Isaac Ben Jacob

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Of the Judaic origins of the Roman people

 

There is an unfathomable mystery that plunges to the very roots of the founding of Rome and which unfortunately has fallen somewhat into oblivion. This is the legend that tells of three male triplets from Rome: the Horatii. These three celebrated brothers were set to fight three male triplets from Alba Longa: The Curiatii. The settlement of the war between these two neighbouring cities would depend on the outcome of the battle between the Horatii and the Curiatii.

 

During this fratricidal struggle, two Horatii were mortally wounded, but the third, turning as if to flee, managed to kill the three injured Curiatii one by one. When the victorious Horatius returned to Rome bearing his triple trophy he received the congratulations of all of Rome, but his sister cried out in grief because she realised the young Curiatius to whom she had been engaged was dead. Then Horatius drew his sword and killed his weeping sister proclaiming, "So perish any Roman woman who mourns the enemy." Although condemned to death for this shameful act, he was acquitted, and following the decision of the people's assembly not to punish him for the murder, he was required to pass under a beam which spanned the street, as if under the yoke, this was the symbol of the submission to Roman law.

 

The Historian Titus Livius, writing at the end of the 1st century BC said in his "History of Rome" that, "there is hardly anything more noble in all of antiquity than the victory of the Romans over the Curiatii", and that's what the French dramatist Pierre Corneille suggested in 1640 when writing his play "Horace" which begins in an atmosphere of peace and happiness until the fratricidal war breaks out between the two cities and destroys the harmony between the Roman Horatii family and the Alban Curiatii. Their fate has been decided and during combat, two Horatii are quickly killed, and the last, the hero of the play, must then confront the three injured Curiatii alone. Filled with cunning and bravery, he first pretends to flee to avoid facing them all together. Then, when he attacks, he kills them one by one and thus achieves victory.

Tomb of Horatii and Curiatii

'Landscape Capriccio with Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii, and the Villa of Maecenas at Tivoli' 1754 Richard Wilson

Titus Livius

The battle of Horatii and Curiatii

'Battle between Horatii and Curiatii' 1612-1613 Giuseppe Cesari (il Cavalier d'Arpino)

Titus Livius Arrival of Aeneas in Italy, Claude Lorrain

'St. Peters and the Vatican from the Janiculum'

  1757 Richard Wilson

'Mars and Rhea Silvia'

  C 1616 Peter Paul Rubens

Geographically, Alba Longa, the stronghold of the Curiatii, was located just south east of the capital of the Horatii and antiquity sees it as one of the founding cities of Rome, Livy places it at the foot of the Alban Mount. Inevitably, there is a correspondence between Saturnia / Alba and Janiculum / Rome. But keep going: Alba was founded by Ascanius, the only son of the Trojan hero Aeneas and his first wife Créüse daughter of Priam, (or according to another legend Ascanius may have been the son of Aeneas and Lavinia and thus born in Latium, not Troy.) Ascanius, also known as "lulus," had for descendants the Gens Julia / the Julians, the clan to which Julius Caesar belonged and Silvius Procus and all the kings of Alba Longa.

 

Silvius left two descendants, Numitor, the rightful heir to the throne, and his brother Amulius. Amulius overthrew Numitor and seized power. Taking Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, he forced her into becoming a Vestal Virgin dedicated to the cult of Vesta, thus ensuring she could never bear any sons that might overthrow him. However Rhea was one day seduced by the god Mars, resulting in the birth of Romulus and Remus. The usurper Amulius condemned Rhea Silvia to death by burying her alive for forsaking her vow of chastity and not content with this act, he grabbed the twins and set them adrift on the river Tiber in a woven basket. The two children were carried by the swollen river onto the bank of the future Rome. The river-god, Tiberinus, found the twins and gave them to a she-wolf thereby ensuring their survival. According to legend, a shepherd and his wife then fostered them and raised them to manhood as shepherds. The twins proved to be natural leaders and acquired many followers. When told their true identities, they killed Amulius and restored Numitor to the throne of Alba Longa, and then decided to found a new city on the banks of the Tiber where the river had deposited them. However, a dispute arose about where to locate the new city and they agreed to determine the site through augury. Romulus appeared to receive the more favourable signs, but each claimed the results in his favour. This dispute was followed by the famous victory of Romulus over his brother Remus. As we have suggested, the struggle between two peoples can be seen here, and it repeats itself at regular intervals in the history of the Trojan nation. Beyond any doubt, we are being told something of great significance, something that had to traverse down through the centuries throughout history.

 

 

Janus, God of the Twin Gates

 

Now let us summarise: both Horace and Romulus are archetypal personifications of the Roman people. Why could it not be the same situation for Janus? All these stories relate to the founding of the Eternal City and to the triumph of the ideal of Roman glory in vanquishing a branch of their own people who were not destined to reign.

