between the Greeks and the Asiatics, and to pave the way for the union of the races,

It was in Alexandria, founded in 332 BC where many keyastronomers either worked or studied over a period of nearly five centuries. The origin of many important discoveries and ideas that shape our thoughts about the stars can be traced to Alexandria and to the Great Library that flourished there.

The Alexandrian Library was one of the first libraries to aspire towards universality, to have a copy of every work ever written. Its huge collection, estimated at 400,000 volumes (or scrolls), enabled scholarship to flourish in many fields and aided the preservation and dissemination of many important works, such as Homer's epics and the Jewish Old Testament. The Library was begun in the third century B.C. in the kingdom of the Ptolemies in Egypt. The first Ptolemy king, Soter, is generally credited with having instigated the Library, encouraged by a student of the Aristotlean school, Demetrius of Phaleron. Soter's successors, especially his son Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) and grandson Ptolemy III (Eugertes), were also enthusiastic patrons of the Library.  The demise of the Library is a sad story in which Julius Caesar and monotheism loom large. 



The third and second centuries BC witnessed, in the Greek world, a scientific and technological explosion. Greek culture had reached great heights in art, literature and philosophy already in the earlier classical era, but it was in the age of Archimedes and Euclid that science as we know it was born, and gave rise to sophisticated technology that would not be seen again until the 18th century. This scientific revolution was also accompanied by great changes and a new kind of awareness in many other fields, including art and medicine.

 
Herodotus: the West's first historian
 
"If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it."

Herodotus [484 BC–ca. 425 BC]

 

  • "The only good is knowledge, and the only evil is ignorance.

After this man the priests enumerated to me from a papyrus roll the names of other kings, three hundred and thirty in number; and in all these generations of men eighteen were Ethiopians, one was a woman, a native Egyptian, and the rest were men and of Egyptian race: and the name of the woman who reigned was the same as that of the Babylonian queen, namely Nitocris. Histories II, 99f Project Gutenberg

  • "The destiny of man is in his own soul.

I am bound to tell what I am told, but not in every case to believe it.

  • "Force has no place where there is need of skill.

It is clear that not in one thing alone, but in many ways equality and freedom of speech are a good thing.

  • "Of all possessions a friend is the most precious.

"Remember that with her clothes a woman puts off her modesty. "

 

Plutarch
Mestrius Plutarchus (Greek: Πλούταρχος; c. 46 AD - 120 AD), better known in English as Plutarch, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist.[1] Plutarch was born to a prominent family in Chaeronea, Boeotia [Greece], a town about twenty miles east of Delphi. His oeuvre consists of the Parallel Lives and the Moralia.

The remainder of Plutarch's surviving work is collected under the title of the Moralia (loosely translated as Customs and Mores). It is an eclectic collection of seventy-eight essays and transcribed speeches, which includes On Fraternal Affection - a discourse on honour and affection of siblings toward each other, On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander the Great - an important adjunct to his Life of the great king, On the Worship of Isis and Osiris (a crucial source of information on Egyptian religious rites)[9], along with more philosophical treatises, such as On the Decline of the Oracles, On the Delays of the Divine Vengeance, On Peace of Mind and lighter fare, such as Odysseus and Gryllus, a humorous dialogue between Homer's Odysseus and one of Circe's enchanted pigs. The Moralia was composed first, while writing the Lives occupied much of the last two decades of Plutarch's own life.

On the Malice of Herodotus

In On the Malice of Herodotus Plutarch criticizes the historian Herodotus for all manners of prejudice and misrepresentation. It has been called the “first instance in literature of the slashing review.”[10] The 19th century English historian George Grote considered this essay a serious attack upon the works of Herodotus, and speaks of the "honourable frankness which Plutarch calls his malignity."[11] Plutarch makes some palpable hits, catching Herodotus out in various errors, but it is also probable that it was merely a rhetorical exercise, in which Plutarch plays devil's advocate to see what could be said against so favourite and well-known a writer.[3] According to Plutarch scholar R. H. Barrow, Herodotus’ real failing in Plutarch’s eyes was to advance any criticism at all of those states that saved Greece from Persia. “Plutarch,” he concluded, “is fanatically biased in favor of the Greek cities; they can do no wrong.”[12]

 

 
 

 

The founder of Epicureanism was Epicurus. For him, the supreme goal in life was `pleasure' by which he meant `the absence of pain'. Epicurus advocated the virtue of ataraxia, i.e. impassiveness. He advocated the quiet life, withdrawal from the public, the cultivation of serenity. The community, he asserted, had no rights or claims over the individual, nor had the gods (who were to be treated with indifference rather than fear). Each person had to preserve his or her own peace of mind if fulfilment was to be achieved. Epicureanism was governed by Democritus' philosophy of `atomism', i.e. the theory that everything is a `fortuitous concourse of atoms'. The soul dissolves at death, and hence there is no afterlife for a man or woman to dread. What mattered in the end was this life.

If the `pleasure' principle motivated the Epicureans, then the same cannot be said for the Cynics. Cynics stressed the worthlessness of all conventional standards. Virtue, they maintained, consisted in one's capacity to reduce one's needs to a minimum. The most famous Cynic was Diogenes who is said to have lived in a barrel! Like the Stoics, Cynics were itinerant `street' preachers. They issued moralistic attacks on society which had a set form, the `diatribe'. This form is reflected in the New Testament writings (e.g. in the Pauline Epistles or the Letter of James). Links between early Christians and Cynics have recently been maintained, some scholars arguing that first-century marketplace audiences would have found little to distinguish between the message brought by Cynic preachers and that proclaimed by Christian missionaries. Some (e.g. F. G. Downing) have even claimed that Jesus was a Jewish Cynic, the often acerbic social teaching found in the Gospels bearing striking similarities to that promulgated by this philosophical school.

Milder in this respect were the Stoics, a movement founded by Zeno of Citium (c.336--263 bce). Other famous Stoics were Cleanthes, Chrysippus and Posidonius. Stoicism underwent many transformations and had a capacity to mix its philosophy with much mythology or superstition, a fact that accounted, some say, for its popularity. Stoicism saw the world as a unity or as a body whose soul, spirit, ordering principle, creative mind, intelligence -- call it what you like -- was God, the Logos (a supreme being also identified with Zeus). The divine Logos had many manifestations and could split into many creative spiritual forces. Man (the ancient world was not as gender-sensitive as we are today!), by virtue of his reason, participated in the divine Logos. Man can rise above his circumstances, the Stoics maintained, and be fulfilled, if he lives his life according to `reason'/logos, and this was interpreted as living according to nature, which reflected the divine Logos. All human life, especially as organized into society, should be governed by these laws of nature that reflect in turn the divine Intelligence. By virtue of logos, or indwelling `reason', all men were equal, an emphasis which proved attractive to the citizens of the Hellenistic world, given their predilection for cosmopolitanism. A high moral tone (if somewhat austere) was also adopted by the Stoics, and correspondences between their teaching and that of the New Testament writers have been detected in a number of passages (cf. e.g. Acts 17:28; Rom. 1:19--23, 11:36, 13:1-- 7; 1 Cor. 7:17--24, 8:6; Col. 3:18--4:1; Eph. 4:6; Jas 3:1--5).

If philosophy was the refuge of the upper and middle classes, then religion dominated the lower classes. Greek religion, the official religion of ancient Greece, was civil and corporate, communal not personal. Worship was demanded of the old gods (the gods of Homer and the Greek tragedians), the gods of Olympus, at stated times and on formal occasions at which set rites or ceremonies were performed. The purpose of these rites was to secure the favour of the gods on the community and the Empire. Not to participate was seen as an anti-social, even anti-patriotic act. Worship of these old gods declined, however, in the Hellenistic period, and for three main reasons: first, many were purely local deities associated with a particular locale (e.g. Artemis or Diana at Ephesus; Athena at Athens); second, attacks on their morals had been launched by Greek writers (e.g. Plato, Euripides, Xenophanes, Euhemerus) and, third, the mythology surrounding them was no longer meaningful and was often found unadaptable to new circumstances, especially by the middle classes.

 

 
 
The Sun God Helios:

the Colossus of Rhodes

A bust of the early Greek historian Herodotus, whom Plutarch criticized in On the Malice of Herodotus.
A bust of the early Greek historian Herodotus, whom Plutarch criticized in On the Malice of Herodotus.
The Bible's Cain as Osirus

Cain as the oldest of Eve’s three children should correspond to Osiris, and many such correspondences exist. To begin with, like Osiris, Cain is an agricultural figure associated with fruit farming. Osiris wandered far and wide spreading his knowledge and teachings. Cain also wandered far and wide spreading his knowledge and teachings. In fact, Cain’s name is Semitic for “smith”, a craft figure, and Cain’s descendants, according to Genesis, are the founders of all the creative arts and sciences.

