Jesus was Caesar – Crux 2

Chapter III, Part 2, of the English edition

© Francesco Carotta, Kirchzarten, Germany

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

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Crux (2)

The new images of Caesar

As was usual at the funeral of a distinguished Roman, so here too the wax figure of Caesar was to be carried in front of the bier and then placed on the Rostra, so that during the funeral oration the people could see him as he had been in life.

But Caesar’s wax statue could not be adorned in full robes as was the usual custom: it would have been dressed with the triumphal robe which was none other than the red robe of the ancient kings,[153] the one that had made his murderers see red and decide to carry out their assault on the tyrant. Now at this time Brutus and Cassius were still in the city. They had managed to receive amnesty for themselves and buy the neutrality of several veterans with the promise to compensate expropriated landlords from the state treasury so they could buy their properties back. Marcus Antonius, friend and relative of the deceased and moreover holder of the office of consul and designated flamen Divi Iulii—High priest of Divus Iulius, the new god that Caesar was to become after his death—had to consider himself lucky to still be alive, and that Caesar’s estates had not been auctioned, that his acts had not been repealed, and that the Liberators who had at first planned to drag the corpse of the tyrant through the streets and throw it into the Tiber had instead complied with the insistence of Caesar’s father-in-law Piso that the Pontifex Maximus should be lain to rest with the customary honors.

In the midst of this stalemate, Antonius had the momentous idea of fashioning Caesar’s wax-figure in such a way that the people would see him as he had lain after the murder—with the blood-stained toga displaying all the rents of the daggers on his martyred body, and with his arms spread out just as he had fallen. Indeed nobody had seen him there where he had fallen because they all ran for their lives after the assault—both friend and foe. Antonius, who had remained outside, fled first. But from the house tops where the people had barricaded themselves, they could see Caesar’s injured face and his arms hanging out of both sides of the litter as three of his servants carried the body home through Rome’s narrow alleys to his wife Calpurnia.[154]

As this wax figure would not have been visible if it had lain flat on the bier, Antonius ordered it hung on the cross-like tropaeum where, as tradition required, the insignia of victory were affixed. This created an ironic, provocative, unbearable tropaeum, where the image of the victor himself was hung in the midst of the trophies of war. The wax figure was still clad in his passion garment, and the tropaeum was constructed in such a way that it could be rotated so that everybody could clearly see it.

When Piso brought Caesar’s body into the Forum, it was placed on the bier on the Rostra[155] so that the tropaeum stood at the head of the funeral bier—a golden ciborium after the fashion of the temple of Venus Genetrix, wherein lay the son of the goddess on a bed of ivory adorned with gold and purple, like the new Osiris on the womb of Isis.[156]

For the funeral obsequies a death mask of Caesar had also been made, as was the custom, so that the deceased himself could address the funeral guests by means of a masked actor who imitated his voice and gestures. This was sometimes done with some levity, but on this occasion with gallows humor and deadly earnest.

Both wax-images, the figure hanging on the tropaeum and the mask worn by the actor, were the main requisites of Antonius’ staging of Caesar’s funeral liturgy. And he employed them dramatically.[157]

    ‘During the performance verses were sung which would evoke emotions of compassion and indignation, such as the line from Pacuvius’ “Contest for the Arms of Achilles”:
    Men servasse, ut essent qui me perderent?—What, did I save these men that they might murder me!”
    —and others with a similar sentiment from Atilius’ Electra.’
    ‘The people could endure it no longer. It seemed to them monstrous that all the murderers who, with the single exception of Decimus Brutus, had been made prisoners while belonging to the faction of Pompeius, and who, instead of being punished, had been advanced by Caesar to the magistracies of Rome and to the command of provinces and armies, should have conspired against him, and that Decimus—who had betrayed him and lured him to the trap—should have been deemed by him worthy for adoption as his son.’[159]

With the reading of the will the atmosphere changed completely, because the supposed tyrant now proved himself a benefactor, bequeathing a remarkable amount to each individual Roman, in addition to leaving the Roman people his famous gardens on the banks of the Tiber. They slowly began to regret that they had been in favor of the amnesty. And from the enormous crowd of people flocked together there arose the increasingly loud sounds of lamentation and misery, and all those who were armored beat their weapons together.

In this situation it is easy to imagine which verses of the Electra the people chanted like a choir: namely those that served as improperia, as lamentations over the ingratitude of the murderers.

    ‘And now under the earth the immortal reigns.’
    ‘So that he emerge from the depths of the grave, / gracious, a saviour in the face of the enemy.’
    ‘And that you hear it, Nemesis of the recently deceased.’
    ‘The curses achieve their aim./ Alive are those who lay beneath the ground! / The murderous blow redounds on the head of the murderer, / led by those once murdered.’
    ‘…as for the father I must wreak vengeance on his assassins.’[160]

This was the time for Antonius’ funeral oratory. But:

    ‘Instead of the usual Laudatio, Antonius ordered a herald to read aloud the decree of the Senate which awarded all divine and human honours to Caesar, furthermore the oath of loyalty in which they had all pledged themselves to his personal safety. Antonius added very few words of comment.’[161]

He only commented on what the herald read out:

    ‘At each resolution, Antonius turned his face and his hand towards Caesar’s body illustrating his discourse by his action. To each appellation he added a brief remark full of grief and indignation. As, for example, where the decree spoke of the father of the fatherland, he added “This is a testimony to his clemency!” and again where he was made “sacred and inviolable” and “everyone was to be held unharmed who should seek refuge with him”—“Nobody”, said Antonius, “who found refuge with him was harmed, but he, whom you declared sacred and inviolable, was killed, although he did not extort these honours from you as a tyrant, and did not even ask for them.”’[162]
    ‘Whereupon the people, like the chorus in a play, mourned with him in the most sorrowful manner, and from sorrow became filled again with anger.’[163]
    ‘…somewhere in the midst of these lamentations Caesar himself seemed to be speaking, recounting by name his enemies on whom he had conferred benefits, and of the murderers themselves exclaiming, as it were in amazement: “Men servasse, ut essent qui me perderent?—Ah, did I save them that they might murder me?”’[164]

And the herald read all the decisions of honor and oaths of allegiance; Antonius indicated what they had made of that by pointing again and again towards the murdered man; Caesar’s voice resounded from behind the death mask; the people answered with a fitting strophe from the Electra. And thus the indignation increased.

When the herald read aloud the oaths wherein all obliged themselves to protect Caesar and his person with all their power, and wherein all had sworn that he who did not come to his aid in the case of a conspiracy should be condemned to death, Antonius lifted his hand toward the Capitol and cried ‘Father Jupiter, I am prepared to help him as I have vowed, but because the other senators have preferred an amnesty, I pray that they will bring us blessings.’ The senators were alarmed and hoped that Antonius would retract the accusations and threats; but Antonius distracted: ‘It seems to me, fellow-citizens, that what has come to pass is not the work of men but of an evil spirit’. So he blamed it on the devil—and conjured him up at the same time.

    ‘After these words he gathered up his garments like one inspired by God, girded himself so that he might have the free use of his hands, took his position in front of the bier as in a play, bending down to it and rising again, and first hymned him again as a celestial deity, raising his hands to heaven in order to testify to his divine origin.’[165]

Finally Antonius went to the tropaeum, where the symbols of Caesar’s victories were attached and in rapid and fluent speech counted out his wars, the battles, the victories, the spoils, extolling each exploit as miraculous and all the time exclaiming ‘Thou alone hast come forth unvanquished from all the battles thou hast fought. Thou alone hast avenged thy country of the outrage brought upon it three hundred years ago, bringing to their knees those savage Gallic tribes, the only ones ever to have broken into and burned the city of Rome.’ He counted out all the titles the people had awarded Caesar, conscious that no other man could equal his merits:

    ‘Therefore for the gods he was appointed Pontifex Maximus, for us Consul, for the soldiers Imperator, and for the enemy Dictator. But why do I tell you all this when in one phrase alone you called him Pater Patriae?’[166]

And here Antonius lowered his voice from its high pitch to a sorrowful tone, and mourned and wept as for a friend who had suffered unjustly:[167]

    ‘Yet this father, this Pontifex Maximus, this inviolable being, this hero and god, is dead, alas … murdered right here within the walls as the result of a plot—he who safely led an army into Britain; ambushed in this city—he who had enlarged its Pomerium; murdered in the Senate house—he who had reared another such edifice at his own expense; unarmed—the brave warrior; naked—the promoter of peace; the judge—near the tribunals; the magistrate—at the seat of government; at the hands of citizens—he who none of the enemy had been able to kill even when he fell into the sea; at the hands of his comrades—he who had so often shown mercy to them! Of what avail, O Caesar, was your humanity, of what avail your inviolability, of what avail the laws? Nay, though you enacted many laws that men might not be killed by their personal foes, yet how mercilessly you yourself were slain by your friends! … And now you lie dead in the Forum through which you often led the triumph crowned. Wounded to death you have been cast down upon the Rostra from which you often addressed the people. Woe for the blood-bespattered locks of grey, alas for the rent robe, which you donned, it seems, only to be slain in it!’[168]

And with his spear he lifted the garment hanging on the tropaeum and shook it aloft, rent by the dagger blows and red with the blood of the Imperator. With this movement he exposed the Simulacrum hanging on the tropaeum and rotated it in all directions by means of a turn-table.[169] And thus was Caesar’s martyred body suddenly revealed for all to see—like Christ on the cross.

The pitiful sight did not fail to have its effect. Blinded by wrath, the people rose up and hunted for Caesar’s murderers who were long gone, but they tore to pieces one whom they did find—a certain Helvius Cinna who was a good friend of Caesar but who had the great misfortune of bearing the same name as another Cinna who had made a speech against the deceased.

    ‘Without hearing any explanation about the identical names, they rent him to pieces in an act of savagery: no part of the body could be found for the funeral!’[170]

His head, however, was speared on a lance and paraded about.[171]

Now the furious crowd returned to the bier and took hold of it. Here, one wanted to take it to the place where he had met his death—the Curia of Pompeius—which they desired to reduce to cinders. There, another tried to convey it up to the Capitol for cremation as something consecrated in order to give him a place amongst the gods. The priests blocked their way because of the risk of fire. It went to and fro. The crowd raged. The soldiers intervened and the consuls had some of the more audacious men thrown down from the Capitoline rock.[172]

So the people placed the bier back in the Forum at the site where the ancient Roman house of the Kings and the house of the Pontifex Maximus stood.

