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The Roman Jews (1). Are They the Most Ancient Romans Surviving?

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Man of Roma:

No thoughts to add. Only to remind Lichanos that Romans do not surrender (and don’t take prisoners.)

ψ

On a side note, the one-post-a-day discipline has ended so we’ll now post once every three days.

ψ

More time for living? For writing?

Flavia: “Sei un universo introverso”
The Old Man: “Sei un universo estroverso”

Why on earth 2 opposite universes (not to mention one being a matriarch the other a patriarch, one a man one a woman) EVER got together?

ψ

Exeunt … *quarelling*

Exeunt … *smiling*

Mario: “BASTA!”

Originally posted on Man of Roma:

An image of the Roman Ghetto. Giggetto restaurant and Augustus' Porticus Octaviae behind

An image of the Roman Ghetto. The famous Giggetto restaurant on the left with Augustus’ Porticus Octaviae in the background

“Who’s more Roman than the Roman Jews? Some of us date back from the times of Emperor Titus [39-81 AD]” – Davide Limentani told me in the early 80s.

Limentani was (and perhaps still is) at the head of a big wholesale and retail glass and silver company in Rome. I had phoned him three days earlier for an interview that had to be published on the Roman daily La Repubblica.

Ditta LimentaniI remember a lovely spring day in the old alleys of the Roman Ghetto, with swallows crying over a glorious blue sky. He was sitting at his desk in the aisle of an impressively ramified, catacomb-like store in via Portico d’Ottavia 47 (look at its stripped-down sign above,) crammed with an immense variety of crystal, pottery…

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A Berber from the Monti rione makes (today) jewels. The Berber Augustine (2000 years ago) shook Antiquity & Rome. Both changed (never to change)

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Italian original

[Draft. We’ll stop posting for a few days, this blog crying badly for graphical renovation]

A Berber jeweler,
in today’s Subura

Not far from our house and from Rome’s ancient Subura there’s a little shop where a Berber Tuareg – a tall, dark-skinned man of a majestic beauty – makes splendid jewels that perpetuate a multimillenial tradition – married, inter alia, with an equally beautiful woman from Northern Italy.

ψ

The Samnite: “An ‘acquired’ Roman, one might say.”
The Tobacconist *nodding, with a radiant smile*

A Berber metaphysician
2,000 years ago

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica by Ary Scheffer (1846)

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, his mother. 1846 painting by French Ary Scheffer (Wikipedia, click for credits and larger image)

Another ‘acquired’ Roman – born almost 2000 years earlier (and Berber too from his mother’s side) was Augustine of Hippo.

More precisely, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354 – 430 CE,) his family having been legally Roman for more than a century.

Augustinus didn’t make jewels but he almost certainly wore some very similar to those made in the small shop of the Monti rione.

The African sage ruminated, instead, his vast soul tormented.

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480, Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480 (detail.) Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits and entire painting

From such torment stemmed The Confessions and most of all The City of God – two visionary works that only a Berber-Punic Algerian could conceive.

An explosion of visions, ideas, and mysticism.

ψ

The pagan gods were shaken (but adapted themselves).

The myth of Rome was nearly destroyed – the City of God, metaphysically celestial, going way beyond the Urbs beacon of the Orb (though Rome adapted and survived, licking her wounds.)

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro a Pavia

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro a Pavia, Italia. Source (bigger picture)

 

Governess of a billion souls (of nations no more), with a Pontifex Maximus, Francesco, shepherd at last and close to the poor (like Augustine), Rome the eternal looks today at the greatest intellectual of the first millennium CE (on this side of the planet.)

With deep love and profound respect.

 

ψ

We, in our lowest pochezza, nurture the same feelings.

Without forgetting, allow us, that our roots are, and remain, pagan.

 

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Nota. L’idea mistico terrena di Roma, cemento ideologico dell’Impero Romano, venne indebolita, e l’impero con essa, dall’esplosione creativa di Agostino.

Ma l’idea non morì (e mai morirà).

ψ

Si pensi solo che gli ultimi due imperi del continente europeo dissoltisi con la prima guerra mondiale erano guidati da uno Zar, russo, e da un Kaiser, tedesco. Sia Zar che Kaiser significano Cesare, ovvero:

Gaius Julius Caesar, Pontifex Maximus e iniziatore dell’impero romano.