In Theban tradition, Osiris built Thebes, which was the first city. According to Genesis, Cain also built the first city. He built it in a land called Nod. Curiously, the bible refers to the city of Thebes by the name “No”, a rather close philological fit with “Nod”.

Finally, although we noted the anomaly of having Cain, the Osiris character, kill his brother instead of having the brother corresponding to Set do the killing, we do note that in both the Egyptian and biblical stories, we appear to have the story of the first murder and in each instance the killer buries the body and hides it from view, in the hope that no one will discover it. [more]

 

 

 
Mary_Magdalene 

both in the canonical New Testament and in the New Testament apocrypha, as a devoted disciple of Jesus. She is considered by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican churches to be a saint, with a feast day of July 22. She is also commemorated by the Lutheran Church with a festival on the same day. The Orthodox Church also commemorates her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, which is the second Sunday after Pascha (Easter).

Mary Magdalene's name identifies her as being "of Magdala" — the town she came from, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee Mary Magdalene is often referred to as a prostitute, but she was never called one in the New Testament. Mary Magdalene is honored as one of the first witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus, and received a special commission from him to tell the Apostles of his resurrection (John 20:11–18 Because of this, and because of her subsequent missionary activity in spreading the Gospel, she is known by the title, "Equal of the Apostles."

The French tradition of Saint Lazare of Bethany is that Mary, her brother Lazarus, and Maximinus, one of the Seventy Disciples and some companions, expelled by persecutions from the Holy Land, traversed the Mediterranean in a frail boat with neither rudder nor mast and landed at the place called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer near Arles. Mary Magdalene came to Marseille and converted the whole of Provence. Magdalene is said to have retired to a cave on a hill by Marseille, La Sainte-Baume ("holy cave", baumo in Provencal), where she gave herself up to a life of penance for thirty years. When the time of her death arrived she was carried by angels to Aix and into the oratory of Saint Maximinus, where she received the viaticum; her body was then laid in an oratory constructed by St. Maximinus at Villa Lata, afterwards called St. Maximin.

In 1279, when Charles II, King of Naples, erected a Dominican convent at La Sainte-Baume, the shrine was found intact, with an explanatory inscription stating why the relics had been hidden.

In 1600, the relics were placed in a sarcophagus commissioned by Pope Clement VIII, the head being placed in a separate reliquary. The relics and free-standing images were scattered and destroyed at the Revolution. In 1814, the church of La Sainte-Baume, also wrecked during the Revolution, was restored, and, in 1822, the grotto was consecrated afresh. The head of the saint now lies there and has been the centre of many pilgrimages.

Other religions, especially Christian Mysticism and many New Age faiths, venerate Mary Magdalene as the Bride of Christ, an avatar of Sophia, and even the Co-Messiah with Jesus Christ, or simply combine all three. A group of scholars, he most familiar of whom is Elaine Pagels, have suggested that for one early group of Christians Mary Magdalene was a leader of the early Church and maybe even the unidentified Beloved Disciple, to whom the Fourth Gospel commonly called Gospel of John is ascribed. Further attestation of Mary of Magdala and her role among some early Christians is provided by the gnostic, apocryphal Gospel of Mary Magdalene which survives in two 3rd century Greek fragments and a longer 5th century translation into Coptic.

Karen King of Harvard Divinity School has observed, "The confrontation of Mary with Peter, a scenario also found in The Gospel of Thomas, Pistis Sophia, and The Greek Gospel of the Egyptians, reflects some of the tensions in second-century Christianity. Peter and Andrew represent orthodox positions that deny the validity of esoteric revelation and reject the authority of women to teach." (introduction, The Nag Hammadi Library) Mary Magdalene appears with more frequency than other women in the canonical Gospels and is shown as being a close follower of Jesus. Mary's presence at the Crucifixion and Jesus' tomb, while hardly conclusive, is at least consistent with the role of grieving wife and widow. The idea that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus was popularized by books like The Jesus Scroll (1972), Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982), The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (1991), The Woman with the Alabaster Jar (1993), Bloodline of the Holy Grail: The Hidden Lineage of Jesus Revealed (1996), and The Da Vinci Code (2003)

Jefferson_Bible
Fathers of NeoPlatonism
Ammonius Saccas (birth unknown death ca. 265 AD) is a founder of Neoplatonism and the teacher of Plotinus. Little is known of the teacher other than both Christians (see Eusebius, Jerome, and Origen) and pagans (see Porphyry and Plotinus) claim him a teacher and founder of the Neoplatonic system. Porphyry stated in On the One School of Plato and Aristotle, that Ammonius' view was that the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle were in harmony. Eusebius and Jerome claimed him as a Christian until his death, whereas Porphyry claimed he had renounced Christianity and embrace pagan philosophy.
Plotinus
Plotinus (Greek: Πλωτῖνος) (ca. 205–270) was a major Egyptian[4] philosopher of the ancient world who is widely considered the father of Neoplatonism. Much of our biographical information about him comes from Porphyry's preface to his edition of Plotinus' Enneads. While he was himself influenced by the teachings of classical Greek, Persian and Indian philosophy and Egyptian theology,[5] his metaphysical writings later inspired numerous Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics over the centuries. Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent "One", containing no division, multiplicity or distinction; likewise it is beyond all categories of being and non-being. The concept of "being" is derived by us from the objects of human experience, and is an attribute of such objects, but the infinite, transcendent One is beyond all such objects, and therefore is beyond the concepts that we derive from them. The One "cannot be any existing thing", and cannot be merely the sum of all such things (compare the Stoic doctrine of disbelief in non-material existence), but "is prior to all existents".
Porphyry
Porphyry (Greek: Πορφύριος, c. A.D. 233– c. 309) was a Syrian[4] Neoplatonist philosopher. He wrote widely on astrology, religion, philosophy, and musical theory. He produced a biography of his teacher, Plotinus. He is important in the history of mathematics because of his Life of Pythagoras, and his commentary on Euclid's Elements which was used by Pappus when he wrote his own commentary. [1] Porphyry is also known as an opponent of Christianity and defender of Paganism; of his Adversus Christianos (Against the Christians) in 15 books, only fragments remain. He famously said, "The Gods have proclaimed Christ to have been most pious, but the Christians are a confused and vicious sect."
Iamblichus
Iamblichus, also known as Iamblichus Chalcidensis, (ca. 245 - ca. 325, Greek: Ιάμβλιχος) was a Syrian[4] neoplatonist philosopher who determined the direction taken by later Neoplatonic philosophy, and perhaps western philosophical religions themselves. He is perhaps best known for his compendium on Pythagorean philosophy. In Iamblichus' system the realm of divinities stretched from the original One down to material nature itself, where soul in fact descended into matter and became "embodied" as human beings. The world is thus peopled by a crowd of superhuman beings influencing natural events and possessing and communicating knowledge of the future, and who are all accessible to prayers and offerings. Iamblichus had salvation as his final goal (see henosis). The embodied soul was to return to divinity by performing certain rites, or theurgy, literally, 'divine-working'. Some translate this as "magic", but the modern connotations of the term do not exactly match what Iamblichus had in mind, which is more along the lines of religious ritual.
Proclus
Proclus Lycaeus (February 8, 412 – April 17, 485), surnamed "The Successor" or "diadochos" (Greek Πρόκλος ὁ Διάδοχος Próklos ho Diádokhos), was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Greek philosophers (see Damascius). His set forth one of the most elaborate, complex, and fully developed Neoplatonic systems. The particular characteristic of Proclus' system is his insertion of a level of individual ones, called henads between the One itself and the divine Intellect, which is the second principle. The henads are beyond being, like the One itself, but they stand at the head of chains of causation (seirai or taxeis) and in some manner give to these chains their particular character. They are also identified with the traditional Greek gods, so one henad might be Apollo and be the cause of all things apollonian, while another might be Helios and be the cause of all sunny things. The henads serve both to protect the One itself from any hint of multiplicity, and to draw up the rest of the universe towards the One, by being a connecting, intermediate stage between absolute unity and determinate multiplicity.
 

Neoplatonism,  Gnosticism & Atheism

 

The idea that genuine knowledge requires us to penetrate the veils of illusion goes back two and a half millennium to Plato. How we can make any sense of the famous Myth of the Cave, which seems to identify reality with the unchanging and the eternal.

 


Gnosticism is a term created by modern scholars to describe a collection of religious groups, many of which thought of themselves as Christians, which were active in the first few centuries AD.[1] There has been considerable scholarly controversy about exactly which groups to describe with this term. Sometimes it is used narrowly to refer only to religious groups such as Sethians and Archontics who may have used it as a self-designation. Sometimes it is used a little more broadly to include groups similar to Sethians, or influenced by them such as followers of Basilides or Valentinius and later the Paulicians. Sometimes it is even used broadly enough to cover all groups which heavily emphasized gnosis, in which case it would probably include Hermetics and Neoplatonists as well. One distinct, if questionable, attempt to define Gnosticism since Nag Hammadi has been to limit it to groups that used the term gnostikoi, even though early Platonists and Ebionites also used the term and are not considered to be Gnostics.

