The Death of a God



Rome, 24th January 41: the death of Caligula Theòs


The death of a God.

Flavius Josephus (Ant. giud., XIX, 211), after describing the plot to kill Gaius Caligula and the event of his actual death, concluded by saying that the sovereign had treated his friends Agrippa and Antioco, turannodidaskaloi, with love and respect. Gaius then became demokraticotatos, very democratic, and distanced himself from his own paideia and docsa, nobility, and from his very Basileus/re: thus his friends’ affection turned to hate, and they plotted against him and killed him.

At the beginning of his book, Flavius Josephus had demonstrated how Gaius had made himself a Theos, and had emphasized the ectheosis forced on his subjects (ecsetheiaze d’eauton, kai tas timas ouketi anthropinas hesiou gignesthai para toon uphkooon autooi/ he assumed godly characteristics and insisted on his subjects honouring him in a way which was not suitable for a man). Flavius Josephus also wrote about the persecution against Judaea and the Hellenic Jews, the fact that Rome was reduced to a normal city – after Alexandria had been made the capital – the weakening of the Senate, and the drastic reduction of the cavaliers’ privileges, ending in exile or confiscation of their worldly goods.

For the historian, after Gaius celebrated becoming a god, he declared to be equal to Zeus, who he saw as his brother. According to Philo (Legatio ad Gaium), a precise deification cursus had been planned, step by step, by an équipe from Alexandria serving the emperor, in a transition from the heroic phase of a minor deity to an increasingly important intitolatura of greater divinity.

This project was then made into a wonderful show for the people, lasting for all of the year 40. There were divine performances (epiphaneiai) in which the god was extolled by means of special effects, thanks to the scientific inventions of that period; these enabled Gaius to be presented as omnipotent in his acts of hurling lightning, of creating thunder, a numen dominator of all kinds of phenomena and natural elements (earth, water, air, fire), even healing any type of disease.

As I have already shown in Caligola il Sublime, the way in which the God Gaius was worshipped was a real cult, with its own priests paid by the state, its own series of rituals, its own sacred animals and temples dedicated to Caligula, and even its own feast days. Following the cult of the numen of Gaius was compulsory all over the Roman world: every city and village made sacrifices and prayed to Theos Gaius, as had happened in Dora (Ant. Giud. XIX, 308), where the latria cult of the emperor led to stasis/revolution and to tarachh/riots in an anti-Judaic sense. This was the case even after the accession of Claudius, who, in compliance with previous decrees, had to declare that every etnospopolo was free to have a specific religious cult/threskeia, according to their own traditions/ethos.

Only the Aramaic Jews (and some Druid groups) protested, and these were crushed by the governor of Syria, Petronius Turpilianius, who, reluctantly, had to obey the decree of deportation or bloodshed if the population did not obey the imperial decree to erect the statue of the new god in the temple of Jerusalem.

The death of the God Caligula saved the Jews and also the governor, who was slow in giving his orders.

Nobody believed Theos had been murdered in Rome because a god does not die; it appeared to be one of the many theatrical performances of that time, and so the anastasis toon nekroon of the God was expected.

For this reason, Rome was at a standstill for more than a day; the only people to react were those who knew that the God was a man, that is, those who knew that the god was really dead, murdered by the praetorians, not by noble conspirators. The praetorians, removed from office, demanded their severance pay and were afraid they would not receive it if the God moved away from Rome with his new German bodyguards.

Rome and the Empire were shocked by the death of the God.

At the beginning, Philo of Alexandria, in Rome at that time as head of a Jewish delegation, must have taken part in the imperial theopoiia in opposition to the Greek Alexandrian team. The delegation had been heard by Gaius just before his death, but sentenced by the court; together with De Josepho and the Vita di Mosè, Philo greatly influenced and conditioned the deification of Jesus Christ.

Only the common Aramaic Jews and some Hellenic Jews mourned Jesus Christ when he died at Easter in the year 36 (this according to Christian calculations, incorrect). Five years later, nobody, or hardly anybody, remembered his crimen/crime against the Roman Empire when it was compared to the more important event of a deicide: this took place in Rome with regard to a sebasth/august venerable, the autokrator imperator, the nomos epsuchos legge vivente/the law in person for men.

Who in the Christian world can understand this ambiguous situation, which occurred in the Roman Empire over a period of five years and was perfect knowledge for Jews, Greeks and contemporary Latin people?

Who, educated according to Christian principles, ever thought that Theos Caligula would be honoured as a God also in Judaea, immediately after the death of the Messiah, and even in Jerusalem, destroyed by the knowledge of the end of Malkuth ha shemain?