[Se uno credesse ai segni … ma non ci crediamo]

 

 

 

Un berbero di Monti (oggi) fabbrica gioielli. Il berbero Agostino (due millenni fa) scuote l’antichità e Roma. Che cambiano (per non cambiare mai)

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English translation

[We’ll stop posting for a few days, this blog crying badly for graphical renovation]

Gioiellere berbero,
nella Suburra, oggi

Non lontano da casa nostra e dalla Suburra c’è un negozietto dove un berbero Tuareg – uomo alto, dalla pelle scura e di maestosa bellezza – fa gioielli meravigliosi che continuano una tradizione plurimillenaria (tra l’altro essendosi unito a una donna anch’essa molto bella, del Nord Italia).

ψ

The Samnite: “Un romano ‘acquisito’, si potrebbe dire”.
The Tobacconist *annuendo, un sorriso luminoso*

Pensatore Berbero,
2000 anni fa

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica by Ary Scheffer (1846)

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, his mother. 1846 painting by French Ary Scheffer (Wikipedia, click for credits and larger image)

‘Acquisito’ lo fu un altro romano di quasi 2000 anni fa, berbero anch’egli da parte di madre, Agostino d’Ippona.  Per la precisione, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354 – 430 d.C), di famiglia legalmente romana, appunto, da più di un secolo.

Augustinus non faceva gioielli (ne avrà solo indossati di simili a quelli del Tuareg di Monti).

Augustinus in verità pensava. E si travagliava.

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480, Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480 (detail.) Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits and entire painting

Da tale travaglio nacquero Le Confessioni e soprattutto La Città di Dio, due libri geniali che solo un punico berbero algerino poteva scrivere.

Un’esplosione di visioni, idee e misticismo.

ψ

Gli dei pagani ne furono scossi (ma si adattarono).

ll mito di Roma ne fu quasi distrutto – la Città di Dio metafisicamente celeste andava oltre l’urbe faro terreno dell’orbe (ma Roma si adattò e sopravvisse, leccandosi le ferite).

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro a Pavia

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro a Pavia, Italia. Source (bigger picture)

 

Governatrice di un miliardo di anime (non più di popoli), con un Pontifex Maximus, Francesco, finalmente pastore e vicino alla povera gente (come Augustinus), Roma l’eterna guarda oggi al più grande intellettuale del primo millennio d.C.

Con amore profondo, e con rispetto.

ψ

Noi, nella nostra infima pochezza, proviamo gli stessi sentimenti.

Pur non dimenticando, ci sia concesso, che le nostre radici sono e restano pagane.

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Nota. L’idea mistico terrena di Roma, cemento ideologico dell’Impero Romano, venne indebolita, e l’impero con essa, dall’esplosione creativa di Agostino.

Ma l’idea non morì (e mai morirà).

ψ

Si pensi solo che gli ultimi due imperi del continente europeo dissoltisi con la prima guerra mondiale erano guidati da uno Zar, russo, e da un Kaiser, tedesco. Sia Zar che Kaiser significano Cesare:

Giulio Cesare, Pontifex Maximus e iniziatore dell’impero.

[Se uno credesse ai segni … ma non ci crediamo]

 

 

 

Sopravvivenza dei Saturnalia dell’antica Roma nel Natale, Capodanno e Carnevale (1)

English original

Cerchiamo di capire come i Saturnalia (la festa più popolare della Roma antica e la più diffusa in tutto l’impero romano) possano essere sopravvissuti fino a noi. Qui sotto vediamo una statua del dio Saturno, a cui la festa era dedicata.

Il dio Saturno. Museo nazionale del Bardo a Tunisi

Saturno e l’età dell’oro

Saturno, dio romano dell’agricoltura e divinità assai antica secondo le fonti, aveva (ed ha) il proprio tempio ai piedi del Campidoglio, nel Foro Romano. L’edificio ospitava una statua del dio con in mano una falce. La statua, di legno e successivamente d’avorio, aveva i piedi incatenati da fili e trecce di lana, che venivano slegati soltanto durante i Saturnali, cioè dal 17 dicembre in poi.

Il tempio venne ricostruito tre volte e le otto colonne che vediamo oggi nel foro (cfr. l’immagine qui sotto) sono ciò che rimane dell’ultimo rifacimento.

Non è un caso, credo, che il tempio ospitasse anche quanto di più prezioso vi fosse a Roma, cioè il tesoro della città o aerarium (monete, lingotti ecc.). Perché?

Perché nella mente dell’antico romano medio il dio Saturno – che, sconfitto da Giove suo figlio, trovò rifugio in Campidoglio – aveva portato nel Lazio la mitica Età dell’Oro (Aurea Aetas), un’era felice in cui gli uomini erano uguali, le leggi non necessarie, la primavera perenne e la terra spontaneamente prodiga di grano biondo e fiumi di latte e nettare che scorrevano meravigliosamente.

