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From the Ancient Near East to Christian Byzantium: Kings, Symbols, and Cities
 1527566277, 9781527566279

Table of contents :
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Preface
Introduction
Definitions
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Conclusion
Bibliography

Citation preview

From the Ancient Near East to Christian Byzantium

From the Ancient Near East to Christian Byzantium: Kings, Symbols, and Cities By

Mario Baghos

From the Ancient Near East to Christian Byzantium: Kings, Symbols, and Cities By Mario Baghos This book first published 2021 Cambridge Scholars Publishing Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2021 by Mario Baghos All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-5275-6627-7 ISBN (13): 978-1-5275-6627-9

Cover photo: Byzantine mosaic entitled ‘Deposition of the Relics’ from a lunette on the façade of St Mark’s Basilica, Venice (13th century). St Mark’s was modelled on Constantinople’s mausoleum church of the Holy Apostles, which is no longer extant.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Figures........................................................................................... vii Preface ....................................................................................................... ix Introduction .............................................................................................. xii Definitions ............................................................................................. xxiv Chapter One ................................................................................................ 1 Mesopotamia Sumerian Civilisation: The First Cities and their Rulers The Akkadian Period: Sargon, Naram-Sin, and the Rise of the Ruler Cult Babylon and the Ecosystemic Paradigm Chapter Two ............................................................................................. 18 Egypt The Cosmogony and the City in Ancient Egypt The Pharaoh as an Ecosystemic Agent The Pharaoh as a Ruler in Death Chapter Three ........................................................................................... 36 Greece Hesiod’s Cosmogony and the Imagines et Axes Mundi Symbolism in Minoan and Mycenaean Civilisation Troy and Delphi as Paradigmatic Axes Mundi The Rise of the Polis and Plato’s Response: The ‘Philosopher-King’ as Ecosystemic Agent Chapter Four ............................................................................................. 60 Rome Laying the Foundations for the ‘Eternal City’: Evidence from the Roman Forum Augustan Rome: The Myth of the City and the Myth of the Emperor Concordia, Invidia, and the Augustan Legacy

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Chapter Five ............................................................................................. 91 Israel Imagines et Axes Mundi Symbolism in the Pentateuch The Temple and the City: Jerusalem as an Imago et Axis Mundi Son of David, Son of Man: The Ecosystemic Messiah and the Eschaton Chapter Six ............................................................................................. 119 Christianity Jesus Christ as Axis Mundi and Personal Ecosystemic Agent Church and Empire in the Book of Revelation: Christ’s Ecosystemic Agency and the Eschaton The Cosmic-Personal Ecosystemic Agency of Christ and his Saints Chapter Seven......................................................................................... 167 Christianity and Rome Christianity and Cities The Earliest Historical Images of Christ in Rome Church and Empire: The Shift of Emphasis from Rulers to Christ and His Saints Saints as Protectors of Cities: The Mother of God and Rome Chapter Eight .......................................................................................... 200 Christian Constantinople The Founding of Constantinople as an Imago et Axis Mundi Christian Constantinople and the Rise of the Pantokrator Conclusion .............................................................................................. 228 Bibliography ........................................................................................... 236

LIST OF FIGURES

2-1 The Great Obelisk at the temple of Karnak. Photo by Harry Mavrolefteros (used with permission) ...................................................... 31 2-2 The Great Pyramid of Khufu. Photo by Harry Mavrolefteros (used with permission).............................................................................. 33 3 The Parthenon on the hill of the Acropolis, Athens. Photo by author (2005) ....................................................................................................... 54 4-1 The remains of the umbilicus urbis Romae with its entrance into the mundus. Photo by author (2011)............................................................... 67 4-2 The circular remains of the Temple of Vesta. Photo by author (2016) ....................................................................................................... 69 7-1 The colossal bust of St Constantine the Great, Capitoline Museums, Rome. Photo by author (2016)................................................................ 182 7-2 Apse mosaic of the Mother of God being crowned by Christ in Santa Maria Maggiore. Photo by author (2016) ............................................... 193 7-3 Apse mosaic of the Mother of God being acclaimed by Christ in Santa Maria in Trastevere. Photo by author (2016) .......................................... 195 7-4 The Mother of God as ‘Wider than the Heavens’ in the apse of Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church, Sydney. Photo by author (2018) .......................................................................................... 197 7-5 The mosaic in the apse of San Clemente. Photo by author (2016) ... 198 8-1 The remains of Constantine’s porphyry column, Istanbul (formerly Constantinople). Photo by author (2011) ................................................ 203

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8-2 Ninth century mosaic of the Mother of God cradling the Christ-child in the apse of the church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), Constantinople. Photo by author (2011) ........................................................................... 212 8-3 Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), Constantinople. The minarets and mausoleums (grey and in the foreground and background) are additions made after the church was converted into a mosque in 1453, when the city was captured by the Ottoman Turks. It has recently been converted from a museum into a mosque. Photo by author (2011) .................................... 215 8-4 Mosaic of Christ Pantokrator enlightening the Old Testament prophets in a dome of the church of Holy Saviour, Chora. Photo by Nicholas Sen (2012) ..................................................................................................... 221 8-5 Christ Pantokrator in the dome of the church of Theotokos Pammakaristos, Constantinople. Photo by author (2011) ....................... 221 8-6 A Byzantine mosaic of Christ Pantokrator giving the blessing of peace in the circular dome of the Cappella Palatina, Palermo, Sicily. Photo by author (2016) .......................................................................................... 222

PREFACE

In a broad sense, this book constitutes a history of civilisations. In a narrower sense, it addresses specific ancient cities from the dawn of the civic enterprise to the rise of Byzantine Christendom in order to delineate that religiosity was inherent to city building from the outset. This book also demonstrates that what transpired in the evolution from the first cities in Mesopotamia to Byzantine Christendom—or, as I prefer to describe it, Christian Byzantium—is the gradual replacement of the pagan ruler cult, with the ruler becoming subordinate to Jesus Christ as manifested in representations of Christ as ‘Master of All’ (Pantokrator), that is, the entire cosmos and everything it contains. This book identifies the main religious trends that conditioned ancient cities in certain cultures: Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Israelite, and two major cities within the Byzantine empire, Rome and Constantinople. These trends included the symbolic perception, reflected in art, architecture, and the relevant primary texts, that cities constituted the intersection of heaven, earth, and the underworld; thereby ensconcing their inhabitants in visions of the cosmos through which the sacred was revealed. Cities were therefore imagines mundi (images of the world) and axes mundi (centres of the world) that were constituted as such by their rulers, usually kings, who, because of their perceived relationship with the sacred, were considered gods or representatives of the gods; world-shapers (or ecosystemic agents) who undertook this activity from their respective capitals. The present work also grapples with the following paradox: that while ancient pagan religious perceptions of the city space were indeed holistic, they nevertheless lapsed into an idolatry of the ruler or king that, this book argues, was only displaced with the advent of Christianity. Indeed, Christianity’s emphasis—not on any worldly ruler—but on “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1.5), Jesus Christ, as anterior to the cosmos as its creator and the source of sacredness, divested rulers from, at the very least, the abiding perception that they were gods on earth. Moreover, the Orthodox Church’s insistence on the heavenly Jerusalem, or God’s kingdom, as the ultimate destination for the inhabitants of worldly cities, countered the ancient world’s idealisation of their terrestrial abodes while at the same time employing symbolism that demonstrated that the Church— both in a mystical sense and in terms of its art and architecture within

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Byzantium—is where the sacred could be immediately participated in. This was considered the case on account of the belief that Jesus Christ is the true and only axis mundi and ecosystemic agent. This book incorporates research from multiple sources, which have been thoroughly updated and revised, as well as unique material published here for the first time. The principal material for chapters one through six is from my doctoral thesis entitled Eternal Cities: Rome, Constantinople, and their Antecedents as Symbolic Images and Centres of the World, that was successfully completed at the department of Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney in 2015. Chapter seven includes material from the thesis but also incorporates elements from my article ‘Christ the “Sun” and “Hearth” of our Salvation,’ in the International Journal of Orthodox Theology 9.3 (2018): 75–92, as well as my chapter ‘Theotokoupoleis: The Mother of God as Protectress of the Two Romes,’ published in Kevin Wagner, M. Isabell Naumann, Peter John McGregor, and Paul Morrissey’s Mariology at the Beginning of the Third Millennium, 51–77 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2017). And finally, chapter eight includes material from ‘Religious Symbolism and Well-being in Christian Constantinople and the Crisis of the Modern City’ in Doru Costache, Darren Cronshaw, and James R. Harrison (eds), Well-being, Personal Wholeness and the Social Fabric, 324–54 (Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017). I am grateful to my supervisors, Professor Carole Cusack and Very Revd Dr Doru Costache, as well as to the editors of these aforementioned volumes and journal for their permission to republish this material, which in any case has been significantly reworked and synthesised with new, previously unpublished research, into the present volume. This book is in fact the outcome of ten years of research that began before I became a doctoral candidate. Throughout this period, I have encountered many scholars and friends who have offered pertinent suggestions and encouraged me in my work. I duly acknowledge them, with deep gratitude, here: Dr Vassilis Adrahtas, Professor Pauline Allen, Very Revd Professor John Behr, Professor Paul Blowers, Very Revd Fr Anastasios Bozikis, Professor David Bradshaw, Professor James L. Cox, Revd Professor Angelo Di Berardino, Dr Bernard Doherty, Dr Guy Freeland, Mr Konstantinos Kalymnios, Associate Professor Philip Kariatlis, Professor Gerard Moore, Professor Bronwen Neil, Mrs Denise O’Hagan, Professor Claudia Rapp, Dr Anna Silvas, Professor Garry W. Trompf, and Professor Jonathan Wooding. I am also grateful to the late Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, Stylianos of blessed memory, for his support as I undertook my doctoral studies; and to his successor His Eminence

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Archbishop Makarios, for his paternal care in granting me a full-time position as lecturer in Theology (Patristics) and Church History at St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College. My thanks also to my parish priest, the Very Revd Fr Athanasios Giatsios, and his family, for their friendship and encouragement. My love to my wife Victoria—who is my anchor in life, my best friend, and my inspiration—and to our daughter, Ludmila, who is my very heart. My love also to my father Alexander, my mother Vasiliki, and my brother Chris; whose unwavering support I can never repay. Mario Baghos Feast day of Saints Athanasius and Cyril 18th of January, 2021

INTRODUCTION

In the worldview of ancient and medieval societies, proximity to the cosmos or nature was essential to the civic enterprise, to building cities. 1 This was because of the sacredness that was manifested through the cosmos and nature (here the two are considered interchangeable). According to Mircea Eliade, ancient and medieval persons desired to be ontologically conditioned by sacredness, the opposite of which would be existentially destructive. 2 Moreover, he highlighted that ancient persons needed to cosmicise the space that they occupied in such a way as to facilitate participation in the sacred, avoiding thereby the psychic trauma of yielding to profane, amorphous space. 3 Nowhere can this better be seen than in the religious art and architecture of ancient and medieval cities, especially those that were Christianised, like Rome and Constantinople. This book addresses the extent to which religion functioned in ancient cities and how select cities—from the ancient Near East to Christian Constantinople (modern day Istanbul in Turkey)—were axes mundi, ‘centres of the world,’ and imagines mundi, ‘images of the world,’ or imagines et axes mundi (images and centres of the world). While incorporating evidence from a range of sources including epic poetry, literature, scriptures, imperial panegyrics and ancient and medieval city ‘guidebooks,’ the book focuses especially on ancient historiographical material. The cities it addresses are from the Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Israel; it culminates in an assessment of pagan Rome and the role of early Christianity that continued and reinterpreted the trends regarding the imagines et axes mundi symbolism within Rome and later Constantinople. Indeed, Rome and Constantinople are organically connected insofar as the former was called ‘New Rome’ at its founding, 4 and was initially patterned on the former. The centre of the

1

Here nature and the cosmos are considered interchangeable. Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. Willard R. Trask (New York: Harcourt Inc., 1987), 12–13. 3 Ibid., 23–24. 4 Constantinople was called New Rome, since it was intended by its founder to replace the old Rome, upon which it was partly modelled. Lucy Grig and Gavin 2

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(Eastern) Roman or Byzantine empire that was established in AD 330 by St Constantine the Great (r. 306–337)—after whom Constantinople was named—the Byzantine empire would last for over a thousand years and constituted the framework within which Orthodox Christianity flourished before being imparted to many other nations and cultures. By culminating in chapters seven and eight in Christian Rome and Constantinople, this book will focus on Christian art, images and symbols in these cities (and which can also be found throughout the world), affirming that these images were meant to have a positive existential impact on their inhabitants. This is in contrast to modern cities, which are not conditioned by religious structures, temples or churches that recapitulate the cosmos within which the sacred is revealed (as is the case with ancient cities or Christian cities). To put it another way, while these structures are indeed included in modern cities, instead these are, for the most part, shaped by economic and materialistic forces as reflected in their Central Business Districts: by glass and metal skyscrapers belonging, for the most part, to corporations that advertise their products in various ways through electronic billboards and signs. This has perhaps made us oblivious to the religious import of ancient cities, which is what this book attempts to bring to the forefront in its assessment of them. We often hear the expression ‘religion is in decline’ reiterated constantly by the mainstream media and scholarship in Western countries, citing statistics from the evaporating numbers in the Church of England— both in the United Kingdom and abroad 5—to the rise of people identifying as nonreligious as a confirmation of the triumph of secularism. 6 The same is not true, however, for non-Western countries: in Eastern Europe, Asia, South America and Africa, 7 religion is definitely very much part of everyday life, as it is for migrant and minority religious communities in the West. This book presupposes that this is the case because of the inherent religiosity of human beings; that human consciousness was marked by religious modes

Kelly, eds, Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 4. 5 Callum G. Brown, The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800–2000, Second Edition (London and New York: Routledge, 2009). 6 Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA and London: The Belknap University Press, 2007). 7 Rumy Hasan, Religion and the Development of the Global South (Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

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of perception and behaviour from its outset, 8 and that this can be discerned in the earliest cities in human history. This is in stark contrast to most modern cities, which, as mentioned above, while not bereft of religious structures and significance, are for the most part utilitarian or functional in structure and outlook. As mentioned above, the main goal of this work is to analyse the ancient city, which tried to recapitulate nature or the cosmos—through which the sacred was revealed—within the temples that conditioned citycentres. It does this by demonstrating the cross-cultural and diachronic parallels in the way that six important civilisations, that are addressed in eight consecutive chapters—Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Christianity as a religious phenomenon, pagan and later Christian Rome, and finally Constantinople—viewed their cities as centres and images of the world understood in a religious sense; that is, as manifesting the sacred. By selecting these cultures, I am neither denigrating other cultures—whether Far Eastern or Northern European—that might have been relevant to the present study, nor am I dismissive of the fact that other cultures have had similar approaches towards their cities and towns. Instead, the aforementioned civilisations have been chosen because of their geographical proximity to the Near East—which is where the earliest cities emerged—to one another, and to the rise of Christianity, 9 which I argue differs (along with Judaism) from ancient civilisations in its curtailing of certain religious trends that, while more holistic and nature-embracing than contemporary utilitarian approaches to cities, are nevertheless problematic in their outcomes: in their worship of personifications of nature, human behavior, and the ruler as a god. In any case, the religious trends that this book addresses are rather strictly defined. It will not be looking in great detail at modes of worship, ritual, or sacrifice, but rather at the way that ancient and medieval persons viewed cities as images and centres of the world through assessments of the 8

Dorin David, ‘Homo Religiosus in the Scientific Work and Fantastic Prose of Mircea Eliade,’ Bulletin of the Transilvania University of %UDúRY, Series IV: Philology and Cultural Studies vol. 6, 55.1 (2013): 22. 9 In light of this, I have ordered these civilisations more or less chronologically herein. Although I do not necessarily subscribe to the so-called Pan-Babylonian school, Mesopotamian civilisation does seem to be paradigmatic for the development of cities in the Near East. I am aware of criticisms of the PanBabylonian method, such as those by Frank J. Korom in his ‘Of Navels and Mountains: A Further Inquiry into the History of an Idea,’ Asian Folklore Studies 51 (1992): 103–25. However, as can be discerned in this study, while I do not embrace the method wholeheartedly, I do acknowledge that it does have some merit.

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relevant primary and secondary sources and material culture, for which it applies the heuristic concepts imago mundi and axis mundi to the cities under investigation. The aforementioned civilisations under analysis, it must be stated, are addressed according to their own merits, the degree to which they informed one another, and, finally, in relation to the ‘two Romes’—i.e. Rome and Constantinople—which built their respective syntheses both in parallel and upon some aspects of these ancient cultures, but which were ultimately conditioned by Christianity. In addressing mostly literary sources, this book is essentially macrohistorical, because it seeks to encapsulate the salient themes under investigation—namely, the common approaches towards cities as imagines et axes mundi by these respective cultures—through a diachronic analysis. For this reason, the work has as a guiding principle the longue durée, a conceptual apparatus put forward by the history of mentalities which viewed historical periods or epochs as motivated by the enduring worldviews that conditioned people in the unfolding of events. 10 This book articulates a methodology in the next section (‘Definitions’) that defines religious symbolism and its relationship to ancient cities within a narrative discourse that argues that in these cities the symbol, or symbolism, is understood as facilitating a participation in the reality to which it points, in this case, the sacred or God. The terms that appear in the ‘Definitions’ section are essential for understanding the interdisciplinary nature of this work, which, as already seen, adopts concepts from the history of religions like axis mundi and imago mundi, but also insights from the history of mentalities (longue durée). The way this book defines symbolism—based on the work of Paul Ricoer, Mircea Eliade and Karen Armstrong—as well as eschatology, the Christian discourse on the ‘last things’—necessary for understanding chapters six through eight—will also be addressed under ‘Definitions.’ Next, the symbolic culture of ancient cities, which are an outcome of humanity’s propensity to cosmicising the space that it occupies, is demonstrated in relation to the ancient civilisations mentioned above. The specific religious motifs that are addressed in these cities concern, first, their cosmic significance, since they were considered recapitulations of the three

10

The longue durée was first used by the founders of the history of mentalities, Marc Bloch and Fernand Braudel of the Annales school. See Jacques Le Goff, History and Memory, trans. S. Rendall and E. Claman (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992), xxi–xxii.

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main tiers of the cosmos, “heaven, earth, and hell,” 11 which can alternately be described as the celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean or infernal levels of reality. It is precisely to these recapitulations, which involve the manifestation of the sacred (hierophany) that could be discerned in natural and human made objects in these cities, that I apply the terms axis mundi and imago mundi. These cities are therefore addressed as constituting existentially meaningful intersections and encompassments of the cosmos for their inhabitants. This vision continues in the Christian cities that follow, with the major qualification that these motifs are emptied of their polytheistic significance and applied to Christian conceptions of the universe with Jesus Christ at their centre. (In this way, Christ can be described as the axis mundi par excellence). My logic for choosing these civilisations, as opposed to some others (Etruscan, for example), 12 is based on the striking parallels in the way that their inhabitants represented them as images and centres of the world. This is especially important in relation to Mesopotamia—the Sumerian, Akkadian, and Babylonian civilisations, respectively 13—which, as far as we know, is where the very first cities emerged in history, not to mention Egypt, Israel, and Greece, from which the city of Rome and even Constantinople borrowed symbolic motifs before they were thoroughly Christianised. In relation to the Christian approaches towards cities—necessary for our understanding of ancient and medieval Rome and Constantinople—these are analysed at the end of the book as they represent, for this author, the zenith and most existentially significant examples of religious symbolism in the city space; especially since the remnants of Christendom are still with us in most Western European countries. We have seen that, for ancient persons, the cosmos was usually perceived as comprised of three tiers of reality and experience—heaven, earth, and the underworld—and while attempts to recapitulate them within cities led to more holistic visions of reality or the cosmos, nevertheless these visions were often regulated by rulers or kings, who, as world-shapers— 11

Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, trans. Willard R. Trask (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005), 12. 12 The significant impact of Etruscan culture upon Roman government and architecture has been aptly delineated by John F. Hall in ‘From Tarquin to Caesars: Etruscan Governance at Rome,’ in Etruscan Italy: Etruscan Influences on the Civilizations of Italy from Antiquity to the Modern Era, ed. Hall (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1996), 150–51. 13 The neighbouring Hittite, Assyrian, and Ugarit empires, which are not without their significance for the development of ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures, have been passed over in this book for the sake of convenience.

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what I have called in this book ‘ecosystemic agents’—were considered either representatives of the creator-god, the demiurge, or inherently divine in symbolically shaping and building cities as reflections of the various pagan conceptions of the cosmos. I have described these rulers as ecosystemic agents insofar as they were either considered, or considered themselves, as systematically ordering (from the Greek ıȪıIJȘȝĮ which means ‘composite’ or ‘ordered whole’) 14 their cities or homes ȠੇțȠȢ meaning ‘house’ or ‘dwelling place’) to reflect the cosmos and the sacred manifested within it. Exceptions to this exaltation of the ruler—that we shall see lasted until the official establishment of Christianity in Byzantium 15— existed in ancient Greece and in Israel. But whereas the former eventually adopted this cult under Alexander the Great, the latter—despite the hubris of some of its kings—nevertheless maintained fidelity to the God of Israel— Yahweh Elohim—as the ecosystemic agent par excellence. The ‘beginning of the end’ of the ruler cult can therefore be seen in ancient Israel’s kingship, which was often compromised by ineffective or unfaithful rulers but generally maintained its fidelity to God throughout its long history. In my attempt to demonstrate that Christianity’s use of cosmic imagery transcends that of ancient cultures, I use the terms ecosystemic agent and axis mundi in relation to Christ, but in doing so I am in no way implying that he is a world-shaper or centre of the world in the same way that ancient rulers or cities were. Orthodox Christianity has a rich heritage of appropriating terms from cultures extraneous to it—principally but not limited to the philosophical schools of late antiquity—and endowing these terms with unique Christian content in order to communicate its beliefs. The term Logos (ȁȩȖȠȢ), for example, which goes back to the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, denoted an all-embracing organisational principle that gave order and meaning to the universe and all it contained. The author of the Gospel according to St John applied this concept to Jesus Christ in pre-existence (i.e. before his birth in history), namely, when he wrote: “In the beginning was the Word [Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (Jn 1.1– 3). In appropriating and reinterpreting this term, the author of the Gospel was expressing his belief that Christ pre-existed his earthly birth before becoming flesh and living among us (Jn 1.14), what we call in Christian 14 For ‘ȠੇțȠȢ¶ see Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 1204. For µıȪıIJȘȝĮ¶ see ibid., 1735. 15 The fact that the ruler cult has cropped up again in history is really a pseudomorphosis; in Christian Byzantium—where Christ is worshipped as God—an emperor or empress could only go so far.

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theology the incarnation. 16 Moreover, this was done in a way that would be intelligible to his Hellenistic audience that would have been familiar with the term ‘Logos.’ This way of referring to Christ in fact became a staple of the Christian tradition, especially in early times, insofar as it was consistent with the incipient Church’s experience of Christ as the one who created and ordered the cosmos together with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. 17 Taking inspiration from this approach, I have attempted to employ terms—namely, ecosystemic agency and axis mundi—from a discipline extraneous to Christianity, from the history of religions. I have applied these terms to Jesus Christ in a manner consistent with the Christian Church’s approach towards him as God and man. This much is evident from the manner in which Christ is represented in the scriptures and patristic texts, for while he is considered the only true ecosystemic agent (together with his Father and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity), he does not, like the pagan ecosystemic agents (whether they are gods or human rulers), shape preexisting matter, but creates the world ex nihilo—out of nothing—together with the Father and the Spirit. 18 This belief is important, because it affirms that Christ is not posterior and thus limited by the created order, but anterior to it as its creator, which further implies his eternity and divinity. This is existentially relevant for Christians because, to quote St Athanasius the Great’s criticism of Arianism—which the Church contended with in its earliest centuries—and which posited the ‘createdness’ of Christ: if “the Son were a creature, man would have remained mortal as before, not being joined to God.” 19 For Christians, only the eternal and divine Son of God—who is God himself—can save humanity from the antithesis of eternity, that is, mortality—death—which the Son accomplishes by assuming human nature as Christ Jesus and rising from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. 20 This is significant because, unlike pagan rulers who were identified with demiurges or divine organisational principles, the Son of God, as Logos, does not embody different humans at different times. Instead, he permanently assumes human nature as Christ while remaining 16 Vladimir Lossky, Orthodox Theology: An Introduction, trans. Ian and Ihita Kesarcodi-Watson (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1989), 90. 17 Ibid., 36. 18 St Athanasius the Great, On the Incarnation 33, trans. John Behr (Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2011), 55. 19 Oratio II contra Arianos 69.1, in Athanasius: Werke, Band I: Die dogmatischen Schriften, Erster Teil, 3, ed. Karin Metzler and Kyriakos Savvidis (Berlin and New York: Lieferung and De Gruyter, 2000); retrieved via TLG. 20 St Athanasius the Great, On the Incarnation 8 (Behr, 66–67).

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fully God, a tenet unique to Christianity and expressed in its experience of Christ as disclosing the truth concerning God’s identity and relationship to the world. 21 This is important to mention at the outset, as it will assist us in understanding the nature of the change that takes place when kings, in building cities and endowing them with religious symbolism, stop identifying themselves with pagan gods that are posterior to the creation— and thus on the same level as they are—and instead construe themselves as mortal representatives of Christ as creator God. The new Christian belief system influenced the nature of the symbolism that was henceforth displayed, with Christ as ‘Master of All’ exalted above rulers who, in spite of their continued pretense to universal authority, could only articulate this in terms of regency on behalf—and never as an embodiment—of the creator God. As we have already stated, ancient cities, from the earliest ones that emerged in Mesopotamia to late antique marvels such as Constantinople, were by-and-large religious centers: they were full of symbols that reflected the religious conception of the world of the inhabitants. 22 A major characteristic of the religious conception of ancient cities, explored in this book, concerns their dedication to one or more of the gods worshipped by the inhabitants. In the Graeco-Roman context, this can be discerned in Athens, which was named after the goddess of wisdom, Athena, and even in the case where cities were not named after gods or goddesses, they could receive the name of one of their attributes. This was the case with Delphi (addressed in chapter four) on account of its association with the god Apollo, who, according to Homer, rode there on a dolphin before the construction of his temple named after the Greek word for dolphin, which is įİȜijȓȢ (delphis). 23 It would be illogical to think that a habit that was essential to human beings since the dawn of civilisation—that is, the infusion of cities with religious symbolism and their ascription to divine protectors—would dissipate when people (for the most part) stopped believing in the old gods. The early Church as it influenced the Roman empire, first in Rome and later in Constantinople, used various methods in 21 Nicholas Arseniev, Revelation of Life Eternal: An Introduction to the Christian Message (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1982), 83–88. 22 Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, 15–16. Indeed, scholars such as Jan Assmann have argued that the earliest cities, in Egypt for example, contained no characteristic structures apart from temples. Assmann, The Search for God in Ancient Egypt, trans. D. Lorton (London: Cornell University Press, 2001), 1. 23 The Homeric Hymns III–To Pythian Apollo, in Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White (London: William Heinemann, 1914), 358– 59.

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order to shift the emphasis away from protector gods and goddesses to saints, who were not meant to be seen as gods or worshipped; but since they were (and are) considered immediate participants in the grace of the one and only Trinitarian God revealed through the Son of God, Jesus Christ, are venerated because they entreat him on behalf of humanity. 24 Thus, cities throughout Christendom were ascribed saintly protectors who would shield them from various disasters, both natural and human-made, and who were chiefly entreated to pray to God on behalf of the inhabitants (if not for the whole civilised world) for their salvation. In chapters seven and eight of this book, we shall see that it was in this capacity that the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, was considered the chief intercessor of Constantinople and Rome (as she was of Paris, Aachen, and many other cities). But, although there is no room to treat them in this volume, other saints were evoked too: St Demetrios protected Thessaloniki and St Andrew protected Patras (both in Greece), and St George protected London. In some places, cities and towns were even named after patron saints, such as Sfântu Gheorghe in the Romanian county of Covasna, and Giurgu in a county named after St George, again in Romania. A brief example, from the Graeco-Roman context, of how this shift of emphasis took place can be discerned in relation to Athens, where the Parthenon was, at least by the sixth century AD, converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Parthenos Maria or the Theotokos Atheniotissa—the God-bearer of Athens—its main title after the twelfth century. 25 The last chapters of this book, as already mentioned, are principally concerned with the representation of Christ as an ecosystemic agent, meaning that it is to Rome and later Constantinople, the New Rome, that we will turn; since it is especially in the latter where Syriac, Graeco-Roman, and Egyptian art converged to produce the representation of Christ that would become a standard image of him in Byzantium: that of the Pantokrator, which we have seen means ‘Master of All,’ and which can be taken to mean the cosmos and all it contains. The Pantokrator image will be our special focus in those chapters, and one of the earliest examples of it as 24 For the veneration of the saints in the doctrinal definition of the seventh ecumenical council, see Second Council of Nicaea—787, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 1989), 135– 36. For the intercession of the saints, see the dismissal prayer of any Orthodox Christian service, e.g. the liturgy, in The Divine Liturgy of our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom (Sydney: St Andrew’s Orthodox Press, 2005), 111. 25 It was also known as “the Great Church of Athens.” Anthony Kaldellis, The Christian Parthenon: Classicism and Pilgrimage in Byzantine Athens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 77–78.

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a portable icon comes from St Catherine’s monastery in Mount Sinai. What can be discerned in this specific version is its theological significance: the distinction between Christ’s two natures—divine and human—in the unity of his person as the one and only Son of God in a way that is immediately dependent upon the doctrinal formulations of the ecumenical councils held within Byzantium, such as the fourth council in Chalcedon in 451, which put forward the Christological definition of faith that: “the one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten [is] acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation.”26 To reiterate: it is for this reason that this book will conclude with an assessment of images of Christ and of the saints in Byzantium, specifically but not limited to its capital, Constantinople. It does this in order to demonstrate just how the image of the Pantokrator in particular—and of the saints positioned in relation to this image—would proliferate and condition the city space in a way that would become influential not just in Byzantium, but in predominantly Orthodox Christian cities throughout the world. In any case, the importance of the image of the Pantokrator—just like all iconographical depictions of Christ and his saints—lies in its association with Byzantium, and specifically with Orthodox Christianity. For Byzantine or Orthodox Christians, the icons depicting Christ and the saints participate, through the grace of God, in their archetypes, so that veneration given to these images was transferred to the persons the images depict.27 This is why in Constantinople the images that one would typically find inside of churches were also reproduced in the public space as well, so that by the eighth century the Christianisation of this space was given a formal mandate in the seventh ecumenical council in 787, which stated: …the reverend and holy images, whether painted or made of mosaic or of other suitable material, are to be exposed in the holy churches of God, on sacred instruments and vestments, on walls and panels, in houses and public ways; these are the images of our Lord, God and saviour, Jesus Christ, and of our Lady without blemish, the holy God-bearer, and of the revered angels and any of the saintly holy men.28

In fact, the doctrinal definitions of ecumenical councils one through six, held throughout various cities in Byzantium—and three times in Constantinople— all concerned Jesus Christ, and asserted, in consecutive order, his divinity 26

Council of Chalcedon–451, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 86. St John of Damascus, Three Treatises on the Divine Images 1.21, trans. Andrew Louth (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003), 34–35. 28 Second Council of Nicaea—787, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 135–36. 27

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or shared essence with the Father (councils one and two), the oneness of his person (council three), the reality of his divine and human natures (council four), his oneness once again (council five), and the full integrity of his human nature by affirming that he had a human will which was subject to his divine one. 29 Addressed in such a manner, the ecumenical councils seem to reflect a progression into the mystery of the eternal Son of God’s divine economy, of his incarnation: begotten of the Father before all ages, he deigned to become a human being while remaining fully God. The final two chapters of this book demonstrate that the incarnation is perhaps best attested to in the iconographic tradition in Byzantium: for the icons, made of material pigments, wood and other elements were theologically and doctrinally described as a logical outcome of the Son of God’s incarnation as Christ, since this involved his sanctification of all cosmic matter. In other words, since the Son of God, in assuming human nature which is a microcosm, sanctified all matter—cosmically—through his incarnation, then believers could utilise matter in order to depict him, so that the veneration given to these depictions is transferred to God or the saints by the former’s grace. 30 The icons, whether portable, or in fresco or mosaic form, represented the aspiration of the inhabitants of Christian cities to inherit eternal life. The Pantokrator, the standard image of Christ as master of the universe who is transcendent insofar as he is often depicted in this manner above us all in the domes of churches, and yet immanent since he is the Son of God who assumed humanity, was always shown with his right hand delivering the blessing of peace. As we shall see in this book, the emergence of the image of the Pantokrator is bound up with the history of ancient cities and their patron gods, especially the sun god, with whom ancient rulers—so-called ecosystemic agents—identified themselves in founding their capitals as imagines et axes mundi. The replacement of the sun god in the city space with the image of Christ the Pantokrator by the Church is also bound up with the paradigm shift from ancient pagan cities to Christendom, and with the changing aspirations of inhabitants to participate precisely in that everlasting peace that only the Pantokrator was believed to bestow. This book will address the evolution of the religious aspirations of the inhabitants of ancient and medieval cities in a way that will help the reader not only to account for the transition from pagan to Christian symbolism in the city space, but also for changes in relation to the way that rulers or kings were 29 Third Council of Constantinople—680–681, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 128. 30 St John of Damascus, Three Treatises on the Divine Images 1.21 (Louth, 34–35); see also 2.13–14, pp. 70–71.

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perceived vis-à-vis the pagan gods and Christ. But before embarking on this journey, we must further define the terms used in this study, namely symbols and symbolism, imago mundi and axis mundi, ecosystemic agency, and eschatology.

DEFINITIONS

In all things, but especially in architecture, there are two inherent categories: the signified and the signifier (quod significatur et quod significant). Vitruvius, Ten Books on Architecture 1

This book demonstrates that the human impetus for cosmicisation in material culture can be discerned with the emergence of the first cities in ancient civilisations, from the ancient Near East to Christian Byzantium. But this cosmicisation process is disclosed in the way that human beings perceived non-material culture also. Hence, the ancient civilisations addressed in this book are analysed in relation to imperial monuments, temples, palaces, 2 and churches, along with natural phenomena such as mountains, trees, 3 and vines, 4 to name a few. These objects, both humanmade and natural, are construed as ‘symbolic’ throughout, in a manner consistent with the above definition by Vitruvius, that in architecture there are “two inherent categories: the signified and the signifier.” 5 This distinction has been, albeit indirectly, elaborated upon by eminent modern 1 Vitruvius, Ten Books on Architecture 1.1, trans. Ingrid D. Rowland, ed. Rowland and Thomas Noble Howe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 22. 2 Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History, trans. W. R. Trask (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 12. Here, Eliade referred to temples, palaces and cities, but I also demonstrate the imago et axis mundi symbolism of imperial monuments and churches below. 3 For more on trees as axes mundi, see Carole M. Cusack’s The Sacred Tree: Ancient and Medieval Manifestations (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011). 4 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. W. R. Trask (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959), 36. 5 Vitruvius, Ten Books on Architecture 1.1 (Rowland and Howe, 22). Vitruvius went on to describe his use of the words significatur and significant—both deriving from signum, the Latin word for ‘sign’—in relation to the proposed object of discussion (the signified) and the language or terms that one needs to conduct that discussion (the signifier). Rowland and Howe, ‘Commentary: Book 1,’ in Ten Books on Architecture, 135.

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thinkers such as Paul Ricoer and Mircea Eliade. The former defined a symbol as “any structure of signification in which a direct, primary, literal meaning designates, in addition, another meaning which is indirect, secondary, and figurative and which can be apprehended only through the first.” 6 In this volume, the objects under analysis, namely cities, the buildings and monuments that they contain, and the relevant natural phenomena, constitute the “structure[s] of signification” pointing towards secondary, figurative, and predominantly cosmic and/or sacred meanings which are existentially relevant, as indicated by Eliade when he stated that symbols “respond to a need and fulfil a function, that of bringing to light the most hidden modalities of being.” 7 In the case of the ancient symbolic objects in the two Romes or the other civilisations addressed in this book, these modalities can also be quite plain insofar as symbols point to various aspects of a certain representation of reality—an image of the world—that can be discerned in the other cultural artifacts, literary for instance, produced by them. It is important therefore to highlight, as Eliade did, that insofar as they relate to human needs, functions, and modes of being, symbols have an experiential significance. Additionally, the following nuance concerning the etymology RIWKH*UHHNZRUGIRUV\PEROıȪȝȕȠȜȠȞFRPLQJIURPWKHYHUEȕȐȜȜȦDQG WKHSUHIL[ıȪȞZKLFKPHDQµWKURZ¶DQGµWRJHWKHU¶UHVSHFWLYHO\ 8 is relevant for the cities under analysis insofar as they were perceived, along with many of the material and non-material objects that they contained, as putting together—and thereby facilitating an immediate or direct participation in— the realities they signified. 9 Thus, it becomes clear from the outset that while 6 Paul Ricoer, ‘Existence and Hermeneutics,’ trans. Kathleen McLaughlin in The Conflict of Interpretations, ed. Don Ihde (Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1974), 12–13. 7 Mircea Eliade, Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism, trans. Philip Mairet (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), 12. 8 The primary definition of the first person verb µȕȐȜȜȦ¶ is ‘I throw.’ Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 304. In composite verbs, µıȪȞ¶ means “with, along with, together, at the same time.” Ibid., 1690. Hence, ıȪȝȕȠȜȠȞ means ‘throw together,’ as indicated above. 9 The initial meaning of µıȪȝȕȠȜȠȞ¶ concerned “each of two halves or corresponding pieces” of an ‘astragalos’ (a knucklebone from an animal) or another object whereby two parties, in entering on a contract or agreement, kept a piece of the object as proof of their contract. From this initial definition it evolved to mean “complimentary factors,” until finally it became associated with the ‘signifier’ and the ‘signified.’ In each of these definitions, the two factors are mutually inclusive, thereby confirming my assertion that the signifier initiates a participation in that which is signified, and vice-versa. Ibid., 1676.

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this book at times consults archaeological evidence, it is not primarily concerned with the discipline of archaeology per se. Nor is it concerned with the archaeological reconstruction of monuments or buildings that are no longer extant. Instead, it focuses on the way that these cities, their respective monuments and buildings, and the related natural phenomena, were symbolically perceived and represented by the writers of the sources under examination, and will have recourse to archaeological material mostly when it is necessary to use it in order to confirm such symbolic perceptions and representations. Above we defined the term symbol, but it is perhaps relevant to mention here—by way of reiteration—the definition given by Karen Armstrong also, that “symballein means ‘to throw together’: two hitherto disparate objects become inseparable.” 10 In other words, the symbol not only points towards but also participates in the reality it signifies. 11 That this object usually relates to the gods or God was also made clear by Armstrong when, after giving the above definition of the word ‘symbol,’ she affirmed that when Paleolithic and ancient persons in general “contemplated any earthly object, [they] were therefore in the presence of its heavenly counterpart.” 12 According to Eliade, these symbols could be reflected in the geometric shapes—the circle 13 and the square 14—incorporated into temples and other city-structures, as well as the art they contained. To these shapes, which appear in the architectural designs of many symbolic structures in both pagan and Christian cities, must be added the triangular or pyramidal shape, symbolising fire or heavenly ascent, 15 as well as the cross, which is emphatically Christian. Below we shall see that the erection of monumental crosses by St Constantine the Great in Constantinople was endowed with symbolic significance insofar as it was through the cross that Christ saved 10

Karen Armstrong, A Short History of Myth (Melbourne, VIC: The Text Publishing Co., 2005), 15–16. 11 This is implied in Paul Ricoer’s definition of the symbol above. For Eliade, it was these “figurative” meanings that reflected the “deepest aspects” of “humanity,” and thus, while secondary in terms of the process of signification, take on a primary or fundamental importance. Eliade, Images and Symbols, 12. 12 Armstrong, A Short History of Myth, 16. 13 Eliade, Images and Symbols, 52. 14 Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 45, 47. 15 The etymology of the word pyramid (from the ancient Greek ʌȪȡĮȝȚȢ) includes, as the first part of its compound, the word ‘fire’ ʌȪȡ). Liddell and Scott, A GreekEnglish Lexicon, 1555. The triangle, in its pyramidal form, can also symbolise heavenly ascent. Robert J. Wenke, The Ancient Egyptian State: The Origins of Egyptian Culture (c. 8000–2000BC) (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 298.

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the world; 16 a world which, in some early Christian sources, such as St Paul’s letter to the Philippians, is considered comprised of the celestial, terrestrial, and infernal realms. 17 St Paul’s writings, as well as the general testimony of the Christian Church concerning the cross of Christ, would constitute the basis for later reflections by patristic authors such as the fourth century St Gregory of Nyssa, who described the cross as symbolically intersecting the cardinal points of the cosmos (like the circle and the square) from a central axis through its arms, 18 in other words, as an imago mundi and an axis mundi. In any case, insofar as all these symbols-within-cities facilitated an existential participation in the realities they pointed to—in this case, usually sacred ones—these cities, to follow Eliade and Armstrong’s reasoning, acted as springboards for participation in the sacred. So far, we have said that for ancient persons the natural world revealed the sacred, and so the dissociation between human beings and nature inspired a desire to retrieve the natural order and the sacred revealed through it. This retrieval, executed by human beings who were inherently religious, involved the use of geometric and other symbols within the city space. We have an example of how this retrieval took place from the Mesopotamian city of Eridu, one of the oldest urban settlements in the world. Eridu was considered a locus and recapitulation of a cosmogony that revealed the sacred through its ziggurat which, it was believed, represented a cosmic mountain, 19 and will be addressed in chapter one of this book. Indeed, in ensuing chapters we shall see that similar perceptions could be found not only in other ancient Mesopotamian cities, but also in Egypt (where cities contained no characteristic structures apart from temples), 20

16 Averil Cameron and Judith Herrin, Constantinople in the Early Eighth Century: The Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai 23 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1984), 84–85. 17 In Philippians 2.10, Paul states that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” 18 The Great Catechism 32 [i.e. the Catechetical Oration], in Gregory of Nyssa: Selected Works and Letters, trans. William Moore and Henry Austin Wilson, NPNF (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), 500. 19 Samuel Noah Kramer, Sumerian Mythology: A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievements in the Third Millennium B.C. (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1961), 62–63. 20 Jan Assmann, The Search for God in Ancient Egypt, trans. D. Lorton (London: Cornell University Press, 2001), 1.

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Greece, 21 Rome, 22 and Israel (especially Jerusalem).23 This process continued with Christian cities—in the Christianisation of Rome and in Constantinople— but instead of temples at their centres, there were now churches whose symbolic architecture indicated the worship of the Trinitarian God revealed through one of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, and also his saints. Thus, for Christians, the life of Christ and his saints were the main source of sacredness in the world; a sacredness that they desired to participate in and that could be manifested in cities. Later in this book, before addressing Christian Rome and Constantinople, I will give a preliminary assessment of the Christian approach to cities which shifted the imagines et axis mundi symbolism to Christ as the axis mundi and ecosystemic agent par excellence. It will be demonstrated that, paradoxically, Christians also represented Christ and his saints in images (and with symbols) that were meant to transport believers beyond these images to the heavenly kingdom governed by Christ, the ‘Master of All’ or Pantokrator. We have seen that Eliade’s position was that ancient and medieval cultures put forward holistic visions of reality that included three main cosmic tiers—“heaven, earth, and hell.” 24 These can of course alternately be described as the celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean or infernal levels of reality. According to Eliade, both the natural and human-made objects mentioned above symbolically recapitulated these three cosmic tiers, and in this way functioned as images and centres of the world. If we were to presuppose Eliade’s belief in the multivalent nature of symbols, upon which “any exclusive reduction is an aberration,” 25 then each and every one of these objects—from cities to mountains—can recapitulate or intersect the cosmos both concurrently and independently from one another. Moreover, since these objects manifest the different levels of the cosmos, they also manifest the sacred, which properly belongs to the heavenly realm (and 21 Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient City: A Study of the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome, trans. Willard Small (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006), 138. 22 Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 47. 23 Ibid., 42. 24 Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, 12. 25 Since symbols have their origin in images in the mind which use them to express ultimate, albeit often contradictory, realities, Eliade subsequently related them to images, before affirming concerning the latter a fact that can be taken to refer to the former, namely: “it is therefore the image as such, as a whole bundle of meanings, that is true, and not any one of its meanings, nor one alone of its many frames of reference. To translate an image into a concrete terminology by restricting it to any one of its frames of reference is to do worse than mutilate it—it is to annihilate, to annul it as an instrument of cognition.” Eliade, Images and Symbols, 13.

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sometimes the subterranean). In other words, each of these objects, both natural and human-made, were perceived by Eliade as the locus of a hierophany, which he defined as: …the manifestation of something of a wholly different order, a reality that does not belong to our world, in objects that are an integral part of our natural ‘profane’ world. 26

Thus, for Eliade, ancient and medieval persons experienced the sacred as both inhering within, and yet ontologically distinct from, the world around them. However, it must be affirmed from the outset that it would be incorrect to assume that each and every inhabitant of the civilisations under analysis viewed the cosmos as either sacred or constituted by the three layers of reality mentioned above. The cosmological systems of some ancient Greek philosophers, such as the naturalists, are an example of a reluctance towards sacredness. In relation to the latter, that is, the three cosmic regions, many early Christian theologians maintained—in an apophatic sense—the spiritual topography of heaven and hell as real places, just not literally above or below us. Nevertheless, Christians consistently referred to heaven and hell as existentially charged terms for the following: a positive experience of God (the celestial or heavenly), 27 the passions (earthly), 28 or a negative experience of God (the subterranean or infernal). 29 26

Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 11. Christ often refers to the kingdom of heaven or God as having come near in his person (Matthew 4.17), and Ra’anan S. Boustan and Anette Yoshiko Reed have explicated that, in late antique mentalities, the experience of heaven “remains shrouded in mystery, but more and more this mystery is cited for the sake of its revelation to those deemed chosen, pure, initiated, or wise.” ‘Introduction: “In Heaven as it is on Earth,”’ in Heavenly Realms and Earthly Realities in Late Antique Reflections (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 2–3. 28 For instance, Panayiotis Nellas assesses the disposition of some of these theologians, such as St Maximus the Confessor, who affirmed that the soul “puts on the earthly form” when it moves towards matter “by means of the flesh.” Nellas quotes the Patrologia Graeca (PG) version of Maximus’ Ambigua, PG 91, 1092C, in Deification in Christ: Orthodox Perspectives on the Nature of the Human Person, trans. Norman Russell (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1987), 56. 29 To give just one example: St Gregory of Nyssa, in his Catechetical Oration, affirmed that those who undertake the ascetical endeavour within the ecclesial context in this life will, in both this life and especially the next, experience God in a positive way. Those who do not will, in the next life, be purged by fire. Since, according to the same author, this fire has already purged evil in toto from human nature in the incarnate Christ, the implication is that those who do not participate in God in the here and now will need to experience this purgation in the next life for 27

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Also, when speaking either of God or the pagan gods in relation to the cosmos—particularly its celestial or spiritual dimension—an important distinction should be made. That is, that although in certain pagan trends various dimensions of the cosmos were considered inherently divine, nevertheless for Judaism and especially for Christianity, God—as paradoxically both transcendent and imminent—is not to be confused with the created order. In other words, while for Judaism and Christianity there exist spiritual worlds/beings created by God, nevertheless he is totally other and outside the world (ad extra) while paradoxically engaging with the world ad intra. 30 Moreover, while most ancient and medieval religious persons shared a conviction that the sacred—the hierophany—constituted a truly palpable experience understood in a myriad of conflicting ways and often conflated with nature, what is distinct for Christianity is that the sacred is revealed by Jesus Christ, who discloses the truth concerning the one God as three persons. For this reason, in relation to Christian cities, the term ‘theophany’ is perhaps a more appropriate term than ‘hierophany’ to describe the revelation of the Trinitarian God within them; for it is not sacredness in a general sense that is being described, but sacredness as extending from the Trinity. It must also be stressed that while one would be hard pressed to find the exact phrases imago mundi and axis mundi in the primary sources, I nevertheless demonstrate throughout that the evidence under evaluation yields itself neatly to these heuristic concepts as I account for the ancient disposition towards cities, as well as other natural and human-made phenomena, as images and centres of the world. Furthermore, given that the God to be “all in all” (1 Cor 15.28). Mario Baghos, ‘Reconsidering Apokatastasis in St Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Soul and Resurrection and the Catechetical Oration,’ in Cappadocian Legacy: A Critical Appraisal, ed. Doru Costache and Philip Kariatlis (Sydney, NSW: St Andrew's Orthodox Press, 2013), 432–33. That this fire is associated with Hades—often viewed as topographically subterranean—is made clear by St Gregory on his On the Soul and Resurrection, where he claims that Hades is a powerful symbol for an existential state. Ibid., 415. 30 Janet M. Soskice gives plenty of ancient sources, from the Rabbi Gamaliel to Philo of Alexandria, to show that for Judaism God is entirely transcendent while also immanent in the world he created from nothing. Soskice, ‘Creatio ex nihilo: its Jewish and Christian Foundations,’ in Creation and the God of Abraham, ed. David B. Burrell et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 33–34. Elizabeth Theokritoff affirms that, for the early Christian tradition, this transcendence and immanence is articulated along the lines of ‘creation’ and ‘salvation’ in her ‘Creator and Creation,’ in The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology, ed. Mary B. Cunningham and Theokritoff (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 63–64. I thank Chris Baghos for the latter reference.

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axis mundi denotes the intersection of the three cosmic regions, and the imago mundi encompasses them, the words ‘cosmos’ and mundus should be considered interchangeable in this volume. Likewise, since ‘world’ is the literal translation for mundus, 31 then the reference to images and centres of the world in this work should be understood in a cosmic sense as pertaining to an all-encompassing worldview reflected in the sources under evaluation. In this way, cosmos, mundus, and world, are considered mutually inclusive throughout as constituting the celestial/heavenly, terrestrial/earthly, and subterranean or infernal regions. 32 In the introduction we saw that I have had recourse to the concept of ‘ecosystemic intelligence’ in order to account for this cosmic role of rulers or kings in their maintenance of their cities/empires. This term was contributed by Eliade’s associate, Ioan P. Couliano, in relation to the Gnostic debate concerning to what extent “the universe in which we live can be attributed to an intelligent and good cause.” 33 We also saw above WKDW WKH ZRUG HFRV\VWHP HW\PRORJLFDOO\ GHULYHV IURP WKH *UHHN ȠੇțȠȢ PHDQLQJµKRXVH¶RUµGZHOOLQJSODFH¶DQGıȪıIJȘȝĮZKLFKPHDQV ‘composite’ or ‘ordered whole.’ 34 Since the agents of this sort of ordering are more than mere minds, I have opted in this book to use ‘agency’ instead of ‘intelligence.’35 Alternately, ‘world-shaping’ can be used to describe this sort of activity, which is basic to human beings on several levels, including: the ordering or cosmicisation of profane space, 36 the phenomenological reciprocity between conscious, perceiving subjects and the objects of their experience, 37 and the effect, on a quantum level, of human perception on the cosmos. 38 What is different about the way I use ecosystemic agency in this book is that, while it can include all three of the activities just described, in my assessment of 31 Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1891), 1175. 32 Unless otherwise stated, in this book the word ‘heaven’ is interchangeable with ‘celestial’ and ‘divine,’ the word ‘earth’ with ‘terrestrial,’ and the word ‘hell’ with ‘infernal,’ ‘subterranean’ and ‘chthonic;’ and the notion of the ‘underworld.’ 33 Ioan P. Couliano, The Tree of Gnosis: Gnostic Mythology from Early Christianity to Modern Nihilism, trans. H. S. Wiesner (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1992), xv. 34 For ‘ȠੇțȠȢ¶ see Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 1204. For µıȪıIJȘȝĮ¶ see ibid., 1735. 35 As used by Doru Costache in his article ‘John Moschus on Asceticism and the Environment,’ Colloquium 48.1 (2016): 30, 33, 34. 36 Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, 20. 37 Neal DeRoo and John P. Manoussakis, eds, ‘Introduction,’ in Phenomenology and Eschatology: Not Yet in the Now (Cornwall, Britain: Ashgate, 2009), 3. 38 Michel Bitbol, ‘The Quantum Structure of Knowledge,’ Axiomathes 21 (2011): 357–71.

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pre-Christian civilisations—including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, and Rome—the notion of ecosystemic agency can be found in relation to rulers who promoted themselves as gods, and to the gods themselves. Both of these, kings and gods, were in fact perceived as stabilising agents in the cosmos that was often related to the city, since, in many of the ancient pagan belief systems addressed below, the city—as an imago mundi or axis mundi—was often considered the point of origin of the cosmos that usually pre-existed as inchoate matter shaped and ordered by the gods; a creation that had to be repeated and maintained (i.e. cosmicisation) by their representatives, the rulers. We have stated that in Christianity, however, this perception changes dramatically, in that ecosystemic agency is shifted to Jesus Christ who, as the Son of God, created the universe out of nothing together with the Father and the Holy Spirit (i.e. one God), not from preexisting matter or the vantage point of a particular city. This means that, for Christians, God is totally anterior to the universe that he creates. Moreover, since Christ is the creator God, his ecosystemic agency was (and is) believed to be bestowed via synergy with the saints who participate in his grace. 39 Christian rulers, therefore, could only act on behalf of God as his regent on earth, meaning that from the rise of Christendom onwards—and barring a few exceptions—rulers were never considered gods in themselves. From all that has been said, it is clear that the ancients had holistic visions of nature and perceived the interrelatedness of the gods and people in natural affairs, and in cities that reflected the cosmos or nature. If Christians self-consciously distinguished themselves from their pagan contemporaries, then how can we account for their common approach towards world-shaping, especially since they had such different theological and cosmological systems? There is a line of thinking in the Christian tradition that affirms that, since human beings are created in the image of God as revealed in Christ, then their creative or cultural productions reflect their deepest longings and aspirations that are only fulfilled in Christ and his saints. In other words, for Christians, the ancient longing for the world to be shaped by divine-like figures, the gods or rulers, was legitimate but misplaced. Such activity could only properly take place in Jesus Christ—

39 In the seventh century Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete, Christ’s incarnation is described as actively shaping and ‘conquering’ the natural world that he creates. Referring, in the theotokion of the Canon’s fourth ode, to the paradoxical status of the Mother of God as remaining a virgin despite having given birth, it continues that the one born of her “renews the laws of nature” țĮȚȞȓȗİȚ ȞȩȝȠȣȢ ijȪıİȦȢ  for “where God wills, the order of nature is conquered” ĬİઁȢ ੖ʌȠȣ șȑȜİȚ ȞȚț઼IJĮȚ ijȪıİȦȢ IJȐȟȚȞ  My translation of PG 97, 1353A.

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the true and only ruler and king of the world 40—and the saints to whom he grants this ability on account of their active participation in, and cooperation with, him. Moreover, as we have seen, in Christ this ecosystemic activity is not circumscribed to cities insofar as he is master of the whole cosmos, dwelling in his saints irrespective of where they are, whether in cities, “deserts and mountains” or in “dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11.38). There remains one term left to define that is essential in addressing the imagines et axis mundi symbolism in Christian Rome and &RQVWDQWLQRSOHDQGWKDWLVHVFKDWRORJ\&RPLQJIURPWKH*UHHNZRUGIJĮ ਩ıȤĮIJĮ DVDQRXQLQWKHSOXUDOWHQVH  41 which means ‘the last things,ૃ and ȜȩȖȠȢ, which we have seen is applied to Jesus as creator and organiser of the cosmos but can also simply mean ‘word’ or ‘discourse,’ 42 eschatology denotes Christianity’s teaching on the last things of the historical continuum marked by the second ʌĮȡȠȣıȓĮ or presence (often called ‘the second coming’) 43 of Jesus Christ. This constitutes a teleological approach to history that can be applied in various ways to the civilisations under analysis. For the pagan cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome before its Christianisation, this telos or end was linked to a repetition of the time of origins enacted by the rulers and their representatives, so that teleology could only be considered in light of the paradigmatic/creative acts of the gods at the beginning of time (i.e. protology). 44 For the Jews, it meant the establishment, in time/history, of the messianic kingdom of David under God. 45 And for the Christian civilisations of Rome and Byzantium, it meant the reign of God’s kingdom—inaugurated by Christ in the Church that had a rapport with the God-appointed sovereign who ruled over the state—until the former should appear “with great power and glory” (Mk 13.26): at which point, in some apocalyptic texts, the emperor would deliver the terrestrial

40 As seen in the preface to this volume, Christ is described as the “ruler of the kings of the earth” in Revelation 1.5, highlighting his supremacy over all sovereigns, and, it can be inferred, their ostensible ecosystemic agency. 41 G. W. H. Lampe, ed., A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), 551. 42 Ibid., 807. 43 In Liddell and Scott, ‘ʌĮȡȠȣıȓĮ’ is defined as ‘presence,’ not as ‘coming.’ A Greek-English Lexicon, 1043. 44 Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 64–65. 45 See, for example, Jeremiah 23.5–6, Ezekiel 34.23–31, 47.1–20, and ‘Psalm of Solomon 17,’ in Early Judaism: Texts and Documents of Faith and Piety, ed. George W. E. Nickelsburg and W. E. Stone (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009), 161.

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kingdom to the eternal one of Christ. 46 But the more authentic or mystical disposition of the Orthodox Church that flourished within the Roman and Byzantine empires anchored eschatology exclusively in Jesus Christ in a manner consistent with the above definition, and distinguished itself from pagan conceptions by affirming the eternity of Christ as God (and indeed, the eternity of God as Trinity), and the finality of the cosmos; heretofore considered in paganism as eternal. 47 In other words, for Christians, God alone is eternal and the cosmos, which frames the historical narrative/experience of the Christian people, is created. 48 Having a beginning and an end conditioned by time and space, the cosmos is marked on either side of the cosmic/historical continuum by Jesus Christ—and is likewise permeated by his presence—as creator and consummator. 49 As such, both the pagan conception of the end as merely constituting a repetition of the beginning (enacted by the ruler), and the apocalyptic exaggeration of the role of emperors in the ‘last things,’ are not sufficient to account for authentic Christian eschatology, which, rather than being understood in relation to an abrupt cessation of the historical continuum 50—in other words, as ‘doomsday’—should perhaps be rendered precisely as a ‘consummation’ in line with Matthew 24.3 which describes it DV ıȣȞIJİȜİȓĮȢ IJȠ૨ Įੁ૵ȞȠȢ FRQVXPPDWLRQ RI WKH DJH  51 Admittedly, in Matthew chapter 24 Christ did outline the tribulations that would precede 46 Paul J. Alexander, The Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition, ed. Dorothy deF. Abrahamse (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 4. 47 Katharina Volk makes this plain in her assertion that Babylonian astrology— which was transferred to the Greeks and later the Romans—considered the stars both divine and eternal. ‘“Heavenly Steps”: Manilius 4.119–121 and its Background,’ in Heavenly Realms and Earthly Realities in Late Antique Reflections, 34–35. That the same was the case for Egypt is demonstrated in chapter two below. 48 Theokritoff, ‘Creator and Creation,’ 64. 49 For more, see chapter six below. 50 An example of the contemporary reductionist approach to eschatology that associates it exclusively with the end times can be found in the writings of Richard Landes, who placed a heavy emphasis on the notion of the catastrophic “End of the World” without at all addressing its significant corollary—that of the belief in the transformation or transfiguration of the existing order of things by the grace of God. Richard Landes, ‘On Owls, Roosters, and Apocalyptic Time: A Historical Method for Reading a Refractory Documentation,’ Union Seminary Quarterly Review 49 (1995): 49. 51 The etymology of the Greek word ıȣȞIJȑȜİȚĮ which, in combining the word for ‘end’—IJȑȜȠȢ—with the prefix ıȣȞ—which means ‘together’—helps us to clarify the notion of the ‘end’ as instead signifying ‘consummation.’ It is, in fact, defined as “consummation” in Lampe’s A Patristic Greek Lexicon, 1340.

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this consummation of all things, but these are just a mere precursor to the “transformation of the cosmos” 52 that would ensue: a transformation variously described by the writers of the New Testament as the kingdom of God/heaven (Mk 1.15; Mt 3.2), eternal life (Jn 6.58), salvation (Lk 19.9), paradise (Lk 23.43), “the day of the Lord” (1 Thess 5.2) and the “New Jerusalem” (Rev 21.2), or as anything that pertained to a divine way of life that transcends the present circumstances of this world. In regards to the latter, the descent of the New Jerusalem from God into the world is one of the most powerful images in the book of Revelation, which is concerned with various features of the last things, including the defeat of the devil by Christ, the final judgment of humanity, the resurrection of the righteous and the ultimate transformation of the cosmos into a “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21.1). For Christianity, however, the eschaton is not necessarily limited to the consummation at the last things. The advent of the kingdom of God on earth with the establishment of the Church by Christ means that a certain tension exists between its anticipation in the here and now and its ultimate consummation in the future. 53 In other words, the eschaton, insofar as it is anchored in the Christ experience, is anticipated in the very life of the Church understood as Christ’s body, where the faithful—as “members of his body” (Eph 5.30)—experience a foretaste of the fullness of God that is to permeate the entire created order at the end of time. Contemporary scholars have summarised this understanding of the eschaton as an already/not yet tension: Christ’s kingdom has ‘already’ come (otherwise known as ‘realised’ eschatology) but it is ‘not yet’ fulfilled or consummated (‘future eschatology’). 54 This conventional understanding of the already/not yet tension should be qualified for the sake of precision. Christ’s inauguration of the eschatological state described in Revelation has ‘already’ occurred in his person, as evidenced by his resurrection from the dead, but has ‘not yet’ been fulfilled in the Church and the world. Rather, he has given the members of his body—that is, the Church—the potential to receive this state in their

52

St Basil the Great, Hexaemeron, cited and translated from PG 29, 12C. David S. Dockery, Biblical Interpretation Then and Now: Contemporary Hermeneutics in Light of the Early Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992), 185. 54 Ibid. See also Georges Florovsky, ‘The Patristic Age and Eschatology: An Introduction,’ in Aspects of Church History (Vaduz: Büchervertriebsanstalt, 1987), 63–64; George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (London: The Paternoster Press, 1959), 67. 53

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very selves by grace, so that they might become, according to the famous phrase of St Peter, “participants of the divine life” (2 Pet 1.4). 55 This definition of eschatology is important, because, as we shall below, in chapter six on Christianity and in the chapters that deal primarily with the Christianisation of the old Rome and the founding and history of the New Rome (Constantinople), the Christianisation of space that takes place in these cities is meant to symbolically—and yet authentically— transfer the members of the Church to God’s heavenly kingdom, which is manifested in the unique art and architecture that developed in Byzantium; especially the proliferation and use of Christian images—such as the image of Christ Pantokrator or ‘Master of All’—in the public space. That this Christianisation process shifted the emphasis of imago mundi et axis mundi symbolism from the pagan gods and cities to Christ and his Church— exemplified by the saints’ eschatological experience of Christ—will be the attestation of the last few chapters of this volume. A final note on eschatology. We have mentioned that the ancient yearning for the world to be shaped or ordered—for ecosystemic agency— was considered by Christians as misplaced when related to earthly rulers; that it finds its ultimate fulfilment in Jesus Christ. We have also said that the ‘already’ of the already/not yet tension in eschatology relates, among other things, to Christ’s defeat of the devil; the agent of chaos in the Christian worldview. An additional, legitimate yearning by ancient societies was for chaos to be overcome by order. This chaos was usually personified as an evil, dragon-like entity; something which the early Church appropriated yet transferred to a fallen angel, Satan, to indicate it as an enemy with which the Church always has to contend. But whereas ancient cultures posited the repeated defeat of their respective agents of chaos, it is the Christian testimony that this agent has been defeated once and for all by Christ. Thus, the devil’s continued activity in the world is explained as permitted by Christ in order to turn fallen people back to him as the source of life, as the axis mundi and ecosystemic agent par excellence. Thus, while this book 55

The eschatological state is therefore bound up with the doctrine of deification or theosis, the classical articulation of which can be found in the writings of St Athanasius the Great (293–373) when he affirmed that God the Son and Logos assumed humanity as Jesus Christ in order that “we may become gods.”55 This was considered the God-intentioned IJȑȜȠȢ of all people, to be deified, not necessarily at the ‘end,’ but in the here and now. On the Incarnation, cited and translated from PG 25, 192B. In fact, the Greek word for ‘end’ is related to the verb IJİȜİȚȫıȚȢ, which, along with denoting “completion” and “consummation”—a word that we saw above with ıȣȞIJȑȜİȚĮ was endowed with eschatological import—also means “spiritual perfection,” in other words, deification. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon, 1383.

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analyses the repeated patterns of gods and kings restraining chaos and its agents from Mesopotamia, through to Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc., in its last few chapters it nonetheless shifts to the Christian approach to this topic— that is, the final defeat of the devil by Christ—which has antecedents, as will be seen, in ancient Judaism.

CHAPTER ONE MESOPOTAMIA

…a city without holy places and gods, without any observance of prayers, oaths, oracles, sacrifices for blessings received or rites to avert evils, no traveler has ever seen or will ever see. Plutarch, Moralia XIV1

Sumerian Civilisation The First Cities and their Rulers The above passage from Plutarch’s Moralia is apt in describing the circumstances that prevailed not only in Mesopotamia, but in all of the civilisations under evaluation, where indeed no city could be found “without holy places and gods,” and where the rites mentioned—“prayers, oaths, oracles, sacrifices”—were considered essential for their maintenance and survival. Three of the longest spanning Mesopotamian civilisations, Sumer, Akkad, and Babylon, constitute some of the oldest cultures in the world. Sumerian culture, beginning with the Ubaid period (c. 5000 BC),2 was characterised by agricultural settlement along the Sumerian plain between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers,3 and quickly developed notions of the sacred city and of sacred kingship that would become paradigmatic for both Akkad and Babylon, and later for Egypt and its neighbouring cultures.4 Sumer is described in the poem of Enki and Sumer as “a great 1 Plutarch, Moralia XIV, trans. B. Einarson and P. De Lacy (London: William Heinemann LTD, 1967), 301. 2 In places where relevant dates have not been provided by scholarly works referenced herein, they have been taken from ‘Part 1: The Development of States and Cities (c. 3000–c. 1600),’ in Amélie Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East c. 3000– 330 BC, vol. I (London and New York: Routledge, 1995), 19–116. 3 Thorkild Jacobsen, ‘Mesopotamian Religions: An Overview [First Edition],’ in Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 9, ed. Lindsay Jones et al. (Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2005), 5947. 4 S. Langdon affirmed that “the mentality of the prehistoric Egyptian and Sumerian is so similar, their remarkable logic in reducing the spiritual phenomenon of man

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land, of the lands of the universe, and … is like heaven, untouchable.”5 This points to the abiding perception that it had a divine-earthly constitution, which is made even more evident in the myths concerning its major cities that constitute its principal axes mundi. The Sumerian flood myth, commonly known as the Eridu Genesis6 inscribed on a clay tablet found in the city of Nippur dating from c. 1600 BC (the Babylonian period),7 mentions Eridu as the first amongst a series of five antediluvian or preflood cities which included Badtibira, Larak, Sippar, and Shurrupak.8 These cities were believed to have been built by the god Anu Enlil as “cult centers” after “kingship had been lowered from heaven”: kingship which in this context remained in the hands of those gods that Anu-Enlil appointed as masters over these cities.9 Anu Enlil’s name is in fact significant, because in Mesopotamian religion Anu was “lord of the firmament,”10 that is the celestial realm, and Enlil, the chief god of the Mesopotamian pantheon, was considered both “the son of heaven” and the lord of spirits or ghosts,11 which may imply the infernal realm;12 meaning that the combination of Anu and Enlil results in a conjunction of the celestial and terrestrial worlds. What is important is that in this myth Anu Enlil and the gods whom he had chosen were seen as ruling on earth to a complex theological system is so closely parallel, that an explanation is urgently called for.” Langdon, ‘The Early Chronology of Sumer and Egypt and the Similarities in their Culture,’ The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 7.3/4 (1921): 135. 5 Samuel Noah Kramer (trans.), ‘Enki and Sumer: The Organization of the Earth and its Cultural Processes,’ in Sumerian Mythology: A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievements in the Third Millennium B.C. (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1961), 59. 6 Thorkild Jacobson named it as such in his article ‘The Eridu Genesis,’ Journal of Biblical Literature 100.4 (1981): 513–29. 7 There are at least two more sources for the Eridu Genesis; a Sumerian tablet from the city of Ur which can also be dated to 1600 BC, and “a bilingual fragment, Sumerian with Akkadian translation, from Ashurbanipal’s library in Nineveh” that dates to around 600 BC. Ibid., 513–14. 8 Samuel Noah Kramer (trans.), Sumerian Myths and Epic Tales, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. J. B. Pritchard (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), 43. 9 Ibid. 10 Charles Russell Coulter and Patricia Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities (Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000), 58. 11 Ibid., 168. 12 For a comprehensive and nuanced study of the Sumerian conceptions of the underworld see Dina Katz, The Image of the Netherworld in the Sumerian Sources (Bethesda, MD: CDL Press, 2003).

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through their kingship, denoting that the celestial and terrestrial realms were believed to have converged within Sumerian cities, making them all axes mundi. Particularly important was the city of Eridu itself which was first established in the fifth millennium BC,13 making it, along with Uruk and Ur, one of the oldest urban settlements in the world.14 Although the Eridu Genesis dates from a much later period, it may point to a prior tradition of perceiving this city as one of the first axes mundi. The location of the clay tablet upon which the Eridu Genesis is inscribed at Nippur, one of the earliest post-diluvian or ‘post-flood’ cities, is also significant, insofar as Enlil was considered the chief patron of the latter city, where his temple Ekur or “the mountain house,”15 which was also known as Duranki, meaning “link between heaven and earth,”16 was located. This latter description, denoting that the city was an axis mundi, was concretely manifested in the fact that the kings of surrounding cities including Kish, Ur and Isin, always sought recognition at Nippur’s temple of Ekur, which was built as a ziggurat, described by Mircea Eliade as a “cosmic mountain.”17 (This, we have just seen, was reflected in the etymology of this temple’s name as “mountain house.”)18 In this way, the Ekur was considered both an image of the world (i.e. a “cosmic mountain”) and a centre “linking heaven and earth,” not merely through its designation as such (i.e. Duranki), but concretely through the ziggurat which was

13

Charles Freeman, Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 24. 14 Eridu, along with Uruk and Ur, were some of the first cities to emerge at the end of the Ubaid period that began in the sixth millennium BC and lasted until the middle of the fourth millennium. Jacobsen, ‘Mesopotamian Religions: An Overview [First Edition],’ 5947. 15 Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, 168. 16 This is Eliade’s translation. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. W. R. Trask (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959), 41. According to Samuel Noah Kramer, Duranki should be rendered as “center of the universe.” Kramer, ‘The Temple in Sumerian Literature,’ in Temple in Society, ed. Michael V. Fox (USA: Eisenbrauns, 1988), 7. 17 Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 40. 18 The Hymn to the Ekur, dating from the first half of the second millennium BC, describes it as follows: “The great house, it is a mountain great, the house of Enlil, it is a mountain great, the house of Ninlil, it is a mountain great…” with the phrase “mountain great” appearing twenty-seven times. Kramer (trans.), Sumerian Hymns, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 582.

