The Suppression Of Freedom Begins 

Freedom requires breaking the chains of bondage. No prisons are as strong as the ones we make for ourselves.

Suppression of Freedom Begins With Rome

(February 5, 2024) The Suppression of Freedom began during Rome's bitter war for survival against Carthage which was an off and on war between 264 and 146 BCE. This bitter war for survival almost saw Rome itself destroyed by Hannibal who only lacked the ability to destroy the walls of Rome with a long siege. When Rome finally defeated Carthage they burned their libraries and razed Carthage to their ground in a final act of cultural genocide.  

This suppression would lead to the Roman republic being replaced by an empire in 49 BCE by Julius Caesar (100 to 44 BCE). It also led to the Romans to suppress their own Druid roots and mostly replace it with  Greek culture (The earliest archaeological texts found in Rome are Druid Akkadian). This suppression would continue as their empire expanded into the Celtic, Germanic, Slavonic, and Israelite lands. The irony here is the Roman/Greek Paganism of the early empire would in turn be suppressed by a  centralized, dualist, dogmatic religion even more suited to empire, that of the Christian religion. The dualism makes it ideal for empires. Anyone not belonging is evil and an enemy.

 A sculpture of Emperor Constantine which is now located at the Capitoline Museum in Rome.
Photo from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Statua_di_Costantino_ai_musei_capitolini.jpg

Suppression Intensifies During And After The Roman Civil War

(December 23, 2023) Christianity began its march towards becoming the official empire religion of the Roman Empire when the future emperor Constantine was struggling for power against his rivals. This struggle was the end result of dividing the Roman empire into quarters  in 293 BCE. This organization had 2 top emperors called Augusta and 2 assistant emperors called Caesars. One  of these first Caesars was Constantus whose son Constantine would ally with the growing Christian movement. When Constantus died in 306 Constantine proclaimed himself the new Caesar. Constantine had been educated and Augustis Diocletian's court. While there he witness Diocletian's persecution of the Christians. 

In late 302 CE, Diocletian apparently prodded by his Caesar, Galerius, sent a messenger to the oracle of Apollo at Didyma with an inquiry about Christians. Constantine was at  Diocletian's palace when Diocletian accepted his court's demands for universal persecution. The Christians of the time blamed Galerius for this persecution. On 23 February 303, Diocletian ordered the destruction of Nicomedia's new church, condemned its scriptures to the flames, and had its treasures seized. In the months that followed, churches and scriptures were destroyed, Christians were deprived of official ranks, and priests were imprisoned. 

Constantine joined his father out in Britain and France.

On 1 May 305, Diocletian, as a result of a debilitating sickness during the winter of 304–305, announced his resignation. In a parallel ceremony in Milan, Italy  Maximian did the same. Galerius was made one of the Augustas but his attempt at collecting taxes from Italy (which had been tax exempt) led to conflict for supreme power. 

During this time Constantus died and Constantine declared himself Augusta in the west (Britain, Gaul, and Spain). Because he was not legally appointed by any Augustus Constantine had to seek legitimacy from religion. He chose the sun god Apollo and Victory which became Sol Invictus on his coins. This is in contrast the the gods pushed by the others which was Jupiter and Heracles. 

By the middle of 310, Galerius had become too ill to involve himself in imperial politics. His final act survives which is a letter to provincials posted in Nicomedia on 30 April 311, proclaiming an end to the Christian persecutions and the resumption of religious toleration. Why Galerius started this persecution remains unknown. 

Constantine allied himself rather secretly with the Christians in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge on the Tiber river just outside of Rome. He was seeking to oust Emperor Maxentius who ruled Italy. Maxentius had holed up in Rome and had prepared for a long siege by stockpiling food yet he unexpectedly appeared with his army outside the gates ready for open battle. This desperate move on the part of Maxentius indicates Constantine was as popular inside Rome and as was in the rest of Italy. Maximus must have believed he could not rely on the support of the Romans long term. This battle took place on October 28, 312 CE.

Constantine ordered his army to paint a magical symbol on their shields whose real meaning was only known to die-hard Christians and not anyone else. This was the Chi-Ro symbol which combined the letters of X (Ch) and R, the first letters of the word "Christ." Constantine's army won decisively and was welcomed with joy into Rome. 