Contention

Scholarship on Gnosticism has been greatly advanced by the discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi texts, which shed light on some of the more puzzling comments by Plotinus and Porphyry on the Gnostics. More importantly, the texts help to distinguish different kinds of early Gnostics. It now seems clear that "Sethian" and "Valentinian"[2] gnostics attempted "an effort towards conciliation, even affiliation" with late antique philosophy [3], and were rebuffed by some Neoplatonists, including Plotinus. Plotinus considered his opponents "heretics"[4],"imbeciles" and "blasphemers" [5] taking all their truths over from Plato[6]. Coupled with the idea expressed by Plotinus that the approach to the infinite energy which is the One or Monad can not be though knowing or not knowing. [7][8] Although there has been dispute as to which gnostics Plotinus was referring to it appears they were indeed Sethian.

 

Neoplatonists
Plotinus (Greek: Πλωτῖνος) (ca. AD 205–270) was a major philosopher of the ancient world who is widely considered the father of Neoplatonism. Much of our biographical information about him comes from Porphyry's preface to his edition of Plotinus' Enneads. His metaphysical writings have inspired centuries of Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics.

 

Christopher Hitchens

 Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair and author of the book, "god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everythin

The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has — from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness.The sharp-tongued British-born critic and provocateur called Mother Theresa "the Ghoul of Calcutta." He was early and loud in denouncing "Islamic fascism."
He documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope’s awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix. He was named one of the world’s “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” by Foreign Policy and Britain’s Prospect. Christopher Hitchens lives in Washington, D.C.
and became an American citizen. in 2007
"That's part of what I'm criticizing in this book -- the presumption that faith is a virtue." Christopher Hitchens

"It's only in the United States that there's a constitution that separates the church from the state." Christopher Hitchens

"It's part of a change in the zeitgeist. I think there're a lot of people, very great number of people ... who are fed up with religious bullying and coercion and clerical lecturing and with the damage being done to civilization by faith. They want to find a way of pushing back at it." Christopher Hitchens

"Religion comes from the terrified infancy of our species. ... [It] is innately coercive as well as innately incoherent. Because it's man-made, there's an infinite variety of it for them all, and these sects proceed to quarrel among themselves, religious warfare having being one of the great retardances of civilization of the time we've been alive and very much to this day." Christopher Hitchens

"You can believe in God, be a deist, as Thomas Jefferson was for example, ... but not believe in religion. ... Religion means that you claim that you know God's mind." Christopher Hitchens

"I'm not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful."


I leave it to the faithful to burn each other’s churches and mosques and synagogues, which they can always be relied upon to do. When I go to the mosque, I take off my shoes. When I go to the synagogue, I cover my head.


Faith is the surrender of the mind; it's the surrender of reason, it's the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It's our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, Season 3, Episode 5: "Holier Than Thou" {2005-05-23}

  I have been called arrogant myself in my time, and hope to earn the title again, but to claim that I am privy to the secrets of the universe and its creator — that's beyond my conceit. I therefore have no choice but to find something suspect even in the humblest believer. Even the most humane and compassionate of the monotheisms and polytheisms are complicit in this quiet and irrational authoritarianism: they proclaim us, in Fulke Greville's unforgettable line, "Created sick — Commanded to be well." And there are totalitarian insinuations to back this up if its appeal should fail. Christians, for example, declare me redeemed by a human sacrifice that occurred thousands of years before I was born. I didn't ask for it, and would willingly have foregone it, but there it is: I'm claimed and saved whether I wish it or not. And if I refuse the unsolicited gift? Well, there are still some vague mutterings about an eternity of torment for my ingratitude. That is somewhat worse than a Big Brother state, because there could be no hope of its eventually passing away.

In any case, I find something repulsive about the idea of vicarious redemption. I would not throw my numberless sins onto a scapegoat and expect them to pass from me; we rightly sneer at the barbaric societies that practice this unpleasantness in its literal form. There's no moral value in the vicarious gesture anyway. As Thomas Paine pointed out, you may if you wish take on a another man's debt, or even to take his place in prison. That would be self-sacrificing. But you may not assume his actual crimes as if they were your own; for one thing you did not commit them and might have died rather than do so; for another this impossible action would rob him of individual responsibility. So the whole apparatus of absolution and forgiveness strikes me as positively immoral, while the concept of revealed truth degrades the concept of free intelligence by purportedly relieving us of the hard task of working out the ethical principles for ourselves.

You can see the same immorality or amorality in the Christian view of guilt and punishment. There are only two texts, both of them extreme and mutually contradictory. The Old Testament injunction is the one to exact an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (it occurs in a passage of perfectly demented detail about the exact rules governing mutual ox-goring; you should look it up in its context [Exodus 21]). The second is from the Gospels and says that only those without sin should cast the first stone. The first is a moral basis for capital punishment and other barbarities; the second is so relativistic and "nonjudgmental" that it would not allow the prosecution of Charles Manson. Our few notions of justice have had to evolve despite these absurd codes of ultra vindictiveness and ultracompassion.

Judaism has some advantages over Christianity in that, for example, it does not proselytise — except among Jews — and it does not make the cretinous mistake of saying that the Messiah has already made his appearance. However, along with Islam and Christianity, it does insist that some turgid and contradictory and sometimes evil and mad texts, obviously written by fairly unexceptional humans, are in fact the word of god. I think that the indispensible condition of any intellectual liberty is the realisation that there is no such thing.
 


"Homer, Ovid, Horace, and Virgil treat complex ethical conflicts better than the Old and New Testament."



 

"Hitchens talks about all the evil 'religion' does but has no arguments against my god"

Reverend Al Sharpton

I liked and enjoyed this book, and recommend it to anybody who is interested in the subject. Like everything Christopher writes, it is often elegant, frequently witty and never stupid or boring.

I also think it is wrong, mostly in the way that it blames faith for so many bad things and gives it no credit for any of the good it may have done. I think it misunderstands religious people and their aims and desires...

It is astonishing, in one so set against the idea of design or authority in the universe, how often he appeals to mysterious intuitions and "innate" knowledge of this kind, and uses religious language such as "awesome" – in awe of whom or what?

Or "mysterious". What is the mystery, if all is explained by science, the telescope and the microscope? He even refers to "conscience" and makes frequent thunderous denunciations of various evil actions. .........

He even suggests that the atheist Soviet tyranny was itself a form of religion. You can’t win against this sort of circular absolutism. Yet he has this absurdly backwards. Religious and unbelieving people have both done dreadful things, and the worst of them have committed their murders and their tortures in the belief that they were doing good.

Nothing is proved by either side in this argument, by pointing to the mountains of skulls piled up by evil atheists, and evil theists. What they have in common is that they are human, and capable of the sin of pride.....

We are in the process – encouraged by Christopher – of abolishing religion, and so of abolishing conscience, too.

It is one of his favourite jibes that a world ruled by faith is like North Korea, a place where all is known and all is ordered.

On the contrary, North Korea is the precise opposite of a land governed by conscience.

It is a country governed by men who do not believe in God or conscience, where nobody can be trusted to make his own choices, and where the State decides for the people what is right and what is wrong.

And it is the ultimate destination of atheist thought.

PETER HITCHENS [brother of Christopher]

He is also occasionally guilty of crassness. For example: “In the very recent past we have seen the Church of Rome befouled by its complicity in the unpardonable sin of child rape, or as it might be phrased in Latin form, no child's behind left.” Hitchens squanders a lot of trust with that vulgar lapse: readers suddenly catch sight of him chortling at his desk and it’s not pretty, or funny, and it impugns his seriousness elsewhere.

Matt Buchanan, in the course of an otherwise rave review in the Sydney Morning Herald

"Do yourself a favor and skip the Dawkins and Harris; they're smug, turgid, and boring, with all the human feeling of a tax return. Read Hitchens instead. Test your faith severely or find a champion for your feelings, but read Hitchens. It's a tendentious delight, a caustic and even brilliant book. And with the title alone, he takes his life in his hands, which right there has got to be some proof of his thesis. And so, thank God for Christopher Hitchens."

 
Esquire

Richard Dawkins review of the Chris Hitchens book tour on timesonline.co.uk

YouTube - Christopher Hitchens -- Religion

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens

At the same time, there is probably no atheist (be it a Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, or Hindu atheist) who has never wondered about whether there is more beyond us. Or even just a question mark. Philosophical discussions between believers and unbelievers have never been more necessary than now when religion is being used so terribly as a pretext (or cause?) for violence. Hitchens's book reminds us that for such discussions to take place, there has to be some disarmament on both sides. The members of the religious camp have to cease treating secularists as less moral than themselves—the atheists have to stop thinking that believers are less intelligent.

