Damien F. Mackey
Conventional ancient Roman history/chronology needs to be subjected to revisionist scrutiny just as we found to have been the case with ancient Egypt and the Near East.
This article will be a continuation of efforts towards trying to determine whether the seemingly impregnable fortress of conventional ancient Roman history is firmly based, or if it, too, might be susceptible to breaches when revisionist pressure is applied.
So far my revision has engaged two areas of ancient Roman history, one Republican and one Imperial.
Republican. My recently completed three-part series:
Jesus Christ was the Model for some legends surrounding Julius Caesar
found me arriving at the conclusion that the renowned ‘Julius Caesar’ was largely – if not entirely – a composite figure, based upon, among others, Jesus Christ; Alexander the Great; and Octavius (Augustus).
Imperial. Already, in my semifictional work:
I Am Barabbas
I had suggested the following possible folding of two supposedly distinct phases of early Roman imperial history, the First and Second Jewish Revolt:
This is a hypothetical account of the life of the largely unknown Barabbas, a lestés, which description today is recognised (based on Saint John’s Gospel and Josephus) as meaning more than just a brigand, but rather a partisan fighter. “[Barabbas] had committed murder in the insurrection” (John 15:7), presumably indicating a revolutionary action against the Romans.
According to this article, he was SIMON BAR ABBAS, the same as the famous Simon Bar Giora who led the Jewish Revolt against Rome in the 60’s AD.
Known in tradition as Jesus Barabbas, he was once baptised by the Apostle Philip as Bar-Jesus, meaning “Disciple of Jesus”, but he was not a sincere convert.
My connection between Simon Barabbas and Simon Bar Giora is based on this, albeit vague, tradition: “Some sources also say that [Barabbas] was later killed while taking part in another revolt against the Romans” (http://www.gospel-mysteries.net/barabbas.html), and, conversely, that Simon Bar Giora had previous “form” as a revolutionary bandit. “[Simon Bar Giora was] already apparently known as a partisan leader”
Bar Giora (also Bar Poras), meaning “Son of the Proselyte”, can be taken as a descriptive, rather than a proper, name. The Jews were fond of using the phrase “Son of … (Man, the Father, Deception, the Lie, Iniquity, the Star, etc., etc.)”.
Now here comes the really controversial bit.
I have for quite some time considered that the First Jewish Revolt in which Simon Bar Giora figures prominently was the very same event as the so-called Second Jewish Revolt led by the far more famous Simon Bar Kochba, or Simon “Son of the Star”, ostensibly 70 years later (during the 130’s AD), at the time of the emperor Hadrian.
Bar Kochba is a messianic figure.
I know that history can repeat itself, and that one might argue, for instance, that there were many common factors in the First and Second World Wars of the C20th.
In previous articles I had noted that the First and Second Jewish Revolts were similarly, e.g.:
- of about 3 years’ duration;
- had a prominent military leader named Simon Bar ….;
- and had a religious leader named Eleazer.
But the most compelling argument in favour of a necessary (as I think) synchronisation of the activities of Simon Bar Giora and Simon Bar Kochba is that the destruction in Israel was so complete in the first case, at the hands of Vespasian and Titus, with the entire land devastated, the great City (Jerusalem) and its Temple completely burned to the ground, and the people slaughtered wholesale, or sent into slavery, that I do not consider it reasonable to suggest that, some 60-70 years later (and again readers might cite the recovery of nations much sooner after the First World War going in to the Second – but these nations, e.g. Germany, had not been obliterated internally), Simon Bar Kochba was able to command armies of 400,000 men in Israel against a Hadrian-led Rome and to have several of the most famous of all the Roman legions on the verge of annihilation – only afterwards to see some 580,000 Jewish men die, almost 1000 fortified villages in Israel completely devastated, once again, and the people, once again, slaughtered or taken into captivity en masse.
The “Son of the Star” was now being called, contemptuously, Bar Kozeba, “Son of Deception”, or “Son of the Lie”.
Now here is the clincher:
The nail in the coffin of the textbook history for these times is that Simon Bar Kochba issued coins depicting “The Redemption of Israel” – oh, yes, and so did Simon Bar Giora do the exact same thing. And, guess what was depicted on Bar Kochba’s coins?: THE TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM, which I believe he was so desperately defending, with the Ark of the Covenant inside it, and a star, his own star, depicted over the Temple.
Yet all of this had supposedly disappeared with Titus’s assault, 60-70 years earlier! Of course, the history books rationalise this – as they must always do in the case of anomalous situations caused by their faulty chronologies – by saying that Simon Bar Kochba may have resumed the Temple services for a brief time. That is, of course, even without a Temple! More natural to say, I think, that the revolt of Simon Bar Kochba preceded the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple by the Romans.
The difficulty now becomes one of “folding” early Roman Imperial history (as I think the evidence demands ought to be done) in order to align the 60’s AD with the supposed 130’s AD. An alignment of the mad Nero Domitius with the mad Domitian might perhaps suggest itself, thereby greatly easing the pressure on the chronology of St. John the Evangelist. There is that strong ancient tradition of a “Nero redivivus” (i.e., of a Nero coming to life again). Anyway, readers may be able to suggest some compelling possible model of alignment.
Such I think is entirely necessary if the Book of Apocalypse is ever to be properly interpreted.