    ‘…all of a sudden two strangers appeared, girdled with swords and with two spears in their hands and ignited the bier with wax-torches!’[173]
    ‘…and immediately the spectators assisted the blaze by heaping on it dry branches and the judges’ chairs and the court benches and whatever else came to hand. Thereupon the musicians and the professional mourners , who had walked in the funeral train wearing the robes that he himself had worn at his four triumphs, tore these in pieces and flung them onto the flames—to which veterans who had assisted at his triumphs added the arms that they had borne. Many women in the audience similarly sacrificed their jewellery together with their children’s breast-plaques and purple-fringed tunics.’[174]

Now the most daring stormed up to the houses of the murderers with torches and tried to set them on fire, but the neighbors hindered them because of their fear of a blaze and finally they persuaded them to forgo the arson. Meanwhile the people kept vigil at the funeral pyre and even stayed for some time more:

    ‘Public grief was enhanced by crowds of foreigners lamenting after the fashion of their own countries, especially Jews who came flocking to the Forum for several nights in succession.’[175]
    ‘The crowd established an altar on the place where the pyre had been—Caesar’s emancipees already had collected his bones and buried them in the family crypt—and wanted to sacrifice then and there and offer gifts to Caesar as to a god. However, the consuls threw down the altar and punished some of those who showed their dissatisfaction.’[176]

So says Dio. And the parallel conclusion by Appianus:

    ‘There an altar was first erected, but now there stands the temple of Caesar himself, as he was deemed worthy of divine honors. For Octavianus, his son by adoption and who took the name of Caesar, followed in his footsteps in political matters, greatly strengthened the government that was founded by Caesar and which remains to this day,[177] decreed divine honors to his father.[178]

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

[ Crux3 ]


Notes to III. Crux2

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[153] The wax-figure of Augustus at his funeral was clad in the triumphal garb—as later that of Pertinax was as well (cf. Dio Cass. HR 56.34.1; 74.4.3). Conversely Traianus was represented at his posthumous Parthian triumph in 117 AD by his imago (cf. SHA Hadr. 6.3; J.-C. Richard, REL 44, 1966, p. 358). [<]

[154] Cf. Nicolaus Damascenus, Bios Kaisaros, FGrH, ed. F. Jacoby, 26.97: ὁρᾶν δ᾿ ἐνῆν ἔνθεν καὶ ἔνθεν ἀπεσταλμένων τῶν παρακαλυμμάτων, αἰωρουμένας τὰς χεῖρας καί τὰς ἐπὶ τοῦ προσώπου πληγάς.—‘as the curtains were drawn back, the dangling arms and the wounds on his face could be seen from both sides.’ Cf. also Suet. Jul. 82: Exanimis diffugientibus cunctis aliquandiu iacuit, donec lecticae impositum, dependente brachio, tres seruoli domum rettulerunt.—‘After all had fled he lifelessly lay there for some time until three young slaves placed him in a litter and carried him back home with one arm hanging over the side.’ [<]

[155] Suet. Jul. 84: pro rostris—‘in front of the Rostra’; App. BC 2.143: ἐπὶ τὰ ἔμβολα—‘on the Rostra’. [<]

[156] Suet. Jul. 84: […] et pro rostris aurata aedes ad simulacrum templi Veneris Genetricis collocata; intraque lectus eburneus auro ac purpura stratus et ad caput tropaeum cum ueste, in qua fuerat occisus.—Cleopatra, who stayed in Rome at that time and whose statue stood in the temple of Venus Genetrix (evidently in her role as incarnation of Isis and hence equated with Venus) apparently co-led the direction. [<]

[157] Shakespeare is unfortunately of no help here, because he follows Plutarchus who does not report anything about the ritual of the funeral. Dio’s speech of Antonius seems also rhetorically finessed. We reconstruct the situation here mainly from Suetonius and Appianus, who agree with each other; but where Appianus says (BC 2.146) that Antonius ‘recited many other things’, we refer to Dio. We follow partly Stauffer (1957), p. 21-23. But he overlooks that the effigy of wax had to be hanging on the tropaeum, because according to Suetonius (Jul. 84, first paragraph: Funere indicto rogus instructus est in martio campo iuxta Iuliae tumulum et pro rostris aurata aedes ad simulacrum templi Veneris Genetricis collocata; intraque lectus eburneus auro ac purpura stratus et ad caput tropaeum cum ueste, in qua fuerat occisus.) the toga was hanging there right from the beginning. It must have covered the effigy, as is evident from Appianus (BC 2.146: τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Καίσαρος ἐγύμνου καὶ τὴν ἐσθῆτα ἐπὶ κοντοῦ φερομένην ἀνέσειε, λελακισμένην ὑπὸ τῶν πληγῶν καὶ πεφυρμένην αἵματι αὐτοκράτορος.): When Antonius removes the toga, the effigy is exposed. Also the fact that Antonius uses a spear to remove the toga (l. c.), speaks for it unambiguously. With τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Καίσαρος—‘the body of Caesar’—Appianus could only mean here the ἀνδρείκελον αὐτοῦ Καίσαρος ἐκ κηροῦ πεποιημένον—‘the effigy (literally: the mannequin) of Caesar himself formed from wax’ (BC 2.147)—because Antonius as priest—apart from being flamen Diui Iulii and lupercus he was also augur—was not allowed to see a corpse (cf. Weinstock 1971, p. 354(5), with further proofs); besides—Caesar’s body was lying in the death bed as Appianus himself reports: τὸ μὲν γὰρ σῶμα, ὡς ὕπτιον ἐπὶ λέχους, οὐχ ἑωρᾶτο. τὸ δὲ ἀνδρείκελον ἐκ μηχανῆς ἐπεστρέφετο πάντῃ.—‘as the body, lying flat on the bier, could not be seen. But the model, with the help of a mechanical device, could be turned in all directions.’ This ‘mechanical device’ could only have been set up in advance, and therefore only at the tropaeum. So the previous sentence of Appianus refers to the erecting of the tropaeum itself, together with the mannequin, or to the heaving of the wax mannequin onto the tropaeum: Ὧδε δὲ αὐτοῖς ἔχουσιν ἤδη καὶ χειρῶν ἐγγὺς οὖσιν ἀνέσχε τις ὑπὲρ τὸ λέχος ἀνδρείκελον αὐτοῦ Καίσαρος ἐκ κηροῦ πεποιημένον·—‘While they were in this temper and already near to violence, somebody raised above the funeral couch a mannequin of Caesar himself made of wax.’
On the relation of mêchanê and cross in the liturgy cf. Ignatius, Ephes. IX, I: ἀναφερόμενοι εἰς τὰ ὕψη διὰ τῆς μηχανῆς Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν σταυρός—‘raised above by the mechane, the “theatrical machine” of Jesus Christ, which is the cross’.
Unless there were several tropaea because, after all, Caesar had celebrated at least four triumphs, or two tropaea, like on the denarius of Caldus, ill. 22, one with the arms of Vercingetorix and one with the wax model of Caesar. This is conceivable insofar as there are two different crosses to be seen in our churches or Ways of the Cross as well: on the one the figure of Christ is attached, on the other the instruments of the crucifixion, what is called croix des outrages, ‘cross of insults’, or creu dels improperis, ‘cross of improperies’, in other languages. In English, like in German, it is not by chance called by the Latin name Arma Christi, which stresses its proximity to the Roman tropaeum on which the ‘arms’ of the succumbing commander were appended as well. Compare ill. 114 with ill. 21 p. 90 and ill. 33 p. 97, i. a.