"Religion ends and philosophy begins, just as alchemy ends and chemistry begins and astrology ends and astronomy begins."
--- Christopher Hutchins
The God Delusion
 richarddawkins.net
A Web site of "atheist celebrities" lists, among others, Woody Allen, Richard Avedon, Marlon Brando, Jodie Foster, Jack Germond, Christopher Hitchens, Jack Nicholson, Penn and Teller, and Gore Vidal.
Agnostic
An atheist, like a Christian, holds that we can know whether or not there is a God. … The agnostic suspends judgment, saying that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or denial.
 
What would Jesus Do?
Portrait of Jesus by Rembrandt - Jesus Without The Miracles: Thomas Jefferson's Bible and the Gospel of Thomas ERIK REECE / Harper's Magazine v.311, n.1867 1dec2005

Jesus Without The Miracles

Thomas Jefferson's Bible and the Gospel of Thomas 

ERIK REECE / Harper's Magazine v.311, n.1867 1dec2005

The of Gospel of Thomas presents a portrait of Jesus so at odds with the canonical Gospels, if one wants to argue, as I do, for the primacy of this version of Christianity, then one must date Thomas closer to its source—the talking Jesus—than any of the other four Gospels.

it is time we inverted Pascal's famous wager to say not that we should believe in heaven because we have nothing to lose but rather that we should believe first in this world, because in losing it we may lose everything. And if we can somehow live justly, modestly, with generosity and compassion, we have everything to gain. Perhaps we do not have to wait for the kingdom of God.
 
source

GOSPEL OF MARY MAGDALENE
Perhaps no figure in biblical scholarship has been the subject of more controversy and debate than Mary Magdalene. Also known as Miriam of Magdala Mary Magdalene was considered by the apostle John to be the founder of Christianity because she was the first witness to the Resurrection. In most theological studies she has been depicted as a reformed prostitute the redeemed sinner who exemplifies Christ's mercy.
During a recent ecumenical gathering, a secretary rushed in shouting, "The building is on fire!"
The METHODISTS gathered in the corner and prayed.
The BAPTISTS cried, "Where is the water?"
The QUAKERS quietly praised God for the blessings that fire brings.
The LUTHERANS posted a notice on the door declaring the fire was evil.
The ROMAN CATHOLICS passed the plate to cover the damage.
The JEWS posted symbols on the doors hoping the fire would pass.
The FUNDAMENTALISTS proclaimed, "It's the vengeance of God!"
The EPISCOPALIANS formed a procession and marched out.
The CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS concluded there was no fire.
The PRESBYTERIANS appointed a chairperson who was to appoint a committee to look into the matter and submit a report.
AND the UNITARIANS shouted "everyman for himself"
 
 
 

3rd Century BC

 2nd Century BC

 1st Century BC

 1st Century AD

 2nd Century AD

 
 
 
Stoicism @ plato.stanford.edu
The works two of the later Roman Stoics are available as e-texts:

 

 
To live in harmony with nature and the universe is to live the good life. Our highest human nature –  is as essentially rational, reflective and thoughtful beings – these are manifestations of the one universal spirit.  A Stoics should live in brotherly love and readily help one another

Stoic ethics taught freedom from passion by following reason. But the Stoics did not seek to extinguish emotions, only to avoid emotional troubles by developing clear judgment and inner calm through diligent practice of logic, reflection, and concentration.

 Stoic philosophy is often contrasted with Epicureanism. Christianity shares many concepts with Stoicism while rejecting other major tenets


The Stoics provided a unified account of the world, consisting of formal logic, materialistic physics and naturalistic ethics. God is known called ‘fate.’ It is important to realise that the Stoic God does not craft its world in accordance with its plan from the outside, as the demiurge in Plato's Timaeus is described as doing. Rather, the history of the universe is determined by God's activity internal to it, shaping it with its differentiated characteristics. The biological conception of God as a kind of living heat or seed from which things grow seems to be fully intended.

 Later Roman Stoics focused on promoting a life in harmony within the universe, over which one has no direct control. Seneca and Epictetus, emphasise the doctrines (already central to the early Stoics' teachings) that the sage is utterly immune to misfortune and that virtue is sufficient for happiness. Stoicism became the foremost popular philosophy among the educated elite in the Greco-Roman Empire.

Criticisms of the Stoic theory of the passions in antiquity focused on the wisdom of emotions. The first was a Platonic view asking whether the passions were, in fact, activities of the rational soul. The Aristotelian tradition while making judgment a component in emotions,  argued that the happy life required the moderation of the passions, not their complete extinction

 Modern philosophy, contrary to original Stoicism, often associates Stoicism with determinism, as opposed to the Arminian doctrine of free will.

Stoicism as a philosophical movement in its own right nearly disappears after the second century although its influence among key thinkers continued.

 
 
A primary aspect of Stoicism involves improving the individual’s spiritual well-being: "Virtue consists in a will which is in agreement with Nature." This principle also applies to the realm of interpersonal relationships; "to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy", and to accept even slaves as "equals of other men, because all alike are sons of God."
 
Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason (logos) . Stoicism's prime directives are virtue, reason, and natural law. Stoics believe that, by mastering passions and emotions, it is possible to find equilibrium in oneself and in the world.


 

 
Stoicism first appeared in Athens in the
Zeno of Citium
Zeno of Citium

born about 336 B.C., at Citium on the island of Cyprus; Zeno dies about 254. He seems to have followed his father in commercial activity. Coming to Athens, he learned philosophy and became a disciple of Crates the Cynic.

 Hellenistic period around 301 BC and was introduced by Zeno of Citium. He taught in the famous Stoa Poikile (the painted porch)  in the Agora at Athens decorated with mural paintings, where the members of the school congregated, and their lectures were held.  Central to his teachings was the law of morality being the same as nature. During its initial phase, Stoicism was generally seen as a back-to-nature movement critical of superstitions and taboos. The philosophical detachment also encompassed pain and misfortune, good or bad experiences, as well as life or death. Zeno often challenged prohibitions, traditions and customs. Another tenet was the emphasis placed on love for all other beings.

Zeno's ideas developed from those of the Cynics, whose founding father, Antisthenes, had been a disciple of Socrates. Zeno's most influential follower was Chrysippus, who was responsible for the molding of what we now call Stoicism. Borrowing from the Cynics, the foundation of Stoic ethics is that good lies in the state of the soul itself; in wisdom and self-control. Stoic ethics stressed the rule: "Follow where reason leads." One must therefore strive to be free of the passions, bearing in mind that the ancient meaning of passion was "anguish" or "suffering", that is, "passively" reacting to external events — somewhat different to the modern use of the word.

God is not separate from the world; He is the soul of the world, and each of us contains a part of the Divine Fire. All things are parts of one single system, which is called Nature; the individual life is good when it is in harmony with Nature. In one sense, every life is in harmony with Nature, since it is such as Nature’s laws have caused it to be; but in another sense a human life is only in harmony with Nature when the individual will is directed to ends which are among those of Nature. Virtue consists in a will which is in agreement with Nature. The wicked, though perforce they obey God’s law, do so involuntarily; in the simile of Cleanthes, they are like a dog tied to a cart, and compelled to go wherever it goes. In the life of an individual man, virtue is the sole good; such things as health, happiness, possessions, are of no account. Since virtue resides in the will, everything really good or bad in a man’s life depends only upon himself. He may be poor, but what of it? He can still be virtuous. He may be sentenced to death, but he can die nobly, like Socrates. Other men have power only over externals; virtue, which alone is truly good, rests entirely with the individual. Therefore every man has perfect freedom, provided he emancipates himself from mundane desires.
 




 

Metaphysics

a metaphysical statement usually implies an idea about the world or about the universe, which may seem reasonable but is ultimately not empirically verifiable.

The Stoics conceived of the universe as a great living organism, composed of soul and body, both of a material nature. The body (earth and water) represents the passive element; the soul (fire and air) represents the active element. The soul of the universe, although of a material nature, has all the divine attributes: God is immanent in the world (pantheism). God is conceived of as Heraclitean Fire which contains the germs of all things and actuates their becoming. Reason and providence are the coordinators of all things unto good. Hence everything that happens is the best that can happen (optimism). What we call evil is ordained for the attainment of the universal good of nature and consequently is not a real evil.

Every activity is reduced to movement and finds its root in mechanical necessity. What happens must happen and it is not possible for it to happen otherwise (Democritean fatalism).

The human soul is a spark of the original Fire, God; but as it is of a material nature it is submitted to the universal laws of fatal necessity. The soul alone enjoys a temporary afterlife until such time as the great palingenesis (rebirth) of the world, which will resolve everything into the primitive Fire. Then will begin another cycle in the form of the descending and ascending stairway of Heraclitus (the law of eternal return).

In such a concept there is no place for liberty -- either for God or for man. Everything happens according to the inexorable laws of movement, whether in God or in man. This physics, departing from the visible world, and speaking of itself as the root of all things, is at bottom a metaphysics.