I noted at this point that the revision has already successfully undertaken some necessary folding of Egyptian and Mesopotamian history: “Historical “folding” has also been required in Egyptian and Assyro-Babylonian history, for instance, and I think that plausible “folds” have now been achieved in those cases (at a far higher level of research than here)”.
For respective examples of this, see my:
Egypt’s Old and Middle Kingdoms Far Closer in Time than Conventionally Thought
Bringing New Order to Mesopotamian History and Chronology
Apart from the inestimable benefit of getting rid of the artificial ‘Dark Ages’ – P. James et al., Centuries of Darkness, being a leader in the field here – such revisionism can serve to make more realistic certain ancient genealogies. Thus I continued in my “Barabbas” article:
For instance, it was found that the conventional Egyptian history, in the case of some detailed genealogies of officials serving a string of named pharaohs, ends up with a whole lot of octogenarian persons, or older, still actively functioning in office. Similarly does the received Roman Imperial chronology create aged but still active characters: e.g. John the Evangelist, in his 90’s (according to a tradition) vigorously chasing a young man on horseback; Yohanan ben Zakkai still going at 120 (highly unlikely), straddling the supposedly two Jewish Revolts.
[End of quotes]
Now, reverting back to the Roman Republican period again, I turn to a brief consideration of Julius Caesar’s famous contemporary and fellow triumvir, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, or, as we know him better, Pompey ‘the Great’.
Is Pompey also a composite?
If there is any value in the conclusions that I reached about ‘Julius Caesar’ in my series, “Jesus Christ was the Model for some legends surrounding Julius Caesar”, then that, I believe, must put extreme pressure on the validity of ‘Pompey the Great’ himself, Caesar’s fellow triumvir (along with Crassus). More especially so as Pompey, too, like Julius Caesar, was – as we shall shortly learn – likened to Alexander the Great – Pompey perhaps even more explicitly so than Caesar was.
- Fields tells of it in Warlords of Republican Rome. Caesar versus Pompey (2008, p. 67):
His flatterers, so it was said, likened Pompey to Alexander the Great, and whether because of this or not, the Macedonian king would appear to have been constantly in his mind. His respect for the fairer sex is comparable with Alexander’s, and Plutarch mentions that when the concubines of Mithridates were brought to him he merely restored them to their parents and families. …. Similarly he treated the corpse of Mithridates in a kingly way, as Alexander treated the corpse of Dareios, and ‘provided for the expenses of the funeral and directed that the remains should receive royal interment’. …. Also, like Alexander, he founded many cities and repaired many damaged towns, searched for the ocean that was thought to surround the world, and rewarded his soldiers munificently. Finally, Appian adds that in his third triumph he was said to have worn ‘a cloak of Alexander the Great’. ….
It is interesting to learn that the original name of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, who, like Pompey, would desecrate the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, was likewise “Mithridates” (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes).
And (p. 98):
In a sense Pompey personified Roman imperialism, where absolute destruction was followed by the construction of stable empire and the rule of law. It also, not coincidentally, raised him to a pinnacle of glory and wealth. The client–rulers who swelled the train of Rome also swelled his own. He received extraordinary honours from the communities of the east, as ‘saviour and benefactor of the People and of all Asia, guardian of land and sea’. …. There was an obvious precedent for all this. As the elder Pliny later wrote, Pompey’s victories ‘equalled in brilliance the exploits of Alexander the Great’. Without a doubt, so Pliny continues, the proudest boast of our ‘Roman Alexander’ would be that ‘he found Asia on the rim of Rome’s possessions, and left it in the centre’. ….
Pompey is even supposed to have gone so far as to have tried to emulate Alexander’s distinctive appearance:
The marble bust of Pompey is in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Copenhagen). Its somewhat incongruous appearance, the round face and small lidded eyes beneath the leonine mane of hair, is because Pompey, the most powerful Roman of his day, sought a comparison with Alexander the Great, whose distinctive portraits were characterized by a thoughtful facial expression and, more iconographically, locks of hair brushed back high from the forehead, a stylistic form known as anastole, from the Greek “to put back.”
Did Pompey absorb – like I argued may have been the case with Julius Caesar – not only Alexander-like characteristics, but also general Hellenistic ones?
And might that mean that the famous event of Pompey’s desecration (by his presence therein) of the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, supposedly in 63 BC:
The capture of the Temple mount was accompanied by great slaughter. The priests who were officiating despite the battle were massacred by the Roman soldiers, and many committed suicide; while 12,000 people besides were killed. Pompey himself entered the Temple, but he was so awed by its sanctity that he left the treasure and the costly vessels untouched (“Ant.” xiv. 4, § 4; “B. J.” i. 7, § 6; Cicero, “Pro Flacco,” § 67). The leaders of the war party were executed, and the city and country were laid under tribute. A deadly blow was struck at the Jews when Pompey separated from Judea the coast cities from Raphia to Dora, as well as all the Hellenic cities in the east-Jordan country, and the so-called Decapolis, besides Scythopolis and Samaria, all of which were incorporated in the new province of Syria.
may be in fact a muddled version of that real historical incident when Antiochus (Mithridates) ‘Epiphanes’ most infamously desecrated the Temple by erecting an image of Zeus in his own likeness on the altar?