Based on the descriptions that are preserved by Suetonius (Jul. 84.1), Appianus (BC 2.146-147), and the parallel tradition, the Utrecht artist Pol du Closeau has tried in a first approximation a drawn reconstruction of the central scene of Caesar’s funeral.

The perspective is from the Forum Romanum, from the side of the Basilica Aemilia on the Rostra, the rostrum, where Antonius is just delivering the funeral oration to Caesar. On the left we perceive the gable of the temple of Saturnus and in the background the rocky Capitol with the temples of Jupiter and Iuno. We are in the year 44 BC, so the temple of Vespasianus, which was built later, does not yet exist so we have a clear view of the capitol. The Tabularium which was attached to the Capitol on the end of the Forum remains just outside the section of the picture on the right from this angle.
Caesar’s body is laid out in a gilded model of the temple of Venus Genetrix. One perceives the frieze with the egg-motif, the symbol of birth (Genetrix), which in Christianity was to become that of reincarnation (Easter eggs). Beneath, the carrying poles can be seen. At head height of this little temple of Venus stands the tropaeum-like device (Suetonius: tropaeum; Appianus: mêchanê) on which the mannequin made of wax is hanging with the wounds on the body caused by the dagger thrusts. Marcus Antonius is just about to pull away Caesar’s gown, the bloodstained toga which first covered the wax figure and the tropaeum, by dint of a lance, and in this way reveals the corpus. In the background the people are crying out, filled with indignation, as can be seen through the bier.
Caesar’s wax figure on the tropaeum has outstretched arms not only because on a tropaeum the arms could only be fastened like that (cf. also ill. 61) but because somebody who falls down dead stretches out his arms and because Caesar’s body had been seen like that when three servants carried him home with the arms hanging out of the litter on both sides (cf. quotation from Nicolaus Damascenus, p. 83, note 193). For Antonius wanted to show how Caesar had lain there, murdered. But because the body would not have been visible if lying on the Rostra, he had the wax figure produced and erected it—like a tropaeum. Thus Caesar’s wax simulacrum which should have depicted him lying, appeared as if it were hanging on a cross.
The tropaeum is made of plain planks instead of round posts here because a wax figure could be affixed better to those. The artist has purposely not drawn any fastenings for the wax figure in this reconstruction. When wax manufacturers were asked about this detail, they said that full-scale representations made of wax can only be held upright by a scaffolding, or a structure. It is known that in antiquity wax figures had a structure made of wood; they were actually wooden figures with a wax outer-layer (cf. Marquart-Mau (1886), p. 354). The most functional and direct way to fasten such a wooden figure coated with wax to a tropaeum would involve nails through the hands. This would explain why the ‘Crucified one’ has nails through his hands in spite of the fact that for a real man hanging on the cross, one would best use rope. Anyway, nails would have to be driven through the wrists because if attached to the palms the body weight would tear through the flesh.
As said, this drawing is a first attempt and unfinished: the rents and blood stains on the toga caused by the dagger thrusts are still missing. The drawing was not yet ready when it was shown at the lecture and subsequent discussion in the Lutherse Kerk (Lutheran Church) in Utrecht on Nov. 28th 2002, and also during the telecast ‘Buitenhof’ in the contribution of Prof. Paul Cliteur Ph. D. on the following Dec. 1st. Both times it caused a sensation. Therefore we want to reproduce it here as incomplete and as effective as it was first shown, with some slight improvements.
It might appear strange because it is not done in an archeologically correct and anatomically perfect late Hellenistic style. It is from the hand of a contemporary artist with his personal style affectionate to popular art. But for that very reason it has an eminently documentary nature, since it brings home to us for the first time how the exposition of Caesar’s ‘body’ during his funeral might have looked, true to the original, according to the sources, but at the same time in an anachronistic, almost naive way so that we can already get a feel for the alienation that the depiction of these scenes was to experience in Christian art in the course of time. As an identikit picture this drawing serves very well: it realizes graphically what the eyewitnesses had seen and makes it possible for us to catch a glimpse of the instant in which the genesis of the ‘crucified one’ occurred.
This moment was short because as we have seen the sight was unbearable: the people revolted, became enraged, pursued the assassins and burned Caesar’s body right there at the Forum. This was interpreted as his resurrection. Accordingly the moment of the re-erecting of the body on the pyre was frozen on Caesar’s coins (cf. ill. 67, p. 108) together with the ascension in the apotheosis (cf. ill. 85 and 86, p. 116 as well as ill. 87, p. 117). For the exhibition of Caesar’s martyred body had indeed fulfilled its function to incite the people to revolt, but it still belonged to the assassination, i. e. to what one wanted to overcome, to the parricide, the commemoration of which should be wiped out by the execration of the day of murder as dies parricidii, ater, funestus (cf. referring to this, p. 88). So it is not astonishing that this image was never shown except for in the liturgy of Passion Week.
A glance at the appearance of the ‘crucified one’ in Christian art confirms this. In the Christian iconography there are pictures of the ‘crucified one’ dating only from the 5th century on, and as one who suffers only in the second millennium. Prior to that, the cross appears alone initially as crux invicta, as the invincible laureate cross, which the victorious Christ carries like a tropaeum in triumph (compare the way Simon a Cyrenian carries the ‘cross’ on the late Constantinian passion sarcophagus of 340/370 AD (ill. 116, left) with that of Romulus resp. Mars carrying the tropaeum in ill. 23–25, p. 91.