Il tempio di Saturno nella parte occidentale del Foro Romano. Solo il portico frontale con le sue 8 colonne è ciò che resta. Click for attribution and to zoom in.

Parole da un lontano passato

Ma ascoltiamo la descrizione dell’età dell’oro direttamente dalle parole suggestive di un antico romano, Ovidio (Metamorfosi, I, 89 e sgg.):

aurea prima est aetas
(prima viene l’età dell’oro)
sponte sua sine lege fidem rectumque colebat
(che alimentava spontaneamente, senza bisogno di leggi, verità e bontà)
nec supplex turba timebat iudicis ora suis, sed erant sine vindice tuti
(non vi era folla di supplici che temesse il volto del giudice: si viveva in sicurezza senza bisogno di protezione)
mollia peragebant otia gentes
(in molle pace la gente conduceva l’esistenza)
ver erat aeternum
(la primavera era eterna)
per se dabat omnia tellus … fruges inarata ferebat
(e la terra spontaneamente dava tutto … il frumento, non arato, cresceva)
flumina iam lactis, iam flumina nectaris ibant
(qui fiumi di latte scorrevano, lì torrenti di nettare)


Rievocazione di un’età senza legge

Ora è chiaro che i Saturnali erano una sorta di rievocazione di tale primordiale età senza legge in cui gli uomini vivevano in eguaglianza e abbondanza di tutto.

Durante i Saturnali i ricchi doni della terra erano celebrati con feste e banchetti in cui ai celebranti, riscaldati dal vino, era lecito trans-gredire (letteralmente, ‘andare oltre’, da trans + gradior) fino a stati superiori (o inferiori) della mente che potevano comportare esaltazione, spiritualità, atti esoterici, scherzi villani, giochi d’azzardo, promiscuità, scambi di doni, e in cui agli schiavi era concessa la più ampia licenza in ricordo di un’età in cui vigeva la parità tra gli uomini. Tali cerimonie collettive (come anche i riti di Dioniso noti a Roma come Baccanali) erano spesso indicate con il termine greco ὄργια o con quello romano di orgia.

[Da notare che i termini antichi solo vagamente si ricollegano al termine moderno ‘orgia’, fosse solo per il fatto che avevano significato religioso]

A differenza del culto di Saturno, quasi sconosciuto al di fuori del Lazio, i Saturnalia divennero la festa più diffusa in tutte le province dell’impero, amata da gente di ogni condizione sociale, finché essa non venne abolita dal Cristianesimo.

I cristiani in realtà non poterono eliminare del tutto i Saturnalia e così la festa fu assorbita nel Natale [vedi dopo]. Questa festa pagana sopravvisse in forme mascherate in Italia, Inghilterra, Germania, Francia, ecc.

Cerchiamo di capire meglio. Alcuni aspetti dei Saturnalia possono infatti apparire incomprensibili ai moderni.

Anche il Carnevale significava il rovesciamento dell'ordine e un passaggio dall'inverno alla primavera

Cicli e riti di passaggio

I Saturnalia appartenevano a quei riti tipici delle culture agricole più antiche di tutto il mondo.

Tali culture avevano una visione ciclica, cataclismatica – e non lineare – del tempo.

Scrive Chiara O. Tommasi Moreschini:

Siamo di fronte a “una nozione di ‘cosmo’ costituito da cicli, nati dal caos e al caos destinati a ritornare mediante una ‘catastrofe’ o ‘grande dissoluzione’, unitamente alla sete di rigenerazione e rinnovamento implicite nel compiersi dei rituali orgiastici, le cui forme aberranti rappresentano una degradazione di questa idea del ritmo dell’universo. Giacché ad un livello cosmologico l’orgia rappresenta il caos, ossia la scomparsa di limiti o barriere e la fusione in una unità, il desiderio di abolire il tempo è particolarmente evidente nelle orge che avvengono, in varie forme, durante le feste del nuovo anno, considerato il dramma stagionale per eccellenza. Insieme alle altre caratteristiche di eventi analoghi, il ritorno simbolico del caos primigenio indica l’abolizione del tempo profano in modo che si compia la dissoluzione del mondo ed il ripristino del momento mitico in cui inizio e fine coincidono. È questo il motivo per cui tali feste sono costantemente caratterizzate da un tentativo di abolire ordine e consuetudini, dando libero corso alla licenza, violando le regole e sospendendo le leggi, con possibili ribaltamenti delle condizioni sociali, e, in altre parole, convergenza degli opposti”.