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intended, through its high platform, “to raise the home of the god even closer to heaven.”19 For the way in which the Ekur recapitulated the Sumerian view of the cosmos, we must turn to Enki and Eridu: The Journey of the Water God to Nippur, insofar it creates a correspondence between Nippur and Eridu in its outline of the cosmogony by the god Enki, who, according to the Eridu Genesis, received Eridu from Anu-Enlil upon its creation.20 Basic elements of the Sumerian cosmogony, implied in this myth, are the separation of heaven (An)21 and earth (Ki),22 which are the offspring of the personification of the primeval waters—Nammu23—by their son Enlil. Enki appears “after the water of creation had been decreed”24—which may be a reference to either his own person, since he was believed to be the lord of water and the abyss,25 or to his mother Nammu—and raises the city of Eridu from this same abyss (probably Nammu)26 to elevate it like a mountain,27 which we have seen in relation to the ziggurat above was considered a recapitulation of the cosmos.28 Thus, Eridu was considered both the summation of the cosmos and its point of origin, as manifested in its temple called the E’engurra, or “Sea House” because it was built out of the “Abzu, the ‘Water Deep.’”29 As a ziggurat/cosmic mountain, just like the temple of Nippur, the E’engurra was believed to intersect the heavenly and earthly realms, and in this case the subterranean realm also, which is indicated by its foundation in the waters of the abyss. Thus, in Sumeria, just as, we shall see, in Egypt, we encounter multiple imagines et axes mundi: with Nippur’s claim to both deriving from its connection to Eridu as its 19 Harriet Crawford, Sumer and the Sumerians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 73. 20 Kramer (trans.), Sumerian Myths and Epic Tales, 43. 21 An is the god’s Sumerian name. In the language of the Akkadians, it is Anu. Norman Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993), 33. 22 ‘An’ and ‘Ki’ compounded as Anki mean ‘universe’ in Sumerian. See Kramer, Sumerian Mythology, 41. 23 Nothing is said of Nammu’s origin; it probably was believed to have existed eternally. Ibid., 39–40. 24 Kramer (trans.), Enki and Eridu: The Journey of the Water God to Nippur, in Sumerian Mythology, 62. 25 Ibid. 26 Insofar as she is the personification of the abyss. Ibid., 74. 27 Ibid., 63. 28 Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 40. 29 Kramer, ‘The Temple in Sumerian Literature,’ 12.

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paradigm. From a conceptual point of view, the main difference between the two cities was Nippur’s replacement of the patron god Enki with Enlil. But this might be part of a larger project whereby Nippur tried to replace Eridu as a cosmic centre, as reflected in Enlil and Ninlil: The Begetting of Nanna. This text was written on clay tablets in the third millennium BC and describes the creation of Nippur at the cosmogony30 without mentioning Eridu, and thereby implying, according to Samuel Kramer, that it “preceded it in age.”31 Despite the antiquity of the cities of Eridu and Nippur, and irrespective of which one preceded the other, it is relevant that neither city was the home of a ruling dynasty.32 The early dynastic period in Sumeria, dated conventionally around c. 2900 BC, is marked by “the shifting of political power from one to another of the cities”33 of the Sumerian plain. This shifting of power was tied up with the rulers of the respective cities and their patron deities, for unlike the later Egyptian Pharaohs or Roman rulers who were consistently seen as both the embodiment of the gods (such as Horus or Jupiter respectively) and the servants of the gods, the Sumerian rulers were predominantly viewed in the latter role as the chief intercessors between the pantheon and their city. In other words, the Sumerian kings were seen as closest to the gods, but were never described as divine per se, at least not, according to Norman Cohn, until the second millennium BC.34 Of course, this assertion is difficult to maintain with absolute certainty because of the fragmentary nature of the available sources. The Eridu Genesis, which comes from a later period but which seeks to account for the succession of kings after the flood, mentions the sun god Utu, who according the so-called Kingship chronicle, which was first published during the reign of the Akkadian king Naram-Sin,35 reigned for 30 It was designated, like its temple Ekur, as the “bond of heaven and earth.” Kramer (trans.), Enlil and Ninlil: The Begetting of Nanna, in Sumerian Mythology, 43. 31 Kramer, Sumerian Mythology, 62. 32 Crawford, Sumer and the Sumerians, 21. 33 Ibid., 25. 34 It was precisely this period that fostered the development of a divine monarchy in Mesopotamian consciousness. Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 37–38. 35 The Kingship chronicle has been called the Chronicle of the Single Monarchy in its most recent translation, which is how I will refer to it throughout. Jean-Jacques Glassner (trans.), The Royal Chronicles: 1. The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, in Mesopotamian Chronicles, ed. Benjamin R. Foster (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004), 118.

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324 years before entering the sea and disappearing.36 In the Eridu Genesis, however, this sun god is depicted as shining his rays into the boat of the high priest Ziusudra,37 who, after offering supplications to Anu Enlil, becomes the first post-diluvian king reigning from the city of Dilmun.38 But although this text clearly depicts the sun god’s patronage over the first Sumerian king, it ends abruptly, since the remainder of the tablet, mentioned above as being found in Nippur, is destroyed. We can therefore have no clear idea about the genealogy of Sumerian kings after the flood, except that Ziusudra, while high priest, was nonetheless a mortal suppliant of the Mesopotamian pantheon. This is confirmed by the Collection of Temple Hymns, found, like the Eridu Genesis, in Nippur, where “it is clearly stated that the god has chosen that city as his preferred abode, and even built his temple.”39 This, we shall see, is in stark contrast to later Egyptian, Israelite, or Roman perceptions (both pagan and Christian) that generally ascribe such accomplishments to both the gods or God and the ruler equally. The Sumerian king, while considered a high priest, was often subjected to “innumerable religious duties” imposed on him by an “inflexible priesthood,”40 which may account for his construal as a sort of ecosystemic agent operating from the vantage point of the terrestrial realm (as opposed to the Pharaoh and the Roman emperor, who were considered as equally partaking of both the celestial and terrestrial realms). In any case, what is important is that both divine and human kingship were believed to have been established by the gods within the respective Sumerian cities, and that the first imperial expansion of ‘divine’ rule to encompass more than one city took place during what is known as the Uruk period, in the late fifth millennium BC.41 According to the Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, the founder of Uruk was Meskiaggaser, 42 son of the god Utu, who after the great flood

36

Ibid., 121. Kramer (trans.), Sumerian Myths and Epic Tales, 44. 38 Ibid. 39 Herman Vanstiphout, ‘Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus or How and Why did the Sumerians Create their Gods?’ in What is a God? Anthropomorphic and NonAnthropomorphic Aspects of Deity in Ancient Mesopotamia, ed. Barbara Nevling Porter (Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2009), 31. 40 Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 38. 41 Jacobsen, ‘Mesopotamian Religions: An Overview [First Edition],’ 5947. 42 Glassner (trans.), The Royal Chronicles: 1. The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, 121. 37

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recorded in the Eridu Genesis43 reigned for 324 years before entering the sea and disappearing.44 The Chronicle begins with an assertion that kingship came down from heaven and was localised in Eridu, matching up with the Eridu Genesis’ claim that Eridu was the first city to be established by the gods before the flood.45 The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy also names the same five antediluvian or ‘pre-flood’ cities listed in the Eridu Genesis, which makes it likely that it was the source for the latter, pointing thereby to the endurance of Eridu’s symbolic preeminence for Mesopotamian culture.46 More importantly, just like the Eridu Genesis and many other Mesopotamian texts,47 the Chronicle distinguishes between a time before the flood when the gods were believed to have ruled the earth directly from the antediluvian cities mentioned above, and the period after the flood where kingship was transferred to their offspring. However, the Chronicle makes no mention of Ziusudra, instead referring, and perhaps interpolating into the earlier Sumerian tradition, the transference of kingship from the gods to their sons (or, demigods) at the city of Uruk. This early dynastic period, represented in the sources as comprised of semi-divine beings, witnessed a flowering of civilisation, including the invention of monumental architecture such as the ziggurat already mentioned, which archaeologists have found evidence for in the city of Ur, where kingship passed after the fall of Uruk.48 Ziggurats have 43

Kramer (trans.), Sumerian Myths and Epic Tales, 43–44. Glassner (trans.), The Royal Chronicles: 1. The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, 121. 45 Although ‘The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy’ was written well before the Eridu Genesis, it begins as follows: “When kingsh[ip] had come down from heaven, kingship (was) at [Er]idu.” Ibid., 119. 46 The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, which held Eridu to be the first city established by the gods, was written during the Akkadian period. The Babylonians also continued the tradition of upholding Eridu as pre-eminent among Mesopotamian cities in The Babylonian Royal Chronicle, which was found in Nineveh in Ashurbanipal’s library (c. 600 BC). Glassner (trans.), 3. Continuators: The Babylonian Royal Chronicle, in Mesopotamian Chronicles, 129. 47 The Royal Chronicle of Lagaš, written in the eighteenth century BC, presupposes the flood story. Glassner (trans.), A Parody: The Royal Chronicle of Lagaš, in Mesopotamian Chronicles, 147. But the most famous story of the Mesopotamian flood myth is the Atrahasis, and the earliest copies of it are from the Babylonian period, c. 700 BC. For a critical edition, see W. G. Lambert and A. R. Millard, trans., Atra-‫ې‬asƯs, The Babylonian Story of the Flood, with The Sumerian Flood Story, trans. by M. Civil (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969). 48 Glassner (trans.), The Royal Chronicles: 1. The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, 121, 123. 44

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also been found in Kish, which, in contrast to Sumerian tradition, archaeologically predates Uruk as the first city to establish hegemony over the other cities of the Sumer.49 We saw above that the ziggurat was a cosmic mountain that imaged the world, and that it was likewise a centre of the world that raised the gods’ temple from earth to heaven. Therefore, just as the post-diluvian temple of Nippur—which was connected to the antediluvian Eridu—was an imago et axis mundi, so too would the early dynastic cities of Uruk, Ur, and Kish be considered images and centres of the world: images and centres that were ruled by demigods until the Uruk period came to a close with the conquest of the Sumerians by the Semitic Akkadians, led by Sargon I, which resulted in a synthesis between the two cultures.50 It is to the Akkadian period, which not only perpetuated the notion of the city as an imago et axis mundi, but which witnessed the rise of the ruler as an ecosystemic agent, that we now turn.

The Akkadian Period Sargon, Naram-Sin, and the Rise of the Ruler Cult Sargon is described in The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy as “the cupbearer or Ur-Zababa, … the one who founded Akkade, [as] king.”51 The description of Sargon as reigning for fifty-six years is markedly different from previous rulers who are frequently ascribed lengthy reigns, some of which were believed to have lasted for hundreds, if not thousands of years.52 These lengthy reigns, accompanied by acknowledgments of the

49

The chronology established by Jacobson lists Kish as ruling over all of the Sumer and Akkad, followed by Uruk, then Ur. Jacobsen, ‘Mesopotamian Religions: An Overview [First Edition],’ 5947. The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, on the other hand, begins with Uruk, followed by Ur, then Kish. Glassner (trans.), The Royal Chronicles: 1. The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, 121. 50 W. H. Ph. Römer, ‘The Religion of Ancient Mesopotamia,’ in Historia Religionum 1: Religions of the Past, ed. C. J. Bleeker and Geo Widengren (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1969), 123–24. 51 Glassner (trans.), The Royal Chronicles: 1. The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, 123. 52 The fact that he is called a ‘cupbearer’ should not surprise, insofar as this task, like many others in the Mesopotamian world, was considered as instituted by the gods (thus, other kings are known as metalworkers and leatherworkers). Glassner (trans.), The Royal Chronicles: 1. The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, 121, 123.

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‘divine origins’ of certain rulers, such as Gilgamesh,53 seem to be a result of later reflection by the Akkadians on a gradually synthesised SumerianAkkadian cosmogony. For the Sumerians, the divine nature of kingship was never fully asserted because the antediluvian cities were considered directly ruled by the gods. The early Akkadians confirmed this by delineating a gradual, but by no means uniform, decline in the divinity of the kings as reflected in the lessening of the duration of their reigns in The Chronicle of the Single Monarchy, which, as we saw above, was written in the Akkadian period. This denoted that kingship was believed to have passed to mortals, especially after it was transferred from Eanna to Ur, from which point onwards the epithet ‘divine’ disappears from the names of the rulers.54 Surprisingly, although Sargon is himself depicted in the Chronicle as continuing this mortal-kingship trend, he is nevertheless represented in various descriptions as divine.55 Breaking away from Kish, Sargon, under the matronage of the goddess Ishtar (the Sumerian Inanna),56 founded the new city of Akkad (later, Agade) in her honour, the location of which is no longer known;57 although scholars have posited that it must lie close to Sippar, which is the area most suggested by the available sources.58 It was from Akkad that Sargon established a base “from which he launched his campaign to subdue all the cities of the [Sumerian] plain,”59 and it was in the midst of this city that he dedicated a ziggurat to Ishtar called Ulmash,60 the cult of which was perpetuated by his grandson Naram-Sin, who is 53

In the Chronicle of the Single Monarchy he is referred to as divine twice in relation to his reign. Ibid. 54 Ibid., 118, 121. 55 Samuel A. B. Mercer, ‘‘Emperor’-Worship in Babylonia,’ Journal of the American Oriental Society 36 (1916): 364. This is confirmed by Cohn who states that the second millennium BC, which is around the time of Sargon’s reign, fostered the development of a divine monarchy. Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 37. 56 Ibid., 41. 57 Agade was located near, or beneath, the present city of Baghdad in Iraq. Christophe Wall-Romana, ‘An Areal Location of Agade,’ Journal of Near Eastern Studies 49.3 (1990): 244. 58 Such as McGuire Gibson in his ‘The City and Area of Kish,’ which was reviewed extensively by Harvey Weiss, who disagreed with his thesis, in ‘Kish, Akkad, and Agade: The City and Area of Kish,’ Journal of the American Oriental Society 95.3 (1975): 443. 59 Crawford, Sumer and the Sumerians, 25. 60 Walther Sallaberger and Aage Westenholz, Mesopotamien: Akkade-Zeit Und Ur III-Zeit, ed. Pascal Attinger (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999), 31.

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particularly important insofar as he also depicted himself as divine “during the course of his reign.”61 Naram-Sin’s ‘divinisation’ is pertinently reflected by a fragmentary mould stamped with a metallic boss that depicts Ishtar and Naram-Sin as equals, with the latter seated atop her temple in Agade.62 The mould also depicts the goddess and the ruler subduing foreign peoples, with Joan Aruz and Ronald Wallenfels suggesting that the complete mould would have depicted “a world map of Naram-Sin’s empire as seen from its centre, Agade.”63 Apart from testifying to Agade as a terrestrial axis mundi, this object parallels the ruler’s selfacclamation—one which was common in his dynasty—as “king of the four quarters”:64 an acclamation that was concretely manifested in the fact that his house/temple was built in the centre of the city of Agade, from where it could be extended to the four cardinal points.65 What can be discerned, therefore, in the reign of Naram-Sin is the fact that the ruler was considered a divine ecosystemic agent ruling the world from the vantage point of his capital city, the axis mundi. We have seen so far that Sumeria and Akkad had very different ideas of kingship. In fact, what we can discern is a gradual development from the Sumerian to the Akkadian sources in which the king was considered more and more divine, making his ecosystemic role prominent, for instance, in the reigns of Sargon and Naram-Sin. This role was executed through the maintenance of me, or mes in plural, succinctly described by Norman Cohn as a rule, or law, or decree, regulating a particular element in society or civilisation … Acting in concert with mes implemented the intention that gods had for human beings…66

The mes were constitutive of all the particular facets of the Mesopotamian way of life, thereby anticipating the Stoic logoi or principles of being, which were the developmental laws constitutive of particular beings and

61

Joan Aruz and Ronald Wallenfels, Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003), 195. 62 Joan Aruz and Ronald Wallenfels mention that this is in a private collection but give no other information. Ibid., 197. 63 Ibid. 64 W. F. Albright, ‘Menes and Naram-Sin,’ The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 6.2 (1920): 89. 65 Glassner (trans.), The Future of the Past, in Mesopotamian Chronicles, 4. 66 Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 35.

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encompassed by (or extending) from the universal or cosmic organisational principle, the Logos.67 The relationship between the me and the mes can be envisaged in a similar way, although whereas the Stoics, in their disavowal of polytheism, held a ‘rationalised’ view of God and the universe,68 the Mesopotamians believed that the mes were established at the cosmogony by the gods, as implied above by Cohn. For example, in the Eridu Genesis the antediluvian cities mentioned above are referred to as the “places of (divine) ordinances,”69 where “ordinances” is a translation of mes. In this text, the mes are created or “exalted”70 before the establishment of these cities, presumably by Anu Enlil, making them integral for the establishment of the Mesopotamian axes mundi before they became the particular responsibility of the gods. In Inanna’s Descent to the Nether World dating from the first half of the second millennium BC,71 we read about her gathering and arraying herself with “the seven ordinances [mes],”72 and in Inanna and Enki: The Transfer of the Me from Eridu to Erech—dating from a similar period73—Enki presents Inanna with the mes, which include: …lordship, godship, the exalted and enduring crown, the throne of kingship, the exalted scepter, the exalted shrine, shepherdship, kingship, the numerous priestly offices, truth, descent into the nether world and ascent from it … music, eldership, heroship and power, enmity, straightforwardness, the destruction of cities and lamentation, rejoicing of the heart, falsehood, the rebel land, goodness and justice, the craft of the carpenter, metal worker, scribe, smith, leather worker…74

Inanna’s monopoly over the mes may be due to her rise to prominence within the Mesopotamian pantheon during the reigns of Sargon and Naram-Sin several centuries earlier. In any case, in this text it is clear that the mes/principles of all of the particularities in the Mesopotamian universe belonged to Inanna, which implies that the ecosystemic agency of the sovereign was weaker, than, for instance, that of his Egyptian equivalent the Pharaoh who was responsible for ma’at—the all-embracing 67 Adam Drozdek, The Greek Philosophers as Theologians: The Divine Arche (Hampshire: Ashgate, 2007), 230. 68 Ibid., 234. 69 Kramer (trans.), Sumerian Myths and Epic Tales, 43. 70 Ibid. 71 Ibid., 52. 72 Ibid., 53. 73 Around 2000 BC. See Kramer, Sumerian Mythology, 66. 74 Ibid.

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ontological principal in that culture’s cosmic vision75—and all of this despite the self-representations of Sargon and Naram-Sin as divine. Moreover, the transportation of the mes from Eridu to Erech demonstrates that the latter city was, like Nippur, looking to the former as a paradigm that, under the patronage of Enki, contained all of the mes within its bounds. Eridu, as the axis mundi, was thus seen as the source of all the principles of the Mesopotamian cosmos. In the case of Naram-Sin’s self-representation as divine, it only lasted until his sack of Nippur, the imago et axis mundi where Enlil dwelt. This act was interpreted as provoking the god to wrath and precipitating the fall of Agade in 2112 BC at the hands of the Gutians,76 “invading hordes from the mountains to the east.”77 The fall of the city was described in utterly apocalyptic terms in a poem entitled The Curse of Agade, which depicts Inanna leaving the city, making it bereft of the sanctifying presence of the deity that had once elevated it “towards heaven.”78 Initially Naram-Sin accepted the destruction of the city with humility and patience, and after seven years he asked the oracle at the Ekur in Nippur to rehabilitate Agade. After being refused, he despoiled the temple, which infuriated its patron, Enlil, whom The Curse of Agade invokes repeatedly to make Agade desolate; invocations which were considered successful both against the city and Naram-Sin.79 The fall of Agade therefore demonstrates that for the Mesopotamians kingship was not necessarily immutable, as it would become later on for the Egyptians and Romans. For instance, we shall see in our chapter on Egypt that since Pharaoh was considered essential to the cosmic order as an ecosystemic agent, it was almost impossible for him to incur divine wrath, and if he did incur it his name was not referred to in hymns that exulted his legacy. Instead, any activities that disrupted that order would result in his name being obliterated from all existing historical records, as was the case with Akhenaten and his family.80 Moreover, the Curse is as 75 C. J. Bleeker affirmed in this regard: “All government officials, and particularly the pharaoh, are called on to put Ma-a-t into practice. Particularly the pharaoh as son of the gods and sacred monarch.” ‘The Religion of Ancient Egypt,’ in Historia Religionum 1: Religions of the Past, 57. 76 Joan Oates, Babylon (London: Thames & Hudson, 1986), 42. 77 Ibid., 37. 78 Kramer (trans.), Sumerian Miscellaneous Texts, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 648. 79 Ibid., 648, 650. 80 William J. Murnane, trans., Texts from the Amarna Period in Egypt, ed. Edmund S. Meltzer (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature Scholars Press, 1995), 241–42.

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close as we will come to a description of the onset of chaos over cosmos in Mesopotamia. Unlike the Egyptians, who, we will see below personified chaos as isfet, the opposite of cosmos or ma’at, the Mesopotamians believed that those aspects of the cosmos that we would consider chaotic were divinely determined by the mes. For example, in Inanna and Enki: The Transfer of the Me from Eridu to Erech, the mes of “truth” and “falsehood,” which we would consider opposing notions, are in equal standing insofar as they are the monopoly of the goddess.81 Chaos, for the Mesopotamians, was therefore not to be interpreted as the ontological antithesis of cosmos. Instead, what we discover is that demonic entities such as Anzu,82 the Asakku,83 and especially Kur, who was depicted as a primeval dragon entity,84 correspond more closely to later concepts of chaos, and even evil. These beings, and many others like them, were considered inimical to the Mesopotamian cosmos, and were defeated by hero deities such as Inanna, who slays Kur with a spear.85 Agade’s fall, though depicted in chaotic terms, was nevertheless described as the will of the gods Enlil and Inanna. The city’s collapse thus witnessed the replacement of Akkadian dominance with Sumerian rule once more, known as the third dynasty of Ur (c. 2112–2004) or Ur III beginning with the rule of Ur-Nammu (c. 2112–2095), known as the promulgator of the world’s first law code.86 This period saw the erection of more ziggurats attempting to connect earth and sky, and the divinisation of further kings such as Shulgi, Amar-Sin and Shu-Sin.87 In fact, both the erection and maintenance of the ziggurats, as well as the self-representations of the kings as divine, become paradigmatic for the tumultuous Amorite and Larsa periods that succeeded Ur III.88 For instance, the former saw the 81

Kramer, Sumerian Mythology, 66. Also called Zu; depicted as an enormous fire-breathing bird, or as a lion-headed eagle. Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, 524–25. 83 Also known as ‘Lahamu’ and ‘Lahmu,’ male and female dragons respectively who were the first offspring of Apsu and Tiamat. Ibid., 284. 84 Tracing the etymology of the word Kur, Samuel Noah Kramer stated that initially it meant ‘mountain.’ Eventually, however, the word became associated with the dangerous mountainous regions surrounding Sumeria, thereby designating ‘foreign land,’ until it came to mean ‘land’ in general. Kramer, Sumerian Mythology, 76. Finally, according to Dina Katz, Kur was also identified with the border or gate between the netherworld and the world of the living. Katz, The Image of the Netherworld, 86, 91. 85 Kramer, Sumerian Mythology, 83. 86 Oates, Babylon, 45. 87 Ibid., 47, 49. 88 Ibid., 55–59. 82

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restoration of the Ekur ziggurat, or “mountain-house,” at Nippur by IshmeDagan, who claimed that Enlil instructed him in this task. The ruler accomplished this by gathering “together all the me[s] of the Ekur,” and restoring it according to its ancient master plan and neglected rites.89 Not only did the restoration itself imply Ishme-Dagan’s role as an ecosystemic agent, but his gathering of all the temple’s principles of being, the mes—a role we saw earlier was in the hands of the goddess Inanna—implies his self-representation as divine. This means that despite the chaos that ensued the respective falls of Agade and Ur III, the imagines et axes mundi—and in this case the Ekur—had to be maintained by an ecosystemic agent, who, in the Larsa period, was still extolled as the single, divine ruler over Sumer and Akkad despite the fact that this political reality had ceased to be the case for many centuries.90 The paradigm established by Ishme-Dagan would also persist into the next phase of Mesopotamian civilisation, namely the rise of Babylon, which we shall see, witnessed the full flowering of the ruler cult and its connection to the city as an imago et axis mundi.

Babylon and the Ecosystemic Paradigm The restorative aspect of temple building witnessed in Ishme-Dagan’s reign, where the ziggurat had to be rebuilt in accordance with a celestial pattern,91 became a mainstay of Mesopotamian culture in the Babylonian period beginning in 1894 BC, when the Amorites founded a dynasty in the city that was to elevate it to preeminence. The name Babylon or Bab-ilani, which means the “gate of the gods,”92 was meant to designate the convergence of the celestial and terrestrial in the city’s boundaries. The belief that Babylon had been built over Bab apsi, ‘the Gate of the Apsu,’ where apsu designated the primordial waters beneath which was the netherworld,93 points to the fact that the gate of the gods was believed to have been built over the entrance to the underworld, meaning that all three

89

Kramer, The Temple in Sumerian Literature, 9–10. Oates, Babylon, 59. 91 Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 37. 92 Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History, trans. W. R. Trask (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 14. 93 See the location of netherworld in fig. 3 in Margaret Huxley, ‘The Shape of the Cosmos according to the Cuneiform Sources,’ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 7.2 (1997): 197. 90

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tiers of reality—the celestial, terrestrial, and infernal—intersected within the city.94 To this end, the Esagila95 ziggurat-temple built at the centre of the 96 city, probably by king Nebuchadnezzar I (c. 1125–1104 BC), was also called Etemenanki or “House [temple/palace] where the foundation of the heavens and earth is.”97 This temple, as an imago et axis mundi, was dedicated to the deity Marduk,98 a demiurge who, according to the epic Enuma Elish99 was born inside the apsu,100 which, we saw above in relation to Sumerian culture, was a personification of the underground waters (like Nammu).101 In other words, Marduk was born in the underworld upon which his temple, linking heaven and earth, was founded. The Enuma Elish was composed in the second millennium BC, perhaps during the Akkadian period, but the oldest surviving texts are from the beginning of the first millennium BC, roughly around the period of Nebuchadnezzar I’s reign. According to the text, which unfolds through seven tablets, when the serpent god Tiamat, the widow of Apsu (who had been killed by Marduk’s father, Ea, after Apsu had attempted to slay his children),102 tried to avenge her husband’s killers, Marduk defeated her, creating the sky and earth out of the severed remains.103 This is important because it depicts the patron of Babylon and his ancestry as responsible for cosmicising the primeval chaos/waters, represented by Apsu (fresh water) and Tiamat (salt water),104 from the central vantage point of Babylon; not to mention the obvious parallels with Inanna’s defeat of Kur.105 94

Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, 15. Esagila means “House whose Top is High.” Takayoshi Oshima, ‘The Babylonian God Marduk,’ in The Babylonian World, ed. Gwendolyn Leick (New York and London: Routledge, 2007): 355. 96 Marc van de Mieroop, ‘Reading Babylon,’ American Journal of Archaeology 107.2 (2003): 260. 97 Bernard F. Batto, Slaying the Dragon: Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), 35. 98 Oshima, ‘The Babylonian God Marduk,’ 348. 99 So called from its opening words, “When on high …” Ibid., 351. 100 E. A. Speiser (trans.), ‘Akkadian Myths and Epics,’ in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 62. 101 Kramer, The Temple in Sumerian Literature, 12. 102 Speiser (trans.), ‘Akkadian Myths and Epics,’ 60, 61. 103 Ibid., 63, 67. 104 Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, 63–64; Ibid., 466. 105 Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1969), 150. 95

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Before his victory, Babylon’s patron was given “kingship over the universe entire,”106 meaning that the city itself, with the shrine to Marduk at its centre, mastered all; with the Babylonian kings considered both descendants and appointees of Marduk.107 The former aspect—that of Babylon’s ‘universal supremacy’—is attested to in the eleventh century BC Chronicle of Esagila, which is “in the form of a fictitious royal letter” by the king of Isin, Damiq-ilishu,108 to Apil-Sin, king of Babylon. The extant version of the Chronicle, which, while referring to kings from the eighteenth dynasty cannot be dated to before 1100 BC, contains a prophecy delivered to Damiq-ilishu by Gula, the mother or earth goddess,109 concerning the fact that the rule of Babylon will pass into his hands: You will define the limits of a place within subterranean waters, you […] in the waters of the deep, will raise your head toward the distant heavens, […], on high, a privileged status. [The]n Marduk, king of the gods who […] all heaven and earth [will put (?) the peop]le of Sumer and Akkad under the authority (?) of his city, Babylon. […] Hurrying toward the dwelling-place in the Aps[û], toward his father Ea, the creator, the counselor of heaven and earth: ‘May Babylon, the city that in the loyalty of my heart I have chosen, be exalted throughout the inhabited world! … May the pinnacle of Esagila, the EKUa, the palace of heaven and earth, be […] as the sky! May its foundations, like heaven and earth forever be continually […]!110

The message Damiq-ilishu receives from Gula is clear: as an ecosystemic agent, he stands in the abyss and looks towards the distant heavens, bridging the realms. His patron, Marduk, will make a plea to Ea for his possession of Babylon, the axis mundi, to which Ea favourably responds that the tower of Esagila, which can be none other than the Etemenanki situated at ‘the base of heaven and earth,’111 will persist continually. Babylon therefore became the Mesopotamian imago et axis mundi par 106

Speiser (trans.), Akkadian Myths and Epics, 66. Babylonian kings even took his name, for instance, “Marduk-zakir-shumi.” Oshima, ‘The Babylonian God Marduk,’ 350. 108 The bad condition of the extant texts offers the possible reading of this king’s name as Rim-Sin, king of Larsa, who reigned about the same period. Glassner (trans.), Babylonian Chronicles of Ancient Kings, in Mesopotamian Chronicles, 263. 109 Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, 198. 110 Glassner (trans.), Babylonian Chronicles of Ancient Kings, 265. 111 Batto, Slaying the Dragon, 35. 107

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excellence, and its king, in contrast to his Sumerian ancestors, was considered a divine ecosystemic agent, who as the centuries passed was envisaged more and more as a representative, not only of Marduk, but of the sun god Shamash (formerly Utu above), whose patronage as arbiter of justice and lawgiver—both attributes of the king—becomes more and more significant throughout the Babylonian period.112

112

The patronage of Utu/Shamash is evidenced in the early third millennium BC, where Ur-Nammu’s reign was seen as predestined by the sun god. In the early second millennium BC, we see the correlation between the solar god and the rulers Lipit-Eshtar and Ishme-Dagan. Later, during the reign of the first king of Babylon, Hammurabi, a famous stele depicts him “standing in front of the enthroned Shamash and receiving the laws from him.” Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 39–40.

CHAPTER TWO EGYPT

The Cosmogony and the City in Ancient Egypt The Sumerian Ubaid period (c. 5000 BC) that marked the emergence of the first cities such as Eridu predated Egypt’s Old Kingdom by almost a millennium, meaning that Egypt may have inherited from Mesopotamia the notion of the sacred city that was integral to its religious worldview. In fact, the whole of Egypt was described in Ioannes Stobaeus’ Eclogues (fifth century AD) as the “oldest and holiest country” (ਲ IJ૵Ȟ ʌȡȠȖȩȞȦȞ ਲȝ૵Ȟ ੂİȡȦIJȐIJȘ ȤȫȡĮ) precisely because it “lies in the middle of the earth” (ਫʌİȚį੽ į੻ ਥȞ IJ૶ ȝȑı૳ IJોȢ ȖોȢ țİ૙IJĮȚ),1 a position reiterated later in that century by the Egyptian priest Horapollo, who in his Hieroglyphica described Egypt as the “so-called pupil in the eye” (IJ૶ ੑijșĮȜȝ૶ ਲ ȜİȖȠȝȑȞȘ țȩȡȘ) because it is in the “middle of the inhabited world” (ȝȑıȘ IJોȢ ȠੁțȠȣȝȑȞȘȢ ਫ਼ʌȐȡȤİȚ).2 Both Stobaeus and Horapollo’s works were preserved by the Byzantines, with the former quoted by St Photius the Great (ninth century) in his Bibliotheca,3 and the latter being transmitted to the West by the fifteenth century Florentine monk Cristoforo Buondelmonti, who discovered the work on the Greek island of Andros.4 1

Ioannis Stobaei, Eclogae Physicae et Ethicae, in Anthologium, vol. 1, ed. Curtius Wachsmuth (Berlin: Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1884), 412. The title of the original Greek text is ਫțȜȠȖĮȓ ਝʌȠijșȑȖȝĮIJĮ ੥ʌȠșોțĮȚ, as given by the ninth century patriarch of Constantinople, St Photius, at the beginning of his review of the text: “ਝȞİȖȞȫıșȘ ੉ȦȐȞȞȠȣ ȈIJȠȕĮȓȠȣ ਥțȜȠȖ૵Ȟ, ਕʌȠijșİȖȝȐIJȦȞ, ਫ਼ʌȠșȘț૵Ȟ, ȕȚȕȜȓĮ IJȑııĮȡĮ ਥȞ IJİȪȤİıȚ įȣıȓ.” Photius, ‘Bibliothèque Codice 167,’ in Photius: Bibliothèque Tome II («Codices» 84–185), trans. René Henry (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1960), 149. My translation of the above: “Read John Stobaeos’ selections, apophthegms, and councils, four books in two volumes [lit. ‘implementations’].” 2 Horapollinis Niloi, Hieroglyphica, trans. Conradus Leemans (Amsterdam: J. Muller et Socios, 1835), 31. 3 St Photius, ‘Bibliothèque Codice 167,’ 149. 4 Erik Hornung, The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca and New York: Cornell University Press, 2001), 83–84.

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It is not surprising, therefore, that in an anonymous text on the church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), we see Constantinople described in a similar manner after its fall to the Ottomans in 1453: “[U]nfortunately, the eye of the inhabited world is quenched for now” (IJȠ૨ ੑijșĮȜȝȠ૨ IJોȢ ȠੁțȠȣȝȑȞȘȢ įȣıIJȣȤ૵Ȣ IJȠȞ૨Ȟ İȓȞĮȚ ıȕİıșȑȞIJȠȢ).5 Although the precise chronological transmission of this metaphor is impossible to trace, what is important for the present study is the direct conceptual link between Byzantium—with which this book culminates—and the present culture under evaluation. Returning to the ancient context, the unknown author of the Corpus Hermeticum, a contemporary of both Stobaeus and Horapollo, affirms in his To Asclepius: Do you not know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of heaven (Aegyptus imago sit caeli) or, to be more precise, that everything governed and moved in heaven came down to Egypt and was transferred there? If truth were told, our land is the temple of the whole world (terra nostra mundi totius est templum).6

Like Sumer, which in the poem of Enki and Sumer is described as “a great land, of the lands of the universe, and … is like heaven, untouchable,”7 Egypt’s geographical terrain, insofar as it was believed to include both the celestial and terrestrial realms, was considered an imago et axis mundi; the fact that this was only explicitly articulated in these fifth century sources does not detract from its implicit resonance in texts dating back to the midto-late second millennium BC (or, the period of the New Kingdom which lasted from c. 1550–1069) and even earlier.8 For instance, the New 5

ਝȞȦȞȪȝȠȣ ȂȠȞȦįȓĮ İੁȢ IJ੽Ȟ ਞȖȓĮȞ ȈȠijȓĮȞ Vat Gr. 112, f11v–f12v, quoted from Gerasimos Koutsouras, Acts of God in Late Byzantium: Natural Disasters in the Context of the Decline of Byzantium [in Greek] (Thessaloniki, 2005), 26–27, footnote 41. 6 Brian P. Copenhaver, Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a New English Translation with Notes and Introduction (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 81. Latin text from Hermès Trismégiste, vol II: Asclepius Traités XIII–XVIII, trans. A. J. Festugière (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1945), 326. 7 Samuel Noah Kramer (trans.), Enki and Sumer: The Organization of the Earth and its Cultural Processes, in Sumerian Mythology: A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievements in the Third Millennium B.C. (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1961), 59. 8 In places where relevant dates have not been provided by scholarly works referenced herein they have been taken from the ‘Chronology’ section in A

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Kingdom Hymns to Amun9 depict this eponymous demiurgic figure as stretching “his measuring cord to the breadth of the earth,” and founding “the Two Lands where they are located, the temples and the sanctuaries.”10 The reference to the Two Lands indicates the pre-dynastic division of the country into Lower (North) and Upper (South) Egypt, put to an end by the first ruler to unify them in c. 3000 BC, who can either be identified as the mythical Menes or the ‘historical’ Narmer (see below).11 But despite this geographical division, which the Egyptians never permitted to lapse from their collective memory,12 the hymn affirms that the god’s border “reaches the breadth of the earth and the height of the heavens.”13 This implies that the sun-god Amun fashioned the whole of Egypt from a central vantage point which encompasses, not only Upper and Lower Egypt, but the entire terrestrial plane, reaching, by the god’s supposed decree, to the celestial realm and thereby constituting an axis mundi. In the same way that Rome and Constantinople were populated by axes mundi, many Egyptian cities were considered as the intersection of the celestial and terrestrial realms precisely because they constituted the focal point from which the cosmos was created. Hermopolis, Heliopolis,

Companion to Ancient Egypt, vol. I, ed. Alan B. Lloyd (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), xxxii–xxxvii. If we do not have direct allusions to Egypt as an axis mundi from an early date, it is because the intellectual prerequisites expressis verbis were not established until the Egyptians formed a family of peoples. Siegfried Morenz, Egyptian Religion, trans. Ann E. Keep (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992), 45. 9 The following references to the Hymns to Amun have been translated from the Leiden Papyrus, referenced as ‘P. Leiden 1 350 III 6–14,’ in Jan Assmann’s The Search for God in Ancient Egypt, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1984), 29. 10 Ibid. 11 For a delineation of the unification of the Two Lands as depicted by the Narmer Pallete, see Robert J. Wenke, The Ancient Egyptian State: The Origins of Egyptian Culture (c. 8000–2000 BC) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 181– 88. For the identification of Narmer with Menes, see Christine C. Schnusenberg, The Mythological Traditions of Liturgical Drama: The Eucharist as Theater (New York and Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2010), 29. 12 The Egyptians always remembered this division in order to highlight the significance of the unification of the Two Lands as “the only harmonious and correct way for Egypt to exist.” This unification had to be maintained, and, if so, recreated by Pharaoh, whose very royal titles and the symbols associated with his sovereignty displayed him as master of both ‘Lands.’ Amélie Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East c. 3000–330 BC, vol. I (London and New York: Routledge, 1995), 125. 13 Assmann, The Search for God in Ancient Egypt, 29.

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Thebes, Memphis,14 to name a few,15 all claimed to be the location of the primordial hillock,16 the point from which the demiurge created the world.17 From this cosmogonic perspective, both Egyptian cities and the country per se had as their common point of reference the Nile River, which was so significant for the Egyptian worldview that they envisaged it as having both celestial and subterranean equivalents.18 It was the subterranean waters that constituted the source of the terrestrial Nile;19 waters which were seen as cosmogonic since their ultimate source was the Nun, the primordial waters that in the Egyptian worldview formed a ring around both the celestial sphere (i.e. the sky) and the underworld.20 During June, but especially during July (the period of inundation)21 the Nile waters, with their “dark, muddy colour,”22 began to rise and by September reached their peak, eroding the material along its banks and thereby symbolising the formlessness of the Nun from where the hillock and the demiurge emerged illo tempore. As the waters slowly receded, the first

14

Obviously, these are the Greek names for these cities, which in Egyptian were known as Khmun, Iunu, Waset, and Inbu-Hedj/Ankh-Tawy. 15 Including Esna, Edfu, Dendera, and Crocodilopolis, which I will not be addressing in this book for the sake of brevity. Norman Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993), 6. 16 For the Heliopolitans, this hill was called benben; Hermopolis simultaneously boasted of a “raised hill” and a place of illumination where “the lotus emerged and gave birth to the solar child.” Françoise Dunand and Christiane Zivie-Coche, Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE–395 CE, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2004), 51. 17 We will see that the identity of the demiurge varied slightly depending on which god these cities revered as a patron. 18 Akhenaten (1352–1336) inscribed The Hymn to the Aton (or Aten) on a tomb at Tell el-Amarna that describes the solar god Aten as having “made a Nile in the underworld” and as having “set a Nile in heaven.” John A. Wilson (trans.), Egyptian Hymns and Prayers, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. J. B. Pritchard (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), 370–71. 19 The Hymn to the Aton affirms that the true “Nile comes from the underworld for Egypt.” Wilson (trans.), Egyptian Hymns and Prayers, 371. 20 James P. Allen, Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts, vol. 2, ed. William Kelly Simpson (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University, 1988), 4. 21 Pamela Bradley, Ancient Egypt: Reconstructing the Past (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 611. 22 Ibid., 5.

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sight of land would have called to mind the primordial hill, which was soon covered with soil and fertile.23 In this way, the Nile’s annual cycle of inundation and recession demonstrated the emergence of the hillock from the waters of chaos,24 meaning that the aforementioned cities, built upon this hill, would trace their ancestry to what they believed was the beginning of the cosmos. For instance, the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Going Forth By Day,25 dating from the eighteenth to twenty-first dynasties,26 relates how the god Atum—which literally means “totality”27—as “the Lord of All”28 transformed into the god Ra when he emerged from the primordial waters “when he was on the hill which is in Hermopolis.”29 Earlier hieroglyphs which were carved inside the pyramids of Merenre and Neferkare of the sixth dynasty (c. 2323–2150), depict the cosmogony beginning instead at Heliopolis. In these pyramids, the creation of the first gods Shu and Tefnut (personifications of ‘air’ and ‘moisture’) by Atum-Khepre, which is the name of Ra when he ascends the sky as a scarab beetle,30 is depicted as constituting the first acts to take place upon the primordial hillock.31 At Heliopolis, a miniature replica of this primordial mound was always housed in a shrine dedicated to the sun god,32 identifying the creation process with him. A long hymn dating from the reign of Ramses II (c. 12790–1213 BC), on the other hand, explicitly affirms that Thebes, under the patronage of Ra, is “normal beyond every other city.” In other words, Thebes was considered the axis mundi with “every other city … under her shadow.”33 According to this text, it was within Thebes that water and land existed “from the first 23

Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 6. Bradley, Ancient Egypt, 14–15. 25 Otherwise known as the Book of the Dead. The standard translation remains that of E. A. Wallace Budge, reprinted by Penguin Classics with a new introduction by John Romer in 2008. 26 Although the text goes as far back as the Middle Kingdom, c. 2000 BC, “when it was inscribed in the coffins of nobles.” John A. Wilson, ‘Egyptian Myths, Tales, and Mortuary Texts,’ in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3. 27 See fn. 12 in ibid., 5. 28 Wilson, Egyptian Myths, Tales, and Mortuary Texts, 3. 29 Ibid., 4. 30 John A. Wilson, et al., ‘Egypt,’ in The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1977), 49. 31 The translation states that Atum-Kheprer was “high on the (primeval) hill” before he begat Shu and Tefnut. Wilson (trans.), Egyptian Myths, Tales, and Mortuary Texts, 3. 32 Wenke, The Ancient Egyptian State, 265. 33 Wilson (trans.), Egyptian Myths, Tales, and Mortuary Texts, 8. 24

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times,” before “sand came to delimit the fields and to create her ground on the hillock.”34 That this scenario parallels the Eridu Genesis that asserted the emergence of the demiurge from the cosmic waters before his raising the eponymous city like a mountain to the sky, goes without saying; perhaps it is its conceptual predecessor (but there is no way to know for certain). In any case, while the cosmos for the Egyptians was indeed recapitulated into their respective cities, nevertheless this cosmos had to be maintained by a principal actor, namely the Pharaoh, the ecosystemic agent. It is to his reign, and its cosmic implications, that we now turn.

The Pharaoh as an Ecosystemic Agent We have seen in the Hermopolitan, Heliopolitan, and Theban mythologies— as well as the excerpts from the Hymns to Amun that concern Egypt as a whole—that the demiurge of these respective axes mundi was the sun god. In “Egypt, Asia, and in primitive Europe,”35 the sun god in fact attained a significant popularity that was unparalleled in other ancient civilisations. Solar worship in Egypt became prominent around the time of the fifth dynasty (c. 2494–2345 BC) of the Old Kingdom, on account of the growing influence of the priests of Ra at Heliopolis,36 and it was taken to radical extremes during the New Kingdom rule of Akhenaten, who banned the worship of all other gods37 except the sun-disc, the Aten, which he took to be the personal patron of the royal family. It was to this Aten that he dedicated a new capital city, Akhetaten, within which he constructed “the Great Aten Temple,”38 both of which were considered new axes mundi. But Akhenaten’s reign was an exception, and almost immediately after his death his successors tried to restore the prestige of gods such as

34

Thebes’ superiority to every other city is also affirmed: “Every other city is under her shadow, to magnify themselves through Thebes.” Ibid. 35 Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion, trans. Rosemary Sheed (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), 124. 36 Bradley, Ancient Egypt, 66. 37 Although he did promote other sun-god related deities, conjoining them to the Aten, for instance, “Aten-Re.” Kasia Szpakowska, ‘Religion in Society: Pharaonic,’ in A Companion to Ancient Egypt, 510. 38 Gregory D. Mumford, ‘Settlements – Distribution, Structure, Architecture: GraecoRoman,’ in A Companion to Ancient Egypt, 330.

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Amun, who was anyway associated with the sun god Ra, along with the earth god Ptah, the patron of Memphis.39 It is in relation to Memphite religion that we can discern a major exception to the sun god’s dominance, predating the Hermopolitan, Heliopolitan, and Theban strands—as well as Akhenaten’s reforms—insofar as Memphis, according to a tradition going back to Herodotus40 which is more or less backed up by scholarly opinion, was built by the first king of Egypt, Min, or Menes (as Manetho later named him).41 Pamela Bradley has debated whether or not this Menes can be identified with Narmer,42 the figure on the eponymous palette discovered in Hierakonopolis that shows him wearing the crowns of both Upper and Lower Egypt, signifying the unification of the Two Lands for the first time under a single ruler.43 According to Herodotus, who is usually corroborated by modern Egyptologists on this point,44 Menes, whether identifiable as Narmer or not, built both Memphis and a temple within the city dedicated to Hephaestus, who is the Greek equivalent of the god Ptah.45 It was at this temple at Memphis that the Pharaoh would receive “the double-crown of the two kingdoms where the coronation was re-enacted on the 30th anniversary of the king’s accession, the sed festival,”46 which took place on New Year’s day and

39

For more information see Bradley’s comments on the Restoration Stele issued by Horemheb (c. 1323–1295), chief of the army under Tutankhamun (c. 1326–27) during the latter’s reign. Ancient Egypt, 442. 40 Herodotus, The Histories 2, trans. Aubrey de Sélincourt (London: Penguin Books, 2003), 133. 41 Manetho’s work only exists in fragmented quotations by later authors, including Josephus and early Christian chronographers, which have been compiled in the following: The Aegyptiaca of Manetho: Manetho’s History of Egypt, in Manetho, trans. W. G. Waddell (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 33. 42 Some scholars assert that the first Pharaoh was Aha. Robert J. Wenke, The Ancient Egyptian State, 181. For more on Menes, see ibid. For Narmer, see Michael Rice’s Egypt’s Legacy: The Archetypes of Western Civilization 3000– 30BC (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 98. Aha also appears as the first Pharaoh of the first dynasty in the ‘Chronology’ section of A Companion to Ancient Egypt, xxxiii. 43 Bradley, Ancient Egypt, 50–52. 44 Wenke, The Ancient Egyptian State, 205; Bradley, Ancient Egypt, 52; Geoffrey T. Martin, The Hidden Tombs of Memphis (London: Thames and Hudson, 1992), 21. 45 Herodotus, The Histories 2 (Sélincourt, 133). 46 Farid Attiya, Ancient Egypt (Egypt: Farid Atiya Press, 2006), 99.

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was repeated, after the first festival, every three years.47 Although Manetho did not mention Menes in connection with Memphis, he did affirm that Memphis’ patron, Hephaestus, was the first god of Egypt, followed by his son, the sun-god Helios,48 which, given what we have said about Memphis as the first dynastic city in Egypt, implies the priority of Ptah over that other personification of the sun, Ra. Inscriptions on the seventh century BC Shabaka Stone, however, include traces of material dating from at least the period of the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1650)49 that demonstrates Ptah’s precedence in its depiction of a cosmogony related to the unification of the Two Lands. In the myth, the Ennead50 is gathered to Geb (earth), who judges Horus, son of the slain Osiris, and Seth, the god of chaos (or isfet) and Osiris’ murderer,51 in their dispute. Seth was made king of Upper Egypt and Horus the king of Lower Egypt, and thus the two were reconciled for a while; until Geb regretted his decision and made Horus the king of both lands. Ta-tjenen, which means “the land arising”52 indicative of the primordial hillock,53 is then evoked in relation to Ptah, who is depicted as the creator of all the gods, including Atum, who we saw above was considered a demiurge when he appeared as Ra.54 Notwithstanding the precedence of Ptah (Ta-tjenen) over Ra in this myth, what is significant is the intimate relationship between the cosmogonic event, taking place at the axis mundi of Memphis—“the House of Ptah”55—and Pharaoh. We have seen that it was Menes/Narmer that unified Egypt from the central point of Memphis. According to the Shabaka Stone, the Memphite cosmogony affirmed that Horus was the first god to rule over the Two Lands. That this myth of Horus as unifier might have its basis in an actual event that took place under Menes/Narmer is corroborated by the fact that by at least the fifth dynasty 47 Giulio Magli, Architecture, Astronomy, and Sacred Landscape in Ancient Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 39. 48 The Aegyptiaca of Manetho (Waddell, 3). 49 Wilson (trans.), Egyptian Myths, Tales, and Mortuary Texts, 4. 50 Another myth, that of the creation by Atum carved inside the pyramids of Merenre and Neferkare and referenced above, named the Ennead, the nine main gods, as follows: “Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys.” Ibid., 3. 51 Bojana Mojsov, Osiris: Death and Afterlife of a God (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005), xix–xx. 52 Fn. 6 in Wilson (trans.), Egyptian Myths, Tales, and Mortuary Texts, 4. 53 Wilson (trans.), Egyptian Myths, Tales, and Mortuary Texts, 4. 54 Ibid. 55 Ibid., 5.

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of the Old Kingdom, the Pharaoh “was considered to be an embodiment of the god Horus.”56 It was in his role as Horus that the sed festival that celebrated the unification of the Two Lands took place. Thus, Pharaoh, like Horus, was perceived as an agent of order/cosmos and victor over chaos, personified by Seth. But it was perhaps in Pharaoh’s connection to Ra,57 from whom he was believed to have directly descended, that his role as an agent of cosmos/order was best manifested. In a papyrus whose general heading is The Beginning of the book of overthrowing Apophis, the enemy of Re and the enemy of King Wen-nofer…—in which Ra is made the mouthpiece for the description of the cosmogony—the text affirms that when Ra came into being, “being (itself) came into being.”58 He is described as conceiving the gods, including Shu and Tefnut, while still submerged within the waters of the Nun, and it was not until he found “a place in which [he] might stand,” that is, the hillock, that they, along with the multitude of gods, came into existence.59 After recounting the cosmogony, Ra tells of an “evil enemy”60 which he created some of the gods to destroy, the serpent Apophis, who, more so than Seth, may be envisaged as the ultimate personification of chaos or isfet in the ancient Egyptian worldview. In order to destroy him, every evening Ra had to sail his sun-boat into the netherworld where the serpent thrived, the Duat, a complex realm divided into twelve sectors or nomes61 and intersected by the subterranean Nile that ran through it.62 The Duat was distinct from the Nun that, we have seen, was believed to encircle the creation after the cosmogony,63 and, following the same course as the latter, had both subterranean and celestial dimensions; with the celestial often personified as a cow (the goddess Nut)64 or resting on four pillars.65 Apophis was believed to reside in the third of the subterranean 56

Wenke, The Ancient Egyptian State, 271. Ibid., 271. 58 The title continues “…—life, prosperity, health!—the justified, performed in the course of every day in the Temple of Amon-Re, the Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, Presiding over Karnak.” Wilson (trans.), Egyptian Myths, Tales, and Mortuary Texts, 6. 59 Ibid. 60 Ibid., 7. 61 Charles Russell Coulter and Patricia Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities (Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000), 477. 62 Wilson (trans.), Egyptian Hymns and Prayers, 370. 63 Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 4. 64 To be more specific, the Duat was envisaged as existing inside Nut. Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 6. 65 Wright, The Early History of Heaven, 13. 57

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levels,66 and it was here that Ra had to sail in order to slay him. In the Amduat, a New Kingdom book of the afterlife divided into twelve sections corresponding to the twelve hours of the night67 journeyed by Ra and his entourage, this killing was accomplished through the agency of Seth, who was later rehabilitated, made to join Ra’s entourage on the sun-boat, and depicted as killing Apophis with a spear;68 thus recalling Inanna’s slaying of Kur in the Mesopotamian vision. Their triumphal emergence from the Duat as the rising sun the very next morning69 indicated to all that the cosmic waters, swallowed by Apophis in the night, had burst forth so that Ra could continue on his ecosystemic way, meaning that Ma’at, whose personification had accompanied Re in the sun-boat70 and which for the Egyptians was the main principle of the “foundation and order of the world,”71 had prevailed. The Egyptian equivalent of the Mesopotamian mes, ma’at had a range of meanings from truth, justice, and righteousness,72 to ontological unity.73 It was the latter that was believed to have been maintained by both Ra74 and his representative, the Pharaoh, on a cosmic scale.75 For just as Ra defeated Apophis to maintain the cosmic order through ma’at, so too 66

Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, 477. And the twelve nomes mentioned above. 68 Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 21–22. In the Amduat, Seth is depicted as accompanied by Isis and Selket in his slaying of Apophis. Erik Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1999), 38. 69 The Egyptians distinguished between the rich and fertile black land (kemet)— which ran north down the Nile and culminated in the delta region—and the desert plateaux and cliffs bordering the Nile valley known as the Red Land (deshret). Wenke, The Ancient Egyptian State, 51. The deshret in the West came to be perceived as a gateway to the Duat, as indicated by the location of the Egyptian necropolises to the west of the Nile. Morenz, Egyptian Religion, 207–8. Hence, the setting sun was seen to indicate Ra’s descent into the Duat, and his rising in the east, the ta-netjer, or “God’s Land,” where the Field of Reeds, or paradise, was located. Wilson, Egypt, in The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, 43. 70 Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife, 34. 71 Maulana Karenga, Maat: The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt (London: Routledge, 2004), 7. 72 Ibid., 6. 73 Ibid., 185. 74 The personified Ma’at was believed to be both Ra’s daughter and, as a representation of cosmic order, his mother. C. J. Bleeker, ‘The Religion of Ancient Egypt,’ in Historia Religionum 1: Religions of the Past, ed. C. J. Bleeker and Geo Widengren (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1969), 58. 75 Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 13. 67

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did the Pharaoh, the personification of Horus, who is also “beloved of Maat,”76 have to defeat the serpent.77 This made the Pharaoh, identified as a god on earth, an ecosystemic agent who not only reconciled the celestial and terrestrial realms, but also had to actively engender ma’at in a world threatened by chaotic beings, whether spiritual, like Apophis, or terrestrial, like the so-called Nine Bows or foreign enemies which were often homologised to either isfet78 or Apophis himself.79 Unlike Mesopotamian culture which viewed the cosmos-chaos dialectic as an expression of the orderly balance of the mes, the Egyptians drew a clear distinction between ma’at and isfet, with the Pharaoh having to maintain the former by traveling throughout Egypt, “visiting various temples, receiving regalia and endorsements from the deities and propitiating the gods (and their priesthoods) in return.”80 Apophis himself was defeated during the Pharaoh’s coronation at the sed festival, which, while relating Pharaoh explicitly to Horus and Ptah, was nevertheless still associated with the demiurge Ra insofar as the event began during the sunrise81 that, we saw above, symbolised for the Egyptians the daily victory of Ra over Apophis and the establishment of cosmic order over chaos. This victory, taking place on New Year’s day “as the opening of a new annual cycle,”82 which we saw in relation to Memphite theology was a cosmogonic event, was reiterated on a daily basis by the priests of Ra. Every morning, when the sun, perceived as the god, rose from the East after slaying Apophis in the Duat, the priests burnt an effigy of Apophis; a symbolic act which they repeated every night, when the sun (Ra) set into West to fight him again.83 But despite the vital role of the priests in the cosmogonic ordering, it was the Egyptian Pharaoh as the son or

76

Elizabeth Frood, Biographical Texts from Ramessid Egypt, ed. John Baines (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 208. 77 Wilson (trans.), Egyptian Myths, Tales, and Mortuary Texts, 8. 78 David O’Conner, ‘Egypt’s View of ‘Others,’’ in ‘Never Had the Like Occurred’: Egypt’s View of its Past, ed. John Tait (Portland, OR: UCL Press, 2003): 171. 79 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. W. R. Trask (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959), 48. 80 Ellen F. Morris, ‘The Pharaoh and the Pharaonic Office,’ in A Companion to Ancient Egypt, 205. 81 Ibid., 204. 82 Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1969), 150. 83 Wilson, Egypt, in The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, 24.

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embodiment of a god (either Ra, Horus, or Ptah) who, as a high priest,84 paradoxically propitiated the Egyptian pantheon on behalf of the people;85 and it was predominantly in this way, among others,86 that he tried to repel isfet and engender ma’at. Temple priests were in fact considered merely an extension of Pharaoh insofar as they supplicated the gods for him87 so that he could prosper. The belief that if he did prosper, then all of Egypt prospered as well, indicates the connection he was believed to have to both the gods and the land as an ecosystemic agent. In fact, the very space within which the rites were performed, sometimes by Pharaoh himself,88 was constructed in such a way as to manifest the cosmogony. The floor symbolised the earth or the terrestrial realm, the ceiling, “decorated with astronomical representations,”89 the celestial; the “Holy of Holies where the god’s image rested in its shrine regarded as the mound,”90 the primordial hill upon which the demiurge appeared.91 In this way the standard Egyptian temple was an imago mundi that brought together all the basic features of the Egyptian cosmogony/worldview, which, since it was constructed by Pharaoh and operated by his representatives the priests, was meant to perpetuate his role as an ecosystemic agent. This was especially the case in the Ptolemaic period, which initiated a full flowering of cosmogonic representation in temple construction. In this period the Pharaoh himself was supposed to found the temple according to the guidelines in the book 84

According to Ellen F. Morris “he was the high priest in every state temple, and the sole actor depicted on temple walls—offering to the gods, performing sacred rites, and officiating at state festivals.” Morris, ‘The Pharaoh and the Pharaonic Office,’ 213. 85 Ibid., 207. 86 The king also engendered ma’at through upholding justice in imitation of Ra’s assistant, the moon god Thoth, as well as comforting the despondent and not oppressing widows, in other words, “a god-like solicitude for the unfortunate.” Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, 14–15. 87 Harold H. Nelson, ‘1. The Egyptian Temple,’ The Biblical Archaeologist 7.3 (1944): 50–51. 88 Leonard H. Lesko pertinently observes that although Pharaoh was often represented in temple reliefs and inscriptions as the “principal intermediary between gods and humans,” we do not know for certain how much of the his time was actually spent in religious ritual. ‘Egyptian Religion: An Overview,’ in Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Lindsay Jones et al., vol. 4 (Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2005), 2714. 89 Assmann, The Search for God in Ancient Egypt, 35. 90 Nelson, ‘1. The Egyptian Temple,’ 48. 91 Ibid., 48.

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on The Delineation of the Sacred Mounds,92 which call to mind the primordial hill. Moreover, since the Egyptian temple was the focal point of the Egyptian city, which, according to Jan Assmann, “attained architectonic form only in the temple,”93 then the Pharaoh—insofar as he began the construction of the temple by measuring the plan of the building according a celestial pattern94—is the one responsible for making the city/temple an axis mundi; for bringing, with the ostensible assistance of the gods, heaven down to earth. His role in perpetuating the axes mundi was so integral to the Egyptian worldview, that he was seen as doing so even from beyond his pyramidal grave that was also construed as an imago et axis mundi.

The Pharaoh as a Ruler in Death Apart from building temples and cities, where the two, we have seen, were interchangeable (what we can call the temple-city), in the Middle Kingdom the Pharaoh’s role as an ecosystemic agent was also maintained through the erection of obelisks; “upright monolith[s] with … square cross-section[s] tapering upwards,” and with tops carved into the shapes of pyramids.95 This is because the obelisk as a whole symbolised the primordial hill, with the pyramid at its top representing the sun.96 In erecting an obelisk, the Pharaoh was both associating himself with the sun god as a demiurgic figure,97 and also trying to establish a correspondence between the celestial and terrestrial realms through the obelisk’s vertical orientation. In other words, the obelisk was both an imago mundi and an axis mundi; with the pyramid at its peak constituting a micro version of its funerary equivalent, whose cosmic symbolism is both more emphatic and more nuanced. 92

See Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000), 38. 93 Assmann, The Search for God in Ancient Egypt, 27. 94 This was known as “the stretching of the cord.” Wilkinson, The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, 38. 95 Fekri A. Hassan, ‘Imperialist Appropriations of Egyptian Obelisks,’ in Views of Ancient Egypt Since Napoleon Bonaparte, ed. David Jeffreys (Portland, OR: UCL Press, 2003), 27. 96 Ibid. 97 Maria Carmela Betrò confirms this by stating that the obelisk “represented in fact the translation into solid stone the mutual rapport between god and king.” Betrò, Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt (New York and London: Aberville Press Publishers, 1996), 201.

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2-1 The Great Obelisk at the temple of Karnak. Photo by Harry Mavrolefteros (used with permission).

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Scholarly opinions on the geometric symbolism of pyramids vary. On the one hand, it is tempting to interpret the earliest pyramids, including the Step Pyramid at Saqqara built by Djoser (c. 2667–2648), as representing the primeval hill;98 and on the other hand it is equally plausible that the etymology of the word pyramid relating to fire99 might imply their relationship with the god Ra. The Step Pyramids in any case resemble ziggurats, making Mesopotamia’s influence a possibility. Giving credence to the idea that the pyramid is a recapitulation of the primeval hill is that the pyramid of Djoser was designed by the high priest of Heliopolis, his grand-vizier Imhotep.100 Imhotep had the Step Pyramid constructed in the centre of a complex that included northern and southern pavilions that were meant to represent Upper and Lower Egypt,101 united in predynastic history by Narmer or Menes. The inclusion of the pavilions representing the Two Lands in a complex with the solar pyramid/primordial hill in the centre, relates the temple explicitly to the cosmogony. This is also affirmed by the presence of a sed court, which we saw was a ritual which took place in Memphis that was meant to re-enact both the king’s coronation and the beginning of the creation. Within the pyramid itself, the ceilings of Djoser’s funerary chamber were covered with five-pointed stars,102 highlighting its astrological and hence celestial significance that is confirmed by the Pyramid Texts, which generally describe the pyramids as ‘stairways to heaven.’103 In the case of Djoser’s Pyramid, its very ‘step’ 98

Rosalie David, Handbook To Life in Ancient Egypt (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 144. 99 Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 1555. 100 Magli, Architecture, Astronomy, and Sacred Landscape in Ancient Egypt, 41. 101 Bradley, Ancient Egypt, 78–79. 102 Magli, Architecture, Astronomy, and Sacred Landscape in Ancient Egypt, 39. 103 For instance, the Pyramid Texts of Merenre, which we saw above affirmed the cosmogony from Heliopolis, contains the following inscription: “a stairway has been laid down for you away from the Duat and toward the place where Orion is,” where the stairway symbolises the pyramid and Orion is another name for Osiris. James P. Allen, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, ed. Peter Der Manuelian (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005), 232. There is an apparent inconsistency in the fact that the text dissociates Orion/Osiris from the Duat, within which Osiris dwelt along with the other gods. This can be reconciled by the fact that the Duat, much like the later Greek version of the underworld (Hades), has both positive and negative terrain, and it was the goal of the deceased soul (the ka) to navigate it and endure several tests before being found worthy of entering Aaru or the ‘Field of Reeds,’ which can be likened to the Elysian fields or paradise, where Osiris dwelt. Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, 4.

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like structure, escalating to the sky, contributed to this perception, but we do not see it exemplified until the construction of the so-called Great Pyramid of Khufu in the fourth dynasty (c. 2613–2494), which is the first proper or true (in other words, completely rectangular) pyramid to be built in Egypt.

2-2 The Great Pyramid of Khufu. Photo by Harry Mavrolefteros (used with permission).

The Great Pyramid, which was paradigmatic for all future pyramid building in this ancient civilisation, has four shafts, two stemming from the king’s chamber and two from the queen’s,104 that are supposed to align astronomically with the celestial Duat. The first two shafts align with the constellations of Orion and Draconis or Ursa Minor that respectively symbolise Osiris,105 considered lord of the Duat, and (at least, according to the ancient Greeks) the ‘dragon,’106 hence where it receives its contemporary designation. To the Egyptians, however, Ursa Minor was identified with

104

See the diagram in Magli, Architecture, Astronomy, and Sacred Landscape in Ancient Egypt, 75. 105 Mojsov, Osiris: Death and Afterlife of a God, 7. 106 Named as such by Ptolemy (d. c. 168 AD) in his Almagest. Gerd Graßhoff, The History of Ptolemy’s Star Catalogue (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1990), 36.

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the female hippopotamus deity Taweret,107 who, in the Book of Day and Night dating from the time of Ramses VI (c. 1143–1136 BC), is associated with Meskhetyu, the foreleg of Seth (what we designate today as the ‘Big Dipper’).108 Giulio Magli demonstrates a connection between the way the Egyptians perceived Ursa Minor (the ‘Little Dipper’) and Meskhetyu that envelops it, as a pair of iron adzes that were used for the ‘Opening of the Mouth Ritual’ (which was supposed to allow a king to eat and drink in the afterlife).109 The adzes were made of meteoric, and therefore celestial, iron, meaning that the shafts of the king’s chamber are meant to symbolise the transference of the king to his heavenly abode,110 as indicated in the following Pyramid Text of a later king, Pepi I (c. 2321–2287 BC): “Look, he is come as Orion,” (they say). “Look, Osiris is come as Orion: the lord wine-colored with supplies … Live! Live, as the gods have commanded you live. With Orion in the eastern arm of sky shall you [i.e. Pepi] go up, with Orion in the western arm of the sky shall you go down. Sothis … is the one who will lead you two in the Marsh of Reeds to the perfect paths in the sky.111

Here, Orion is identified explicitly with the god Osiris, with whom king Pepi is assimilated in traversing the sky from East to West. Sothis, also called Sirius representing the goddess Sedpet,112 was considered his guide to the ‘Marsh of Reeds,’ which is Osiris’ abode and of particular significance because the shafts of the queen’s chamber are actually aligned with both Sothis/Sedpet and with Draco/Taweret respectively. The astral transfer of the remains of Khufu to Osiris and Draco marks his identification with the ruler of the underworld and his passage there, while the transfer of the queen to Sothis/Sedpet may point to her own safe passage, with her alignment to Taweret perhaps also signifying a correspondence between the celestial adze and that used for the ‘Opening of the Mouth’ ceremony. Moreover, the transfer of these rulers to the celestial realm could be a reiteration of the belief that the Pharaoh should 107

Magli, Architecture, Astronomy, and Sacred Landscape in Ancient Egypt, 46. R. A. Parker, ‘Ancient Egyptian Astronomy,’ Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences 276.1257 (1974): 60–61. 109 Allen, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, 6. 110 Magli, Architecture, Astronomy, and Sacred Landscape in Ancient Egypt, 46– 47. 111 Allen (trans.), The Pyramid Texts of Pepi I, in The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, 107. 112 Mojsov, Osiris: Death and Afterlife of a God, 7. 108

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continue to generate ma’at out of isfet even in the afterlife, insofar as the Amduat, which traces Ra’s journey into the underworld, depicts Ma’at as appearing “twice directly in front of the solar barque … stressing that justice and law rule even here in the afterlife.”113 In any case, since celestial and terrestrial symbolism were combined in the Step Pyramid and the Great Pyramid, both were considered axes mundi that helped to facilitate the Pharaoh’s role as a pagan ecosystemic agent. Returning to the Step Pyramid, we see the complex was also an imago mundi insofar as it recapitulated not only the celestial imagery in the king’s burial chamber, but Egypt’s geographical terrain (the Two Lands) from the central point of pyramid itself; a structure that can be interpreted either as the hillock or as related to the solar demiurge.

113

Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife, 34.

CHAPTER THREE GREECE

Hesiod’s Cosmogony and the Imagines et Axes Mundi Symbolism in Minoan and Mycenaean Civilisation A spate of recent scholarship has demonstrated the textual links between ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, and Egypt in the pre-classical or archaic period of the former (c. eighth century BC).1 The “most famous parallels with Near Eastern material” are found in Hesiod’s Theogony,2 or, on the ‘birth of the gods’ (șİȠȖȠȞȓĮ),3 the closest thing in Greek that can be construed as a cosmogony, insofar as the gods are either personified as or associated with various aspects of the cosmos throughout this text.4 Written in the eighth century BC by the poet and farmer from Boeotia near Mount Helicon, Hesiod described Helicon—just like the cosmogonic mountain of Eridu or the primeval mound of Heliopolis—as “the great and holy mountain” (੕ȡȠȢ ȝȑȖĮ IJİ ȗȐșİȩȞ IJİ).5 For Hesiod, it was upon mountains that the gods dwelt, and Olympus, “the highest mountain in 1

Some examples include Johannes Haubold, Greece and Mesopotamia: Dialogues in Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), and Charles Penglase, Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod (London and New York: Routledge, 1997). 2 Haubold, Greece and Mesopotamia, 1. 3 From ‘șİȩȢ,’ meaning “God, the Deity,” and ȖȩȞȠȢ, “that which is begotten,” wherefore the ‘birth of the gods.’ Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A GreekEnglish Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 791 and 357, respectively. 4 To clarify, while some of the gods are indeed personified aspects of the cosmos, others are personifications of “good or bad moral qualities and human actions and experiences”; some of these were objects of cult veneration, whilst others were not. Glenn W. Most, ‘Introduction,’ in Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, Testimonia (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2006), xxix. 5 Hesiod, Theogony, in Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, Testimonia (Most, 2, 3). Hesiod states that the Muses, catalysts for divine inspiration expressed in art or song, dwell on Helicon. Ibid. They are also described as dwelling on Olympus. Ibid., 5.

