The Jesus Myth: Tacitus

April 14, 2013

Following on from my two previous entries exploring the myth of Jesus (The Jesus Myth and The Myth of Jesus: Antiquities of Josephus), I thought I would continue the series with another historical figure often cited as providing evidence for the existence of Jesus, through his writings; The great Roman Senator and Historian, Tacitus.

Contemporary Biblical scholars (who some seem oddly convinced, are excellent sources on the subject of history) who use Tacitus as evidence, cannot be considered neutral in the search for the ‘real Jesus‘. The Biblical Scholar, and often cited, Craig Evans uses Tacitus as evidence for Christ. The same Craig Evans once wrote

“The archaeological evidence shows that Jesus grew up in a small village, Nazareth, about four miles from Sepphoris, a prominent city in the early first century C.E.

His body was placed in a tomb, with the expectation that his bones later would be gathered and placed in his family’s tomb. The Easter discovery dramatically altered this expectation.”

– There is of course, no archaeological evidence that Jesus grew up anywhere. It is quite clear that any historical analysis into the existence of Jesus, from Evans and other Biblical scholars, starts from the premise that Jesus existed. The ‘evidence’ is then framed around that premise. It is made to fit the dogma. They manipulate history, to fill in gaps. Scholars of the Qur’an will have a vastly different interpretation of “history” when it comes to Jesus, than a Biblical scholar trying to pass his work off as genuine history. Evans misleads on several occasions, in order to provide tenuous links to Jesus. He ends his piece with:

Just last week, a court in Israel concluded that there is no convincing evidence of fraud in the case of the ossuary bearing the inscription, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”

– Misleading, because the court actually said:

“We can expect this matter to continue to be researched in the archaeological and scientific worlds and only the future will tell. Moreover, it has not been proved in any way that the words ‘brother of Jesus’ refer to the Jesus who appears in Christian writings.”

– I would strongly advise mistrusting any ‘scholar‘ who continuously feels the need to say “historians in my field all agree“…. Perhaps point out that Biblical historians tended to agree that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, at one point too, despite all evidence to the contrary. Alfred Loisy, the Catholic Priest was demonised by Catholics at the time, for suggesting that the first five books, were not the work of Moses. Loisy’s work was widely rejected by “Biblical Scholars” keen to hold onto to their myth. This is because most of the ‘scholars‘ are Theologians, they have not trained as historians, and they amplify any piece of data they can use as evidence, regardless of its validity or importance. Why would we give them credit, beyond, say, that of the wonderful J. M. Robertson, who writes a great, eloquent and well reasoned account for his belief that Jesus is a myth, and the art of religious myth making (which can all be read here). The ‘history‘ presented by Theologians, is manipulative, and a conclusion reached before evidence is even begun to be collected and interpreted. Most cite Josephus, despite that source being a quite obvious later Christian addition, as well as most citing Tacitus at least once.

Tacitus, undoubtedly, was a great historian and his Annals are a wonderful commentary on the state of Rome during the first century of the Empire.

The particular passage we are focusing on, is Book 15, Chapter 44, of The Annals. In it, Tacitus states:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind”.

– This is the passage used by Christians as a non-Biblical, early reference to Jesus. In that sense, they’re right. It is a non-Biblical, early reference to Jesus. And that, is all it is. Nothing more. It simply isn’t credible evidence for the existence of Jesus and to suggest it is, is so horrifically devoid of a sense of an ability to be critical, it pains me. Let’s also note that Tacitus claims that they weren’t arrested for the fire, they were arrested for “hatred against mankind“. Not only are they an “immense multitude” (Which we know there weren’t), that the entire City has named “Christians” (suggesting their faith and creeds are well known throughout the city), Rome, and indeed, the Emperor himself convicts them for hatred of mankind.

Polydor Hochart tells us:

“It is inconceivable that the followers of Jesus formed a community in the city at that time of sufficient importance
to attract public attention and the ill-feeling of the people. It is more probable that the Christians were extremely discreet in their behaviour, as the circumstances, especially of early propaganda, required. Clearly we have here a state of things that belongs to a later date than that of Tacitus, when the increase and propagandist zeal of the Christians irritated the other religions against them, and their resistance to the laws of the State caused the
authorities to proceed against them.”

Arthur Drews, drawing on Hochart, says:

The interpolator, Hochart thinks, transferred to the days of Nero that general hatred of the Christians of which Tertullian speaks. Indeed, the French scholar thinks it not impossible that the phrase ” odium humani generis ” was simply taken from Tertullian and put in the mouth of Tacitus. Tertullian tells us that in his time the Christians were accused of being “enemies of the human race”.