L’universo, la storia si ripetevano dunque in un eterno ritorno ad epoche mitiche in modo che la fine di un ciclo (solare, annuale, lunare o stagionale) generava un nuovo inizio; così che la dissoluzione coincidesse con la rigenerazione, il caos, l’arbitrarietà e la trans-gressione si tramutassero in un nuovo ordine in cui la gente si sentiva rigenerata e disposta a tornare alla norma.

Il sole sorge all'orizzonte

Tali momenti di passaggio venivano celebrati in festività in cui la promiscuità era un modo per ottenere la fertilità.

“L’antichità classica – nota ancora Chiara O. Tommasi Moreschini – ricorda varie feste durante le quali ciò che di norma era proibito era invece tollerato: i Sacaea a Babilonia o nella regione del Ponto, che erano celebrati in estate in onore della dea Ishtar o Anaitis e che comprendevano, tra l’altro, un re travestito da servo; lo Zagmuk, o festa delle ‘sorti’, che si celebrava in Mesopotamia all’inizio dell’anno ed annoverava licenza in materia sessuale, oltre alla detronizzazione simbolica del re; i Kronia in Grecia [ad Atene e in Attica, MoR] ed i Saturnalia a Roma [il romano Saturno e il greco Kronos vennero identificati dai Romani, MoR]; ma altresì feste femminili come le Tesmoforie o la celebrazione romana della Bona Dea [di cui una descrizione, in questo blog, è nel post Sex and the city (de Roma) 2, MoR], che offrivano alle donne l’opportunità di indulgere a modo loro in certi eccessi”.

Tracce nella mente dei moderni

Ora è probabile che questo passato spirituale (assieme al perdurante effetto dei mutamenti naturali) abbia lasciato / lasci profonde tracce anche nelle menti contemporanee. Continuiamo ad avvertire questo fine-inizio di qualcosa durante il periodo di Natale / Capodanno; l’effetto ci colpisce nel profondo, e ci agita anche, come una specie di sisma che ci investe. E, allo stesso tempo, sentiamo la dolcezza della famiglia e le sensazioni religiose cristiane.

Il che ci porta alla nascita di Cristo.

I Saturnali, la nascita del Dio Sole e Cristo

Disco dedicato a Sol Invictus (Sole Invitto). Argento, opera romana del III sec. d.C. Da Pessinus, Asia Minore. British Museum. Click for attribution

Data la popolarità dei Saturnalia i fondatori del cristianesimo, desiderando conquistare i pagani alla nuova fede, assorbirono i Saturnalia nelle celebrazioni della nascita di Cristo.

I Saturnalia iniziavano il 17 dicembre e si concludevano il 25 dicembre, il giorno del solstizio d’inverno secondo il vecchio calendario giuliano istituito da Giulio Cesare (è il nostro 21 dicembre secondo l’attuale calendario gregoriano).

Ebbene, quando nacque Cristo? Nessuno lo sapeva esattamente, anche se alcuni passaggi biblici fanno pensare alla primavera.

Fu Papa Giulio I che nel 350 d.C. scelse il 25 dicembre (corrispondente al nostro 21 dicembre, dunque il solstizio d’inverno), il che si rivelò una saggia decisione non solo per la data della fine dei Saturnalia, ma anche perché in quello stesso giorno, il 25, si celebrava da secoli la nascita di Mitra / Sol Invictus, il dio solare (e infatti il solstizio d’inverno altro non era che la morte / rinascita del sole).

E, va detto, il dio del sole in tutte le sue forme era molto amato. Prima di essere gradualmente sostituito dal Dio cristiano, il Sol Invictus era il culto ufficiale del tardo impero romano.

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Extropian: “Secondo Tom Harpur (The Pagan Christ) pochi cristiani si rendono conto oggi che ancora nel V secolo d.C. [quindi ben quattro secoli dopo la nascita di Cristo!] Papa Leone Magno dovette ordinare ai fedeli di smetterla di adorare il sole”.

Mario: “Ho letto qualcosa in un forum americano: questa “diceria che i Saturnalia spesso degeneravano in una grande festa con orge e alcol … è ironico che noi cristiani utilizziamo questa giornata per celebrare la nascita del nostro Salvatore venuto su questa terra proprio per salvarci da tali peccati “.

MoR: “Be’, come detto prima, avvertiamo tutti come uno strano conflitto durante queste feste: combattuti tra religiosità e divertimento, eccesso e buona volontà, sentimenti della famiglia e consumismo pagano”.