 


 

Christianity
Although Stoicism was considered by many Fathers of the Church to have been pagan in nature, many elements of Stoicism were held in common with Christianity. Christianity employs much of the same terminology as Stoicism, as in the terms "logos", "virtue", "Spirit", and "conscience".The parallels go beyond terminology, as each also assert an inner freedom in the face of the external world, a belief in human kinship with God, and a sense of the innate depravity--or "persistent evil"--of humankind These commonalities are offset by stark differences, as for instance in the personalization of God as the world-creating entity in Christian thought, compared to the equating of God with the totality of the world in Stoic thought. Stoicism also differed in its positing no beginning or end to the universe, and no continued individual existence beyond death.
Contrast with the Epicureans
The Stoics, like the Epicureans, make God material. But while the Epicureans think the gods are too busy being blessed and happy to be bothered with the governance of the universe, the Stoic God is immanent throughout the whole of creation and directs its development down to the smallest detail.
Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill... I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together...

Meditations, Marcus Aurelius Book II, part 1:

Roman political figures
Roman political figures associated with Stoicism include Cato the Younger and Scipio Aemilianus (though some of the claims made in earlier scholarship about Greek philosophy and culture and the Scipionic Circle are now regarded with some suspicion). Marcus Brutus (the friend of Cicero who took part in the murder of Julius Caesar) professed Stoicism but was not above engaging in loan-sharking (hence the joke that he was a man of high principles and even higher interest). Pompey thought it sufficiently important to look in on the Stoic philosopher Panaetius of Rhodes in his comings and goings. Octavian (who became Augustus) had a Stoic tutor. Among the Roman emperors, the Stoic philosopher Seneca was the advisor of Nero. Helvidius Priscus advertised himself as a Stoic. When he rather unwisely criticised the Emperor Vespasian in the Senate, he was executed and all the philosophers were excluded from Rome as trouble makers. Under Domitian, they were banished from all of Italy. Clearly the worst of the Roman emperors had no use for people who did not regard death as the greatest of evils! The hostility of the Empire did not last long. Hadrian (117-138) was a friend of Greek philosophy and saw to it that his relative and his successor Antoninus' heir, Marcus Aurelius, had an education which included it.
"like a dog tied to a cart"
The Stoic ethic espouses a deterministic perspective, in regards to those who lack Stoic virtue; Cleanthes once opined that the wicked man is "like a dog tied to a cart, and compelled to go wherever it goes." A Stoic of virtue, by contrast, would amend his will to suit the world and remain, in the words of Epictetus, "sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy." For positing a "completely autonomous" individual will, and at the same time a universe that is "a rigidly deterministic single whole".
 
The word "stoic" now commonly refers to someone indifferent to pain, pleasure, grief, or joy.
 
 
 
 
Major Empires of Anatolia
BEFORE 700 BCE
Akkadian Empire ca. 2400-ca. 2150 BCE
Assyrian trading colonies ca. 1950-1750 BCE
Kingdom of Ahhiyawa(disputed) ca. 1700-1300 BCE
Kingdom of Kizzuwatna ca. 1650 BCE-1450 BCE
Hittites ca. 1680 BCE-1220 BCE
  Old Kingdom
  Middle Kingdom
  New Kingdom
Neo-Hittite Kingdoms ca. 1200-800 BCE
Phrygian Kingdom ca. 1200 BCE-700 BCE
Troy I-VIII ca. 3000 BCE-700 BCE
700 BCE TO THE ROMAN CONQUEST
Lydian Kingdom ca. 685-547 BCE
Achaemenid Empire of Persia ca. 559-331 BCE
Kingdom of Alexander the Great 334-ca. 301 BCE
Seleucid Empire ca. 305-64 BCE
Kingdom of Pontus ca. 302-64 BCE
Attalid Dynasty of Pergamon 282-129 BCE
Kingdom of Armenia 190 BCE-428
ROMAN CONQUEST
The Roman Republic 133-27 BCE
The Roman Empire 27 BCE-330 CE
RISE AND FALL OF THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE
The Byzantine Empire 330-1453
The Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm 1077-1307
Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia 1078-1375
Artuqid dynasty 1101-1409
The Empire of Trebizond 1204-1461
The Empire of Nicaea 1204-1261
The Ilkhanid Dynasty ca. 1256-1355
OTTOMAN EMPIRE AND THE TURKISH REPUBLIC
The Rise of the Ottoman Empire 1299-1453
The Growth of the Ottoman Empire 1453-1683
The Stagnation of the Ottoman Empire 1683-1827
The Decline of the Ottoman Empire 1828-1908
The Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire 1908-1922
The Republic of Turkey 1922-present

Saint Anatolia
Geography of Turkey
Geology of Turkey
 
 
The Early Life and Background of Paul the Apostle @ biblicaltheology.com
Rev. Quency E. Wallace
 
 
 
 

 

 

The general population of Tarsus in Paul's day was over a quarter of a million people. People came to Tarsus from all over the Roman empire to live and work in this prosperous city. Tarsus had become a rich city mainly because of trade. Merchants from Tarsus were well known throughout the Roman empire. Tarsian merchants were noted for their love of their craft, and their almost fanatic zeal in their monetary investments in their city's infrastructure. The merchants of Tarsus invested in good roads, education, public health and city beautification projects. One of the largest sources of income for merchants was the Tarsus mountains, about twenty five miles north of the city. The Tarsus Mountains were rich in minerals and lumber. The mountain slopes were populated by huge herds of black goats. From the hair of the goats a strong cloth was woven, called cilicium. Cilicium was used for many purposes, such as cloaks, floor coverings, house partitions, bags to transport corpses, and tents. Throughout the Roman world, Tarsians were known for the quality of their tents. Historian John Pollock had the following to say about the popularity of tents from Tarsian craftsmen: "The black tents of Tarsus were used by caravans, nomads, and armies all over Asia Minor and Syria"

during the period of Alexander the Great, the city was the most influential in Asia Minor. Alexander the Great brought Hellenization (Grecian thought, influence, and customs) with him when he took over the city and all of Asia Minor. After Alexander's death, one of his generals Seleucis took over the region that included Tarsus, proclaimed himself king and established the Selucidic dynasty that lasted several hundred years. One of the kings in that dynasty, Antiochus Epiphanes, fell in love with the city, and recognizing how important the city was to his kingdom, gave the citizens virtually anything they wanted. In 170 B.C.E. the citizens of the city asked Antiochus if they could govern themselves without outside influence other than Antiochus' own, and he granted them their request. Antiochus gave Tarsus the status of a Greek city-state in 170 B.C.E. In 64 B.C.E., Rome defeated the Selucidic dynasty and Tarsus became part of the Roman empire. The Romans, who understood that for a hundred years Tarsian citizens had enjoyed privileged status because of their importance in trade, followed the example left by their predecessors. The Romans made Tarsus the capital city of the Roman province of Cilica, and gave the city special status. Historian Robert Picirilli had the following to say concerning the special status given to Tarsus by the Roman senate: "It was also awarded, by the Roman senate, the privileged standing of Libera Civitas."4 The term Libera Civitas simply means "free city." The Romans, following the example of the previous Seleucidic rulers, allowed Tarsus to govern herself separately from the provincial government. This meant that Tarsus was exempt from paying any taxes to Rome, and all Tarsian merchants were exempt from all duty taxes. Under Roman rule, the status of the city enhanced five-fold, and the city's population increased dramatically. 

Tarsus was widely known in antiquity as a "university city," as well as a city of commerce in Paul's day. Educators from all over the Roman empire came to teach at the schools of learning at Tarsus. Grecian, Egyptian, Roman, African, and many other scholars came, bringing their learning and culture with them. Tarsian merchants and others invested heavily in the education of Tarsian citizens, and no expense was spared in the recruitment of top educators from all over the empire. Historian Robert H. Gundry had the following to say concerning Greco-Roman education and the university at Tarsus: 

"Greco-Roman education was liberal in its scope. Slaves supervised boys in their earlier years by giving them their first lessons and then leading them to and from private schools until they graduated into adulthood with a great deal of ceremony. As young men, they could then attend universities at Athens, Rhodes, Tarsus, Alexandria, and other places to study philosophy, rhetoric, law, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, geography, and botany" (italics mine).5

It becomes immediately obvious that Tarsus was an ancient "ivy league" university, one in which students could receive a top flight education. This university was known to have intellectual leanings toward "Stoicism," and one of it's most famous graduates was the personal teacher and tutor of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. Moreover, the Roman Historian Strabo once ranked Tarsus above Athens and Alexandria as an intellectual community. Historian Howard Clark Kee had the following to say concerning this: "Strabo, the historical geographer of the period, ranked Tarsus even above Athens and Alexandria as a center of intellectual life. Athenodorus, the Stoic teacher of Caesar Augustus, had come from Tarsus."6 Historian F.F. Bruce also mentions that the Stoic teacher Athenodorus returned to Tarsus in 15 B.C.E. to teach, and become involved in local politics: "Athenodorus, who could number the Emperor Augustus among his pupils, returned to his native Tarsus in 15 B.C. and reformed the civic administration."7 It is within the context of this intellectually stimulating university community that Paul is born, unquestionably being exposed to the university's dominant Stoic philosophy while growing up in Tarsus. Historian Howard Clark Kee makes this speculation about the influence of Stoic philosophy on Paul: 