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northern Thessaly,”6 was especially significant as it was considered the abode of “Zeus, the father of gods and men.”7 In this way, both Helicon and Olympus were both considered axes mundi and imagines mundi (since mountains were considered ‘cosmic’); but Hesiod’s Theogony does not locate the creation of the cosmos illo tempore at the focal point of any particular mountain, at least not explicitly. After invoking the Muses to inspire him with song, Hesiod declares: Verily at the first Chaos came to be (ʌȡȫIJȚıIJĮ ȋȐȠȢ ȖȑȞİIJ’), but next wide-bosomed Earth (Į੝IJ੹ȡ ਩ʌİȚIJĮ īĮ૙’), the ever-sure (ਕıijĮȜ੻Ȣ Įੁİ੿) foundation of all the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depths of wide-pathed Earth…8

The “deathless ones” or immortals, that is, the gods, do more than merely dwell on Olympus. They are intricately bound to the mountain, which, presumably, emerged with Earth or Gaia (the terrestrial realm) so as to constitute their eternal foundation as it arose at the beginning of the cosmos from the primordial chaos, along with Tartarus, which is the Greek equivalent of the underworld. It is striking that unlike the Mesopotamian and Egyptian cosmogonies assessed above, in this creation story there appears no demiurge to take the role of forming order out of chaos. Rather, Chaos, itself personified, was believed to have come into being almost autonomously, along with Gaia and Eros. Gaia is immediately described as begetting the “starry Sky” (ȅ੝ȡĮȞઁȞ ਕıIJİȡȩİȞș),9 and copulates with him to bring forth the first generation of gods, the Titans.10 This means that, at the outset of Hesiod’s cosmogony, the three levels of reality—the celestial (represented by Ouranos, Olympus, and the Titans), terrestrial (Gaia) and the subterranean (Tartarus)—appear as the domain from which the world as the Greeks knew it would be shaped; a shaping which took place violently. First, just like the primordial god Apsu in the Enuma Elish, Ouranos, despising his children, attempts to destroy them, but at this point

6 Walter Burkert, Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical, trans. John Raffan (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1985), 126. 7 Hesiod, Theogony, 7. 8 Hesiod, Theogony, in Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White (London: William Heinemann, 1914), 86, 87. Here, I use this older translation as it corresponds more accurately with the original Greek. 9 Hesiod, Theogony (Most, 12, 13). 10 Later, the Titan gods are described as “all those who were born from Cronus.” Ibid., 55.

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the Theogony departs from the Babylonian epic’s trajectory. For whereas in the latter, Tiamat, in order to avenge Apsu’s demise at the hands of Ea, becomes the aggressor of the hero Marduk, in the former Gaia sympathises with her children and solicits the help of her son, Chronos, the personification of Time,11 who castrates Ouranos as he attempts to copulate with Gaia.12 After delineating the genealogies of further deities, Hesiod remarks that Chronos’ wife, Rhea, gave birth to some of the gods that would later occupy Olympus; Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Zeus. Imitating his defeated father Ouranos, Chronos attempts to destroy his children by swallowing them. But Rhea, seeking the help of Ouranos and Gaia, is assisted by them to take Zeus safely to Crete, where he advances quickly in age and returns to defeat Chronos and the rest of the Titans, after which he is crowned by the remainder gods as their king on Olympus.13 Zeus’ enthronement also resonates with Marduk’s victory over Tiamat: for it is only on condition of defeating her that he was made master of his patron city, Babylon, the centre of the universe for the Mesopotamians.14 Interestingly, the Theogony does not mention any Greek cities, implying that their establishment was not seen as a necessary condition for the creation of the universe (as was the case in Babylonian and Egyptian cosmogonies). Hesiod did affirm however that kings, whom, we saw above, in Mesopotamia and Egypt were responsible for maintaining the cities as cosmic centres, could be divinely inspired by the Muses, with the result that their wise and benevolent behaviour would be acknowledged as godlike.15 In Hesiod, this is the closest we come to the Greek perception of the king as an ecosystemic agent, which is much less pronounced than in the Mesopotamian and Egyptian cosmogonies addressed above. This ‘downgrade’ could be the result of the political/ideological situation of Hesiod’s time. Various population displacements by the Dorians, Aeolians and Ionians on the Greek mainland,16 Asia Minor, and 11 Charles Russell Coulter and Patricia Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities (Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000), 135. 12 Hesiod, Theogony (Most, 17). 13 Ibid., 39, 75. 14 E. A. Speiser (trans.), Akkadian Myths and Epics, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. J. B. Pritchard (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), 66. 15 Hesiod, Theogony (Most, 11). 16 George Forrest, ‘Greece: The History of the Archaic Period,’ in The Oxford History of Greece and the Hellenistic World, ed. John Boardman, Jasper Griffin, and Oswyn Murray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 14.

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the islands, accompanied by the collapse of trade, resulted in a Greek ‘dark age.’ This in turn led to the dissolution of kingship, “the universal form of government in Homer” which “had disappeared from most cities before the dawn of history, before 700.”17 For more detailed information concerning both the king as an ecosystemic agent as well as Greek cities as imagines et axes mundi, we must turn to the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations that preceded Hesiod’s time and which flourished between c. 3000–1500 and 1600–1100 BC respectively. Both of these civilisations, it will be shown, had close ties with Mesopotamia and Egypt. The Minoan civilisation that flourished on the island of Crete, in close geographical proximity to Egypt, was not only chronologically contiguous with the latter, but manifested its connection to it by the fact that the early Minoans “used hieroglyphics”18 before developing their own script. There are also parallels in religious symbolism with Egyptian delta cults that shared with the Minoans19 an interest in the bull20 and the double-axe,21 and Minoan architectural features likewise exhibit similarities with the neighbouring Ugarit and, more importantly, Egyptian22 and Mesopotamian styles. This is particularly the case in relation to temple and palatial symbolism. Concerning the former, a characteristic of Minoan temple structures, echoing the notion of the ‘cosmic mountain’ seen above in relation to Mesopotamia,23 are what are called peak sanctuaries erected, as the name implies, on mountain tops. Peak sanctuaries were tied to the palatial cult insofar as later Minoan kings “grew extremely anxious to extend their powers to peak cult places”24 in order to bolster the palace’s 17

A. R. Burn, The Penguin History of Greece (London: Penguin Books, 1985), 66. Marsha E. Ackermann ed. et al., Encyclopedia of World History, vol. 1 (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2008), 282. 19 For more on the parallels between Minoan and Egyptian religious beliefs, see H. R. Hall, ‘The Relations of Aegean with Egyptian Art,’ The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 1.2 (1914): 112. 20 The bull was an important sacrificial animal in Minoan culture. Susan Lupack, ‘Minoan Religion,’ in The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean (ca. 3000– 1000 BCE), ed. E. H. Cline (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 251. 21 The double-axe was initially used for the practical sacrifice of oxen, and later accumulated a symbolic significance. Burkert, Greek Religion, 38. 22 For comparisons with Egypt, see Jan Driessen, ‘The Proliferation of Minoan Palatial Architectural Style: (1) Crete,’ Acta Archaeological Novaniensia 28–29 (1989–1990): 5. 23 And in Egypt, if we are to take the pyramids as representations of the cosmogonic mounds. 24 B. C. Dietrich, ‘Minoan Peak Cult: A Reply,’ Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 20.5/6 (1971): 515. 18

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patron, the solar25 “Mother of the Mountain,”26 to which they were committed (as evidenced by the iconographic representations of peak sanctuaries within neopalatial buildings).27 Erected to be viewed from any place in the region they served, the peak sanctuaries, in their general outline, resembled typical Minoan tripartite shrines.28 The central parts of these shrines were flanked by two lower wings surmounted by bull’s horns,29 with the front of the left wing of the building marked by a column—viewed by the Minoans as an axis mundi intersecting heaven and earth30—that may have also been surmounted by double-axes.31 We have already seen that mountains were considered images of the world in relation to the Mesopotamian ziggurats and Egyptian pyramids that imitated them. It can be inferred that the Minoans had a similar perception and thus associated the highest point of their natural terrain—that is, that point which was closest to the sky, to heaven—with their Mother goddess who was believed to have revealed herself there.32 Thus, peak sanctuaries, built on top of imagines mundi, also served, through their lofty, vertical orientation and hierophanic status, as axes mundi. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Minoan ruler cult wished to capitalise on this symbolism, which it transferred into the palatial chambers towards the end of Minoan civilisation in the sixteenth century BC. For example, the throne room of the palace of Knossos—a structure that became paradigmatic for Mycenaean palaces33—was a “cosmological 25 Nanno Marinatos, Minoan Kingship and the Solar Goddess: An Eastern Koine (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010), 65. For possible alternate identifications of this figure, see Burkert, Greek Religion, 41–42. 26 Lupack, ‘Minoan Religion,’ 253. 27 Ibid., 252–53. 28 B. C. Dietrich, ‘Peak Cults and Their Place in Minoan Religion,’ Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 18.3 (1969): 261. 29 These horns frequently appeared “on top of sacred buildings.” Emilia Banou, ‘Minoan “Horns of Consecration” Revisited: A Symbol of Sun-Worship in Palatial and Post-palatial Crete,’ Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 8.1 (2008): 33. 30 Jeffrey S. Soles, ‘The Function of a Cosmological Centre: Knossos in Palatial Crete,’ in Politeia: Society and State of the Aegean Bronze Age, ed. Robert Laffineur and Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier (Liège: University de Liège, 1995), 413. 31 Tripartite shrines “had three sections, the middle of which is built higher than the two wings. Each had at least one column, and the horns of consecration were placed on their roofs.” Lupack, ‘Minoan Religion,’ 256. 32 Dietrich, ‘Peak Cults and Their Place in Minoan Religion,’ 262. 33 Soles, ‘The Function of a Cosmological Centre: Knossos in Palatial Crete,’ 406.

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centre”34 insofar as it was believed that it was here that the Mother goddess made her rapport both with the king and also, as new evidence shows, with the high priestess, identified by Nanno Marinatos as the queen,35 who would channel the goddess “in an epiphany ritual.”36 In this way, both the king37 and the high priestess/queen, could be seen as intermediaries between heaven and earth; ecosystemic agents acting on behalf of the Mother goddess. In fact, many aspects of Minoan art and architecture gave rise to the perception that Knossos itself was the centre of the universe maintained by a divine-earthly ruler. For example, the pillars that appear so often in the centre of Minoan crypts at various locations38 are considered by some scholars to be representations of the sacred/cosmic tree,39 just like the columns on the peak sanctuaries. The frequency of the appearance of the solar Mother’s trees on royal signet rings40—trees that may have grown abundantly in the courtyard of the palace of Knossos41—as well as the presence of such sacred trees on peak sanctuaries from an earlier period,42 corroborates this. Hailing from the southern Greek mainland, the Mycenaean civilisation that in the fifteenth century BC conquered the Minoans appropriated many of the religious features of the former. This is particularly the case in relation to burial practices. Minoan burials were outfitted with “circular stone tombs, tholoi,” which antedate the Mycenaean “beehive tombs”43 known by the same name. In contrast to Minoan tholoi that were built above ground, the Mycenaean tombs “were completely subterranean,” built as small, circular, beehive shaped chambers within mounds of earth that were accessible via a single passageway.44 We cannot, however, be certain if these tholoi represented the ‘cosmic 34

Ibid., 413. Marinatos, Minoan Kingship and the Solar Goddess, 16, 54. 36 Lupack, ‘Minoan Religion,’ 255. 37 Marinatos, Minoan Kingship and the Solar Goddess, 12. 38 Rodney Castleden, Minoans: Life in Bronze Age Crete (New York and London: Routledge, 2001), 149. 39 Castleden, Minoans, 149. 40 Burkert, Greek Religion, 41. 41 Soles, ‘The Function of a Cosmological Centre: Knossos in Palatial Crete,’ 413– 14. 42 Dietrich, ‘Peak Cults and Their Place in Minoan Religion,’ 261. 43 Mircea Eliade and Ioan P. Couliano, The Eliade Guide to World Religions: The Authoritative Compendium of 33 Major Religious Traditions (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991), 114. 44 A. W. Lawrence, Greek Architecture, ed. Nikolaus Pevsner and Judy Nairn (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1973), 57. 35

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mountain.’ This is because the Mycenaeans introduced a new system of religious polity that marks a slight change from the open-planned settlements of the Minoans that used peak sanctuaries to establish a rapport with the heavens.45 The Mycenaean fortress cities of Tyrins, Mycenae itself, Pylos, Phylakopoi, and Gla (or Goulas)46 all radiated from a columned palatial structure called a megaron that included a circular central hearth, the smoke of which billowed through an aperture in the roof.47 According to Graziella Fantini, this fire was considered the personification of Hestia48—the goddess of the hearth—who, insofar as she is rooted in the earth, symbolised “the permanence and immobility” of the megaron that connects …the earth and the house with the sky, through the column of smoke that her inexhaustible fire produces and the hole up in the roof, in the centre of the room, emits.49

In a manner consonant with Eliade’s theory concerning the function of apertures in the roofs of yurts,50 Fantini went on to affirm that “Hestia also establishes a vertical spatial relation; she represents the axis mundi.”51 This attempt at divine-earthly correspondence is attested to by the Homeric hymn To Aphrodite, which describes Hestia’s dislike of the eponymous goddess of love and her own penchant for virginity.52 Having sworn by Zeus’ head to remain “a maiden all her days,” the latter honoured her by placing her in the “midst of the house” (ȝȑı૳ Ƞ੅ț૳)53—

45

Eliade and Couliano, The Eliade Guide to World Religions, 114. Lawrence described the megara of these Mycenaean cities in his Greek Architecture, 44. For the megaron of Tyrins, see p. 72; for Mycenae, pp. 77–78 (with a plan on p. 76); for Pylos, p. 79; Phylakopoi, p. 80; and Gla, p. 81. 47 Burn, The Penguin History of Greece, 46. 48 Geoffrey C. R. Schmalz, ‘The Athenian Prytaneion Discovered?’ Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 75.1 (2006): 33–34. 49 Graziella Fantini, Shattered Pictures of Places and Cities in George Santayana’s Autobiography (València: Universitat de València, 2009), 120. 50 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. W. R. Trask (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959), 53. 51 Fantini, Shattered Pictures of Places and Cities in George Santayana’s Autobiography, 120. 52 Evelyn-White (trans.), The Homeric Hymns V–To Aphrodite, in Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, 407, 409. 53 Ibid., 409. 46

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meaning, at the central position, the hearth, of all Greek houses54—so that “among all mortal men” she was considered “the chief of goddesses.”55 The hymn To Aphrodite exhibits two very important aspects about Mycenaean religion. First, it clarifies the significance of the coincidence between the celestial and terrestrial realms that were believed to have taken place within the megara, demonstrating that, like the Minoans, the Mycenaeans also established axes mundi. Second, it is precisely the Homeric corpus, whether written by the blind bard from the Aegean island of Chios or composed several centuries after the poet’s death (if he existed at all),56 which yields the most authentic information concerning Mycenaean culture that can be corroborated with archaeological data.57 It was the Mycenaeans, for instance, who introduced “the sky god of European origins, Zeus,” displacing the ‘great goddess’ in Crete and laying the foundations with their “patriarchy and battle dominant themes” for the events described in Homer’s epic the Iliad.58 In the epic, “Zeus dwells on the mountains where storm clouds gather,” such as “Mount Ida near Troy”59 but also, and perhaps, more importantly, on Olympus, to which we have seen, according to Hesiod, he was elevated as king by the gods. Although we cannot be certain on account of the sparseness of available evidence, the fact that it was the Mycenaeans that contributed the Olympians to Greek civilisation is very important. Not only does it point to the fact that, like the Minoans, the Mycenaeans also perceived the mountain to be an axis mundi (as we saw with Ida and Olympus), but it also conditions the development of every later Greek city, insofar as they all followed the Olympian paradigm60 (Athens, for instance, being named after the goddess of wisdom, Athena).61 And although Mycenaean civilisation ended several centuries before the Homeric literature was composed in the 54

Miguel de Beistegui clarifies this by affirming that “altars to Hestia were built in every private home in Greece” and that “in Greek houses the hearth was located at the center of the house, and it was here that Hestia presided.” Beistegui, Thinking with Heidegger (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2003), 161. 55 The Homeric Hymns V–To Aphrodite (Evelyn-White, 409). 56 Mary R. Lefkowitz, The Lives of the Greek Poets (Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press 2012), 14, 24–25. 57 Burn, The Penguin History of Greece, 47. 58 Eliade and Couliano, The Eliade Guide to World Religions, 114. 59 Burkert, Greek Religion, 126. 60 A. W. H. Atkins stated unequivocally “when the city-states develop, the Olympians become gods of the city-state.” ‘Greek Religion,’ in Historia Religionum 1: Religions of the Past, ed. C. J. Bleeker and Geo Widengren (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1969), 385. 61 Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, 79–80.

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eighth century BC, nevertheless “every place important in Homer’s list of contingents” for the Iliad—which delineates the legendary ten year conflict between the Greeks (Achaeans, Argives or Danaans as Homer knew them)62 and the Trojans (whose identity is difficult to ascertain)63— “has yielded Mycenaean and usually palatial remains.”64 So influential was the Iliad’s dissemination of Mycenaean beliefs that Hesiod, coming after Homer, not only adapted the Olympians to what looks like a Mesopotamian cosmogony (as we have seen), but refers, in his Works and Days, to the Trojan epoch as constituting the heroic age of humankind: the fourth in a series of ages which, rather strangely, represents an improvement from the general state of decline exemplified by the previous two (silver and bronze) and the present age of iron.65 But unlike the heroes in Mesopotamian and Egyptian religion, many of whom were considered ecosystemic rulers, the Olympians had no such equivalent. Below we shall see that Greek kings were not necessarily meant to cosmicise the city on the god’s behalf, but that nevertheless many Greek cities—such as Troy and Delphi—were considered both centres of the world and hierophanic junctures.

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G. S. Kirk, ‘Introduction,’ in Homer: The Iliad, trans. Robert Fitzgerald (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), vii. 63 The most recent theory is that the Trojans were a Luwian-speaking peoples from Anatolia, but that the city also had a very mixed population. Trevor Bryce, The Trojans and their Neighbours (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), 120. 64 Burn, The Penguin History of Greece, 47. 65 Ironically, Hesiod described Chronos’ rule on Olympus as a golden age, where the “race of mortal men … lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief.” Hesiod, Works and Days, in Hesiod: The Homeric Hymns and Homerica (Evelyn-White, 11). Hesiod stated that after the men of the golden age, who were created by the gods, specifically Zeus, to live just like them “were covered up by the earth,” a second age was inaugurated; that of silver. These were unlike the men of the age of gold, infantile and neglectful of propitiating the gods on Olympus. The third race, that of bronze, was violent and chaotic, and eventually destroyed itself. Our immediate predecessors, created by Zeus after the dissolution of the bronze warriors, were the heroes called demigods whom, while “nobler and more righteous” than the inhabitants of the previous two ages, also met with war on the fields of either Thebes or Troy. Hesiod laments his own inclusion among the fifth and final “race of iron; and men never rest from labour and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night.” Ibid., 11–15.

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Troy and Delphi as Paradigmatic Axes Mundi It is interesting to note here that in Homer’s Odyssey that recounts the aftermath of the Trojan war, King Menelaus of Mycenae—whose beautiful wife Helen’s abduction by Paris served as the catalyst for the conflict—is after death granted admission into the ancient Greek version of the paradisal state, the Elysian fields.66 But although he is “fostered of Zeus,”67 he is still not identified with the god per se; which again perhaps reflects a lack of confidence in kingship precipitated by the eighth century ‘dark age’ upheavals mentioned above. This means that, unlike the Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources, for Homer, as for Hesiod, the Greek kings and heroes alike could be inspired by the gods but were not identified with them. In any case, on account of Homer’s popularity, the city of Troy (or Ilus, after its founder) on which the Iliad is based became paradigmatic not only for Greek literature—to be explored again and again because of its relation to key Olympian gods68—but also for the cities of Rome and Constantinople. On several occasions throughout Homer’s epic, the city of Troy, under the protection of Zeus, Apollo, and Aphrodite, is referred to as “sacred Ilios” (੉ȜȓȠȣ ੂȡોȢ).69 But it is in later literature, especially in the Library of the second century BC Alexandrian Greek scholar Apollodorus, that we discern the major source of this city’s ‘sacredness,’ which ironically concerns the Palladion (or Palladium), “an ancient guardian statue of the armed Athena” (thus the repeated references to “Pallas Athena”)70—an opponent of Troy in Homer’s epic—“that was associated first with Troy and its fortunes and later with Rome and its destiny,”71 and

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Homer, The Odyssey 4, in Homer: The Odyssey I, trans. A. T. Murray (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), 149. See also Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, 166. 67 Homer, The Odyssey 4 (Murray, 149). 68 Zeus, Hera, Athena, Apollo, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, and many others are mentioned therein. 69 Homer, The Iliad 6, in Homer: The Iliad I, trans. A. T. Murray (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), 268, 269. 70 Homer, The Iliad 5 (Murray, 195). 71 Sarah Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 69. Apollodorus of Alexandria gave the following description: “It was three cubits in height, its feet joined together; in its right hand it held a spear aloft, and in the other hand a distaff and spindle.” The Library 3.12, in Apollodorus 2: Book 3, trans. Sir James George Frazer (London: William Heinemann, 1921), 39.

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finally with Constantinople.72 We shall see more closely in chapter eight that Cicero and Livy,73 for example, believed that the Palladion ensured the preservation of Rome as long as it was safeguarded in the temple of Vesta, and that the Byzantine historians Procopius of Caesarea and John Malalas74—not to mention the Chronicon Paschale75 and the Patria Constantinoupoleos76—asserted that St Constantine the Great also moved the Palladion to an unspecified point beneath the column in his Forum in Constantinople for similar purposes. Returning to Apollodorus, who was writing several centuries after the myth of Troy had been typified in Homer’s Iliad, we note that he had the following to say about it: The story told about the Palladium is as follows: They say that when Athena was born she was brought up by Triton, who had a daughter Pallas; and that both girls practised the arts of war, but that once on a time they fell out; and when Pallas was about to strike a blow, Zeus in fear interposed the aegis, and Pallas, being startled, looked up, and so fell wounded by Athena. And being exceedingly grieved for her, Athena made a wooden image in her likeness, and wrapped the aegis, which she had feared, about the breast of it, and set it up beside Zeus and honored it. But afterwards Electra, at the time of her violation, took refuge at the image, and Zeus threw the Palladium along with Ate into the Ilian country; and Ilus built a temple for it, and honored it. Such is the legend of the Palladium.77

The aegis referred to here is either the buckler that belonged to Zeus and was often wielded by Athena (as mentioned in the Iliad)78 or a word 72

Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople, 69. Cicero, Philippics 11.10, trans. Walter C. A. Ker (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), 484–85. Livy, From the Founding of the City 26.27, in Livy VII: Books 26–27, trans. Frank Gardner Moore (London: Harvard University Press, 1995), 106–7. 74 Procopius The Gothic War 5.15, in History of the Wars, trans. H. B. Dewing (London: Harvard University Press, 2000), 151–53 and The Chronicle of John Malalas 13.7, trans. Elizabeth Jeffreys et al (Melbourne: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1986), 174. 75 Chronicon Paschale 328, in Chronicon Paschale: 284–628 AD, trans. Michael and Mary Whitby (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1980), 16. 76 Accounts of Medieval Constantinople: The Patria 2.45, trans. Albrecht Berger (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 79. 77 Apollodorus, The Library 3.12 (Frazer, 41, 43). 78 According to Homer’s Iliad, Athena’s “priceless aegis … knoweth neither age nor death, wherefrom are hung an hundred tassels all of gold, all of them cunningly woven, and each one of the worth of a hundred oxen.” The Iliad 2 (Murray, 83, 73

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designating protection in general. Irrespective, the wooden image of the Palladion, built by Athena and cast—along with the goddess of mischief, Ate79—from heaven to earth by Zeus, also represents an axis mundi as indicated by the fact that Ilus, son of Troas, built a temple for it at the point at which the celestial object hit the ground. Indeed, an even earlier author, Pherecydes (fifth century BC), whose “lengthy text on Greek myths and legends … has regrettably been lost,”80 described the Palladion (ʌĮȜȜȐįȚȠ) as derived from the Greek infinitive ʌȐȜȜİȚȞ which is related to ȕȐȜȜİȚȞ meaning “throw,”81 thereby identifying its etymology with its ‘being thrown’ from heaven to earth.82 Thus, Ilus’ building of the temple as a house for the celestial object indicates the desire to worship at a place where the co-incidence of the celestial and terrestrial spheres was made manifest; the intersection between the vertical, or heavenly, and horizontal, or earthly, planes. But the construction of this temple was, it is implied, followed by the building of a city, and in a passage preceding the above Apollodorus described the founding of Troy as prompted by Troas, who, having received an oracle, bestowed upon his son, Ilus …a dappled cow and bade him found a city wherever the animal should lie down; so he followed the cow. And when she was come to what was called the hill of the Phrygian Ate, she lay down; there Ilus built a city and called it Ilium.83

85). It is also described at length by Virgil in his Aeneid 8, in Virgil II: Aeneid 7– 12, The Minor Poems, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), 91. 79 She is similar to “the Erinyes, the Furies, and the Roman goddess Discordia.” Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, 79. 80 Alastair McBeath and Andrei Dorian Gheorghe, ‘Meteor Beliefs Project: The Palladium in Ancient and Early Medieval Sources,’ WGN: The Journal of the International Meteor Organization 32.4 (2004): 117. 81 From ȕȐȜȜȦ, see Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 304. McBeath and Gheorghe affirmed that “Pherecydes derived the term from the Greek ‘pallein’ [ʌȐȜȜİȚȞ] which he took to be the same as ‘ballein’ [ȕȐȜȜİȚȞ].” ‘Meteor Beliefs Project,’ 117. Liddel and Scott give the definition of ʌȐȜȜȦ as to “poise, sway a missile before it is thrown,” making it almost synonymous with ȕȐȜȜİȚȞ as “to throw.” ‘A Greek-English Lexicon, 1293. This legitimises Pherecydes’ claim. 82 This prompted McBeath and Gheorghe to assert that the Palladia—of which there were more than one of varying mythological provenances—were actually meteorites around which cult worship eventually developed. ‘Meteor Beliefs Project,’ 117. 83 Apollodorus, The Library 3.12 (Frazer, 37–39).

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The cow came to rest at the place where Ate had been cast down by Zeus. By building a city, signifying cosmos, on the hill that had come to be identified with the personification of mischief or chaos, Ilus cosmicised that space as the locus of a hierophany.84 This is further confirmed when he asks Zeus for a sign, and is presented with the Palladion “fallen from heaven, lying before his tent,”85 meaning that this cosmic order could only emerge at the conjunction between heaven and earth. In fact, later Roman authors including Virgil and Ovid recounted that the removal of the Palladion from Troy by Odysseus created the conditions for the sack of the city.86 This meant that the Palladion, as a heavenly object, acted as a stabilising force for the city, a force that was disrupted by its removal from within the city’s temple; hence Troy’s fall.87 As an object with ‘heavenly origins’ located in the terrestrial realm, the Palladion was supposed to constitute Troy as an axis mundi. But the city which was emerging as the axis mundi par excellence from the

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Eliade claimed that, generally speaking, cities had extraterrestrial archetypes that were “conceived as a plan, as a form, or purely and simply as a ‘double’ existing on a higher cosmic level.” Human beings in ancient and medieval societies constructed their cities according to these respective models so as to cultivate unknown, amorphous territories—homologised to chaos—into ordered ‘centres’ that not only imaged the celestial model (images of the world) but also acted as meeting point for the cosmic tiers of heaven, earth, and hell (axes of the world). Thus, the transformation from chaos into order/cosmos. Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History, trans. W. R. Trask (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 9–10, 15–16. 85 Apollodorus, The Library 3.12 (Frazer, 39). 86 According to Virgil, the removal of the Palladion from Troy by Diomedes spurned Pallas Athena, who, though supporting the Danaans (Achaeans) up until this point, immediately showed her displeasure at their actions through various signs. It is soon afterwards that Virgil recounted the fall of Troy, implying, as it were, that the removal of the statue contributed to its destruction. Aeneid 2, in Virgil I: Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid, 1–6, vol. I, trans. H. R. Fairclough (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), 305–7. 87 In fact, it can almost be inferred that the Palladion was restraining the chaosgoddess Ate who was unleashed upon Troy when it was forcibly removed; this would make it consistent with Eliade’s assertion that the founding of a city often repeated the cosmogony, which paradigmatically involved the restraining of chaos, personified as a mythical deity, by the cosmogonic agent or demiurge. Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. W. R. Trask (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959), 47–48, 51. Conversely, “any destruction of a city is equivalent to a retrogression to chaos,” which is implied by Troy’s fall. Ibid., 48.

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time of Homer and Hesiod onwards was Delphi,88 the location of the oracle of Apollo where his priestess—the Pythia89—would take her seat upon the god’s tripod and act as an ostensible mouthpiece for visitors, especially kings, who sought to consult him. Resonating with the Minoan queen-priestess invoking the Mother goddess, in the literary sources this form of oracular divination at Delphi can be traced back to as early as the Homeric hymn To Pythian Apollo (c. seventh century BC), which celebrates the founding of Pytho (Delphi) as his oracle for humanity.90 The belief that the god ‘spoke’ at this spot therefore denotes a conjunction between heaven and earth, making it, like the Minoan palatial structures, an axis mundi for the Greeks. This is further testified by words placed in the mouth of Apollo in the hymn itself: In this place I am minded to build a glorious temple to be an oracle for men, and here they will always bring perfect hecatombs, both they who dwell in rich Peloponnesus and the men of Europe and from all the wave-washed isles, coming to question me. And I will deliver to them all counsel that cannot fail, answering them in my rich temple.91

This temple, which is presumably where the tripods surmounted by a statue of the god were later situated (indeed they are mentioned in the hymn),92 is therefore a centre for not just the immediate geographical vicinity, but for all of Europe that constituted much of the known world at the time. Thus, the repeated references to the god as “far-shooting Apollo” (ਦțĮIJȘȕȩȜ ਡʌȠȜȜȠȞ)93 by the composer of the hymn, points to the belief that Apollo, through the means of his temple, gathered the inhabitants of Europe to the axis mundi of Delphi. Just as Ate, the chaos goddess, was believed to have been restrained at the founding of Troy, so too did Apollo have to slay Typhon, a dragon-god94 similar to the Mesopotamian Kur or Egyptian Apophis.95 In this way, Apollo, as a demiurge, is construed as 88

Catherine Morgan, ‘The Origins of Pan-Hellenism,’ in Greek Sanctuaries: New Approaches, ed. Nanno Marinatos and Robin Hägg (London and New York: Routledge, 1993): 27. 89 Hugh Lloyd-Jones, ‘The Delphic Oracle,’ Greece & Rome 23.1 (1976): 65. 90 The Homeric Hymns III–To Pythian Apollo (Evelyn-White, 339). 91 Ibid., 345. 92 Ibid., 355. 93 Ibid., 340, 341. 94 Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, 480. 95 The Homeric Hymns III–To Pythian Apollo (Evelyn-White, 345). The hymn then goes on to outline that it was for this reason that Delphi was known as Pytho, insofar as the Greek word ʌ૨șȫ designates “the rotting of the serpent.” For the

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creating cosmos out of chaos at an axis mundi that was supposed to endure forever, as attested by the author of To Pythian Apollo who has him say: “pray to me as Apollo Delphinius; also the altar [of the temple] itself shall be called Delphinius and overlooking [i.e. will keep watch] for ever” (Į੝IJ੹ȡ ੒ ȕȦȝઁȢ Į੝IJઁȢ ǻİȜijȓȞȚȠȢ țĮ੿ ਥʌȩȥȚȠȢ ਩ııİIJĮȚ).96 Just after this, the hymn states that Apollo is said to have come there in the form of a dolphin,97 implying that the city of Delphi, in receiving its name that derives from ‘dolphin,’ is organically linked with the god. But that there was an eventual shift of emphasis from the god and his oracle to the city per se was highlighted by the first century BC Greek philosopher and geographer Strabo, who affirmed: Now although the greatest share of honour was paid to this temple because of its oracle, since of all oracles in the world it had the repute of being the most truthful, yet the position of the place added something. For it is almost in the centre of Greece taken as a whole (IJોȢ Ȗ੹ȡ ਬȜȜȐįȠȢ ਥȞ ȝȑı૳ ʌȫȢ ਥıIJȚ IJોȢ ıȣȝʌȐıȘȢ), between the country inside the Isthmus and that outside it; and it was also believed to be in the centre of the inhabited world (ਥȞ ȝȑı૳ … ਥȞȠȝȓıșȘ į੻ țĮ੿ IJોȢ ȠੁțȠȣȝȑȞȘȢ), and people called it the navel of the earth (țĮ੿ ਥțȐȜİıĮȞ IJોȢ ȖોȢ ੑȝijĮȜȩȞ), in addition fabricating a myth, which is told by Pindar, that the two eagles (some say crows) which had been set free by Zeus met there, one coming from the west and the other from the east. There is also a kind of navel to be seen in the temple (įİȓțȞȣIJĮȚ į੻ țĮ੿ ੑȝijĮȜȩȢ IJȚȢ ਥȞ IJ૶ ȞĮ૶); it is draped with fillets, and on it are the two likenesses of the birds of the myth.98

Although long lost, what the navel or omphalos itself looked like can be pieced together from vase reliefs and coins which depict it as egg shaped with a flat base, with Apollo seated on it along with images showing the Pythian goddess seated upon the tripods.99 Conceptually, this omphalos can be traced as far back as Hesiod’s Theogony, where it is described as the place where Chronos vomited the stone given to him by Rhea to

description in the hymn, see ibid., 351; for the definition of ʌ૨șȫ, see Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 1552. 96 The Homeric Hymns III–To Pythian Apollo (Evelyn-White, 358, 359); “will keep watch” added by me. 97 Ibid., 359. 98 Strabo, Geography 9.3, in The Geography of Strabo IV: Books VIII–IX, trans. Horace Leonard Jones (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1968), 354–55. 99 J. Henry Middleton, ‘The Temple of Apollo at Delphi,’ The Journal of Hellenic Studies 9 (1888): 296. There is also a reconstruction of it above.

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swallow instead of Zeus100 (although it was only later that this stone would be identified as the ‘navel of the earth’).101 The temple of Apollo also had an “inner hestia”102 which was the font of the ‘eternal flame’ that, according to the hymn To Pythian Apollo, was kindled by him.103 It was reached by a road called the Sacred Way that may have corresponded to the route taken by Apollo to Delphi, which, in the hymn, depicts him as sweetly playing the lyre until he came to the site of his temple.104 Moreover, according to Numa Denis Fustel De Coulanges, “the Greeks, like the Italians, believed that the site of a city should be chosen and revealed by the divinity. So, when they wished to found one, they consulted the oracle at Delphi.”105 To support this claim, De Coulanges referenced Herodotus, who in book five of his Histories described the founding of a settlement by a certain Spartan, Cleomenes, who did not previously consult the Delphic oracle; as a result of which the settlement was overrun in three years.106 Delphi, therefore, became such a compellingly paradigmatic axis mundi for all Greek cities, which, theoretically could (or should) not be founded without consulting the god at the site, that the Romans incorporated Delphic symbolism into their capital, specifically into their Forum at the centre of their city. Here they included the umbilicus corresponding to the Delphic omphalos; a temple dedicated to Vesta, the Roman equivalent of Hestia whose presence in the temple at Delphi can be inferred from its own flame, and a Sacred Way that, while not culminating at the temple of Vesta (like the Delphic one did at the temple of Apollo), at the very least ran past it.107 But these factors, along with their relationship to Byzantium, will be addressed in later in chapters four (on Rome) and eight (on Constantinople). For now, we must turn to one final Greek city that rose to prominence after the aforementioned ‘dark age’ that mitigated Greek notions of divine kingship, i.e., Athens; a 100

Hesiod, Theogony (Most, 41, 43). Kathleen N. Daly, Greek and Roman Mythology A–Z, Third Edition (New York: Chelsea House, 2009), 152. 102 Burket, Greek Religion, 61. 103 The Homeric Hymns III–To Pythian Apollo (Evelyn-White, 355). 104 Burket, Greek Religion, 61, 100. 105 Numa Denis Fustel De Coulanges, The Ancient City: A Study of the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome, trans. Willard Small (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006), 138. 106 Herodotus, The Histories 5, trans. Aubrey de Sélincourt (London: Penguin Books, 2003), 326. 107 See ‘Figure 24,’ in Filippo Coarelli, Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide, trans. James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2007), 94. 101

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mitigation that resulted in an emphatic response by Plato concerning the legitimacy of such an ecosystemic rule when interpreted philosophically.

The Rise of the Polis and Plato’s Response The ‘Philosopher-King’ as Ecosystemic Agent Adhering to a conception of kingship that was similar to early Mesopotamian, i.e. Sumerian, beliefs, the Greeks did not entirely embrace the notion of the king as an ecosystemic agent. In light of the political upheavals of the ‘dark age’ mentioned above, a new form of administration was needed to account for the rise of aristocracies “and new elites who collectively overshadowed individual kings.”108 In time, there emerged the poleis, “an enormous number of quite independent and autonomous political units,” which we describe as “city-states” only, according to H. D. F. Kitto, insofar as we moderns lack an equivalent.109 George Forrest’s definition is comprehensive: …a community of citizens (adult males), citizens without political rights (women and children), and non-citizens (resident foreigners and slaves), a defined body, occupying a defined area … independent of outside authority … but there had to be one focal point, religious, political, administrative, around which usually grew up (Sparta was a notable exception) a city, the polis proper, usually fortified, always offering a market (an agora), a place of assembly (often the agora itself), a seat of justice and government, executive and deliberative, in the early period monarchic or aristocratic in type, later usually oligarchic or democratic.110

Kitto affirmed that the polis developed out of the acropolis, “the stronghold of the whole community and the centre of its public life,” although by definition the acropolis was on the outskirts of the city itself, at the highest, and therefore most defensible, location.111 In any case, the transition from the “monarchic” or “aristocratic” type of the polis to the “oligarchic” and “democractic” versions mentioned by Forrest above was gradual. It is true that by the seventh century BC, the Greek tribes that were mentioned in Homer’s Iliad began to self-consciously describe 108

William Greenwalt, ‘Kingship, Greek,’ in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, vol. 1, ed. Michael Gagarin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 173. 109 H. D. F. Kitto, The Greeks (London: Penguin Books, 1957), 64, 65. 110 Forrest, ‘Greece: The History of the Archaic Period,’ 13. 111 Kitto, The Greeks, 70.

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themselves as Hellenes and undertake different forms of government in order to account for the changed circumstances. In this way, they marked the difference between themselves and their Mycenaean predecessors. In Athens, this separation began as early as the turn of the first millennium BC, with the affairs of the city being chiefly administered by the Archon, and secondly by the king, who “continued to be the city’s chief priest.”112 C. M. Bowra affirmed that at the end of the eighth century hereditary kingship was circumscribed when the office of a single Archon became distributed among nine different persons (the so-called ‘nine Archons’) so that, still, only one of them was called ‘king.’ Thus, kingship had almost ceased to count among the Greek cities, and in Sparta, the traditional two kings had power only in the field.113 Sparta, however, did remain an exception even in later times insofar as it always retained its dual-monarchy, but in the seventh century the drafting of the laws of Lycurgus—which established a militaristic style of government114—eventuated in the powers of the kings being checked by five Ephors. Lycurgus’ laws set a precedent followed by other Greek poleis, the most notable in this regard being Athens, where Solon’s reforms—in responding to the rule of tyrants115 that had sprung up in places such as Corinth in the mid-seventh century116—laid the foundations of democracy.117 Thus, in contrast to the role of the king as the divinely inspired lawgiver and embodiment of the law, in Greece we perceive a separation of these roles; with Bowra correlating the proliferation of law codes in Greece with the rapid decline of kingship.118 Athens remains a unique example of both the decline of kingship and the rise and eventual downfall of democracy. Solon (c. 638–558 BC) established a council (ȕȠȣȜો) of four hundred that would deliberate on matters of public significance before they were forwarded to the assembly of citizens, or ‘those who were called’—the ਥțțȜȘıȓĮ—where decisions 112

Burn, The Penguin History of Greece, 67. C. M. Bowra, The Greek Experience (London: Cardinal, 1973), 84. 114 M. I. Finley, The Ancient Greeks (London: Penguin Books, 1991), 41. 115 Forrest, ‘Greece: The History of the Archaic Period,’ 31. Tyrants arose in periods of political turmoil, promising concessions to legality while keeping “themselves in power through their own armed supporters.” Bowra, The Greek Experience, 92–93. 116 Forrest, ‘Greece: The History of the Archaic Period,’ 24. For tyranny in Sicyon in Solon’s own time, see Paul Cartledge, Ancient Greek Political Thought in Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), xix. 117 Forrest, ‘Greece: The History of the Archaic Period,’ 38. 118 Bowra, The Greek Experience, 84. 113

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were made by majority rule. In the early sixth century BC Cleisthenes, another Athenian lawgiver, extended the council to include five-hundred citizens and established the deme system where the demos, or public, was divided into ten tribes that counterbalanced the aristocracy in public decision-making;119 and it is from this point onwards that democracy—or the ‘rule of the people’—emerges, at least ideologically. But it was under Pericles that this system saw its full flowering and eventual downfall; Periclean Athens representing the culmination of a process that began with the Athenian victory over the Persians at Plataea in 479, and the Athenian establishment of a naval league at the island of Delos which was later moved to Athens itself.

3 The Parthenon on the hill of the Acropolis, Athens. Photo by author (2005).

The growing prestige of Athens meant that the city began to resemble a small Greek empire,120 and Pericles, undisputed magistrate in the assembly of citizens from 461 to 429, initiated a building policy that 119

Janet Coleman, A History of Political Thought: From Ancient Greece to Early Christianity (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2000), 23, 26. 120 Kitto, The Greeks, 113, 119.

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saw, among other things, the rebuilding of the Parthenon dedicated to the virgin goddess Athena on the acropolis that was damaged by the Persian invasion.121 In refurbishing the temple to the patron goddess of his city, Pericles was behaving as any divinely appointed ruler should; but without anyone explicitly calling him such. Continuing this architectural note, the marked religiosity that persisted in Athens, despite the curtailing, at least in theory, of the notion of the ecosystemic agent, was reflected in the axis mundi symbolism of the prytaneion, the seat of government in the centre of the city (the building itself being no longer extant). It was here that the fire of Hestia,122 that we saw in relation to Mycenaean palaces and the temple of Delphi was supposed to connect heaven and earth through the smoke billowing through their roofs, was always lit. The Athenian prytaneion was the “center of the polis,”123 and although there is no evidence for an aperture in the roof of the structure, since it definitely contained the hearth of Hestia, the fact that it was considered an axis mundi is implied. Perhaps the most striking example of the relationship between religion and the city was the ostensible threat to the axis mundi posed by the philosopher Socrates, who contended with the Sophists in relation to their rhetorical concern with the governance of the Athenian polis,124 but also in Socrates’ repeated interest in seeking adequate definitions—of piety, for instance, in the Euthyphro—so as to attain to “another” (here meaning ‘better’) “life.”125 His student, Plato, further criticised Athens in his Republic (an awkward title in English, since in Greek it is called ਲ ȆȠȜȚIJİȓĮ, and has to do with the function of the polis),126 where he tried to

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Lawrence, Greek Architecture, 156. Schmalz, ‘The Athenian Prytaneion Discovered?’ 33–34. 123 Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood, Tragedy and Athenian Religion (Maryland: Lexington Books, 2003), 109. 124 He also criticised the Sophist’s relativistic approach towards knowledge. Samuel Enoch Stumpf and James Fieser, Socrates to Sartre and Beyond: A History of Philosophy (New York: McGraw Hill, 2008), 49. 125 In Greek, “IJઁȞ ਙȜȜȠȞ ȕȓȠȞ.” Plato, Euthyphro 16A, in Plato I: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, trans. H. N. Fowler (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), 59. The translation “a better life” appears in Plato, ‘Euthyphro,’ in The Last Days of Socrates: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, trans. Hugh Treddenick and Harold Tarrant (London: Penguin Group, 2003), 30. 126 Plato, The Republic 1, in Plato V: Republic I, trans. Paul Shorey (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), 1. See also ‘ʌȠȜȚIJİȓĮ,’ in Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 1434. 122

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relate Socrates’ emphasis on the interior life of people127 to the manner in which a polis can function in its external form. In book four of his Republic, Plato has Socrates begin by stipulating that an ideal city must have the qualities of wisdom, bravery, soberness and justice,128 and relates these virtues to the three classes from which it should be comprised, namely the guardians, soldiers, and rulers respectively; with justice being an outcome of their harmonious undertakings.129 A polis is comprised of individuals, and Plato is not completely satisfied with this definition of justice until he can demonstrate that it applies to the people also. Thus, his definition of justice in persons is a state of harmony facilitated when a person masters the spirit (șȣȝȩȢ)130 and desire (ਥʌȚșȣȝȓĮ)131 inherent in the soul132 through reason, or ȜȩȖȠȢ,133 so that they perform their proper function without interfering with

127

With Socrates what we discern is an unprecedented examination of the relationship of concepts to the self through dialectic discussion. In dialogue with an interlocutor, Socrates would propose his ignorance concerning a certain topic and, professing his desire to learn, he would continue to ask questions so that the “other man [would] do most of the talking, but keeping the course of the conversation under his [i.e. Socrates’] control … the dialectic [would] proceed from less adequate definitions to a more adequate definition, or considering from particular examples to a universal definition.” Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, vol 1: Greece and Rome (Cornwall: Continuum Books, 2006), 106. 128 Plato, The Republic 4.427E (Shorey, 347). 129 Wisdom is exemplified by the guardians (ijȪȜĮțİȢ), a small ruling class who exercise supreme authority. Plato, The Republic 4.428E (Shorey, 351). Courage will be found in the soldiers (ıIJȡĮIJȚȫIJİȢ), “in that part of a quality that under all conditions will preserve … conviction.” The Republic 4.429 (Shorey, 353). Soberness (ıȦijȡȠıȪȞȘ) is “a kind of concord and harmony” (ȟȣȝijȦȞȓĮ IJȚȞ੿ țĮ੿ ਖȡȝȠȞȓ઺) (The Republic 4.430E (Shorey 358, 359)) diffused throughout the city, reflected in the ability of the wise rulers to effectively manage the inimical desires of the majority of the population (Plato, The Republic 4.431CD (Shorey 361)) who are defined primarily by their ability to provide for material needs (The Republic 4.420D–421A (Shorey 319)). The most important virtue is justice, which is expressed in the definition “to do one’s own business and not be a busybody.” The Republic 4.433A (Shorey, 369). Justice prevails when the three classes, exemplifying the three virtues, fulfil their appointed tasks. If, however, they interfere with one another’s duties, the state will be destroyed, constituting thereby the definition of injustice. The Republic 4.434BC (Shorey, 373). 130 Plato, The Republic 4.440E (Shorey, 403). 131 Plato, The Republic 4.440B (Shorey, 401). 132 Plato, The Republic 4.443D (Shorey, 415). 133 Plato, The Republic 4.440B (Shorey, 401).

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others.134 While this is coterminous with the definition of justice in the polis, Socrates affirms that it is a truer form of justice insofar as it does not regard externals, but “that which is within.”135 Thus the polis and people are interrelated; but for Plato, it was not enough for the inner lives of the members of the polis to be mastered by reason so that justice could prevail. In book four, Socrates is asked to demonstrate the practicability of ideal cities, to which he responds that the only way to realise this ideal is if the philosophers become the kings of the poleis or the kings become philosophers.136 But Plato affirmed in book six that for the city to be perfected through the agency of the philosopher king, this king must acquire knowledge concerning the ideal truth137 or “idea of the Good” (IJ੽Ȟ IJȠ૨ ਕȖĮșȠ૨ ੁįȑĮȞ),138 which is the source of the four virtues inhering in both persons and the polis and “gives human and physical nature” its “goodness and unity.”139 The ideal city is therefore related not only to Plato’s view of the ecosystemic agent, but his cosmology also, which placed this idea of the Good in an immaterial and abstract intelligible world called the world of the forms or ideas, which are “those changeless, eternal … essences or patterns of which the actual visible objects we see are only poor copies,”140 and which are hierarchically arranged and derive their source from the idea of the Good. In Plato’s Timaeus, it was this Form of the Good (and the other forms) that the demiurge, which we saw was conspicuously absent in Hesiod’s Theogony, contemplated as he cosmicised the chaotic matter that existed alongside it. As the framer of becoming (ȖȑȞİıȚȞ) or movement in the cosmos,141 the demiurge organised the material world based on reason or Logos142 which, like the Mesopotamian me and Egyptian ma’at, establishes order on a cosmic scale. Plato called this demiurge both 134

Plato, The Republic 441E–442E (Shorey, 407, 409). Plato, The Republic 4.443D (Shorey, 413). Conversely, the interference of the three parts of the soul with each other results in confusion, which is tantamount to injustice. Ibid., 415. 136 Plato, The Republic 4.473CD (Shorey, 509). 137 In fact, he referred to this “Truth” in the superlative: “IJઁ ਕȜȘșȑıIJĮIJȠȞ.” Plato, The Republic 6.484CD, in Plato VI: Republic II, trans. Paul Shorey (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 5. 138 Plato, The Republic 6.508E (Shorey, 104–5). 139 Diogenes Allen, Philosophy for Understanding Theology (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985), 46. 140 Stumpf and Fieser, Socrates to Sartre and Beyond, 49. 141 Plato, Timaeus 29E, in Plato IX: Timaeus, Critias, Cleitophon, Menexenus, Epistles, trans. R. G. Bury (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975), 54–55. 142 Plato, Timaeus 30B (Bury, 55). 135

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“good”143 and “God”144 in affirming its positive shaping of pre-existent matter into cosmos,145 and since Plato considered the human being a microcosm,146 we can infer that this process took place for humanity also; with the inner life which we addressed in relation to the Republic needing to be organised in such a way as to lead to harmony in the polis. But despite his emphasis on an ideal city—sparked by the chaotic circumstances of the Athens of his day—Plato did not describe it as an imago et axis mundi. As implied above, his main significance for our topic lies rather in his rehabilitation of the notion of a supreme ecosystemic agent, both on a cosmological level (as represented by the demiurge, missing from Hesiod’s Theogony), and a political one—the philosopher king—which the poleis of the ‘dark age’ period had undermined. Despite the naturalistic approaches to the city by Aristotle in his Politics147 and later by the Stoics148—who, following Heraclitus,149 affirmed that the Logos was the main organisational force in the universe—Plato’s contribution to political theory would be instrumental for later, Middle Platonic descriptions of “the king or emperor as the Law

143

Plato, Timaeus 30A (Bury, 55). Plato, Timaeus 29E (Bury, 55). 145 Plato, Timaeus 30B (Bury, 55). 146 Olena Shkubulyani, ‘Plato on Return to Nature,’ in Phenomenology and the Human Positioning within the Cosmos: The Life-world, Nature, Earth, ed. AnnaTeresa Tymieniecka (Hanover, NH: Springer, 2013), 165. 147 Aristotle affirmed that the polis is of “nature” (ijȪıİȚ ਲ ʌȩȜȚȢ ਥıIJȓ). Aristotle, Politics 1.1253a, in Aristotle’s Politics, trans. H. Rackham (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959), 8. He also famously asserted that “man is by nature a political animal” (੒ ਙȞșȡȦʌȠȢ ijȪıİȚ ʌȠȜȚIJȚțઁȞ ȗ૶ȠȞ) which, in the context of his writings, literally refers to man being naturally ‘of the polis.’ Aristotle, Politics 1253a (Rackham, 8–9). 148 The Stoics, like Aristotle, believed that the best kind of life was that undertaken according to nature; this for them meant an adherence to the logos within human souls in conformity with the universal or cosmic Logos. This wise way of life was to be undertaken, not in isolation, but in the polis, which was seen as a reiteration of the cosmos (i.e. a cosmopolis) through the wise community of persons—living in conformity with the universe—within it. Dominic J. O’Meara, Platonopolis: Platonic Political Philosophy in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 34. 149 According to Heraclitus, the Logos “is eternal; it is a pattern or law, or a directing force according to which things happen; it is common … that is, universal.” Adam Drozdek, The Greek Philosophers as Theologians: The Divine Arche (Hampshire: Ashgate, 2007), 32. 144

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or Reason or Logos of God.”150 With immediate antecedents in Philo of Alexandria (20 BC–50 AD),151 Seneca, and Plutarch,152 this meant that the Roman emperor’s soul, in distinction to other souls which also participated in the Logos which was identified with the demiurge in Middle Platonic thinking, was regarded as the very “seat of the Living Law, Sacred Thought, or Divine Logos—the precise term varied from author to author but the basic idea was much the same.”153 The Romans in fact inherited this notion of divine kingship from Aristotle’s pupil Alexander the Great, whose exposure to Near Eastern thought— particularly his appointment as Pharaoh after conquering Egypt in 332154—inspired his self-representation as a son of Zeus or Amun (the former’s Egyptian equivalent), and thus a god in his own right.155 With Alexander the Great, the Greek attempts to override the notion of divine kingship, exemplified in the democracy of the polis, are curtailed; and he is particularly important insofar as his reign—especially his self-representation as the sun god (Ra) influenced by his sojourn in Egypt (Ra being the son of Amun)156—became paradigmatic for Rome.

150

Glenn F. Chesnut, The First Christian Histories: Eusebius Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1986), 143. 151 Philo also identified the Logos with Wisdom, Justice, and so on. Philo, On Drunkenness, in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, ed. C. D. Yonge (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1993), 209. 152 Chesnut, The First Christian Histories, 152–58. 153 Ibid., 143. 154 John Maxwell O’Brien, Alexander the Great, the Invisible Enemy: A Biography (London: Routledge, 1992), 83. 155 Ibid., 85. 156 Nigel Cawthorne, Alexander the Great (London: Haus Publishing, 2004), 43.

CHAPTER FOUR ROME

Laying the Foundations for the ‘Eternal City’ Evidence from the Roman Forum In the first book of his Histories, the second century BC Greek historian Polybius set the parameters for his work as an exploration of what “system of polity” (IJȓȞȚ ȖȑȞİȚ ʌȠȜȚIJİȓĮȢ)1 the Romans used in “subjecting nearly the whole inhabited world to their sole government” (ਥʌȚțȡĮIJȘșȑȞIJĮ ıȤİįઁȞ ਘʌĮȞIJĮ IJ੹ țĮIJ੹ IJ੽Ȟ ȠੁțȠȣȝȑȞȘȞ).2 The relationship between governance (ʌȠȜȚIJİȓĮ) and the polis or city of Rome was perhaps better articulated by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (first century BC), who described “the city of the Romans” (૮ȦȝĮȓȦȞ ʌȩȜȚȢ)3 as ruling “the whole earth” (ਖʌȐıȘȢ … ȖોȢ)4 and “every sea” (ʌȐıȘȢ … șĮȜȐııȘȢ)5 as “the first and only [city] of the entire age (ਥț IJȠ૨ ʌĮȞIJઁȢ Įੁ૵ȞȠȢ) that can be conceived of as extending her dominion to the boundaries of the East and West.”6 The sophist Aelius Aristides (second century AD) observed the correspondence between the “whole inhabited world” (ʌ઼ıĮ ਲ ȠੁțȠȣȝȑȞȘ) and the one city7 that ruled it; so that Rome was considered the master of both the earth and its inhabitants.

1

Polybius, The Histories 1.1, in The Histories: Books 1–2, trans. W. R. Paton (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1979), 2–3. 2 Ibid., 4–5. 3 Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.3, in Roman Antiquities 1: Books 1–2, trans. Earnest Cary (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1948), 10. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. 6 Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.3 (Cary, 10–11). 7 Aelius Aristides, Oration XXVI Regarding Rome, in The Complete Works, vol. 2: Orations XVII–LIII, trans. C. A. Behr (Leiden: Brill, 1981), 74–75. The Greek text is from Aelii Aristides Adrianensis, Opera Omnia, ed. Samuel Jebb (Oxonii: E Theatro Sheldoniano, 1720), 200.

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Although the above examples are from Greek writers, they all regarded themselves as belonging to a world that had been mastered by Rome. We see this sentiment expressed in the fifth century AD (i.e. the eve of the city’s collapse) by the last Latin poet Rutilius Namatianus, where, in his address to Rome personified, he declared: “you have made a city out of what was once a world [urbem fecisti, quod prius orbit erat].”8 We must be aware of the nuances in expression, for the Latin orbs denotes the earth or globe,9 corresponding to the Greek Ȗો, and, we shall see below, was more often related by Roman authors to the urbs or city than their equivalent for ȠੁțȠȣȝȑȞȘ (oikoumene), or inhabited world, which was ecumene. Nevertheless, what is significant for our purpose here is that the cross-cultural and diachronic nature of these excerpts points to the enduringness of a mentality that envisaged Rome as master of both the world’s inhabited places and the earth itself. In this mastery, Rome was assisted by the goddess Fortuna10 or ȉȪȤȘ (Tyche), who, according to Polybius, “guided almost all of the affairs of the world in one direction and has forced them to incline towards one and the same end,”11 namely, the rise and ubiquity of the city. But in order to trace the development of this mentality further, we need to assess the historical accounts in conjunction with the symbolic culture, beginning with the heart of the ancient city, the so-called Forum Romanum. Once an inhospitable marshland falling between the Capitoline (northwest) and Palatine hills (southeast), the area later known as the Roman Forum, “the marketplace of Rome,”12 was the site of a necropolis in the tenth century BC before it was paved over in the sixth century BC and gradually developed into different usages.13 In that century, the construction of the Comitium, “the ancient political centre of the city,”14 8

Quoted from Catherine Edwards and Greg Woolf, ‘Cosmopolis: Rome as World City,’ in Rome the Cosmopolis, ed. C. Edwards and G. Woolf (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 3. The original has been published, along with an Italian translation, in Claudio Rutilio Namaziano, De Reditu, trans. Emanuele Castorina (Firenze: Sansoni, 1967), 80. 9 Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 1275–76. 10 Lucan, The Civil War 1, in The Civil War, trans. J. D. Duff (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 15. 11 Polybius, The Histories 1.4 (Paton, 10–11). 12 Filippo Coarelli, Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide, trans. James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2007), 44. 13 Ibid., 43–44. 14 Ibid., 53.

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an assembly space in the northwest (at the foot of the Capitoline), marked its emergence as a polis. According to Plutarch (46–120 AD), the first task undertaken in the eighth century BC by Romulus, the mythical founder of the city, was to dig a circular trench around what later became the Comitium, within which …were deposited first-fruits of all things the use of which was sanctioned by custom as good and by nature as necessary; and finally, every man brought a small portion of the soil of his native land and these were cast in among the first-fruits and mingled with them. They call this trench, as they do the heavens, by the name of “mundus.” Then, taking this as a centre, they marked out the city in a circle round it.15

The circular trench, symbolic of totality or eternity,16 was thus the location of Rome’s axis mundi, where the word mundus, at least initially, corresponded to the celestial realm, itself envisaged, according to Lucretius (99–55 BC), without beginning or end.17 It was this celestial realm that was here being recapitulated within this terrestrial circle, within and around which the city of Rome would gradually be constructed.18 In contrast to this, some scholars, such as Joseph Rykwert, have asserted that the city was constructed in the form of a square; a belief which they have inferred from the writings of Dionysius of Halicarnassus where he referred to the centre of the city (around the Forum Romanum) as the Roma quadrata (IJİIJȡĮȖȫȞȠȣ … ૮ȫȝȘȢ).19 Rykwert tried to go beyond the consensus by affirming that, apart from Dionysius, no other author in antiquity stated that Romulus ploughed to a square outline, and neither is there any archaeological evidence to support that the Romans ever built square towns.20 But Plutarch does in fact mention in his Life of 15 Plutarch, Life of Romulus 11, in Plutarch’s Lives I, trans. Bernadotte Perrin (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1967), 119. 16 Jack Tressider, The Complete Dictionary of Symbols (London: Duncan Baird Publishers, 2004), 108–9. 17 Lucretius stated, “we find that the universe is not bounded in any direction. If it were, it would need to have an extremity.” On the Nature of the Universe, trans. Sir Ronald Melville (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 30. 18 For more information see Mircea Eliade, Patterns of Comparative Religion, trans. Rosemary Sheed (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), 373–74. 19 Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 2.65 (Cary, 501). 20 Joseph Rykwert, The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1995), 97. Rykwert went on to suggest several alternative significations for the Roma quadrata, such as the enclosure in front of the temple of Apollo and the division of

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Romulus that the eponymous founder built the Roma quadrata (૮ȫȝȘȞ țȠȣĮįȡȐIJȘȞ)21 before he dug the mundus, meaning that both are valid. In relation to this, it is perhaps pertinent to have recourse to Eliade’s suggestion that the quadrata, as a square constructed from a central axis, was believed to project the four horizons or the four cardinal points outwards, meaning that it should be properly located within the mundus; as a square within a circle.22 In this way, the Roma quadrata found its locus at the convergence of the celestial and terrestrial realms, with its four points extending the boundaries of the city indefinitely. This intersection of the four sides of the square to the four cardinal points would later become relevant for the first Christian churches built within the Roman empire, since the cross upon which Christ died was believed to intersect the four cardinal points. It is for this reason that square or rectangular churches were built with crosses embedded in their architectural design (known as ‘cross-in-square’). Returning to Rome itself, concerning the boundary of the city, Aulus Gellius (c. second century AD) affirmed that as it grew, the circular pomerium established by Romulus was in fact “extended several times and included many lofty hills,”23 which, according to Livy (59 BC–17 AD), eventually encompassed the traditional seven hills of Rome.24 Gellius described the pomerium as that area which had been “designated by the

the city into four constitutional tribes by Servius Tullus in the fourth century BC. Ibid., 98. To this end, Rykwert concluded that the city may have been associated with the concept by the end of the republic, which is well after its ostensible foundation in the eighth century. Ibid., 99. These may have influenced Plutarch’s description of the founding of Rome, an event that took place over a millennium before his time. 21 Plutarch, Life of Romulus 9 (Perrin, 114–15). 22 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. W. R. Trask (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959), 45, 47. 23 Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 8.14.1–3 (LCL), in Roman Civilization, Sourcebook I: The Republic, ed. Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966), 57. 24 According to Livy, a significant extension of the pomerium was undertaken by Servius Tullus in the fourth century BC to encompass the Quirinal and Viminal hills, bringing them to a total of seven. Livy, From the Founding of the City 1.44, in Livy I: Books I and II, trans. B. O. Foster (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1988), 155. In fact, from the rule of Tiberius (r. 14–37AD) onwards the emperor could extend the pomerium at any time. The Powers of the Emperor, in Roman Civilization, Sourcebook II: The Empire, ed. Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966), 89.

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augurs along the whole circuit of the city without the walls,”25 perhaps basing his account on Livy who affirmed that the Romans established this boundary following the custom of the Etruscans, who would consecrate this space with “augural ceremonies”26 and fix boundary stones to mark the territory between areas on the inside and outside of the wall; both of which were considered sacred.27 Perhaps it was to prevent the conception of these boundaries as limiting the expansion of the city that Plutarch felt the need to describe the depositing of the first-fruits and the soil from every land into the mundus; symbolising that Rome was both the repository of every good and the centre of all of these territories as the convergence of the celestial and terrestrial realms. In any case, Plutarch’s record of the mythical founding event recounted above was written quite late (in the second century AD), and after the writings of Livy and Gellius. This makes it difficult to detect the reception and redaction of sources in relation to the growth of this mentality. Lacking evidence for a direct transmission of sources, it is however interesting to discover that Plutarch often referred to the first Roman annalist, Quintus Fabius Pictor (c. second century BC) who was also heavily relied upon by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Polybius28 and Livy already mentioned, perhaps because he wrote in Greek.29 This hints at not only a possible early source for the identification of the city of Rome with both the inhabited world and the earth (as an imago mundi), but also the endurance of this tradition among the Romans from the republican to the imperial period (i.e. from the Caesars onwards). At the end of the republic, when Rome “was firmly established as the capital of an empire extending from Gaul to Syria,”30 the Forum, 25

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 8.14.1–3 (Lewis and Reinhold, 57). Livy, From the Founding of the City 1.44 (Foster, 157). These ceremonies or rites, undertaken by city magistrates with the augurs present as advisors, usually involved the interpretation of the flight of birds, natural phenomena such as thunder and lightning and the behaviour of certain animals, in order to discern the will of the gods. Mary Beard, John North and Simon Price, Religions of Rome, vol. 1: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 22. 27 Livy described it as that space “which the gods forbade men to inhabit or to till.” From the Founding of the City 1.44 (Foster, 157). 28 For Plutarch and Dionysius’ familiarity with Pictor, see John Dillery, ‘Roman Historians and the Greeks: Audiences and Models,’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians, ed. Andrew Feldherr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 79, 81. For Polybius, see James Davidson, ‘Polybius,’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians (see previous citation), 131. 29 Dillery, ‘Roman Historians and the Greeks: Audiences and Models,’ 78. 30 Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 46. 26

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which was adjacent to the Comitium and was adorned over time with temples, basilicas—and an assortment of other monuments and statues symbolising Rome’s growing strength31—underwent radical alterations in order to reflect the new circumstances both ideologically and practically. Julius Caesar (100–44 BC) therefore abolished the Comitium, a symbolic act in itself, replacing it with his own Forum Iulium (i.e. to the southwest of the Via dei Fori Imperiali), and moved the Rostra, “the main platform for public speaking,”32 from the boundary between the Comitium and the Forum Romanum to its current position within this latter Forum (to the south of the Arch of emperor Septimius Severus, built c. AD 203).33 Closing the Forum’s north-western end, the new Rostra was closely modelled on its predecessor: a ten foot high, eighty long and forty deep platform at the back of which was a “curvaceous concave shape, incorporating a wide, inwardly curved staircase of six marble steps leading up the platform.”34 This move was significant, for it denoted Caesar’s ambition to transfer the central axis of Roman authority to both himself and a new ‘centre’ within the Forum Romanum. He thereby paved the way for his nephew Octavian, designated “Augustus” or “Revered One”35 towards the end of his life,36 to elaborate on this ‘shift of the centre’ by building his own Forum opposite Caesar’s and making additions to the Forum Romanum, specifically the construction of the miliarium aureum or 31

Returning briefly to the organisation of the Forum and the adjacent Comitium, we must note that the construction of the Regia (house of the king) to the latter’s right and the extensive temple building projects undertaken in the adjoining area denote not only the religio-political significance of this site but also signify Rome’s transition from the rule of the kings into a republic. These included the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Castor and Pollux (c. 6th century), the Rostra (or, ‘speaker’s platform,’ 4th century), the Temple of Concord (4th century), along with no less than four basilicas in the second century that reflected the urban requirements of a city that extended its rule over the whole Mediterranean. Ibid., 45. 32 Michael Grant, The Roman Forum (London: Michael Grant Publications, 1970), 109. 33 Dorothy M. Robathan, The Monuments of Ancient Rome (Rome: “L’Erma” Di Bretschneider, 1950), 59. 34 Grant, The Roman Forum, 109. 35 Karl Galinsky, Augustan Culture (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 24. 36 Res Gestae Divi Augusti 6.34, in Velleius Paterculus: Compendium of Roman History and Res Gestae Divi Augusti, trans. Frederick W. Shipley (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1967), 399.

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‘golden milestone’ to the southwest of the Rostra. This was a gilded column, probably of bronze-encased marble inscribed in gold letters “with a record of the distances between the capital and the other chief cities of the empire.”37 So important was the miliareum aureum to the Roman consciousness, that when St Constantine the Great founded his New Rome, Constantinople, in 330 AD he set up a Milion, based on Augustus’ milestone, that not only marked “the intersections of the city’s main thoroughfares,” including the mese,38 but also included the distances to all the cities of the empire at the time (more on this in chapter eight). Returning to Augustus, it is important to note that he was considered a type of Romulus, whom Livy described as the “King and Father of the Roman City.”39 Construing himself in like manner as the pater patriae,40 or ‘father of the fatherland,’ Augustus’ establishment of his own Forum—as well as his construction of the miliareum aureum in the old Forum—can be interpreted as repeating, on a municipal level, what Romulus had accomplished by having every man bring soil from his native land to the mundus. In other words, following Julius Caesar, Augustus’ actions equate to a relocation of the axis mundi. Supporting this interpretation is the enduring identification of the area of the Rostra and the milestone with the mundus, which is evidenced by the construction of the so-called umbilicus urbis Romae or ‘navel of the city of Rome’ by Septimius Severus, who ruled circa 193–211. Appropriated from the Delphic ੑȝijĮȜઁȢ IJોȢ ȖોȢ or ‘navel of the world’—that we saw in the previous chapter constituted that city as an axis mundi—the Romans substituted urbis, city, for Ȗો, which is the earth, which they designated— like the Greeks—as a cone shaped structure which in this case sat on a small brick base adjoining the Rostra on the northwest.41 This brick base also comprised a subterranean trench that was identified with the mundus,42 as attested by Eliade when he stated that “the mundus was clearly assimilated to the omphalos, to the navel of the earth; the city (urbs) was situated in the middle of the orbis terrarum.”43 In a later period, the mundus had shifted from signifying the celestial realm to the infernal, and in the fifth century AD, Macrobius described the mundus as 37

Grant, The Roman Forum, 110. Sarah Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 28. 39 Livy, From the Founding of the City 1.16 (Foster, 59). 40 Res Gestae Divi Augusti 6.35 (Shipley, 401). 41 Grant, The Roman Forum, 109. 42 Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 63–64. 43 Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 47. 38

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associated with Dis and Proserpina (or Hades and Persephone), Roman gods of the underworld, before stating: “Hence Varro [second century BC] too writes: ‘When the mundus is open, it is as though the doorway of the baleful gods of the Underworld is open.’”44 This means that all three cosmic tiers, the celestial, terrestrial, and infernal, were perceived as converging upon the navel of the world, which, along with the golden milestone (intersected by the Rostra), constituted Rome as an imago et axis mundi.

4-1 The remains of the umbilicus urbis Romae with its entrance into the mundus. Photo by author (2011).

The permanence of this conception of the city was moreover indicated by the Temple of Vesta, which, together with the House of the Vestal Virgins, formed a single complex, the Atrium Vestae, which was opposite the Rostra and the golden milestone in the Forum. Vesta was the Roman equivalent of the Greek Hestia, who we have seen in the previous chapter was present in the Mycenaean megaras in the form of a central

44 Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.1, in Macrobius: Saturnalia Books 1–2, trans. Robert A. Kaster (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), 195.