MoR: “Un conflitto, forse, generato da quel compromesso antico (dare forma cristiana a feste pagane), conflitto che probabilmente era assente ai tempi dei Saturnalia, quando trans-gressione (l’andar oltre, l’eccesso) e religione non erano sempre separate come lo sono oggi. Al contrario, esse a volte coincidevano. τὰ ὄργια (o orgiae) era caratteristica dei culti misterici, intrisi di altissima spiritualità ed etica. Una cosa impensabile oggi, dopo quasi due millenni di Cristianesimo”.

ψ

Nel prossimo articolo vedremo meglio come si svolgevano i Saturnalia.

Survivals of Roman Saturnalia in Christmas, New Year and Carnival? (1)

Originally posted on Man of Roma:

Dafna asked me to write about the Roman Saturnalia, a festival in honour of Saturn.

“Inspired by Richard’s musing about Christmas – she said – I just discovered the term: ‘Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time ….’ Sounds like fun.”

So here we are Dafna, although my mind is blurred by all this saturnalian revels, starting in Italy on Dec. 24 and ending with the Epiphany, Gen. 6.

Quite a long time isn’t it.

Ma poi ecco l’Epifania
che tutte le feste si porta via.

Saturn & the Golden Age

Saturn, the Roman god of seed and sowing, very ancient according to sources, had his temple built at the foot of the Capitoline hill. It housed a wooden (later ivory) statue of the god filled with oil, holding a scythe and whose feet bound…

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Blog Break. And a Conversation on Love over at Richardus’ Londinium Pub

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Pastry shop Bernasconi

Enjoy a Roman everyday's scene. "The family-run kosher pastry shop Bernasconi, on Via dei Giubbonari, has only one table outside. Actually one table, period." Picture (and text) by Eleonora Baldwin, from her "Roma every day". Click to enlarge.

This blog is taking a vacation. A one month vacation.

Above you can see a Roman scene as taken by Eleonora Baldwin’s camera. Eleonora is a Roman, but her father is Irish American.

ψ

Here is a conversation occurred over at Richardus.

It is about Love.

I paste, as usual, what I deem relevant to my blog themes.

Wow, Love! [Readers will think]

Wrong. No easy stuff … but fun, none the less.

Richardus:

“Aristophanes may search for his other half, but I search for my whole self.

Thrust into a hostile world, I trudge towards my inevitable grave in utter isolation, seeking an impossible solace, never knowing who I am.

Suddenly, I peer into the eyes of another and see myself. Here is my peace, my consolation, my defence.

I claim those eyes to be always with me as I am always with myself. Perhaps I procreate, but only incidentally.

Selfless caring for another is true love. With practice it may become as universal as its source.

Lev Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana", 1908, the first color photo portrait in Russia

Geraldine: I hear Tolstoy in this post and I’m not surprised.

Richardus: How would you unravel Christianity from Anna Karenin, Geraldine? I haven’t read War and Peace.

Geraldine: Your post reminded me more of how Tolstoy thought. For example you said:

“Suddenly, I peer into the eyes of another and see myself. Here is my peace, my consolation, my defence.”

Tostoy was conscious that the soul is godlike and unites all of us [italic by MoR]. The same soul lives in all of us. Emerson also refers to this in “The Over Soul.” The Hindu religion refers to this with the hands in prayer and the bow to each other: The God in me recognizes the God in you. Is this not what you mean?

To answer your question, I unravel Christianity in the novel in a simple way. Even though Toystoy had a profound insight into human suffering and behaviour his writing is morally severe. There is punishment and it is binary. I believe Levin is modeled after Tolstoy.

Anna defies or flaunts the rules of her society and receives a tragic end. Levin achieves fulfillment as a committed landowner and is involved in society. One protagonist lives outside of himself (if this sounds right) the other follows her own needs. Values, sacrifice, self-possession or self-control are scrutinized to the core.

In this work love is not light. It all suggest judgment.

Note I didn’t say that the love is not right. I do not know.

Kaytis:

True love is so hard to find and to keep. You paint a lovely picture Richard, of an ideal. Beautifully expressed.

Man of Roma:

What is true love? Everybody is in search for Love, in his /her own way.

Plato, Magister

While I am studying for my Manius soap I now think of this:

1) on one hand we have sapientiae voluptas (or wisdom’s, knowledge hedonism, since real knowledge implies passion, joy, love, it implies trying to probe – with poetry? sacred books? philosophy? science? – the big mysteries of the universe: death, God etc.

But on the other hand we also have 2) corporis volutpas, ie bodily pleasure, not necessarily vile: at its best it is love for a human being; at its worst banal lust.

A man (don’t know about women, they are more mysterious to me the more I age) is imo torn between 1 and 2.