 

Are we in the presence of a tradition that implies that the Roman people had a common origin with the Hebrews, and that the Old Testament in describing the fall of man, and the role played in this fall by the original serpent (Satan), was the prelude to another complementary alliance, i.e. to the New Testament? Indeed, the Midrashim and the Talmud as well as the Judaic exegesis, have always maintained that the fall of man was not a fatality, but was reversible. Thus, the Old Testament, as well as being the repository of this tragic fate, none the less was a vibrant plea for the salvation of mankind. If it is read by an enlightened mind, it is a powerful sign of a reversion of all the elements that combined to bring about the fall of humanity. We must also remember that, in antiquity, the reference to Saturn was not of itself a negative aspect. The destiny of this god is none other than the destiny of the human race. It consists of a fall, an incarnation, a coming down to earth, the aim of which is to return step by step towards the divine nature by following the Scriptures, and which, when read with all the clarity and science of Judaism, paradoxically becomes the key to salvation, the element in which the New Testament is comprised in almost all its entirety.

The finding of Moses, Alexander F.Loemans

'Arrival of Aeneas in Italy, the Dawn of the Roman Empire'

  C 1620 -80 Claude Lorrain

In contrast, doesn't the Apocalypse have Jesus saying: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end of all things"? Has not Ovid defined Janus as the omnipotent father, the god of the beginning and end of all things?

Furthermore, their names have a strange similarity. The name "God" in Latin, is taken directly from the Greek "Dzeus" – Zeus – which is pronounced "Deus". And therefore Christianity would not be uniquely Judaic, or rather, the Greeks and Romans would have a Judaic origin which would give them both a common ancestry. Moreover, not only did the grammarians of antiquity transcribe "Zeus" with "ΔΕΥΣ" (Deus), but they also applied to him another meaning. It is as follows: Deus would mean "duo" (two).... and here we have a correspondence with Janus Bifrons, double by nature.

 

And don't forget, Satan rebelled, and believing himself equal with the Father, was cast down from heaven. Saturn imitates Satan in his intentions, and eventually suffers exile from Olympus, being kicked out by Jupiter. But both of them will be useful to God's projects. The first, Saturn, cleansed of his sins by the divine Janus, sees himself given the “Latere”, the sacred land of Latium. The other, Satan, obliged by the Cross of the Saviour, abdicates his claim in order to make way for redemption, and for the retrospective annihilation of the original sin.

 

From this reasoning follows that the Christianism of Horace resides in Rome itself. No matter the era, the actors in this drama perpetuate an immortal tradition, that of a religion over and above time and human weaknesses, a religion inherent to the nature of God. No wonder we're not surprised to see resonating down through the centuries the deeds and actions of illustrious men, as they are like an echo of an imperceptible world whose only earthly representations were Rome and Israel. Has Virgil not hammered home the point to us that Rome "left to the other nations such things as arts and science, as a reminder that Rome herself was destined to keep within her empire all the peoples of the earth, to impose everywhere the reign of Zeus, to spare the humble and to crush the proud"?

 

Finally, if Horace had a duty to triumph over the Albans, it is certainly not out of vanity, but rather by the spirit of servitude, of submission to the secret designs of God. Horace was the receptacle of the whole Trojan doctrine, and the instrument of divine plans that went beyond him.

'The Finding of Moses'

 C 1870 Alexander F. Loemans

Mars and Rhea Silvia

As soon as the play was performed on stage, the ideal of honour and glory as expressed by the actors in this drama provoked strongly divided opinions, at times even leading to violence. One sees Pascal in opposition to Horace, calling him "the inhuman character", while seeing in the figure of Curiace "goodness personified"; while Bossuet, in his "Maxims and Reflections on Comedy", condemns as severely as Jansenism, the ideal of the glory exalted by the Romans, an ideal which, according to him expresses "the most subtle and dangerous of evil desires, demonic pride." Should we not see in this condemnation, the virulent reaction of a certain elite, moved by the tragedy of Horace, and the great Roman ideal that it expressed?

 

A rehabilitation of this play was outlined by Napoleon for the purposes of propaganda. He was inspired by the words of Montesquieu, who stated: "Under a monarchic regime, we do not judge the actions of men as good, but as beautiful; not as righteous, but as great, not as reasonable, but as extraordinary." Therefore "Horace" was acquitted of his crime because of exaggerated patriotism. But the depths of this story nevertheless remained obscure, since such stances had to be justified by political or religious implications, the ins and outs of which were only understood by intellectuals. It was not until 1910 that Charles Péguy outlined what was actually at stake behind the drama of the Horatii and the Curiatii: "We see that the whole Roman martyr stance, the "Polyeucte" is already germinating, we can see its origins in "Horace", and the Christian is already there, twice, three times announced, promised by the heroism, by the civic, by a kind of inner holiness, ... by the Roman, by the earthly Roman, and by the temporal destination of Rome."