In 313, Constantine arranged a meeting with his last rival, Licinius, in Milan, Italy to secure their alliance by the marriage of Licinius and Constantine's half-sister Constantia. During this meeting, the emperors agreed on the Edict of Milan which officially granted full tolerance and also full restitution to Christians in all religions in the empire for the past persecutions. This document legalized the Christian religion. It repudiated past methods of religious coercion and used only general terms to refer to the divine realm like "Divinity" and "Supreme Divinity."

In 320, Licinius allegedly reneged on the religious freedom promised by the Edict of Milan and began to oppress Christians anew possibly because he saw them as supporters of Constantine. This new suppression was generally without bloodshed but it included  confiscations and sacking of Christian office-holders.

Their rivalry climaxed in a series of battles in which Constantine's army emerged victorious. The first was the Battle of Adrianople in which Licinius fled across the Bosphorus. Next was the Battle of the Hellespont and finally the Battle of Chrysopolis on 18 September 324. Licinius and Martinian surrendered to Constantine at Nicomedia on the promise their lives would be spared: they were sent to live as private citizens in Thessalonica and Cappadocia respectively. But in 325 Constantine accused Licinius of plotting against him and had them both arrested and hanged. Constantine died in 337 CE.

The last Non-Christian emperor was Constantine's nephew Julian who was Caesar of the West from 355 to 360 and Roman emperor from 361 to 363. He was killed while campaigning in the east. His time as Caesar was likely when the Roman Pagan resistance began.

References

Rev. J.S.Watson - translator (1853)  Justinus: Epitome of Pompeius Trogus' Philippic Histories - books 40 to 44.  Online at: http://www.attalus.org/translate/justin7.html#42.1

Shepherd sarcophagus from the Catacomb of Praetextatus family in Rome c.370-400. Top shows a grape harvest scene while the bottom  shows an olive harvest scene with the long leaves of the olive tree. Winged nymphs are doing the harvesting.  It is made of marble 72 x 223 x 112 cm. Vatican Museums, 31554 (ex 191A)
 Photo by Vika Bershadskaya. Online at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/14003448829916681/

Saturnalia Becomes Part of the Pagan Roman Resistance Movement Led by Vettius Praetextatus 350 - 384 CE

(December 23, 2023) Originally Roman Saturnalia was a rural final harvest festival occurring after the olive harvest in late November and early December. As such a feasting and drinking festival it was adopted by the urban working class. As Paganism was giving way to Christianity after 350 BCE Saturnalia entered the urban upper classes as a festival which celebrated an ideal Pagan past in which everyone was equal. Saturn, being the slowest planet, was a harvest and end of life god.  Saturnalia most closely corresponds to October's Pagan Halloween (Samhain) festival in northern Europe.  Saturnalia's Urban date was never finalized as evidenced by the quote at the bottom of this section.

Vettius Praetextatus (c. 325–385) was the leader of the Pagan resistance movement in Rome between 350 and 384 CE.  He held several religious positions: priest of Vesta and Sol, augur, tauroboliatus, curialis of Hercules, neocorus, hierophant, priest of Liber and of the Eleusinian mysteries. He also held several political and administrative positions: he was quaestor, corrector Tusciae et Umbriae, Governor of Lusitania, Proconsul of Achaea, praefectus urbi in 384 and was praetorian prefect of Italy and Illyricum, as well as consul designated for the year 385, an honour he did not achieve because he died in late 384. 

In 370, several senators were tried for alleged magic practices by prefect Maximinus. For their defense Praetextatus led a senatorial legation to emperor Valentinian I, including Volusius Venustus and Minervius, charged with asking Valentinian to forgo torture for those senators involved in trials. The three of them were allowed in the presence of the Emperor, who denied having given such a disposition, but, thanks to the influence of the quaestor Eupraxius, the rights of the senators were restored.

While holding the office of praefectus urbi, he gave back to the Christian Bishop of Rome, Damasus, the basilica of Sicininus and had his rival, the other bishop of Rome, Ursicinus expelled from the city thus restoring peace to the city which was becoming more Christian. He even granted an amnesty to the followers of the defeated bishop. His justice was celebrated. He had removed those private structures that were built against pagan temples (the so-called maeniana) and distributed within the whole city uniform and verified weights and measures. He also restored the Porticus Deorum Consentium in the Roman Forum.

Praetextatus was one of the last political supporters of  Paganism in Rome. He was particularly devoted to Vesta, as was his wife. 

After his death, the Emperor asked the Roman Senate for a copy of all his speeches, while the Vestal Virgins proposed to the Emperor that they be allowed to erect statues in his honor.