 

 
"Tarsus on the river Cydnus was situated at the foot of the wooded slopes of Mount Taurus, and it guarded the great pass in that range between the Phrygian tribes and the Phoenician tribes. It was a city half-Greek and half-Asiatic, and had from the earliest days been famed for ship-building and commerce. Mount Taurus supplied it with timber, and around the mouth of its river, as it widens into a quiet lake, were the ancient dockyards which had made the ships of Tarshish proverbial with the Hebrew writers. Its merchants, enriched by industry and enlightened by foreign trade, had ornamented their city with public buildings, and established a school of Greek learning. Its philosophers, however, were more known as travelling teachers than as scholars. No learned men came to Tarsus; but it sent forth its rhetoricians in its own ships, who spread themselves as teachers over the neighbouring coasts. In Rome there were more professors of rhetoric, oratory, and poetry from Tarsus than from Alexandria or Athens. Athenodorus Cordylion, the stoic, taught Cato; Athenodorus, the son of Sandon, taught Cæsar; Nestor a little later taught the young Marcellus; while Demetrius was one of the first men of learning who sailed to the distant island of Britain. This school, in the next generation, sent forth the apostle Paul, who taught Christianity throughout the same coasts.

Professor Angelo S. Rappaport

 

 
If a citizen of Tarsus was from a family of social standing of four generations or more, they were generally granted citizenship status. Paul's father more than likely inherited citizenship from his father, and Paul inherited citizenship from his father. Roman citizenship had many advantages. If a Roman citizen was arrested by local authorities, they were automatically entitled to a fair trial. If they felt the outcome was not fair, they could appeal directly to the emperor for judgment. Local Tarsian citizens who did not have Roman citizenship did not have the same privileges. Roman citizens could also serve in government posts, vote in Roman affairs, join the Roman legion, and become members of the senate. Anyone who was a citizen of Rome had a tremendous advantage as a resident of Tarsus. 

Paul was fluent in Koine Greek, a Greek tongue commonly spoken in his native city of Tarsus, as well as being fluent in Classical Greek, which indicated that he had been exposed to Greek learning at the university level.

Paul's reasoning sometimes resembles the Stoics' arguments. Both use rhetorical questions, short disconnected statements, an imaginary opponent to raise questions, and frequent illustrations drawn from athletics, building, and life in general. It is even possible to find phrases in Paul's teaching which could be taken to support Stoic doctrine; for example the statement that "all things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together " (Colossians 1:16-17)....Paul's letters also often reflect Stoic terminology - as when he describes morality in terms of what is "fitting" or "not fitting" (Colossians 3:18; Ephesians 5:3-4). No doubt Paul would know and sympathize with many Stoic ideals."13

     

  1. AUGUSTUS 31BC-AD14
  2. TIBERIUS 14-37 (POISONED)
  3. CALIGULA 37-41 (ASSASSINATED)
  4. CLAUDIUS 41-54 (POISONED)
  5. NERO 54-68 (SUICIDE)
  6. (GALBA 68-69,
  7. OTHO 69,
  8. VITELLIUS 69),
  9. VESPASIAN 69-79
  10. TITUS 79-81

 

A sardonyx cameo of Claudius.

 

Bookcover of I, Claudius
Bookcover of I, Claudius

 

Claudius has been represented several times in fiction, both in literature and in film and television. The most famous modern representation is in the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves, and the 1976 BBC television adaptation.
 

Graves's two books were the basis for a thirteen-part British television adaptation produced by the BBC. The series starred Derek Jacobi as Claudius, and was broadcast in 1976 on BBC2. It was a substantial critical success, and won several BAFTA awards. The series was later broadcast in the United States on Masterpiece Theatre in 1977.

Probably the most famous fictional representation of the Emperor Claudius were the books I, Claudius and Claudius the God (released in 1934 and 1935) by Robert Graves, which were both written in the first-person to give the reader the impression that they are Claudius' autobiography. Graves employed fictive artifice to suggest that they were recently discovered, genuine translations of Claudius' writings. To this end I, Claudius even includes a fictional account of his visit to an oracle, who predicted that the document would be rediscoved "nineteen hundred year or near" later. Claudius' extant letters, speeches, and sayings were incorporated into the text (mostly in the second book, Claudius the God) in order to add authenticity.

 

 

 
Claudius, as the author of a treatise on Augustus' religious reforms, felt himself in a good position to institute some of his own. He had strong opinions about the proper form for state religion. He refused the request of Alexandrian Greeks to dedicate a temple to his divinity, saying that only gods may choose new gods. He restored lost days to festivals and got rid of many extraneous celebrations added by Caligula. He reinstituted old observances and archaic language. Claudius was concerned with the spread of eastern mysteries within the city and searched for more Roman replacements. He emphasized the Eleusinian mysteries which had been practiced by so many during the Republic. He expelled foreign astrologers, and at the same time rehabilitated the old Roman soothsayers (known as haruspices) as a replacement. He was especially hard on Druidism, because of its incompatibility with the Roman state religion and its proselytizing activities. It is also reported that at one time he expelled the Jews from Rome, probably because the appearance of Christianity had caused unrest within the Jewish community.[39] Claudius opposed proselytizing in any religion, even in those regions where he allowed natives to worship freely. The results of all these efforts were recognized even by Seneca, who has an ancient Latin god defend Claudius in his satire.[40]
 
Reign January 24, 41–October 13, 54

Claudius performed the Secular games, marking the 800th anniversary of the founding of Rome. Augustus had performed the same games less than a century prior. Augustus' excuse was that the interval for the games was 110 years, not 100, but his date actually did not qualify under either reasoning. Claudius also presented naval battles to mark the attempted draining of the Fucine lake, as well as many other public games and shows.

Claudius' love life was unusual for an upper-class Roman of his day. As Edward Gibbon mentions, of the first fifteen emperors, "Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct"—the implication being that he was the only one not to take men or boys as lovers. Gibbon based this on Suetonius' factual statement that "He had a great passion for women, but had no interest in men."[54] Suetonius and the other ancient authors actually used this against Claudius. They accused him of being dominated by these same women and wives, of being uxorious, and of being a womanizer.

Claudius married four times. His first marriage, to Plautia Urgulanilla, occurred after two failed betrothals (The first was to his distant cousin Aemilia Lepida, but was broken for political reasons. The second was to Livia Medullina, which ended with the bride's sudden death on their wedding day). Urgulanilla was a relation of Livia's confidant Urgulania. During their marriage she gave birth to a son, Claudius Drusus. Unfortunately, Drusus died of asphyxiation in his early teens, shortly after becoming engaged to the daughter of Sejanus. Claudius later divorced Urgulanilla for adultery and on suspicion of murdering her sister-in-law Apronia. When Urgulanilla gave birth after the divorce, Claudius repudiated the baby girl, Claudia, as the father was one of his own freedmen. Soon after (possibly in 28), Claudius married Aelia Paetina, a relation of Sejanus. They had a daughter, Claudia Antonia. He later divorced her after the marriage became a political liability (although Leon (1948) suggests it may have been due to emotional and mental abuse by Aelia).

In 38 or early 39, Claudius married Valeria Messalina, who was his first cousin once removed and closely allied with Caligula's circle. Shortly thereafter, she gave birth to a daughter Claudia Octavia. A son, first named Tiberius Claudius Germanicus, and later known as

  Messalina holding the infant Britannicus.
 

Messalina holding the infant Britannicus.

 Britannicus, was born just after Claudius' accession. This marriage ended in tragedy. The ancient historians allege that Messalina was a nymphomaniac who was regularly unfaithful to Claudius — Tacitus states she went so far as to compete with a prostitute to see who could have the most sexual partners in a night[55] — and manipulated his policies in order to amass wealth. In 48, Messalina married her lover Gaius Silius in a public ceremony while Claudius was at Ostia. Sources disagree as to whether or not she divorced the emperor first, and whether the intention was to usurp the throne. Scramuzza, in his biography, suggests that Silius may have convinced Messalina that Claudius was doomed, and the union was her only hope of retaining rank and protecting her children.[56] The historian Tacitus suggests that Claudius's ongoing term as Censor may have prevented him from noticing the affair before it reached such a critical point.[57] Whatever the case, the result was the execution of Silius, Messalina, and most of her circle. Claudius made the Praetorians promise to kill him if he ever married again.

Agrippina and Nero.
Agrippina and Nero.