Also notice in the second scene from the left side that the crown of thorns really is a laurel wreath which is held above the head of Christ like in the triumph of the imperator, Christ who is depicted beardless and in toga just as a Roman, the roll in his left hand like the commander’s rod; on the right he authoritatively instructs Pilate).

And after 420/430 ad, when the first depictions of the ‘crucified’ Jesus Christ surface, he doesn’t appear as dead man but as one who defies death, victorious, anticipating his resurrection in his posture—like on this ivory relief on the London casket in the British Museum, even emphasized by the anticipated death of Judas by hanging (ill. 117, left).

Also note the way Longinus applies his ‘lance’-stab to the heart region: like a dagger thrust. And here also, Jesus is beardless, i. e. in Roman symbolism: without mourning—like Divus Iulius.

If one then looks at the development of the picture of the ‘crucifixion’ through the course of history, two things are detected: firstly the earliest pictures preserved were also popular-naive, and sparsely classical, and secondly there is no effect of gravity at all initially.

It was not until the second millennium and then only slowly that gravity becomes apparent in the ‘crucified one’—and slowly pulled him down. In former times it was different and in Byzantine resp. Greek Orthodox art it has largely remained that way to date.

Where does this illogical manner of representation stem from? Traditionally two reasons are given: The basis is said to be that originally no one wanted to portray a suffering one but rather one overcoming death-and for that a man in a standing position is better suited. Additionally there must have been a fearfulness of depicting one’s own Godman as a crucified one, a fear that allowed cross representations to develop in art only after Theodosius I had abolished the penalty of crucifixion and when the cross no longer triggered negative associations. Meanwhile, one refrains from this earlier prevailing interpretation (the Rabula-Codex and the casket in Sancta Sanctorum in Rome, both from the 5/6th century, indeed show a standing as well as suffering Jesus on the cross), opining that it simply originates from the fact that the Christian artists had no ancient examples of crucified ones available—the crucifixion was sporadically described in texts from classical times, but never portrayed, neither by painters nor by sculptors—and that no pictures nor descriptions of Jesus’ crucifixion had been passed down either. These two competing arguments, neither of which are very convincing, point to the helplessness of the circles of experts, who are still struggling for a plausible explanation. The more so as it is obvious that as soon as the man on the cross was perceived to be a crucified one, the artists immediately started to let him hang and fall down more and more. And although the artists in these instances did not have examples either, they knew that somebody who is hanging on a cross just hangs.
This is confirmed by the third century signet stones and gems from the fund of numerous small pilgrim’s souvenirs which were produced to satisfy the great demand for them after Helena the mother of Constantine had discovered the pretended ‘true’ cross of Christ in Jerusalem—at least according to tradition—and brought a part of it to Constantinople and had built a church in Jerusalem, ‘(To the) Holy Tomb’ while Constantine had further memorial buildings erected, all of which attracted more and more pilgrims in the course of time.

Irrespective of whether the signet stone resp. the gem reproduced here is about Christ, Bacchus, Dionysos or somebody else and whether they evolved from a Orphic-Christian syncretism or served for pagan-magic use, they do show that not only the artists of the second millennium but also artists from late Antiquity knew clearly, that one who was crucified has to hang on the cross and not stand up straight. One has to ask oneself whether there was a model for the atypical and unnatural representation of Christ standing on the cross which was the exclusive way of depicting him for a thousand years, a model that counteracted the hanging Christ and demanded that the ‘crucified one’ was not to hang.