Who, as a Christian, has complete knowledge of these events? Which Christian historian has ever understood Caligula’s ektheosis or has even vaguely thought of a connection with the obscure episode of an Aramaic rebel who, shortly beforehand, declared he was maran king in Palestine during a Roman political crisis in Tiberian times?

Philo, a Jew, in the incipit of Legatio ad Gaum, described Caligula’s kingdom enthusiastically as the coming to power of an era suturnia, of a popular delirium of all the ethnic groups of the Empire. The latter were enamoured of their young prince, who, however, after his illness, began persecuting the Jews and carried out a massacre in Alexandria, this coinciding with the death and divinization of Drusilla, his sister and mistress, as Pantea (Cf. A. Filipponi, Una strage di Giudei trad. In Flaccum, parallel text E. Book, Narcissus).

However, Philo does not talk about the persecution of Sejanus in Palestine by Pilate; after Artabano’s defeat by Vitellius, this persecution must have had tragic consequences, and, maybe after the end of the Malkuth ha shemaim, created dangerous connections with the Alexandrian Jews.

Why was it that Philo, Apion and Seneca, all eye witnesses (or nearly) to the two events, did not tell us exactly what had happened?

Apion, so attentive to mirabilia (paradoxa), anti-Judaic, a grammarian considered to be another Homer by Tiberius, as well as his resonator (cembalo), cf. Flavius Josephus (contra Apionem), as pointed out by Pliny the Elder, did not mention these episodes at all, despite Christ’s miracles (monstra).

And Seneca, who lived in Alexandria for almost seventeen years and was often a guest of Philo’s brother, an alabarch (customs official), left evidence of how much he hated Caligula in his writings, but nothing at all about what happened in Jerusalem and Alexandria.

I am citing only these three scholars, but I could add many others, starting with Agrippa I, Lucius Vitellius, the Emperor Claudius and Agrippina the younger, all of whom left us documents, as did many historians excluded from the Christian tradition. Cf. il buco storico.

Flavius Josephus, who was well versed on Judaic sacerdotal sources, was fully aware of the Jews’ great responsibility for the death of the God Caligula. On the other hand, he described the praetorian Cassio Cherea’s thoughtless act as heroic, barely mentioned the death of Christ (Ant Giud, XVIII, 63-64), a tekton/Kain non rabbi/sophisths, proclaimed Meshiah by the people (supported by the Essenes and the Pharisees) and captured, defeated and killed by the Romans, who had resolved the Armenian-Palestine problem thanks to the Zeugma treaty.

In conclusion, Flavius Josephus conveyed the following message, consistent with the Judaic tradition: the Romans, Tiberius-Macron-Caligula, killed the Messiah and brought the malkuth ha shemaim to an end, overcoming the popular uprising in Judaea (which then spread to Alexandria, where the first pogrom in history was carried out); instead the Jews (Agrippa I, Philo and the great Greek trapezitai) were, together with others, mainly responsible for the death of the God Gaius Caligula, idolized by the people and by all the romanitas.

At that time, the two events were not comparable, and for the very same reason, the two deified men should not even be linked nowadays.

The first, Caligula, of his own free will, became a god thanks to imperial power (exousia) and left certain signs which were useful for other deifications, both imperial and non-imperial; the second, a Jewish messiah who was defeated and crucified, was deified, despite countless protests, about three centuries later according to the Caligulian paradigm, after his definition of uios and logos with respect to Pathr and Pneuma for the constitution of the divine Unity and Trinity.

The deicide was a novitas for the inhabitants of the Empire, who witnessed the death of the immortal God, killed by human beings who carried out what had already been planned.

The idea of death of a God was formed by the very reference to the murdering of Caligula by conspirators, with regard to the astonishment manifested by contemporaries on hearing the news.

Instead, for descendants like us, the idea of attributing the death of God to Jesus, after the exchange of nomen/name, upostasis/person and divine attributions, results in an absurdum artificial, a literary fabrication, and becomes a mysterium.

L’absurdum is that historically, Caligula’s deification has been archived as the ridiculous act of a lunatic, on the basis of propaganda by Jews who were incapable, due to their strict compliance with the laws, of tolerating any other god apart from JHWH, and of accepting the normality of the prevailing basileia divina ed assoluta of Hellenic origin, which unified the Roman ethnic groups. Instead the image of the defeated Messiah was invented and preserved; because of Jesus’ resurrection, he was deified, identical parameters and the same terminology as those used for the Roman emperor being adopted. This all took place in a gradual process by the Christian people that lasted centuries, thanks to the power of the diocesan/administrative organizational structure and to the oniade financial and economic system present all over the Empire. (Trad.inglese di SUE  EERDMANS)