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hearth—itself a symbol of “permanence, of fixity, of immutability”45— thereby perceived as facilitating a connection between heaven and earth through her smoke billowing through a hole in their roofs. The temple of Apollo in Delphi also had an “inner hestia”46 that was believed to be the eternal flame kindled by the god, and so did the Athenian prytaneion; and in both cases axis mundi symbolism was implied. Concerning the Roman structure that housed the hearth of Vesta, we have evidence for the temple’s existence from at least the seventh century BC,47 in this way predating the Comitium around which the Forum itself developed. Just like her Greek counterpart, Vesta was never personified in art but was, because of her association with the hearth, considered by the Romans to be especially important as “the spatial centre of the family and the city.”48 The temple was, like the mundus and the pomerium, circular in shape. According to Plutarch, Numa Pompilius (r. 715–673 BC),49 the second king of Rome, built the temple of the Vesta where the perpetual fire was kept, of a circular form, not in imitation of the shape of the earth, believing Vesta to be the earth, but of the entire universe, at the centre of which the Pythagoreans place the element of fire, and call it Vesta and Unit. And they hold that the earth is neither motionless nor situated in the centre of surrounding space, but that it revolves in a circle around the central fire, not being one of the most important, nor even one of the primary elements of the universe.50

45

Jean-Joseph Goux ‘Vesta, or the Place of Being,’ Representations 1 (1983): 92. Walter Burkert, Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical, trans. John Raffan (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1985), 61. 47 Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 85. 48 Ibid., 95. 49 According to Plutarch, Rome was founded by Romulus instead of his brother, Remus, because of the augural inspection of birds; with the latter witnessing six, and the former twelve. Life of Romulus 9 (Perrin, 115). According to A. J. Boyle and R. D. Woodard, “Augustus even generated a legend that, when taking the auspices at his first consulship, he saw twelve vultures.” Boyle and Woodard, ‘Introduction,’ in Ovid: Fasti (London: Penguin Books, 2004), xl. These scholars then go on to demonstrate the lengths to which Augustus went to model himself on Romulus: “…on his own triumphal arch, erected in the Forum Romanum 19/18 BC, he arranged to be fixed the Fasti Triumphales, with as the first triumphator, ‘King Romulus, son of Mars’ (victorious over King Acron of Caenina) ‘in the first year of the state.’ Any description of Romulus, any historical or narrative account, positioned itself at the centre of Augustan politics.” ‘Introduction,’ xl. 50 Plutarch, The Life of Numa 11, in Plutarch’s Lives I (Perrin, 345). 46

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Although this heliocentric vision of the universe did not emerge until at least the third century BC,51 the rotunda shape of the temple was, at least by Plutarch’s time, meant to represent the cosmic rhythms, with the ‘eternal fire’ in its centre (ignis Vestae)52 symbolising the sun around which the earth was, according to the Pythagoreans, believed to revolve. This meant that the permanence of the hearth with which the goddess was associated—along with the totality or eternity signified by the flame and the circle—here imply a belief in the eternity of the cosmos.

4-2 The circular remains of the Temple of Vesta. Photo by author (2016).

51 The theory of heliocentrism is usually credited to Aristarchus of Samos (c. 310– 230 BC), although Philolaus was the first to actually mention that the earth revolved around the element of fire, without acknowledging it as the sun as such. Russel M. Lawson, Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia (California: ABC-CLIO, 2004), 19–20. 52 Goux, ‘Vesta, or the Place of Being,’ 92.

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Furthermore, because it was located in the Forum, the temple was not only the common ‘hearth of Rome’ as expressed by Jean-Joseph Goux.53 Instead, as an imago mundi situated in the centre of the city, it symbolised the centrality of Rome to an eternal cosmos, thereby paving the way for the emergence of the concept of Roma aeterna.54 This is confirmed by the fact that if the fire, maintained by the Vestal virgins, was extinguished, it would spell dire consequences for the city.55 Indeed, accidents often occurred in which the flames severely damaged the structure, such as the fire that destroyed the temple during the reign of Commodus (r. 180–192) in 191.56 Although evidence is lacking to suggest the look of the previous structure, its restoration by Septimius Severus’ wife, Julia Domna, in the late second century AD, clearly indicates that the smoke from the fire would escape through an oculus at the centre of its domed roof that was supported by twenty Corinthian columns, some of which are still standing.57 According to Mircea Eliade, ancient sanctuaries were often “hypaethral or built with an aperture in the roof—the ‘eye of the dome,’” which was believed to effect communication with the gods.58 We have seen that apertures often took the form of chimneys,59 in which case the smoke represented the focal point of the communication of the terrestrial sphere with the celestial; just like in the Mycenaean megaras and the Athenian prytaneion discussed in the previous chapter on Greece. Thus, the Temple of Vesta was not only meant to show forth the cosmic permanence of Rome, but in the vertical billowing of smoke through its oculus it was meant to represent the convergence of the celestial,

53

Goux, ‘Vesta, or the Place of Being,’ 92. The Palladium, a statue that we have seen in the previous chapter symbolised the permanence of Troy, was also said to be located here. Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 86. 55 Plutarch, The Life of Numa 11 (Perrin, 339). 56 Herodian, History 1.14, in Herodian in Two Volumes, trans. C. R. Whittaker (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1986), 93. 57 Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 85–86. According to David Watkin, the Temple of Vesta reminded the Romans of a “thatched hut of reeds on the Palatine in which Romulus and Remus were brought up” and which was enshrined in a replica found not only in the Palatine, but in the Forum; with the latter, at least initially having been made out of timber and reed. The Roman Forum (London: Profile Books, 2011), 90. 58 Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 57–58. 59 Ibid., 57. 54

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terrestrial, and, by implication, the subterranean realms as an axis mundi.60 Moreover, the founding of this imago et axis mundi by Numa, who also built the Regia or king’s house close by where, according to Plutarch, he “passed most of his time, performing sacred functions, or teaching the priests, or engaged in the quiet contemplation of divine things,”61 denotes the correlation between sacerdotal kingship and the city, which was crystallised under the emperor Augustus. It is to Augustus’ reign that we now turn, insofar as, more than any other emperor, he was responsible for strengthening the ecosystemic agency of the ruler—and thus the ruler cult—and through this elevating the city that he governed to an imago et axis mundi status without equal in any of the ancient cultures that we have addressed so far.

Augustan Rome The Myth of the City and the Myth of the Emperor Apart from what can be inferred from the material culture, the mentality behind the eternity of the city was in fact standardised, as already hinted, during the reign of Augustus, who “more than any Roman before him had enlarged and secured”62 the empire’s boundaries; inaugurating a period of peace (the pax Augusta or ‘Augustan peace’) by ostensibly restoring the republic after the chaotic second triumvirate and initiating building projects 60

The Pantheon in the Campus Martius built by Agrippa between 27–25 BC and later embellished by Hadrian in AD 80 is, like the Temple of Vesta, a rotunda with an oculus. We know that the rotunda shape of the former was meant to represent the entire universe; there is no reason to believe that this was not the case with the Pantheon, especially given its appellation which was meant to embrace ‘all the gods’ who dwelt in the firmament (not to mention the structural similarities between the two buildings). Likewise, the oculus may have served to connect heaven and earth through the sunlight that provided “the single source of light for the entire building.” Christiane L. Joost-Gaugier, ‘The Iconography of Sacred Space: A Suggested Reading of the Meaning of the Roman Pantheon,’ Artibus et Historiae 19.38 (1998): 25. According to Joost-Gaugier, Hadrian’s structure was deliberately oriented to the four cardinal points. Ibid., 26. This means that the correspondence between heaven and earth effectuated by the oculus and the general spherical shape of the building denoting the cosmos were meant to be projected outwards, to encompass the entire world, making the Pantheon an imago et axis mundi. 61 Plutarch, The Life of Numa 14 (Perrin, 355). 62 Walter Eder, ‘Augustus and the Power of Tradition,’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus, ed. Karl Galinsky (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University, 2007), 13.

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that demonstrated both Rome’s grandeur and renewed religious zeal.63 Because of this, Suetonius (69–122 AD) hinted at Augustus’ superiority to Romulus in an anecdote where, although the then Octavian was to receive the name of Rome’s founder, the senator Munatius Plancus (87–15 BC) instead suggested ‘Augustus’ as a more honourable one, inasmuch as sacred places too, and those in which anything is consecrated by augural rites are called “august” (augusta), from the increase (auctus) in dignity … as Ennius also shows when he writes “After by augury august illustrious Rome had been founded.”64

If before Romulus’ founding of the city he had to consult the augurs, the etymological connection between ‘augury’ and ‘Augustus’ in fact suggests the city’s re-founding by his person.65 These themes were elaborated upon by Virgil (70–19 BC), who wrote his Aeneid in order to legitimise the Augustan regime by establishing its distant mythological antecedents through its principal agent, the Trojan Aeneas, whose destiny it was to pave the way for the founding of Rome after the fall of Troy,66 which, we

63 Augustus’ numerous building projects are recounted in the Res Gestae, where he mentioned “the curia and the Chalcidicum adjoining it, the temple of Apollo on the Palatine with its porticoes, the temple of the deified Julius, the Lupercal, the portico at the Circus Flaminius … the state box at the Circus Maximus, the temples on the capitol of Jupiter Feretrius and Jupiter Tonans, the temple of Quirinius, the temples of Minerva, of Juno the Queen, and of Jupiter Libertas, the temple of the Lares at the highest point of the Sacra Via, the temple of the Di Penates on the Velia, the temple of Youth, and the temple of the Great Mother on the Palatine.” Res Gestae Divi Augusti 4.19 (Shipley, 375–77). Augustus then mentions existing structures that he either refurbished or rebuilt, including the Capitol, the theatre of Pompey, several aqueducts, the Julian Forum, as well as no less than eighty-two “temples of the gods” which needed repair. Res Gestae Divi Augusti 4.20 (Shipley, 379). 64 Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars 2.7, in Suetonius I, trans. J. C. Rolfe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 131. 65 According to Lewis and Short, the word ‘augustus’ did originally “belong to the language of religion.” A Latin Dictionary, 205. 66 W. Jackson Knight gave a succinct summary of the events which, according to the prophecies throughout the book, are implied as following the end of the Aeneid: Aeneas would found the city of Lavinium and would “die three years afterward, and that thirty-years afterwards either his son Iulus or, according to another version also recognized, his posthumous son by Lavinia, Aeneas Silvius, having inherited the kingdom, would found Alba Longa. From Alba Longa

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have seen, was one of the main Greek axes mundi. To this end, Virgil placed the following prophecy concerning Romulus in the mouth of the spirit of Anchises, Aeneas’ father: “Lo, under his auspices my son, shall that glorious Rome extend her empire to earth’s end.”67 The analogy which follows, where the city itself is compared to the goddess Cybele,68 whose chariot intersects the celestial and terrestrial realms, is significant, for the text goes on to show how Augustus Caesar, son of a god [i.e. Julius Caesar] … will establish a golden age … [He will] advance his empire … to a land which lies beyond our stars, beyond the path of year and sun.69

Apart from demonstrating Augustus’ re-founding of the city and his superiority to both Aeneas and Romulus, there can be no doubt here that Rome was envisaged as encompassing not just the whole terrestrial realm, but as reigning beyond the path of what for the pagans was the immutable sun, in other words, eternally. This identification of the eternal empire, recapitulated within the city, with these realms can be further gleaned from ancient Roman conceptions of time and space, which, according to Lucretius, could not envisage a beginning or end of the cosmos.70 This same ‘boundlessness’ was reiterated by Virgil, whose Jupiter (Zeus), the so-called “Father of men and gods,”71 declares that Romulus will give his people his own name before he can establish for them an empire that has “no bounds in space or time,” in other words, an empire “without end.”72 Here we have the emergence of Rome recapitulating the cosmos as an “eternal city.”73 This is a belief that we have seen was deliberately reflected in the symbolic culture of the Forum Romanum, where the cosmically charged mundus (along with the Roma quadrata)—above which was the umbilicus and the adjoining ‘golden milestone’—was flanked by both an altar and temple dedicated to Saturn (Chronos), also known as Aeternitas or ‘Eternity’; not Romulus and Remus, descendants of Aeneas, were to found Rome.” W. Jackson Knight, Roman Vergil (London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1944), 103. 67 Virgil, Aeneid 6, in Virgil I: Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid 1–6, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 587. 68 Ibid., 588. 69 Virgil, Aeneid 6 (Fairclough, 589). 70 Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe (Melville, 30). 71 Virgil, Aeneid 1 (Fairclough, 279). 72 Ibid., 281. 73 Ovid, Fasti 3, in Ovid V: Fasti, trans. Sir James George Frazer (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1989), 124–25.

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to mention the flame in the Temple of Vesta which, as mentioned above, was symbolic of Rome’s permanence.74 (Vesta was, interestingly, the daughter of Saturn.)75 But the etymological significance of Rome recapitulating the universe was perhaps best articulated by Livy, whose account of the reign of Tarquin the Elder (c. 616–579 BC), the seventh and final king of Rome, described the beginning of the construction on the temple dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus (‘Jupiter Best and Greatest’) on what was then called the Tarpeian hill. This hill was later named the Capitoline after the Latin for the word ‘head’ (caput) on account of the following prophecy concerning its grandeur given after the gods showed Tarquin an auspice pointing to the permanence of the city: A human head, its features intact, was found, so it is said, by the men who were digging for the foundations of the temple. The appearance plainly foreshowed that here was to be the citadel of the empire and the head of the world, and such was the interpretation of the soothsayers…76

Earlier in his history, Livy depicted the deified Romulus descending from heaven and appearing to the senator Proculus Julius to declare that “Rome shall be the head of the world” or Roma caput orbis.77 This paved the way for Lucan (39–65 AD) to pick up the theme of the empire as a body so as to describe Rome as caput mundi, or the head of the mundus,78 which, we saw above, was considered the axis of the celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean realms. In fact, just before Lucan, Ovid (c. 43 BC–18 AD) brought the notions of Roma caput mundi and the urbs aeterna together when he declared in his Metamorphoses that Rome was the “capital of the boundless world” (inmensi caput orbis erit).79 74

Grant, The Roman Forum, 81. We have seen in the previous chapter on Greece that Hesiod described Chronos’ rule on Olympus as a golden age, where the first made “race of mortal men” … “lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief.” Works and Days, in Hesiod: The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White (London: William Heinemann, 1914), 11. Having inherited this myth, the Roman identification of Chronos with eternity is an implicit expression of their hope that their own golden age, as described by Virgil, would last forever. Aeneid 6 (Fairclough, 589). 75 According to Hesiod’s cosmogony, she was the first child of Chronos and Rhea. Theogony (Evelyn-White, 113). 76 Livy, From the Founding of the City 1.55 (Foster, 191). 77 Livy, From the Founding of the City 1.16 (Foster, 59). 78 Lucan, The Civil War 2 (Duff, 66). 79 Ovid, Metamorphoses 15, in Ovid: Metamorphoses II, trans. Frank Justus Miller (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1958), 394–95.

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Related to this, the Romans, according to Sarah Bassett, reinforced their capital’s ‘eternity’ on their dependent territories by building, in any city “with pretensions to urban stature,”80 a Capitol temple dedicated not only to Jupiter, but also to Juno and Minerva, within the given city’s Forum.81 In Rome, however, the Capitol acted as the centre of a ceremonial which took a cosmic shape. Returning from battle, in the republican period the holder of the imperium—that is, the one who had the power to command—would wait with his soldiers in the appropriately titled ‘Field of Mars’ beyond the pomerium for the senate to permit his celebration of a ‘triumph.’82 If successful, he would enter the city through the porta triumphalis, “a sort of virtual gate … opened only for this purpose, i.e., the entry of a triumphator into the city.”83 Hölkeskamp described the gate as virtual because although it is mentioned in the sources, there is no evidence of its material existence.84 But Mary Beard recently suggested its concrete existence based on a poem by Martial (c. 40–104 AD) within which, in commemorating Domitian’s (r. 81–96) victory over the Dacians (85–88), he extols the emperor’s dedication of a temple to Fortune for the ‘city of Mars’—i.e. Rome—and says: A second gift, too, attests the high merit of the spot: a consecrated arch stands in triumph over the conquered nations; here stand two chariots and many an elephant; he [Domitian] himself in gold is master of the mighty cars. This gate, Germanicus, is worthy of thy triumphs: such an approach it beseems the City of Mars to possess.85

This excerpt depicts a free-standing structure, a “sacred arch … erected in memory of our triumphs” with statues of chariots pulled by elephants and of the emperor himself. We know, for instance, that there was a temple to Fortuna Redux (‘Fortune the Home-Bringer’) near the porta triumphalis.86 80

Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople, 32. Inez Scott Ryberg, ‘Was the Capitoline Triad Etruscan or Italic?’ The American Journal of Philology 52.2 (1931): 145. 82 Karl-J. Hölkeskamp, ‘History and Collective Memory in the Middle Republic,’ in A Companion to the Roman Republic, ed. Nathan Rosenstein and Robert Morstein-Marx (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2006), 483. 83 Hölkeskamp, ‘History and Collective Memory in the Middle Republic,’ 484. 84 Ibid. 85 Martial 8.65, in Martial: Epigrams II, trans. Walter C. A. Ker (London: William Heinemann, 1920), 51. For Beard’s assessment, see The Roman Triumph (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 98–99. 86 Cyril Mango, ‘The Triumphal Way of Constantinople and the Golden Gate,’ Dumbarton Oaks Papers 54 (2000): 177. 81

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If Martian’s temple is the one dedicated to this Fortuna, the accompanying description of the arch could be a reference to the porta triumphalis.87 In any case, before passing several Forums and circling the Palatine, the procession which crossed the porta—and hence the pomerium—finally turned onto the Sacra Via (or ‘Sacred Way,’ borrowed from Delphi) in the Forum Romanum, the length of which it traversed until reaching the Capitol, where sacrifices and the presentation of bounty to Jupiter were made.88 This symbolic circuit exhibits not only the indebtedness of the Romans to their patron deity for victory in war, but, inasmuch as it encompassed the axes mundi of both the Roman Forum and the Capitol, this circuit reiterated the import of both of these symbolic structures after a successful victory over those who would threaten the caput mundi. From all of the above we can draw two conclusions. The first is that Rome, as an endless head/macrocosm/recapitulation of the cosmos, was believed to be both analogous with and constitutive of the eternal cosmos. The second is that Augustus, as both a suppliant and embodiment of Jupiter and a type of the mythical founders, kings and fathers of Rome89—not least among them Aeneas and Romulus—was believed to be a constituter of Rome in the same way that Jupiter had ordered and that Romulus had done at Jupiter’s behest. This means that Augustus’ constitution of the city could not simply have been considered a utilitarian restoration; for the very fact of his assimilation to Jupiter and Romulus as an ecosystemic agent implies a simultaneous re-founding of the citycosmos and the consummation of the historical continuum as denoted by the appellation ‘eternal’ given to Rome. Thus, within Rome there was believed to have been an idealistic co-incidence of protology and teleology, which means that—however impossible and far from reality and experience—the city was perceived as existing in an instantaneous present (i.e. eternity) insofar as past and future coincided. In other words, the paradigmatic cycle of ages typified by Hesiod’s Works and Days and appropriated by Augustus’ main propagandist, Virgil,90 where the age of gold followed the cosmogony, only to degenerate through the consecutive 87

Mary Beard, The Roman Triumph, 99. Hölkeskamp, ‘History and Collective Memory in the Middle Republic,’ 484–85. 89 According to Diane Favro, this was also reflected in the material culture of the new Forum which Augustus erected opposite Julius Caesar’s on the Via dei Fori Imperiali, where “the pater patriae displayed statues of illustrious ancestors of the Julii back to Aeneas and the kings of Rome back to Romulus.” Diane Favro, ‘Making Rome a World City,’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus, 246. 90 Hesiod, Works and Days (Evelyn-White, 40–42). 88

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ages of silver, bronze, the heroic, and finally iron, were here inverted, so that the Romans had passed from the corrupted age of iron, exemplified by the first triumvirate,91 back to the “golden age”92 instituted by Augustus. According to Eliade, as long as traditional societies had cyclical calendars, the golden age was recoverable an infinite number of times insofar as a civilisation’s changed circumstances—socio-political, economic, and so on—could be interpreted as ‘golden’; interpretations that were perceived as having a cosmic significance.93 However, in light of Virgil’s declaration (through the mouth of Jupiter) above, the golden age of Rome was to last perennially, a belief which created an unavoidable tension between the ostensible immutability of the city and the cosmic rhythms which underwent constant changes. Thus, just like in the other ancient civilisations addressed in this book, for the Romans sudden alterations in both the structure of the firmament and the city/empire itself, such as comets and foreign invasions respectively, were interpreted as portentous.94 For this reason, Augustus was expected to “repeat the creation of the cosmos”95 in order to maintain the city of Rome for all eternity, like the ecosystemic rulers addressed in previous chapters. This is something that we have seen Augustus tried to execute, at least ideologically, through his self-identification with the fathers of the eternal city, Jupiter, Aeneas, and Romulus, and many others, including Numa Pompilius; fathers which take on the role of the demiurges in their cosmicisation of the city-space. Of these father-figures, Numa is extremely relevant, insofar as Livy stated concerning him that he became king only after consulting an augur who with his crooked staff or lituus marked out the points in the heavens where the gods would send signs for his appointment.96 Numa 91

Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History, trans. W. R. Trask (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 135. 92 Virgil, Aeneid 1 (Fairclough, 281). 93 Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, 112, 133–35. Eliade’s suggestion that the triumvirate was the age of iron could be corrected by an alternate explanation; since the golden age could happen at any time, Augustus’ self-representation as Aeneas could have meant that the age that preceded his own was that of the heroes or demigods, with Augustus, who was also a type of Jupiter, becoming the ‘father of the golden age’ in like manner to Zeus in the myth. Hesiod, Works and Days (Shipley, 40–42). 94 Pauline Ripat, ‘Expelling Misconceptions: Astrologers at Rome,’ Classical Philology 106.2 (2011): 143. 95 Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, 135. 96 Allen Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 33–34.

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was then described as re-founding Rome in a manner that was meant to mirror, or foreshadow, the Augustan regime. This is outlined specifically in relation to the Temple of Janus in the Forum Romanum which housed a statue of the double-faced god and “whose doors were opened in times of war and closed in times of peace.”97 Livy mentioned that the temple’s doors had only been closed twice since Numa’s reign, with the second time occurring “when the emperor Caesar Augustus had brought about peace on land and sea.”98 The Res Gestae Divi Augusti (or the Deeds of the Divine Augustus), the funerary inscription written in the first person in both Latin and Greek and distributed throughout the empire after the emperor’s death,99 corroborates this, adding a further two occasions when the doors were in fact shut during his reign.100 It is clear, therefore, that Livy depicted Numa as another ‘foreshadower’ of the emperor, which is further evidenced from the appearance of this ancient king on Augustan coinage.101 But Numa, in turning his attention to the appointment of priests, decided that he would be unable to carry out their office on account of his military obligations.102 He therefore appointed Numa Marcius in the role of pontifex or bridgemaker (later pontifex maximus, or ‘the supreme bridge-maker’)103 in order to arbitrate on behalf of the populace between the “gods above” and “the spirits of the dead [i.e. below].”104 While Livy was writing, the role of pontifex maximus or ਕȡȤȚİȡİȪȢ (high priest)105 was taken over by Augustus, demonstrating that he considered himself not just like Numa, but superior to him insofar as the celestial and infernal realms, which we saw converged in the terrestrial Rome (especially in the Forum), were somehow intersected by him as ‘the supreme bridge-maker.’ According to Allen Brent, as pontifex, Augustus was not only at the head of all other priesthoods,106 but he reorganised them in such a way as to limit their 97

Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 51. Livy, From the Founding of the City 1.18 (Foster, 67–68). 99 The inscription ends with the claim that it was written by Augustus himself in his “seventy-sixth year.” Res Gestae Divi Augusti 6.35 (Shipley, 401). 100 Res Gestae Divi Augusti 2.13 (Shipley, 365). 101 Galinsky, Augustan Culture, 35–36. 102 Livy, From the Founding of the City 1.20 (Foster, 71). 103 ‘Pontifex’ is a compound of pons meaning “bridge” and facio, to “create,” see Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictionary, 716, 1397. 104 Livy, From the Founding of the City 1.20 (Foster, 71–73). 105 Res Gestae Divi Augusti 2.10 (Shipley, 360). 106 Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order, 52. In the Res Gestae, Augustus described himself as a member of all of the priesthoods which he eventually controlled: “I have been pontifex maximus, augur, a member of the 98

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responsibilities,107 thereby placing the main task of propitiating the Roman gods into his own hands. Moreover, as pontifex he could organise the Roman calendar conditioned by the astral cycles; an act that was first undertaken by Numa Pompilius, who according to Plutarch also instituted the cult of the Vestal Virgins, and “in general the worship and care of the perpetual fire entrusted to their charge.”108 This is significant, because Augustus, in assuming both the visage of Numa and the title of pontifex maximus—the priest to whom the Vestals were immediately subordinate— presented himself not only as their master, but the master of the perennial flame within their temple symbolic of Rome’s permanence, and of the universe itself.109 Thus, there is a correspondence between the Temple of Vesta as an imago mundi—with its oculus pouring out smoke towards the sky indicating its role as an axis mundi—and the pontifex, who represented himself as both the nexus and master of the cosmic layers, heavenly, earthly, and infernal. This is corroborated by the fact that Augustus had a small replica of Vesta’s temple in the Forum and a cult statue built either near or in his residence on the Palatine,110 thereby imitating Numa’s construction of the temple near the Regia. Moreover, Ovid’s affirmation that the “Eternal Caesar’s godhead oversees eternal fires,”111 which associates Augustus with the eternal fires of Vesta as their master, further points to the way the emperor was perceived. In other words, insofar as these Vestal flames symbolised the eternity of the cosmos, Augustus’ mastery of the temple of Vesta—its priesthood and its fire—denoted his mastery over the universe. fifteen commissioners for performing sacred feasts, an arval brother, a sodalis Titius, a fetial priest.” Res Gestae Divi Augusti 1.7 (Shipley, 355–57). 107 Brent explains these as making “sacrifices annually at the Ara Pacis and on imperial anniversaries at the Ara Numinis Augusti on the Capitol and in the Temple of Mars Ultor.” Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order, 52. 108 Plutarch, The Life of Numa 9 (Perrin, 339). 109 The Atrium Vestae was, since its inception, “connected topographically and functionally” with the house of the pontifex maximus. Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 84. When Augustus took the title and moved the “office of his priesthood to his house on the Palatine,” he gave the Vestals the ancient residence of the pontifex, which was later incorporated into the Atrium. Ibid., 86. Incidentally, there was also a replica of the Temple of Vesta on the Palatine that survived until the fourth century AD, thereby connecting Augustus further with this particular priesthood. Watkin, The Roman Forum, 90. 110 Geraldine Herbert-Brown, Ovid and the Fasti: A Historical Study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 78–79. 111 Ovid, Fasti 3 (Frazer, 67).

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Continuing the policy of Julius Caesar,112 Augustus reformed the calendar to include fixed celebrations of his own achievements as well as supplications to his person, thereby elevating himself and his family to a cosmic and godlike status.113 The Res Gestae states: By decree of the Senate my name was included in the Salian hymn, and it was enacted by law that my person should be sacred in perpetuity [sacrosanctus essem in perpetuum].114

The Romans had established their own version of an apotheosis myth going back to Egyptian115 and Chaldean116 beliefs with the divinisation of Caesar.117 But while Caesar was declared a god only after his death, Augustus was determined to be worshipped in the here and now.118 In this way, Augustus’ enrolment among the gods (reflected in the Salian hymn) or divinisation, his self-designation as ‘the supreme bridge-maker’ 112

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, ‘Mutatas Formas: The Augustan Transformation of Roman Knowledge,’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus, 58–59. 113 Andrew Wallace-Hadrill summed up this process as follows: “The triumph of Augustus is also the triumph of astrology: his own publication of his horoscope and the widespread diffusion of his sign of the Capricorn are already evidence of the stamp of official approval; and the Horologium erected in the Campus Martius … was a monumental expression of the victory of Augustus as the will of a divine universe, written in the stars.” Ibid., 65. 114 Res Gestae Divi Augusti 2.10 (Shipley, 360–61). 115 Siegfried Morenz, Egyptian Religion, trans. Ann E. Keep (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992), 39. 116 Suetonius wrote that “at the first of the game which his heir Augustus gave in honour of his apotheosis, a comet shone for successive days, rising about the eleventh hour, and was believed to be the soul of Caesar, who had been taken to heaven.” The Lives of the Caesars 1.88 (Rolfe, 119). Cochrane affirmed this theme was derived from Chaldean lore, where a new comet in the heavens marked a soul’s reception in that place. Charles Norris Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture: A Study of Thought and Action from Augustus to Augustine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957), 10. 117 Suetonius gave an apt description: “He died in the fifty-sixth year of his age, and was numbered among the gods, not only by a formal decree, but also in the conviction of the common people.” The Lives of the Caesars 1.88 (Rolfe, 119). 118 Norman Russell gave a succinct outline, showing at once that, while Caesar was not deified by the Senate until 42 BC, still he had taken “active steps to promote his cult, building a Caesareum at Alexandria and starting another at Antioch, and under Augustus the imperial cult rapidly acquired its permanent characteristics.” The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 21.

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between heaven and earth, and his control of the calendar (tantamount to a control of the astral cycles, and thus the cosmos), denotes that the empire, which we have seen in both the symbolic and literary sources was identified with the celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean dimensions of an endless universe, was represented as recapitulated within and mastered by his person. It is important to emphasise that despite his self-representation as a cosmic and divine being, Augustus did not symbolically ‘divorce’ himself from the terrestrial realm and its inhabitants.119 This is reflected in his use of the title ‘first citizen,’ or princeps,120 to which was related primus inter pares or ‘first among equals,’ a title that mitigated the impact of his auctoritas on the upper classes121 and showed to the magistrates that he possessed no more potestas or “official power”122 than they did. The point that needs to be made here, however, is that the ‘eternal city’ was intimately linked with the sovereign—who could himself be construed as an axis mundi and an ecosystemic agent—and therefore had to be ‘eternally maintained’ by him.

Concordia, Invidia, and the Augustan Legacy Like the antecedent cultures addressed in previous chapters, the Romans considered their world as maintained by a foundational principle, in this case concordia, that facilitated cosmos in opposition to chaos. In the 119

Neither was he envisaged as entirely immutable, meaning that the Romans had to propitiate the gods on his behalf. Augustus himself asserted: “The senate decreed that every fifth year vows should be undertaken for my health by the consuls and the priests. In fulfillment of these vows games were often held in my lifetime, sometimes by the four chief colleges of priests, sometimes by the consuls. In addition the entire body of citizens with one accord, both individually and by municipalities, performed continued sacrifices for my health at all the couches of the gods.” Res Gestae Divi Augusti 2.9 (Shipley, 359–61). 120 Eder, ‘Augustus and the Power of Tradition,’ 31. 121 Ibid. 122 Ibid., 14. Augustus was shrewd in accruing power to himself. The Res Gestae reads that he only received the title ‘Augustus’ or ‘Revered One’ after he transferred control of the republic to the senate and people of Rome, something which he held off doing until he had, among other things, “extinguished the flames of civil war” (Res Gestae Divi Augusti 6.34, (Shipley, 399)), executed extensive building projects and the renovation of existing structures, and assumed the title of pontifex maximus. Res Gestae Divi Augusti 4.19 (Shipley, 375–77; 1.7, 355–57). The title having been bestowed on him, Augustus admitted: “after that time I took precedence of all in rank, but of power I possessed no more than those who were my colleagues in any magistracy” Ibid., 401. Thus, Augustus as primus inter pares.

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Augustan period, this took place in relation to the emperor’s performance of the necessary rites that upheld the pax deorum or ‘peace of the gods’123 through Concordia. The latter had been associated by Sallust (86–35 BC) with the founding of Rome by the Trojans, when in his description of their joining to the rustic aborigines of the land, he stated that they “merged into one with incredible facility, so quickly did harmony (concordia) change a heterogeneous and roving band into a commonwealth.”124 This concordia was explicitly advocated by Julius Caesar when he utilised the image of the eponymous goddess on his coinage and had her temple—Concordia Nova—dedicated to him by the senate.125 The desire for peace that followed his assassination hastened the intrinsic relationship between concordia and pax, as reflected in the propaganda of the ‘liberators’ Marc Antony (83–30 BC) and Cicero (106–43 BC), with the latter’s Philippics containing more references to these two concepts than any of his speeches.126 Indicatively, these concepts were taken up by Augustus, so that concordia became the mark of the second triumvirate before its dissolution. Related to this, the “Pax Augusta” became a personified abstraction after Augustus had assumed paramount authority over the “magistrates, senate, and people”127 through his unprecedented tribunicia potestas128 (power of the tribune) and imperium proconsulare maius129 (imperial power over all the proconsuls). The cosmic dimension of pax is inferable from the maintenance of the pax deorum that was one of Augustus’ principal responsibilities as pontifex maximus. But the cosmic dimension of concordia is perhaps best reflected in the third book of the Sibylline oracles, which were known to Virgil and which can be dated to the end of the reign of Cleopatra (c. 30 BC):130 “all good order shall come from starry heaven to mankind, and righteous dealing, and with her—most excellent of all to mortals—sound Concord

123

Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order, 44. Sallust, The War with Catiline 6, in Sallust, trans. J. C. Rolfe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), 10–11. 125 John Alexander Lobur, Consensus, Concordia, and the Formation of Roman Imperial Ideology (New York: Routledge, 2008), 55–56. 126 Ibid., 56. Cicero, Philippics, trans. Walter C. A. Ker (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), 88–89, 296–97, 298–99. 127 Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture, 21. 128 Peter Jones and Keith Sidwell, The World of Rome: An Introduction to Roman Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 110. 129 Pat Southern, Augustus (New York: Routledge, 1998), 112. 130 Knight, Roman Vergil, 184. 124

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(੒ȝȩȞȠȚĮ ıĮȩijȡȦȞ), and affection and honesty and love for strangers.”131 W. W. Tarn affirmed that this metaphysical concept of ੒ȝȩȞȠȚĮ is related to the notion of Hellenistic kingship, which the Romans—particularly Augustus himself132—borrowed from Alexander the Great in formulating the imperial cult, so that: …as the king corresponds upon earth to the divine ruler of the universe, and as in the earthly state existence is impossible without communion and love, the king must promote these things as a copy of the universe; and in practice inscriptions show kings and their representatives … trying to bring about concord [੒ȝȩȞȠȚĮ].133

In the immediate context, this sentiment was unanimously reflected in the Middle Platonic, Stoic, and Neo-pythagorean134 speculation that the king or ruler was meant to imitate the harmony of the universe within his empire; an imitation which we have seen in ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures was based on the re-actualisation of the cosmogony by the ecosystemic agent. Not only does the Roman conception confirm what we have seen about the city’s identification with the cosmos as caput mundi and urbs aeterna, but it also demonstrates that concordia was the principal means whereby the emperor could maintain and, as we have seen above, “repeat the creation of the cosmos”135 within the city. We have seen that Augustus was considered a cosmic agent. According to the Fifth Ode of Horace’s (65–8 BC) third book, the auspices associated with his person and presence endowed the natural world with fecundity: the ground was nourished by Ceres, the ocean was calmed, and religion and morality—which were interrelated—were supposed to have 131

This translation was made by John Alexander Lobur in his Consensus, Concordia, and the Formation of Roman Imperial Ideology, 56, and is based on the Greek text in J. Geffcken, Die Oracula Sybillina (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1902), 67. 132 Diana E. E. Kleiner, ‘Semblance and Storytelling in Augustan Rome,’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus, 208. 133 W. W. Tarn, ‘Alexander Helios and the Golden Age,’ The Journal of Roman Studies 22.2 (1932): 138. Tarn referred to the Greek text of this Sibylline oracle, which he took from Geffcken, Die Oracula Sybillina, 66–68. 134 Examples of all three can be found with reference to Diotogenes (the Neopythagorean and Platonic) and Ecphantus (the Stoic) respectively as cited in Glenn F. Chesnut, The First Christian Histories: Eusebius Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1986), 144, 146, 149. 135 Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, 135.

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increased.136 We have already seen that the cosmos was intimately associated with Rome at its head, but the relationship between cosmic harmony or concordia and the harmony of the city is best reflected—albeit in a negative fashion—in Lucan’s Pharsalia or Civil War, where, in detailing Julius Caesar’s impending attack on Rome and Pompey’s (106– 48 BC) flight from the city, he stated that: …the menacing gods filled earth, sky, and sea with portents. The darkness of night saw stars before unknown, the sky blazing with fire, lights shooting athwart the void of heaven, and the hair of the baleful star—the comet which portends change to monarchs. The lightning flashed incessantly in a sky of delusive clearness, and the fire, flickering in the heavens, took various shapes…137

To this is added a whole host of cosmic catastrophes: the lesser stars appeared at noon, the moon and sun were eclipsed, and the sea turned to blood. In the temple of Vesta the fire was extinguished—alluding to the cessation of Rome’s eternity—with the earth stopping on its axis. There were floods, and statues of deities began to weep as they “bore witness to the city’s woe.”138 Animals began to speak and women gave birth to monsters. Prophecies of the Sibyls were whispered and disaster uttered to the nations; “groans came from the ashes of urns filled with dead men,”139 while trumpets sounded and the dead—including Sulla (138–78 BC) and Marius (157–86 BC)—rose from the grave.140 This is language that we will see again in the next chapter, namely in relation to Josephus’ account of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, which was associated with disruptions in the firmament and the inversion of the natural order, and likewise in chapter six in Jesus Christ’s predictions about the fall of the city (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21); along with his crucifixion, where an earthquake precedes the emergence of the dead from their tombs (Mt 27.51–52). All of this confirms that sudden disturbances in cities considered as imagines et axes mundi—such as Rome and Jerusalem—can all be interpreted as affecting the cosmos, and in the case of republican Rome, just as in Jerusalem later on, this is

136 Horace, The Third Book of the Odes of Horace 3, in The Works of Horace, trans. C. Smart (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), 67–68. 137 Lucan, The Civil War 1, in The Civil War, trans. J. D. Duff (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1997), 41–43. 138 Ibid., 43. 139 Ibid., 45. 140 Ibid.

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manifested, according to Lucan, throughout the celestial (sun, moon, stars), the terrestrial (the earth), and the subterranean (inferred from the dead rising) realms. The gods are incensed, and so the pax deorum dissolves as Lucan laments: “How ready are the gods to grant supremacy to men, and how unready to maintain it!”141 In other words, while we have seen that the harmonious government of Augustus resulted in cosmic harmony, any threat to Rome, the imago et axis mundi, leads to absolute chaos, so that—no matter how fanciful this description of Rome’s plight might be—in the perception of the Romans the concord of the cosmos gives way to discord, and the laws of nature are inverted. Sallust intimated just how this concordia might have reverted into chaos when after describing the founding of Rome outlined above, he stated that …when this new community had grown in numbers, civilization, and territory, and was beginning to seem amply rich and amply strong, then as is usual with mortal affairs, prosperity gave birth to envy [invidia ex opulentia orta est].142

Corresponding to the Greek entity ijșȩȞȠȢ (phthonos), invidia or “Envy,”143 as a personified abstraction, was “a malignant supernatural power”144 that was pertinently described by Ovid in his Metamorphoses as a grotesque anthropomorphic being: She never smiles, save at the sight of another’s troubles; she never sleeps, disturbed with wakeful cares; unwelcome to her is the sight of men’s success, and with the sight she pines away; she gnaws and is gnawed, herself her own punishment.145

The role of envy as causing and even embodying unhappiness and suffering (the extent of which are symbolised by a sort of selfcannibalisation) is a powerful metaphor for the destructive effect of this force. Because of the power of this metaphor, it crops up again and again in Graeco-Roman historiography, so that, for example, Sallust146 described 141

Ibid., 41. Sallust, The War with Catiline 5 (Rolfe, 11–13). 143 Ovid, Metamorphoses 2, in Ovid: Metamorphoses I, trans. Frank Justus Millar (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1951), 115. 144 Matthew W. Dickie, ‘The Fathers of the Church and the Evil Eye,’ in Byzantine Magic, ed. Henry Maguire (Washington D.C.: Harvard University Press, 1995), 12. 145 Ovid, Metamorphoses 2 (Millar, 115). 146 Sallust, The War with Catiline 5 (Rolfe, 5). 142

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it as an agent of strife. With the advent of Christianity, the Greek equivalent of invidia, ijșȩȞȠȢ, was described by Eusebius of Caesarea as a demon which caused disunity among the churches that had a resounding impact on the state.147 In fact, Eusebius distinguished between two kinds of envy. The first he outlined in relation to the historical circumstances that prevailed in the Church just before the Great Persecution initiated by the pagan emperor Diocletian in AD 303, which occurs when there is peace within the Church, where “increasing freedom transformed our character to arrogance and sloth: we began by envying and abusing each other.”148 In this case, the lack of circumspection among Christians in a time of ostensible ‘freedom’ made them haughty, so that they turned against one another. This, Eusebius argued, was why the Great Persecution was permitted to take place: it was a sort of divine pedagogy to bring the people of God back to spiritual health.149 Another kind of envy that Eusebius referred to is in relation to demonic activity, specifically their attacks against the saints and martyrs. In his Ecclesiastical History, the bishop of Caesarea gives many examples of these attacks, in some cases explicitly describing them as motivated by the demon envy, for example, in the death of St Apollonius the martyr.150 The fact that Eusebius deployed envy in his History as a source of division in the same way as the Graeco-Roman historians Dio and Sallust did points to two things: that envy is seen in all cultures as malignant, with the Church being able to identify envy as either the result of human behaviour or demonic activity, the latter possibly influencing the former (though not in every case); and that, by using the literary device of envy as a force of division in his History, Eusebius was engaging with readers in the GraecoRoman context who would have been familiar with the writings of classical historians that used the same motif. This form of cultural 147

For example, Sozomen refers to the “envious demon.” The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen 1.19, in Socrates, Sozomenus: Church Histories, trans. Chester D. Hartranft (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 255 (see also PG 67, 920AB). 148 Eusebius of Caesarea, The History of the Church 8.1, trans. G. A. Williamson (London: Penguin Books, 1989), 257. This reminds us that the external peace and comfort that the Church experiences at various times and places could come with a terrible cost if one drops his or her guard. As St Antony the Great stated to St Poemen, “This is the great work of a man [or woman]: always to take the blame for his [or her] own sins before God and to expect temptation to his [or her] last breath.” Benedicta Ward, trans. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1975), 2. 149 Eusebius of Caesarea, The History of the Church 8.1 (Williamson, 257). 150 Eusebius of Caesarea, The History of the Church 5.21 (Williamson, 169).

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appropriation that—in interpreting a term/motif from the ancient world from a Christian point of view—sheds light on the forces at work against the Church, was repeated by subsequent Christian historians. In the mid-fifth century, Socrates the Constantinopolitan, whose Ecclesiastical History comprises a continuation of Eusebius’ History to his own day, includes a letter from the pope St Julius of Rome on the trials of St Athanasius the Great, concerning which he declared that “our Lord Jesus Christ” protected Athanasius from envy/phthonos in order to restore him to the see of Alexandria after his second exile.151 It is not clear if Julius, in referring to envy in the singular, is denoting the envy of the Arians—a heretical ‘Christian’ offshoot (described briefly in the ‘Introduction’)—who contrived against Athanasius, or the demon envy. Elsewhere, however, Socrates referred to the demon as “insidiously at work in the midst of a prosperous condition of affairs.”152 The historian then ponders “for what reason the goodness of God permits this to be done”—i.e. for envy to attack the Church—whether he wishes to perfect the Church thereby or to “break down the self importance” which often accompanies faith. Either way, the test of such conditions was meant to strip away the pride that can creep up on Christians. Moreover, humble endurance in the wake of attacks from envy was considered a testimony of the faithful adherents of the Gospel. This much can be discerned in the life of St John Chrysostom, who, according to an unnamed disciple—whom posterity knows as Ps.-Martyrius and who composed the saint’s Funerary Speech—was attacked by two kinds of envy, both human153 and supernatural,154 the latter being the source of the former, until the saint’s life came to an end in martyrdom on account of these attacks. Returning to the ancient Roman context, we must frame envy or invidia in relation to the Roman conception of the cosmos: in this way, it was considered an agent of discord in a universe with Rome at its head; a universe that was meant to be harmonious (as expressed by concordia). We have seen chaotic entities personified in relation to Egypt, where isfet—the chaos engendered by its main agent, Apophis—was contrasted to ma’at, the order and stability maintained by Pharaoh, representative of 151

The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates 2.23, in Socrates, Sozomenus: Church Histories, trans. A. C. Zenos (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976, 50). 152 The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates 1.22 (Zenos, 25). 153 Ps.-Martyrius, The Funerary Speech for John Chrysostom 13, trans. Timothy D. Barnes and George Bevan (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013), 45–46. 154 Ps.-Martyrius, The Funerary Speech for John Chrysostom 39 (Barnes and Bevan, 61).

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Ra, within Egyptian cities; and in relation to Mesopotamia, where the dragon Kur engendered chaos and was defeated by Inanna, holder of the mes, which were the principles of being that maintained both cosmos and chaos. It is clear that the Roman conception was very similar, with the qualification that cosmos was engendered principally by the emperor, the ecosystemic agent, within and for the sake of the eternal Rome. Returning to Augustus, we have noted that he tried to express this concordia ontologically in his self-representation as a cosmic and divine being. “Concordia Augusta”155 was even made a deity during his reign, so that the Temple of Concord in the Forum Romanum, refurnished by his son the emperor Tiberius in 10 AD, was rededicated as the Aedes Concordiae Augustae after himself and his dead brother, Drusus.156 But Augustus also executed concord through unanimity in government. Having abolished the ability of popular assemblies to issue statutes and making himself the fons et origo157 of Roman law, Augustus initiated a process whereby, having received the right “to sit on the president’s tribunal at [senatorial] meetings, in between two consuls,”158 he reduced the number of members in the senate and regulated every aspect of its workings. That his control of the senate—the same senate which declared him a god in his lifetime—resulted in a unanimous opinion concerning his mastery of Rome, is related by Suetonius, who stated that after the common people tried to universally confer on him the title “Father of his Country” (patris patriae cognomen universi),159 Valerius Messala, representing “the whole body”160 of the senate, was sent to say: “Good fortune and divine favour attend you and your house, Caesar Augustus; for thus we feel that we are praying for lasting prosperity for our country and happiness for our city. The senate in accord with the people of Rome hails you Father of your Country [patriae patrem].”161 To this, Augustus responded: 155 John Ferguson, The Religions of the Roman Empire, ed. H. H. Scullard (New York: Cornell University Press, 1994), 91. 156 Grant, The Roman Forum, 51. 157 John A. McGuckin, The Ascent of Christian Law: Patristic and Byzantine Formulations of a New Civilization (Crestwood, New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2012), 48. 158 Richard J. A. Talbert, ‘Augustus and the Senate,’ Greece and Rome 31.1 (1984): 60. 159 Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars 2.58 (Rolfe, 214–15). 160 Ibid., 215. 161 Ibid. Translation adjusted by me.

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“Having attained my highest hopes, Fathers of the Senate, what more have I to ask of the immortal gods than that I may retain this same unanimous approval of yours until the very end of my life.”162

The prayers of the senators and Augustus denote what we have said previously; that the prosperity of Rome depended upon its ‘first citizen,’ whose acknowledgment as pater patriae denoted not only the concordia between the common people, the senators who represented them, and the ruler; but also the harmony of the universe, insofar as Augustus remained the ecosystemic master of the imago et axis mundi. Moreover, this unity was maintained by a common religious sentiment concerning the person of the emperor, who was declared by the senate and worshipped by the people as a god on earth in the ruler cult. The “unanimous approval”163 of Augustus, whether acknowledged or not, surpassed the end of his life. That Augustus set up the principate to outlast him cannot be doubted,164 but the fact that all subsequent emperors assumed both his title of ‘Revered One’ and his roles such as pontifex maximus,165 not to mention the repeated references by historians to his reign as archetypal in many regards,166 points to the perpetuation of Augustan imperial ideology, even up to and including the reign of “Constantine Augustus”167 several hundred years later, who was still dating his reign from the year he had assumed the tribunicia potestas—a title which, we have seen was first received by Augustus168—and who

162

Ibid. Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars 2.58 (Rolfe, 215). 164 As Augustus himself stated: “By the passage of new laws I restored many of the traditions of our ancestors which were then falling into disuse, and I myself set precedents in many things for posterity to imitate.” Res Gestae Divi Augusti 2.8 (Shipley, 359). 165 There is an inscription on the attic (horizontal ‘beam’) of the arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum, which gives the emperor’s titles as “Augustus, Pater Patriae … Pontifex Maximus” among many others. Filippo Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 61. 166 Caroline Vout describes this archetypal significance with reference to Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio in ‘Representing the Emperor,’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians, 268–69. 167 ‘Panegyric of Maximian and Constantine,’ trans. C. E. V. Nixon, in In Praise of Later Roman Emperors: The Panegyrici Latini (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994), 200. 168 Jones and Sidwell, The World of Rome, 111. 163

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“continued to bear the pagan title of pontifex maximus.”169 This is despite the fact that Constantine—as we shall see in chapter seven—would be the first emperor who, as a Christian, initiated building projects and legislation that promoted the Church in such a way that it would be untenable to maintain the ruler cult in Christendom; thus surrendering ecosystemic agency to Christ alone, and to the saints who participate in Christ’s grace.

169 Gilbert Dagron, Emperor and Priest: The Imperial Office in Byzantium, trans. Jean Birrell (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 130.

CHAPTER FIVE ISRAEL

Imagines et Axes Mundi Symbolism in the Pentateuch The central geographical location of ancient Israel, between Mesopotamia and Egypt, meant that it would be influenced by both of these civilisations, as well as the neighbouring Ugarit and Canaanite cultures that preceded the gradual emergence and consolidation of the ancient Israelite people. According to Genesis 32.28, the name Israel (Yisrael) is given to the patriarch Jacob as denoting “he who strives with God,”1 with the historiography of the Hebrew Scriptures recounting the deeds of his descendants, the Bene Yisrael (the sons of Israel) or Am Yisrael (the people of Israel).2 These were the “wandering Arameans” described in Deuteronomy 26.5:3 Hebrew speaking nomadic tribes that settled in the Levant circa 1200 BC and were headed by patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel)—“wise and pious heads of families”—from whom “all Israelites believed they were directly descended.”4 These families eventually settled in Canaan and were, according to scriptural/Hebrew tradition, divided into twelve tribes by Moses’ assistant Joshua, who led the conquest of Canaan and apportioned the land among his people.5 These 1

Henry Jackson Flanders Jr., Robert Wilson Crapps, and David Anthony Smith, People of the Covenant: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 153. 2 Michael Swartz, ‘Judaism: An Overview,’ in Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 7, ed. Lindsay Jones et al. (Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2005), 4971. 3 Geo Widengren, ‘Israelite-Jewish Religion: Trends in its History down to the Maccabaean Revolt,’ in Historia Religionum 1: Religions of the Past, ed. C. J. Bleeker and Geo Widengren (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1969), 226; Amélie Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East c. 3000–330 BC, vol. I (London and New York: Routledge, 1995), 417. 4 Ibid., 418. 5 This is outlined in the book of Joshua chapters 1–12, which gives the impression that “all the lands [of Canaan] fell into Israelite hands under Joshua and all Israel’s prominent enemies were resoundingly defeated.” Flanders, Jr., Crapps, and Smith,

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tribes later appointed Judges to briefly govern on their behalf as the necessity arose,6 until in the eleventh century BC a permanent kingdom was established in the city of Jerusalem in the south under the rulers Saul, David, and Solomon; all of this despite the real distinction between the ten northern tribes—who after the reign of Solomon referred to themselves as “the kingdom of Israel” proper (often designated as ‘Ephraim’ in the Old Testament)7—and the two southern tribes of Judah, which eventually outlived the former.8 We will return to these events below. Despite the distinction between the northern and southern tribes, what matters for us here is that the Pentateuch (or Torah)9—comprised of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—delineates the tale of the emergence of the ‘people of Israel’ as a distinct group. According to some scholars, the “latest certain date for the composition of the Pentateuch as a literary unit” is the third century BC10 (i.e. the Second Temple period).11 Although this puts several centuries between the Pentateuch and Moses, to whom tradition ascribes its authorship,12 nevertheless many of the Pentateuch’s components evolved during the interim period, with scholars having identified four principal elements, described by Amélie Kuhrt as follows: The simple narrative style, which refers to Yahweh by name from the creation on, focuses strongly on the south of Israel, i.e. Judah, in several stories; because it uses the name Yahweh throughout … it is known as ‘J’ = ‘Yahwist.’ The other ‘storyteller’ calls Israel’s god ‘Elohim’ before the revelation to Moses and seems to have a particular interest in the north (Ephraim); it is, therefore, known as ‘E’ = ‘the Elohist’; the E story

People of the Covenant, 231. Archeological evidence testifies to an entirely different scenario, namely “a gradual infiltration over a long period of time by various related groups of people who peacefully moved in to live alongside the Canaanites, only occasionally engaging in military conquest.” Ibid., 239. 6 See the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. 7 See Isaiah 7.17, Hosea 5.5, Ezekiel 37.19, Zechariah 9.13. 8 The latter then became the “southern kingdom of Judah.” Seltzer, ‘Jewish People,’ in Encyclopedia of Religion, 4856. 9 Torah means “Teaching” or “Law.” Jean Louis Ska, Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch, trans. Sr Pascale Dominique (Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2006), 1. 10 Edelman, Davies, Nihan and Römer, Opening the Books of Moses (Sheffield and Bristol: Equinox, 2012), 39. 11 John Van Seters, The Pentateuch: A Social Science Commentary (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), 80. 12 Edelman, Davies, Nihan and Römer, Opening the Books of Moses, 1.

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does not seem to begin before Abraham the patriarch … The style of Deuteronomy, limited to that book, is simply called ‘D’; specific characteristics of the document are that … if Israel remains faithful and pure in its allegiance to Yahweh and the covenant, then it will prosper; if it turns away from this path, disaster will inevitably ensue. The dry, formal style which presents a very exalted view of Yahweh and does not call him by that name until the Mosaic revelation, is thought to have emanated from a priestly group. It contains the bulk of the regulations for the sacrificial cult, never describes sacrifices before the time of Moses and Aaron, and contains detailed ordering for the priesthood … Not surprisingly, therefore, this source is known as ‘P’ = the ‘Priestly Code.’13

Some have suggested a fifth source, a priestly redactor (R) as combining the five sources “in the mid fifth century during the restoration of Judah under Persian rule.”14 Nevertheless, this division and labelling of the sources of the Pentateuch into J, E, D, and P, has been the standard in biblical scholarship since the nineteenth century. Although their precise dating has been highly contested, one of the most plausible views maintains that J and E were composed during the Davidic monarchy (eleventh–tenth centuries BC). D was written during Josiah’s reforms in 622,15 and P in two primary stages before the Babylonian exile in 586; with the latter two considered as having been written as a direct response to the previous.16 All of this is extremely relevant insofar as the events included in the Pentateuch, such as the cosmogony, the depiction of the rulers, and the notions of the imago mundi and axis mundi, are shaped according to the period in which the sources were written. Without delving further into the nuances of biblical criticism, in what follows I presuppose both this labelling and dating of the sources in the Pentateuch as I address the salient themes just mentioned, contextualising them as far as possible. Genesis, the first book of the Pentateuch, includes two cosmogonies, the first belonging to P (Gen 1.1–2.4a) and the second belonging to J (Gen 2.4b–3.24), respectively. Of these, the latter came first, being composed, like all J sources, during the Davidic period mentioned above; with Robert Kugler and Patrick Hartin asserting that it was part of a larger work 13

Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East c. 3000–330 BC, 421. Robert S. Kawashima, ‘Sources and Redaction,’ in Reading Genesis: Ten Methods, ed. Ronald Hendel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 52. 15 Indeed, many scholars consider a proto-edition of the Pentateuch to have been composed at this time. Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East c. 3000–330 BC, 422; Van Seters, The Pentateuch, 88. 16 Kawashima, ‘Sources and Redaction,’ 52. 14

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“explaining the origins of the monarchy.”17 This would tie the cosmogony to the reign of the king, in this case probably David,18 linking him to his creator God, who, in the J source 2.4b is of course “Yahweh” (YHWH) which is derived from the root HWH which means ‘to be.’”19 In parallel with this, according to John J. McDermott, Yahweh can be related to the Amorite word for “the one who causes to be/creates.”20 This is an apt connection, given that the J source mentions that Yahweh creates “the earth and the heavens” (2.4) before forming “man from the dust of the ground” (2.7), the paradisal garden of Eden, and finally, woman. Above it was stated that the J source is distinct from the E source, which, while composed in the same period, elsewhere in Genesis (and up to Exodus 34.5) calls God “Elohim,” which originally denoted the plurality of “a collection of sacred or divine beings”21 but, among the Israelites, eventually came to designate the ‘divine’ in a general sense.22 Norman Cohn suggested that the name Elohim was originally connected to the god El, the highest god in the Ugarit/Canaanite civilisation that flourished around 1200 BC to whom Yahweh was originally subordinate until he ‘overthrew’ him.23 The rise of the Davidic monarchy approximately two hundred years later was punctuated by an adherence to Yahweh alone. And it is this monolatrous group—basing their experience and reflections on the revelation of the one God—that paved the way for the emergence of monotheism that became almost undisputed among the Jews during and after the Babylonian exile in the sixth century.24 The Priestly source, written during the exile period, later calls God “Yahweh Elohim,” perhaps 17

Robert Kugler and Patrick Hartin, An Introduction to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009), 55. 18 Loren R. Fisher, Genesis: A Royal Epic (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011), 7. 19 Karel van der Toorn, ed. et al., ‘Yahweh,’ in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden and Grand Rapids, MI: Brill and Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 913. 20 John J. McDermott, Reading the Pentateuch: A Historical Introduction (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2002), 94. 21 Charles Russell Coulter and Patricia Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities (Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000), 510. 22 Karel van der Toorn, ed. et al., ‘God (I),’ in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 363. 23 Norman Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993), 132– 35. 24 Bill T. Arnold, ‘Religion in Ancient Israel,’ in The Face of Old Testament Studies: A Survey of Contemporary Approaches, ed. David W. Walker and Bill T. Arnold (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999), 406.

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in order not only to reconcile J and E (as scholars have asserted),25 but to attribute both names to a single God, thus mitigating traces of any former polytheistic worship. Unlike the cosmogonies of Mesopotamia and Egypt—whose demiurges were believed to be responsible for the creation of entire pantheons—the P cosmogony identifies a single God as the creator of heaven and earth, light, the firmament and dry land, grasses and trees, the luminaries, sea-beasts, birds, cattle and creeping things, beasts, and man and woman; with the latter appearing as the culmination of a process that God began on the “first day” (Gen 1.5), with no other gods being mentioned. In chapter one on Mesopotamia, we saw that for the Sumerians, the world was formed from Eridu when Enki raised it out of Nammu, the primordial waters, and that likewise for the Egyptians the demiurge Ra created the world from atop a primordial hillock that emerged out of the primeval waters, the Nun.26 When in Genesis 1.1–2 Elohim begins the process of creation, a formless earth, along with the “deep,” the tehom, is mentioned. Some scholars affirm that the Hebrew word tehom is etymologically related to the Babylonian word Tiamat, who in chapter one we saw was, along with her husband Apsu, a personification of the primeval chaos/waters.27 This connection is not altogether impossible given that the P source that mentions the tehom was written during the Babylonian exile. We likewise saw in that chapter that Tiamat was killed by her son Marduk, who was born inside the apsu and who subsequently created the universe out of the corpse of his mother. The tehom, however, is not personified in the P source, and so despite some similarities between the Hebrew and Mesopotamian accounts, the tendency towards ‘Yahwehaloneism’ (i.e. monotheism) is clearly reflected in the latter, where, instead of having to kill off rival gods to create the world, ‘Yahweh Elohim’ enunciates the various constituents of reality into being.28 It is interesting that both J and P, constituting the basis for future Jewish descriptions of the cosmos and written centuries apart, nevertheless 25

Robert Graves and Raphael Patai, Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis, ed. Robert A. Davis (Manchester: Caranet Press Limited, 2005), 24. 26 In Hesiod’s Theogony, we noted that the cosmogony takes place without a demiurge. 27 B. Alster, ‘Tiamat,’ in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 867. 28 In fact, Victor P. Hamilton warns against stressing the connection between Tiamat and tehom insofar as the Ugarit word “thm (dual thmtm, plural thmt)” meaning “deep, depths” and likewise the Eblaite “ti-’a-matum” meaning “ocean abyss” are just as likely sources. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 111.

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exhibit other striking parallels with Near Eastern cosmogonies. Eden, which etymologically means “well-watered” or “fruitful” and which is described topographically in Genesis by the J source as having been “planted in the East” (2.8), has literary antecedents in the Sumerian conception of the Dilmun. This was a primeval garden mentioned in an account from the first half of the second millennium BC that describes it as both a “land” and a “city” which was “pure,” “clean” and “bright.”29 It is in the Dilmun that the god Enki—whom we saw in relation to the Eridu Genesis above received the city of Eridu, the first city after the flood, from Anu-Enlil upon its creation30—sleeps with Ninsikilla and afterwards eats from the eight plants or trees of life, after which he is cursed to die by the goddess Ninhursag, their creator.31 As already implied, this can be construed as a literary precursor to the J account of Adam and Eve’s partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, after which they are both cast out of paradise by God and thereby become subject to mortality (Gen 2.17, 3.1–24); but it is important to explain that by no means is the content in the two texts the same, for reasons we shall see below. In the J source, Adam is entrusted to “till” and “keep” (Gen 2.15) Eden by God, the garden-maker, thereby acting as an ecosystemic agent. In the poem Enki and Eridu: The Journey of the Water God to Nippur addressed in chapter one, Enki is also an ecosystemic agent insofar as he raises the city of Eridu from the primordial abyss like a mountain.32 In the latter case, Enki organises his city out of a pre-existing primordial sea (Nammu), whereas in the J source it is Yahweh who creates “heaven and earth,”33 and who later entrusts the garden of Eden to an ecosystemic agent who is in fact not a god (as in the case of Enki), but a human being, Adam.34 The J source’s depiction of Adam as responsible 29

Kramer (trans.), ‘Sumerian Myths and Epic Tales,’ in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. J. B. Pritchard (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), 37–38. 30 Ibid., 43. 31 Ibid., 40. 32 Kramer, Sumerian Mythology: A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievements in the Third Millennium B.C. (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1961), 63. 33 The P source which redacted Genesis 1 is not necessarily concerned with the origin of chaos implied by the earth being a “formless void” (Gen 1.2), but by the contrast between chaos and its opposite, namely the creative acts of God beginning in Gen 1.3. Claus Westermann, Genesis 1–11: A Commentary, trans. John J. Scullion (London: SPCK, 1984), 102–3. 34 In Genesis, the word ‘Adam’ does not only refer to a single human male but to humankind, both males and females, as a collective. Mayer I. Gruber, ‘Adam,’ in

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for ‘tilling’ and ‘keeping’ the land, which are demiurgic acts, represents a sharp contrast to Sumerian conceptions of Enki as putting his ‘hand to plow’ and responsible for all kinds of agriculture,35 which are extensions of his role as an ostensible godly demiurge. Moreover, it is significant that in the Mesopotamian account the god Enki’s first cosmogonic act is to build Eridu, the first city of creation. As we have seen, this is a motif that this civilisation shares with the Egyptian and early Greek sources addressed above. In Genesis, however, the human beings created, according to the later P source, in God’s “image” and “likeness” (Gen 1.26), are called to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1.28) without any specific reference to a city per se. In other words, these human beings can be described as living in a state of total harmony with the cosmos or nature that reveals the sacred—i.e. as living with God—well before either the consciousness of the chaos/difficulties inherent to nature (in Gen 3.1–24 described as a result of their fall) or their inability to endure the rapidness of city life compelled humans to eventually cosmicise the latter space. Instead, as we saw in the earlier J source, before the creation of Eve, Adam tills and keeps Eden, as well as giving names to all of the living things within it (Gen 2.20); and presumably, this was what Eve was also supposed to do. We saw in the Mesopotamian account that the Dilmun was both a ‘land’ and a ‘city,’ but according to the J source the first city to be built after the cosmogony and Adam and Eve’s expulsion from paradise is by Enoch (Gen 4.17), a descendent of the murderer Cain. In fact, the only other reference to the building of a city in Genesis, an act which God condemns,36 is to the tower of Babel in Gen 11.4: “come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens…” Most scholars consider this tower to have been a ziggurat,37 which we saw were perceived as connecting heaven and earth as axes mundi and as recapitulating the world as “cosmic mountain[s].”38 We will return to aspects concerning the imagines et axes mundi in the Pentateuch below. For now suffice it to state that the human The Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion, ed. Adele Berlin et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 16. 35 Kramer (trans.), ‘Enki and Sumer: The Organization of the Earth and its Cultural Processes,’ in Sumerian Mythology, 61. 36 As reflected in Gen 11.6–7. 37 D. Kellermann, ‘Midgal,’ in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. G. Johannes Botterweck et al., vol. 8 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 72. 38 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. W. R. Trask (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959), 40.

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being’s demiurgic role must be interpreted in light of the principal demiurge in Genesis, reflected in both J and P, which is Yahweh Elohim, the God of Israel, who planted the garden in Eden so that Adam, and later Eve, could flourish.39 Indeed, Adam, whose name actually means “human,”40 can be interpreted as the first literal human being, the first to experience the spiritual state,41 or as representative of “the whole of humanity”;42 Eve, the “mother of all the living” (Gen 3.20), can also be seen in these three ways.43 Genesis 2 and 3 have yielded an abundance of mystical interpretations in both the Rabbinic and Kabbalistic interpretive traditions of Judaism, which consistently speak of two gardens of Eden, one terrestrial and one celestial. The fact that the ‘terrestrial’ Eden, like the Nile river and the Mesopotamian ziggurats, was considered as having a celestial equivalent makes it an axis mundi intersecting heaven and earth. This is a nuance which is further corroborated by the fact that within the garden there were two axes mundi, which, on account of their vertical orientation, connected “the earth to the heavens above and the underworld below.”44 These were “the tree of life … in the midst of the garden” along with “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2.9). The latter is later also described as being “in the middle of the garden” (Gen 3.3) when Eve recounts God’s warning to the serpent that to eat from it would mean certain death. Biblical exegetes affirm that these trees symbolise ‘immortality’ in the case of the tree of life and ‘wisdom’ in the case of the tree of 39

Peter Bouteneff, Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 5. 40 Adam in Hebrew is the transliteration of the word for “human.” It was translated as the proper name “Adam” in the Septuagint. Susan Brayford, Genesis (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2007), 230. 41 This is the case in some authors in the patristic tradition—such as saints Athanasius the Great, Cyril of Alexandria, Gregory Palamas, and Silouan the Athonite—who appraise Adam “as the first exemplar in a saintly series and not as an exceptional character.” Doru Costache, ‘Adam’s Holiness in the Alexandrine and Athonite Traditions,’ in Alexandrian Legacy: A Critical Appraisal, ed. Doru Costache, Philip Kariatlis, and Mario Baghos (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015), 322–68, esp. 324. 42 Kristen E. Kvam, Linda S. Shearing and Valarie H. Zeigler, Eve and Adam: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Readings on Genesis and Gender (Bloomington and Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1999), 398. 43 Kvam et al., Eve and Adam, 171. 44 Carole M. Cusack’s The Sacred Tree: Ancient and Medieval Manifestations (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011), xv.

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knowledge,45 and given their position in the centre of the garden—which, we have seen, exemplifies a heavenly experience on earth—it can possibly be inferred that they generated this existential state by transferring the divine attributes of immortality and wisdom from heaven to earth. Although God permitted Adam “to freely eat of every tree of the garden” (Gen 2.16), he nevertheless gave him the command not to eat of the tree of knowledge: “for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (2.17). We will not concern ourselves here with an interpretation of Genesis 2.17. Suffice it to state that Adam is only forbidden from eating of the fruit of the tree of life after he partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, as expressed in Gen 3.22: “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Gen 3.22). The two trees are therefore connected, but it is only the former that leads to the opening of Adam and Eve’s eyes and the awareness of their nakedness (Gen 3.7). Some scholars have focused on their nakedness as an outcome of sexual intercourse,46 which would make the fruit of the tree a metaphor for this. The argument for this interpretation is particularly strong for two reasons. The first is that, before partaking of the fruit of the tree, “the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed” (Gen 2.25); in other words, they were not conscious of or familiar with each other’s nakedness. The second reason derives from the mention of childbirth in Gen 3.16 as a consequence of Eve’s betrayal—whose name we have seen means “mother of all living”47—which can be related to the insistence by scholars such as Ivan Engell and Robert Gordis that the personal immortality bestowed on Adam and Eve by the tree of life was compromised when they opted for a ‘vicarious immortality’ obtained through procreation.48 More current interpretations shift the emphasis to the ‘opening of their eyes,’ which is seen as an endowment with a universal knowledge— of everything that exists within the spectrum of good and bad—which, it is implied, they were perhaps not meant to know.49 Still other scholars, such as Claus Westermann, have stressed the importance of obedience in 45

Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Eden Narrative: A Literary and Religio-historical Study of Genesis 2–3 (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2007), 60. 46 Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1–17, 164. 47 Although the derivation of Eve’s name in Hebrew, Havvah, “is uncertain and controversial,” it is likely associated with the root hyh meaning ‘to live,’ hence her designation in Genesis 3.20 as “mother of all living,” and the translation of her name in the Septuagint as ǽȦȒ, which means ‘life.’ Michael James Williams, ‘Eve,’ in The Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion, 256. 48 Mettinger, The Eden Narrative, 62. 49 Ibid., 63.

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relation to God’s exhortation not to eat of the tree, an obedience that was transgressed when Eve and later Adam partook of it at the serpent’s behest.50 In light of this, their shamefulness has been connected with the birth of the human conscience; an awareness of their transgression and the resulting guilt.51 Whatever this knowledge is meant to symbolise, its acquisition, wrought at the transgression of God’s commandment, was met with consequences. First, for the serpent, whose destiny is to be trampled underfoot by the offspring of the woman (Gen 3.15), recalling, in this way, the Mesopotamian Kur, the Egyptian Apophis, and even the Greek Typhon; all of which are associated with chaos and evil and who were trampled by Inanna, Ra, and Apollo respectively. Second, for the woman, whose pain in childbirth and desire for her husband are both magnified (3.16), and third, for Adam, whose role as an ecosystemic agent is compromised insofar as his ability to “till” and “keep” the earth is made difficult, and who will (along with Eve) eventually die (Gen 3.17–19). Adam and Eve are not, however, altogether abandoned by God, who makes garments of skin for them, clothing them in a symbolically charged ‘dead flesh’ before exiling them from the garden of Eden, the paradisal state; specifically from the axis mundi—the tree of life—which was blocked by a cherubim, “and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way…” (Gen 3.24). Important for this volume are the later Christian interpretations of the exile of Adam from paradise which will construe the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as the ‘new Adam’ where the following typesantitypes emerge: the old Adam, who failed in Eden, finds his fulfilment in the new, successful Adam—Jesus—who is victorious over death; the tree of knowledge in Eden is overcome by the tree of the cross, and the Edenic tree of life, in the book of Revelation—the last book in the New Testament—is used as a positive image for the succour of God’s people in a paradise conditioned by Christ at its centre surrounded by the tree of life. But more on this in the next chapter. Despite the isolation of Adam and Eve from the axis mundi after their exile from Eden, the Pentateuch is full of descriptions of alternate ‘centres of the world’ facilitating a connection between heaven and earth. A profound axis mundi is mentioned in relation to the patriarch Jacob, for instance, who, after resting his head on a stone in a dream at Haran, dreamt of a ladder “set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven,” upon which he saw “the angels of God … ascending and descending” (Gen 28.12). It is in this dream that Jacob is visited by God, who promises 50 51

Westermann, Genesis 1–11, 223–24. Ibid., 250.