 

The accomplished panegyrist Louis Herland, pushed this to the extreme in "Horace or the birth of man" (1952), eulogising the Roman spirit: "How can we not recognise, in the rigorous virtue of Horace, the idea of the infinite strictness of God over his elected? [...] To whom exactly, does he offer his sacrifice? To the glory of man and over and above that, to the glory of God his creator [...] It is to this absolute requirement of grandeur that he sacrifices that which he holds dearest: if he strives to smother the voice of tenderness within him, it's because he knows that it often disguises our weaknesses. Neither desire for power within him, nor the Nietzschean mysticism of “energy for energy”, nor fanaticism for the mother-country or any other ideology, but the calling of sacrifice, and a strong will towards austerity and inner purification, and why not say it? Towards holiness. The Roman virtue, as Horace understands it, has no more borders than the church (the primitive Judeo-Christian church). And what he reproaches Curiace for, is having expressly debased himself in order to have nothing in common with him or with the ideals of virtue that he professed, because it is the Roman ideal. [...] No wonder that Curiace is so popular with us, he embodies all the lies that for the last hundred years we have been taught to revere [...] Horace personifies a chivalrous conception of war, which has now become incomprehensible to all modern nations."

 

Charles Péguy expressed the idea of a Rome that was Christian before its time, Louis Herland consolidated this idea and it is this reality, running below the surface of the official history of the Western world, which provoked so much noise when suggested by Pierre Corneille in his drama “Horace”.

 

 

From the ashes of Troy a nation is born

 

Now, let's take a closer look at the story as told by the great historian Titus Livius: Chapter XXIII: "Both sides made extraordinary preparations for a war, which closely resembled a civil war between parents and children, for both were of Trojan descent, since Lavinium was an offshoot of Troy, and Alba of Lavinium, and the Romans were sprung from the stock of the kings of Alba (according to legend, Alba was founded by Ascanius, son of Aeneas). The outcome of the war, however, made the conflict less deplorable, as there was no regular engagement of troops, and though one of the two cities was destroyed, the two nations were blended into one".

 

Chapter XXIV: "There happened to be in each of the armies a triplet of brothers, fairly matched in years and strength. It is generally agreed that they were called Horatii and Curiatii. Few incidents in antiquity have been more widely celebrated... The kings suggested to them that they should each fight on behalf of their country, and where victory rested, there should be the sovereignty."

As a reflection, we must note that reference is made here to two peoples with a common ancestry; two peoples who will be united into one nation by force of circumstances, while not being maintained in a status of strict equality, because one of them will see its supremacy assured.

 

Following this reasoning, we can see that the original Rome was inhabited by two peoples, whose ruins could still be contemplated at the time of Aeneas. To carry on with our investigations, let us turn to a context drawn from the "Aeneid" by Virgil: Lavinia, the only daughter of Latinus King of the Latins and his wife Amata, she was promised in marriage to Turnus, King of the Rutuli. However, Faunus, her grandfather, was advised by his oracles to oppose the wedding, and they predicted the arrival of a stranger, from whom would arise a people to rule the world.

 

Aeneas, having landed on the shores of Latium, found refuge with King Latinus. The latter, inspired by the prophecy of Faunus, gave him the hand of his daughter Lavinia in marriage. But Juno, who persecuted the survivors of Troy after its destruction by the Achaeans, prompted a senseless war via the intermediary of Turnus. It was then that the god Tiberinus appeared to Aeneas and encouraged him to seek protection with King Evander. There follows a meeting between the king and the offspring of the Trojan race, during which Evander takes him to contemplate the ancient woods on which the mighty Rome would be established. According to Virgil, "Evander led the noble Aeneas, followed by his companions, towards the land of the Tarpeian and to the Capitoline Hill, all covered in gold now, yet once bristling with thorns and wild bushes. Already then, the dreaded sanctity of the place permeated fear to the surrounding peoples, this forest made them shudder. - This wood! the king cried out.... This hill! Which God dwells here? My Arcadians believe they see Jupiter, first among the gods. [...] And yet these two places over there where the walls are overturned, do you see them? Those are the remains of past civilisations; here are the ruins of Janiculum with its breathtaking views, an ancient fortress raised high by the royal and divine Janus; and over there, is Saturnia, once a place of the terrible Saturn."