Plato's chariot in Phaedrus: the Charioteer is our Reason, 1 horse is soul's positive passionate nature; the other horse our soul's concupiscent nature.

1) is the white horse in Plato’s Phedrus chariot (Plato influenced the Jews and the Christians), and 2) is the black horse, especially as for non-spiritual love. Who is riding the two-horsed chariot? It is our Reason.

Now men, I don’t know about women, are badly torn between 1 and 2. If they are not, throw stones at me because I am.

Torn between being a monk (of wisdom, at least tentative) and a libertine? Between ‘the Being’ & Love for a person in flesh? Hard to say.

At times the Woman, for a Man, may take us to God, to the Spirit, to the Being, like Beatrice did with Dante, or Polia with Polyphilo (ie, lover of Polia, in Francesco Colonna’a palatial neoplatonical Renaissance Comedy (Poliphilo’s Strife of Love in a Dream) – the anti-Dante – since the 2 lovers finally get united in their love – thanks to Polia – before the Cosmic Venus; yes, no Madonna there, but Venus at her highest level of purity).

Dante meets Beatrice at Ponte Santa Trinità

Dante meets Beatrice at Ponte Santa Trinità, by Henry Holiday, 1883. Click to enlarge

Now our flight in such chariot towards Platonic Good, the Ideas (or the Christian God, or the neoplatonic cosmic Venus etc.) goes up when reason and the white horse prevail. It tends to flap flap flap down to bodily vile stuff when corporis voluptas, bodily desire, is stronger.

As for myself, num 2 is very powerful. My flight is often low, non-spiritual, my quest vile, although my desire for num 1 – for Good, God and so forth – is never ending, and is bugging me all the time, and each time I flap flap flap a bit higher, I do feel better.

Ok. I am very confused (plus verbose). Asta la vista babies

Richardus:

Well, now Roma, since you seek to distinguish hormonal and spiritual love, I must re-read the Symposium to see what is said there on the subject.

You raise also the matter of Christianity, for which love is the beginning the middle and the end.

Then we have love by love by internet, whose progenitor is love by letter-writing, yet less considered, or maybe less the product of reason.

There is a common thread which I must seek. I may be a little while. :D

Richardus:

You remind me, MoR, of a blond Adonis I knew at school into whose arms a succession of beauties fell, unregretting.

We mortals listened to him in awe. It was a boys’ school, so our knowledge of female anatomy was rudimentary and, shall we say, of a more academic nature. We envied the time he spent on his special study and the joy and adoration he left in his wake.

He went on to become a doctor, the better to develop his talents.

:mrgreen:

Man of Roma:

I’ll be verbose as usual.

Dear Richardus, sweet Celtic Geraldine:

I was in a boys’ school too, for the reason that, in my Liceo Classico, the headmaster, an absolute moron, decided to create, right on that darn year, one class of just girls and another of just boys (us, alas). So, our knowledge of women was also very academical. And, among us, we also had a brown-haired green-eyed Adonis. So beautiful he was, Tommaso, that he made our ‘female vacuum’ (if one can say that) even more painful: since, each time a girl approached our buddies’ group he quickly seduced her – she was powerless before Him, so she knelt down, and was lost in love – and nothing was left to us.

This occurred again and again.

Oh boy, what absolute starvation for a couple of (very formative btw) years, ie btw 15 and 17. It made us ALL very shallow for a long while as for the other gender: id est, when we met ANYTHING that faintly reminded us of the human female (in an age range btw 13 to 98), she, to us, was just flesh, flesh, flesh. Well, at that age, hormones were active. I, for example, couldn’t easily conceive a girl-friend in the sense of a real ‘friend’. Then I evolved I guess (and hope lol).

Bust of Pythagoras

Pythagoras. Roman copy of a Greek original. Musei Capitolini, Roma. Via Wikipedia. Click for attribution

Yes, Richard, Plato is the Great Teacher of us Christians. Christ I guess did his part, but Plato is the supreme Magister of us all in the West. Forget Aristotle imo. But let us not neglect Pythagoras, Plato’s real mentor (even if dead long before Plato’s time) according to Plato himself and to many scholars, together with Socrates of course, of which little we know, and in any case Socrates was Pythagoras’ pupil also.

Now, what fascinates me [all readers here now taking a nap, I know] is the link Orpheus-Pythagoras. What a great theme!!

Which leads us into 2 sparkling directions: pre-Celtic North Europe, and India!

But that is a story I’ll try to unfold in the Manius plot.