Quote From Author Macrobius About Vettius Praetextatus

-Macrobius Book 1, footnotes 1-2

References

https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/Roman/Texts/Macrobius/Saturnalia/1*.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vettius_Agorius_Praetextatus

A 1560 printed edition of Macrobius's Saturnalia, included alongside Cicero's Somnium Scipionis. The first book is devoted to an inquiry as to the origin of the Saturnalia and the festivals of Janus, which leads to a history and discussion of the Roman calendar, and to an attempt to derive all forms of worship from that of the Sun.
Image from wikimedia commons at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Macrobii_scipionis_saturnalorium_ludguni_paganum_1560.jpg

Other Quotes from "The Saturnalia" by Macrobius 395–423 CE

(December 23, 2023) The major source about Saturnalia is Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius, usually referred to as Macrobius. He was Roman grammarian and philosopher active in Rome between 395–423 and who became the leader of the Pagan resistance movement against the rising power of the Christians. 

His most important writing was "The Saturnalia" which was a discussion held at the house of Vettius Praetextatus (c. 325–385) during the holiday of the Saturnalia. It was written by the author for the benefit of his son Eustathius (or Eustachius), and contains a great variety of curious historical, mythological, critical and grammatical comments. The main point is that the Pagan Romans of this era did not really know the origins of Saturnalia and incorporated any fragment of information about past practices involving Saturn and his harvest festivals into that discussion

His other writing are: 

Some Quotes From The Book

References

"The Saturnalia." Online at: https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/Roman/Texts/Macrobius/Saturnalia/1*.html

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica/Macrobius,_Ambrosius_Theodosius

The Symmachi Panel, c. 400 C.E., ivory, 32 x 13 cm (Victoria and Albert Museum, London). Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris
A late (400 BCE) Roman woman or priestess is standing beneath an oak tree and preparing to sprinkle the contents of the bowl in her left hand on to the altar in front of her. She is accompanied by a small child who may be her son or daughter. Images of European nightcrawlers are wiggling around on a forest floor are shown on the sides of the altar. At the top of the panel is the family names of "SYMMACHORUM" which refers to the Roman Senatorial class Symmachi family.  All these nature symbols indicate that this sculpture represents the existence of a short lived anti-Christian resistance movement against the Pagan persecution of Roman Emperor Theodosus I (emperor between 379 to 395 CE).
Now at the Albert and Victoria Museum in London. Online at: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O70084/the-symmachi-panel-diptych-leaf-unknown/

Symmachus Family

(Dec 23, 2023)  Praetextatus was friend with another major figure of the Pagan aristocracy, Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, with whom he exchanged letters partially conserved. Symmachus (c. 345 – c. 402) was a leading member of the senatorial aristocracy of his time and the best orator of his age. Symmachus' letters, speeches and relations have been preserved and testify a sincere friendship between Symmachus and Praetextatus: according to Symmachus, Praetextatus was a good magistrate and a virtuous man.

 

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Seneca was born in Córdoba in the Roman province of Baetica in Hispania. Seneca is said to have been taken to Rome in the "arms" of his aunt (his mother's stepsister) at a young age, probably when he was about five years old. He resided in Rome most of his life.

Earliest Mention of Urban Saturnalia is By Roman Stoic Seneca the Younger 4 BCE – 65 CE

XVIII. On Festivals and Fasting

Reference

Moral letters to Lucilius/Letter 18. Online at: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Moral_letters_to_Lucilius/Letter_18

Other sources may be:


Rural Greek Saturnalia Mentioned by Greek Author Lucian 160 CE

Lucian of Samosata (c. 125 – after 180) was a Hellenized Syrian satirist, rhetorician and pamphleteer who is best known for his characteristic tongue-in-cheek style, with which he frequently ridiculed superstition and religious practices. 

The Greek title of this text is "Τὰ πρὸς Κρόνον" (Ta PROSh  KRONON) which means "The First Saturn" or "The Elder Saturn." This text is a discussion between Saturn and a curious person and is a satire about how people always want deities to give them wealth. Kronos (Saturn) was replaced by Zeus (Jupiter) in Greek mythology.  

Their discussion begins at the start of the week long harvest festival of Saturnalia.

The Old Saturn

Pr. Cronus, you are in authority just now, I understand; to you our sacrifices and ceremonies are directed; now, what can I make surest of getting if I ask it of you at this holy season?

Kronos: You had better make up your own mind what to pray for, unless you expect your ruler to be a clairvoyant and know what you would like to ask. Then, I will do my best not to disappoint you.