It’s also important to note that the original Tacitus Annals Books 11 – 16 are lost. We only have copies, written centuries later. To suggest they are the exact word for word copies of the original, cannot be even close to confirmed. Especially given that those centuries, were Christian centuries, and involved a lot of other Christian forgeries.

There is however, certainly a more credible argument for it being that of Tacitus than the passage by Josephus. But it still isn’t definite. There are some tricky elements not quite reconciled, as Hochart and Drews point out. We must however note that the passage is most certainly written in Tacitus’s style, and it mentions Christians in such a harsh manner, it is unlikely to have been inserted by Christians at a later date. Whereas Josephus, inexplicably lavishes praise on the Christians, and insists Jesus is divine whilst he himself is a devout Jew. Which suggests, among other reasons, that he didn’t write it. Tacitus doesn’t. He is far more damning of the Christians. They were “hated for their abominations“, “a most mischievous superstition“, “hatred against mankind“. These are pretty vicious claims about the Christians. It’s doubtful that a Christian would have inserted this passage later. Though, not impossible. And closer examination seems to suggest the vicious language, is well masked. You will note that Tacitus exonerates the Christians from starting the fire. They are innocent according to Tacitus, and it is Nero who frames them. Suddenly, we have innocent Christian martyrs, persecuted by a crazed and immoral Pagan sect. And that’s exactly as history has perceived them. This may seem like an anti-Christian passage, but it has had the opposite effect entirely.

Forgery in the early Church was rampant. It was especially used to glorify early Christians. The German Theologian David Strauss wrote that the earliest Christian communities reworded the Gospels to suit certain local prejudices. Hegel noted that Christian doctrine continuously changed over the years to suit certain power structures. There is also, of course, debate over whether even Peter managed to reach Rome at all, let alone authored the First and Second Epistles of Peter (which, it is almost certain, he didn’t). There is also a lot of controversy over what St Paul actually said, what he wrote, what was forged under his name, where he preached, and how he died. Rewriting Christian history to suit a narrative is not new. Forgery is certainly not new in Christian history. Eusebius appears to have been a master at this.

There are some issues with the plausibility of the Tacitus reference, as being genuine. Like with the passage from Josephus, no early Christian writer, even those well versed in Tacitus, mention this passage at all. Eusebius, putting together all early sources on the life of Jesus, searching Pagan documents including Tacitus, (and my chief suspect in forging the Josephus passages, and suspiciously, the first to mention that Paul was killed in the persecution under Nero) did not mention Tacitus. Neither does Tertullian, a student of Tacitean works. Drews noted:

“none of the works of Tacitus have come down to us without interpolations”.

Secondly, the word “Christians” was not used in Rome, at that point in their history. They were often referred to as “the way“, but most popularly as “Saints” and “Disciples“. Acts 1:15 is testament to that:

“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples.”

Others (including Eusebius) note that early Christians were known as Nazerenes. If we discount Josephus’s passages as inserted later by Christians, the first mention of the term “Christians” outside of the Bible, is Tacitus. At a time when it is unlikely they would be known by the name “Christians“. Christianity and Judaism did not have a relevant and noticeable split until the 2nd Century. It is also not true that “an immense multitude” of Christians existed in Rome at the time of the burning. There was barely a Christian multitude at all in Judea, let alone Rome. Given how widespread and dangerous the Christians apparently were, Nero’s Minister, Seneca, doesn’t mention them at all. In fact, for such a widespread movement apparently operating in Rome, that the city had already named ‘Christians‘, and openly hated, Tacitus doesn’t mention them anywhere else, at all, only briefly in the passage above. And no other early historian links the Christians to the burning of Rome.

So, whilst the text itself is a little stronger than Josephus, it isn’t set in stone as genuine. But even if it were, that is completely irrelevant.

The main problem with Tacitus used as evidence for the existence of Jesus begin prior to this passage and prior to the writing of the Annals.
It starts with Tacitus’s birth.