 

These few lines inevitably raise questions, but contradictorily, they provide the answers to our questions. To understand the sacred, the Christian nature of Horace, it is necessary to delve into the genesis of the Roman people, and thus, to the origins of their city. On careful examination of these references, we will glimpse a link uniting the historical with the religious, a link which at first went unnoticed. We must understand that the myth conceals within itself a reality distorted by time. In following the reasoning of Virgil, who tells us that the Roman world in ancient times had nourished the fathers of the Trojan race, we are permitted to establish a correlation between this forgotten mythology and the fable of Horace. Virgil added that the Divine Aeneas had come to these places with the aim of recovering the ancient heritage bequeathed to him by the gods and the founding fathers of Troy. Despite the expanse of time that separates these two civilisations, it seems that they have been placed in parallel, one, Horace, being the fulfilment of the other; Janus and his kingdom.

 

Now, let's cross-reference these documents in order to reach a conclusion. The city of "Alba" most likely derives its origin from "Saturnia", one of the ruined cities covering the site of the future Rome. In addition, the divinity personified by Saturn was transposed in Latin as "Satan". Moreover, the theologians of the first century had established the reciprocity of the two terms. It is likely in this case, that Alba and Saturnia are one and the same city, whose name would have become distorted over the centuries.

wilson-janiculum

The Foundation of Rome and the Victory of the Horatii over the Curiatii

Do the echoes of the centuries resound in our ears to tell us that the victory of the Horatii over the Curiatii would be the forerunner of the future domination of Christianity over Judaism? Utopian domination by which Christianity, in its triumph, became the unexpected vehicle of all the Judaic science. The fact that Romulus was delivered into the waters of the Tiber in a wicker basket and escaped from a sure death in that way, calls up reminiscences of a Biblical Moses ... But there are yet more interesting points to make, because one of the Roman divinities may have a Christian correlation.

Based on what we know, the foundation for Trojan beliefs resides with one of the more complicated and badly understood divinities: Janus "Bifrons"... the two-faced god of beginnings.

 

Janus is a character from the fabled times in our history. At the head of a powerful fleet, he came to colonise an area of Italy, just at the location where Rome would spring from, near the right bank of the Tiber, on a hill where he built and raised high a city that he called after his own name, "Janiculus".

Saturn, upon being expelled from heaven, was welcomed as a guest by Janus and eventually came to share the royal kingdom in reward for teaching the art of agriculture. We know nothing more of his reign, other than it was the Golden Age and all unfolded way back in the mists of time. The Romans finally raised him to the status of a major god, because he was the inventor of the sacred rites, any rite or religious action required the invoking of Janus. Janus is usually represented with two faces, reflecting the gift he possessed which enabled him to see the past and the future, he holds a key in his left hand in the image of Saint Peter and in the right, a rod of iron to rule the world. This deity was certainly the greatest god of the Roman pantheon. He had authority and pre-eminence over all things including Jupiter, the reason being that he was one of his representations.

 

Janus as a god of motion, beginnings and time, has a double nature, symbolised by his two headed image. Because of his ability to look both ways at once, he was attributed the custody of gates and doorways, because all doors look both ways... in and out. At the moment of a declaration of war, the gates to his temple, the Ianus Geminus (Twin Gates of Janus) or Portae Belli (Doors of War) were opened. If Rome went to war, her god could be nowhere other than by her side. The doors to the temple were closed only during peacetime. But Janus is much more than that: Ovid taught us that he exercised his power on earth as he did in heaven, and the reason he had two faces was because of a mysterious power: that of being the god of the beginning, the god of the end and the god of all things.

Janus was therefore the supreme and omnipotent father... but he was also exclusively a Roman god, no other nation prayed to him, nor implored his blessings or asked for his help. And concerning Christianity, did not St. John write in his Apocalypse: "Then He who sat upon the throne said: I will make all things new! And he said, Write: for these words are certain and very true. He said again: "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end of all things. [...] He who is victorious over evil shall possess these things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son."

 

 

Divine/Duel similarities – a Judaic origin?

 

And so what do we think about such theological similarities? Could it be possible that Janus is an avatar of the God of Isaac and Jacob? If this deduction is correct, we will more easily perceive the deeper issues going on behind the founding of Rome.

 

One character has until now escaped our deductions. But Virgil had already mentioned him in his "Aeneid" as a key element of the Roman past. Had he not underlined that the remains of past civilisations did not just extend to the only city of Janus, Janiculum, but also to the fortress of Saturn: a Saturn exiled from Olympus by the wrath of the Eternal Father? Arriving on a ship at the mouth of the Tiber, Saturn was forgiven his faults, subjected and welcomed by the very man whom he had tried to devour. Finally, Saturn received the Latium as his share.

 

If we draw a parallel with the Christian tradition, we find that this story has a singular resonance. We know full well that Christians taught that Satan, having led the revolt in heaven, was cast down by God the Creator, and that this fallen angel took up residence on earth. Now we can see that the story of Satan is quite close to that of Saturn, as told by Roman mythology.

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