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to give him offspring who will fill the earth, and it is in response to this divine visitation that the patriarch erected the same stone that he had slept on as a pillar which, like the ladder in his vision, intersected heaven and earth (Gen 28.18).52 More important for our purposes here, however, are the mountains that are referred to frequently throughout the Pentateuch. Genesis 8.4 mentions the mountains of Ararat where Noah’s ark rests after the flood recedes. Then in Gen 22.2, God informs the patriarch Abraham that he is to take his only son, Isaac—the father of Jacob (Israel)—to “the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” Although sacrifices, undertaken by ancient cultures to appease the deity or deities to whom they were directed,53 usually did not involve human beings,54 the request to Abraham clearly cannot be considered as characteristic of Israelite culture. It was, as implied by the text, a test of his faith.55 Readying himself to sacrifice Isaac on the makeshift altar he had built on mount Moriah, Abraham is prevented by God, and offers a ram as a “burnt offering instead of his son” (Gen 22.13). We have demonstrated above that it is precisely the vertical orientation of 52

It is interesting to note that the erection of this pillar happened within the confines of the city of Luz, which Jacob renamed Bethel (Gen 28.19). 53 Since human beings kill either animal or plant life in order to survive, then animal sacrifice in the ancient world could be interpreted as a projection of human necessity onto the anthropomorphic deities that they worshipped. This usually involved a communal aspect, insofar as the consumption of the food sacrificed to the gods would facilitate a human being’s participation in their life. Glenn M. Schwartz, ‘Archaeology and Sacrifice,’ in Sacred Killing: The Archaeology of Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East, ed. Anne M. Porter and Schwartz (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2012), 4–5. Moreover, it can be inferred that if the deity supplicated in such a manner was a demiurge responsible for maintaining cosmic order, then the act of sacrifice would perpetuate the harmony of the universe. 54 The Greeks and Romans generally abhorred human sacrifice (J. Rives, ‘Human Sacrifice Among Pagans and Christians,’ The Journal of Roman Studies 85 (1995): 69), but in Mesopotamian culture a phenomenon known as ‘retainer sacrifice,’ where members of the ruling elite were accompanied to the netherworld by their entourages, who are sacrificed for this purpose, was indeed practiced. Anne Porter, ‘The State of Sacrifice: Divine Power and Political Aspiration in Third Millennium Mesopotamia and Beyond,’ in The Archaeology of Violence: Interdisciplinary Approaches, ed. Sarah Ralph (New York: State University of New York Press, 2012), 190. 55 Omri Bohem has argued that the Abraham story overturns the paradigm of child sacrifice that would have been known to its Near Eastern readership. ‘Child Sacrifice, Ethical Responsibility and the Existence of the People of Israel,’ Vetus Testamentum 54.2 (2004): 145–56.

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mountains that facilitates a connection between heaven and earth, but here, the smoke from Abraham’s offering, which would have billowed upwards, should be considered as doing likewise.56 Yet another excellent example of a mountain as an axis mundi in the Pentateuch is in Exodus 3.1 where Horeb, identified later with Sinai, is called “the mountain of God.” It is here that God appears to Moses in the burning bush, giving him the exhortation to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to “worship God on this mountain” (3.12). Later, Moses receives the decalogue or the ten commandments, a sign of the covenant between God and his people, on Mount Sinai, which is described as “wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like a smoke of kiln” (Ex 19.18). The axis mundi symbolism of Sinai is again twofold; the mountain itself and the smoke generated by the fire of God intersects heaven and earth,57 with the latter being perhaps anticipated by Exodus 13.21, where God appears as a “pillar of fire” to guide the Israelites by night.58 The covenant itself can also be interpreted as an axis mundi insofar as it not only involves a relationship between heaven (God) and earth (the people of Israel), but it also elucidates the particulars of this relationship including the inauguration of festivals and legislation (see Ex 20.19–23.33), ending with the promise that Canaan will be conquered. Canaan will later of course be divided into Israel and Judah, and under the Davidic monarchy the city of Jerusalem will become, because of its temple built by Solomon, the pre-eminent imago et axis mundi. This is narratologically foreshadowed in Exodus, where in chapter twenty-six the mishkan, which means “dwelling place” and is often rendered into English as “tabernacle,” is constructed.59 We will now turn to an assessment of the symbolism inhering in both the tabernacle and its concrete ‘actualisation’ in Solomon’s temple, which, we shall see, became for the Hebrews the

56

More specifically: “When one burns cereal, meat or liquid on the Altar, the food ascends directly to heaven as smoke.” Marvin A. Sweeney, I and II Kings: A Commentary (Louiseville, KE: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), 499. 57 God’s descent to Mount Sinai and Moses’ ascent of the same mountain also reflects this intersection, see Exodus 19.20: “When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.” 58 The pillar of flame also intersects heaven and earth, with the motif of fire being repeatedly associated with “the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai” (Ex 24.16) or Horeb, “the mountain of God” (24.13). 59 Elizabeth Shulman, ‘Tabernacle,’ in The Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and Jewish Culture, ed. Judith R. Baskin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 582.

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imago et axis mundi that constituted Jerusalem as both a holy city and likewise an image and centre of the world.

The Temple and the City Jerusalem as an Imago et Axis Mundi Before the settlement of Canaan and the building of Solomon’s temple, the tabernacle was a portable tent used by the Israelites during their wanderings in the desert and is described as having been constructed of “precious metals and bluish fabrics … indicative of royalty,” with the consecration of all its furnishings highlighting the holiness of God who desired to dwell within it (hence the meaning of mishkan).60 The holiness of the tabernacle is highlighted by the fact that it was supposed to contain both an ark covered by a “mercy seat” flanked by two cherubim61—where God would enthrone himself to communicate with his people (represented by the priests)—and the tablets placed within the ark that had been inscribed by Moses with the ten commandments which he received from Yahweh on his return to Sinai in Exodus chapter thirty-four. The axis mundi symbolism here is clear, not only in relation to the ‘mercy seat’ and the tablets, but also in regards to two other items that are placed near the ark within the tabernacle: the manna that fell from heaven to feed the Israelites after their escape from Egypt (Ex 16.33–34), and Aaron’s rod that budded as a sign of the tribe of Levi’s exclusive right to the priesthood (Numbers 17.1–12, 18.1–7). To mark the specialness of the area within which Yahweh dwelt, the tabernacle was divided by a screen into two main areas between this “most holy place” (Ex 26.33) and the rest of the tabernacle that contained: an altar of incense (Ex 30.6) before the screen; a table for the bread of the presence (25.23–30), which was continually presented as an offering for Yahweh;62 and a lamp-stand with seven branches (Ex 25.31–32) which scholars have suggested may have symbolised either the planetary bodies

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T. Desmond Alexander, From Paradise to the Promised Land: An Introduction to the Pentateuch (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012), 196. 61 In Hebrew, kapporet. Baruch J. Schwartz includes the following bracketed note in his discussion on it: “(etymology unclear: some translate simply ‘cover’: others, ‘mercy seat’).” ‘Ark of the Covenant,’ in The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, 67. 62 Lehem panim literally means “face bread.” William H. C. Propp, The Anchor Bible: Exodus 19–40, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 2A (New York: Doubleday, 2006), 397; see also page 508 for a nuanced analysis.

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(perhaps personified as angels),63 or, because of its shape, a sacred tree (such as the tree of life, i.e. the axis mundi of Genesis 2–3).64 Outside the tabernacle were situated a round basin where priests would purify themselves before entering it,65 and the altar of burnt offering through which sacrifices were made to appease God (Ex 27.1–8). Notwithstanding the additional axis mundi symbolism provided by the latter, the positioning of the tabernacle as a whole “in the center” of the moveable Israelite camp further confirmed its function as a sacred axis.66 Indeed, it was from this centre that God would manifest himself, as indicated after the final erection of the tabernacle where the cloud that had earlier surrounded Sinai now “covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Ex 40.34). According to Exodus 40.38, this glory would appear as a cloud by day, and as fire by night: just like the pillar that led the Israelites through the desert (Ex 13.21) and which had appeared on Sinai (19.18). These descriptions seem straightforward enough in highlighting the axis mundi significance of the tabernacle, above described as the “tent of meeting” (ohel moed);67 a place for the existential encounter between Moses and God. Nevertheless, we must delve further into the historical context within which Exodus was redacted in order to make sense of the ultimate importance of the tabernacle for the people of Israel. Most scholars agree that large parts of Exodus were redacted by the Priestly source, especially chapters 25–31 and 35–40.68 Concerning P, which we mentioned above was twice updated before the Babylonian exile in 586 BC, E. Blom has stated that while it actually received its final form in the post Babylonian period, it nonetheless “comprised old traditions kept by the priesthood at the First Temple in Jerusalem.”69 This temple, intended by David but built by Solomon (specifically his architect Hiram),70 was of course destroyed by the Babylonians in 586, meaning

63

For more on this interpretation, see Propp, The Anchor Bible: Exodus 19–40, 510. 64 Sweeney, I and II Kings: A Commentary, 510–11. 65 Ibid., 501–2. 66 Flanders, Jr., Crapps, and Smith, People of the Covenant, 207. 67 K. Koch, ‘Moed,’ in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 34. 68 Propp, The Anchor Bible: Exodus 19–40, 495–96. 69 Erhard Blum, ‘Issues and Problems in the Contemporary Debate Regarding the Priestly Writings,’ in The Strata of the Priestly Writing: Contemporary Debate and Future Directions, ed. Sarah Shectman and Joel S. Baden (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2009), 31. 70 See 1 Kings 7.14, which stipulates that Hiram of Tyre “came to King Solomon and did all his work.”

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that the references to the tabernacle in Exodus can be interpreted in one of two principal ways: as an archetypal/divine legitimisation of Solomon’s temple that began to be articulated in the literary sources of the Pentateuch during his monarchy (and was not completed until the post-Babylonian period), or as an exilic yearning for and preservation of the plan and design of the temple in the hope that it would be rebuilt, which in fact occurred later that century in 516 BC. Irrespective of which was the case, suffice it to state that the temple was integral to ancient Israelite identity as the axis mundi par excellence. But it was also an imago mundi, as reflected not only by its construction on a mountain (which is also an axis mundi), namely Zion, but because of its design. In addition to the description of the tabernacle in Exodus 26 (which in fact can be taken from chapters 25–31), the main Old Testament scriptural texts that delineate the temple’s design are 1 Kings 6–7, 2 Chronicles 3–4, and an eschatological version of the temple in Ezekiel 40– 44. The first of these texts, 1 Kings, was once connected to 2 Kings and presented a “narrative history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah” from the reign of David and the ascent of his son Solomon to the throne (c. 960 BC), through to the release of “king Jehoiakim from prison during the Babylonian exile” in the 560s.71 According to scholarly consensus, 1 and 2 Kings belong to an elaborated version of the D source mentioned above (that comprises Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings) and was not completed until the Babylonian exile.72 2 Chronicles, along with the first book of the same name, was probably finally redacted at the same time as the books of Ezra and Nehemiah around 400 BC, and has similar content to 2 Kings, except that 1 Chronicles begins with Adam and his descendants.73 Finally, Ezekiel, which is a prophetic book outlining the eponymous figure’s exhortations of repentance to the Hebrew remnant,74 can be dated earlier than these, to between 571 and 562 BC; sometime after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the first temple.75 In 1 Kings 6.1, Solomon is described as building the “house of the Lord,” with the measurements of the “vestibule in front of the nave”

71

Sweeney, I and II Kings: A Commentary, 1. Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 170. 73 Ibid., 251–52. For this reason I will not explore Chronicles at length here. 74 Ibid., 444. 75 Ibid., 442. 72

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(6.3) and “the inner sanctuary” (6.5) all being accounted for in cubits.76 According to 1 Kings, the temple was a roofed building made of quarried stone, three stories high, and was divided into three main sections which included the vestibule, the nave or “foyer”77 and the “inner sanctuary” which is described as overlayed with pure gold and as housing the ark of the covenant (6.19–20). Generally the plan of the temple has many similarities with the tabernacle,78 especially in relation to the fact that they were both intended to house the ark, which Solomon’s father David had previously brought from Shiloh (1 Samuel 4.3–4)—where it was housed, according to tradition, since Moses’ time—to a temporary tent in Jerusalem.79 Divided into two main areas including an anterior room known as the hekal, meaning “house” or “palace,” and the debir that might mean “innermost room”—but is often glossed as qodes haqqodasim or “the holy of holies”80—it was surrounded by an ulam or forecourt that reiterated the tripartite structure of the tabernacle.81 The temple also included in the hekal a golden altar for burning incense, a table for displaying bread and ten lamp stands, all of which reiterate the axis mundi symbolism of the tabernacle.82 Moreover, after the installation of the ark in the “most holy place” (1 Kings 8.6) of the temple, 1 Kings 8.10–11 records that “a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.” This reiterates the theme we saw in relation to both Sinai and the tabernacle, which are axes mundi manifesting the divine on earth that is represented in both cases as a cloud and fire. Although the theme of the imago mundi is clear in relation to mountains such as Sinai, it is even more emphatic in relation to the temple, 76

A cubit is an Egyptian linear measurement the length of a standard human forearm. O. A. W. Dilke, Reading the Past: Mathematics and Measurement (London: University of California Press and British Museum Publications, 1987), 23. 77 Sweeney, I and II Kings: A Commentary, 111. 78 The writer of Chronicles, who, according to Victor Avigdor Hurowitz, can be considered a textual and not necessarily material witness to the temple, attempts to bring the 1 Kings account—to which his description differs—in line with the tabernacle depicted in Exodus. ‘YHWH’s Exalted House – Aspects of Design and Symbolism of Solomon’s Temple,’ in Temple and Worship in Biblical Israel, ed. John Day (London and New York: T&T Clark, 2007), 67. 79 Ibid., 78. 80 Hurowitz, ‘YHWH’s Exalted House – Aspects of Design and Symbolism of Solomon’s Temple,’ 73. 81 Ibid., 75. 82 Ibid., 84.

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which scholars such as Victor Avigdor Hurowitz and Peter J. Leithart have argued recapitulates the garden of Eden. This argument stems mainly from the fact that Solomon’s temple contains three elements that call the paradisal garden to mind. The first of these is the “molten sea” (1 Kings 7.23) or “round water container”83 in the ulam made of bronze that could have been used practically, like the basin in front of the tabernacle, for the purification of the priests. However, the ulam can also be understood in light of Ezekiel’s vision of the restored temple, which, facing east (Ezekiel 43.1)—the symbolic location of Eden (Gen 2.8)—became the source for flowing waters (Ez 47.1–20), just like the river flowing from Eden mentioned in Genesis 2.10.84 The second regards the interior of the temple, specifically the hekal, “which was covered with wood, and the walls carved with fruits, vegetables, and flowers … whilst cherubim guard the inner sanctuary of the temple” as they guarded the garden of Eden.85 Hurowitz extended this symbolism to the ulam where the basin was surrounded by ten wagon-like instruments containing water vessels which were decorated with “lions, cattle, and cherubs,” showing thereby a conjunction between earthly and heavenly creatures that would only be found, in Near Eastern cultures, in their conceptions of paradise.86 And finally, the third aspect of Solomon’s temple that signifies it as a recapitulation of Eden is the presence of the monumental pillars Jachin and Boaz stationed at its entrance which have been interpreted by Hurowitz as the two trees in the middle of the garden on account of the fact that both columns “were topped with capitals bearing floral and arboreal arrangements.”87 Hence, the temple is an image of the world interpreted as the paradisal state or experience, namely that which occurred in Eden. Despite its inherent imago et axis mundi symbolism, the function of the temple precisely as such must never be dissociated from its location 83

Ibid., 75. Ibid., 78. 84 Hurowitz misses the nuance concerning the fact that both Ezekiel’s temple and Eden are related to the East. Ibid., 80–81. According to William Foxwell Albright, this water can be related to the Mesopotamian apsu. ‘The Temple and the World,’ The Journal of Religion 64.3 (1984): 285. Others, however, associate the bronze basin with the tehom. Samuel Terrien, ‘The Omphalos Myth and Hebrew Religion,’ Vetus Testamentum 20.3 (1970): 323. 85 Peter J. Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006), 56. 86 Hurowitz, ‘YHWH’s Exalted House – Aspects of Design and Symbolism of Solomon’s Temple,’ 81 87 Ibid., 84. 83

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in the city of Jerusalem, so that, according to Eliade, “Palestine [Israel], Jerusalem, and the Temple severally and concurrently represent the image of the universe and the Center of the World.”88 This is also of course true for Israel’s mountains including Moriah, Sinai/Horeb and Zion mentioned above. We saw in relation to Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greek cities (and Rome) that their significance as imagines et axes mundi was bound to the presence of temples within their precincts; temples which in many cases preceded and were thus constitutive of the civic establishments that grew around them. This must always be kept in mind for our present study, along with the fact that the redaction of those sources in the Pentateuch that mention the temple begins with the Davidic monarchy which elevated Jerusalem as the capital for the united kingdoms of Israel and Judah. That the Pentateuch thereby explicitly describes the temple, and not Jerusalem, as an imago et axis mundi should come as no surprise, given that in any case this would have been demonstrable from the monarchical, Jerusalem-centred context in which it began to be written. Moreover, the only probable reference to Jerusalem in the Pentateuch is in connection with Melchizedek, the king of Salem who in Genesis 14.18 blesses the patriarch Abraham. Shalem constitutes the second part of the word Jerusalem meaning “peace,”89 with the first element of the word ‘Jerusalem’ possible coming from the Sumero-Akkadian yeru, meaning ‘city’:90 thus the conjunction of yeru and shalem as Yerushalayim (i.e. Jerusalem) which denotes ‘city of peace.’ Smith also mentioned that the dual ending of the Hebrew Yerushalayim denotes a double-aspect to the city, namely its upper and lower cities91 which Edwin Wallace identified respectively with “Jebus and Salem, that were eventually united and their names resolved into one, which, for the sake of euphony, became Jerusalem instead of Jebussalem.”92

88

Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 42. George Adam Smith, Jerusalem: The Topography, Economics and History, from the Earliest Times to A.D. 70 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1908), 258. The connection between Salem and Jerusalem is explicitly made not only in the fact that the latter contains the word shalem, but in Psalm 76.2 which states that “God’s abode has been established in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion”; the latter being the hill upon which Jerusalem was built. 90 Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1–17, 410; Smith, Jerusalem, 253. 91 Smith, Jerusalem, 251. 92 Edwin Sherman Wallace, Jerusalem the Holy (New York, Chicago and Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898), 15–16. 89

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This latter interpretation does not, however, correspond to modern Rabbinic interpretations of the dual, which identify both its spiritual and physical dimensions.93 Zev Leff in fact interpreted the reference in Psalm 122.394 to Jerusalem as a city “bound firmly together” as referring to “the union of the physical city here on earth with its spiritual counterpart in the ethereal realms.”95 This modern Jewish interpretation of the dual is consistent with the dual dimension (i.e. celestial-terrestrial) of Eden mentioned above. Ancient Rabbinic perceptions of the city reflected in the Mishnah,96 however, offer alternate ways of expressing the manner in which various terrestrial/topographical objects relating to Israel are holy, such as in the form of the following ascending scale: There are ten degrees of holiness. The Land of Israel is holier than any other land … The walled cities [of the Land of Israel] are still more holy … within the wall [of Jerusalem] is still more holy … the Temple Mount is still more holy…97

Irrespective of the degrees of holiness with which Israel, the walls of Jerusalem (and the space within them), and the Temple mount are endowed, what is important for us here is that the city of Jerusalem constitutes an axis mundi on account of the celestial dimension that, it can

93 Zev Leff, Shemoneh Esraei: The Depth and Beauty of our Daily Tefillah (Southfield, MI: Targum Press, 2008), 301. 94 Most of the Psalms are traditionally attributed to David, some to Moses, Solomon, and other figures; but this attribution is certainly symbolic since the Psalms presuppose a state of affairs concerning the temple on Mount Zion that are post-Davidic in nature. Artur Weiser, The Psalms: A Commentary, trans. Herbert Hartwell (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1962), 95. Nevertheless, the Psalms were composed before the exile period, meaning that they were redacted alongside the J, E, P and D sources mentioned above. 95 His is an eschatological interpretation, as reflected when he states after the above: “Yerushalayim is a dual city with a spiritual twin; both will one day merge to form one inseparable entity.” Leff, Shemoneh Esraei, 301. This resonates with the Christian book of Revelation chapters 21–22 where the new Jerusalem is depicted as eschatologically descending from heaven (21.2, 9) and encompassing the paradisal garden, represented by the tree on either side of the water of life (22.1–2). 96 Redacted by Yehudah Hanasi in the second century AD. 97 What follows are similar descriptions of the holiness of various aspects of the temple, including the sanctuary or nave and the “Holy of Holies.” ‘Kelim (Vessels) 6–9,’ in the Sixth Division, Tohoroth (‘Cleannesses’) of The Mishnah, trans. Herbert Danby (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1933), 605–6.

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be inferred, is recapitulated within the city through the means of the temple.98 Apart from the later Rabbinic interpretations, the depiction of the temple as based on a celestial archetype, like Jerusalem and Eden, has scriptural antecedents in Exodus 25.40, where Moses is instructed to create the utensils for it “according to the pattern for them, which is being shown to you on the mountain,” that is, Sinai. Eliade rightly pointed out that in the Wisdom of Solomon (second–first centuries BC) and 2 Baruch (second century AD), the terrestrial Jerusalem is based on a celestial archetype, and in both cases the temple is the basis of this assertion.99 The subterranean dimension to this axis mundi is mentioned emphatically in the apocryphal prayer of the seventh century BC king of Judah, Manasseh, which, in the translation of the Septuagint version given by Michael Fishbane mentions the fact that God “shut up (kleisas) the Tehom (abysson) and sealed it (sphragisamenos autƝn)” with the “cornerstone” (mentioned in Job 38.6) that was, according to Fishbane, “cast into the ocean by God himself.”100 That this stone was considered an omphalos or navel of the world is attested to by fourth century AD Midrashic tradition that states analogically that just as a child begins to grow at the navel, so too did God begin “the creation of His world at the foundation stone, and 98 This echoes, and is perhaps influenced by, the celestial equivalents of both the Nile and the Mesopotamian ziggurats. 99 Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 60–61. See also the article by James R. Davila on ‘The Macrocosmic Temple, Scriptural Exegesis, and the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice,’ Dead Sea Discoveries 9.1 (2002): 1–19. See also Wisdom of Solomon 9.8 which groups the celestial Jerusalem together with Zion and the temple: “Thou hast given command to build a temple on thy holy mountain, and an altar in the city of thy habitation, a copy of the holy tent which thou didst prepare from the beginning.” 2 Baruch 4.2–3 affirms that Jerusalem, identified with the temple, pre-existed Eden: “Dost thou think that this is that city of which I said: ‘On the palms of My hands have I graven you.’ This building now built in your midst is not that which is revealed with Me, that which prepared beforehand here from the time when I took counsel to make Paradise, and showed Adam before he sinned, but when he transgressed the commandment it was removed from him, as also Paradise.” 100 Michael Fishbane, Biblical Myth and Rabbinic Mythmaking (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 126. See The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English, trans. Lancelot C. L. Brenton (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1851), 246–47 for another Greek-English translation of the Prayer of Manasseh verse 3. The full text in Job 38.6 reads: “who laid its (i.e. the earth’s) cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?”

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built his world upon it.”101 Thus, being endowed with the presence of the temple, which is based on a celestial model brought ‘down to earth’ precisely upon the rock/navel that held back the subterranean tehom, Jerusalem acted as the foremost centre and stabilising force in the Hebraic vision of the cosmos. Throughout the Old Testament, and especially in the Psalms that were composed before the exile period, its relevance as an axis mundi is brought up time and again. To give just a few examples, Psalm 46 praises God “in the midst of the city” (verse 5) and Ps 48 mentions “the city of our God” more than once (verses 1 and 8) before affirming that he establishes it “forever” (verse 8). But both this latter psalm and Ps 87 mention the city in relation to the “holy” mountain (48.1, 87.1) of Zion, which is “beautiful in elevation” and “the joy of all the earth” (48.2). Indeed, it is from Zion that praises to God reach the “ends of the earth” (48.10). Given that Zion is both an imago mundi (i.e. ‘cosmic mountain’) and an axis mundi, and that the temple—itself an imago mundi—is built on Zion (upon and around which Jerusalem is constituted),102 the multivalent symbolism of these related ‘images and centres’ of the world points to the fact that the city of Jerusalem was considered precisely as such. It is no wonder, then, that the city’s capture by the Babylonians resulted in an eschatological perception of all of these related centres, along with an anticipation in the coming of a saviour-king from the house of David—the divinely appointed founder of the ‘city of peace’—whose messianic progeny would help to bring about the permanent presence of God among his people.

Son of David, Son of Man The Ecosystemic Messiah and the Eschaton It was the Babylonian exile that shaped the final redaction of the Deuteronomist sources mentioned above (Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings), and it was at this stage of their history, more than any other, that the Israelites began to refer to David’s kingdom as perennially established by God. In 2 Samuel, Yahweh informs David

101 ‘Exodus: These are the Accounts,’ in Midrash Tanhuma – Yelammedenu, ed. Samuel A. Berman (Brooklyn, NY: KTAV Publishing House, 1996), 652. This statement in any case builds upon an existing tradition of Jerusalem as an omphalos, as attested to in Ezekiel a thousand years earlier where the ‘city of peace’ is explicitly described as “the navel of the earth” (Ez 38.12). 102 Whether or not Zion itself is identified entirely with the foundation stone is unclear.

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through the prophet Nathan that “his kingdom shall be made sure forever” and that his “throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam 7.16). Although at first glance this might seem like it implies that David himself would be an eternal king, verse 12 indicates that David will, like all mortals, “lie down with” his ancestors—that is, perish—and that the kingdom would be perpetuated through his son, the temple-builder Solomon (2 Sam 7.13). Psalm 89 recalls this promise: “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David: ‘I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations’” (verses 3– 4). Of course, this form of kingship is not identical to what we have seen with the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks (from Alexander’s time onwards), or the Romans, where the ruler was either personified as the divinity or considered divine himself. Instead, Hebrew kingship is similar to the notion prevalent in Sumeria and the classical Greek city-states, that although the king was closest to the gods (or in this case, God described as Yahweh), he was never to be considered as divine per se. For the Hebrews, this disposition was anticipated by the roles of the Judges, who were temporary leaders appointed directly by Yahweh when the Israelites pleaded with him for deliverance during the period before the monarchy, when the tribes were still a loose confederacy.103 The fact that the Judges were only appointed as deliverers during crises caused by the apostasy of Israel—when Yahweh permitted their oppression to turn them to repentance—implies that while the monarchy’s establishment would become a stabilising factor in Israel’s relationship with God, still the sovereignty of Yahweh was prioritised to the sovereignty of his representatives the kings, who were not inherently divine. Instead, the kings received their power from Yahweh through their anointing or mashah with oil, from where we get the word mashiah or messiah, which literally means ‘anointed one.’104 In the ancient world anointing with oil had medicinal, cosmetic or hygienic purposes, but for the Hebrews its greatest function had to do with the marking of persons as sacred, a quality bestowed by the oil itself, the ingredients of which were, in the first instance, instructed to Moses by God (Exodus 30.22–25).105 The anointing oil was first used in relation to the Aaronic/Levitic priesthood (Ex 40.13) before, from the time of Saul onwards, it was used in relation to the monarchy. Hence, 1 Samuel 2.10 describes the Lord as judging “the ends

103

Flanders, Jr., Crapps, and Smith, People of the Covenant, 250–51. Baruch J. Schwartz, ‘Anointing,’ in The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, 53. 105 Ibid. 104

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of the earth” through “the power of his anointed,” in this case referring to David, who is anointed by the prophet Samuel in 1 Sam 16.13.106 We saw above that Yahweh promised David that his kingdom, centred in Jerusalem and exemplified by the temple built by Solomon, would endure forever. The fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, however, effectively broke the continuity of the Davidic line. Since Yahweh’s promise could not be in vain, the Hebrews re-signified the concept of the “anointed one” as the expectation of a king from David’s progeny; a redeemer, or messianic, figure, who would restore the Davidic dynasty for all eternity. The book of Jeremiah, which was influenced by the Deuteronomistic source and as such belongs to the exilic period (6th century BC),107 contains the following prophecy concerning the restoration of Israel after the exile: The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness” (Jer 23.5–6).

Ezekiel, which can likewise be dated to the exile, mentions “the one shepherd, my servant David” (Ez 34.23) who, as opposed to the many false shepherds that had heretofore plagued Israel (Ez 34.1–10), would reign over the renewed Israel on behalf of the true shepherd, that is, God.108 According to Paul M. Joyce, in this instance “a ruler of the Davidic line is in view, rather than David himself returned.”109 Thus, the renewed Israel would be ruled by both the one God and his servant, a king from the offspring of David. At the centre of this renewed kingdom would be the restored temple, which in Ezekiel 40.3 is measured for the prophet by an angel with “a measuring reed in his hand,”110 implying that Yahweh

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Prophets, such as Elisha, could also be anointed (1 Kings 19.1). Hetty Lalleman-de Winkel, Jeremiah in Prophetic Tradition: An Examination of the Book of Jeremiah in the Light of Israel’s Prophetic Traditions (Leuven: Peeters, 2000), 22–23. 108 In fact, David is meant to imitate God as the one shepherd over and against the false shepherds mentioned above. 109 Paul M. Joyce, Ezekiel: A Commentary, ed. Claudia V. Camp et al. (New York and London: T&T Clarke, 2007), 198. 110 This implies that the restored kingship must be patterned on the DavidicSolomonic achievement of the construction of a dwelling place for Yahweh above a mountain-top—presumably Sinai, paradigmatic for Zion—which, in Ezekiel, is 107

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himself takes the initiative to return to the temple which exists as a given, so that “the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing east” (Ez 43.4). Ezekiel’s vision of the restored temple therefore not only reflects the building of the tabernacle in Exodus, where the “glory of the Lord” entered (Ex 40.34), but also Solomon’s temple based on the tabernacle (1 Kings 8.11), and likewise the Edenic symbolism of that temple, which, like the garden, faced the east.111 Notwithstanding the additional Edenic imagery, reflected in the waters flowing from the temple mentioned above (Ez 47.1–20)—which correspond to the waters flowing from the garden in Genesis 2.10–14— scholars have highlighted the connection between the restoration of Israel in Ezekiel, beginning at the temple, and the paradisal or eschatological state where the rule of God over his people would be permanent.112 Moreover, a mystical reading of Ezekiel as symbolising the prophet’s “visionary ascent to the heavenly temple”113 is also possible, and it is in fact both the eschatological and mystical dimensions that exerted a considerable influence upon other books written during the Babylonian captivity. This influence can be discerned in the book of Isaiah, for instance, which, while recounting events that ostensibly took place in the eighth century BC, was nevertheless redacted during a period that saw the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.114 It is the material in chapters 40– 66, commonly distinguished as Second Isaiah (chapters 40–55) and Third Isaiah (chapters 56–66)115 and dated between the sixth and fifth centuries BC,116 that is emphatically eschatological; presupposing “that judgement has already taken place and that the time for restoration,” that is, the restoration of Jerusalem/Israel, “is at hand.”117 The imminent fulfilment of Israel’s restoration is pertinently described in Isa 40.9–10: not built by any person (à la Hiram and Solomon), but an angelic figure. Joyce, Ezekiel: A Commentary, 223. 111 Let us not forget the Edenic waters mentioned above. 112 Joyce, Ezekiel: A Commentary, 221. 113 Ibid. 114 Marvin A. Sweeney, ‘The Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel),’ in The Hebrew Bible Today: An Introduction to Critical Issues, ed. Steven L. McKenzie and M. Patrick Graham (Louisville, KE: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998), 77. 115 Early Judaism: Texts and Documents of Faith and Piety, eds. George W. E. Nickelsburg and W. E. Stone (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009), 123. 116 Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 416. 117 Sweeney, ‘The Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel),’ 79. This imminent approach is in stark contrast to the first half of the book (chapters 1–33), which, like Ezekiel’s vision of the restoration of the temple in chapters 40–44, projects a future “judgment and subsequent restoration for Jerusalem.” Ibid., 78.

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Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.

In these verses, the main imagines et axes mundi in the Hebrew worldview which have suffered on account of the Babylonian conquest, that is, Zion and Jerusalem, are about to be restored by the imminent return of God. However, in chapters 42.1–4, 49.1–7, 50.4–9, and 52.13–53.12, this restoration is construed as taking place through an intermediary agent; the suffering servant, who, according to biblical commentators was at once meant to be an embodiment of Israel and “a figure or group within, or to some measure apart from Israel.”118 Persecuted by his enemies, he takes upon himself the suffering and sins of God’s people and, interceding on their behalf, “shall make many righteous” (Isa 53.11). But this suffering servant is not explicitly identified, at least on a literal level, as the messiah in this text. Indeed, in Isaiah there are two alternate references to the ‘anointed one.’ The first is to the king of Persia, Cyrus the Great (Isa 45.1), who, according to Ezra 1.3 released the Jews from their captivity in Babylon and thus permitted them to return to Israel and rebuild the temple. The second is in chapter 61.1, where the poet, the anonymous Third Isaiah, refers to himself as such.119 Subsequently, the suffering servant is not mentioned in Third Isaiah, a text that was occasioned by the fact that several decades after the return to Jerusalem, the temple was still in ruins and the people remained in their iniquities.120 It is not surprising therefore that Third Isaiah once again stressed an imminent judgment and renewal, which, while involving the final transformation of Jerusalem (Isa 65.18), was this time more general and, echoing the creation narrative in Genesis 2, involved the creation of “new heavens and a new earth” (Isa 65.17), a motif which would occur again in the Christian book of Revelation 21.1. Despite this desire for a universal transformation, the theme of a more specific longing for the renewal of Israel and the re-establishment of the Davidic line would become paradigmatic for the Hebrews during periods of crisis, such as the Maccabean period (2nd century BC) which 118

Nickelsburg and Stone, Early Judaism, 123. This is the opinion of both Walter Brueggemman in his Isaiah 40–66 (Louisville, KE: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998), 212, and Joseph Addison Alexander in his Commentary on Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics, 1992), 397. 120 See Isaiah 59.2: “Rather, your iniquities have been barriers between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he does not hear.” 119

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saw the establishment of the politically unstable Hasmonean dynasty whose inner tensions and battles led to the Roman annexation of Palestine under Pompey in the first century BC.121 In this period, the theme of Israel’s renewal is pertinently reflected in the Psalms of Solomon, which petition the Lord to …raise up for them their king, the son of David at the time you know, O God, to rule over Israel your servant. And gird him with strength to crush unrighteous rulers, to cleanse Jerusalem from the Gentiles that trample her in destruction.122

After cleansing the imago et axis mundi of Jerusalem from Israel’s enemies, namely the Romans, this Davidic messiah would further “purify Jerusalem, making it holy as it was from the beginning,” so that all will become “holy, and their king, the Anointed of the Lord.”123 Above we saw that the Jewish notion of kingship was similar to the Sumerian conception of the king as a representative of the divine; but from this point onwards the messianic son of David seems to be endowed more and more with supernatural qualities as an agent of purification and holiness. This expectation of a messiah endowed with divine qualities was further strengthened by the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in 70 AD, which was described by Josephus as causing disruptions in the firmament, such as a star “very like a broadsword” hanging over Jerusalem, and the appearance of a comet for whole year. This was also followed by disruptions in both the terrestrial plane—including a cow giving birth to a lamb—and in the conjunction of the celestial and terrestrial realms in the temple, where he mentions a light appearing in the altar, and a voice coming out of the “inner court of the Temple” saying “Let us go hence”; perhaps intimating the withdrawal of God from the temple and his people. Thus, for Josephus, as for the Hebrew people, the fall of Jerusalem was a cosmic catastrophe, especially insofar as this was recapitulated within the temple, which was itself utterly destroyed.124 This event may have led to the emphasis on a celestial Jerusalem, which, as we saw in 2 Baruch above (which dates from this period) is described as pre-existing the creation. In the latter text, this is done within the context of a post-hoc apocalyptic prophecy regarding the fall of 121

Nickelsburg and Stone, Early Judaism, 160. ‘Psalm of Solomon 17,’ in Early Judaism, ed. Nickelsburg and Stone, 161. 123 Ibid. 124 Josephus, The Jewish War, trans. G. A. Williamson (London: Penguin Books, 1981), 360–61. 122

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Jerusalem, the celestial dimension of which is bypassed in another apocalyptic text from this period, namely 4 Ezra (1st century AD), which describes Rome consistently throughout as an eagle; the zoomorphic representation of itself.125 This zoomorphic description of an empire—the last in a succession of four empires all depicted in a similar fashion—is based on the prophecy in the Old Testament book of Daniel chapter 7.1–8, which, while purportedly foretelling the succession and fall of three subsequent kingdoms to that of the sixth century BC Babylonian kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, was in fact written in the second century as a criticism of the Macedonian kingdom of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who was a persecutor of Judaism.126 What is significant for us here is 4 Ezra’s use of the messianic motif: …the Messiah whom the Most High has kept until the end of days … will arise from the posterity of David, and will come and speak to them [i.e. the Judeans]; he will denounce them for their ungodliness and for their wickedness … But he will deliver in mercy the remnant of my people, those who have been saved throughout my borders, and he will make them joyful until the end comes, the day of judgment…127

Although written, like 2 Baruch, after the fall of Jerusalem, 4 Ezra does not mention the eschatological renewal of the city, but, like Third Isaiah, it is much more general in its assertion that the Davidic messiah will finally judge the Judeans and mercifully redeem the remnant of God’s people. What is interesting to note concerning 4 Ezra’s relationship with the book of Daniel is that the messiah is also present in the latter book as appointed by God to establish an everlasting kingdom. However, in Daniel 7.13–14, the messiah’s reign is not explicitly identified with the Davidic dynasty and its restoration of Israel, but, like Isaiah 65.17, is rendered in a more universal sense: I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.128 125

Nickelsburg and Stone, Early Judaism, 163. Ibid. 127 ‘4 Ezra 12,’ in Early Judaism, ed. Nickelsburg and Stone, 164–65. 128 Translation taken from the English Standard Version. Capitalisation of ‘Son of Man’ mine. 126

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The significance of the notion of the messiah as the ‘Son of Man’ cannot be overstated in relation to the emergence of a group of people in Palestine in the early decades of the first century AD who claimed to have encountered him in Jesus, described as the Christ (ȋȡȚıIJȩȢ), which is the Greek rendition of the word messiah.129

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Jesus is called Christ in the very first verse of the earliest text to be included in the New Testament, which is First Thessalonians, written by St Paul.

CHAPTER SIX CHRISTIANITY

Jesus Christ as Axis Mundi and Personal Ecosystemic Agent Emerging historically in the Near East and spreading rapidly throughout the Mediterranean, traces of Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greek thinking were bound to affect Christianity, a most pertinent example being the use of Babylon as a metaphor for Rome in the book of Revelation,1 which, like all of the other scriptural texts in the New Testament, were written in koine Greek; that form of the language that emerged from Alexander the Great’s conquests and became the lingua franca throughout the Roman empire. The influence of Israel on the early Christian Church need not be extensively accounted for here insofar as it was born within its context. The only thing I will note is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is described in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) as the “Son of David” (ȣੂȩȢ ǻĮȣȓį)2 and the “Son of Man” (ȣੂȩȢ ਕȞșȡȫʌȠȣ),3 both of which are related insofar as they denote his connection with humanity, but in two different ways. We saw in the previous chapter that, since the Babylonian period, the Jews expected an eschatological messiah who would reinaugurate the Davidic line—in other words establish a worldly kingdom—and that under the Macedonian and Roman conquests this expectation took on a universal tone.

1 Adela Yarbro Collins, Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse (Louisville, KE: Westminster John Knox Press, 1984), 57. 2 Mt 1.1 and Lk 18.38; in the former the Genitive is used, ȣੂȠȣ ǻĮȣ੿į, and in latter the vocative; ȣੂ੻ ǻĮȣȓį. All references in this chapter to the English text of the Scriptures are from The New Standard Revised Version unless otherwise stated. Likewise, all references to the Greek of the New Testament text are from The Greek New Testament, ed. Barbara Aland et al. (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 2005). 3 See Luke 19.10: ੒ ȊੂઁȢ IJȠ૨ ਕȞșȡȫʌȠȣ.

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In Matthew 22.41–46, Christ asks the Pharisees about the identity of the messiah, who refer to him as “son of David,” to which he then responds: “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord?” Quoting Psalm 110, he rejects the title son of David, to which he implicitly takes precedence as “Lord.”4 There is also an implication here of Christ’s pre-existence, which is corroborated in St John’s Gospel, both in 1.1 and 8.58; but we will return to the latter aspect later. For now it is important to affirm that Christ is instead described in the Gospels as referring to himself as the Son of Man,5 who, we saw above in relation to Israel, is mentioned in the Old Testament book of Daniel 7.13–14 in contradiction to the Davidic ruler prophesied in Jeremiah 23.5–6, Ezekiel 34.23, Psalms of Solomon 17, and 4 Ezra 12, insofar as his inauguration of an “everlasting dominion” does not refer specifically to Israel/Judah but encompasses all people, and is thus universal. The same book of Daniel is referred to explicitly by Christ in the synoptics (Mk 13.14, Mt 24.14, Lk 21.20), where he prophetically warns of the appearance of the ‘abomination of desolation’ as a sign of the end times marked by his return. This ‘abomination’ appears in Dan 9.27, 11.31, and 12.11—as well as in Maccabees 1.54—as a reference “to the pagan altar erected in the temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes” which defiled it “and made it impossible for Jews to worship there, that is, making it deserted.”6 As mentioned, in all of the synoptics, the reference to the ‘abomination’—which is an apocalyptic trope7—takes place within the

4

The only place where Christ discloses himself as David’s son is Revelation 22.16 where he says: “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendent of David, the bright morning star.” 5 His pre-existence is implied here also insofar as there existed “in pre-Christian apocalyptic Judaism a concept of the eschatological Son of man, a transcendent and pre-existent being whose primary function in the End-time would be that of a judge, delivering the righteous and punishing the wicked.” A. J. B. Higgins, The Son of Man in the Teaching of Jesus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 3. 6 M. Eugene Boring, Mark: A Commentary (Louisville, KE: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), 367. 7 I do not know to what extent it is possible to determine what Christ considered this ‘abomination’ to be, or the inspiration behind Mark’s use of this motif, which has been subjected to various interpretations, including “the actions of Titus and his soldiers in 70 C.E. or the actions of the Zealots who occupied the temple from the winter of 68 until its destruction.” Ibid., 368. What is important is that it is an eschatologically charged motif, which reappears, albeit implicitly, in 2 Thessalonians, where St Paul refers to the man of lawlessness who is to appear

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context of Christ’s references to his second coming, where he repeatedly refers to himself as the ‘Son of Man’ (Mk 13.26, Mt 10.23, 25.31, Lk 21.36),8 a role that in Matthew 25.31 he explicitly construes as that of a universal judge before whom “all the nations will be gathered.”9 Related to this, in all three of the synoptics, the destruction of the temple at “the consummation of the age” (Mt 24.3)10 marked by Christ’s return is immediately followed by a discussion about the cosmic or universal signs that will accompany its fall. Mk 13.8, Mt 24.7, and Lk 21.11, all mention earthquakes and famines as associated with this process. In other words, the destruction of the temple is interpreted as interrupting the cosmos, which is not surprising given that, as we saw above, it was the primary imago et axis mundi in the Hebraic vision of the world. Thus, in shifting the emphasis from the temple to his own person, and in being portrayed as a universal saviour figure—inferable from his self-identification as the Son of Man—Christ’s return at the eschaton likewise has cosmic ramifications. In fact, we have seen that, in the ancient world, sudden alterations in the structure of the firmament, such as comets, were interpreted as portentous,11 especially in relation to cities within which the cosmos was believed to have been recapitulated. We discerned this already in the previous chapter in relation to Josephus’ description of the fall of Jerusalem, where he mentioned the distortion of the celestial realm through the appearance of a star and a comet, as well as the natural/terrestrial realm with a cow giving birth to a lamb. Josephus also mentioned God’s departure from the temple, within which both realms (along with the subterranean) were recapitulated; a nuance that can perhaps be discerned in Mk 15.28, Mt 27.51, and Lk 23.45, where the curtain in the temple is torn in two upon Jesus’ death on the cross; thus the rupturing of the imago et axis mundi. Such a disposition is foreshadowed in John 2.19, when Christ before “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2.1) as “taking his seat in the temple of God, and declaring himself to be God” (2.4). 8 He also refers to himself as the Son of Man in an apocalyptic context in Luke 17.22, 24, 26, 30. 9 In this passage there is no reference to Israel per se, but to all nations being present at the judgment. 10 My translation. 11 Pauline Ripat has recently elaborated on this: “Comets often appear in our [Roman] sources as indication of calamities to follow—plagues, conspiracies, wars, changes of leader—and, as we have seen, were variously interpreted by haruspices and astrologers.” ‘Expelling Misconceptions: Astrologers at Rome,’ Classical Philology 106.2 (2011): 143.

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prophesies his own resurrection by affirming, “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again,”12 thereby once again transferring temple imagery to himself. In contrast, a positive disposition towards the temple is reflected, for instance, in the Lukan infancy narrative, where Christ is both presented to God there according to the law of Moses (Lk 2.22–24)13 and depicted as a young teacher within its precincts (Lk 2.41– 52).14 Moreover, given the intimate connection between the temple and Jerusalem, both of which—along with Zion upon which they were built— were considered mutually inclusive imagines et axes mundi, Christ’s mission is not only repeatedly described as culminating there—i.e. “he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Lk 9.51)15—but, having reached the end of his journey, he laments for the city (Lk 13.34–35, Mt 23.37). Finally, after this lament, he does affirm “see, your house is left to you, desolate” (Mt 23.37);16 an affirmation that can be correlated with his prediction concerning the appearance of the ‘abomination of desolation’ in the temple, as well as its destruction. Indicative of the shift of imagines et axes mundi symbolism from the temple to Christ—brought upon by his rejection and persecution at the hands of the Jerusalemites—is the fact that all of the Gospels refer to his crucifixion on Golgotha (Mk 15.22, Mt 27.33, Lk 23.33, Jn 19.17),17 which, according to Eliade, was considered “the summit of the cosmic

12 In the synoptics, one of the criticisms made against him when he is brought before Caiaphas is that he will destroy the actual temple of Jerusalem and build it again in three days (Mt 26.21, Mk 14.58); which is a misunderstanding of Christ’s transference of the symbolism of the temple to himself (as recorded in John). 13 Joel B. Green has affirmed that the point of presenting Jesus to the Lord in accordance with the purification statute of Leviticus 12 should be read in light of the fact that he is almost immediately identified by Simeon as the “Lord’s Messiah” (Lk 2.26), making his presentation in the temple significant both for the witness concerning him, and the fact that Jesus’ family is “obedient to the Lord, unquestionably pious.” The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 140–41. 14 This scene confirms Jesus’ particular relationship to God the Father. For more, see ibid., 156. 15 For example, Mt 16.21, 19.1, Mk 10.32, Lk 16.11, 18.31 all mention his journey to Jerusalem, and Mt 21.1–11, Mk 11.1–11, Lk 19.28–44, and Jn 12.12–19 all mention his triumphal entry into the city. 16 In Luke 13.35, ‘desolation’ is not mentioned: “See, your house is left to you.” 17 Luke simply refers to this place as “the Skull,” which is in fact the translation for Golgotha given in the other Gospels.

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mountain,”18 and thus both an imago mundi and an axis mundi. Thus, we have the transference of the image and centre of the cosmos from Zion, upon which the temple and the city of Jerusalem were built, to Golgotha, sanctified by the presence of Christ, and also to Christ himself. This transference is also indicated by the author of Hebrews 13.12–14,19 where Jesus is depicted as suffering and thereby offering sanctification “outside the city gate” of Jerusalem, in other words, outside the Hebraic imago et axis mundi, before stating that here “we [i.e. Christians] have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”20 This latter should be read in light of the author’s exhortation to readers in chapter 12.22 to maintain the Christian path insofar as they have “come to Mt Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Here, the heavenly Jerusalem is equated with ‘the city that is to come’21 which is anticipated at the expense of the terrestrial Jerusalem, outside the gates of which Christ, having suffered, offers sanctification. It is at this heavenly Jerusalem, which is consonant with a celestial Mt Zion, a sacred imago et axis mundi, that “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb 12.24) is met by those who follow him. This distinction between the heavenly and terrestrial Jerusalems—with a preference for the former instead of the latter—is anticipated in Hebrews 9.24 where the heavenly temple is contrasted to the terrestrial one: 18

Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History, trans. W. R. Trask (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 14–15. 19 Although Pauline authorship of the letter is today rejected, nevertheless it has been historically and traditionally associated with him, and Paul Ellingworth refers to an extant text by Origen in Eusebius’ History of the Church which shows that the former critically appreciates the text as reflecting a Pauline tradition, though perhaps not written by the saint. The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1993), 5. 20 I do not want to take this too far insofar as the author of Hebrews creates an analogy in the previous verse between functions undertaken by the high priest of the tabernacle—a type of the temple—concerning the blood of sacrificed animals whose bodies were burnt outside the camp (13.11); animals to whom Jesus is metaphorically likened. In fact, Jesus is considered precisely as such a sacrifice, his blood sanctifying people in the same way that the blood of these animals was “brought into the sanctuary [of the temple] as a sacrifice for sin” (13.11). However, it remains significant that this sacrifice, through which Jesus is able to “sanctify the people by his blood” (13.12), happens outside the city. The author therefore exhorts the Hebrew Christians to go out to him there; that is, outside the imago et axis mundi of Jerusalem. 21 Gareth Lee Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2012), 704.

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Chapter Six For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

In describing Christ as entering into the heavenly sanctuary, the author of Hebrews uses temple-terminology in order to demonstrate Jesus’ precedence over the terrestrial sanctuary and its priesthood. In light of this, in both Hebrews and the Gospels, the Christian disposition towards the main Hebraic imagines et axes mundi—namely the temple, the city of Jerusalem, and Zion—must remain nuanced insofar as, while their significance is shifted to Christ, their symbolism is not rejected altogether in describing him as the new centre of the world, or axis mundi. In keeping with the multivalent nature of symbols, the Gospel writers also described other natural imagines et axes mundi phenomena in relation to Christ. We see, for instance, that he taught from mountains, as in the case of the sermon on the Mount (Mt 5–7), and he also discloses his divine glory on mount Tabor (Mt 17.1–9, Mk 9.2–8, Lk 9.28–36); a disclosure accompanied by the appearance of a cloud (Mt 17.5, Mk 9.7, Lk 9.34) that can be likened to the smoke that enveloped both Sinai (Exodus 19.18) and later Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8.10–11) as a sign of God’s presence.22 In both cases—but especially in the latter—the cosmic symbolism of mountains, which, on account of their vertical orientation, intersect heaven and earth, becomes the locus for the hierophany of the Son of God, better described as a theophany in this context. Other examples of natural phenomena include John 15.1, where Christ compares himself to a vine and the disciples to its branches. In the Old Testament books of Jeremiah 2.21 and Hosea 10.1, Israel is compared to a vine, and in Isaiah (5.1–7, 27.2–6) to a vineyard,23 leading Frederick Dale Bruner to assert that in John 15.1 “Jesus is … claiming to be the authentic Israel, in person.”24 In the ‘Definitions’ section at the beginning of this book, I listed vines among those axes mundi that, on account of their vertical orientation, connect heaven and earth; meaning that Christ, in comparing himself to a vine, transfers the axis mundi symbolism from 22

I thank Chris Baghos for this nuance. For more on the correspondence between Mt Sinai and Mt Tabor, and the way they are interpreted in the Eastern patristic tradition, see Bogdan Bucur, ‘Sinai, Zion, and Tabor: An Entry into the Christian Bible,’ Journal of Theological Interpretation 4.1 (2010): 34–39. 23 As well as in Ezekiel 15.1–6, 17.1–10, and 19.10 where the comparisons to Israel as a vine are related to its judgment. 24 Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2012), 878.

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Israel to himself, in the way that he had done with both the temple and the city of Jerusalem by being crucified outside its gates. In the synoptics, the use of the theme of Israel—and not Christ—as the vineyard in the parable of the wicked tenants (Mt 21.33–46, Mk 12.1–12, Lk 20.9–19) is contrasted to the “chief cornerstone,” who is meant to be identified with the murdered son of the landowner who planted the vineyard; the son of the landowner being Christ, and the landowner God the Father.25 In every rendition of this parable, Christ is depicted quoting Psalm 118.22—“the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”26—to the effect that he referred to himself as the cornerstone, which is part of the architecture of the temple,27 which has been rejected by the builders who represent the temple authorities.28 According to R. T. France, many interpreters have seen this cornerstone “as referring to the cornerstone at the base [of the temple], which would be the first to be laid.” However, France also gives evidence that it is just as possible to “think of the large stone at the corner of the top course [of the temple], which is fitted last to complete the building,” and concludes by affirming that irrespective of the architectural form envisaged, the meaning is clear in that “the one rejected has become the most important of all.”29 Thus, once again we discern that the imagines et axes mundi symbolism of the temple has been transferred to Christ, who is the foundation not of a terrestrial building, but, as indicated by St Paul, of “the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets” (Ephesians 2.20). This household is of course the ecclesial community or the Church that is further likened by Paul to a body, which, though remaining diverse in its many members (1 Corinthians 12.12–21), is nevertheless entirely recapitulated into its head, which is Jesus (Eph 4.15). This sentiment is anticipated in Ephesians 1.10, where Paul writes that in “the fullness of time” God will gather up all things in him, “things in heaven and things on earth,” so that the celestial and terrestrial realms can once again be seen as summed up in Christ, making him an axis mundi 25

For more information, see an analysis of the use of this parable in St Mark’s Gospel in Robert H. Stein, Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 538. 26 He also recites verse 23 of this Psalm: “This is the Lord’s doing: and it is marvelous in our eyes.” 27 Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 515. 28 R. T. France suggests that in rabbinic literature the scribes are often referred to as “builders.” The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002), 463. 29 France, The Gospel of Mark, 463.

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and an ecosystemic agent, who is further described, in Colossians 1.15–18, as the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible … all things have been created through and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

For St Paul, Christ pre-exists the celestial and terrestrial realms that are recapitulated within and made through and for him. Contemporary exegetes have expounded that, in describing Christ in such a way, Paul gives him the attributes of the ‘wisdom of God’ (see 1 Cor 1.24, 30), which, “in Prov 8.22–31 … speaks of her presence at the creation of the world,”30 and was even considered by Philo of Alexandria as God’s “firstborn,”31 a notion which, according to Frederick Fyvie Bruce, “cannot be construed as though he himself [i.e Christ] were the first of all beings to be created.”32 Instead, both Bruce and Jerry L. Sumney agree that ‘firstborn’ designates Christ’s rank above and before all others,33 which makes sense when compared to the recurrence of this notion in relation to the fact that he is “firstborn from the dead” (ʌȡȦIJȩIJȠțȠȢ ਥț IJ૵Ȟ Ȟİțȡ૵Ȟ),34 insofar as his “resurrection initiates the new possibility for existence” that is available within the Church.35 The Church is likewise mentioned in this verse in relation to Christ’s headship of the body (Eph 4.15), through which, it follows, that “God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, through the blood of the cross” (Col 1.20). In Colossians 1.21–23, Paul explicitly relates this cosmic reconciliation to the existential reconciliation within the Church, where the recipients of the Gospel, formerly hostile in mind and deed, are through the cross “made holy and blameless and irreproachable before him,” provided that they endure in their faith. While in relation to Ephesians, Harold Hoehner affirms that “one must not confuse the church 30

Frederick Fyvie Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 60. The theme also appears in Wisdom of Solomon 7.17–24, 9.9. 31 Philo, On the Confusion of Tongues 14, in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, ed. C. D Yonge (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1993), 240. 32 Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, 59. 33 Ibid; see also Jerry L. Sumney, Colossians: A Commentary (Louiseville, KE: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 65. 34 Colossians 1.18. 35 Sumney, Colossians: A Commentary, 73.

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with the cosmos” insofar as “the church, Christ’s body, is never called the cosmos” in this epistle,36 nevertheless it is clear from both Ephesians and Colossians that while Christ’s headship of the Church, which is related to his death and resurrection as firstborn from the dead, is one thing, and his lordship of the cosmos another, nevertheless the former impacts the latter as he not only reconciles the celestial and terrestrial realms, again as their firstborn (and as anterior to them), but also sinners to his own body. Christ’s ecosystemic status is thus both cosmic and personal, thereby contrasting with Near Eastern conceptions of demiurges in two ways: the first is that these demiurges were unilaterally posterior to the creation, in other words, the world, albeit in a shapeless form, existed before they were born or emerged from chaos, and we have seen that this was not the case for Christ, the eternal ‘firstborn,’ and the second; that these demiurges were not considered like Christ as incorporating believers into themselves in a manner that preserved the distinct identities of both, but rather gave them access to the fecundity of the cosmogony illo tempore.37 We have seen so far that the imagines et axes mundi symbolism of the temple, Jerusalem, Zion and Israel have been transferred to Christ by way of his crucifixion outside of Jerusalem, the description of himself as a temple, the image of the vine, the cornerstone; and in the cosmological and ecclesiological reflections of St Paul. Nevertheless, the New Testament contains many more images that signify Christ as an image and centre of the world and as ecosystemic agent. First, we have Christ’s words to the Apostle Philip in John 1.51: “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” Jesus is here implicitly referring to the Old Testament patriarch Jacob’s vision of the ladder, “set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven,” upon which he saw “the angels of God … ascending and descending” (Genesis 28.12). The implication is that what Jacob really saw was Christ, a vision that will be made available to the Church38 represented here by St Philip. That, at least, is the typological interpretation, from which we can infer that Christ is, by implication, here 36 Harold Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 294. 37 Eliade put this clearly; since “religious man yearns for being,” he imitates the gods in order to re-actualise their paradigmatic acts of creation when the fullness of being—the sacred—was first made manifest. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. W. R. Trask (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959), 63–64. 38 Herman N. Ridderbos, The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1992), 94.

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being mystically represented as a ladder connecting heaven and earth, in other words, an axis mundi.39 Aside from the ladder, in the tenth chapter of the same Gospel, we have Christ comparing himself explicitly to a gate. Concerning these, Eliade asserted that in the ancient world gates were related to the “passage from one mode of being to another” that implies a break and transcendence from the profane to the sacred.40 Christ’s references in John 10.8–9 to himself as such should therefore be interpreted in this regard. In ancient Mesopotamia, gates were in fact named after the various gods,41 while in Israel cultic utensils were, according to 1 Kings 7.16–39, placed at the gates of the temple, and in Ezekiel 46.2–12 “sacrifices and offerings” were made to God “outside the temple, at its gate surrounded by a courtyard.”42 In light of this symbolism, Christ’s words can also be interpreted as transferring the association of the gate with the transition from profane to sacred space to himself, and as a manifestation of himself as God. Moreover, for both Mesopotamia and Israel, gates were the juncture where the ruler publicly appeared.43 This can be contrasted to Christ’s words in John 10.11, that he is “the good shepherd,” insofar as Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Israelite rulers—including king David—were construed as shepherds.44 Thus, Christ not only identifies himself as the locus of the transition from the mundane to the sacred via the gate, but as the ‘ecosystemic shepherd’ who is responsible for facilitating this transition. Christ’s ecosystemic agency is also manifested by his role as high priest, delineated in Hebrews 9.25–26: Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own … But as it is, 39

This finds an echo in 1 Timothy 2.5–6. Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 181–82. 41 These gods include Marduk, Ishtar, Enlil, etc. Natalie M. May, ‘Gates and their Functions in Mesopotamia and Ancient Israel,’ in The Fabric of Cities: Aspects of Urbanism, Urban Topography and Society in Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome, ed. May and Ulrike Steinert (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2014), 80. 42 Ibid., 82. That the Israelites were familiar with Babylonian gates can be discerned in Jeremiah 7.2. 43 Ibid., 91–92. 44 The Egyptian pharaoh would carry a shepherd’s crook in all processions, and both Egyptian and Mesopotamian kings were often described as such. Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion and the Integration of Society and Nature (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1969), 85, 261, 309. David is referred to as a shepherd in 1 Samuel 17.40. 40

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he has appeared once and for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.

James W. Thompson interprets this archetype-type distinction between the true sanctuary and its copy, anticipated in Hebrew’s 8.5,45 in relation to Platonic unity-multiplicity demonstrating that “one belongs to the heavenly world, while the many belong to the physical world that is always undergoing change.”46 Relating this to Christ and the Levitical priests that enter “year after year” into the temple, he affirms that the former, having entered “once for all,” is not like the latter, “for the repetition of their sacrifices reflects imperfection.”47 Christ, on the other hand, is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, who is mentioned in Genesis 14.17–20 “without a genealogy” (Heb 7.3), having “neither beginning of days nor end of life” (Heb 7.3). Thus, unlike the transitory priests of the Old Covenant, the ‘beginningless’ and ‘endless’ king Melchizedek is a type or foreshadowing of the eternal Son of God (Heb 7.3), who suffered “outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood” (13.12).48 Since this sanctification is depicted here as taking place outside the imagines et axes mundi of Jerusalem and its temple, once again we discern the transference of emphasis from the temple, and in this case its priesthood, to Christ; a transference that was also denoted by the figure of Melchizedek, whose kingship implies Christ’s ecosystemic agency insofar as the former is a type for the latter. So far we have seen that, while early Christians did not dispense with the imagines et axes mundi and ecosystemic symbolism inhering in Israelite culture (some of which is shared with Mesopotamia and Egypt), nevertheless they transferred it emphatically to Christ, the eternal head of the Church, who is the goal of the celestial Zion and Jerusalem, the sanctifier of Golgotha and Tabor, the true vine, the cornerstone, and, uniquely, the transcendent master and reconciler of heaven, earth, and

45

In this verse, the author refers to Exodus 25.40, where Moses is instructed to create the utensils for the tabernacle “according to the pattern for them, which is being shown to you on the mountain” of Sinai. 46 James W. Thompson, Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 193. 47 Ibid. Elsewhere he admits, however, that “the author’s employment of Platonic categories does not indicate that he is a consistent Platonist.” Ibid., 169. 48 Luke Timothy Johnson affirms that the author of Hebrews wants to demonstrate “that Scripture itself has drawn Melchizedek in such a fashion as to enable the reader to see a likeness between him and Jesus, the Son of God.” Hebrews: A Commentary (Louiseville, KE: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), 177.

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human beings to himself. He is also the gateway for the sheep, and the high priest par excellence. We have also seen that the imagines et axes mundi symbols used above by the Church in relation to Christ depict him as intersecting the heavenly and terrestrial realms, but have not said anything about the subterranean dimension, which is also accounted for in various ways in the scriptures and is described alternately as Sheol49 or Hades. Hades was of course the name of the Greek god of the underworld before “the regular use of Hades as the name of the place of the dead” was applied consistently by the Septuagint (LXX) translators of the Old Testament to Sheol, its direct Hebrew equivalent.50 In this way, both Sheol and Hades refer specifically to the realm of the dead, whereas Gehenna51 is closely associated with “fiery punishment.”52 Here, all three designations are used interchangeably in relation to the underworld, and we are especially concerned with Hades, which we see referred to, for instance, in Job 38.17: “And do the gates of death open to you for fear; and did the porters of Hades (ઌįȠȣ) quake when they saw you?”53 And again in Hosea 13.14: “I will deliver them out of the power of Hades (ઌįȠȣ), and will redeem them from death: where is your penalty, O death? O Hades (ઌįȘ), where is your sting?”54 In the Acts of the Apostles 2.31, St Peter is depicted quoting the LXX Psalm 15.10 as a Davidic prophecy regarding Christ’s resurrection: “He was not abandoned to Hades (ਚįȘȞ),

49 The Old Testament referred to Sheol primarily as a “shadowy existence in the realm of the dead.” Alasdair I. C. Heron, ‘Hell, 2. The Bible and Dogma,’ in The Encyclopedia of Christianity, vol. 2, ed. Erwin Fahlbusch et al. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001), 516. 50 G. A. L., ‘Hades,’ in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 2, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley et al. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002), 591. 51 Gehenna is referred to in Mt 5.22, 29, 39, 10.28, 18.9, 23.15, 23.33, Mk 9.43, 45, 47, Lk 12.5, James 3.6. In a more nuanced way, its symbolic association with fire comes from its association with the valley of the son of Hinnom, where apostate Israelites sacrificed/burned their children to Canaanite gods such as Baal or Molech (2 Chronicles 28.2–3, 2 Kings 23.10). G. A. L., ‘Gehenna,’ in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 2, 423. 52 Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 690. 53 Greek text taken from The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English, trans. Lancelot C. L. Brenton (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1851), 694. English text taken from the same source but slightly altered by me. 54 Greek text taken from ibid., 1079. English text taken from the same source but slightly altered by me.

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nor did his flesh experience corruption.”55 Jesus is in fact described in 1 Peter 3.19 as making a “proclamation to the spirits in prison” upon his death, which implies a topographical dimension to Hades as a place of bondage that is elaborated upon by the apocryphal literature which frequently depicts Christ as liberating the captive persons there, as well as defeating the devil or Satan, and shattering Hades’ bars.56 In relation to this, it is important to note that death and sin, which are related—“the sting of death is sin” (1 Cor 15.56)57—are also nullified by Christ, who according to Hebrews 2.14, “through death” destroyed “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” Christ’s descent into Hades therefore results in the undoing of all these associated forces, but that it is not separated from his activity in the other cosmic regions is pointed out by St Paul in Ephesians 4.7–11: 55

Originally in Psalm 15.10: “because you will not abandon my soul into Hades” (੖IJȚ Ƞ੝ț ਥȖțĮIJĮȜİȓȥİȚȢ IJ੽Ȟ ȥȣȤȒȞ ȝȠȣ İੁȢ ઌįȘȞ). Ibid., 705. English text adapted by me. 56 In the Gospel of Nicodemus, for instance, Satan and a personified Hades are debating the identity of Christ, the former denying his power and the latter quite fearful of it, before “a loud voice like thunder sounded: Lift up your gates, O rulers, and be lifted up, O everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in [Ps. 23.7 LXX] … Then Hades said to his demons: Make fast well and strongly the gates of brass and the bars of iron, and hold my locks … Again the voice sounded: Lift up the gates. When Hades heard the voice a second time, he answered as if he did not know who said: Who is this King of glory? The angels of the Lord said: The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle [Ps. 23.8 LXX]. And immediately at this answer the gates of brass were broken in pieces and the bars of iron were crushed and all the dead who were bound were loosed from their chains … And the King of glory entered like a man … [he] seized the chief ruler Satan by the head and handed him over to the angels, saying: Bind with iron fetters his hands and his feet and his neck and his mouth. Then he gave him to Hades and said: Take him and hold him fast until my second coming.” The Gospel of Nicodemus, Acts of Pilate and Christ’s Descent into Hell V(XXI)–VI(XXII), trans. Felix Scheidweiler, in New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1: Gospels and Related Writings, eds. Wilhelm Schneemelcher and R. McL. Wilson (Louisville, KE: Westminster John Knox Press, 1991), 524. For examples from other apocryphal texts, see the section ‘Apocryphal Literature,’ in Hilarion Alfeyev’s Christ the Conqueror of Hell: the Descent into Hades from an Orthodox Perspective (Crestwood, New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2009), 20–34. 57 Immediately after relating death and sin in such a way, in 1 Corinthians 15.57 St Paul states: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (IJ૶ į੻ Ĭİ૶ ȤȐȡȚȢ IJ૶ įȚįȩȞIJȚ ਲȝ૙Ȟ IJઁ Ȟ૙țȠȢ įȚ੹ IJȠ૨ ȀȣȡȓȠȣ ਲȝ૵Ȟ ੉ȘıȠ૨ ȋȡȚıIJȠ૨), meaning that despite the ‘end-time’ orientation of this chapter, Christ is nevertheless ‘already’ victorious.

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Chapter Six But each of us was given a gift according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)

Paul here refers to LXX Psalm 68.18 that depicts God “as the triumphant Divine Warrior ascending to his throne”58 after “leading captives in [his] train and receiving gifts from people” in relation to Christ’s ascension. According to Clinton E. Arnold, who follows St John Chrysostom, these captives can be interpreted as Satan and his demons, which can thus be correlated with the references in Ephesians 1.21 and 6.12 to the demonic “principalities, powers, and authorities”59 that are here being depicted as captives of Christ. But, in order to achieve this, Christ had to first descend into the “lower parts of the earth,” which can only be the subterranean region identified in other texts with Hades, so that, having defeated, according to Chrysostom, Satan, death, and the demonic powers therein,60 he might ascend far “above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Eph 1.21) and thereby “fill all things.” In other words, in Ephesians St Paul describes Christ as both intersecting and transcending the underworld, earth, and heaven, as an axis mundi and an ecosystemic agent. Although the terrestrial dimension is not explicitly mentioned by Paul, still it is implied by Christ’s intra and transcosmic ubiquity, which is also present in the famous kenosis passage of Philippians 2.5–12, where the saint depicts Christ as emptying himself of his divine glory, humbling himself to the point of death on the cross, after which he was highly exalted with a name “above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” As in Ephesians, so here can we also discern the vertical 58

Clinton E. Arnold, Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 251. The whole verse from the Psalm reads: “You ascended the high mount, leading captives in your train and receiving gifts from people, even from those who rebel against the Lord God’s abiding there.” 59 Arnold, Ephesians, 251. 60 In describing what is meant by the “lower parts of the earth,” St John affirmed that they mean “death, by a human metaphor … And why does he mention this region here? What sort of captivity is he speaking of? That of the devil. He has taken captive the tyrant, the devil and death, the curse and sin.” St John Chrysostom, Homily on Ephesians 11.4.9–10, in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, ed. Mark J. Edwards (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1999), 164.