Despite this declaration, Claudius did marry once more. The ancient sources tell that his freedmen pushed three candidates, Caligula's former wife Lollia Paulina, Claudius's divorced second wife Aelia, and Claudius's niece Agrippina the younger. According to Suetonius, Agrippina won out through her feminine wiles.[58] The truth is likely more political. The coup attempt by Silius probably made Claudius realize the weakness of his position as a member of the Claudian but not the Julian family. This weakness was compounded by the fact that he did not have an obvious adult heir, Britannicus being just a boy. Agrippina was one of the few remaining descendants of Augustus, and her son Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (later known as Nero) was one of the last males of the imperial family. Future coup attempts could rally around the pair, and Agrippina was already showing such ambition. It has been suggested in recent times that the Senate may have pushed for the marriage to end the feud between the Julian and Claudian branches.[59] This feud dated back to Agrippina's mother's actions against Tiberius after the death of her husband Germanicus, actions which Tiberius had gladly punished. In any case, Claudius accepted Agrippina, and later adopted the newly mature Nero as his son.

Nero was made joint heir with the underage Britannicus, married to Octavia and heavily promoted. This was not as unusual as it seems to people acquainted with modern hereditary monarchies. Barbara Levick notes that Augustus had named his grandson Postumus Agrippa and his stepson Tiberius joint heirs.[60] Tiberius named his great-nephew Caligula joint heir with his grandson Tiberius Gemellus. Adoption of adults or near adults was an old tradition in Rome when a suitable natural adult heir was unavailable. This was the case during Britannicus' minority. S.V. Oost suggests that Claudius looked to adopt one of his sons-in-law to protect his own reign.[61] Possible usurpers could note that there was no adult to replace him. Faustus Sulla, married to his daughter Antonia, was only descended from Octavia and Antony on one side — not close enough to the imperial family to prevent doubts (that didn't stop others from making him the object of a coup attempt against Nero a few years later). Besides which, he was the half brother of Messalina, and at this time those wounds were still fresh. Nero was more popular with the general public as the grandson of Germanicus and the direct descendant of Augustus

Despite the general avoidance of the imperatorial era, he penned a defense of Cicero against the charges of Asinius Gallus. Modern historians have used this to determine both the nature of his politics and of the aborted chapters of his civil war history. He proposed a reform of the Latin alphabet by the addition of three new letters, two of which served the function of the modern letters W and Y. He officially instituted the change during his censorship, but they did not survive his reign. Claudius also tried to revive the old custom of putting dots between different words (Classical Latin was written with no spacing). Finally, he wrote an eight-volume autobiography that Suetonius describes as lacking in taste.[63] Since Claudius (like most of the members of his dynasty) heavily criticized his predecessors and relatives in surviving speeches,[64] it is not hard to imagine the nature of Suetonius' charge.

People like Robert Hughes and Gore Vidal like to compare our society today to Rome just before the collapse. But we at Carnaval.com prefer such talk to refer to the aftermath of the collapse which is the transition or renewal.
Cover of I, Claudius DVD
Cover of I, Claudius DVD

 

Suetonius states that a total of 35 senators and 300 knights were executed for offenses during Claudius' reign.[36] Needless to say, the necessary responses to these conspiracies could not have helped Senate-emperor relations.
Image:Claudiustemple.jpg
Model of ancient Rome showing the Temple of Claudius, built by Vespasian. The Aqua Claudia aqueduct runs next to it, and the Colosseum sits adjacent. [source The Vroma Project]

 

Etruscan Dictionary and a book on dice playing. Despite the general avoidance of the imperatorial era, he penned a defense of Cicero against the charges of Asinius Gallus. Modern historians have used this to determine both the nature of his politics and of the aborted chapters of his civil war history. He proposed a reform of the Latin alphabet by the addition of three new letters, two of which served the function of the modern letters W and Y.
 

 

 
Julian the Philosopher

the Last Pagan Emperor of Rome

Flavius Claudius Julianus), 331?–363, Roman emperor (361–63), nephew of Constantine I; successor of Constantius II. He was given an education that combined Christian and Neoplatonic ideas.

 

Flavius Claudius Iulianus (born c.331–died June 26, 363), was a Roman Emperor (361–363) of the Constantinian dynasty. He was the last pagan Roman Emperor, and tried to reform traditional Pagan worship by unifying Pagan worship in the Byzantine empire in the form of Neoplatonism developed by Iamblichus. Julian sought to do this after the legalization of Christianity and its widespread success within the Eastern Roman Empire.

He and his half brother Gallus were sent (c.341) to Cappadocia. When Gallus was appointed caesar (351), Julian was brought back to Constantinople. After Gallus had been put to death, Julian was called from the quiet of a scholar's life and made (355) caesar. Sent to Gaul, he was unexpectedly successful in combating the Franks and the Alemanni and was popular with his soldiers. When Constantius, fearing Julian, ordered him (360) to send soldiers to assist in a campaign against the Persians, Julian obeyed, but his soldiers mutinied and proclaimed him augustus. He accepted the title, but Constantius refused to yield the western provinces to him. Before the two could meet in battle to decide the claim, Constantius died, naming Julian as his successor. Sometime in the course of his studies, Julian abandoned Christianity. Although as emperor he issued an edict of religious toleration, he did try unsuccessfully to restore paganism; the result was much confusion since Christianity was rent by the quarrel over Arianism. His short reign was just, and he was responsible for far-reaching legislation. During a campaign against the Persians, he was killed in a skirmish. He was succeeded by Jovian. Julian was a writer of some merit, and his works have been translated into English by W. C. Wright (3 vol., 1913–24).

 
 
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Mayday
Isis
Isis Rising
Pyramids
Sphinx
Egypt
Golden Ass Neoplatonist Aepulius
In Rome during the 1st and & 2nd centuries, female worshipers were expect to worship either Cybele or Isis while the hierarchy gravitated to a new mystery religion to another old deity Mithras
Bona_Dea (literally "the good goddess") was the Roman goddess of fertility, healing, virginity, and women.
Aventine Hill is the center of mystery cult in early Rome and was a rougher section as portrayed in the HBO-TV  series Rome, , in which the Aventine is the home of Lucius Vorenus. In season two Vorenus and his friend  Titus Pullo seek to maintain order over the various gangs competing there for power. In this depiction, Pullo plays a major role in several significant historical events, including possibly fathering Cleopatra's son Caesarion, and assassinating Marcus Tullius Cicero.
 
Vestal Virgins
http://www.vroma.org/images/mcmanus_images/vesta_coin.jpg
The most prominent priesthood held by women was that of the Vestal Virgins, a sisterhood of six priestesses (the eldest of whom was the chief Vestal), legendarily created by King Numa to tend the flame of the state hearth in the circular marble temple
Empress as Goddess
In the Imperial period women's participation in religious life increased, following the example set by Livia, who became head of the cult of the deified Augustus, and by later empresses who often chose to have themselves represented in marble variously as priestesses or goddesses.
Tellus
Terra or Tellus was a primeval Roman goddess, mother of Fama. She was seen as the goddess of the earth, Tellus was also called, "Tellus Mater" or Mother Earth. Romans appealed to her over earthquakes. She was associated with fertility, (together with Ceres). Tellus was also associated with marriage, motherhood and pregnant women. Her Greek counterpart is Gaia.

A festival for Tellus was held on April 15; it was called the Fordicia or Hordicidia. Pregnant cows were sacrificed. The pontifex and Vestal virgins managed this festival. The vestal virgins kept the ashes of the foetal calves till they were used for purification at Parilia.

From January 24 to 26, the Sementivae or Feriae Sementivae took place in honour of Terra or Tellus. Simultaneously in rural areas the Paganalia took place in honour of Tellus Mater and Ceres and marked the finish of winter sowing. The pontifex maximus fixed the dates. The Goddesses were asked to protect sowers and seeds.
 
 

 

Juno

Juno is the protector and special counselor of the Roman state, and queen of the gods. Juno is a majestic woman, crowned with a diadem and accompanied by peacocks, her sacred animal.

Juno, daughter of Saturn, is both sister and wife of Jupiter. In fact, Juno is a very ancient Italian goddess; however, the only separate tales that remain before assimilation of Hera and Juno was that Juno, impregnated by a flower, gave birth to Mars.
 
Juno is the mother of Juventas and Vulcan, as well as Mars. As the patron goddess of Rome (both the City and the Empire), she was called Regina -- "queen" -- and, together with Jupiter and Minerva, Juno was worshipped as Juno Capitolina in Rome.

Juno also had a very personal aspect to Roman women: a "juno" was considered the protecting and guardian spirit of females, just as the genius served to make Roman men alive and sexually active. Thus Juno ruled over the very essence of femininity, her spirit, marriage, and reproduction.

As Juno Moneta (she who warns or she who advises) she guarded over the finances of the empire and had a temple on the Arx (one of two Capitoline hills), close to the Royal Mint. Not simply confined to the Eternal City, Juno was popular throughout the Empire: temples were built in her honor in many cities.