The return to Caesar’s funeral again explains this paradox: originally it was not the presentation of a crucified one but the expositio of a stabbed one lying on the floor who was only erected that all could see him. Thus his arms should not be stretched upwards but rather downwards, or straight out at the most. And this is exactly what can be observed in the antique ‘crucifixions’.
The solution to the mystery of the late and anomalous appearance of the ‘crucified one’ in Christian art would then be easy. The ‘crucified one’ was at first only shown in the liturgy of the passion of Divus Iulius. This meant, according to tradition during the first centuries, that a wax simulacrum had to be made for it year after year, that was to be burned in the Easter fire. This was very important because it signified the moment of the resurrection, when the people cry out Christos anesti! resp. resurrexit! Only later, when the Christian aversion to cremation established itself and beginning with Constantine, inhumation became traditional for the emperor as well, could the liturgy be partially adjusted to the texts of the Gospels too. The Easter fire remained in symbolic form, but ‘Jesus’ was no longer burned in it, and instead of his wax simulacrum only the Easter candle, possibly together with a co-burned Judas (instead of Julius). From then on the simulacrum could also be made of different materials, out of gypsum or carved in wood, and could, for use in the next year, be preserved in the churches, which had been built in the meantime after the acceptation by the emperors. That was more economical too, which was certainly welcome in the meager years that accompanied the triumph of Christianity.
Then it was only a question of time as to when these pictorial representations of the crucified one would occur in art also, for instance at the gates of churches like in Santa Sabina in Rome where it is still visible today. However, since they not only emblematized the suffering of the Christians from the persecutions but also the victory from Constantine’s time on, they did not emphasize the suffering, but rather the victorious aspect of the crucified one, for quite some time. It was only after the decay of the Roman Empire and the triumph of the barbarians—and the accompanying subjugation of the free Roman peasants as serfs—that the suffering Christ alone remained as symbol, and of the former victory not even the remembrance remained and if any still did, then it was as a painful one also. The never-ending suffering of the Christians summoned the permanently present and everywhere visualized suffering of Christ. The age of the Crucifixus, of the Crucified one, had dawned. Caesar’s tropaeum had finally become Christ’s cross. [<]

[158] Suet. Jul. 84: Inter ludos cantata sunt quaedam ad miserationem et invidiam caedis eius accomodata, ex Pacuvi Armorum iudicio «Men servasse, ut essent qui me perderent?» et ex Electra Atili ad similem sententiam.—‘Emotions of pity and indignation for Caesar’s murder were aroused at the funeral games by singing verses like the line from Pacuvius’ play Contest for the Arms of Achilles—‘What, did I save these men that they might murder me?!’—and others with a similar sentiment from Atilius’ Electra.
Pacuvius was a Roman tragedian poet (220-130 bc); the sentence that is cited here is taken from a piece about the Trojan war. Atilius composed an apparently very literal translation of Sophocles’ Electra in Latin (cf. Stauffer 1957). [<]

[159] App. BC 2.146.611: οὐκ ἔφερεν ἔτι ὁ δῆμος, ἐν παραλόγῳ ποιούμενος τὸ πάντας αὐτοῦ τοὺς σφαγέας χωρὶς μόνου Δέκμου, αἰχμαλώτους ἐκ τῆς Πομπηίου στάσεως γενομένους, ἀντὶ κολάσεων ἐπὶ ἀρχὰς καὶ ἡγεμονίας ἐθνῶν καὶ στρατοπέδων προαχθέντας ἐπιβουλεῦσαι, Δέκμον δὲ καὶ παῖδα αὐτῷ θετὸν ἀξιωθῆναι γενέσθαι. [<]

[160] We follow Ethelbert Stauffer here, cf. Stauffer (1957), p. 21-23: Soph. El. 839 sqq.: καὶ νῦν ὑπὸ γαίας- ΗΛ. Ἒ ἔ, ἰώ. ΧΟ. πάμψυχος ἀνάσσει. 453 sq: αἰτοῦ δὲ προσπίτνουσα γῆθεν εὐμενῆ ͅ ἡμῖν ἀρωγὸν αὐτὸν εἰς ἐχθροὺς μολεῖν. 792: ΗΛ. Ἄκουε, Νέμεσι τοῦ θανόντος ἀρτίως. 1418-21: ΧΟ. Τελοῦσ' ἀραί· ζῶσιν οἱ ͅ γᾶς ὑπαὶ κείμενοι· ͅ παλίρρυτον γὰρ αἷμ' ὑπεξαιροῦσι τῶν ͅ κτανόντων οἱ πάλαι θανόντες. 33 sq:  ὅτῳ τρόπῳ πατρὶ ͅ δίκας ἀροίμην τῶν φονευσάντων πάρα.
A resonance of these improperia of March 44 is even found in Cicero in October 44 in his speech against Antonius: illum interfecerunt, quo erant conservati (Cic. Phil. 2.3.5)—‘they have killed the one who had kept them alive’. [<]

[161] Suet. Jul. 84: Laudationis loco consul Antonius per praeconem pronuntiauit senatus consultum, quo omnia simul ei diuina atque humana decreuerat, item ius iurandum, quo se cuncti pro salute unius astrinxerant; quibus perpauca a se uerba addidit. [<]