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axis of the celestial, earthly, and subterranean realms being intersected by Christ throughout his salvific acts on earth, especially his death, resurrection, and ascension. Related to this, Christ’s personal ecosystemic agency is also pointed out by St Paul in both Ephesians and Philippians. In the former, the saint speaks of Christ bestowing gifts upon the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers—the saints—after his ascension in order to assist them in “building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4.11–12). In the latter, after referring to Christ’s universal lordship, Paul exhorts the Philippians to work out their “salvation with fear and trembling,” for God is “at work” in them, enabling them “both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Php 2.12–13). In this way, Christ can be seen as intersecting and encompassing all the realms—heavenly, earthly, and subterranean—in a manner that has immediate existential outcomes, especially for the ecclesial context. But there are further nuances that should be uncovered in relation to his descent into Hades and his liberation of those therein. Matthew’s Gospel is relevant in this respect because it describes Christ’s death on Golgotha as associated with the opening of nearby tombs, so that “many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (27.52). In other words, these saints experienced the resurrection upon Christ’s death, presumably—if we are to follow 1 Peter 3.19, Ephesians 4.7–11, and the apocryphal tradition—on account of his descent to Hades, which is annihilated by Christ’s resurrection; a resurrection that had been anticipated when he raised the young girl (Mt 9.18–26, Mk 5.35–43, Lk 8.40–56), the widow’s son at Nain (Lk 11.7–17), and Lazarus (Jn 11.38–44). The common thread in these resurrectional experiences is that Christ is their cause as ‘life-giver’ (Jn 10.1)61 and the one who holds “the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev 1.18). In this way, Christ’s resurrection, his defeat of death, becomes the basis for the general resurrection “of our bodies” (Romans 8.23) anticipated by the Christian community. Jesus hints that the general resurrection will be marked by his return, or second coming, when he affirms that the “Son of Man,” before whom “all nations will be gathered,” will come “in his glory” (Mt 25.31–32), but it is described in a more nuanced way by Paul as the “the day of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5.2),62 when: “the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thess 61

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” This concept is used in the Old Testament almost exclusively in relation to judgment: Isaiah 2.12 13.6, 9; Ezekiel 13.5, 30.3, Joel 1.15, 2.1, 11, 31; 3.14, Amos 5.18, 20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1.7, 14; Zechariah 14.1; Malachi 4.1. 62

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4.16–17).63 That this general resurrection would be cosmic in scope is reflected in Acts 3.21 when St Peter declares that Jesus “must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration (ਕʌȠțĮIJĮıIJȐıİȦȢ ʌȐȞIJȦȞ) that God announced long ago through his holy prophets.”64 If, however, Christ has already “filled all things”—i.e. the entire cosmos—through his death, resurrection, and ascension as seen above, then something of the “universal restoration,” itself cosmic in nature, must have already taken place. This is what I have described above in the ‘Definitions’ section as the already/not-yet tension that characterises Christian eschatology. Salvation in Christ, which is described in various interrelated ways including the kingdom of God/heaven (Mk 1.15; Mt 3.2), eternal life (Jn 6.58), salvation (Lk 19.9), paradise (Lk 23.43), has ‘already’ come insofar as the cosmos has indeed been transformed in Christ, but it is ‘not yet’ fulfilled or consummated on behalf of all people.65 What remains is for believers to strive to interiorise—by God’s grace—this eschatological state (i.e. the kingdom) within their very persons before the second coming, when this state will be unilaterally distributed to all, with some experiencing the resurrection in a positive sense, and some in a negative.66 63

St Paul refers once again to the mode of the general resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.51–52: “Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” In relation to this, Gordon D. Fee debunks the idea, current in modern biblical scholarship, that St Paul expected the second coming to occur imminently. The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009), 175–76. 64 Frederick Fyvie Bruce compares the word ‘restoration’ or ‘apokatastasis’ used here with “Paul’s picture of a renovated creation coinciding with the investiture of the sons and daughters of God” in Romans 8.18–23. The Book of the Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988), 85. Elsewhere, I have demonstrated that this “universal restoration” is not equivocal to “universal salvation” in the Christian tradition. ‘Reconsidering Apokatastasis in St Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Soul and Resurrection and the Catechetical Oration,’ in Cappadocian Legacy: A Critical Appraisal, eds. Doru Costache and Philip Kariatlis (Sydney, NSW: St Andrew’s Orthodox Press, 2013), 387–415. 65 Georges Florovsky, ‘The Patristic Age and Eschatology: An Introduction,’ in Aspects of Church History (Vaduz: Büchervertriebsanstalt, 1987), 63–64; George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (London: The Paternoster Press, 1959), 67. David S. Dockery, Biblical Interpretation Then and Now: Contemporary Hermeneutics in Light of the Early Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1992), 185. 66 With some rising to blessedness and others to the purification of fire. See, for example, the parable of the last judgment (Mt 25.31–46) and St Gregory of

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For Christians, this interiorisation is accomplished within the Church, the body of Christ, which is built up by the relationship between its head, that is, Jesus, with his members. This means that while the ascetical struggle of the faithful is significant, nevertheless it is the grace of Christ in accomplishing their transformation that takes priority. In order words, throughout the New Testament, we see that Christ has given Christians the potential to undertake an existential journey, beginning with a change of mind67 and a commitment to the Christian lifestyle,68 marked by baptism (Mt 28.19, Acts 2.41, 19.5) into the ecclesial context and frequent participation in the Eucharist (Jn 6.53, Lk 22.19–20, Acts 2.46, 1 Cor 11.23–27), within that same context, so that the resurrectional life of Christ—expected by Christians to occur generally at the eschaton— might be bestowed upon them in the here and now, making them “partakers of the divine life” (2 Pet 1.4).69 Thus, in contrast to the demiurges in the other ancient cultures assessed above, Christ—who we have seen is an axis mundi—is a ‘personal’ ecosystemic agent insofar as he reshapes not only the cosmic regions that he both intersects and transcends, but also the human beings that he has integrated into himself. That this process begins in the here and now, but will not be consummated until the eschaton, is especially manifested in the book of Revelation, which uses, in relation to Christ, some of the most profound axis mundi and ecosystemic imagery in the whole of the New Testament; ecosystemic imagery that stands in sharp contrast to the Roman empire, particular towards the object of its ruler cult—the emperor—which we have seen has its distant antecedents in the rule of the Akkadian king Naram-Sin; was embodied by Pharaoh in the Egyptian context, Alexander and his successors in the Greek; and was exemplified by Augustus and his successors in the Roman period.

Nyssa’s reflections on this topic in Baghos, ‘Reconsidering Apokatastasis in St Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Soul and Resurrection and the Catechetical Oration,’ 412–13. 67 I prefer to use this phrase insofar as it is etymologically more consistent with Christ’s exhortation ȝİIJĮȞȠİȓIJİ, which appears in most translations of Mk 1.15, Mt 3.2, 4.17 as ‘repent,’ which has a different nuance altogether; that of the act of sincere remorse, which is perhaps associated with, but ultimately cannot compel one, to “transform” (indicated by the prefix ȝİIJȐ) one’s mind (ȞȠ૨Ȣ). 68 Manifested in the Beatitudes (Mt 5.3–12, Lk 6.20–22), the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5, 6, 7), and throughout the Gospels; highlighted in Acts (2.43–47), and exhorted throughout the epistles both Pauline (eg. Rom 12.1–21, 14.1–23) and catholic (1 Jn 3.1–24). 69 My translation of the Greek text.

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Church and Empire in the Book of Revelation Christ’s Ecosystemic Agency and the Eschaton Traditionally ascribed to St John the theologian and evangelist, disputes as to the actual penmanship of Revelation go back to the fourth century.70 Suffice it to say that the author identifies himself as a certain “John” at the beginning of the work before outlining “what must soon take place” (Rev 1.1); in other words, the events concerning the second coming of Christ (Rev 22.12) at the end times, without being restricted to them.71 Most scholars place the composition of Revelation either during the reign of the Roman emperor “Domitian (A.D. 81–96) or toward the end or immediately after the reign of Nero (A.D. 54–68),”72 which is significant insofar as both of these emperors demanded divine honours be attributed to them73 and persecuted the Church;74 a persecution whose atmosphere frames and penetrates Revelation. This is clear even from the outset, where John describes Jesus as “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev 1.5), highlighting his supremacy over all sovereigns and, it can be inferred, their ostensible ecosystemic agency. 70

Concluding that the ‘John’ of Revelation was different from the Evangelist, St Dionysius the Great affirmed that the former John “saw revelations and received knowledge and prophecy I will not deny; but I observe that his language and style are not really Greek.” In other words, not the same as the language of the Evangelist. This information is preserved in Eusebius of Caesarea’s History of the Church 7.25, trans. G. A. Williamson (London: Penguin Books, 1989), 243. In any case, the Orthodox Church traditionally ascribes the penmanship of Revelation to St John’s disciple St Prochoros—to whom the former dictated his vision—which corrects the discrepancy in language and style between this text and the rest of the Johannine corpus. 71 More on this below. 72 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 15–16. 73 Adela Yarbro Collins has demonstrated that while Domitian “did not demand to be addressed or referred to as lord and god,” nevertheless “the tendency to worship the emperor (formally at least) did increase during Domitian’s reign.” Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse, 104. The extent to which Nero attempted to exhibit himself as divine has been demonstrated by Eric R. Varner’s Mutilation and Transformation: Damnatio Memoriae and Roman Imperial Portraiture (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 76. 74 Brian W. Jones tried to exonerate Domitian by contextualising the persecutions predominantly to Nero’s reign; nevertheless he gives an account of the ancient sources that blame both of these emperors. The Emperor Domitian (London: Routledge, 1993), 114–17.

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Having been exiled to the island of Patmos “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 1.9), John is visited by “one like the Son of Man” (Rev 1.13), who we saw in Daniel and the Jewish intertestamental literature is the eschatological messiah figure, and whom Christ identifies as himself. This glorified Christ holds in his hand “seven stars” (1.16) and stands amid the “seven lampstands” (1.12); the former being a cosmological symbol for the seven churches—signified by the lampstands—that are addressed by him in seven letters dictated by Christ to John.75 The Son of Man then declares: “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last (੒ ʌȡ૵IJȠȢ țĮ੿ ੒ ਩ıȤĮIJȠȢ), and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev 1.17–18). We have seen that the ‘not yet’ of eschatology is concerned with the ‘last things’ of the cosmos, marked by the second coming of Christ and the general resurrection, and here Christ describes himself as the ‘last’—in other words, as the final term of all things. He also describes himself as the ‘first,’ which we saw in the Pauline epistles denotes the fact that he is both the “firstborn of all creation” (Col 1.15)—to which he is nevertheless anterior (Col 1.17)—and “firstborn from the dead” (Col 1.18), which is also manifested in his reference above to having overcome death as “the living one” who holds “the keys of Death and Hades.” The latter reference is significant insofar as it recalls the tradition of his descent into the “lower parts of the earth” (Eph 4.9), the subterranean or infernal realm, within which we have seen in relation to Acts 2.31, 1 Cor 15.56, Heb 2.14, 1 Pet 3.19—and the apocryphal literature—that he defeated death, sin, Satan and Hades. Once again, we can discern in Christ an ecosystemic agent who is both transcendent and immanent, framing either side of the cosmic continuum as the first76 and the eschaton. Alternately described as “Alpha and Omega” (Rev 1.8), he holds the celestial archetypes (the seven stars) of the terrestrial churches 75 These “seven stars,” which the Son of Man describes as “the angels of the seven churches” are accompanied by seven lampstands, which are the churches themselves (Rev 1.20). George Eldon Ladd has stated that the seven stars are “the heavenly counterparts of seven churches, while the seven lamps were the actual churches. It was their function to give light to the world (Matt. 5.14). Should the light fail, the lampstand was removed (Rev. 2.5).” A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972), 32. This corresponds to the belief concerning the celestial archetypes for terrestrial temples or other phenomena that we have seen was prevalent in Near Eastern cultures. 76 In Revelation 3.14 he is likewise described as the “arche of God’s creation” (ਲ ਕȡȤ੽ IJોȢ țIJȓıİȦȢ IJȠ૨ șİȠ૨).

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(the lampstands) and plunders the subterranean realm (Hades).77 After the encouragement given to the seven churches to ‘conquer’ through endurance in times of trial (Rev 2.7, 11, 17, 28, 3.5, 12, 21), John is taken to heaven to see “the one seated on the throne” (Rev 4.2), that is, “the Lord God almighty” (Rev 4.8), who is surrounded by twentyfour elders who some have argued are “the sum of the twelve patriarchs of the Old Testament and the twelve apostles of the New, who are thus seen to form a unity.”78 The division of twenty-four into twelve is significant, insofar as the latter number is symbolically charged because it is the number of God’s people in both the Old Testament—that is, the twelve tribes of Judah—which are reconstituted in the New by the twelve Apostles chosen by Christ.79 The eschatological dimension to this scene is indicated by the author’s use of motifs from Ezekiel who, we saw in the previous chapter, prophesied the advent of the Davidic ruler who would be guided by God in the establishment of the eschatological kingdom of Israel, the centre of which would be a restored temple where God himself would permanently dwell. In Ezekiel 1.4–28, the prophet has a vision of four living creatures with four faces each—those of a lion, ox, human, and eagle—beside four spiritual wheels covered with eyes (Ez 1.18) and above which was the Lord’s throne (Ez 1.26).80 John describes this heavenly throne as beset on either side by four living creatures, “full of eyes in front and behind” (Rev 4.6); the first like a lion, the second like an ox, the third with the face of a human, and the fourth like an eagle (Rev 4.7). While in Ezekiel these four beings each have four faces, in Revelation they have one face each with the many-eyed wheels being merged with them. Nevertheless the similarities are clear, and continue in chapter 10.8–10 when John, like Ezekiel, is asked to eat a little scroll which in the mouth of both the Apostle and the prophet is “sweet as honey” (Ez 3.3, Rev 10.10), with the qualification that it becomes bitter in the mouth of the former. Another scroll with seven seals is mentioned earlier in chapter five; one that could only be opened by “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, who has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals” (Rev 77

We have seen that stars are also called angels in Revelation, see 1.20 and 9.1. Leon Morris, The Book of Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002), 86. Morris believes, however, that they could also be superior forms of angels, insofar as angels can be called elders, as evidenced by Isaiah 24.23. 79 A number that had to be re-instated in Acts 1.12–26 in order replace Judas. 80 “And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne … and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form” (Ez 1.26). 78

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5.5). The motif of the lion is taken from Genesis 49.9–10, “where in Jacob’s final blessing on his twelve sons Judah is called” a lion’s whelp or cub,81 from whom “the scepter shall not depart.” The messianism in these passages is clear. Christ, who we have seen above transferred the eschatological imagines et axes mundi symbolism of Israel (the temple, the vine, etc) to himself, is this very ‘cub’ of Judah whose rule is everlasting. Moreover, we have also seen that although he denied the Davidic title, it was nevertheless consistently applied to him by those around him, with the reference to the “Root of David” being no different insofar as it constitutes an application of another eschatologically charged text, that of Isaiah 11.1, which speaks of “the shoot” that shall “come out from the stump of Jesse,” that is, the messianic progeny of David.82 This Lion of Judah and root of David, the Son of Man—Jesus Christ—is then described as a seven horned and seven-eyed Lamb, standing, “as if it had been slaughtered” (Rev 5.6) between God’s throne and the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures. The common attestation that “seven is the number of perfection”83 seems applicable to the Lamb here, whose victory over his enemies is intimated by the horns, which are a messianic warrior motif stemming from Jewish apocalyptic literature.84 The Lamb’s seven eyes, which are further described as “the seven spirits of God being sent out into all the earth” (Rev 5.6), are unanimously interpreted as the Holy Spirit.85 When the Lamb takes the scroll, the elders and the creatures, each holding harps and bowls of

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Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 131. Ibid. 83 Ibid., 48. 84 Osborne, Revelation, 257. There is a reference in 1 Enoch 90.9 to a “great horn” sprouting from a sheep; commentators have suggested that the horn is Judas Maccabaeus rising against the Macedonian kingdom. Matthew Black and James C. VanderKam, eds., The Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch: A New English Translation (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1985), 81, 276. 85 For modern interpretations, see Osborne, Revelation, 257. For ancient ones, see the Latin interpreters Tyconius, Commentary on the Apocalypse 5.6 and Apringius of Beja, Tractate on the Apocalypse 5.6, in Revelation, ed. William C. Weinrich (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2005), 76. For Christ sending the Spirit (from his Father) during his divine economy on earth, see John 15.26, 16.7, 20.22. For more on the early tradition of angelomorphic pneumatology that can be related to the above, see Bogdan Bucur, Angelomorphic Pneumatology: Clement of Alexandria and other Christian Witnesses (Leiden: Brill, 2009). 82

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incense,86 begin a doxology that highlights the holistic scope of the messiah’s sacrifice, for by his slaughter “he ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5.9). This is then furthered in a manner echoing Philippians 2.5–12, insofar as John hears “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea” (Rev 5.13) glorifying both the enthroned One and the Lamb, meaning that all the cosmic regions—heavenly, earthly, and subterranean—are conditioned by the Lamb’s ecosystemic sacrifice on the cross, which, we saw earlier, inaugurated the beginning of the resurrectional life that will not be not fulfilled until the eschaton. The opening of the seven seals (Rev 6.1–17, 8.1–5),87 and the calamities that ensue, are marked by apocalyptic signs and disturbances in all of the cosmic regions—heaven or the sky,88 earth,89 and the underworld or the abyss90—that are too numerous to assess here comprehensively. In the interlude between the opening of the six seals and the seventh (which initiates the blasting of the trumpets), four angels stand at the four corners of the earth, “holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on earth or sea or against any tree” (Rev 7.1). Since the number four in ancient numerology symbolised ‘stability,’91 it is clear that the heavenly angels maintain this for the earth before the onset of the disruption of the old order. The reason for this is so that the saints, who are numbered as “one hundred forty-four thousand” (Rev 7.4), can be preserved. We have seen that this number symbolises God’s people and in Revelation—where the number twelve is sealed by being squared and then multiplied by one thousand—it is meant to represent “the complete number of those who belong to God.”92 This engagement with the cosmos so as to preserve God’s own people once again demonstrates the personal ecosystemic agency of Christ, whose shepherding of them is mentioned 86 In the previous chapter we saw that in generating smoke, incense can intersect heaven and earth as an axis mundi. This is also the case regarding the incense here, which is described “as the prayers of the saints” (Rev 5.8). 87 This is associated with the sounding of the seven trumpets in Rev 8.6–13 and 9.1–21, an apocalyptic motif that can also be discerned in 1 Thessalonians 4.16, and 1 Corinthians 15.52. 88 Rev 8.12. 89 Rev 8.5, 7–11, 9.1–6. 90 Insofar as the beast emerges from there in Rev 10.7 (see below), and is locked up there again in 20.2–3. 91 Nigel Hiscock, The Symbol at Your Door: Number and Geometry in Religious Architecture of the Greek and Latin Middle Ages (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), 17. 92 James L. Resseguie, The Revelation of John: A Narrative Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 137.

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again in Revelation 7.17 and in chapter 22 in relation to the “water of life,” which resonates not only with the paradisal Edenic waters mentioned in both Genesis 2.10 and, in eschatological terms, in Ezekiel 47.1–20, but also with Jesus’ words in John 4.14 where he offers the Samaritan woman the “spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”93 Returning to the image borrowed from Ezekiel, namely of John eating the scroll (Ez 3.3, Rev 10.10), we can discern in chapter eleven of Revelation further motifs taken from the former and applied to the latter, albeit with slight alterations. For instance, in Ezekiel 20.3 the restored temple is measured for the prophet by an angel with “a measuring reed in his hand,” whereas in Revelation 11.1 an angel gives “a measuring rod like a staff” to John and asks him to “Come and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there.” The provision, however, is given that he not measure the courtyard of the temple, “which is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months” (Rev 11.2). George Eldon Ladd has referred to this example from Ezekiel to demonstrate that in this case the measuring of the temple represents its preservation in contrast with the courtyard—historically reserved for Gentile worshippers—which will be trampled.94 Furthermore, the temple represents the people of God, whereas the courtyard, which has been interpreted as representing either lapsed Christians or non-believing Jews,95 can also constitute the remnant of the Church that is to be “given over to persecution in the last days”96 insofar as it is associated with the “holy city” that is also to be trampled. Indeed, it is this “holy city” that constitutes a positive image of God’s kingdom that dominates Revelation 21, and in Rev 20.7–9 is referred to as “the beloved city,” where the saints are besieged by the ‘nations’ that are influenced by the devil. In keeping with the work’s use of Old Testament themes, the figure of forty-two months seems to come from Daniel 9.24, “where the forecast of time down

93 More completely, he tells the Samaritan woman at the well: “those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 94 Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, 151. 95 Historically, this latter disposition can be discerned in Andrew of Caesarea, Commentary on the Apocalypse 29, trans. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou (Washington D.C.; The Catholic University of America Press, 2011), 131; Oecumenius, Commentary on the Apocalypse 6, trans. John N. Suggit (Washington D.C.; The Catholic University of America Press, 2006), 99–100. 96 Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 217. This is supported by Osborne, Revelation, 413.

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to the confirming of the covenant [i.e. between God and Israel] is said to be ‘seventy weeks of years.’”97 It is during this forty-two month period that the murder of the two witnesses, who are a “symbol of the witnessing church in the last tumultuous days before the end of the age,”98 takes place. These witnesses are killed by “the beast that comes up from the bottomless abyss” (IJઁ șȘȡȓȠȞ IJઁ ਕȞĮȕĮ૙ȞȠȞ ਥț IJોȢ ਕȕȪııȠȣ),99 the same beast that is later raised out of the abyss by the dragon (13.1). In the LXX, the “abyss” (ਙȕȣııȠȢ)— which can mean “unfathomable,” “bottomless” or “boundless”100— originally implied the primordial waters that, we have seen in Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures, were associated with amorphous, virtual expanses that were the source of the cosmos.101 However, the abyss soon came to denote the “realm of the dead” (see LXX Psalm 71.20), and in St Paul’s epistle to the Romans 10.7 is explicitly referred to as such.102 Since, for the Church, it is Christ who creates the cosmos—and not the primordial waters—the transference of this level of reality to the realm of the dead per se, equating it with Hades, can be seen as an apologetic device which is amplified in Revelation, where the abyss becomes the prison of “the dragon (IJઁȞ įȡȐțȠȞIJĮ), that ancient serpent (੒ ੕ijȚȢ), who is the Devil and Satan” (Rev 20.2) for the thousand year duration.103 97

Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, 153. This seems to stem from the law in Deuteronomy 19.15 that requires two or three witnesses to give proper testimony, a disposition reiterated in Matthew 18.16. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 217. Resseguie has argued that their three and a half-year testimony, followed by a three and a half day interval between their death and resurrection, constitutes a broken ‘seven’; a number which we saw above was a symbol of perfection, now denoting the character of the Church in the time between Christ’s advent and second coming; “it is authoritative and powerful” but also “beaten down, trodden upon, and killed.” The Revelation of John, 165. Ancient commentators, however, identify these witnesses as Elijah and Enoch. Andrew of Caesarea, Commentary on the Apocalypse 30, 131–32; Oecumenius, Commentary on the Apocalypse 6 (Weinrich, 101–2). 99 Rev 11.7 (my translation). 100 Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek–English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 4. 101 J. Jeremias, ‘Abyssos,’ in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 1, ed. Geoffrey William Bromiley et al. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003), 2. 102 “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) or ‘Who will descend into the abyss (ȉȓȢ țĮIJĮȕȒıİIJĮȚ İੁȢ IJ੽Ȟ ਙȕȣııȠȞ)?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 103 See below for more on this. 98

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Before the final judgment (20.11–15), the devil (Rev 20.10), along with Death and Hades (after the judgement),104 are consigned to “the lake of fire and sulfur,” the background of which is Gehenna.105 By describing Satan as ੕ijȚȢ, the author of Revelation connects this creature to that mentioned in Genesis 3.1, which, in the LXX version, is called the same.106 Moreover, its description as a ‘dragon’ evokes the agent of chaos in Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures, including (as we have seen) the Mesopotamian Kur, Egyptian Apophis, and the Greek Typhon. In ancient Hebrew religion, this creature finds its equivalent in Leviathan (Job 41), Behemoth (Job 49.15–24), the Tannin or “dragon” (Job 7.12),107 and Rahab (Job 26.12–14).108 In fact, in the LXX of Isaiah 27.1 the Leviathan is called a “the dragon-serpent” (IJઁȞ įȡȐțȠȞIJĮ ੕ijȚȞ),109 and a similar reference to this “dragon” appears in Psalm 103(104).26,110 and in Job 26.13 where Rahab is called “the apostate dragon” (įȡȐțȠȞIJĮ ਕʌȠıIJȐIJȘȞ).111 Since the author of Revelation used the LXX,112 the use of dragon imagery to describe the principal agent of chaos in the Church is not surprising. Ultimately, what is significant for our purposes here is that Revelation is intimating that the proper place for such a creature is the abyss, which becomes a prison not only for Satan but also for two associated entities: the so-called first beast with “ten horns and seven heads”—which wears ten diadems with blasphemous names on its heads

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Rev 20.13. Osborne, Revelation, 690. 106 Genesis 3.1 reads: “Now the serpent was more crafty than all the animals on the earth” (੘ į੻ ੕ijȚȢ ਷Ȟ ijȡȠȞȚȝȫIJĮIJȠȢ ʌȐȞIJȦȞ IJ૵Ȟ șȘȡȓȦȞ IJ૵Ȟ ਥʌ੿ IJોȢ ȖોȢ). My translation of the Greek from The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English, 3 (listed here as chapter 3 verse 2). 107 Tannin means dragon in Hebrew. F. J. Mabie, ‘Chaos and Death,’ in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry and Writings, ed. Tremper Longman III et al. (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2008), 46. 108 Osborne, Revelation, 458–59, and Mabie, ‘Chaos and Death,’ 45–46; Rahab is also connected to tehom in Isaiah 51.9–10. Ibid., 45. 109 My translation of the Greek in The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English, 860. 110 “There [in the sea] the ships go about, there this dragon, which you formed to play in it” (ਥțİ૙ ʌȜȠ૙Į įȚĮʌȠȡİȪȠȞIJĮȚ, įȡȐțȦȞ Ƞ੤IJȠȢ, ੔Ȟ ਩ʌȜĮıĮȢ ਥȝʌĮȓȗİȚȞ Į੝IJૌ). Ibid., 761. 111 Ibid., 684. 112 Natalio Fernández Marcos, The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Versions of the Bible (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 330–31. 105

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(Rev 13.1)—and comes out of the sea in the presence of the devil,113 and the second beast, which, having “two horns like a lamb,” comes out of the earth (Rev 13.11) and erects an image of the first beast for the nations to worship (Rev 13.14–15). Both of these creatures emerge from elements that are associated with the abyss or at least the subterranean dimension. The first beast comes out of water, which in this case takes on a negative valence,114 and the second beast comes from the earth, which throughout Revelation (see for example chapters 8 and 9) is the object of chastisement from the heavenly realm (Rev 8.5; 16.2). The motifs relating to these beasts have been taken and adapted from Daniel 7.1–8, where, in a dream, Daniel sees four beasts, each of which symbolise a terrestrial empire: a winged-lion for Babylon; a bear with three tusks for the Median empire; a four-headed and four-winged leopard for the Persians; and a “horrible and alarming” creature with ten horns, and a little horn with many eyes which was the symbol for Alexander the Great’s Macedonian kingdom (whom we briefly saw in chapter three reinstated the ecosystemic ruler cult in Greece).115 We saw in the previous chapter that these zoomorphic representations of consecutive kingdoms were meant as a criticism of the kingdom of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who was persecuting the Jews. The author of Revelation has undertaken a similar task. In an interpretation that goes back to Hippolytus,116 and is followed by modern commentators such as Grant R. 113

Rev 13.3 describes one of the first beast’s heads as having been wounded and yet healed. Osborne has suggested that this can represent both a parody of Christ’s death and resurrection, and, since its heads have also been interpreted as actual Roman emperors, then the wounded one could be either Nero, who was rumoured as having revived from the dead, or Caligula, who during his reign had contracted a serious illness and then recovered. Osborne, Revelation, 496. 114 The dual nature of aquatic symbolism is stressed by Mircea Eliade in his Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism, trans. Philip Mairet (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), 151–52. In the case of the first beast, the waters take on negative symbolism not only because they give birth to an evil entity, but because a) the dragon, who we have seen comes from the abyss, summons it, and b) the waters are in stark contrast to the heavenly realm mentioned throughout Revelation insofar as they are the object of chastisement (Rev 8.10–11, 16.4) and, when heaven and earth are finally renewed with the onset of the heavenly Jerusalem, the seas simply vanish (Rev 21.1) in order to be replaced by “the river of life” (22.1–2) coming from the throne of the Lamb. 115 Norman W. Porteous, Daniel: A Commentary (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1965), 106. 116 Hippolytus equates the ‘666’ given as the name of the first beast in Rev 13.18 as “Latinus,” thereby equating the beast with the ‘Latins in power,’ in other words,

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Osborne117 and Paul Duff,118 the first beast is the Roman empire; its seven heads represent “the sum of the four heads of the beast” in Daniel 7,119 and the ten horns constitute ten kings who “will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings” (Rev 17.12–14). Osborne and Robert H. Mounce have suggested that the blasphemous names on the heads of the beast represent the titles of the Roman imperial cult,120 which, according to Mounce, gives us a hint of the symbolic identity of the second beast, who, insofar as it “makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast” (Rev 13.12) can either represent the “local priests of the imperial cult” or “the provincial council responsible for enforcing emperor worship throughout Asia.”121 This emperor worship is reflected by the ‘image’ set up by this beast, which can be related to images of the emperor that the early Christian martyrs refused to worship,122 and would make of the first beast an emblem of the Roman imperial cult that was encouraged by emperors such as Nero and Domitian, whose reigns we have seen might be the context for Revelation. We saw in chapter four that from Augustus onwards, Roman emperors were considered ecosystemic agents. In chapter seven, we shall see that this needed to be re-interpreted when St Constantine the Great converted to Christianity, since, as we have seen, for the Church it is Christ who is the ecosystemic agent par excellence. What is important for us here is that the author of Revelation has identified the lowest cosmic region, alternately describable as the abyss or the lake of fire and sulfur— or even the sea or the earth in the context of the two beasts—as the locus, not of the birth of the cosmos (as we have seen was the case for Near Eastern cultures), but of the emergence of the devil, who, we have demonstrated in relation to Acts 2.31, 1 Cor 15.56, Heb 2.14, 1 Pet 3.19, the apocryphal literature, and Rev 1.17–18, Christ has in any case already Rome. Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and the Antichrist 50, trans. S. D. F. Salmod (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978), 215. 117 Osborne, Revelation, 491. 118 Paul Duff, Who Rides the Beast? Prophetic Rivalry and the Rhetoric of Crisis in the Churches of the Apocalypse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 114. 119 Osborne, Revelation, 490. 120 Ibid., 491; Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 245. 121 Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 256. 122 Mounce affirms that the image is probably envisaged as “a bust or statue of the emperor,” which we have seen could have been either Nero or Domitian; an image which would lead some to apostasy, whereas others “remain true to the faith even in the face of death.” Ibid., 258.

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defeated by plundering Death and Hades upon his death and resurrection. The events described in Revelation—if they can be called ‘events’ in an historical sense (since they occured in history, but also meta-historically, in the spiritual realm)—thus remain a true allegory for the not yet of the eschaton, which would make Rome, which is also described as Babylon,123 indicative of an existential mode antithetical to God’s kingdom. This antithetical or antagonistic relationship between the empires of ‘this world’124 and the Church is exemplified in Revelation when Babylon, or Rome, is described as a whore riding the first beast (Rev 17.4) and “drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses of Jesus” (17.6). Babylon—the source of ancient Israel’s torments—is likewise described as “the great city” several times throughout (11.8, 16.19, 17.18, 18.10, 16, 18, 19, 21). However, this epithet is also used in Rev 11.8 in relation to a “great city” where the “Lord was crucified.” At first glance, this would seem to be Jerusalem, but in this context this city is also “called Sodom and Egypt,” meaning that these negative descriptions should be taken spiritually and not literally.125 In this way, not just Rome, but any other ‘great city’ or empire that, in a manner antithetical to the Christian Gospel “seeks to deify itself and rule supreme”126—just like the imperial cult embodied by the first beast (and encouraged by the second)—become the place where Christ is crucified; a crucifixion which has its roots at the beginning of creation insofar as he is described in Revelation 13.8 as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (IJȠ૨ ਕȡȞȓȠȣ IJȠ૨ ਥıijĮȖȝȑȞȠȣ ਕʌઁ țĮIJĮȕȠȜોȢ țȩıȝȠȣ). Indeed, the slaying of the Lamb is one of several eschatological motifs that are described as anticipated protologically in Revelation. The fall of Satan from heaven, for example, is described as a protological event in the eschatological 1 Enoch 54.1–10,127 where the archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Phanuel, are depicted casting Azazel (1 En 54.5)—also called Satan (54.6)—“into the burning furnace” (54.7) before the onset of the flood described in Genesis, with a specific mention of the sign of the covenant between God and Noah depicted in chapter nine. In 2 Enoch 29.3–4 we discern, “in the context of

123

For instance, when ‘Babylon’ is depicted as having seven mountains in 17.9. Resseguie, The Revelation of John, 35. 125 Ibid., 164. 126 Ibid., 35. 127 Black, VanderKam, The Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch: A New English Edition, 53. 124

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the creation of the angels,”128 the casting out of “Sataniel,” who desires to “place his throne higher than the clouds which are above the earth.”129 The immediate impact of this Jewish intertestamental literature on Revelation can be discerned in 12.3, where the fall of the dragon is framed on either side with the persecution of the Church symbolised by a woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12.1). Commentators have been correct in pointing out that the twelve stars represent God’s people in the form of either the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve Apostles, or both,130 and the cosmic symbolism of the sun and the moon have been aptly pointed out by Resseguie, which he contrasts to the ‘earthly’ symbolism of the whore of Babylon, a type of Rome.131 While the Church is here represented as a cosmic—but especially ethereal—reality that, along with Christ (the ‘first’ or ‘alpha’ of the cosmic continuum), pre-exists his earthly advent, nevertheless the woman is then described as giving birth “to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (Rev 12.5). Here, we can discern the advent of the Church proper in its shift from a celestial to a doubly celestial-terrestrial reality, which is indicated by the fact that the woman, after her child is born and “snatched away and taken to God and to his throne” (Rev 12.5)—which is an image of Christ’s ascension132—is given the wings of “a great eagle” (Rev 12.14) that make her soar above the earth, thus associating her with heaven. Before this happens, this male child is contrasted to the dragon that has “seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads” (12.3), and that seeks to destroy the messiah. We have seen in Revelation 13 that the dragon is a metaphor for Rome, but in this context it can also be identified with Satan, for two reasons. The first is that it is precisely this dragon that is depicted on the sea-shore when its mirror-image, Rome, emerges from the depths of the sea in 13.1. The second is that after the ascension of Christ is described, this same dragon is said to have been attacked by “Michael and his angels” (Rev 12.7), thereby inaugurating a shift in the text from a historical/transhistorical event, that is—the ascension of Christ—to scenarios which, 128

Grant Macaskill, The Slavonic Texts of 2 Enoch (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 23. 2 Enoch 29.3–4 quoted from The Slavonic Texts of 2 Enoch, 23. Earlier, in 2 Enoch 18.3, this character is identified as ‘Sataniel.’ From ibid., 24. 130 Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 232; Morris, The Book of Revelation, 152; Ben Witherington III, Revelation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 46. 131 Resseguie, The Revelation of John, 36. 132 Osborne, Revelation, 462. 129

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according to Jewish intertestamental literature, are cosmically protological.133 By placing the fall of Satan within the context of Christ’s ascension, the author seems to be implying that the “first casting down of Satan … transpires as a result” of the Christ event.134 In any case, on either side of the fall of the dragon from heaven the cosmic woman—that is, the Church—is described as existing on both the celestial and terrestrial planes before being pursued by the dragon into the “wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God” (Rev 12.6). The launching of this persecution inaugurates a series of references to the war made by the devil on Christ and the Church (Rev 12.17, 13.7), executed through the emergence of the two beasts, i.e. the Roman imperial cult and its agents, and the manifestation of a sharp polarity between these entities, associated with Babylon and its whore, and “the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion” (Rev 14.1)—in other words, the Christian ecosystemic agent atop an imago et axis mundi designating the Church—together with the saints of the Lamb. These saints are 144,000 in number, which we have seen includes the number twelve as symbolic of God’s people, squared and multiplied by 1000— which denotes totality—and thus represents the full number of the people of God, the saints, or the Church.135 Despite the intensity of the persecution—a reflection of the persecutions endured by Christians under the Roman regime in Asia Minor in this period—the saints do not retaliate. Following “the Lamb wherever he goes,” (14.4) they imitate his sacrifice by having “washed their robes … white” in his blood (Rev 7.14); in other words, by having died as martyrs. Having actively conformed to the Lamb to the point of death, Christ then acts in their behalf by ‘opening the seals’ (Rev 6.1–17, 8.1–5) and ‘reaping the harvest’ (Rev 14.14–16). And although literally speaking the casting down of the devil happens at the hands of St Michael, who in Daniel 10.13 and 12.1—a book which we have seen influenced Revelation—is depicted as the defender of God’s people,136 ultimately the defeat of Satan occurs on account of the actions of Christ. In chapter nineteen, the “Word of God” (Rev 19.12), Christ, is depicted as “the rider on the horse” (19.17–21) who defeats the devil’s agents, i.e., the first beast (Rome/the imperial cult) and second beast (Rome’s agents), right before the angel with “the key to the bottomless pit” (IJ੽Ȟ țȜİ૙Ȟ IJોȢ ਕȕȪııȠȣ)137 133

Ibid., 468–71. Witherington III, Revelation, 170. 135 Resseguie, The Revelation of John, 137. 136 More specifically, as the patron of Israel, who are in fact God’s people. Porteous, Daniel: A Commentary, 154. 137 Rev 20.1. 134

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binds the devil for a thousand years. This period is marked by the thousand year reign of Christ with his saintly martyrs, described herein as “the first resurrection” (Rev 20.6). The thousand year reign of Christ and the subjugation of the devil, as it was interpreted in the centuries that followed, came to be known as millenarianism or chiliasm,138 and is based on Rev 20.3–4, which speaks on two occasions of a “thousand years” (IJ੹ ȤȓȜȚĮ ਩IJȘ). Subject to various readings, including what have come to be known as premillennial, postmillennial, and amillennial,139 nevertheless many of these overlook the fact that the thousand year period, being a multiplication of ten, which, according to St Augustine, represents—along with the numbers one hundred and one thousand140—totality, must mean the same. This view is shared by Resseguie, who affirms that “a thousand years represents a total and complete period.”141 Since, on the one hand, Christ has been depicted as already inaugurating the eschatological state in his person and in behalf of the saints/Church and, on the other hand, Revelation repeatedly refers to the devil’s war on the saints, for example, in relation to the woman that it pursues into the wilderness, the two witnesses, and the new Jerusalem—all of which symbolise the Church— then the ‘thousand year’ reign of Christ with his saints should not be considered literally as a future millennial kingdom, but as an authentic or true allegory for the ‘totality of the saved’ (as designated by the number ten) in the Church that has already been established by Christ; a Church which the devil frequently assails but cannot conquer since “Hades will 138

Garry W. Trompf, ‘Millenarism: History, Sociology, and Cross-cultural Analysis,’ The Journal of Religious History 24.1 (2000): 104–5. 139 G. K. Beale succinctly describes these views as follows: “Some believe that the millennium will occur after the second coming of Christ [premillennialism] … Postmillennialism has held that the millennium occurs towards the end of the Church age and that Christ’s climactic coming will occur at the close of the millennium … Others believe that the millennium started at Christ’s resurrection and will be concluded at his final coming [amillennialism].” The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 973. 140 Since for St Augustine, in the New Testament, “a hundred is sometimes used as the equivalent of totality,” he then argues “how much more is a thousand an equivalent of totality,” but does not explore the implications further. City of God 20.7, in Augustine: The City of God Against the Pagans XVIII.36–XX, trans. William Chase Greene (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 287, 289. For more on the number ten as “all-encompassing,” see Hiscock, The Symbol at Your Door, 19. 141 Resseguie, The Revelation of John, 244.

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not prevail against it” (Mt 16.18). This perception of Revelation as delineating a realised eschatology is confirmed by the language used in chapter twenty one, where after describing the “new heaven and the new earth,” John sees “the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (21.1–2), before hearing See, the tent of God is among mortals (੉įȠઃ ਲ ıțȘȞ੽ IJȠ૨ șİȠ૨ ȝİIJ੹ IJ૵Ȟ ਕȞșȡȫʌȦȞ), He will make his tent with them; (țĮ੿ ıțȘȞȫıİȚ ȝİIJૃĮ੝IJ૵Ȟ).142

Despite the disputed authorship of Revelation, here its author is using language that—along with the aforementioned reference to the rider as the Logos—resonates with the prologue to the Gospel of St John 1.14 which describes the incarnation of Christ as follows: “And the Word became flesh and made his tent among us” (ȀĮ੿ ੒ ȜȩȖȠȢ ı੹ȡȟ ਥȖȑȞİIJȠ țĮ੿ ਥıțȒȞȦıİȞ ਥȞ ਲȝ૙Ȟ). The implication here is that Christ’s incarnation inaugurates not only the transformation of heaven and earth, which, we have seen in relation to St Paul above, he creates and intersects (Col 1.15– 18 and Eph 4.7–11), but also the new Jerusalem, which the author of Hebrews maintains Christians experience in the here and now (12.22) “along with Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb 12.24). In this way, the ‘end time’ dimension to Revelation is counterbalanced by a realised eschatology that finds its locus in the person of Christ, who, at the end of the book in Rev 21.6, is once again depicted as framing the entire cosmic continuum as “Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end”; an affirmation that is reiterated in Rev 22.12, where Christ adds “the first and the last” mentioned in Rev 1.17. This thematic correlation between the beginning of Revelation and its end denotes that the former should be read in light of the latter, which in its final few chapters harkens to earlier themes, such as the beast rising from the abyss (first appearing in Rev 11.7) and its war against Christ and the saints. This connection between the book’s telos and its arche can be extended even further, to the Old Testament, insofar as Revelation ends with a description of this new/heavenly and “holy city Jerusalem” (Rev 21.10) which, like in Ezekiel 20.3, is measured by an angel to the effect that it is perfectly balanced insofar as its “length and width and height are equal” (Rev 21.16). Using the number twelve and multiplications thereof that signify God’s people, the author describes the high wall of the city as 144 cubits, and moreover its twelve gates that have 142

My translation of Rev 21.3.

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twelve foundations upon which are “the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev 21.14).143 In light of this imagery, this city can only be interpreted as the Church, a position which is confirmed by the fact that the imago et axis mundi symbolism of the temple, which we saw above Christ transferred to himself, is here finally completed insofar as there is “no temple in the city” (Rev 21.22). Instead, “its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (Rev 21.22), from whose throne flow “the water of life … through the middle of the street of the city” (Rev 22.1). This harkens to Ezekiel’s prophecy of the eschatologically restored temple that is the source of flowing waters (47.1–20)—which correspond to the waters flowing from the garden of Eden in Genesis 2.10–14—except that here, as we have seen, no temple is found. Rather, it is God and the Lamb who are the source of these waters (Jn 4.14), on either side of which “is the tree of life, with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22.2). We have seen that chapters 20–22 of Revelation are the hermeneutical key with which to interpret its previous chapters. Now we have demonstrated that the author has not only connected the arche of the Old Testament with the telos of the New, but has provided the latter as a hermeneutical device for interpreting and understanding the former, specifically in relation to the axis mundi symbolism of the tree in Eden which has, along with the Edenic waters, been transferred to the new or heavenly Jerusalem at the centre of which is the Lamb.144 Ezekiel 47.12 mentions trees on either side of the paradisal rivers flowing from the temple145 which, being everlasting, will “bear fruit every month … their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” This theme was taken up by 1 Enoch 25.4–5, which depicts St Michael telling the prophet that, at the judgment, the fruit of the tree shall be given to the elect when the tree “shall be transplanted to a sacred place beside the temple of the Lord, the everlasting King.”146 While Osborne,147 Ladd,148 J. Massyngberde Ford149 and others point out the sources of the tree in the new Jerusalem, they all miss the nuance concerning the fact that this tree, which we saw in 143

Its foundations are also adorned with twelve types of gems (Rev 21.19–21). Meaning that the paradisal experience has its proper context in the Church. 145 Specifically, from the sanctuary. 146 Black, VanderKam, The Book of Enoch or I Enoch, 39. 147 Osborne, Revelation, 771–72. 148 Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, 287. 149 J. Massyngberde Ford, The Anchor Bible: Revelation (New York: Doubleday, 1975), 345–46. 144

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Genesis was an axis mundi, has precisely twelve kinds of fruit. In other words, the tree can be seen as a metaphor precisely for the participation of the people of God, symbolised by the number twelve, in this tree, whose shade ‘heals the nations.’ If, as I have asserted, Revelation speaks both of a realised eschatology and a future eschatology, then this process of healing would be considered by Christians as ongoing, and its source is precisely the new Jerusalem, inaugurated by God and the Lamb for the sake of “those who wash their robes”—the saints—so that they might “have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates” (Rev 22.14). Below, we will address the implication of Christ’s role as a personal ecosystemic agent in the lives of the saints, who are described as sharing in his ecosystemic agency insofar as he imparts to them this ability, which we shall see is linked to his role as creator of the cosmos.

The Cosmic-Personal Ecosystemic Agency of Christ and his Saints Above, we saw that Jesus Christ, the only true ecosystemic agent and axis mundi, intersects both the heavenly and earthly regions through the transference of certain symbolic motifs from Judaism and elsewhere to his person, not to mention St Paul’s cosmological and ecclesiological reflections. We have also demonstrated that the book of Revelation confirms the trend discernible in the scriptures and apocryphal literature about the descent of Christ into Hades, denoting not only his intersection of the infernal realm, but his defeat of the devil, sin, and death. Revelation in particular exhibits his supremacy over all worldly rulers and empires as the ecosystemic agent without equal; a supremacy manifested in the Church, the new Jerusalem. It is clear that the author of Revelation attempted to depict Christ and the Church as pre-eminent to the Roman ruler and the empire he governed; a depiction intensified by the latter’s persecution of the former. In reality, however, the relationship between Church and empire was much more nuanced. In the Gospel of John, Christ describes himself and his followers as not belonging “to the world” (Jn 17.16–17), but also prays to his Father that these “may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me.”150 In belonging to Christ who is 150

This sentiment is likewise maintained by St Paul, who asserted the radical difference of Christians that is paradoxically summed up in their unity: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28).

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both beyond the world and within the world, the paradox of Christian living is to share this condition. In light of this, Christ’s response to the Pharisees that they should “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22.21, Mk 12.17) does not posit an absolute opposition between Church and world, in this case the empire, and in Acts 22.26 St Paul appeals to his Roman citizenship in order to avoid being flogged at the orders of a Roman tribune. Moreover, in the first letter to Timothy 2.1, Paul urges that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” He continues by affirming that “this is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved” (2.1), meaning that while the Church was considered as transcending the present circumstances of worldly governance (“we have no lasting city”),151 nevertheless it had to pray for and engage with rulers and kings in order that Christians might live their lives in safety, and for the salvation of all. Such a disposition is also pertinently reflected in the Epistle to Diognetus, an apologetic letter152 dated to the late second century AD by an unknown author who has come to be known as the ‘Disciple’ (Mathetes).153 This letter aimed to “defend Christianity against false accusations” arising in the immediate cultural context.154 Ranging from incest to cannibalism,155 these accusations resulted in intermittent persecution by the Roman authorities that singled out Christians for— among other things—their refusal to worship the emperor as divine, which, we have seen in chapter four was inaugurated by the emperor Augustus with the ruler cult. We have also seen that the activity of this ruler cult is one of the subtexts to the book of Revelation and is a tradition 151

Hebrews 13.14. Doru Costache, ‘Christianity and the World in the Letter to Diognetus: Inferences for Contemporary Christian Experience,’ Phronema 27.1 (2012): 31. 153 Bart D. Ehrman believes the text was written in the second century, although various dates have been put forward as late as the early third century. ‘Introduction’ to Epistle to Diognetus, in The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 2, ed. and trans. Ehrman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 127. The unknown author of the tract is “known to posterity as ȂĮșȘIJȒȢ.” Costache, ‘Christianity and the World in the Letter to Diognetus,’ 32. 154 Ibid. 155 See Minucius Felix’s representation of these accusations in The Octavius of Marcus Minucius Felix 9, trans. Graeme Wilber Clarke (New York: Paulist Press, 1974), 64–65. For his criticism of these accusations, see The Octavius of Macrus Minucius Felix 30–31 (Clarke, 109–110). 152

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that is tied up with building cities as imagines et axes mundi going all the way back to Mesopotamia and Egypt. In answering these accusations, the author of the Epistle to Diognetus affirms that Christians are no different from other people in terms of their country, language, or customs. Nowhere do they inhabit cities of their own, use a strange dialect, or live life out of the ordinary … They inhabit both Greek and barbarian cities, according to the lot assigned to each. And they show forth the character of their own citizenship in a marvellous and admittedly paradoxical way by following local customs in what they wear and what they eat and in the rest of their lives. They live in their respective countries, but only as resident aliens; they participate in all things as citizens, and they endure all things as foreigners. Every foreign territory is a homeland for them, every homeland foreign territory … They live on earth but participate in the life of heaven.156

Claudia Rapp has convincingly argued that, with the exception of certain chapters in Hebrews,157 the city or polis has no real significance in the earliest Christian writings apart from its “structural juxtaposition to the countryside,”158 and that this is because of the preponderant focus on God’s kingdom “imagined as a splendid city or, more specifically, as a heavenly version” of the temple.159 We have seen that this is indeed partly true, with the qualification that since cities were viewed as imagines et axes mundi, and Christ transfers this imagery to himself, then the lack of positive Christian ‘city-imagery’ in the Gospels, for instance, is unsurprising. In the Epistle to Diognetus, however, we can discern a deliberate engagement with the notion of the polis, again unsurprising given the Greek context of the work. For the author, Christians paradoxically conform to all the external conditions of life, including dwelling in the cities of both Greeks and barbarians. However, their inner mode of life differs insofar as they have “no lasting city” because of their participation in “the life of heaven.” That this participation is facilitated by the ecosystemic God the Logos—Jesus Christ—is affirmed in the following: 156

Epistle to Diognetus 5 (Ehrman, 139, 141). She specifically mentions Hebrews 11.10, 11.16, 13.14. Claudia Rapp, ‘City and Citizenship as Christian Concepts of Community in Late Antiquity,’ in The City in the Classical and Post-Classical World: Changing Contexts of Power and Identity, ed. Rapp and H. A. Drake (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 156. 158 Ibid. 159 Ibid., 155. 157

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But the truly all-powerful God himself, creator of all and invisible, set up and established in their hearts the truth and the holy Word [IJઁȞ ȁȩȖȠȞ IJઁȞ ਚȖȚȠȞ] from heaven, which cannot be comprehended by humans. To do so, he did not, as one might suppose, send them one of his servants or an angel or a ruler or any of those who administer earthly activities or who are entrusted with heavenly affairs, but he sent the craftsman and maker of all things himself, by whom he created the heavens, by whom he enclosed the sea within its own boundaries, whose mysteries all the elements of creation guard faithfully, from whom the sun was appointed to guard the courses that it runs during the day, whom the moon obeys when he commands it to shine at night, whom the stars obey by following the course of the moon, by whom all things are set in order and arranged and put into subjection, the heavens and the things in the heavens, the earth and the things in the earth, the sea and the things in the sea, fire, air, the abyss, creatures in between—this is the one he sent to them.160

Beyond considerations relating to the city, God the Logos is here depicted as the creator of the cosmic regions—“the heavens,” “the earth,” “the sea” and “the abyss,” and everything in between—establishing the boundaries for all of its delicately interwoven aspects. But there is also a very immanent and hence personal dimension to the Logos, who is described as established in the hearts of human beings. The emphatic elaboration of the belief in Christ as Logos of God and agent of creation in the Epistle is in fact based on the prologue of the Gospel according to St John (1.1): “In the beginning was the Word [Logos], and the Word was towards God, and the Word was God” (ਫȞ ਕȡȤૌ ਷Ȟ ੒ ȜȩȖȠȢ țĮ੿ ੒ ȜȩȖȠȢ ਷Ȟ ʌȡઁȢ IJઁȞ șİȩȞ țĮ੿ șİઁȢ ਷Ȟ ੒ ȜȩȖȠȢ). We have seen in chapter three that for the ancient Greeks, beginning with Heraclitus and continuing with the Stoics, the Logos was considered a universal or cosmic organisational principle.161 In the very same century that saw the production of John’s Gospel, Seneca and Plutarch described the “good [in this case, Roman] ruler as the embodiment of the divine reason or Logos,”162 which means that the author of the Gospel may have intended to transfer the notion of the emperor as an ecosystemic agent to Christ, but without a specific connection to any topographical location. In 160

Epistle to Diognetus 7 (Ehrman, 144–45). I made some adjustments to the English text. 161 Adam Drozdek, The Greek Philosophers as Theologians: The Divine Arche (Hampshire: Ashgate, 2007), 230. 162 Glenn F. Chesnut, The First Christian Histories: Eusebius Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1986), 155.

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other words, just like in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, in John’s prologue Christ is not depicted as creating the world from the specific location of a city, which was the case for both the demiurge and their royal counterparts in not only the Near Eastern cultures mentioned above, but also for Rome.163 In contrast, John’s Gospel depicts Christ in a much more universal sense as creating “all things” (Jn 1.3)—because, as we have seen, he is anterior to them (i.e. exists eternally, and thus before them)— before becoming flesh and living or ‘making his tent’ among us (Jn 1.14); thereby identifying the divine Logos with a human being in such a way that he could be described as an axis mundi. Of course, in the Near Eastern cultures mentioned above (more so in Sumeria and Egypt), such divinehuman agents could indeed be discerned in royalty, which represents, as mentioned in the ‘Definitions’ section, a yearning that is only fulfilled in Christ. But the identification of the demiurge—or even the Logos—with a particular Pharaoh or king was never described in such a permanent manner.164 The Near Eastern ruler cult hinged on the fact that the demiurge could be identified with many consecutive kings, whereas the implication in John’s Gospel, and indeed throughout the New Testament and the early Christian experience (sans Gnosticism), is that the Son and Logos of God assumed humanity once and for all as Christ Jesus (while remaining fully God). It is this same Logos, according to the Epistle, who is both transcendent and immanent; the artificer of the cosmos that dwells in the hearts of people. In relation to the former aspect, namely the Logos’ transcendent governance of the cosmos, we can discern a relativisation of the ancient belief in the immutability of the celestial realm (on a philosophical level)165 and its personification as various deities (on a pagan/astrological level).166 This relativisation had perhaps been anticipated in the Gospel of 163

While Greece’s cosmogony (reflected in Hesiod’s Theogony) was also similar to that of Israel and the early Church insofar as in all three systems the cosmos was not recapitulated into any city, still it differs from the latter insofar as there is no demiurge. 164 In Rome, all emperors could be interpreted as an embodiment of the Logos insofar as they lived and acted as philosopher-kings according to various paradigms, Middle-Platonic and Stoic among them. Chesnut, The First Christian Histories, 153–54. 165 The idea of the eternity of the cosmos goes back to the Pre-Socratics. See Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, vol. 1: Greece and Rome (Cornwall: Continuum Books, 2006), 25. 166 Geraldine Pinch has said concerning the Egyptians that “individual stars and planets were considered to be celestial manifestations of major deities.” That this is the case with the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean religions that we have

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Matthew (2.2,7, 9–10), where the paradigm of cosmic disturbance— usually interpreted as heralding the death of divine-monarchs167—is inverted with the star of Bethlehem that announces the birth of the humble ecosystemic agent, who is also a king insofar as he is “King of kings” (Rev 19.16). In relation to this, St Ignatius of Antioch in his Epistle to the Ephesians exhibits both “the Church and the cosmos as worshipping, or symphonic, communities,”168 apologetically depicting this star of Bethlehem as an object which, in manifesting the advent of Christ, confused the aeons: “a metaphor by which St Ignatius expressed the relativisation of” the ancient belief “that the celestial spheres were immutable.”169 Concerning the personal dimension to God the Logos’ ecosystemic agency, the second century apologist Clement of Alexandria also transfers the mythological metaphor of Orpheus’ songs as reshaping the cosmos to the ‘celestial Logos,’ who not only sings “the foundational principles throughout the creation,”170 but who recently appeared “as our teacher” of the ‘good life,’ “in order that hereafter as God He might supply us with life everlasting.”171 St Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons in the second century, relates the content of this teaching to the personal ecosystemic agency of Christ when he refers to him as the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sits upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit.172

Irenaeus comes to this conclusion after a discussion on why there are four Gospels. Since the number four “is wholly even” and thus represented

assessed so far is a truism. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 207. 167 Ripat, ‘Expelling Misconceptions: Astrologers at Rome,’ 143. 168 Doru Costache, ‘Worldview and Melodic Imagery in Clement the Alexandria, Saint Athanasius, and their Antecedents in Saints Ignatius and Irenaeus,’ Phronema 29.1 (2014): 23. 169 Ibid., 31. 170 Ibid., 41. 171 Exhortation to the Greeks 1, in Clement of Alexandria: Exhortation to the Greeks, the Rich Man’s Salvation, To the Newly Baptized, trans. G. W. Butterworth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 19. 172 St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 3.11, in The Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, trans. and eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 428. Adjusted by me.

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“equality and stability,”173 then there can only be four Gospels that mirror cosmic stability: …since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh.174

Thus, there is one Spirit—that is, God the Spirit—and one Gospel, manifested in four forms corresponding to the stability inherent in the cosmos that has as its source God the Logos. In the same century, St Justin Martyr, a Palestinian Christian versed in Hellenistic philosophy and apologist of the persecuted Church in the Roman empire, also put forward the Logos’ personal ecosystemic agency in a manner that attempted to account for the good in pagan philosophy. Responding in his First Apology to the common objection that since Christ came so late in time then the Christian faith must be a novelty, the saint attempted to establish the historical priority of Christianity, maintaining that whatever wisdom is reflected in the Greek philosophers has been derived from their contact with the Hebrew scriptures, before asserting: But lest, in order to dissuade from our teaching by foolish argument, some should say that we say that Christ was born 150 years ago, in the time of Quirinius, and that he taught the things we say he taught still later under Pontius Pilate, and should object that all the human beings that lived before that time were not accountable, we will anticipate and solve the difficulty. We were taught, and we mentioned before, that Christ is the first-born of God, being the Logos in which the whole race of humans shared (IJઁȞ ȋȡȚıIJઁȞ ʌȡȦIJȩIJȠțȠȞ IJȠ૨ șİȠ૨ İੇȞĮȚ ਥįȚįȐȤșȘȝİȞ țĮ੿ ʌȡȠİȝȘȞȪıĮȝİȞ ȜȩȖȠȞ ੕ȞIJĮ, Ƞ੤ ʌ઼Ȟ ȖȑȞȠȢ ਕȞșȡȫʌȦȞ ȝİIJȑıȤİ). And those who lived with Logos are Christians, even if they were called atheists, such as among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus and those similar to them…175

173

Hiscock, The Symbol at Your Door, 17. Against Heresies 3.11 (Roberts and Donaldson, 428). 175 Justin’s Apology on Behalf of Christians 46, in Justin, Philosopher and Martyr: Apologies, ed. and trans. Denis Minns and Paul Parvis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 200–201. 174

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Giving examples principally from among the Greeks (but also from among the Hebrews),176 St Justin is here asserting that all those who have lived according to reason before the incarnation of the Son and Logos nevertheless participated in this same Logos through whom all things are created. This means that they were able to live and think, albeit unconsciously, as Christians before Christ, and points to the fact that the metanarrative of the incarnate Logos encompasses all those persons who actively strive towards reason, to be understood in this context as analogous with virtue.177 In order to account for how these people were able to participate in the Logos, Justin used the concept of the logoi spermatikoi, which, we have seen, for the Stoics were the developmental laws constitutive of particular beings and encompassed by, or extending from, the universal organisational principle, the Logos.178 For Philo, the Logos that contains the logoi was also an immanent force insofar as the human soul was endowed with its own logos spermatikos orienting it towards good in spite of the body’s disposition towards passions or aberrant, irrational behaviour.179 Indeed, Philo affirmed that the human being, endowed with the logos spermatikos, is called to union with the universal Logos via ascetical exercises and contemplation of the scriptures that ease the path of the soul towards divine inspiration,180 a theme which Justin appropriated when he affirmed that “there seem to be seeds of truth among all” (੔șİȞ ʌĮȡ੹ ʌ઼ıȚ ıʌȑȡȝĮIJĮ ਕȜȘșİȓĮȢ įȠțİ૙ İੇȞĮȚ),181 seeds which he viewed as part of a human soul’s ontological make-up.182 Thus, whether we observe 176

Such as “Abraham and Ananias and Azarias and Misael and Elijah.” Ibid., 201. That living according to the Logos is tantamount to living according to virtue is made clear by St Justin when he juxtaposed the righteous pagans who lived by the Logos and the unrighteous who, incited by the demons, would persecute them (i.e., their righteous counterparts). Ibid., and St Justin Martyr, The Second Apology 7, in in Justin, Philosopher and Martyr: Apologies (Minns and Parvis, 297, 299). 178 Drozdek, The Greek Philosophers as Theologians, 230. 179 Philo, Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis III 51, in Philo I, trans. F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1981), 403. 180 Philo, Who is the Heir of Divine Things 14, in Philo IV. trans. F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1985), 316–17. 181 Justin’s Apology on Behalf of Christians 44 (Minns and Parvis, 194–95). 182 Eric Osbourne interpreted St Justin as putting forward three ‘elements’ in the human person’s constitution: body, soul, and logos (spermatikos), which is tantamount to reason. More precisely, Osbourne distinguished two anthropologies in St Justin’s thought. In the first—which is to be found in the Dialogue with Trypho—the saint described the human being as body, soul, and spirit, but in the Second Apology he replaces spirit (ȗȦIJȚțઁȞ ʌȞİ૨ȝĮ) with logos spermatikos. The 177

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the Epistle to Diognetus, or the writings of Clement, saints Ignatius, Irenaeus, or Justin, we discern a similar theme throughout: that Christ the Logos is the only authentic, salvific ecosystemic agent. Beyond these second and third century witnesses, this salvific importance is further highlighted in the fourth century, with St Athanasius the Great, following Irenaeus,183 affirming that while the creator God has his “Being beyond all substance and human discovery,” nevertheless through his “own Word our Saviour Jesus Christ” made “the human race after His own image.” 184 Indeed, in his On the Incarnation, Athanasius described humanity as renewed by Jesus when he, the image of the Father, takes on our human nature, which is in the image of God.185 This existential relevance of the incarnation of the Logos as Christ is highlighted also by St Gregory the Theologian in the most personal terms: What is the mystery concerning me? I participated in the [divine] image and I did not keep it; he participates in my flesh both to save the image and to make the flesh immortal. He shares with us a second communion, much more paradoxical than the first; then he gave us a share in what is superior, now he shares in what is inferior.186

The intimate reciprocity between Christ and St Gregory is here interpreted on a cosmic scale when the saint affirmed that with his incarnation Jesus has shared with humanity a second communion, the first being that which was effected with his creation (together with the Father and the Holy Beginning of Christian Philosophy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 97–99. 183 St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 2.10 (Roberts and Donaldson, 370). 184 St Athanasius, Against the Heathen 2, in Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, trans. Archibald Robinson (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975), 5. 185 In describing God’s response to the fall, St Athanasius states the following: “What then was God to do? Or what should be done, except to renew again the ‘in the image,’ so that through it human beings would be able once again to know him? But how could this have occurred except by the coming of the very image of God, our Savior Jesus Christ? For neither by human beings was it possible, since they were created ‘in the image’; but neither by angels, for they were not even images. So the Word of God came himself, in order that he being the image of the Father (see Col 1.15), the human being ‘in the image’ might be recreated.” St Athanasius the Great, On the Incarnation 13, trans. John Behr (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2011), 79. 186 St Gregory the Theologian, Oration 38: On the Nativity 13, trans. Nonna Verna Harrison, in Festal Orations: Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2008), 71.

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Spirit) of the spiritual and material worlds187—or the macrocosm—after which the human being was created as a “second world” or microcosm (įİȪIJİȡȠȞ țȩıȝȠȞ),188 a blending or mixing of the intelligible (or spiritual) and material realms by the “Demiurge Logos” (įȘȝȚȠȣȡȖȠ૨ ȁȩȖȠȣ).189 Gregory’s use of Platonic terminology here is significant, insofar as we have seen that the demiurge in Plato’s Timaeus merely fashioned the material world ad extra, whereas for Christians, the Demiurge Logos both creates the material world out of nothing (ex nihilo) and enters it in a unique manner when he becomes incarnate as Christ. It is precisely this incarnation that Gregory extols with axis mundi terminology at the beginning of his Oration 38 On the Nativity: Christ is born, give glory; Christ is from the heavens, go to meet him; Christ is on earth, be lifted up. “Sing to the Lord, all the earth,” and, to say both together, “Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice,” for the heavenly one is now earthly. Christ is in the flesh, exult with trembling and joy; trembling because of sin, joy because of hope … Who would not worship the one “from the beginning” [1 Jn 1.1]? Who would not glorify “the Last” [Rev 1.17, 2.8]?190

Christ’s incarnation is here depicted as intersecting heaven and earth—as an axis mundi—in such a way as to provoke a response from the believing community, from the Church. Moreover, he is portrayed as the ‘first’ and the ‘last’ of the cosmic continuum, meaning that he marks its beginning as creator, middle as incarnate One, and end as consummator. This axis mundi imagery was used in the fourth century alongside other imago et axis mundi symbols such as the mountain, which we have seen intersects and recapitulates the cosmic layers. Basing his observations on Moses’ ascent of Mt Sinai in Exodus 19.20–20.21, St Gregory of Nyssa described the knowledge of God as a mountain “steep indeed and difficult to climb,”191 but one which can prepare the seeker to receive the apophatic

187

St Gregory delineated this first communion with reference to the creation of both the spiritual and material realms and of the human being as their microcosm. Oration 38.10–11 (Harrison, 67–68). 188 St Gregory the Theologian, Oration 38.10 (Harrison, 67). Greek text is from PG 36, 321B. 189 St Gregory the Theologian, Oration 38.11 (Harrison, 68). Greek text is from PG 36, 321C. 190 St Gregory the Theologian, Oration 38.1 (Harrison, 61). 191 St Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses 158, trans. Abraham J. Malherbe and Everett Ferguson (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), 93.

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experience of God.192 In an exegesis of Genesis 2–3, that seeks the profundity of existential meanings behind the literal text, St Ephrem the Syrian in his Hymns on Paradise describes Eden, the paradisal garden, as elevated like a mountain, so that “the summit of every mountain is lower than its summit.”193 Here, paradise is envisaged metaphorically as “circular”194—a symbol of perfection195—“that encircles the whole of creation,”196 and is thus contrasted to the “abyss” and “Gehenna.”197 Since none of these motifs appear in Genesis, it is obvious that St Ephrem employs them as suitable to the contemplation of an existential situation that, he states at the outset, he wishes to explore for his own formation.198 This ‘interiorisation’ of imagines et axes mundi symbolism can also be found in the writings of St John Chrysostom in relation to the city or polis, which, in his On Vainglory is used as a metaphor for a child’s soul which must have, like any city, laws drawn up for its protection.199 In his homily On Saints Bernike, Prosdoke, and Domnina, he describes these martyrs, who, though they died “in a foreign city”—Heliopolis— nevertheless had as “their own city their confession” or the witness to their faith.200 This interiorisation of the motif of the city as both an expression of and supplement to the spiritual endeavour is also pertinently manifested in the writings St Isaiah the Solitary (d. 491), who compares the city to prayer, which becomes an enclosure to protect one from the attacks of the demons.201 St Isaiah’s work can be found in the Philokalia—which is a 192

St Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses 162–64 (Malherbe and Ferguson, 94– 95). 193 St Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise 1.4, in Hymns on Paradise, trans. Sebastian Brock (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990), 78. 194 St Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise 1.8 (Brock, 80). 195 Jack Tresidder, The Complete Dictionary of Symbols: In Myth, Art and Literature (London: Duncan Baird Publishers, 2004), 108. 196 St Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise 1.9 (Brock, 81). 197 St Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise 1.12 (Brock, 82) and 1.17 (Brock, 84). 198 St Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise 1.2 (Brock, 78). 199 St John Chrysostom, An Address on Vainglory 25–27, trans. Max L. W. Laistner, in Christianity and Pagan Culture in the Later Roman Empire (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1951). 200 St John Chrysostom, On Saints Bernike, Prosdoke, and Domnina 16, in The Cult of the Saints, trans. Wendy Mayer and Bronwen Neil (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2006), 171. 201 St Isaiah the Solitary, On Guarding the Intellect: Twenty-Seven Texts 2, in The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 1, trans. G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (New York: Faber and Faber, Inc. 1979), 22.

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collection of mystical texts from the monastic tradition of the early and Medieval Orthodox Church between the fourth and fifteenth centuries— and a similar example, from the same texts, can be discerned in the eighth/ninth century saint Hesychios the Priest’s description of the intellect as the city of Troy, which is plotted against by Agamemnon and Menelaus who together represent the demons and thoughts when they come into conjunction to attack the soul.202 Having shifted to the monastic context, we can discern in St Athanasius’ Life of Antony—the third/fourth century Egyptian ‘Father of Monasticism’—a description of the desert dweller’s introspective journey that opens “a space for the divine to dwell.”203 But this interior reshaping has, according to Athanasius, exterior consequences because, in drawing various aspirants to himself, the “desert was made a city by monks.”204 Rapp has asserted that beyond the implication that on account of Antony the inhospitable territory of the desert, populated by demons, had been cleared, what Athanasius had in mind was that a new politeia or politeuma had been established in the desert “because it housed a community of good men (and women) who followed their conscience and call to asceticism … a shared ascetic politeia.”205 While this is partially true, I agree with Andrew Mellas’ statement that the desert became primarily an Edenic space on account of the saint, which is reflected in his cosmicisation of a chaotic space—exemplified by his defeat of demons and the ensuing paradisal imagery206—and the statement, coming after the reference to the ‘desert as a city’ above, regarding the entrance into the desert as tantamount to registry “for citizenship in heaven.”207 In light of this, Mellas points out that the “monastic commonwealth represents a deep cosmic shift,” a fusion of “of exteriority and interiority”208 so that, through the divine grace 202

St Hesychios the Priest, On Watchfulness and Holiness 144, in The Philokalia: The Complete Text, 187. 203 Andrew Mellas, ‘The Eremitic Citizen as An-chora-ite in St Athanasius’ Life of Antony,’ Phronema 28.1 (2013): 64. 204 St Athanasius of Alexandria, The Life of Antony 14, in The Life of Antony: The Coptic Life and the Greek Life, trans. Tim Vivian and Apostolos N. Athanassakis (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 2003), 93. 205 Rapp, ‘City and Citizenship as Christian Concepts of Community in Late Antiquity,’ 164. 206 St Athanasius of Alexandria, The Life of Antony 49 (Vivian and Athanassakis, 165). 207 St Athanasius of Alexandria, The Life of Antony 14 (Vivian and Athanassakis, 93). 208 Mellas, ‘The Eremitic Citizen as An-chora-ite in St Athanasius’ Life of Antony,’ 68.