The primary feast of Juno Mucina, called the Matronalia, was celebrated on the Kalends of March. On this day, lambs and other cattle were sacrificed to her. Another festival took place on July 7, called Nonae Caprotinae -- "The Nones of the Wild Fig".

minted on the island of Tenedos and dating from 189 BC.
Juno bore Jupiter four children: Vulcan the disfigured blacksmith god; Mars the god of war; Juventas the cupbearer to the gods and goddess of youth; and Lucina the goddess of childbirth.
 

Vestiges of respect for Juno remain to this day: our English month of June is named in her honour. Vestiges of her worship in most Western cultures likewise remain: brides still often choose to marry in June to assure themselves the benificence of this gracious goddess of marriage.

Source: The Book of Goddesses and Heroines, Patricia Monaghan. Dutton, 1981

 

 
23 DecemberArtemis/Diana’s Birthday – the ‘Day’ of the “Year and a Day.”  The no day. This was the last day when the Sun stood still in the South.  Truly the last day of the old cycle.

Ephesus was the greatest Temple City in Asia Minor. It was dedicated to the Great Goddess Artemis Diana. This Temple was the last of the Great Goddess Temples to remain open and was the site of Goddess worship well into the Christian era. One of her names was Mother of All.  Like Mary, she was a virgin.


Bona Dea or Fauna

The Roman mystery cult for women only

In Roman mythology, Bona Dea was literally "the good goddess," a goddess of fertility, healing,Luna virginity and women. It was forbidden to call her by her name. Bona Dea was the only old Roman deity who admitted freed slaves to the priesthood, as the foreign religions of Cybele, Isis, and Mithras also did. Rome was repressing foreign religions as early as 213 BCE, according to Livy.

Her rites were celebrated with wine, music and revelry.


Fauna struggles against a male in authority over her, who responds with violence. Plutarch explains that her husband, the seer Faunus, killed her with myrtle rods when he discovered she had been secretly been drinking wine—a pleasure forbidden to women under old Roman law.
All sources agree that myrtle twigs were forbidden in the precincts of Bona Dea, and that her rites involved a vessel of wine covered with a cloth, always referred to as the "honey-jar," and its contents as "milk." Wine was a sacrament, as in the Dionysian mysteries. The tabooed mention of wine harks back to the role its prohibition to women played in the primary myth of Fenta Fauna, who was put to death for drinking it, as old Roman law demanded.

She is linked with the Earth or Maia, Fauna,  Ops, Caelestis  (heavenly), Augusta, Sancta (holy), Heia, Regina Triumphali, Lucifera (light-bringing), Obsequens (well-disposed), Opifera (aid-bringing), Pagana, Agrestis and Sevina (goddess of the countryside, fields, and seeds). As Domina (lady) she is linked to other goddesses: Fortuna, Ceres, Juno, the Parcae, Hygeia, and Venus Cnidia. Her secret name was Fenta Fauna or Fenta Fatua. Fauna was depicted as an old woman with pointed ears holding a serpent, both associated with oracular cults. Her rites were celebrated with wine, music and revelry.

 Over the centuries, her intercession was variously sought for such purposes as healing, fertility, being freed from slavery, fruitfulness in agriculture and for the protection of the entire Roman people.

Original May Day

Aventine Hill: Birthplace of the Rites of Bacchus
The mystery religion that emerged from this cross-cultural fusion came to be called the Bacchanalia, after a Roman name for the rites of Dionysus (Bacchus).

Her public festival took place on May 1. with no male participation. There was a temple to Bona Dea on the Aventine Hill. The center of the ecstatic Mysteries was the Aventine hill. This rural part of the city was home to some of Rome's oldest temples, such as those of Carmenta, Mercury, and Diana. The Aventine with its foreign population was a center of multicultural cross-pollination of deities, rites and symbols. Newcomers brought  in Eleusinian, Dionysian and Orphic rituals from their homelands

pompeii-diana.jpgBona Dea had two festivals, one on May 1st—a date that was never to relinquish its link with the pagan mysteries—and a nocturnal, movable feast around December 3. Here secret rites in honor of her were held in the house of an important Roman magistrate. On certain days the women raised a lamentation at every crossroads, as Ceres had cried out and, as Servius wrote, as women wailed in the rite of Isis.

Bona Dea shares many qualities of an active imagination with the maiden goddess Diana and as part of a triple goddess she would act as the crone.  Romans observed the festival of Diana on August 13th, when the Latin league was first founded. http://www.vroma.org/images/mcmanus_images/pudicitia_domna.jpgOther Roman cults open only to women, included Pudicitia, Juno Caprotina,and Venus Verticordia.

Bona Dea's  popularity beyond Rome, unlike Cybele and Isis was small despite endorsement as part of the state religion although she did often appear on Roman coins.

Ops - Roman Earth Goddess of Plenty
A Sabine goddess, Ops ("plenty") was a fertility deity and earth-goddess in Roman mythology. Her husband was Saturn who not only had the day Saturday named after him but the Roman festival most identified with Carnaval--- the Saturnalia.

The Latin word ops means "riches, goods, abundance, gifts, munificence, plenty". This word is also related to opus, meaning "work" and, particularly "working the earth, ploughing, sowing". This activity was of old deemed sacred, and was often attended by religious rituals intended to obtain the good will of the chthonian deities such as Ops and Consus, etc.. The word ops is related to the Sanskrit ápnas ("goods, property").

Ops had a famous temple in the Capitolium. In her statues and coins, Ops is figured sitting down, as chthonian deities normally are, and generally holds a scepter or a corn spike as her main attributes.

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
Ancient Games @under consideration.com
 
www.rexresearch.com/grebenn/grebenn.htm
 

    Cheops Pyramid --- Make a pyramid of 3-4 layers of thick, porous wrapping paper: 20x20 cm square base, ascending edges 19cm each. Glue it only at the edges, the tighter the better but, in a thin line. Cut out Make a 5-6 cm hole in the middle of one of the side faces. Hold a 10 cm long piece of drawing coal or a pencil in your fingers and insert this indicator into the hole, slanting its far end toward the bottom of the pyramid. "Stir" the space inside the pyramid with the indicator, take it out and repeat the procedure about 30 times. You will soon pick up an active zone, a "clot", where the Egyptians had their tombs. Another active zone (a flame) above the top of the pyramid is also well-perceived by the indicator if you drag its end over the top. The "clot" and the "flame" are well-felt by the finger inserted into he pyramid, or your palm moved above it after some practice. The pyramid effect, which generated many scary and mysterious stories over the centuries, is one of the CSE manifestations.

    A Skeleton Pyramid --- Similar interesting qualities are displayed by pyramids of identical dimensions but only skeletal, without faces. Such a skeleton can be glued together from 8 smooth, firm straws. Here we get the effect of the total CSE of the straws with their complex capillary structure and the effect of the entire cavity. Such pyramids can also be made in other sizes with proportional increase in the length of the edges. Hold such a pyramid above your friend's head, first bottom down for about 5 min, then bottom up. Conduct additional experiments with insects (bumblebees, developing caterpillars, etc.), house plants and perishable foods, by placing the latter within the pyramid, above and underneath it (always checking your experiments by identical ones but without the CSE effect). You will see that ancient Egyptians had their reason to build pyramids.

    Telekinesis --- Is the name for a contactless movement of light objects performed by the so-called gifted, i. e. moving a match box on a table without touching it, or holding a tennis ball in the mid air. I submit that everyone has this capability. Suspend the described skeletal straw pyramid by its top from the ceiling by a thin, artificial thread, or even better yet by a long shred of elastic torn from a stocking. Choose a spot with the least convection (air circulation). Allow a few hours for the pyramid to stop rotating. Cup your hands into a tube (see picture) and point your hands from a 2-meter distance at the suspended pyramid (do not lose your "target"). The pyramid will eventually start rotating clockwise in a few minutes under the pressure of this beam of CSE energy. You can then stop its rotation by moving the "tube" of your hands to the right side of the skeleton and it will start rotating counter-clockwise. Conduct these experiments of various duration, after various time intervals and at various distances. You will see that telekinesis is no miracle, but only one of the manifestations of the will of matter, which is not available to only a chosen few but, to everyone. Your palm is also a multi-cavity structure, which clearly repels the pyramid indicator device described in this chapter.

    You can practice using this skeletal pyramid and develop and significantly increase your "telekinetic" abilities with it.

http://www3.sympatico.ca/slavek.krepelka/greb.html

 
 
Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View
 
Rick Tarnas
 

Cosmos & Psyche (Viking Adult, January 19, 2006) is internationally acclaimed author Rick Tarnas' long-awaited and epic sequel to The Passion of the Western Mind. Based on thirty years of research, Cosmos and Psyche shines new light on the unfolding drama of human history and our own critical age. It also suggests a new possibility for reuniting religion and science, soul and intellect, ancient wisdom and modern reason in the quest to understand the past and create the future.  http://www.cosmosandpsyche.com/

 

 

 

 £10.99