Pr. Oh, I have done that long ago. No originality about it; the usual thing, please,---wealth, plenty of gold, landed proprietorship, a train of slaves, gay soft raiment, silver, ivory, in fact everything that is worth anything. Best of Cronuses, give me some of these; your priest should profit by your rule, and not be the one man who has to go without all his life.

Kronos: Of course! ultra vires; these are not mine to give. So do not sulk at being refused; ask Zeus for them; he will be in authority again soon enough. Mine is a limited monarchy, you see. To begin with, it only lasts a week; that over, I am a private person, just a man in the street. Secondly, during my week the serious is barred; no business allowed. Drinking and being drunk, noise and games and dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping of tremulous hands, an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water,--such are the functions over which I preside. But the great things, wealth and gold and such, Zeus distributes as he will.

......

Pr. But what possessed you to abdicate?

Kronos: Well, the long and short of it is, as I grew old and gouty--that last, by the way, accounts for the fetters of the story--I found the men of these latter days getting out of hand; I had to be for ever running up and down swinging the thunderbolt and blasting perjurers, temple-robbers, oppressors; I could get no peace; younger blood was wanted. So I had the happy thought of abdicating in Zeus's favour. Independently of that, I thought it a good thing to divide up my authority--I had sons to take it on--and to have a pleasant easy time, free of all the petition business and the embarrassment of contradictory prayers, no thundering or lightening to do, no lamentable necessity for sending discharges of hail. None of that now; I am on the shelf, and I like it, sipping neat nectar and talking over old times with Iapetus and the others that were boys with me. And He is king, and has troubles by the thousand. But it occurred to me to reserve these few days for the employments I have mentioned; during them I resume my authority, that men may remember what life was like in my days, when all things grew without sowing or ploughing of theirs--no ears of corn, but loaves complete and meat ready cooked--, when wine flowed in rivers, and there were fountains of milk and honey; all men were good and all men were gold. Such is the purpose of this my brief reign; therefore the merry noise on every side, the song and the games; therefore the slave and the free as one. When I was king, slavery was not.

Reference

Sacred Text archive. Online at: https://sacred-texts.com/cla/luc/wl4/wl422.htm#fr_10

Mention of Saturnalia by Justin 390 BCE

(December 23, 2023) Saturnalia was mentioned by the Roman historian Justin who wrote a summary of an earlier history around 390 BCE in order to preserve its essential information for the future because the western Latin empire was starting to disintegrate. In this he was successful as his history was heavily used by Medieval scholars.

His history summarized the massive Liber Historiarum Philippicarum, or Philippic Histories by Trogus. This was a history of the kings of Macedonia compiled in the time of Augustus.  Justin also added many digressions to the core information and his following mythological description of Rome's founding seems to have been one of those.  It mentions Saturnalia as part of an ideal Pagan past.


The first inhabitants of Italy were the Aborigines, whose king, Saturnus, is said to have been a man of such extraordinary justice, that no one was a slave in his reign, or had any private property, but all things were common to all, and undivided, as one estate for the use of every one; in memory of which way of life, it has been ordered that at the Saturnalia slaves should everywhere sit down with their masters at the entertainments, the rank of all being made equal." 
— Justinus, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus 43.3 as translated by J.S. Watson
Emperor Theodosius II. This bust is now in the Louvre. He is the emperor (408-450 CE) who ordered the compilation the Codex Theodosianus. Photo from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Theodosius_II_Louvre_Ma1036.jpg

Roman Paganism Officially Banned By 396 BCE  

Eventually, the repressive laws of the Christian emperors became extreme. Below is a list of anti-Pagan and anti-Christian heretic laws decreed by various emperors. Officially public Paganism was banned by 396 CE but such bans were only effective as far as centralized Roman control reached which not very far in the western part of the empire. Yet eventually, the Christian church was able to persuade local rulers to suppress any remaining Pagan practices.

These laws are found in the Codex Theodosianus ("Theodosian Code") This was a compilation of the laws of the Roman Empire under the Christian emperors since 312. A commission was established by Emperor Theodosius II and his co-emperor Valentinian III on 26 March 429 and the compilation was published by a constitution of 15 February 438. It went into force in the eastern and western parts of the empire on 1 January 439. The original text of the codex is also found in the Breviary of Alaric (also called Lex Romana Visigothorum), promulgated on 2 February 506.


References

https://www.fourthcentury.com/imperial-laws-and-letters-involving-religion-ad-311-364/