Jesus was Caesar – Re-Orientation / summary

Extracts from the book «Jesus was Caesar»

© Francesco Carotta, Kirchzarten

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

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Re-Orientation / summary

p. 162-164 (original German Edition), = p. 166-168(English Edition)

Divus Iulius

Caesar was God’s son from birth: it is well known that the Iulii claimed Venus as their ancestor, through Aeneas and his son Ascanius, whom the Romans also called Ilus or Iulus. As a youth, he should have been a flamen Dialis—the high priest of Jupiter—but he was prevented from attaining this office by political opposition. Instead, he soon after became the highest priest: pontifex maximus. And while he was yet living it had been decreed that he—by then ruler of the whole world—should be posthumously numbered amongst the gods: as Divus Iulius. Even his murder could not preclude this: his adoptive son Octavianus could quickly call himself Divi Filius, ‘God’s Son’—thereby Caesar became the ‘Father God’, on a par with Jupiter himself..

Temples were built to him throughout the entire Empire and even beyond: the caesarea. On top of this he was to be synnaos to all other deities, i.e. his statues had to be placed in each of the other temples—a tolerant monotheistic god.

The liturgy consisted of the celebration of the anniversaries of his victories, which had been appraised, and praised, as miracles. Because he had won more than three hundred of them, and because for the greatest of them more than one day was set aside in thanksgiving, there was something to celebrate virtually every day. His posthumous victory, however, became the greatest celebration; the victory gained over his murderers by his wandering spirit after the Ides of March: treason, passion, funeral, furor populi, apotheosis—his Easter.

This worldwide cult disappears, with a conspicuous inconspicuousness—as if swallowed by the earth, just as Christianity appears. Yet not altogether without a trace, because at Easter, which like the Ides of March falls in the springtime, the Christian liturgy follows the ritual of Caesar’s funeral. Just as Christianity borrowed much from the cult of the emperor, regardless. The capital of Christendom is still Rome, and Caesar’s centre of power her heart.

The cultic books of Divus Iulius have not survived, and we only hear of Caesar through historians. Accordingly, we think of him as a man of history. General, dictator, writer, epicurean, revolutionary—everyone knows this. But as Pontifex Maximus, son of God and God—he is known only to specialists—and even they tend to forget it. Divus Iulius is blanked out.


In turn we have Jesus. Historians do not speak of him at all. Nobody knows him. The first mention of him, if it is not an interpolation, is by Flavius Josephus at the end of the first century. The only books we have about Jesus himself are liturgical: the Gospels.

Accordingly, the historical existence of Jesus is still debated today. Because the Gospels are not history books, but are full of preaching and sermonizing, they have been mixed with theology, morality and oral tradition. And indeed, so much so that all attempts to comprehend the historical Jesus behind them regularly fail. They must fail. For if we wish to establish what is true and what is false in the words and deeds of Jesus we are forced to use reductional thinking.

As there are no objective starting points to be found in the work of historians, each researcher sorts the data according to his own taste: the ‘Search for the historical Jesus’ has become a playing field for all kinds of projection. Due to the fact that in classical antiquity there were as many deified humans as humanized gods, one tendency is to see Jesus as a mythic being like Hercules, Dionysos, Adonis or Osiris. The other tendency is to see him as a man who became a god like Alexander, the Ptolemaeans or the Roman emperors. Even within conservative ranks there is disagreement in relation to the reduction: here the barefooted prophet, the little nabi of Galilea, one amongst so many executed reformers of the world, who just happened to have the luck of being posthumously regarded as the Messiah; there the Word of God, Jahweh himself in all his abstract glory, the pure forma mentis to which an earthly destiny gradually accrued. Here a nobody, there: no body.

Speculation is followed by phantasy: Was he an Essene, a Zealot, a collaborator or a nationalist? Was he a revolutionary, a pacifist, a macho man, a feminist, a guru, a therapist? Was he educated in Egypt or India? Do-it-yourself: Jesus for the tinkerer.

And if one, fearing answers, tries to stick to questions, these questions become more and more adventurous: Did he really die on the cross or did he only appear to be dead? Or did someone else die for him, perhaps Simon the Cyrenian? And Barabbas, was he really a murderer or a hero of the people? And wasn’t his name Jesus as well? Was he a relative or Jesus himself? And the resurrection, did or did it not happen and how is this to be understood? And who was the favorite disciple, John, Lazarus or maybe even Mary Magdalene? Did he marry Mary Magdalene, and did she escape to the west and have his child.

Question on top of question—and still no historical Jesus

Complementary asymmetry

Objectively, we can say that Caesar is a historical figure who as a god has vanished without leaving a trace. Jesus, on the other hand, is a god whose historical figure cannot be found.

A striking complementary asymmetry. It is as if we are dealing with the same figure, one that has two faces, like the head of Janus. Could it be that the Gospel is the ‘post-Easter’ preaching of Divus Iulius of which the ‘pre-Easter’ historical version can be found in the writings of the ancient authors? That Jesus therefore is Divus Iulius as he is reflected in the East/West mirror? Is Jesus the icon of Caesar? Do the Gospels bear the same relationship to Divus Iulius as the first Christian churches do to the antique temples from which they were built and on whose foundations they stand?