[162] App. BC 2.144.601-3: ἐφ' ἑκάστῳ δὲ τούτων ὁ Ἀντώνιος τὴν ὄψιν καὶ τὴν χεῖρα ἐς τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Καίσαρος ἐπιστρέφων ἐν παραβολῇ τοῦ λόγου τὸ ἔργον ἐπεδείκνυ. ἐπεφθέγγετο δέ πού τι καὶ βραχὺ ἑκάστῳ, μεμιγμένον οἴκτῳ καὶ ἀγανακτήσει, ἔνθα μὲν τὸ ψήφισμα εἴποι "πατέρα πατρίδος," ἐπιλέγων· "τοῦτο ἐπιεικείας ἐστὶ μαρτυρία," ἔνθα δ' ἦν "ἱερὸς καὶ ἄσυλος" καὶ "ἀπαθὴς καὶ ὅστις αὐτῷ καὶ ἕτερος προσφύγοι," "οὐχ ἕτερος," ἔφη, "τῷδε προσφεύγων, ἀλλ' αὐτὸς ὑμῖν ὁ ἄσυλος καὶ ἱερὸς ἀνῄρηται, οὐ βιασάμενος οἷα τύραννος λαβεῖν τάσδε τὰς τιμάς, ἃς οὐδὲ ᾔτησεν." [<]

[163] App. BC 2.146.611: ἐφ' οἷς ὁ δῆμος οἷα χορὸς αὐτῷ πενθιμώτατα συνωδύρετο καὶ ἐκ τοῦ πάθους αὖθις ὀργῆς ἐνεπίμπλατο. [<]

[164] App. BC 2.146.611 : καί που τῶν θρήνων αὐτὸς ὁ Καῖσαρ ἐδόκει λέγειν, ὅσους εὖ ποιήσειε τῶν ἐχθρῶν ἐξ ὀνόματος, καὶ περὶ τῶν σφαγέων αὐτῶν ἐπέλεγεν ὥσπερ ἐν θαύματι· "ἐμὲ δὲ καὶ τούσδε περισῶσαι τοὺς κτενοῦντάς με, […]". [<]

[165] App. BC 2.146: Τοιάδε εἰπὼν τὴν ἐσθῆτα οἷά τις ἔνθους ἀνεσύρατο, καὶ περιζωσάμενος ἐς τὸ τῶν χειρῶν εὔκολον, τὸ λέχος ὡς ἐπὶ σκηνῆς περιέστη κατακύπτων τε ἐς αὐτὸ καὶ ἀνίσχων, πρῶτα μὲν ὡς θεὸν οὐράνιον ὕμνει καὶ ἐς πίστιν θεοῦ γενέσεως τὰς χεῖρας ἀνέτεινεν […]. [<]

[166] Dio Cass. HR 44.48: διὰ γὰρ τοῦτο ἀρχιερεὺς μὲν πρὸς τοὺς θεούς, ὕπατος δὲ πρὸς ἡμᾶς, αὐτοκράτωρ δὲ πρὸς τοὺς στρατιώτας, δικτάτωρ δὲ πρὸς τοὺς πολεμίους ἀπεδείχθη. καὶ τί ταῦτ' ἐξαριθμοῦμαι, ὁπότε καὶ πατέρα αὐτὸν ἑνὶ λόγῳ τῆς πατρίδος ἐπεκαλέσατε; [<]

[167] App. BC 2.146.609. [<]

[168] Dio Cass. HR 44.49: ἀλλ' οὗτος ὁ πατήρ, οὗτος ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς ὁ ἄσυλος ὁ ἥρως ὁ θεὸς τέθνηκεν, οἴμοι, τέθνηκεν οὐ νόσῳ βιασθείς, οὐδὲ γήρᾳ μαρανθείς, οὐδὲ ἔξω που ἐν πολέμῳ τινὶ τρωθείς, οὐδὲ ἐκ δαιμονίου τινὸς αὐτομάτως ἁρπασθείς, ἀλλὰ ἐνταῦθα ἐντὸς τοῦ τείχους ἐπιβουλευθεὶς ὁ καὶ ἐς Βρεττανίαν ἀσφαλῶς στρατεύσας, ἐν τῇ πόλει ἐνεδρευθεὶς ὁ καὶ τὸ πωμήριον αὐτῆς ἐπαυξήσας, ἐν τῷ βουλευτηρίῳ κατασφαγεὶς ὁ καὶ ἴδιον ἄλλο κατασκευάσας, ἄοπλος ὁ εὐπόλεμος, γυμνὸς ὁ εἰρηνοποιός, πρὸς τοῖς δικαστηρίοις ὁ δικαστής, πρὸς ταῖς ἀρχαῖς ὁ ἄρχων, ὑπὸ τῶν πολιτῶν ὃν μηδεὶς τῶν πολεμίων μηδ' ἐς τὴν θάλασσαν ἐκπεσόντα ἀποκτεῖναι ἠδυνήθη, ὑπὸ τῶν ἑταίρων ὁ πολλάκις αὐτοὺς ἐλεήσας. ποῦ δῆτά σοι, Καῖσαρ, ἡ φιλανθρωπία, ποῦ δὲ ἡ ἀσυλία, ποῦ δὲ οἱ νόμοι; ἀλλὰ σὺ μέν, ὅπως μηδ' ὑπὸ τῶν ἐχθρῶν τις φονεύηται, πολλὰ ἐνομοθέτησας, σὲ δὲ οὕτως οἰκτρῶς ἀπέκτειναν οἱ φίλοι, καὶ νῦν ἔν τε τῇ ἀγορᾷ πρόκεισαι ἐσφαγμένος, δι' ἧς πολλάκις ἐπόμπευσας ἐστεφανωμένος, καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος ἔρριψαι κατατετρωμένος, ἀφ' οὗ πολλάκις ἐδημηγόρησας. οἴμοι πολιῶν ᾑματωμένων, ὢ στολῆς ἐσπαραγμένης, ἣν ἐπὶ τούτῳ μόνον, ὡς ἔοικεν, ἔλαβες, ἵν' ἐν ταύτῃ σφαγῇς." [<]