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provided to Antony and his monks, “the desert became a sacred space reminiscent of paradise and the return to Eden.”209 It is clear, however, that this paradisal cosmicisation cannot occur apart from Christ, whom we saw in Revelation reigns with the saints in the Edenic Jerusalem, which is an exemplification of what Mellas called, in relation to the Life of Antony, “a fusion of city and desert.”210 This correlation between Christ and his saints implies that, by dwelling in them, he thereby endows them with ecosystemic qualities that properly belong to him. I cannot explore this aspect here in detail, but will give a few examples that can be considered immediately relevant. The first can be discerned in relation to a letter To the Disciples of Antony upon the latter’s death by St Serapion of Thmuis, which states: See, now, brothers! As soon as the old man departed from us—that blessed Antony, who had been an intercessor for the world—behold we were suddenly thrown down and laid low; and all the elements together were anguished; and the wrath of God from above first consumed Egypt … As long as the saint was on earth he spoke and cried out. And he kept his holy hands always stretched out to God; and by speaking with him, he was gloriously radiant before the Lord. He did not allow wrath to come down; and by faithfully lifting up his thoughts, the saint prevented God’s wrath from coming upon us…211

In praying to God on behalf of the world, St Antony actively participated in God’s ecosystemic activity, denoting that while God (or Christ) is the ecosystemic agent par excellence,212 still he desires a response by those created in his image in order for his ecosystemic activity to be consistently maintained in our behalf.213 The martyrologies of the early centuries 209

Ibid., 70. Ibid., 68. 211 St Serapion of Thmuis, To the Disciples of Antony 5, 7, in in The Life of Antony: The Coptic Life and the Greek Life (Vivian and Athanassakis, 42). 212 Since, for Christians, Christ is properly called Lord, we can safely assume that he is being referred to here, although not in a manner that precludes the Father and the Spirit to whom he is inseparably united (in any case, to refer to God in a Christian context is to refer to Christ, or any other person of the Trinity). 213 The cosmic effect of the response of the saints to God is manifested in a correspondence between a monastic community in Gaza and the hermit St Barsanuphius in the sixth century. Perceiving that the world was in danger, possibly due to the plague that swept through Palestine during Justinian’s reign in 542–543, the monks wrote to the saint to “have compassion on the world that is perishing” and intercede to God on their—and the world’s—behalf. Letters from the Desert 569, in Barsanuphius and John: A Selection of Questions and 210

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reflect a similar ecosystemic relationship between God and the saints. Eusebius, in his History of the Church, portrayed the martyrs as ‘shining lights’—radiant like Antony—in whom was furnished “an unmistakable proof of our Saviour’s truly divine and ineffable power,”214 so that the animals that were set upon them in the arenas did not dare “to touch or even approach the bodies of God’s beloved.”215 Just as Antony cosmicised the chaotic natural terrain of the desert, so too did these martyrs cosmicise the ‘chaotic’ beasts, and in both cases an ecosystemic activity is manifested as resulting from a participation in Christ. A relevant example of this participation for this volume— inasmuch as it contains eschatological overtones—is the saints as conquerors of the serpent or the devil. We have seen that the description of St Michael’s victory over Satan in Revelation borrows from the Jewish intertestamental literature. But in the second century Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, this motif is combined with axis mundi symbolism so that, while the martyr Perpetua, in her vision, sees “a ladder of tremendous height made of bronze, reaching all the way to the heavens,” nonetheless at “the foot of the ladder lay a dragon of enormous size, and it would attack those who tried to climb up and try to terrify them from doing so.”216 In this text, the ladder, which is further described as having Responses, trans. John Chryssavgis (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003), 153. St Barsanuphius’ response hints at the fact that the current circumstances are related to sinfulness and lack of righteousness, before stating that there “are three men, perfect in God, who have exceeded the measure of humanity and have received the authority to loose and bind, to forgive and hold sins (Mt 18.18 and Jn 20.23). These men stand before the shattered world (Ps 105.23), keeping the whole world from complete and sudden annihilation. Through their prayers, God combines his chastisement with his mercy … Therefore, pray with them. For, the prayers of these three are joined at the entrance to the spiritual altar of the Father of lights (Jas 1.17). They share in each other’s joy and gladness in heaven (Eph 1.3). And when they turn once again toward the earth, they share in each other’s mourning and weeping for the evils that occur and attract his wrath.” Ibid., 154. The elder’s response highlights, firstly, that humanity’s decision to respond or not to God’s ecosystemic agency has cosmic consequences, and secondly, that those who do respond to God—i.e. the three saints mentioned—are granted an ecosystemic agency by the former that enables them to intersect heaven and earth (as axes mundi), and, through their intercessions in the presence of God in heaven, to decisively shape the affairs of the earth. 214 Eusebius of Caesarea, The History of the Church 8.12 (Williamson, 271). 215 Eusebius of Caesarea, The History of the Church 8.7 (Williamson, 263). 216 Herbert Mursurillo, trans., The Martyrdoms of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas 4, in The Acts of the Christian Martyrs, vol II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), 111.

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“swords, spears, hooks, daggers, and spikes” attached to its sides, is a metaphor for the spiritual path, which is successfully crossed by Perpetua’s fellow martyr, Saturus, who warns her of the snake at the base of the ladder—in other words, the devil—whom she defeats when she exclaims: ‘He will not harm me,’ I said, ‘in the name of Christ Jesus.’ Slowly as though he were afraid of me, the dragon stuck his head out from underneath the ladder. Then, using it as my first step, I trod on his head and went up.217

Invoking the name of Christ—the one who, we have seen above, has defeated the devil once and for all—the martyr is able to trample the serpent before making her way from earth to heaven. In stepping on the devil, the martyr moreover imitates Christ, whose defeat of Satan, according to St Irenaeus, is typologically prefigured in Genesis 3.15 when the offspring of Eve is said to crush the head of the serpent (for Irenaeus, Eve is a type of the Virgin Mary, and her offspring is Christ).218 Perpetua thereby joins the ranks of other saints to whom this motif has been transferred, among them the archangel Michael and St George,219 all of whom share in a theme which, in the ancient world referred to the conquest of the demiurge over chaos, but in the Christian Church refers to Christ’s eschatological defeat of the devil in his person, which is disseminated to all those who participate in him by his grace within the Church, and will be consummated at the second coming, the eschaton.

217

Ibid. St Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.21 (Roberts and Donaldson, 548). 219 David Scott Fox, Saint George: The Saint with Three Faces (Great Britain: The Kensal Press, 1983), 11. 218

CHAPTER SEVEN CHRISTIANITY AND ROME

Christianity and Cities Before addressing the Christianisation of the ancient cities of Rome and Constantinople, the relationship between the Christianisation of the cityspace—and the belief in and experience of God’s kingdom understood eschatologically as already having been established in the Church but not yet consummated (as addressed in the previous chapter)—should be briefly reiterated. This is especially important since Christians use citysymbolism to describe this already/not yet of the eschatological state or experience within the Church. God’s kingdom is, for Christians, the “heavenly” (Hebrews 12.22) and “holy city, the new Jerusalem,” that, on the last day, will come “down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21.1– 2). If Christians do in fact await this heavenly city—the city of God—then the reality of a truly or authentically Christian city is almost a misnomer. As already stated, the eschatological description of the permanent establishment of God’s kingdom at the end of time as a “new Jerusalem,” a motif inherited by the Church from Old Testament prophecies concerning the “last things”1 and reinterpreted through the lens of the Christ experience, led the writer of Hebrews to affirm that here we “have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (13.14).2 This contradicts the belief that a terrestrial city, like ancient Rome for example—which, we saw in chapter four, was called Roma aeterna by its inhabitants—could be God’s kingdom. As we saw in the previous chapter,

1

As described, for instance, in Daniel chapters 9 and 10. Hebrews 13.11 describes the “high priest [who] carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp.” Christ is here likened to the animals—a “sin offering”—whose blood sanctifies people in the same way that the blood of the animals does. However, it remains significant that this sacrifice, through which the Lord Jesus is able to “sanctify the people by his blood” (13.12), happens outside the city. The author therefore exhorts the Hebrew Christians to go out to him there: that is, outside of Jerusalem.

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Mathetes, or the unnamed Disciple, fleshes out the Christian approach towards terrestrial cities in his Epistle to Diognetus, which affirms that Christians live in their respective countries, but only as resident aliens; they participate in all things as citizens, and they endure all things as foreigners. Every foreign territory is a homeland for them, every homeland foreign territory … They live on earth but participate in the life of heaven.3

This dual approach, where Christians could be said to participate in the life of a terrestrial city without becoming affected or circumscribed by its rhythms, is made possible because they anticipate the coming of God’s heavenly city. But if, according to the author of the Epistle to Diognetus, Christians already participate in heaven—where heaven, the city of God, and God’s kingdom can be considered mutually inclusive—and if, as we have seen, it is Christ himself who is both personal ecosystemic agent and axis mundi, then why did the faithful bother to Christianise the ancient cities that they occupied by building churches and monuments covered in Christian symbols? I will suggest two possible reasons, one theological and one historical, for the early Church’s Christianisation of space within cities. The first reason is that the immediate participation in God’s kingdom, while characteristic of the community of believers within the Church, is nevertheless only considered perfected in the lives of the saints. The saints, as participants in the Demiurge God the Logos, the ecosystemic agent par excellence—Jesus Christ—have no need of a symbolic culture to facilitate their participation in the reality signified by ‘symbols’ because they already participate in that reality by God’s grace. But sainthood is not inherited. Instead, it was (and is) believed to God’s reward for the strenuous schooling in faith that is granted on God’s terms, a schooling that is facilitated through the use of symbols.4 To give a few examples in

3 Epistle to Diognetus 5, in The Apostolic Fathers, trans. Bart D. Ehrman, vol. 2 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 139, 141. 4 To give one example of such symbols: since the Church has as its ultimate aspiration holiness wrought by God within her, then the icons, images of Christ and his saints, contribute to the ‘schooling’ that is meant to sanctify Christians. The definition of the second council of Nicaea—the seventh ecumenical council— held in 787 in Constantinople is important in this regard; but I will not address it here since I explore it in more detail below. Suffice it to supply the reference: Second council of Nicaea–787, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils: Nicaea I–

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relation to the lives of the saints: it was not until the young Antony entered a physical church that he was motivated to embark on his ascetical journey and become, according to the Church’s reckoning, St Antony the Great.5 This is also the case for St Mary of Egypt, whose call to the ascetic life was marked by her being prevented by providence from entering the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem—built upon Golgotha, where Christ was crucified, and the empty tomb from which he rose—to venerate the cross on the feast of its Exaltation on the 14th of September. She was only able to do so after beseeching the Mother of God, in the presence of the latter’s icon, to help her change her way of life.6 At the beginning of their respective journeys, these saints needed to encounter and engage with symbols. To be more nuanced, the saints may experience God in a way that transcends the mediation of symbols, but this experience cannot be said to endure permanently in this life. It is the Christian tradition’s testimony that saints, like other human beings, are subject to the temptations and passions that they strenuously war against, meaning that they never abandon symbols—and often have recourse to them—throughout their lives. This is because, to refer to the author known in Orthodox Christian tradition as St Dionysius the Areopagite, “it is by way of perceptible images that we are uplifted as far as we can be to the contemplation of what is divine.”7 In other words, even in the writings of one of the greatest mystics of the Church who affirmed that the saints’ experience of God is beyond all positive affirmation, symbolic or otherwise, it is never a matter of this being at the expense of symbols.8 For this reason, the Christian tradition never dissevered what we can term the Lateran V, ed. Norman P. Tanner (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 1989), 133–37. 5 St Athanasius the Great, The Greek Life of Antony 2, in The Life of Antony: The Coptic Life and the Greek Life, trans. Tim Vivian and Apostolos N. Athanassakis (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 2003), 59, 61. 6 St Sophronius of Jerusalem, Life of St. Mary of Egypt 22–24, trans. Maria Kouli in Holy Women of Byzantium: Ten Saints’ Lives in English Translation, ed. AliceMary Talbot (Washington D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1996), 82–83. 7 The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, in Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works, trans. Colm Luibheid (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), 197. Elsewhere in Dionysius, we read about the perceptible symbols in the liturgical space—including written symbols (scriptures) and those revealed to hierarchs by God and comprise aspects of Orthodox tradition—as facilitating a participation in God who is beyond all symbols. Ibid., 198–99. 8 The Mystical Theology, in Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works (Luibheid, 136–37).

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apophatic experience of God that takes places in a manner beyond comprehension, with the cataphatic or positive symbols that are mediated by this same God through revelation within the Church:9 the latter in the case of the saints leads to the former without being abrogated. In light of these reflections, and also the fact that human beings are compelled, as we have seen throughout this volume, to cosmicise the space around them,10 it is important to emphasise the necessity of symbols as existential bridges linking us to the realities they signify. Suffice it to state that Christians in general needed to cosmicise their space with the use of Christian symbols in order to fulfil the existential desire and need to participate in Christ. In sum, this is the first reason for the Christianisation of space in cities. The second reason, which in fact led to the creation of monumental church architecture, is that the historical circumstances from the fourth century onwards facilitated an unprecedented imperial beneficence towards the Church by the Roman emperors beginning with St Constantine the Great. This beneficence was expressed in the building projects that any emperor or king since time immemorial would have typically carried out to exhibit their patronage of a particular religion. Whether or not some extravagances that resulted from the Constantinian building projects obscured the first theological reason, outlined above, in the minds of some believers is not a question relevant to this book. Moreover, it must be acknowledged that even before the development of monumental Christian art and architecture under Constantine, Christians used symbols such as the ǿȋĬȊȈ (icthys) acronym, fish, anchors, and the Chi-Rho in order to recognise one another and that they represented various scenes from the Gospels and the Old Testament in the catacombs and house churches. But the former symbols were displayed in secret: the catacombs were underground and the house churches were private residences. Instead, in this and the following, final chapter I will focus on public displays of Christianity in the cities of the old and New Romes, because they constitute (especially the latter) paradigmatic Christian cities, filled as they were with symbols that functioned for the wellbeing and salvation of their inhabitants.

9

Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1976), 28. 10 Saints can also ‘cosmicise’ the space around them, but they do this differently, since as immediate participants in the grace of God, they are able to shape the natural world. See St Serapion of Thmuis’ description of St Antony in Serapion of Thmuis, To the Disciples of Antony 5, 7, in The Life of Antony: The Coptic Life and the Greek Life (Vivian and Athanassakis, 42).

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The Earliest Historical Images of Christ in Rome If Christians were killed for not worshipping images of the Roman emperor, the presumption can be made that this was accentuated by what we have described in chapter three as the Middle Platonic references to “the king or emperor as the Law or Reason or Logos of God.”11 We have seen that this had immediate antecedents in Seneca, Plutarch,12 and Philo of Alexandria,13 which meant that the Roman emperor’s soul, in contrast to other souls that also participated in the Logos which was identified with the demiurge in Middle Platonic thought, was seen as the embodiment of “Sacred Thought” or “Logos” expressed in various interchangeable ways.14 But for Christians, the Roman emperor’s claims to divinity— manifested in works of external authority and worldly power—were nothing more than hubris. It was the paradoxical Jesus, humble yet exalted above every power and authority—the Son of Man while remaining the eternal Son of God the Father—considered the only ecosystemic agent (together, it is implied, with his Father and the Holy Spirit), whom we saw is able to do more than shape the cosmos, but, as its creator—together with the Father and the Spirit—is able to transform it by grace; a transformation that began with his resurrection from the dead, which inaugurated for believers, and for the world, eternal life. The contrast between the Church’s belief in Christ as God and the Roman empire’s insistence that the emperor be worshipped is why we see in Revelation the identification of the emperor and his priests as the first and second beasts respectively. While rendering unto ‘Caesar what was Caesar’s’—in other words, while abiding by the laws and paying their taxes, etc.—Christians nevertheless refused to worship the emperor as a god or to abide by the exhortations of the imperial priesthood, and were killed or martyred as a result of this. Martyrdom, to evoke the term’s etymology, denotes a “witness” (ȝȐȡIJȣȢ) to Christ’s own self-sacrificial way of life (Matthew 10.16–24; John 15.18–21), and while in the book of Acts we read about the martyrdom of saints like Stephen and James the brother of John by the Jewish authorities, in the book of Revelation the deaths of the martyrs are described in relation to the author’s vision, 11

Glenn F. Chesnut, The First Christian Histories: Eusebius Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1986), 143. 12 Ibid., 152–58. 13 Philo also identified the Logos with Wisdom, Justice, and so on. Philo, On Drunkenness, in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, ed. C. D. Yonge (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1993), 209. 14 Ibid., 143.

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where, despite the intensity of the persecution endured by Christians under the Roman regime in Asia Minor at this time, the saints do not retaliate, but following “the Lamb wherever he goes,” (14.4) they imitate his sacrifice by having “washed their robes … white” in his blood (Rev 7.14); in other words, in having died as martyrs.15 Specifically, Christians refused to perform oblations towards the emperor’s image—the so-called lauraton16—inherent in the ruler cult: a refusal which, because of the identification of the emperor with the state since Augustus—whom we saw in chapter four was the first Roman emperor to inaugurate the ruler cult—was interpreted as a form of sedition and often resulted in persecution. Apart from the New Testament scriptures, the most comprehensive accounts concerning martyrdom from the second century describe the deaths of saints like Polycarp of Smyrna and others as resulting from their refusal to worship the Roman emperor as a god.17 Given the general association of imagery of the gods with idolatry or pagan worship, some scholars have discerned in the early Christian period an aversion towards imagery, inferable from a lack of material evidence for Christian images and the testimonies against such representations by some early Church writers such as Origen, Eusebius, and St Epiphanius.18 But this begins to change around the late third century, given that in this period we discern in the historical record the very earliest images of Christ, which were varied. With the gradual use of art by Christians—which, by the fourth century received the full endorsement by renowned fathers like St Gregory of Nyssa19—we discern attempts by the faithful at borrowing and ‘baptising’ “the symbolism of their pagan and Jewish neighbours to express their own beliefs and hopes,”20 in other words, of employing the forms of pagan and Jewish culture to express the unique content of their own experience. 15

We also have the murder of the two witnesses during this forty-two month period, who we saw above were a “symbol of the witnessing church in the last tumultuous days before the end of the age.” Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 217. 16 John Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, Pelican History of Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993), 78. 17 J. R. Harner and J. B. Lightfoot, trans. The Martyrdom of Polycarp, in The Apostolic Fathers, 2nd Edition. ed. M. W. Holmes (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989). 18 Ken Parry, ‘Image-Making,’ in The Westminster Handbook to Origen, ed. John A. McGuckin (Louisville, KE: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 129. 19 St Gregory of Nyssa, Laudatio S. Theodori (PG 46, 737), The Art of the Byzantine Empire 312–1453: Sources and Documents, trans. Cyril Mango (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986), 36–37. 20 Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, 26.

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The earliest evidence for Christian images stems from the third century AD sites of Dura Europos in Syria and the Christian catacombs in Rome, where Christ is depicted as a good shepherd like-figure, in the tomb of St Callixtus, for instance, 21 which were “the first to be administered in the name of the Church under the direct control of the Bishop of Rome.”22 In the same Roman context, we get the first clear example of Christ mirroring the Roman emperor as an attempt to apologetically shift the emphasis away from him. This is in the so-called traditio legis on a ceiling in the catacomb of Sts Marcellinus and Peter, which displays Christ in a fresco delivering a scroll—like an imperial decree—to St Peter on his left, while being acclaimed by St Paul on his right.23 In Rome, this motif also appears in the mausoleum of one of Constantine’s daughters, Constantina.24 The significance of saints Peter and Paul is no doubt because of their respective martyrdoms, both of which are believed to have taken place in Rome during the reign of the emperor Nero.25 The traditio legis often dovetails with ‘Christ in majesty’ which depicts Christ flanked by these two saints, and which, in the first church of St Peter’s on the Vatican hill—above the resting place of the saint—included beneath it “the Agnus Dei” or Lamb of God standing among “the twelve Apostle-lambs between the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, symbolising the Churches of the Jews and the Gentiles.”26 This motif would appear with some variation in later churches, such as San Apollinare in Classe, only a few centuries later.27 The ‘Christ in majesty’ motif often differs from the traditio legis only insofar as it usually does not include the delivery of scrolls (thereby precluding the lawgiver dimension to the image). What is significant is that both of these motifs, the traditio legis and ‘Christ in majesty,’ appear throughout Rome and Constantinople in the ensuing centuries, both in the ecclesial and public spaces of these cities.

21

Daniel Strong, Roman Art, ed. Roger Ling, The Pelican History of Art (London: Penguin Books, 1988), plate 191, p. 258. 22 Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, 16. 23 John Herrmann and Annewies van den Hoek, ‘Apocalyptic Themes in the Monumental and Minor Art of Early Christianity,’ in Apocalyptic Thought in Early Christianity, ed. Robert L. Daly (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), figure 2.3, p. 37. 24 Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, 27–28. 25 Eusebius of Caesarea, The History of the Church 3.1, trans. G. A. Williams (London: Penguin Books, 1989), 65. 26 Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, 27. 27 Mario Baghos, ‘Christ, Paradise, Trees, and the Cross in the Byzantine Art of Italy,’ International Journal of Orthodox Theology 9.2 (2018): 144.

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It is impossible to date with certainty the origins of the traditio legis, but, given the versatility of portraiture in the catacombs—which also depict Christ as Orpheus and as a classical philosopher in a toga28—it is not altogether improbable that it was one of many coterminous images by which the Church used existing motifs to depict Christ as exalted above the emperor and any other ruler. And this is precisely the point: for Christians, Christ is the only true and eternal lawgiver29 in direct juxtaposition to the emperor who had traditionally been perceived by the Romans as the embodiment of the law/nomos.30 This points to an ecclesial reaction to imperial authority in the realm of art—itself a form of Christian apologetics—stemming from a period anterior to the beginnings of the Christianisation of the Roman empire in the public space in the fourth century; a reaction that, while taking place well before the adoption of Christianity by any emperor, would eventually reshape the empire with the advent of Christendom. It also contradicts the scholarly thesis—employed foremost by Ernst Kantorowicz,31 Andreas Alföldi,32 André Grabar,33 and Johannes Deckers34—that suggests that the image of Christ as a peaceful, benevolent shepherd was transformed, from the Constantinian period onwards, into a ‘powerful, enthroned Jesus’ mirroring the emperor. 35 In reality, the opposite is true, and Christ’s authority—experienced by Christians first hand—was communicated by the Church using motifs that they had heretofore been familiar with—namely the traditio legis—in a way that filled it with Christian content and transferred the emphasis away from the emperor to Christ himself. 28

Robin M. Jensen, Understanding Early Christian Art (London: Routledge, 2009), figure 8, p. 41; figure 11, p. 46. 29 See the Alpha and Omega on either side of Christ’s head in the fresco. James Stevenson, The Catacombs: Life and Death in Early Christianity (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1985), 59. 30 Chesnut, The First Christian Histories, 143. 31 Ernst Kantorowicz, Laudes Regiae: A Study in Liturgical Acclamations and Medieval Ruler Worship; The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957). 32 Andreas Alföldi, Die monarchisch Repräsentation im römischen Kaiserreiche (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1970). 33 André Grabar, Christian Iconography: A Study of Its Origins (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), 5–54. 34 Johannes Deckers, ‘Constantine the Great and Early Christian Art,’ in Picturing the Bible: The Earliest Christian Art, ed. Jeffrey Spier (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007). 35 Lee M. Jefferson and Robin M. Jensen, eds., The Art of Empire: Christian Art in its Imperial Context (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 4.

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As we have seen, the need to shift the emphasis away from the emperor to Christ implies a reaction to the Roman imperial cult that extolled the emperor as eternal and divine; the same cult that was considered diabolical in Revelation and that martyred many Christians. The assertions made by the aforementioned scholars (Kantorowicz, etc.) that the image of Christ was transformed by emperors to boost their authority implies the persistence of the Roman imperial cult—the worship of the emperor as an ecosystemic agent—well into the Christian epoch. Elsewhere, I have argued that this is an ambiguous topic, since the first main Christian emperor, St Constantine, while incorporating aspects of the ruler cult, nevertheless watered it down because of his Christian sensibilities.36 Indeed, in order to account for the shift of emphasis to images of Christ, we need to go back to the Church’s beginnings, where it is obvious that the Christian community perceived Christ as above any secular authority, including the Roman emperor, who, we have seen, since Augustus had proclaimed himself as both divine and eternal.37 In Constantine’s time, this ruler cult was identified with the patron god Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), which had been promoted by previous emperors such as Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Elagabalus (also named Heliogabalus)38 on a personal level until 274 when Aurelian “began a vigorous campaign of propaganda celebrating it as the exclusive protector of Rome’s imperial might.”39 We have seen throughout this book that solar worship was bound up with pagan ecosystemic agency and the founding of cities as imagines et axes mundi since ancient times: Mesopotamian rulers in the Akkadian period, the Egyptian Pharaohs, and later Alexander the Great and his successors would all depict themselves as agents of the sun god in their supposed ecosystemic or demiurgic activities. It is no surprise that Christians, who did not believe that the sun was divine and who, at best, believed the emperor had been appointed by Christ, in this way rejected solar worship. 36

For an insight into these, see Constantine’s Oration to the Saints, in Constantine and Christendom, trans. Mark Edwards (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2003). 37 Res Gestae Divi Augusti 2.10, in Velleius Paterculus: Compendium of Roman History and Res Gestae Divi Augusti, trans. Frederick W. Shipley, Loeb Classical Library (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1967), 360–61. 38 According to Ferguson, Heliogabalus is an assimilation of the Syrian sun-god to the Greek. John Ferguson, The Religions of the Roman Empire, ed. H. H. Scullard (New York: Cornell University Press, 1994), 52. 39 J. Rufus Fears, ‘Sol Invictus,’ in Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Lindsay Jones et al. (USA: Thomson Gale, 2005), 8510.

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The Christian disavowal of the ruler cult of course became less of a problem with the rapports established between Church and state under Constantine, who had to find new ways of maintaining elements of this cult to placate his pagan subjects while at the same time distancing himself from full-blown paganism (i.e. he refused to attend sacrifices) so as not to offend the Church.40 Because of this, Constantine’s self-portrayal had to remain flexible, as evidenced in his depiction of himself as the sun god on top of a colossal column in his eponymous Forum in New Rome, Constantinople, which might seem surprising, especially in light of his conversion to Christianity just before the battle of Pons Milvius in 31241 where he defeated his rival emperor Maxentius. Yet Constantine also initiated church-building projects which he undertook from 313 onwards in and around the city of Rome. Indeed, from 313 onwards—apart from legislating the Edict of Milan that gave freedom of worship to Christians42—the emperor undertook church-building projects to honour the burial places of Christian martyrs, many of which were killed for refusing to worship the Roman emperor as a god, including: churches dedicated to Sts Marcellinus and Peter, St Lawrence, the Basilica of the Apostles (now the church of St Sebastian), St Agnes, St Paul ‘outside the walls,’ and St Peter’s on the hill of the Vatican. Various other churches such as Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and St John Lateran were distinguished by unique characteristics: Santa Croce contained relics of the true cross43 and St John Lateran served as the first cathedral church of the popes.44 The paradox, therefore, of Constantine’s ostensible ‘syncretism’ can and must be explained away by the difficult position of the Christian Roman emperor at a time when the empire was gradually being Christianised (indeed, he helped facilitate this process), so that in this period the Church remained active in continuing to shift the emphasis away from pagan deities to Christ. Indeed, we saw that with the traditio legis the Church had successfully accomplished this in relation to the emperor, and, as we shall see, continued this process in relation to the sun god also.

40

A. D. Lee, ‘Traditional Religion,’ in Noel Lenski (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 175. 41 Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine 1.37–38, trans. Averil Cameron and Stuart G. Hall (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), 84–85. 42 Lee, ‘Traditional Religion,’ 171. 43 Mark J. Johnson, ‘Architecture of Empire,’ in Noel Lenski (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine, 285. 44 Johnson, ‘Architecture of Empire,’ 283.

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Church and Empire The Shift of Emphasis from Rulers to Christ and His Saints As stated above, solar worship can be traced back to the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilisations,45 after which it was picked up by the Greeks during the reign of Alexander the Great. Its Roman iteration as the worship of Sol Invictus was popular in the second and third centuries AD and would crop up from time to time—even in the Christian context— until the fifth century.46 Sol’s dethronement, however, began to take place sometime in the fourth century when, particularly in Western provinces of the Roman Empire such as North Africa, 25th of December was chosen to celebrate the Nativity or birth of Christ.47 According to a longstanding interpretation, the choice of this date was deliberate: it was the feast of Dies Natali Solis Invicti, the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,’ which marked that point in the year when the sun made its journey back north from its southernmost point. (This, in the northern hemisphere, is known as the winter solstice: the shortest day in the year.) This is also the time when the day was shortest and began to increase, which was not lost on St Augustine, who saw this as a sign of the Son of God’s kenotic outpouring (see Philippians 2.1–11); his humility marked by the shortness of the day, through which, with the increase of light via the expansion of days, he saw the Son lifting us up to heaven.48 Another interpretation suggests that Christmas falls on December 25 because it corresponds to the nine-month gestation period after the annunciation of the archangel Gabriel to the Theotokos, the Virgin Mary, celebrated on the 25th of March, which is when Christ was conceived. In the northern hemisphere, March 25 coincides with the vernal equinox that marks the beginning of spring during which day and night are equal in all 45 Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion, trans. Rosemary Sheed (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), 138–42. 46 Agapetus, Advice to the Emperor Justinian 51, in Three Political Voices from the Age of Justinian, trans. Peter N. Bell (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2009), 115. 47 Other churches in the East combined the feasts of the Nativity and Theophany (or Baptism) of Christ until, under the influence of Rome, they were distinguished in Constantinople in the fourth century. ੊ȦȐȞȞȠȣ Ȃ. ĭȠȣȞIJȠȪȜȘ, ȁȠȖȚțȒ ȁĮIJȡİȓĮ (ĬİııĮȜȠȞȓțȘ: ਝʌȠıIJȠȜȚțȒ ǻȚĮțȠȞȓĮ, 1971), 359. 48 St Augustine, Sermon 192, in St Augustine: Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons, trans. Sr Mary Sarah Muldowney (Washington DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1984), 34.

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parts of the world (since the sun is just above the equator) before days start getting longer due to the tilting of the earth’s axis towards the sun.49 For Christians, there is dual symbolism here: the Son of God begins his renewal of the world during the season of renewal, spring, at a time when the earth experiences diurnal and nocturnal equilibrium—which Christ, as God the Logos and ecosystemic agent, is the source of on a cosmic level— before the days start getting longer; the expansion of the sun’s duration evoking the dawning of Christ upon the world. So far, we have seen the parallel astronomical dimensions of both the Nativity and the Annunciation—and that these Christian feast days are providentially connected by the natural term of gestation in the womb— but what concerns us here is the method that the Church used to accommodate solar imagery for the celebration of Christ’s birthday, because it illustrates its approach towards the prevailing culture of the time in a way that led to the replacement of the solar cult with Christ through ecclesial and public imagery (and the concomitant destabilisation of the ruler’s ecosystemic agency).50 It is true that typological references to Christ as the ‘sun’ can be found in the Old Testament. Malachi 4.2 states that for those who revere the name of the Lord, “the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in its rays.” Guy Freeland has collated some of the similes and metaphors in the New Testament that refer to the sun and light in relation to Christ, and how these were picked up by the early Christian apologists (like Clement of Alexandria) and made their way into Orthodox Christian prayers and hymnography.51 He also explained the symbolic importance of the east as the cardinal point from where the sun rises. The east was a powerful symbol for Christians, since, as we saw in chapter five, it was the location where Eden or paradise was supposed to have been planted (Gen 2.8). Thus, Christians prayed facing east, built their churches with their altars facing east, and were even buried facing east “to greet the risen Christ at the resurrection of the dead.”52 Old and New Testament scripture, and nature—specifically the rising sun—provided spiritual metaphors for Christians that became part of Church tradition as reflected in postures for prayer, apologetic literature, hymnography, and architecture. 49

Ian Morison, Introduction to Astronomy and Cosmology (West Sussex, UK: Wiley, 2008), 8. 50 This approach utilised the external forms of that culture—in this case, an existing solar feast day—to communicate the Gospel in a way that preserved the latter’s content. 51 Guy Freeland, Windows to Orthodoxy (Sydney: St Andrew’s Orthodox Press, 2013), 167–68. 52 Ibid., 168–69.

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However, the Church went even further. In order to both shift the emphasis away from the sun god and communicate the Gospel to the prevailing culture, it ‘dressed’ Christ in the forms of that culture, so that the artistic halo—which was the radiate crown worn by the sun god and his various iterations (Apollo, etc.)—was transferred by the Church to Christ and his saints. This is evidenced by the fact that, as already mentioned at length, the Church emerged in a political environment where the emperor took the sun god as his protector. As we have seen, even emperor Constantine depicted himself as an adept of Sol Invictus; that he did so both before and after he converted to Christianity—as exemplified by the statue in his Forum in Constantinople erected almost eighteen years after his conversion at Pons Milvius53—underscores just how ingrained solar worship was in the political and religious landscape of the time. (Nevertheless, beginning with 324, Constantine stopped depicting Sol on his coinage,54 and in fact, the pagan deities depicted on Constantine’s coins, including Jupiter but also Hercules and Mars, all disappeared in the 320s.)55 Thus, the Church, for apologetic reasons—to both communicate the Gospel to its immediate framework and to demonstrate the superiority of Christ to the Roman emperors and their ‘god’—took the chief emblem of Sol—specifically the design of the circular or radiate halo—and transferred it to Christ to signify his holiness. And it is no surprise that the Church accomplished this feat in the earliest extant depiction of Christ: in the centre of a ceiling mosaic of him depicted as Sol Invictus in the grotto beneath St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican in Rome, dating from the midthird century, where Christ is dressed in a tunic and a flying cloak, nimbed with rays shooting upwards and sideways like the arms of a cross, bearing in his left hand the orb, the right (which is missing) possibly raised in an act of benediction … the risen and ascending Christ, the new Sol Invictus, Sol Salutis, Sol Iustitiae.56

Despite all of this, the Church’s appropriation and resignification of the symbolism of the sun god in relation to Christ was not merely undertaken for the sake of utility, or even apology: it was somehow coterminous with the Church’s belief that the saints’ experience of God’s grace leaves a 53 Elizabeth Jeffreys et al., The Chronicle of John Malalas 13.7 (Melbourne: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1986), 174. 54 Fears, ‘Sol Invictus,’ 8511. 55 Jones, Constantine and the Conversion of Europe, 81–82. 56 Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, 19.

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radiant ‘imprint,’ like in Exodus 34.29 when, after Moses descended from Sinai after conversing with the Lord, “his face was radiant.” (The same is said about many other saints, like Symeon the New Theologian and Seraphim of Sarov, after they experienced God directly.)57 This means that while the Church appropriated the artistic form of the circular halo for apologetic purposes, this appropriation nevertheless corresponded to the experience of its saints going as far back as Moses, as described in the Old Testament and the New, where Moses is seen by the disciples Peter, James, and John in the presence of Christ on Mount Tabor, thereby (in the case of Moses) predating the Graeco-Roman style halo that it appropriated after many centuries. In any case, we have seen that at the same time the Church applied the Old Testament epithet “sun of righteousness” to Christ as it displaced the pagan feast of Sol Invictus with the feast of the Nativity on December 25. Indeed, Christ is still referred to as “sun of righteousness” in the hymn “O joyful light of the divine glory” recited in every Vespers service in the Orthodox Church, which is directed to him as the Son of God the Father.58 In other words, rather than being literally equated with the sun god, Christ, the Son of God, was considered by way of metaphor as Christos Helios, ‘Christ the Sun,’ and still features as such in some Orthodox Christian iconography where he is depicted as a child seated within a medallion representing the womb of the Virgin Mary, or— in a manner relevant for the current study—on the underside of church domes as the adult Pantokrator or ‘Master of All,’ where the image of Christ takes the place of the sun in a heliocentric vision of the cosmos prevalent at the time. This role of Christ as ‘Helios’ was, and still is, usually indicated by his wearing a golden tunic at the centre of the circular domes that symbolise the cosmos. So far we have seen that the appropriation of the halo and its application to Christ—while it was confirmed by the Church in the experience of the saints—nevertheless had artistic antecedents in the depictions of the sun god, which Christ providentially replaced in terms of the feast day of Christmas on December 25 and in his being represented as Pantokrator in the circular domes of churches; the dome representing the heliocentric vision of the cosmos where Christ displaced the sun at its centre. But the appropriation of solar imagery by the ecclesial community was a complex process, and neither was there in the early period a 57 Niketas Stethatos, The Life of Saint Symeon the New Theologian 5, trans. Richard P. H. Greenfield (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2013), 13–15. Irina Gorainov, The Message of St Seraphim (Oxford: Fairacres Publications, 1974), 11–12. 58 ‫ݰ‬İȡĮIJȚțȩȞ (ĬİııĮȜȠȞȓțȘ: ਝʌȠıIJȠȜȚțȒ ǻȚĮțȠȞȓĮ, 1977), 9.

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standardised image of Christ. In the fifth and sixth centuries AD emperors such as Theodosius, Honorius and Justinian all depicted themselves with halos. Granted, two of these three figures, Theodosius and Justinian, would posthumously be canonised as saints—thus legitimising the use of the halo—but here we have examples of them using this motif in relation to themselves in their lifetimes.59 We discern therefore in some of the earliest examples of ecclesial art in the Roman context—apart from the varied imagery in the catacombs mentioned above60—that Christ is depicted with a halo, and so are his saints. The encaustic paintings from St Catherine’s monastery in Mt Sinai, which depict Christ and St Peter with halos are indicative of the continuation of this trend well into the sixth century. We have seen that the trend to depict Christ as above the Roman ruler involved the transference of solar worship motifs associated with the ruler to Christ and his saints, which in any case corresponded, at least in form (but not in content), to the experience of the saints, i.e., their experience of Christ as light-giver and their endowment with the light of grace. Eventually, emperors who were canonised as saints would also be depicted with the halo: but the Church seems to have simultaneously reacted against emperors deliberately portraying themselves with halos in the period that the first images of Christ were emerging. This reaction predated the reign of Constantine and continued thereafter, but, as we have seen, this emperor’s reign was transitionary and he obviously cannot be held accountable for the actions of later emperors. To reiterate what we said above: his building programs in and around Rome, the holy Land, and Constantinople—not to mention his legislation—manifest an increasing embracement of Christianity, and signs of Christianisation in art, though subtle, are present in his reign.61

59

For Theodosius, see Stephen Williams and Gerard Friell, Theodosius: The Empire at Bay (London: Routledge, 1998), 67. For Justinian, see Franco Gàbici, Ravenna: Mosaics, Monuments and Environment (Ravenna: Salbaroli Publishers, 2012), 55. 60 Which do, however, in the case of Sts Marcellinus and Peter, also depict Christ with a halo in the traditio legis. Stevenson, The Catacombs, 59. 61 See JaĞ Elsner, ‘Perspectives in Art,’ in Noel Lenski (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine, 269.

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7-1 The colossal bust of St Constantine the Great, Capitoline Museums, Rome. Photo by author (2016).

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Some signs of Constantine’s Christianisation of art include his erection of a statue in the Forum Romanum holding the “saving sign,”62 i.e. the cross, which scholars have speculated may in fact have been the source of the Colossal fragments of Constantine which were found in 1487 in the Basilica Nova in the Roman Forum and which are on display at the Capitoline museum.63 Eusebius of Caesarea’s biography of Constantine also mentions this cross-wielding statue, along with a portrait of the emperor and his sons that was once presumably located at the palace in Constantinople which showed them with a chi-rho above their heads thrusting the dragon (įȡȐțȦȞ) or the devil into an abyss with a javelin-like labarum.64 Although the portrait is now lost, the appearance of a similar motif of the emperor and his sons thrusting the devil into the abyss on coinage dating from the 320s corroborates the use of this motif in other mediums in the Constantinian period.65 The image, elaborated upon by Eusebius, fitted neatly into the bishop’s eschatological schema: for him, Constantine was a God-ordained ruler who, through Christ exemplified by the chi-rho in the portrait, was called not only to inaugurate unity within the Roman empire,66 but also to defeat that agent of chaos—the dragon— which, in Revelation 12.7, is identified with the devil or Satan, and which constantly frustrated the unity of the Church and thus the Roman state that had come into rapport with it.67 The fact that Constantine identified this ‘dragon’ with his rival Licinius in his correspondence with the Christian bishops in the Eastern territories of the empire probably contributed to Eusebius’ historicist eschatology that relegated the kingdom of God to the kingdom of the emperor, thereby establishing the foundations for a Byzantine ruler cult; but of a kind which did not explicitly affirm the ruler’s divinity as this would be contrary to the Christian Gospel (to 62

Eusebius of Caesarea, The History of the Church 9.9 (Williamson, 294). Hans A. Pohlsander, The Emperor Constantine (New York: Routledge, 1996), 79. 64 Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3.3.1–2 (Cameron and Hall, 122). 65 Lenski, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine, coin 31, p. xii. 66 Eusebius, On Christ’s Sepulchre 16, in In Praise of Constantine: A Historical Study and New Translation of Eusebius’ Tricennial Orations, trans. H. A. Drake (California: University of California Press, 1975), 120. 67 That the two were connected, at least for Constantine and Eusebius, is reflected in the latter’s Life of Constantine, where he quotes the former as declaring that if he were to “establish a general concord among the servants of God” then “the course of public affairs would also enjoy the change consonant with the pious desires of all.” Eusebius, Life of Constantine 2.64–65.2 (Cameron and Hall, 116). 63

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Christ’s exclusive ecosystemic agency). At the very least, this ruler cult from time to time inspired rulers with the audacity to claim complete authority over the Church in matters of doctrine, an authority unilaterally rejected by the Church’s hierarchy and saints.68 We shall turn to some examples of emperors transgressing this boundary between Church and state, but before doing so, we must return to the representation of Constantine to assert that we do not know the extent to which the emperor endorsed Eusebius’ vision, which, despite the bishop’s significant contributions to historiography, hermeneutics, and apologetics, were not adopted by the Church. Nevertheless, some aspects of Eusebius’ vision leaked into the imperial arena, sometimes in an innocuous manner, other times not. In relation to the former, it is not without reason that the emperor Honorius, who is not canonised by the Church, is depicted on a diptych issued in Rome in 406 as an imitator and successor of Constantine. Like the lost portrait of Constantine described by Eusebius, he holds a labarum surmounted by the same chi-rho monogram and depicts himself with a halo.69 In this portrait Honorius also holds a statue of Tyche or Fortuna, promoted by Constantine and his successors as raising Constantinople to power in its formative years.70 Before Honorius, Constantius II, Constantine’s son and heir to the Eastern territories persistently enforced the heresy of Arianism and its theological variants—insofar as they posited the ‘creatureliness’ of God the Son—in a way that permitted him to promote himself as eternal and thus divine;71 aspects of the ruler cult that were extolled by some of his subjects and which are exemplified by Constantius’ self-portrayal with a halo in a midfourth century plate found at Kertch in the Ukraine.72 This motif would appear again in the self-portrayal of the emperor Theodosius in his late fourth century Missorium73 (which also 68 Those bishops who conformed to imperial heresies when the empire lapsed into them were never revered as bishops thereafter. 69 Williams and Friell, Theodosius, plate 14. 70 Ibid. 71 That Arianism, with its subordination of the Son of God the Father to the level of a creature, permitted the continued acknowledgment of the Roman ruler cult in a pseudo-Christian guise is reflected by St Athanasius the Great when he accused the Arians of naming “another ‘Lord’ as theirs, even Constantius, who has countenanced their impiety, so that those who deny the Son to be eternal, have styled him eternal emperor.” The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus 2.37, in Socrates, Sozomenus: Church Histories, trans. A. C. Zenos (Grand Rapids, Michigan: WM.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976), 62. 72 Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, plate 61, p. 78. 73 Strong, Roman Art, plate 250, p. 313.

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depicts him giving what would later become the Christic blessing of peace), and later during Justinian’s reign in the sixth century (as exemplified by the mosaics in San Vitale, Ravenna),74 pointing towards a ‘Christianisation’ and eventual watering down of the ruler cult in Byzantium; with the latter nevertheless still attested to by references to Constantius in the fourth century—and later Valentinian in the fifth century—as “perpetual Augusti.”75 But there is a major difference between Theodosius and Justinian—who even convoked ecumenical councils76—on the one hand, and Constantius and Valentinian on the other, namely, that the former are venerated as saints, and the latter are not, meaning that irrespective of Theodosius and Justinian’s self-representation with a halo, their posthumous canonisation validated its use. None of this detracts from the fact that in the examples of Constantius and Valentinian we discern the perpetuation of imperial hubris within the Byzantine context. But it is important to emphasise that this does not suggest that emperors or empresses were considered ecosystemic agents in Byzantium in the same way they were in pre-Christian civilisations (i.e. as suggested by ‘caesaropapism’),77 nor does it imply the Church’s subordination to the state;78 for while some rulers tried to impose themselves on the Church, there was always resistance on the part of the saints, as we mentioned above and shall now demonstrate. The Orthodox Church in fact actively reacted to the empire’s adoption of Christianity in several ways: in the mass exodus of men and women into the Egyptian desert, away from the seeming compromise of a ‘Christian’ empire, and in the deliberate attempts to uphold the standards of the Gospel within the parameters of the new circumstances by Sts 74

Guiseppe Bovini, Ravenna: Art and History (Ravenna: Longo Publisher, 1991), plate 14, p. 29. 75 Within the context of the council of Chalcedon in 451, bishop Eusebius of Dorylaeum referred to these emperors as such. The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon vol. 1, trans. with intro. and notes by Richard Price and Michael Gaddis (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2005), 131. 76 The third ecumenical council held in Ephesus in 431 and the fifth held in Constantinople in 553. 77 John Meyendorff, The Orthodox Church: Its Past and its Role in the World Today (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996), 20. 78 In light of this, we do, however, have to question the extent to which such representations of emperors were examples of their inner disposition, in other words—did they think of themselves as gods—or were they merely following convention? It is hard to imagine Theodosius I as overreaching in relation to the ruler cult, especially in light of the famous example of him undertaking penance at the rebuke of St Ambrose, and his involvement in the endorsement of Nicene Orthodoxy at the second ecumenical council held in Constantinople in 381.

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Athanasius and Basil the Great (c. 330–379), Gregory the Theologian (329–390), Ambrose of Milan (c. 340–397), and John Chrysostom (c. 347–407), all of whom came into conflict with emperors or empresses at some point in their respective episcopal tenures.79 Invariably, these conflicts took place at the hazy crossroads between Church and state. The Church was happy to work with the state for the promotion of the Gospel, and this relationship did in fact help it spread, leading to the Christianisation of space, and, importantly for this book, the city space. We read, for example, in Eusebius’ Life of Constantine that the emperor requested fifty copies of the scriptures for the new churches that he had built in Constantinople, not to mention the building of churches we mentioned earlier in Rome and the holy Land, the commissioning of art, etc.80 Nevertheless, the Church continued to unequivocally denounce the imperial court when it behaved antithetically to the Church’s standards, especially when emperors and empresses interfered in the realm of doctrine. Indeed, immediately after Constantine’s death in AD 337, disorder swept the newly established imperial city of Constantinople, when his son, the aforementioned Constantius II, attempted to overturn the council of Nicaea—which affirmed that the Son of God is of one essence (੒ȝȠȠȪıȚȠȢ, homoousios) with the Father—by promoting Arian-inspired christologies, i.e. representations of Christ that expressed the relationship between him and his Father in a subordinationist manner and were thus existentially damaging.81 St Ossius of Cordova, who, as a bishop, presided over the council of Nicaea—thereby contravening any imputation that the Church was subordinated to the state during this council (for it was only convoked by Constantine, and not presided by him)—is known to have said to Constantius: Intrude not yourself into Ecclesiastical matters, neither give commands unto us concerning them; but learn them from us. God has put into your hands the kingdom; to us He has entrusted the affairs of His Church…82

79

The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen 7.25, in Socrates, Sozomenus: Church Histories, trans. Chester D. Hartranft, 393. 80 Lenski (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine, 205–25, 255–77. 81 The profession of faith of the 318 fathers, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 1989), 4. 82 St Athanasius the Great, Historia Arianorum 44, in Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, trans. Archibald Robinson (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975), 286.

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A similar attitude would be reflected by St Theodore the Studite (d. 826) when he stood against the iconoclastic policies of emperors in the eighth and ninth centuries: the Church acknowledged the work of providence in the empire—such as in the appointment of rulers—and collaborated with rulers, but rulers were not the head of the Church; and they certainly were not de facto ecosystemic agents. Thus, the ruler cult had been severely curtailed. For while emperors could depict themselves as God-appointed regents—even with halos in their lifetimes—still, they could never explicitly call themselves divine; and even in the case of haloes it was understood that one could be a saint only because of Christ’s grace, and not because of any inherent divinity. Thus, the ecosystemic agency of Christ, extolled by the Church, overturned the millennia old propensity for rulers, mere mortals, to be worshipped as gods on earth; a propensity that we have seen goes all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia. Despite all of this, things are not as straightforward as the Church always reacting against the state because the latter was involved in worldly affairs that often contradict Christian virtue, or that the state at times lapsed into heresy. It is true that the Church, as the body of Christ, is always above any ruler or authority. While maintaining its separateness from the state in the examples we saw above, it was also often indebted to their symphonic relationship which gave birth to its great places of worship—i.e. the imperially sponsored church architecture, such as the cathedral church of Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), and art—that we will presently turn to, which would become filled with mosaics depicting Christ and the saints as exemplars of holiness (the latter owing this to the grace of the former). In relation to Hagia Sophia, the great liturgy with its sonorous hymns that took place there would condition the entire Orthodox Christian world, even leading to the conversion of the Rus’.83 Given these examples, it is clear that if the Roman ruler cult could be said to have persisted within the gradually Christianised Roman empire in the fourth century—in Rome and later the new imperial capital, Constantinople—it can only be said to have done so in a watered-down form. It was tempered, however, by the Byzantine belief in kingship that both followed an Old Testament model and was inspired by the philosopher-king depicted in Plato’s Republic.84

83 Robert F. Taft, The Byzantine Rite: A Short History (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1992), 18. 84 Plato, The Republic 4.473CD, in Plato V: Republic I, trans. Paul Shorey (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), 509.

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Nevertheless some emperors (and empresses) went too far.85 In any case, the persistence of the emphasis on the ruler was, we saw above, partly the basis for the Church’s transference of the emphasis away from him to Christ as the enthroned king of the cosmos—manifested in the traditio legis and later the Pantokrator—which was often paradoxically sponsored by the same imperial court—the same emperors and empresses whom Christ was exalted above—and not just in the Byzantine empire. And neither was the transference of emphasis limited to Christ, but to his saints also. For example, in the reigns of Constantine and Honorius mentioned earlier we discern the artistic use of the military standard—based on Constantine’s labarum that depicted the emperor in portrait-style thrusting the devil/Licinius into an abyss—held in the hands of the emperors.86 But the labarum quickly found its way into the ecclesial space to be used in liturgical worship, where it is still used in the Orthodox Church. Moreover, the aforementioned Constantinian portrait, with the eschatological emperor thrusting the devil into the abyss, and based on millennia old traditions of the ruler slaying the dragon, was divested of its significance in the application of the motif of the dragon-slayer to early Christian saints. Indeed, the standard image of St Michael the Archangel as a dragon slayer in the book of Revelation 12.7 that we addressed in the previous chapter predates, in literary form, the Constantinian portrait described by Eusebius. It is not clear if this text was translated into imagery—into painting—for the first time within the Constantinian context. But this could possibly have been the case since both saints are connected insofar as the emperor dedicated a church to St Michael in Chalcedon (called the Michaelion).87 It could also be true that the image of St Michael the ‘dragon-slayer’ acted as an ecclesial countermeasure to the imperial appropriation of the saint’s role as defeating the devil who is called a ‘dragon’ in the same Revelation: remember we said that Constantine interpreted the dragon as his rival Licinius, whereas the Church affirmed the ultimate defeat of the devil (along with sin, death, and Hades) by Christ. In any case, to this day St Michael is depicted in the Orthodox Church—the art of which emerged within the Byzantine context—holding 85

See the case with Eudoxia, whose self-exaltation before the cathedral of Hagia Sophia led to her severe castigation by St John Chrysostom, in Mario Baghos, ‘Ecosystemic Agency: Christ, His Saints, and John Chrysostom,’ in John Chrysostom: Past, Present, Future, ed. Doru Costache and Mario Baghos (Sydney: AIOCS Press, 2017), 42–43. 86 Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine 3.3 (Cameron and Hall, 122). 87 The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen 2.3 (Hartranft, 260).

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a globe surmounted by a cross, an image which was also used by Constantine in imitation of Nero and other Roman emperors88 as designating his mastery over the world; although in the saint’s case the globe probably signifies his role in protecting God’s people, as drawn from Daniel 10.13, 21, and 12.1. But the transference of Christian imagery and roles, from the emperor to the saints, did not stop there. St George, a martyr in Nicomedia under Constantine’s predecessor Diocletian, is also depicted in Orthodox iconography as slaying a dragon. As in the case of St Michael, the provenance of this image cannot be demonstrated with certainty. However, the hymns of the Orthodox Church dedicated to George give an insight into how it should be interpreted, for although the saint is often depicted as mounted on a horse and thrusting the devil to the ground with a spear (designating an external victory), the hymns extol him as a slayer of the devil and his demons through his own martyrdom (which is an internal/spiritual victory), meaning that the ‘literal’ representation should be understood from the point of view of realised eschatology.89 In this way, Sts Michael and George receive their ecosystemic agency—at least as articulated in relation to the subduing of chaos and evil engendered by Satan—from the ultimate ecosystemic agent, Jesus Christ, within whom, according to the Church’s testimony, the devil has been defeated and all those things pertaining to the future, eschatological state—alternately described as the kingdom of God/heaven, paradise, salvation, etc.—have already been fulfilled; what remains is for them to be distributed unilaterally on a cosmic scale, which represents a future eschatology or an event that has not yet occurred (and will not occur until the second coming).90 It is here that the notion of Christ’s mastery over the cosmos— exemplified by images like the traditio legis and the Pantokrator that filled Christian cities—emerges, and it is in light of this that the refusal of early Christians to worship the emperor can be contextualised.

88 Elizabeth Marlowe, ‘Framing the Sun: The Arch of Constantine and the Roman Cityscape,’ The Art Bulletin 88.2 (2006): 226. 89 ‘April 23, The Holy and Glorious Great Martyr George the Trophy-bearer: Great Vespers,’ in The April Menaion, trans. Holy Transfiguration Monastery (Boston, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 2005), 98. 90 Mario Baghos, ‘St Basil’s Eschatological Vision: Aspects of the Recapitulation of History and the Eighth Day,’ Phronema 25 (2005): 85–86.

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Saints as Protectors of Cities The Mother of God and Rome So far in this chapter, I have attempted to demonstrate that ecclesial art shifted the emphasis from the emperor to Christ as an ecosystemic agent both before and after the reign of Constantine the Great. Thus, the emergence of the image of Christ as an enthroned king of the cosmos—the Pantokrator—did not result from a unilateral imposition of the empire onto the Church. Although later rulers did employ Christian imagery, many times they were tempted to return to a watered-down version of the old imperial cult, meaning that the Church had to apologetically maintain its views about Christ within the existing framework by reminding emperors and empresses that Christ is ‘in charge’ so to speak. This included the appropriation of both pagan and Christian imperial motifs—such as the chi-rho, the globe, and the halo—into the ecclesial space in the form of ivory reliefs, frescoes, icons and mosaics that exalted Christ and his saints above rulers. We saw that this approach was not simply reactionary but was embedded in the ecclesial mindset from its inception in its steadfast refusal to worship the emperor as a god. Imperial pretensions to authority over the Church in Byzantium did prompt responses which took various forms, culminating in the standardisation of images of haloed saints and Christ Pantokrator as the ‘Master of All.’ Concerning the saints: we have already addressed Michael and George both in this chapter and (the former) in the previous one, and there is a panoply of saints whose icons or images can be analysed in order to demonstrate that they would become the new heroes of the empire: replacing not just the old gods—the pagan ecosystemic agents—but also the imperial pretence manifested in the ruler cult and the solar worship identified with it. Significantly for this volume, the Mother of God’s intercessory role—praying to her Son Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world—was manifested in art that was commissioned within these cities, with the best examples coming from Constantinople and Rome. Indeed, after Christ, both cities were dedicated to her and were full of images and churches that entreated her care, protection, and intercession to her Son. The artistic representations of the Mother of God within Constantinople and Rome were given impetus by the circumstances surrounding the third ecumenical council, where St Cyril of Alexandria defended the use of the traditional title of the Virgin as Theotokos (ĬİȠIJȩțȠȢ) or God-bearer in opposition to the heresiarch Nestorius’

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downplaying of her role in the incarnation, and the incarnation itself.91 The third ecumenical council canonised this traditional title92—used already by Origen in the mid-third century93—to refer to the Mother of God precisely as such, as Theotokos. But interest in the Theotokos could arguably be traced, from a textual point of view, to much earlier: to the Gospel of Luke (chapters 1–2) and to second century apocryphal texts such as the Protoevangelium of James that sought to flesh out the early life of the Virgin, such that it outlined her ancestry—that she was the daughter of Sts Joachim and Anna—and her nativity, entrance into the temple, and the Nativity of Christ in a cave instead of a manger.94 All of these themes became part of the liturgical tradition of the Orthodox Church95 that flourished within Constantinople, founded, as we have seen, by Constantine. Thus, from the inception of the Church we can discern an increased interest and devotion to the Virgin that would undoubtedly affect the ecclesial and even public space of major cities such as Constantinople. This is emphatically evident in the sixth century AD, when the Byzantine emperor Maurice inaugurated the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos—in Constantinople and throughout the empire—on the 15th of August,96 a feast that has textual antecedents in the apocrypha of the early fifth century, including Transitus Mariae, which describes the Virgin as having

91

Doru Costache, ‘Fifth Century Christology Between Soteriological Perspective and Metaphysical Concerns: Notes on the Nestorian Controversy,ૃ Phronema 21 (2006): 49–53. 92 Council of Ephesus–431, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 59. 93 Maxwell E. Johnson, Praying and Believing in Early Christianity: The Interplay Between Christian Worship and Doctrine (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2013), 76. 94 The Protoevangelium of James 1–8, trans. Oscar Cullman, in New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1: Gospels and Related Writings, ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher and R. McL. Wilson (Louisville, KE: Westminster John Knox Press, 1991), 426–29. 95 Indeed, the Mother of God’s parents, Sts Joachim and Anna, who are commemorated within the Orthodox Church on 9 September, are mentioned in this text, and the feasts of the Virgin’s nativity (8 September), and entrance into the temple (21 November) could be said to have had textual precedents in it. See The Protoevangelium of James 2 (Cullman, 428) for the nativity, and the same text, chapter 7 (p. 429) for her entrance into the temple. The text also describes the birth of Christ in a cave, a favored motif in Orthodox iconography. The Protoevangelium of James 18–19 (Cullman, 433–34). 96 Stephen J. Shoemaker, Ancient Traditions on the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 73.

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been resurrected by Christ;97 a popular motif that was repeated by homilists for centuries. Maurice’s decision to inaugurate the feast of the Dormition in the Great Church of Constantinople would resonate throughout Byzantium and would lead, in the seventh century, to the adoption of this feast by Rome under the pope.98 But the Virgin’s prominence in Rome dates from an earlier period: in the mid-fifth century a church on the Esquiline hill described as ecclesia sanctae Dei Genetricis, now known as Santa Maria Maggiore, was dedicated by pope Sixtus III.99 The church however was started by pope Liberius, during whose episcopate, according to tradition, a childless patrician in the city named John, together with his wife, vowed to donate their possessions to the Virgin and prayed to her that she might make known to them the manner in which they should do so. On the 5th of August “during the night, snow fell on the summit of the Esquiline hill and, in obedience to a vision which they had the same night, they built a basilica, in honour of Our Lady, on the spot which was covered with snow.”100 Thus the feast day of the church is known as Dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Nives or ‘Dedication of St Mary of the Snows.’ The interior of the church mostly consists of the original basilica, which has of course been added to over time, but one of the most important features is the coronation of the Virgin mosaic in the apse, added by the artist Jacobo Torriti in the late thirteenth century.101 While the mosaic is from a later period, it is in the Byzantine style and therefore relevant to the present study. It depicts the Mother of God being enthroned and crowned by Christ in heaven. What I wish to hone in on is the close proximity of the Virgin to her Son in this mosaic, which, due to her supplicating him with hands outstretched, once again underlines her role as intercessor on behalf of the city of Rome. No longer is Rome under the special patronage of Jupiter or Augustus: the old ecosystemic agents are done away with while Christ, the ecosystemic agent par excellence endows his saints—especially 97 Wolfgang A. Beinert, ‘The Relatives of Jesus,’ in New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1, 485. 98 Miri Rubin, The Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 97. This was Pope Sergius I. 99 Hugo Brandenburg, The Ancient Churches of Rome: From the Fourth to the Seventh Century (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2004), 176. 100 Michael Ott, ‘Our Lady of the Snow,’ in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 11: New Mexico–Philip, ed. Charles D. Herbermann et al. (New York: The Encyclopedia Press, Inc., 1913), 361. 101 John T. Paoletti and Gary M. Radke, Art in Renaissance Italy (London: Laurence King Publishing, 2005), 61.

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7-2 Apse mosaic of the Mother of God being crowned by Christ in Santa Maria Maggiore. Photo by author (2016).

his Mother—with the power to pray for the city and the world. That the Virgin receives this power from Christ is clear from the inscription beneath the mosaic: Maria virgo assumpta est ad aethereum thalamum, in quo rex regum stellato sedet solio, which translates into “the Virgin Mary is assumpted unto the heavenly chamber in which the king of kings sits upon his starry seat.”102 Beneath this is added: Exaltata est sancta Dei Genitrix super choros angelorum ad celestia regna, or “the holy Mother of God is exalted beyond the choir of angels to the heavenly kingdom.”103 The well-known ambiguity in relation to the assumption between Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism dates from a later period: the former adhering to the more ancient belief that Mary died a physical death before being resurrected by her Son, and many of the latter believing the same thing, with some affirming that she did not in fact die but ascended into heaven.104 While the Orthodox position is older (and thus more 102

Marina Righetti Tosti-Croce, ‘La Basilica Tra Due E Trecento,’ in Santa Maria Maggiore a Roma, ed. Carlo Pietrangeli (Firenze: Nardini Editore, 1988), 134. My translation. 103 Ibid. 104 Above we saw that the Dormition texts such as the Transitus Mariae date from the early fifth century, whereas the texts describing the Virgin’s assumption date

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legitimate), this ambiguity is not a problem in this mosaic, for below it appears a Byzantine image of the Dormition with the reposed Mother of God (in other words, she had died as declared by the older tradition) flanked by the Apostles.105 According to a tradition that goes as far back as Transitus Mariae, the Apostles were dispersed throughout the world preaching the Gospel before being miraculously transferred to the site of the Virgin’s repose at her request to Christ.106 Behind her is Christ cradling her departed soul, a role-reversal of images that usually depict her cradling the Christ-child.107 This Dormition mosaic is flanked by other Byzantine mosaics and images depicting the Mother of God: the Annunciation, the Nativity in a cave (inspired by the Protoevangelium of James) and her Presentation of Christ in the Temple (with Sts Joseph, Symeon and Anna).108 Another church in Rome with Byzantine inspired mosaics is Santa Maria in Trastevere, attributed to the papacy of Callixtus I in the third century, thus making it perhaps one of the oldest churches in Rome before it was rebuilt in the twelfth century.109 The mosaics beneath the apse were installed by Pietro Cavallini in the late thirteenth century and include a Nativity cycle and Adoration scene inspired by Byzantine models: the Mother of God with midwives, the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and the Dormition, which form a line beneath the apse that dates from over a century earlier.110 The apse mosaic depicts the Mother of God seated next to Christ on a throne.111 He is slightly above her, a nuance missing in the mosaic of Christ crowning the Virgin in Santa Maria Maggiore. In her hand, the Virgin holds a scroll which says Leva eius sub capite meo et dextera illius amplesabitur me which translates as, “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me” from the Song of Solomon from the first half of the sixth century. S. P. Panagopoulos, ‘The Byzantine Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption,’ Studia Patristica 63 (2013): 344. 105 Tosti-Croce, ‘La Basilica Tra Due E Trecento,’ 132–33, 148–49. 106 Shoemaker, Ancient Traditions on the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption, 37. 107 Tosti-Croce, ‘La Basilica Tra Due E Trecento,’ 148–49. 108 Ibid., 145–47, 150. 109 Brandenburg, The Ancient Churches of Rome, 113. 110 Paul Hetherington, ‘The Mosaics of Pietro Cavallini in Santa Maria in Trastevere,’ Journal of the Wauburg and Courtauld Institutes 33 (1970): plates 21–22, 23–24. 111 Lilian Gunton, Rome’s Historic Churches (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1969), plate 11.

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2.6 and 8.3. Likewise, Christ holds a scroll which affirms, veni electa mea et ponam in te thronum meum, meaning “Come, my chosen one, and I shall put you on my throne.”112 Just like the apse mosaic in Maria Maggiore, here too we can discern the close proximity of the Mother of God to her Son as intercessor.

7-3 Apse mosaic of the Mother of God being acclaimed by Christ in Santa Maria in Trastevere. Photo by author (2016).

In both Maria Maggiore and Maria in Trastevere, emphatic Byzantine imagery is used to denote her closeness to Jesus Christ. While 112 These are the words Christ speaks to Mary in the Golden Legend. ‘The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary,’ in Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. William Granger Ryan (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2012), 465.

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Christ is not here depicted in the conventional Pantokrator style, with him being in the centre of the image when saints are included (like in the traditio legis or ‘Christ in majesty’ motifs), or entirely on his own giving the blessing of peace, nevertheless in Maria Maggiore he is the one crowning his Mother, and in Maria in Trastevere he is elevated slightly above her, thus hinting to his prominence and mastery; that he remains the one and only ecosystemic agent. In both cases, and just like the representations of saints Michael and George, there is an eschatological dimension, although here the emphasis is not on the defeat of the devil by Christ in her person. As we have seen, according to Orthodox Christian (and Byzantine) tradition the Mother of God was resurrected by her Son after her death and taken into heaven, and while all the saints participate in the life of heaven through realised eschatology—through Christ having already established God’s kingdom in the here-and-now—the Mother of God was (and is) believed to exemplify this uniquely because she has already been resurrected (which, for the rest of humanity, is to occur generally at the future eschaton).113 Also, as the Mother of God, Christ dwelt in her both spiritually—something that happens to all believers—and physically, which is unique to her role as his birth-giver. Thus, while there are no real distinctions among the saints, for “all are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28), nevertheless of all the saints the Mother of God was (and is) believed to be the closest to her Son, a motif that is translated artistically in both Rome and Constantinople. In relation to the latter, we shall see that this motif becomes enshrined in her depiction in the apses of traditional domed churches that usually include Christ Pantokrator within the dome representing the firmament which he, in its centre—and thus at the centre of the whole church-structure which is a microcosm—has mastery over. The appearance of the Mother of God in the apse immediately below the dome therefore represents her intercessions in our behalf.114 Here she is called ‘Wider than the Heavens’ (ȆȜĮIJȣIJȑȡĮ IJ૵Ȟ ȅ੝ȡĮȞ૵Ȟ / Platytera ton Ouranon), insofar as she contained in her womb the uncontainable One

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Since Christ is the alpha and the omega and all things have been accomplished in him, the saints are transferred to the eschaton that has already taken place in Christ but has not yet been distributed on a universal scale, and will not be until the future, second coming. In this way, all the saints can be said to have been ‘resurrected.’ 114 This intercessory role of the Virgin is further demonstrated by the fact that in Orthodox churches she is often depicted on the left-hand side of the iconostasis or icon screen cradling her child, with Christ Pantokrator on the right-hand side.

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who is the creator of, and therefore circumscribes or contains, heaven and earth.

7-4 The Mother of God as ‘Wider than the Heavens’ in the apse of Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church, Sydney. Photo by author (2018).

Returning to Rome, we discern that more examples of images of the Virgin as intercessor, undertaken in the Byzantine style, abound in the city. The ninth century church of Santa Maria in Domnica depicts the Mother of God enthroned and holding the Christ-child in the apse, surrounded by angels. The Roman pontiff who commissioned this church, Paschal I, is also depicted in the mosaic, kneeling at the Madonna’s feet.115 Beneath the existing church of San Clemente (built c. 12th century), the first basilica from the fourth century, still extant, contains a fresco of the Ascension dating from the ninth century that depicts the Mother of God directly beneath the Lord Christ with her arms outstretched in the orans posture.116 In the second basilica from the twelfth century—i.e. the functioning church above—a Byzantine mosaic in the apse depicts Christ 115 116

Gunton, Rome’s Historic Churches, plate 9. Ibid., plate 10.

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crucified on the cross as a living tree, with the Virgin and the beloved disciple John flanking the Lord’s feet in a state of supplication. According to Mary Stroll, issuing “from the base of the cross are great whirls of acanthus and the four rivers, signifying the church as the body of Christ, which nourishes the faithful by the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist.”117 The four rivers in fact echo the paradisal state—the Church as Eden described in Genesis 2.10–14 (addressed in chapters five and six of this volume)—and, in this mosaic, the Mother of God, ensconced by the paradisal vines, is framed by a branch on her left and by her Son on the right,118 thus once again intimating her close proximity to him as intercessor.

7-5 The mosaic in the apse of San Clemente. Photo by author (2016).

Santa Maria Antiqua, located “at the foot of the Palatine hill from the northwest”119 of the Roman Forum, which we saw in chapter four was the old symbolic centre of the city, is thought to have been dedicated in the sixth century and contains frescos that have been painted over many times 117

Mary Stroll, Symbols as Power: The Papacy Following the Investiture Contest (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991), 118–19. 118 Brandenburg, The Ancient Churches of Rome, 150–51. 119 Monika OĪóg, ‘Traces of the History of the Roman Church of Santa Maria Antiqua according to the authors of Liber Pontificalis,’ Christianitas Antiqua 6 (2014): 62.

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like a palimpsest. It is significant for us that the oldest layer contains a Byzantine image of the Mother of God enthroned.120 The location of a church dedicated to the Virgin in the center of the Forum is important, for since Constantine’s day the Forum—replete with pagan symbols designating Rome’s privileged position at the center of the world (see chapter four)— was populated with Christian images that shifted the attention to Christ and his saints. A final example for our present study can be seen in the papal cathedral church of Rome, St John Lateran, which also contains mosaics indicating the Mother of God’s privileged status in the city. Torriti, who I mentioned above executed the mosaics in Maria Maggiore, also worked on the original apse, which was remade in the nineteenth century,121 with a bust of Christ hanging above a cosmic cross through which flow the waters of life dividing into four rivers—just like in San Clemente—but this time over the celestial Jerusalem, which, we saw in chapter six, is the Church. On the left, the Mother of God is depicted in blue and gold entreating her Son on behalf of the Church and the world; an ecosystemic agent working on behalf of the ecosystemic agent, our Lord Jesus Christ.122

120

Maria Lidova, ‘The Earliest Images of Maria Regina in Rome and the Byzantine Imperial Iconography,’ Niš and Byzantium: The Collection of Scientific Works VIII (2010): 233. 121 Peter and Linda Murray and Tom Devonshire Jones, The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art and Architecture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 521. 122 Brandenburg, The Ancient Churches of Rome, 23.