Manius btw seems that it will be published – I was toasting yesterday with wifey – both in Italian (paper book) and in English (e-book: this version needs bigger editing, it is clear). I just have to finish it in 8 months time in a plausible and entertaining – and hopefully deep enough – way. Hard work, and contrary to my nature, whimsical & undisciplined. But in any case.

Blogger Love, you’ve mentioned.

The Love I developed for you Anglo-Saxons & similar, I guess I owe all to that,. To sweet Richard, Philippe, Mr C, Geraldine, and to ALL the American people, ALL of them etc. You people brought me -I forgot how – into discovering Ancient Britannia, fascinating to me to the extent that I now dream of it, like Giorgio in the plot (who in fact is me, obsessed by the theme).

This Love, dear dear Richard, gave me so much inspiration and happiness.

I read the elegance of you people’s words, I look at the pics you people publish (your houses, your windows so different from ours: they must allow more light, ours less) with so much Love (I now sound corny, I know). And well, yes, it is again the white and the black horse (hyperborea, the American & the British-isles type of Woman), and Reason, the Charioteer, sometimes (or often) faltering in its guide.

But this is the way we are, humans who are not only human, since perhaps there’s some extra sparkle (from somewhere where we came from and are bound to return).

As marvellous Geraldine so gently has told us – in her Irish Celtic, untouched-by-the-Romans, pure, Nordic Female’s words …

Survivals of Roman Saturnalia in Christmas, New Year and Carnival? (1)

Dafna asked me to write about the Roman Saturnalia, a festival in honour of Saturn.

“Inspired by Richard’s musing about Christmas – she said – I just discovered the term: ‘Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time ….’ Sounds like fun.”

So here we are Dafna, although my mind is blurred by all this saturnalian revels, starting in Italy on Dec. 24 and ending with the Epiphany, Gen. 6.

Quite a long time isn’t it.

Ma poi ecco l’Epifania
che tutte le feste si porta via.

Saturn & the Golden Age

Saturn, the Roman god of seed and sowing, very ancient according to sources, had his temple built at the foot of the Capitoline hill. It housed a wooden (later ivory) statue of the god filled with oil, holding a scythe and whose feet bound with woollen threads were released only in the days of the Saturnalia – Dec. 17 onward.

The temple was rebuilt three times and today’s eight-column remnants (see the image below) represent what is left of its last remaking.

It is no coincidence, I believe, that the temple also housed what was most precious in Rome (coins, ingots etc.,) ie the city treasury or aerarium. Why?

Because to the Roman mind Saturn – who defeated by his son Jupiter had found refuge in Latium, on the Capitol – had brought to the Romans and Latins the mythical Golden Age (Aurea Aetas,) an era of bliss when men were equal, laws not necessary, spring eternal, earth spontaneously offering its blonde corn and rivers of milk and nectar marvellously flowing.

The temple of Saturn in the west end of the Roman Forum. Only the front portico with its 8 columns is now left standing. Click for attribution and to zoom in.

Words from the Past

Mario: “Wow, the Golden Age. Were men of solid gold too?”
MoR: “Possibly. Yes, if I well interpreted Lucian’s Saturnalia.”

Let us then listen to the arcane words of Ovid just to catch glimpses of it all (Metamorphoses, I, 89 & ff.)

aurea prima est aetas
(the Golden Age is first)
sponte sua sine lege fidem rectumque colebat
(which spontaneously, without laws, the true and the good nurtured)
nec supplex turba timebat iudicis ora suis, sed erant sine vindice tuti
(no crowd of suppliants fearing their judge’s face: they lived safely without protection)
mollia peragebant otia gentes
(in soft peace people spent their lives )
ver erat aeternum
(Spring was eternal)
per se dabat omnia tellus … fruges inarata ferebat
(by itself earth gave all … wheat, unmanured, bore)
flumina iam lactis, iam flumina nectaris ibant
(sometimes rivers of milk flowed, sometimes streams of nectar)


Re-enacting a Lawless Age

Now it is clear that the Saturnalia was a sort of re-enactment of such primordial, lawless age when men lived in equality and abundance of all.

During Saturnalia the rich gifts of the earth were celebrated with feasts and banquets where celebrators, heated with wine, were allowed to trans-gress unto higher (sometimes lower) states of mind which could include wild games, spirituality, esoteric acts, gambling, sexual promiscuity, exchange of gifts, and where slaves were given the broadest license which reminded the ancient rule of equality amongst men. Many similar ancient collective ceremonies (like the rites of Dionysus known in Rome as the Bacchanalia) were often referred to by the Greek term ὄργια or the Roman term orgia.