[169] App. BC 2.146 (cf. note 157): τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Καίσαρος ἐγύμνου καὶ τὴν ἐσθῆτα ἐπὶ κοντοῦ φερομένην ἀνέσειε, λελακισμένην ὑπὸ τῶν πληγῶν καὶ πεφυρμένην αἵματι αὐτοκράτορος. App. BC 2.147.612: Ὧδε δὲ αὐτοῖς ἔχουσιν ἤδη καὶ χειρῶν ἐγγὺς οὖσιν ἀνέσχε τις ὑπὲρ τὸ λέχος ἀνδρείκελον αὐτοῦ Καίσαρος ἐκ κηροῦ πεποιημένον· τὸ μὲν γὰρ σῶμα, ὡς ὕπτιον ἐπὶ λέχους, οὐχ ἑωρᾶτο. τὸ δὲ ἀνδρείκελον ἐκ μηχανῆς ἐπεστρέφετο πάντῃ, καὶ σφαγαὶ τρεῖς καὶ εἴκοσιν ὤφθησαν ἀνά τε τὸ σῶμα πᾶν καὶ ἀνὰ τὸ πρόσωπον θηριωδῶς ἐς αὐτὸν γενόμεναι. Dio Cass. HR 44.35.4 and 44.49.3-4. [<]

[170] App. BC 2.147: τήνδε οὖν τὴν ὄψιν ὁ δῆμος οἰκτίστην σφίσι φανεῖσαν οὐκέτι ἐνεγκὼν ἀνῴμωξάν τε καὶ διαζωσάμενοι τὸ βουλευτήριον, ἔνθα ὁ Καῖσαρ ἀνῄρητο, κατέφλεξαν καὶ τοὺς ἀνδροφόνους ἐκφυγόντας πρὸ πολλοῦ περιθέοντες ἐζήτουν, οὕτω δὴ μανιωδῶς ὑπὸ ὀργῆς τε καὶ λύπης, ὥστε τὸν δημαρχοῦντα Κίνναν ἐξ ὁμωνυμίας τοῦ στρατηγοῦ Κίννα, τοῦ δημηγορήσαντος ἐπὶ τῷ Καίσαρι, οὐκ ἀνασχόμενοί τε περὶ τῆς ὁμωνυμίας οὐδ' ἀκοῦσαι, διέσπασαν θηριωδῶς, καὶ οὐδὲν αὐτοῦ μέρος ἐς ταφὴν εὑρέθη. [<]

[171] Suet. Jul. 85: caputque eius praefixum hastae circumtulit. [<]

[172] Dio Cass. HR 50.3. [<]

[173] Suet. Jul. 84: [Quem cum pars in Capitolini Iovis cella cremare, pars in curia Pompei destinaret,] repente duo quidam gladiis succinti ac bina iacula gestantes ardentibus cereis succenderunt […]. [<]

[174] Suet. Jul. 84: […] confestimque circumstantium turba virgulta arida et cum subsellis tribunalia, quicquid praeterea ad donum aderat, congessit. deinde tibicines et scaenici artifices vestem, quam ex triumphorum instrumento ad praesentem usum induerant, detractam sibi atque discissam iniecere flam mae et veteranorum militum legionarii arma sua, quibus exculti funus celebrabant; matronae etiam pleraeque ornamenta sua, quae gerebant, et liberorum bullas atque praetextas. [<]

[175] Suet. Jul. 84: In summo publico luctu exterarum gentium multitudo circulatim suo quaeque more lamentata est praecipueque Iudaei, qui etiam noctibus continuis bustum frequentarunt. [<]

[176] Dio Cass. HR 44.51.1: βωμὸν δέ τινα ἐν τῷ τῆς πυρᾶς χωρίῳ ἱδρυσάμενοι (τὰ γὰρ ‹ὀστᾶ› αὐτοῦ οἱ ἐξελεύθεροι προανείλοντο καὶ ἐς τὸ πατρῷον μνημεῖον κατέθεντο) θύειν τε ἐπ' αὐτῷ καὶ κατάρχεσθαι τῷ Καίσαρι ὡς καὶ θεῷ ἐπεχείρουν. οἱ οὖν ὕπατοι ἐκεῖνόν τε ἀνέτρεψαν, καί τινας ἀγανακτήσαντας ἐπὶ τούτῳ ἐκόλασαν, […]. [<]

[177] Which is at the time of Appianus. [<]

[178] App. BC 2.148: ἔνθα βωμὸς πρῶτος ἐτέθη, νῦν δ' ἐστὶ νεὼς αὐτοῦ Καίσαρος, θείων τιμῶν ἀξιουμένου· ὁ γάρ τοι θετὸς αὐτῷ παῖς Ὀκτάουιος, τό τε ὄνομα ἐς τὸν Καίσαρα μεταβαλὼν καὶ κατ' ἴχνος ἐκείνου τῇ πολιτείᾳ προσιών, τήν τε ἀρχὴν τὴν ἐπικρατοῦσαν ἔτι νῦν, ἐρριζωμένην ὑπ' ἐκείνου, μειζόνως ἐκρατύνατο καὶ τὸν πατέρα τιμῶν ἰσοθέων ἠξίωσεν […]. [<]

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

[ Crux3 ]