CHAPTER EIGHT CHRISTIAN CONSTANTINOPLE

The Founding of Constantinople as an Imago et Axis Mundi Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, was built to incorporate the existing city of Byzantium that was founded as early as the seventh century BC—according to legend, by Byzas of Megara—and entirely reconstructed by the end of the third century AD by the Roman emperor Septimius Severus.1 St Constantine the Great then redesigned the city as New Rome, and also named it after himself. It was dedicated on the 11th of May 330 during the festival of St Mochius, a Christian martyr of Byzantium under Diocletian, and its founding was described briefly by Eusebius of Caesarea as “consecrated … to the martyr’s God.”2 Indeed, despite the fall of the old Rome in AD 476, Constantinople persisted as a Christian capital, and due to the growing prestige, wealth and power of its imperial court, was able to commission—in tandem with the Church—the building of Christian churches that recapitulated the Christian worldview; that were imagines et axes mundi. It is also true, however, that when the city was founded, according to St Jerome, “by denuding nearly every other city” (Constantinopolis dedicatur, pene omnium urbium nuditate),3 it was filled with pagan art and architecture, but it would eventually relativise these 1

Until recently it was almost unequivocally thought that the emperor Septimius Severus, who had razed the city to the ground in AD 196, had undertaken much of the restoration work. Sarah Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 18–21. Some recent scholarship has leaned away from this theory, ascribing the remodelling process to perhaps Diocletian, Galerius, or Licinius. Paul Stephenson, Constantine: Roman Emperor, Christian Victor (New York: Overlook Press, 2011), 193. But there really are no sufficient reasons to doubt the Severian antecedents of Constantinople. 2 Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine 3.48, trans. Averil Cameron and Stuart G. Hall (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), 140. 3 St Jerome, Chronicle (PL 27, 677–678); my translation.

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as emblems of its Graeco-Roman past that had been superseded by Christianity (almost like a proto-museum culture within a Christian framework). Some of this pagan art and architecture included a statue of Constantine as the sun god Apollo atop a column in the centre of his Forum, which was, at least topographically, approximately in the centre of the city.4 The Hippodrome and the Baths of Zeuxippus were also filled with pagan images that constituted spolia demonstrating that the New Rome superseded its predecessor, Delphi, and even Troy as the most prominent city of the empire.5 Like the emperor Augustus—the main ecosystemic agent of ancient Rome—Constantine built a miliareum aureum—the Milion—that marked the distances to all the cities in the empire at the juncture where his main road—the mese hodos—turned off to the city’s eastern-most edge bestriding the Bosphorus.6 In his Church History, the historian Philostorgius of Borissus depicted Constantine as a sort of Christian augur directly inspired by God as he followed an angel in tracing the boundary of Constantinople, which became like a new pomerium that was marked when he thrusted a spear into the ground at the point where the city’s main gate was to be built.7 Describing the project as no less pleasing to God than the Jerusalem of old,8 an incipient historicist eschatology was here being applied to Constantinople, which would later be called New Jerusalem9 and even compared after its fall in 1453 by Manual Doukas to the paradisal Eden, God’s very own imago et axis mundi manifesting the sacred.10 Getting

4

Philostorgius affirmed that construction on the city began “at the place where the great porphyry column bearing his statue now stands.” Philostorgius: Church History 2.9a, trans. Philip R. Amidon (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 25. 5 Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople, 62, 69, 77. 6 Charles Matson Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, Second Edition (London and New York: Routledge, 2004), 240. See also map on ibid., 233. 7 Philostorgius: Church History 2.9a [Opitz, Vit. Const. 37], 25–26. Greek text from 2.9a Vita Constantini Cod. Angelic. A f. 25r, in Bidez’s Philostorgius Kirchengeschichte (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1913), 21–22 (adapted by me). 8 Ibid. 9 Elizabeth Dawes and Norman H. Baynes, trans., St Daniel the Stylite, in Three Byzantine Saints (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1977), 1–86. 10 “O City, City, head of all cities! O City, City, centre of the four corners of the world! … O City, second paradise planted toward the west…” ‘Ducae Historia Turcobyzantina, 1341–1462, ed. V Grecu [Bucharest, 1958], pp. 385–87,’ in Byzantium: Church, Society, and Civilization Seen Through Contemporary Eyes,

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back to Philostorgius, elsewhere he speaks about the construction work on the city beginning “where the great porphyry column bearing [Constantine’s] statue now stands,”11 in other words, in his Forum. The Forum is of particular interest from the point of view of the history of religions and the relevant imagines et axes mundi symbolism. It was circular and, as we have seen, was punctuated at its centre by a porphyry column upon which was placed a statue of Constantine in the visage of the sun god Apollo or Helios/Sol. We have also seen that solar ruler cult imagery was of course prevalent in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. Babylonian rulers often represented the sun god Shamash as their patron; and Egyptian rulers Ra. All of this exerted a profound influence on ancient Greek and Roman kings, so that Alexander the Great depicted himself as the son of Amun— the Egyptian equivalent of Zeus, who was in fact Ra—and Roman emperors such as Nero, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Elagabalus, Aurelian, and later Constantine, also depicted themselves as the sun god. The depiction of Constantine as Helios in the Forum is interesting precisely because of the Forum’s shape: it is circular—and the circle in the ancient world, we saw in the ‘Definitions’ section, represented the cosmos. To refer to just one example that we have already assessed in chapter four, according to Plutarch, the temple of the Vestal Virgins in Rome was circular and punctuated by a central hearth representing the sun at the centre of the universe.12 In Constantine’s Forum, the emperor himself represents the sun, and the cosmos is exemplified both by the circular dimensions of the Forum and also the vertical orientation of the porphyry column, which, in intersecting heaven and earth, points towards Constantinople’s relationship with both. But we have also seen that Constantine became a Christian and increasingly showed a predilection for Christianity: building projects which he undertook from 313 onwards in and around the city of Rome, as well as the Christian-inspired legislation that he issued—not to mention his involvement in ecclesiastical affairs— confirm this. Moreover, in his correspondences with the bishops of the Church he described himself not as a god, but as a servant of God to those outside the Church in the like manner of the bishops.13 All of this has to be trans. and ed. Deno John Geanakoplos (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 389. 11 Philostorgius: Church History 2.9a (Amidon, 25). Greek text from 2.9a Vita Constantini Cod. Angelic. A f. 25r’ (Bidez, 20). 12 Plutarch, The Life of Numa 11, in Plutarch’s Lives I, trans. Bernadotte Perrin (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1967), 345. 13 Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine 4.24 (Cameron and Hall, 161).

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8-1 The remains of Constantine’s porphyry column, Istanbul (formerly Constantinople). Photo by author (2011).

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kept in mind when addressing the problem of Constantine modelling himself on one or two occasions upon the sun god, for, as we have seen, in the ancient world, city founding had an ancient pedigree and very often involved the ruler imitating God or the gods in the establishment of a city as a microcosm or an imago et axis mundi. In this way, Constantinople would inevitably be filled with both pagan and Christian imagines et axes mundi symbolism, until the former gave way to the latter with the city’s Christianisation—along the parameters of Orthodox Christianity—that took place in the ensuing centuries. At its founding, much of this imagines et axes mundi symbolism inhered within Constantine’s Forum. For information about it, we must turn to the Byzantine historians Procopius of Caesarea and John Malalas, as well as the Chronicon Paschale and the Patria Constantinoupoleos,14 all of which assert that Constantine also moved the ancient Greek Palladion (or Palladium)—a statue that we saw in chapter three was associated with the goddess Athena (i.e. Pallas Athena)—to an unspecified point beneath the column in the Forum. We have seen that the Palladion “was associated first with Troy and its fortunes and later with Rome and its destiny”15 and finally with Constantinople.16 We also saw that Apollodorus, who was writing several centuries after the legend of Troy had been typified in Homer’s Iliad, wrote in his Library17 that Athena used to engage in mock battles with Pallas, the daughter of Triton; but one day when the latter was about to strike Athena, Zeus intervened and imposed his great aegis or shield, whereupon Athena mortally wounded Pallas. 14

Accounts of Medieval Constantinople: The Patria 2.45, trans. Albrecht Berger (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 79. The Patria of Constantinople may have begun as the eighth century Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai to which were added two manuscripts, an anonymous text edited by M. Treu (and now known as the Anonymous of Treu) and what can now be found in book two in Theodore Preger’s edition (ȆȐIJȡȚĮ ȀȦȞıIJĮȞIJȚȞȠȣʌȩȜİȦȢ, in Scriptores Originum Constantinopolitarum Parts I and II [New York: Arno Press, 1975]), with book one of this edition comprising the Parastaseis, which constitutes “a corpus of texts relating to the antiquities of Constantinople put together c. 995.” Averil Cameron and Judith Herrin, ‘Introduction,’ in Constantinople in the Early Eighth Century: The Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1984), 4. 15 Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople, 69. Apollodorus of Alexandria gave the following description: “It was three cubits in height, its feet joined together; in its right hand it held a spear aloft, and in the other hand a distaff and spindle.” The Library 3.12, in Apollodorus 2: Book 3, trans. Sir James George Frazer (London: William Heinemann, 1921), 39. 16 Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople, 69. 17 Apollodorus, The Library 3.12 (Frazer, 41, 43).

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Being grieved for her, Athena made a statue of Pallas, which was later cast down to earth by Zeus. It fell onto the land of Ilius, son of Troas, who built a temple at the point where the celestial object hit the earth. The city of Troy—which Ilius named after his father—grew around this temple, meaning that the city was, according to legend, built around the spot where heaven and earth intersected in the object of the Palladion; an axis mundi that became the stabilising force for the city. Not without reason did the Romans believe that only when Diomedes removed the Palladion from the city was its fate sealed.18 Sarah Bassett has recently given a summary of the Roman tradition concerning the Palladion: that it was carried by Aeneas to Lavinium—the city from which his descendants founded Rome—and was taken to the latter city where it was placed in the Temple of Vesta, which we have seen was considered a cosmic centre, in the Roman Forum.19 Here, according to Cicero and Livy,20 it ensured the preservation of Rome 18 In his De Bello Gothico, Procopius affirmed that Diomedes had seized the Palladion with Odysseus and that the former had met Aeneas in Beneventus (a city Diomedes had founded) and had handed the statue over to him on account of an oracle which stated that: “unless he should give this statue to a man of Troy”—that is, Aeneas—he would never be free from a certain illness that befell him. Procopius went on to state that although the Romans did not know the location of this statue in his day, there was in fact a copy of it in a temple of Fortune, presumably in Rome. He went on to write: “the Byzantines, however, say that the Emperor Constantine dug up this statue in the Forum which bears his name and set it there.” The Gothic War 5.15, in History of the Wars, trans. H. B. Dewing (London: Harvard University Press, 2000), 151–53. This implies that Constantine ostensibly discovered the statue as a portent, and not that he transferred it from Rome, which is what is asserted by John Malalas: “Constantine took secretly from Rome the wooden statue known as the Palladion and placed it in the forum he built, beneath the column which supported his statue. Some of the people of Byzantion state that it is still there.” The Chronicle of John Malalas 13.7, trans. Elizabeth Jeffreys et al (Melbourne: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1986), 174. The Chronicon Paschale follows Malalas’ account almost exactly, stating that Constantine took the Palladion from Rome and placed it at the foot of his column. Chronicon Paschale: 284–628 AD 328, trans. Michael and Mary Whitby (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1980), 16. 19 Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople, 206. 20 Cicero referred to “that statue [or, sign] which fell down from heaven (illud signum, quod de caelo delapsum) and is kept in the custody of the Vesta, and whose safety means we also shall be safe (quo salvo salvi sumus futuri).” Philippics 11.10, trans. Walter C. A. Ker (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), 484–85. Livy described an attack on the Forum by the Capuans whereby “Vesta’s temple had been the object of the attack, and the eternal fires

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as long as it was safeguarded in the temple. In transferring the Palladion from Rome to Constantinople, Constantine was not only demonstrating the superiority of the latter city over the former, but was exhibiting his capital as a new centre of the world—an axis mundi—by placing this object near his statue in the Forum that also intersected and imaged heaven and earth. Constantine also imported emphatic Christian imagery to offset the pagan motifs in his Forum. According to the Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai (Brief Historical Notes), the Forum of Constantine was filled with “a multitude of crosses, bearing the form of the Great Cross” (IJઁ ıȘȝİ૙ȠȞ IJȠ૨ ıIJĮȣȡȠ૨ IJȠ૨ ȝİȖȐȜȠȣ),21 one of which was “inlaid with silver, with circular orbs (ıIJȡȠȖȖȪȜȠȚȢ ȝȒȜȠȚȢ) at the end of its arms.”22 The orb is of course a symbol of the world, which is here upheld by the cross that intersects the four cardinal points. We can discern similar cosmic symbolism in the Philadelphion square in the city, which was supposed to have been marked by a column topped with a cross in its centre;23 the column here acting as an axis mundi intersecting heaven and earth. In this instance, however, we have the symbol of the cross, instead of an emperor or empress, at the column’s apex, thereby denoting the mastery of Christ, and not the ruler, over the cosmos. This tension between the mastery of Christ and that of Constantine was perhaps part and parcel of his construction of a new capital, which could not have been founded without incorporating elements of the ancient ruler cult tied up with ancient city building into any new city; not to mention the need to placate its pagan citizens. It is telling that, as hinted at earlier, in his own correspondence with the Church Constantine never referred to himself using ruler cult terminology or language,24 and while some of his courtiers—pagan and Christian (e.g. Eusebius of Caesarea)—might have, he nevertheless was consistent in portraying himself as appointed by God to govern the Roman state. Christ therefore remained, for the emperor, the ecosystemic agent par excellence. Returning to Constantinople, the erection of crosses in the city would be significant for the Orthodox Church from (aeternos ignes), and, hidden away in its holy place, the fateful pledge of Roman rule (fatale pignus imperi Romani).” Livy, From the Founding of the City 26.27, in Livy VII: Books 26–27, trans. Frank Gardner Moore (London: Harvard University Press, 1995), 106–7. 21 The Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai 23 (Cameron and Herrin, 84–85). 22 The Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai 16 (Cameron and Herrin, 79, 80, 81). 23 The Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai 58 (Cameron and Herrin, 135). 24 Indeed, in his extant correspondence with the Christian bishops preserved in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Life of Constantine, he does not refer to himself using ruler cult terminology.

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the point of view of imagines et axes mundi symbolism, insofar as it was through the cross that Christ saved the world; a world which, as we saw in ‘Definitions,’ in some early Christian sources, such as St Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2.10, was described as comprised of the celestial, terrestrial, and infernal realms. Despite Constantine’s own Christian convictions, the fact that he had to navigate between paganism and Christianity in his construction of Constantinople is further reflected in Patria Constantinoupoleos 2.29 which reads: Statues of Constantine and Helen are on the arch of the Milion. They hold a cross that can also be seen there to the east, and the Tyche of the city is in the middle of the cross, a small chain which is locked and enchanted.25

That the cross flanked by Constantine and his mother St Helen was embedded with an image of Tyche, the Greek equivalent of Fortuna, who, according to Polybius, brought about the rise of Rome to power,26 is not without significance precisely because of its location atop the Milion. The Milion was based on the miliareum aureum or ‘golden milestone’ built to the southwest of the Rostra in the ancient Roman Forum by the emperor Augustus. We saw in chapter four that this was a gilded column, probably of bronze-encased marble inscribed in gold letters “with a record of the distances between the capital and the other chief cities of the empire.”27 The ‘golden milestone’ therefore demonstrated that the city of Rome was the centre of the world. That this could be interpreted cosmically is inferable from the close proximity of the milestone to the mundus that we saw above was associated with the founding of the city but which, in a later period, became the name for a trench beneath the Rostra that was considered a gateway to the underworld.28 The subterranean dimension of the cosmos, however, was not included in the imagines et axis mundi symbolism of Constantinople; perhaps the scriptural, apocryphal, and patristic accounts of Christ plundering Hades that were addressed in chapter six had nullified its import. Nevertheless, Constantine did model 25

Accounts of Medieval Constantinople: The Patria 2.29 (Berger, 69, 71). Polybius, The Histories 1.4, in The Histories: Books 1–2, trans. W. R. Paton (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1979), 10–11. 27 Michael Grant, The Roman Forum (London: Michael Grant Publications, 1970), 110. 28 Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.1, in Macrobius: Saturnalia Books 1–2, trans. Robert A. Kaster (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), 195. 26

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the Milion on Augustus’ golden milestone, and the celestial realm was represented at this centre of the New Rome by both the cross at the apex of the Milion, and likewise the presence of Tyche, whose image appeared on multiple columns—which we have seen were axes mundi—throughout Constantinople at this time. This multifarious imagines et axes mundi symbolism in the Milion was undoubtedly on account of Constantine’s transitionary reign, but it is interesting to note that the Christianisation of the Milion—and its subsequent impact on the populace—is evidenced by the fact that the pairing of Constantine and Helen on either sides of the cross became the standard iconographic depiction of the two after they were both canonised by the Orthodox Church, with one qualification: that although the cross was (and is) almost always depicted as the central point of their image, the Tyche is nowhere to be seen, indicating, as mentioned, the increasing Christianisation of the city that took place in the ensuing centuries.29 The final imago et axis mundi that I would like to address in this section is the Hippodrome. An inheritance from the Severan era of the city’s legacy, the Hippodrome was finished only in the fourth century when Constantine enlarged it and built its seating ranks.30 It was filled with apotropaic statues, including deities, wild animals such as hyenas, and sphinxes to purge the track of evil.31 The extent to which the Hippodrome was a microcosm is reflected by the presence of the Delphic tripods that Socrates Scholasticus, following Eusebius of Caesarea,32 mentioned within the context of a discussion on the emperor Constantine exposing pagan images to ridicule in the city.33 Following Socrates, Sozomen gave further information that among these pagan statues was one of “Apollo which was in the seat of the oracle of the Pythoness.”34 That 29

For an outline of this process of Christianisation, see Mario Baghos, ‘Religious Symbolism and Well-being in Christian Constantinople and the Crisis of the Modern City,’ in Doru Costache, David Cronshaw, and James R. Harrison (eds), Well-being, Personal Wholeness and the Social Fabric (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017), 336–50. 30 Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople, 58. 31 Ibid., 59–60. 32 Eusebius stated that “in the Hippodrome itself the tripods from Delphi” were displayed. Life of Constantine 3.54 (Cameron and Hall, 143). 33 The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates 1.16, in Socrates, Sozomenus: Church Histories, trans. A. C. Zenos (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 21. 34 The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen 2.5, in Socrates, Sozomenus: Church Histories, trans. Chester D. Hartranft (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 262.

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this was a reference to the Delphic tripod was made clear by Zosimus when he described “the tripod of Delphic Apollo, which had on it the very image of Apollo.”35 We saw in chapter three that, as a sun god, Apollo is related to the same Helios that Constantine—in a tradition extending all the way back to Mesopotamia and Egypt—chose to depict himself as on the porphyry column that, we have seen, was an imago et axis mundi. That the Hippodrome was also an image and centre of the world is reflected in the fact that it appropriated the tripods from Delphi which, for the ancient Greeks, was the location of the ੑȝijĮȜઁȢ IJોȢ ȖોȢ or navel of the world; an oval shaped stone that was, according to Hesiod, vomited by Chronos after he had swallowed it thinking that it was his son Zeus.36 Like the Palladion, the stone at Delphi was considered an axis mundi intersecting heaven and earth that also exerted an influence upon the ancient Romans, so much so that, as mentioned in chapter four, the emperor Septimius Severus (ca. 145–211) eventually set up the umbilicus urbis Romae or ‘navel of the city of Rome’ to adjoin the Rostra, which, we have seen, is where the mundus and golden milestone were also located. Thus, Constantinople superseded both Greece and Rome as the new cosmic centre, so that, according to Bassett: …ceremonies in which the structure of the circus and the workings of the races were understood as a microcosm … a microcosm over which the emperor himself held sway.37

In the late fourth century, St Theodosius the Great would add to the cosmic symbolism of the Hippodrome by importing the obelisk of Thutmoses III there; Egyptian obelisks, like columns, constituting, on account of their vertical orientation an intersection between heaven and earth38 (as seen in chapter two).

35 Zosimus, New History 2.31, trans. Ronald T. Ridley (Sydney: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1982), 38. 36 Hesiod, Theogony, in Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, Testimonia, trans. Glenn W. Most (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2006), 41, 43. 37 Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople, 65. 38 Augustus set this precedent by transporting an obelisk from Egypt and erecting it in the Circus Maximus in Rome in 10 BC. Joseph Polzer, ‘The Location of the Obelisks in the Circus Maximus in Rome,’ Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 24.2 (1965): 165.

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Christian Constantinople and the Rise of the Pantokrator It was at this eastern end of Constantinople that Constantine commissioned the building of two of at least four churches attributed to him, although scholars have debated this, since not all of them were completed during his reign.39 First, we have the churches dedicated to the martyr-saint Acacius, the first Hagia Eirene (Holy Peace), and the first Hagia Sophia, or Holy Wisdom, that was probably not completed until the reign of Constantine’s son, Constantius II. Next, we have the mausoleum-church of the Holy Apostles, which was renowned for the emperor having placed his tomb in the centre of the building, surrounded by symbolic sarcophagi of the Twelve, and would become the burial place for all future Byzantine rulers.40 Hagia Sophia and Hagia Eirene would, like Holy Apostles, be rebuilt twice over, and although the latter does not survive, the extant edifices of the former two are the result of the extensive building campaign of the emperor Justinian in the sixth century. Keeping with the connection between Christ and his saints established in the previous two chapters, especially in relation to his Mother, it is important to note that the civic space of Constantinople was also populated with churches dedicated to the Virgin. After the council of Chalcedon in 451, or the fourth ecumenical council, which reiterated the Virgin’s title of God-bearer or Theotokos,41 the empress St Pulcheria, sister of the emperor St Theodosius II, built three churches in Constantinople in her honour—the churches of Blachernae, Chalkoprateia, and the Hodegon.42 These three churches all purportedly contained sacred relics associated with the Virgin: the Blachernae had her robe or funeral garb,43 the Chalkoprateia, her girdle,44 and the Hodegon the miraculous 39

Jonathan Bardill affirms that at least three or four churches were built by Constantine within the city itself. Bardill, Constantine: Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 254. Mark J. Johnson mentions five. Johnson, ‘Architecture of Empire,’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine, ed. Noel Lenski (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 292. 40 Richard Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986), 69. 41 Council of Chalcedon–451, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 1989), 86. 42 Brian E. Daley (trans.), ‘Introduction,’ in On the Dormition of Mary: Early Patristic Homilies (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1998), endnote 4, p. 37. 43 The robe of the Virgin had been brought to Constantinople by two patricians from Palestine, and in 472 Emperor Leo I ordered it to be placed in a special

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icon known as the Hodegitria (ȆĮȞĮȖȓĮ ਲ ੘įȘȖȒIJȡȚĮ), or ‘She who leads the way,’ attributed to the hand of St Luke the Evangelist.45 Obviously, the council of Chalcedon in 451 was a turning point insofar as it clarified the Church’s teaching on Christ as divine and human and in its doctrinal definition asserted that the same Christ who was “begotten before the ages from the Father as regards his divinity,” is “in the last days the same for us and for our salvation from Mary, the virgin God-bearer, as regards his humanity.”46 By the end of the fifth century the emperor Leo I had built the shrine of the “Virgin of the Spring, later called the Zoodochos Pege” (਺ ǽȦȠįȩȤȠȢ ȆȘȖȒ) or the Life-Giving Spring, above a spring on the outskirts of Constantinople,47 which became a site renowned for the many miracles the Virgin had wrought there.48 The Akathist hymn dedicated to her—“the oldest continuously performed Marian hymn used in the Eastern Orthodox Church”49—which is said to have been composed by the Constantinopolitan hymnographer St Romanos the Melodist, dates from this period. A generation after Justinian, when the Avars invaded and attacked Constantinople in 626 AD, the patriarch of the city, Sergius, to whom defense of the city was entrusted while the emperor Heraclius was on campaign, each day made a circuit of the land walls holding the icon of the Hodegitria, and it was to her that the victory against the Avars was

reliquary and moved to the church of Blachernae. Holger A. Klein, ‘Sacred Relics and Imperial Ceremonies at the Great Palace of Constantinople,’ BYZAS 5 (2006): 87. 44 Cecily Hennessey, ‘The Chapel of St Jacob at the Church of the Theotokos Chalkoprateia in Constantinople,’ in Proceedings of the 7th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, vol. 2, ed. Roger Matthews, John Curtis et al. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2012), 352. 45 John A. McGuckin, ‘Hodegitria,’ in The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, vol. 1: A–M, ed. McGuckin (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 307. 46 Council of Chalcedon–451, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 86. 47 Alice-Mary Talbot and Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, ‘Introduction,’ in Miracles Tales from Byzantium (Cambridge, MA and London: Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 2012), xiv. 48 According to later legend the emperor Justinian was healed of a urinary ailment by the water from the Pege, and commissioned the construction of a domed church on the site that survived until the fifteenth or sixteenth century. Ibid., xv. 49 Vasiliki Limberis, Divine Heiress: The Virgin Mary and the Creation of Christian Constantinople (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), 90.

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8-2 Ninth century mosaic of the Mother of God cradling the Christ-child in the apse of the church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), Constantinople. Photo by author (2011).

ascribed.50 Henceforth, the Mother of God was considered Constantinople’s special patroness. On account of this, more churches were built, such as a church dedicated to the Virgin of the Pharos within the precincts of the palace of Constantinople, and, as the name suggests, in close proximity to the “famous beacon or lantern” of the palace.51 Also, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries more churches were dedicated in the Virgin’s honour: the Theotokos Pammakaristos (ĬİȠIJȩțȠȢ ਲ ȆĮȝȝĮțȐȡȚıIJȠȢ) or the AllBlessed God-bearer, the Theotokos Kyriotissa (ĬİȠIJȩțȠȢ ਲ ȀȣȡȚȫIJȚııĮ) 50 Bissera V. Pentcheva, Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), 57. 51 Klein, ‘Sacred Relics and Imperial Ceremonies at the Great Palace of Constantinople,’ 79.

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or Our Lady the God-bearer, and St Mary of the Mongols (also known as Theotokos Panagiotissa or All-Holy God-bearer), to name a few, point to the extent of her veneration in the Orthodox Church; a veneration which— as one can discern from the way she is referred to in these churches—was always associated with her Son, the personal ecosystemic agent without equal. Nowhere is this better seen than in Hagia Sophia, where after the iconoclastic controversy a mosaic of her cradling the Christ-child was placed in the Eastern apse just beneath the church’s massive dome.52 With Hagia Sophia, what Justinian’s architects managed to accomplish was the recapitulation of the Byzantine vision of the cosmos in the architectonic and artistic space of many of the churches the emperor commissioned.53 Indeed, we have said that it is a truism that Constantinople took on a more emphatically Christian character as time went on. St Theodosius I, who sanctioned Nicene Orthodoxy as the official religion of the capital and empire,54 banned pagan sacrifice55 and extinguished the flame of the Vestal Virgins in Rome that we saw in chapter four symbolised the city’s eternal duration.56 Although pagan statuary still existed in Constantinople, it was—as mentioned previously—perhaps viewed as secular art exemplifying the city’s Graeco-Roman (and

52

John Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1979), 186. 53 Gilbert Dagron commented that the canonisation of Constantine the Great, which must have come into effect by at least the sixth century, defused the “scandal of a cult or an imperial priesthood grafting itself on to the Christian religion.” Dagron, Emperor and Priest: The Imperial Office in Byzantium, trans. Jean Birrell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 144. Still, we have seen that this did not prevent emperors from depicting themselves with ruler cult imagery and thereby coming into conflict with the Church. See, for this early period, St Athanasius the Great’s criticism of Constantine’s son, Constantius II, in Mario Baghos, ‘The Traditional Portrayal of St Athanasius according to Rufinus, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret,’ in Alexandrian Legacy: A Critical Appraisal, ed. Doru Costache, Philip Kariatlis and Mario Baghos (Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Newcastle upon Tyne, 2015), 155. However, by and large—and especially after iconoclasm—the Byzantine emperors were not considered gods in the way that ancient Roman emperors, or indeed other pagan rulers, were. 54 Stephen Williams and Gerard Friell, Theodosius: The Empire at Bay (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994), 55–57. 55 Williams and Friell, Theodosius: The Empire at Bay, 57. 56 David Watkin, The Roman Forum (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), 87, 92.

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Egyptian) heritage as opposed to being used for idolatrous worship.57 In addition, Theodosius oversaw the rebuilding of St Paul ‘outside the walls’ in Rome,58 as well as the dedication of three other churches in Constantinople:59 to St John the Baptist, the Holy Notaries, and St Mark.60 This Christianisation of the city space went hand in hand with the Christological debates that the Church was preoccupied with at the time— represented by the second ecumenical council held by Theodosius I within the city—which were repeated on the popular level in the city’s thoroughfares. To quote St Gregory of Nyssa, who commented on the events at this time: For the whole of this city is full of it (ȆȐȞIJĮ Ȗ੹ȡ IJ੹ țĮIJ੹ IJ੽Ȟ ʌȩȜȚȞ IJ૵Ȟ IJȠȚȠȪIJȦȞ ʌİʌȜȒȡȦIJĮȚ), the alleys, the forums, the squares, the streets: the clothes-sellers, money-changers, and those who sell us food. If you ask someone about the obol, he philosophises to you about the begotten and the unbegotten; and if you ask about the price of bread, the answer is the Father is greater and the Son inferior. If you ask, “Is my bath ready?” the divisive answer you receive is that the Son was made out of nothing.61

St Gregory is here summarising some of the Arian arguments against the Orthodox Christian tenet that the Son of God is homoousios or “of one essence” with God the Father and thus entirely divine; but what one can surmise here is the degree to which the debate regarding Christ’s divinity had affected the city streets. In any case, the Christianisation of space continued under Theodosius II, grandson of Theodosius I. He and his sister, Pulcheria, were famous for procuring relics, and Theodosius II undertook the second rebuilding of Hagia Sophia in 415 AD.62 But it is the third Holy Wisdom, rebuilt by Justinian—who also built or rebuilt thirtythree other churches in the city—that I want to focus on as the paradigmatic

57

Sarah Bassett insightfully addresses this issue in her article ‘‘Excellent Offerings’: The Lausos Collection in Constantinople,’ The Art Bulletin 82.1 (2000): 18–19. 58 Deno John Geanakoplos, ‘Church Building and Caesaropapism, A.D. 312–565,’ Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 7 (1966): 178. 59 See fn. 66 in Ine Jacobs, ‘The Creation of the Late Antique City: Constantinople and Asia Minor during the ‘Theodosian Renaissance,’’ Byzantion 82 (2012): 132. 60 Ibid. 61 St Gregory of Nyssa, On the Deity of the Son and the Spirit (PG 46, 557B); my translation. 62 Nadine Schibille, Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Aesthetic Experience (Surrey, ENG: Ashgate, 2014), 50.

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imago et axis mundi (from an architectural perspective) in the Byzantine consciousness.63

8-3 Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), Constantinople. The minarets and mausoleums (grey and in the foreground and background) are additions made after the church was converted into a mosque in 1453, when the city was captured by the Ottoman Turks. It has recently been converted from a museum into a mosque. Photo by author (2011).

The original designation Holy Wisdom, viewed by some interpreters as a way of appeasing the pagans in the capital by referring to an attribute of God as opposed to explicit references to Christ or the saints,64 was clearly seen by Justinian’s contemporaries, such as Procopius, as referring to Christ,65 and was in fact interpreted Christologically throughout the empire’s 63

Brian Croke, ‘Justinian’s Constantinople,’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian, ed. Michael Maas (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 79. 64 Hans A. Pohlsander affirmed that the designations Holy Wisdom and Holy Eirene, given by Constantine to the two churches that he commissioned, “would not be offensive to pagans.” Pohlsander, The Emperor Constantine, Second Edition (London and New York: Routledge, 2004), 71. 65 Schibille, Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Aesthetic Experience, 50.

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long duration.66 In other words, the city of Constantinople was conditioned by the “Great Church” of Christ at its centre.67 Robert G. Ousterhout describes this church aptly: In plan, Hagia Sophia follows the model of an early Christian basilica, with a nave flanked by side aisles, but it differs dramatically in elevation, with vaulting introduced throughout the building, framing an enormous, centrally positioned dome. Thus, in addition to the longitudinal axis of the plan, a centralizing focus is introduced into the interior. The great dome, 100 feet in diameter, is the dominant theme of the building’s design, as it soars 180 feet above the nave.68

This dome is supported by four arches that are buttressed by four pendentives that link them together, and by two semi-domes (or conches), each sitting below the east and west axes of the main dome. In fact, the weight of the entire structure is supported by four main piers that give the floor plan the shape of a cross-in-square, geometric symbols that, along with the semi-sphere or circle represented by the dome, summarise the Christian conception of the world, the imago mundi.69 The symbolism of the cross should be obvious enough; it represents the sacrifice of Christ through whom Christians participate in the life of resurrection.70 We saw in chapter six that, for Christians, the life of resurrection is inaugurated by Christ on behalf of the whole cosmos, which is symbolically articulated by 66

Zofia Brzozowska, ‘The Church of Divine Wisdom or of Christ—The Incarnate Logos? Dedication of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in the Light of Byzantine Sources from 5th to 14th Century,’ Studia Ceranea 2 (2012): 87–90. Robert G. Ousterhout disagrees, affirming that the church was “famously dedicated to a concept and not to a person.” Ousterhout, ‘The Sanctity of Place and the Sanctity of Buildings: Jerusalem versus Constantinople,’ in Architecture of the Sacred: Space, Ritual, and Experience from Classical Greece to Byzantium, ed. Ousterhout and Bonna D. Wescoat (New York: Cambridge, 2012), 286. 67 In referring to the reconstruction of Hagia Eirene by Justinian, Procopius mentioned that the building was located next to the “Great Church” (ਫțțȜȘıȓ઺ į੻ IJૌ ȝİȖȐȜૉ) that is, Hagia Sophia. Procopius, Buildings 1.2, in Procopius VII: Buildings, trans. H. B. Dewing (London: Harvard University Press, 2002), 36–37. 68 Ousterhout, ‘The Sanctity of Place and the Sanctity of Buildings,’ 288. 69 Falter stated emphatically that “the cross, the square and the circle” are used in the church and that, while the building’s outline is a square, the “interior is a cross with a longitudinal axis.” Holger Falter, ‘The Influence of Mathematics on the Development of Structural Form,’ in Architecture and Mathematics from Antiquity to the Future, vol. 1: Antiquity to the 1500s, ed. Kim Williams and Michael J. Ostwald (London: Birkhäuser, 2015), 83. 70 Colossians 1.18–20; 1 Corinthians 15.12–23.

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St Gregory of Nyssa in his Catechetical Oration, where, we saw in the ‘Definitions’ section, he described the arms of the cross as reaching out to the cardinal points of the universe from a central axis.71 To the cross’ cosmic significance as an axis mundi can be added the circle represented by Hagia Sophia’s dome, insofar as for ancient persons “the observable cosmos represented itself as inescapably circular—not only the planets themselves … but also their cyclical movements and the recurring cycles of seasons.”72 This was the case especially in ancient Greece and Rome. One need only think of the ancient Athenian prytaneion analysed in chapter three, marked by the presence of the fire of Hestia in its centre,73 upon which was modelled the temple of Vesta in Rome, which we saw in chapter four was circular and a symbol of the universe.74 The Pantheon in Rome was also circular, with an oculus facilitating communication between heaven and earth,75 and so were the mausoleums of various emperors including Augustus.76 That the Byzantines, with their Graeco-Roman inheritance, would continue such designs—endowing them with Christian significance and content—should not surprise us, and the architects that designed and built Holy Wisdom, Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Pelusiam, were by all accounts well versed in the crafts of ancient geometry and architecture.77 When Procopius described Hagia Sophia’s “spherical dome” (ıijĮȚȡȠİȚį੽Ȣ șȩȜȠȢ), he emphatically stated that it seems to be “suspended from Heaven” (ਕʌઁ IJȠ૨ Ƞ੝ȡĮȞȠ૨ ਥȟȘȝȝȑȞȘ).78 Holger Falter described the dome as “the circular space … representing everything spiritual,”79 and indeed, the circle, representing eternity, can in

71

The Great Catechism 32 [i.e. the Catechetical Oration], in Gregory of Nyssa: Selected Works and Letters, trans. William Moore and Henry Austin Wilson, NPNF (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), 500. 72 Jack Tresidder, The Complete Dictionary of Symbols: In Myth, Art and Literature (London: Duncan Baird Publishers, 2004), 108. 73 Jean-Joseph Goux, ‘Vesta, or the Place of Being,’ Representations 1 (1983): 92. 74 Plutarch, The Life of Numa 11 (Perrin, 345). 75 William Lloyd MacDonald, Pantheon: Design, Meaning, and Progeny (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 89. 76 Mark J. Johnson, The Roman Imperial Mausoleum in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 19. 77 Procopius, Buildings 1.1 (Dewing, 11, 13). 78 Procopius, Buildings 1.1 (Dewing, 21). 79 Falter, ‘The Influence of Mathematics on the Development of Structural Form,’ 83.

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some religions be considered characteristic of the spiritual realm:80 but it is more likely that in Holy Wisdom the created worlds, both spiritual and material, are represented.81 I will return to this aspect in a moment, for now it is important to highlight the significance of the square, which Falter described as the earthly space.82 Eliade provided an interpretation that can be used here, for, as we have seen, the square—along with the circle—when considered from a central axis, projected the four horizons or the four cardinal points as aspects of the world,83 just like the cross in the Nyssen’s interpretation above. Thus, in Hagia Sophia’s cruciform design within a square that was topped by a circular dome, we have concurrent representations, via geometry, of imago et axis mundi symbolism from a Christian perspective. To these can be added the octagon, symbolising the “eighth day” of God’s eschatological kingdom,84 and which can be found as early as Constantine’s church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. It consisted of an octagonal structure to cover the cave of Christ’s birth, to which was attached a basilica whose apse the octagon replaced.85 Justinian’s church of Sts Sergius and Bacchus, which acted as the prototype for Hagia Sophia (and is pertinently still called küçuk ayasofya or ‘little Hagia Sophia’ in Turkish), also contained eighth day symbolism in its dome, supported by eight columns that “form an octagon placed inside an irregular square.”86 This design was repeated in Holy Wisdom’s baptistery, which was also octagonal, and later, on a larger scale, in the church of San Vitale in Ravenna.87 Ravenna 80 See fn. 48 in Schibille, Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Aesthetic Experience, 55. 81 For the “earthly” dimension of Hagia Sophia, see the excerpts from Paul the Silentiary’s Descriptio S. Sophiae translated by Bissera V. Pentcheva in her article ‘Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics,’ Gesta: International Centre for Medieval Art 50.2 (2011): 97, 99. 82 Falter, ‘The Influence of Mathematics on the Development of Structural Form,’ 83. 83 Ibid. 84 The eighth day was transcendent because, according to early Christian saints such as Basil the Great, it went beyond the recurrent cycle of the seven-day week outlined in Genesis. Mario Baghos, ‘The Recapitulation of History and the ‘Eighth Day’: Aspects of St Basil the Great’s Eschatological Vision,’ in Cappadocian Legacy: A Critical Appraisal, ed. Doru Costache and Philip Kariatlis (Sydney: St Andrew’s Orthodox Press, 2013), 151–68, esp. 159–60. 85 Bardill, Constantine, 258. See the church’s design on ibid., 260. 86 Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, 203. 87 Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis, Ravenna in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 227.

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is important, because in its apse above the altar a mosaic depicts Christ enthroned upon the world: one of the earliest images of ‘Christ in majesty’ that would later appear as the Pantokrator—the Master of all giving the blessing of peace88—in the centre of Byzantine domes throughout the empire.89 Although this image was not painted in the dome of Hagia Sophia until 1355—and described by a contemporary, Nicephorus Gregoras, as “the enhypostatic Wisdom of God”90—it can be traced, as seen in the previous chapter, as early as the Christian catacombs.91 We also discerned that it begins to appear on portable icons by the end of late antiquity, such as the famous sixth-century image from St Catherine’s monastery in Sinai,92 a complex that was, incidentally, commissioned by Justinian and Theodora.93 By the Middle Ages, the Pantokrator would appear in central domes, apses and wall panels in the palatine chapels of Aachen94 and Constantinople,95 in the churches of the Theotokos Pammakaristos96 and

88

In Ravenna, the Pantokrator is “seated on a blue globe” and “holds a scroll closed with the seven seals of the Apocalypse.” Deliyannis, Ravenna in Late Antiquity, 237. 89 John Lowden affirmed in relation to Byzantine church domes that “the standard post-iconoclast formula employed the medallion bust of Christ alone, in the form we call ‘the Pantokrator.’” J. Lowden, Early Christian and Byzantine Art (London: Phaidon, 1997), 194. 90 Nicephorus Gregoras, Historiae Byzantinae XXIX, 47 f., in The Art of the Byzantine Empire 312–1453: Sources and Documents, trans. Cyril Mango (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), 249. 91 The “idea of Christ as Ruler of the Universe finds clear expression in the Catacomb of Commodilla [mid 4th century] where, within a frame coloured red and brown, the Master’s head and shoulders are set in a manner expressing authority.” One can detect in this image the origins of what would later become the image of Christ the Pantokrator. Robert Milburn, Early Christian Art and Architecture (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 47; see image on p. 46. 92 Jaroslav Pelikan, Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1985), 93. 93 Judith Herrin, Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2007), xxii. 94 Derek Wilson, Charlemagne: Barbarian and Emperor (London: Pimlico, 2006), 75. 95 Specifically, in the Chrysotriklinos, where “an image of the enthroned Christ [was] depicted in the apse right above the emperor’s throne.” Alexei M. Sivertsev, Judaism and Imperial Ideology in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 182.

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Holy Saviour in Chora in the latter;97 in Greece, in the churches of Hosios Loukas98 and the Dormition in Daphne;99 and in Norman Sicily, in the cathedrals at Monreale100 and Cefalù101 and the Cappella Palatina in Palermo.102 The Monastery of Graþanica in Kosovo boasts a Pantokrator in its dome from the later Middle Ages,103 and so do the Coptic Monastery of St Antony the Great in Egypt,104 St Mark’s in Venice,105 St Paul’s ‘outside the walls,’106 and Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, which we saw in the previous chapter also depicts the Mother of God enthroned next to her Son and our God.107 In the post-Byzantine period various other churches in Romania, Russia, Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Serbia all include this image, which spread even to the West in modern times with the proliferation of Orthodoxy via its diaspora communities and missions.

96 Guy Freeland, ‘The Lamp in the Temple: Copernicus and the Demise of a Medieval Ecclesiastical Cosmology,’ in 1543 and All That: Image and Word, Change and Continuity in the Proto-Scientific Revolution, ed. Guy Freeland and Anthony Corones (Dordrecht: Springer-Science+Business Media, B.V., 2000), 189–270, esp. 215. 97 Lowden, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, 415. 98 Ibid., 231, 235. 99 Ibid., 260, 264. 100 Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, 260. 101 Ibid., 259. 102 Ibid., 260. 103 Slobodan ûurþiü, ‘Graþanica and the Cult of the Saintly Prince Lazar,’ Recueil des travaux de l’Institut d’études byzantines XLIV (2007): 466. 104 Elizabeth S. Bolman, ‘Theodore’s Program in Context: Egypt and the Mediterranean Region,’ in Monastic Visions: Wall Paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea, ed. Bolman (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002), 99. 105 Holger A. Klein, ‘Refashioning Byzantium in Venice, ca. 1200–1400,’ in San Marco, Byzantium, and the Myths of Venice, ed. Henry Maguire and Robert S. Nelson (Washington D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2010), 208. 106 Margherita Cecchelli, ‘Il Complesso Monumentale Della Basilica dal IV al VII Secolo,’ in San Paolo Fuori Le Mura a Roma, ed. Carlo Pietrangeli (Firenze: Nardini Editore, 1988): 50–51. 107 Marina Righetti Tosti-Croce, ‘La Basilica Tra Due E Trecento,’ in Santa Maria Maggiore a Roma, ed. Carlo Pietrangeli (Firenze: Nardini Editore, 1988): 132–33, 134–35, 136–37. The same is also the case in the apse of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome.

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8-4 Mosaic of Christ Pantokrator enlightening the Old Testament prophets in a dome of the church of Holy Saviour, Chora. Photo by Nicholas Sen (2012).

8-5 Christ Pantokrator in the dome of the church of Theotokos Pammakaristos, Constantinople. Photo by author (2011).

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8-6 A Byzantine mosaic of Christ the Pantokrator giving the blessing of peace in the circular dome of the Cappella Palatina, Palermo. Photo by author (2016).

In Byzantine churches and churches influenced by the Byzantine style, therefore, the Christian conception of the whole universe is represented with the utilisation of imagines et axes mundi motifs, with Christ, the penultimate ecosystemic agent, as its Master. When Frankish, Byzantine, and Norman rulers depicted the Pantokrator in their cathedrals and palaces, they may have been attempting to bolster their claim to being Christ’s representatives on earth; nevertheless, even in these cases, Jesus Christ took precedence.108 The fact that the main church of any Byzantine 108

This is evidenced by the fact that many emperors depicted themselves as being crowned by and in obeisance to Christ. See, for example, the mosaic above the imperial doorway in Holy Wisdom, where the emperor Leo VI the Wise (r. 886–

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monastery was, and still is, called the katholikon (țĮșȠȜȚțȩȞ)—the place where the ‘fullness of the church’ was summed up—is indicative of this mentality, and in monasteries, as in cities, these churches literally or symbolically constituted the centre of orientation for the inhabitants, that is, axes mundi.109 The location of the place of worship as the focal point of the community, one that can be traced back to Sumerian, Akkadian, and Babylonian cities addressed in chapter one; in Egyptian cities (chapter two); in Greece (chapter three); in Rome (chapter four); Israel (chapter five), and elsewhere, thus continued in the Christian era. But in the latter there was a clear distinction (already anticipated in Israel) that the ruler was no longer to be worshipped as a god in his sacred cities that were likewise no longer identified with the cosmos but were meant to positively reflect it; that the only true ecosystemic agent was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who as eternal creator of the world is anterior to all cities, and yet is manifested within them via art and architecture that utilises imago et axis mundi symbolism that facilitates participation in him. In communicating this message to the world—a message manifested also in the dedication of cities and churches to Christ’s saints, who are ecosystemic agents on account of their participation in him, the city of Constantinople had no small part to play in establishing a paradigm that paradoxically preserved aspects of imagines et axes mundi symbolism from the ancient world, in some cases divesting it of idolatry, in others endowing it with Christian content. Significantly, the paradigm established in Constantinople was repeated throughout Christendom in East and West, and continues to this day in Orthodox countries and in countries influenced by the Byzantine aesthetic, like Italy. It would be remiss of me not to mention the Byzantine influence on Islamic architecture which characteristically replicates the Byzantine dome, but the latter nevertheless represents a dissimilar mentality: for while calligraphic and floral representations are permitted, the human person is not110—and thus the ‘paradises’ reflected in shrines such as the 912) is depicted in obeisance to the enthroned Christ, and Christ crowning the twelfth century Norman king Roger II of Sicily in a panel mosaic in the Martorana church in Palermo. Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, 191 and 258 respectively. 109 The third and fourth definitions of katholikos (țĮșȠȜȚțȩȢ) given in Lampe’s Patristic Dictionary are relevant in this respect. They refer to “the fullness of Christian doctrine” and “the whole Church.” G. W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1961), 690. 110 Robert Hillenbrand, Islamic Art and Architecture (London: Thames and Hudson, 1999), 21–23.

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Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem are bereft of inhabitants. Moreover, and in light of what we have seen concerning churches as representations of the cosmos, the effacement of mosaics—including the Pantokrator—in Byzantine churches throughout Constantinople in its iteration as Istanbul, and in lands occupied by the Ottomans, not to mention the displacement of the Christian communities that worshipped within them, represent, in metaphorical terms, apocalypses. In addition to the geometric symbolism of Byzantine architecture and the oft-repeated motif of the Pantokrator, a standard pattern of the representation of Christ and his saints within Byzantine churches— continued by many Orthodox churches throughout the world—would indeed be to show Christ at the centre of the dome as Pantokrator, and the Mother of God in the apse below the main dome as ‘Wider than the Heavens,’ which we have seen above denotes that she contained the uncontainable One, who encompasses the cosmos, within her womb.111 The rest of the church, the walls inside the altar, the icon screen and walls of the nave would depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments and the saints, who are considered immediate participants in the grace of Christ, in states of dispassion. In some cases, these representations would be placed on the façades and other external walls of churches also, as made famous by the painted monasteries of Moldavia,112 where Christ, the Mother of God, and the saints are made visible to all who pass by. This is antithetical to Gothic architecture that sprang up in the medieval West, which demarcated sharply between the profane or demonic, exemplified by grotesques and gargoyles adorning the external walls of cathedrals,113 and the sacred which was represented within them. In fact, Constantinople was replete with images of saints and Christian images in the main streets of the city, and in the eighth century this Christianisation of public space was given a formal mandate—as seen in the ‘Introduction’ to this volume— with the seventh ecumenical council in 787 declaring that: …the revered and holy images, whether painted or made of mosaic or other suitable material, are to be exposed in the holy churches of God, on sacred instruments and vestments, on walls and panels, in houses and by 111

John A. McGuckin, The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008), 222. 112 D. J. Deletant, ‘Some Aspects of the Byzantine Tradition in the Rumanian Principalities,’ The Slavonic and Eastern Europe Review 59.1 (1981): 5–6. 113 Thomas E. A. Dale, ‘The Monstrous,’ in A Companion to Medieval Art: Romanesque and Gothic in Northern Europe, ed. Conrad Rudolph (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 255–57.

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public ways (Ƞ੅țȠȚȢ IJİ țĮ੿ ੒įȠ૙Ȣ)…114

To mention just a few of these images, an icon of the Pantokrator adorned the Chalke or Bronze gate, the entrance to the imperial palace,115 and the walls and many gates to the city were marked by Christian images functioning as apotropaia.116 Now that I refer again to the saints, it is important to outline the correlation between them and the image of the Pantokrator in Byzantine churches: the latter gives the blessing of peace, and the former, insofar as they have interiorised the peace of Christ by grace and act as intercessors between Christ and the world, also give the same blessing. In the various Orthodox services, the celebrant often imitates this gesture, proclaiming the Lord’s words “peace be with you,” meaning that within the ecclesial space, art, architecture and worship are all geared towards generating peace within the congregation—a peace that is befitting to God’s presence among believers. In Byzantium, as well as in Orthodox churches today, the ecclesial space is an ordered cosmos with Christ as its Master and goal. It has been argued that Constantinople, just like any other ancient or medieval city, was an architectonic “metaphor of eternal order and harmony, peace, justice and life.”117 While we have demonstrated that in light of the ecosystemic agency of the creator God, Jesus Christ, the emperor could not have been considered divine, nevertheless he was “the imitator of the cosmos,”118 and the imperial presence in no less than ten liturgies celebrated within the Great Palace (albeit officiated by the Patriarch), nine ceremonies that began at the palace and culminated with the liturgy in Hagia Sophia, and seventeen processions that culminated in various urban churches,119 underscores the fact that the emperor construed himself as integral to the functioning of this city as an image of the cosmos. In this role, the emperor was subordinate to Christ the Pantokrator,

114

Second council of Nicaea—787, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 135–

37. 115

This was destroyed by the iconoclasts in either 726 or 730. Leslie Brubaker, ‘Icons and Iconomachy,’ in A Companion to Byzantium, ed. Liz James (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 328–29. 116 Ernst Kitzinger, ‘The Cult of Images in the Age Before Iconoclasm,’ Dumbarton Oaks Papers 8 (1954): 118. 117 Dean A. Miller, Imperial Constantinople (New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1969), v. 118 Ibid., 5. 119 Carolyn L. Connor, Saints and Spectacle: Byzantine Mosaics in their Cultural Setting (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 106.

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and thus in Byzantium we discern the Church’s curtailing of the ruler cult that posited the emperor as an ecosystemic agent. The Church also curtailed the idealism that the city—bound to the emperor—was essential to the order of the cosmos, for when Constantinople was conquered and there was no longer a Byzantine ruler, nevertheless churches influenced by the legacy of Byzantium continued to function in the same way: as recapitulations of the Christian vision of an ordered cosmos mastered by Christ, with the saints as intercessors, and with participation in Christ— mediated through the existential condition of peace—as the aspiration of the worshipping community inhabiting this city, and any city throughout the world. Christ is thus the ultimate ecosystemic agent and axis mundi, and Orthodox churches that worship him as such through traditional epithets like Pantokrator—still participate in this ecosystemic agency, and recreate imago et axis mundi symbolism in their architectural designs to symbolically facilitate this participation. In this way, Orthodox churches within cities are seen both as God’s kingdom on earth and as facilitating participation in that kingdom; a facilitation that will nevertheless only be fully consummated at the eschaton. In other words, they function along the lines of the already/not yet tension (see ‘Definitions’) and thus curtail any idealistic—even idolatrous—association of a particular topographical, earthly city, with the sacred cosmogony, as was the case in the pagan cities addressed in this volume. In Byzantium, as in Western Christendom, the recapitulation of the cosmos within the ecclesial space spilled out into the thoroughfares of almost each and every city,120 village, and town, with liturgical processions and litanies undertaken around and in between churches and other important shrines constituting mains expression of the public devotion of a city’s inhabitants. We know from the tenth century Book of Ceremonies, that in Constantinople everyone had a part to play in the processions— even the circus factions!121—so that prayers to God the Trinity revealed by the Son, Jesus Christ, and his saints resonated in the streets. For all the dastardly things that we know took place in the Middle Ages—symptoms of our fallen humanity—nevertheless, thus was the character of Christian cities, replete with symbols, acts and gestures that not only reminded their 120

For the Orthodox this is typified at the end of the liturgy, just before the dismissal, when the priest exhorts the faithful with the following words—ਥȞ İੁȡȒȞȘ ʌȡȠȑȜșȦȝİȞ—meaning “let us go forth in peace,” which can be interpreted as the faithful being encouraged to take the existential state of peace, received in the Church, with them into the world. The Divine Liturgy of our Father among the Saints, John Chrysostom (Sydney: St Andrew’s Orthodox Press, 2005), 104. 121 Dagron, Emperor and Priest, 91.

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inhabitants that Christ is Master and the source of the world’s salvation, the personal ecosystemic agent par excellence, but also, if we are to take the meaning of the word symbol as an existential bridge into consideration, facilitated participation in Christ and his salvific kingdom, a participation which continues to be experienced in the Orthodox Church, and in all cities influenced by the Byzantine legacy, to this very day.

CONCLUSION

Having reached the end of this present study, we can assert with confidence that ancient cities were envisaged as intersecting and encompassing the three basic cosmic tiers of heaven, earth, and the underworld at hierophanic or theophanic junctures, perhaps originally natural ones such as mountains, where the sacred was manifested; thus prompting a response on the part of human beings that organised themselves around these junctures. It is worth revisiting our consecutive chapters on the civilisations—their respective imagines et axes mundi symbolism and their views of ecosystemic agency—addressed herein. The first was Mesopotamia, which is considered exemplary for ancient Near Eastern cultures and yields evidence for the earliest cities in the world. Here, the paradigmatic city—Eridu—was believed to be elevated like a mountain from the subterranean world to connect it to the celestial. The inhabitants of Eridu, just like Nippur and later Babylon, viewed mountains as imagines et axes mundi where the cosmic realms were recapitulated and the gods revealed themselves, and so their principal temples, the ziggurats, were made to resemble mountains. Moreover, these temples constituted the centres of their cities, giving rise to temple-cities that were established by kings such as Sargon and Naram-Sin, who, in representing themselves as divine and under the patronage of Ishtar—the goddess of the city of Agade from which they ruled—could cosmicise the world from this central point. This chapter therefore identified the earliest perceptions of cities as imagines et axes mundi and the ruler as an ecosystemic agent, which, increasingly in this civilisation became associated with the sun god. Next, we addressed Egypt insofar as its influence extended to all the subsequent civilisations analysed in this volume; an influence that included its widespread perception of cities as imagines et axes mundi and rulers as ecosystemic agents. Here, the primordial mound that, illo tempore, was believed to have emerged from the watery cosmic abyss— the Nun—was recapitulated within temples that were the focal point of Egyptian cities such as Hermopolis and Heliopolis. Moreover, for the ancient Egyptians it was Pharaoh as an ecosystemic agent who had to constantly uphold order, or ma’at, from the focal point of his capital city at the expense of isfet, which is chaos (much like Mesopotamian rulers maintained me or the mes). Pharaoh could do this on account of his

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association with the demiurge Ra, a sun god and principal agent of ma’at, whose defeat of isfet’s main cause, the demon Apophis, was meant to be re-enacted on a daily basis by Pharaoh’s representatives, the priests in temples throughout Egypt. In Greece—which was influenced by Mesopotamia and Egypt yet exerted its own, unique influence on all subsequent civilisations in the Mediterranean—such perceptions of cities were manifested in Minoan and Mycenaean temple structures and palaces, before becoming popularised through Delphi and Troy; the former considered the ‘navel of the world’ by many consecutive civilisations, including the Roman empire, and the latter constituting an axis mundi insofar as it held a celestial statue, the Palladion, that was believed to have fallen from heaven to earth. The motif of ecosystemic agency can also be discerned in the ancient Greek context by the belief that king Ilus established Troy upon the body of the defeated chaos goddess, Ate, and in the god Apollo’s defeat of Typhon before the founding of Delphi, the navel of the world (implying thereby the ecosystemic status of Apollo, another sun god). The Greeks, however, were ambivalent towards kings: they were not considered divine. It was not until Plato’s contribution of the notion of the philosopher-king, who organised his city, just like the demiurge, on the pattern of the cosmos, that ecosystemic agency in relation to kingship became attractive in Greek thought, to be spread throughout the world—becoming paradigmatic for the ruler cult—by his student Aristotle’s pupil, Alexander the Great. Next, we analysed Rome as an imago et axis mundi and demonstrated that, just like the other cultures addressed in this volume, it shared a similar perception towards the city which it amplified more than any other; a perception that it enhanced by borrowing elements from these cultures and presenting them in its own unique synthesis. Here, imago et axis mundi symbolism became permanently associated with the ecosystemic paradigm established by the emperor Augustus—the Roman emperor par excellence—who was seen as maintaining concordia or concord at the expense of Invidia or envy in the city space; a city that was seen as having conquered the world and was identified with the cosmos as Roma aeterna. Ancient Israel ran a similar course to its Near Eastern counterparts insofar as the city of Jerusalem was believed to have been built on a sacred mountain, Zion, and as having a celestial equivalent. Jerusalem was also considered as having been built over the abyss holding back the subterranean waters, and through its temple it manifested the theophanic imago et axis mundi symbolism expressed by the narrative of the garden of Eden, which we saw was etched into its architectural design. However, the

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difference between Israel and the pagan cultures addressed herein is that worship of a single God (recognised later by Christians as the Trinitarian God) becomes so emphatic that the king could no longer presume to be a divine ecosystemic agent. Exemplified by king David, whose dynasty had been appointed by God to rule over his people from the vantage point of Jerusalem, the ruler was to be considered a coworker with God in the ecosystemic project of reshaping Israel. But subsequent conquests of the city resulted in a re-interpretation of the promises made by God to David. This meant that in periods of captivity the Hebrews expected a messianic king—a Son of David—to establish God’s kingdom on earth permanently. These expectations looked towards this figure to liberate the Israelites from their oppressors and restore the kingdom of Israel from the central point of Jerusalem; expectations that were likewise supposed to be fulfilled—but for the whole cosmos, not just a particular nation—by the eschatological Son of Man figure. It is this figure that Jesus Christ described himself as while at the same time referring to his divine origins as God the Father’s very own Son. The chapter on Christianity was the longest because it is perhaps the most pivotal, insofar as Jesus presented himself precisely as this Son of Man figure while also calling himself (and being called) the messiah—the Christ—Son of David, and Son of God. As far as ecosystemic agency is concerned, Christ Jesus represents a turning point in the history of religions. Unlike previous kings whose ecosystemic agency was based on pagan demiurges—and in contrast to the latter who were posterior to the cosmic matter that they organised—Christ is at once prior to the cosmos as God the creator Logos and paradoxically immanent, insofar as he is the same Logos who is established within the hearts and souls of all human beings created in his image, and who assumed flesh once and for all (while remaining fully God) at his incarnation. The imago et axis mundi symbolism of cities is relativised in light of Christ, who, in a manner perhaps deliberately contrasted to Roma caput mundi, is depicted as the head of the body of believers (Ephesians 4.15) that he has integrated into himself within the Church (Eph 2.16). These believers participate in the realised eschatology described in the ‘Definitions’ section, which can be designated as the Edenic Jerusalem (as depicted in Revelation 21–22), the kingdom of God/heaven etc., all of which denote the ecclesial experience in the here and now that liberates people from death. This freedom from death/participation in the divine life was articulated in both the scriptures and apocrypha as resulting from Christ crossing the cosmic tiers, the celestial, terrestrial, and infernal (Hades), upon which he defeated sin, death, and the devil in the latter; thereby

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inaugurating with his own resurrection the life of resurrection for all. This life, it was shown, is also manifested in the lives the saints who participate in Christ’s personal ecosystemic agency and can thus be described as also defeating the devil—and as cosmicising the space within and around them—according to his grace. In light of this experience, the city becomes a metaphor, albeit a positive one, that can be used to described a saint’s participation in the Godman Jesus Christ; a participation which is not entirely antithetical to a believer’s participation in terrestrial cities, as was demonstrated in the next two chapters. In its curtailing of idealised imagines et axes mundi symbolism relating to pagan conceptions of cities—and the ruler cult pertaining to the god-kings—the Christian Church emptied these ideas of their pagan content while utilising their forms, endowing them with unique Christian imagines et axes mundi symbolism. This is reflected in art and architecture within cities, specifically within the city of Rome, which transferred ecosystemic imagery away from the Roman emperor and the sun god to Christ in such a way as to facilitate participation in the latter’s kingdom— identified with the Church (already) in the here and now and beyond it (not yet). In this process the saints also play a role, since they are connected to Christ and intercede to him for the world’s salvation. In this way, images of Christ with a halo, appropriated and reinterpreted from solar worship that was tied to city-building from early times, can be seen in relation to the saints also. Yet I demonstrated that this form of artistic expression relates, in Christianity, to an authentic experience of God as light that extends all the way back to Moses’ experience on Sinai. The saints are also related to the process of reshaping the city space because, while Christ has superseded the emperor, and, in the person of the first Christian emperor—St Constantine the Great—Christ made the ruler subordinate to himself, nevertheless the patron deities of cities also needed to be replaced. In Rome, this was done by extolling the Mother of God as protectress of the city, and so this chapter addressed Byzantine art in Rome that was connected with images of Christ to demonstrate the shift in mentality from pagan gods and rulers governing cities to kings subordinated to Christ as his appointed rulers, and to the Virgin Mary as exemplifying the saints who became protectors of cities. There is no better image to sum up the Christian use of imagines et axes mundi symbolism where Christ, the head of the Church and the cosmos, is identified as the personal ecosystemic agent par excellence, than that of Christ the Pantokrator or the ‘Master of All’ who bestows the blessing of peace from the centre of domed churches that reflect the Christian view of the cosmos. This image evolved within a certain

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context—that is, in Christian Byzantium—in a manner coterminous with the rise of Christian monumental art and architecture that, like the cathedral church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in the capital city of Constantinople, were Christian imagines et axes mundi with Christ at their centre and as their goal; that facilitated participation in his kingdom. In this chapter I addressed the founding of Constantinople as undertaken in a Christian and classical manner because Constantine—as a transitionary figure between paganism and Christianity—could not entirely do away with the solar cult that was part of city-building from the outset. Nevertheless, his Christianisation of other cities in the empire, like Rome, and his founding of Christian churches in Constantinople, paved the way for the proliferation of the Church’s distinctive art and architecture throughout Europe and the Near East and the despoiling of solar worship: art and architecture which placed Christ Pantokrator at the very centre of church domes to remind the world that he is the only bringer of peace to people, and which facilitated participation in his kingdom through prayer. But it is worth drawing out the practical implications of my analysis of ancient cities—especially of Christian ones—even further, especially as they stand in contrast to the modern city. We saw that the ancient civilisations addressed in this book represented the sacred in their temples and churches in a holistic manner; with the cosmos, usually comprising three tiers of reality—the celestial, terrestrial, and infernal— shaped or ordered by a demiurge, a god, or his representative or embodiment, the king or ruler. Christianity and Judaism are inherently different since this demiurge is not one of many rival deities; and in Christianity in particular we have seen that he is not posterior to the cosmos, but anterior to it as its creator (not to mention that this one God is Trinitarian). While all the religions addressed in this book—except for Judaism and Christianity—are now virtually extinct,1 nevertheless modern cities are indeed replete with temples, churches and synagogues, but, architecturally speaking, these take a secondary place to material and economic interests exemplified in skyscrapers and corporate buildings. This shift in emphasis reflects a shift in the perception of the cosmos: for while we have more accurate means of describing the nature of the universe according to the empirical methods of science—means that are not necessarily incompatible with religious belief—nevertheless our civilisation, more than any in history, has since the Industrial Revolution caused irreparable damage to nature, to which the cosmos is related. Could 1

I say ‘virtually’ because of the revival, on a very small scale, of ancient Greek and other forms of polytheism in Greece and other countries.

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this be because of the general reluctance to see nature or the cosmos as a medium for the manifestation of the sacred? Here, I am contrasting ancient cities, with their holistic visions of the cosmos as mediating the sacred, to the modern city which does not, at least on a public level, reflect such an interest. Yet, while I believe that ancient cultures had an integrative mentality, I do not necessarily believe they were entirely correct, since it is palpably obvious that the material universe is not inherently divine in a pantheistic sense—reflected in the personification of various aspects of nature as gods—nor were the rulers that were so tenaciously worshipped gods on earth. In fact, the conflation between ‘city’ and ‘cosmos’ in paganism blurred the distinction between both; for it was one thing to found a city (or build a church) in imitation of the cosmos that manifests the sacred—which we saw the Byzantines accomplished via their construction and experience of the ecclesial space as both God’s kingdom and leading to that kingdom through existentially relevant symbolism (and God’s grace)—and it is quite another to believe that one’s city is literally constitutive of the cosmos and its sacredness, which we saw was the case with the Egyptians and the Romans, etc. It was Judaism and later Christianity that clearly distinguished between nature as good because God created it, and yet God as totally above nature yet paradoxically manifested within it (without being identified with it; what can be described as pan-en-theism, God-in-all-things). In Christianity, all sacredness inheres within and is disclosed by Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, who together with the Father and the Holy Spirit created the cosmos inherently good. Human beings, created in God’s image, were called to participate in the sanctification of the cosmos (as addressed in chapters five and six) and yet failed through selfish disobedience. The Christian vision of the cosmos, described in this book through the lens of eschatology—especially in chapters six to eight—affirms that its sanctification has already been achieved when the divine and eternal Son of God assumed humanity as Christ Jesus and, because he is fully God and fully man, succeeded where humanity—exemplified by Adam and Eve— failed. It is this Christ who Christians affirm will return to permanently sanctify the cosmos at his second coming (i.e. the not yet of the cosmos’ sanctification); and it is this Christ into whom Christians that are mystically baptised into the Church participate in unto eternal life. Finally, it is this Christ who was represented in holistic depictions of the cosmos in churches in Rome and Constantinople as ‘Master of All,’ as Pantokrator. I am not of course suggesting that the Pantokrator is the only existentially relevant image put forward in Christendom. Of course, most images and symbols that point beyond the mundane can fulfil an existential

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need or function. But since this book has culminated in Christian Byzantium, I have tried to firstly demonstrate how religion—which receives so much criticism in popular secular milieus and media as being irrelevant—is indeed relevant and has been ever since human beings began to settle together in what would become cities. This is especially the case with the Christianisation of the city space, which the reader will be familiar with, since vestiges of this Christianisation abound throughout the world: in Europe, Africa and America, etc. Indeed, in contrast to the secularisation thesis addressed briefly in the introduction to this volume, this Christianisation process, in a manner especially relevant for this book, continues to this day as evidenced in Eastern European countries that have inherited the Byzantine legacy. In Thessaloniki (Greece), Moscow (Russia), Bucharest (Romania), Belgrade (Serbia), or Tiblisi (Georgia)—as well as in Orthodox churches in the diaspora—one will continue to see new mosaics and frescos of the Pantokrator, still freshly sparkling or painted in new church buildings and in the public square. And finally, my analysis of the evolution of the ruler cult associated with solar worship within the city space—through the heuristic concept of ecosystemic agency—demonstrates that despite the integrative mentality of the ancients, it was a mentality that nevertheless often amounted to a sort of idolatry. Indeed, whenever our modern world has experienced such exaltations of the ruler, it is almost unequivocally associated with totalitarianism that democratic governments have tried to distance themselves from. Nevertheless, I have also contended in this book that it was Christendom that dealt a mortal blow to the ruler cult with its emphasis on Christ as God. Indeed, it was only via a lengthy analysis of this ruler cult mentality that transpired from chapters one to four, that we can appreciate by way of contrast the magnitude of Christianity’s overturning it from chapters five and six onwards. In these chapters, we saw that Jesus Christ was construed as the true and only ecosystemic agent because he is not circumscribed by any city—by any imago et axis mundi—since he transcends them all as creator of the cosmos. Moreover, precisely because he is the universe’s creator, Christ was depicted in the ecclesial spaces—churches that are Christian imagines et axes mundi—as well as in public spaces in ancient Rome, Constantinople, and in Orthodox countries today, to remind people that through him one can be sanctified by grace and participate in eternal life. Although one may argue that this representation of Christ might not have been possible without the ancient disposition towards the ruler that Christ eventually replaced, nevertheless even this can be seen by Christians as a providential arrangement of human civilisation towards the truth disclosed by Christ: a truth which is

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utterly unique since—to make this point one final time—nowhere was the ecosystemic agent considered anterior to the city which was believed to be the locus of the cosmos (an axis mundi); and nowhere was the organisational principle of the cosmos permanently identified with a human (in the case of Christ, the Godman). The Orthodox Church within Byzantium that promoted this disposition towards Christ can thus never be accused of caesaropapism or total subordination to the empire, since it always prioritised and worshipped Christ as the unique and personal ecosystemic agent par excellence.

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