[Note that the old terms are only partially connected with the modern term ‘orgy’, if only for the fact that they had a religious character]

Unlike the cult of Saturn almost unknown outside Latium, Saturnalia became the most popular festival in every province of the empire relished by the people of any social condition until the triumph of Christianity.

The Christians couldn’t entirely abolish Saturnalia so they absorbed it into Christmas and this pagan festival survived also in other disguised forms as we shall see (in Italy, England, Germany, France etc.)

Let us try to better understand. A few aspects of Saturnalia may in fact sound weird to us modern people.

maschera_carnevale_venezia

Cycles and Rites of Passage

Saturnalia belonged to those rituals typical of the most ancient agricultural cultures all the over world.

Such cultures had a cyclic more than a linear view of time.

Universe, history repeated themselves in an eternal return to mythical ages in a way that the end of a cycle (light, sun, year, moon or season cycles) coincided with a new beginning; that dissolution coincided with regeneration; that chaos, lawlessness and transgression transmuted themselves into a new order where people felt renewed and ready to get back to norm.

These passages were celebrated in festivals where “such dissolution – Chiara O. Tommasi Moreschini argues – we notice in the overturning of social hierarchy and in sexual promiscuity, a way to achieve fertility; we notice it in Sacaea, a festival in Babylon or in Pontus in honour of the goddess Ishtar or Anaitis which included, among the rest, a king disguised as servant; in the Zagmuk celebrated in Mesopotamia at the beginning of the year and comprising both sexual license and a symbolic dethroning of the king; in the Kronia [in Athens and Attica, MoR] and in the Roman Saturnalia [Roman Saturn and Greek Kronos sort of merged] but also in women-only festivals like the Greek Thesmophoria [in honour of Demeter] or like the Bona Dea rituals in Rome [of which a description is in our Sex and the city (of Rome) 2] where women were offered a chance to indulge in some excess in their own way.”

Traces in Modern Minds

Now I believe this whole spiritual past (plus the evelasting effects of nature changes) left deep traces in today’s minds. We still feel this deeply emotional (and sometimes distressing) end-beginning of something during the Christmas / New Year festivities, like a seismic shift that takes hold of us a bit. And at the same time we feel the family sweetness and Christian religious vibrations.

Which brings us to Christ’s birth.

Leaf disc dedicated to Sol Invictus (Unconquerable Sun.) Silver, Roman artwork, 3rd century AD. From Pessinus, Asia Minor. British Museum. Click for attribution

Saturnalia, the Sun God & Christ’s Birth

Given the popularity of Saturnalia the founders of Christianity desiring to win the pagans to the new faith absorbed the Saturnalia into the celebrations of the birth of Christ.

Saturnalia started Dec. 17 and ended Dec. 25, day of the winter solstice according to the old Julian (Julius Caesar’s) calendar (12/21 according to ours, the Gregorian.)

Now, when was Christ born? No one knew exactly – although some biblical evidence suggests Spring.

It was Pope Julius I who in 350 CE chose Dec. 25 (winter solstice according to Caesar’s calendar.) Which proved a wise decision not only because of Saturnalia end date but also because in that same 12/25 the birth of Mithra / Sol Invictus, the sun god, had long been celebrated – the winter solstice being in fact the death-rebirth of the sun.

And, it must be said, the sun god in all his forms was very popular. Before it was gradually replaced by Christianity Sol Invictus was actually the official cult of the late Roman empire.


Extropian:
“According to Tom Harpur (The Pagan Christ) “few Christians today realize that in the 5th century CE [so 4 centuries after the birth of Christ!] pope Leo the Great had to tell Church members to stop worshipping the sun.” “

Mario: “I read something in a forum: this “rumour that the Saturnalia generally degenerated into a big party with orgy and drinking … it’s ironic in that Christians use this day to celebrate the birth of their Saviour who came to save them from such sins.”

MoR: “Well, as I have said, we all feel – a Westerly universal feeling – like a strange conflict during these holidays: between holiness and fun, excess and good-will, religious /family feelings and pagan consumerism.”

MoR: “A conflict generated perhaps by that old compromise – eg the adaptation of Pagan rites to Christian rites – and absent probably at the times of the Saturnalia, when trans-gression and religion (trans-gression in the original sense of ‘going beyond’, from Latin trans + gradior) were not always separated as they are today. On the contrary, they at times coincided. τὰ ὄργια or orgiae, characteristic of mystery cults, were a supremely mystical & ethical experience, which is incomprehensible today, after almost two thousand years of Christianity.”

ψ

Read part 2:

Roman Saturnalia. Frenzy, Banquets, Slaves and Gifts (2)

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