Tacitus was born 56ad. Probably in Southern France, known then as Gallia Narbonensis. So, in looking for contemporary sources for the existence of Jesus; anything written by Jesus, anything written from the time by people who supposedly flocked to see Jesus, anything written by social commentators at the time, and place in which Jesus was performing amazing, reality altering miracles, anything from contemporary Romans about this World changing preacher….. Tacitus was not. He was in fact born 20 years after Jesus supposedly died, 2000 miles away. So, another non-contemporary “source” working on hearsay.
Johannes Weiss, the German Theologian, once stated:

“Assuredly there were the general lines of even a purely fictitious Christian tradition already laid down about the year 100; Tacitus may therefore draw upon this tradition”

– There is no reason to believe Tacitus was doing anything but drawing upon an established tradition. Three of the four Gospels were quite possibly already written at that time. That Christianity existed, is not in question. Tacitus seems only to be reaffirming that Christianity existed.

Hearsay; because being non-contemporary, means he could only know about Jesus, second hand, at best. And it is at best, because the Annals was Tacitus’ final work before he died in 117ad. Which means, over a century after Jesus was supposedly born. It is unlikely at that time, that Tacitus would have spoken to disciples of Jesus, or any contemporary source that knew Jesus, being over 70 years later. If he did speak to disciples, we have no evidence for it. It is more likely that he knew the Christian story, from the Christian sects that were in Rome at that time. His statements are quite clearly statements of what the Christians believe, not a statement of fact.
Consider the following. Tacitus writes:

“Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.”

– How is this any different, and any more credible a source for the existence of Jesus, than me, sitting in front of my laptop in 2013, commenting on the early days of Mormonism:

“Mormoni, from whom the Mormons derive their origin and name, visited Joseph Smith during the Presidency of John Quincy Adams.”

– I have never even visited Palmyra in New York, I was born about 3000 miles away, I wasn’t born at the time it happened, I have never spoken to those who knew Joseph Smith. I am simply writing a narrative that I’ve heard from others. As long as it is clear that Tacitus was not a contemporary of Jesus, nor spoke to or knew any of his disciples, nor, crucially, does he mention the crucifixion of St Peter, it is quite obvious that Tacitus can only base his passage referring to Jesus, on hearsay, from people who themselves, heard it from others.
This is more evident, given that the Romans didn’t keep crucifixion records, and so Tacitus’ mention of Jesus crucifiction, came from hearsay also. He was not working from an original source. It is all story and no fact.

Tacitus, writing ‘Histories’ Book 5, and specifically Chapters 8 – 10 describe Judea at the supposed time of Jesus. They make no mention of the crucifixion of Jesus as mentioned in Annals. They make no mention of Christians at all. They make no mention of miracles, or the dead rising from the ground, or Jerusalem in uproar at the arrival of Jesus.
Absolutely no mention of Christians, Christianity, or Jesus at all. What was happening in Judea according to ‘Histories’?

“Antony gave the throne to Herod, and Augustus, after his victory, increased his power. After Herod’s death, a certain Simon assumed the name of king without waiting for Caesar’s decision. He, however, was put to death by Quintilius Varus, governor of Syria; the Jews were repressed; and the kingdom was divided into three parts and given to Herod’s sons. Under Tiberius all was quiet.”

– Nothing. Turns out it was pretty quiet.

One writer attempting to refute the myth idea, says this:

No one is suggesting that a reference in Tacitus written at the end of 116 CE about events of 64 CE can be considered a clincher for the historical Jesus. However neither Tacitus nor Suetonius later, nor Celsus, nor Josephus if he mentions Jesus at all, raise the slightest doubt that Jesus was a flesh and blood character from their recent past.

– This is a complete straw man. (Though, Josephus doesn’t actually mention Jesus, so throwing that name into the bag is irrelevant, and Suetonius is even more dubious than Josephus) No one is suggesting Tacitus knew Jesus was not a real person. That is neither my argument, nor is it the intention of Tacitus’ writings. If it were, we may look into his other works for similar patterns and come to similar conclusions. For example, along with also suggesting that the mythical Romulus actually really did rule Rome, Tacitus tells us:

“Mankind in the earliest age lived for a time without a single vicious impulse, without shame or guilt, and, consequently, without punishment and restraints. Rewards were not needed when everything right was pursued on its own merits; and as men desired nothing against morality, they were debarred from nothing by fear. When however they began to throw off equality, and ambition and violence usurped the place of self-control and modesty, despotisms grew up and became perpetual among many nations. Some from the beginning, or when tired of kings, preferred codes of laws. These were at first simple, while men’s minds were unsophisticated. The most famous of them were those of the Cretans, framed by Minos; those of the Spartans, by Lycurgus, and, subsequently, those which Solan drew up for the Athenians on a more elaborate and extensive scale. ”

– Here, it seems pretty convincing for anyone, using “Tacitus is sure Jesus is a real, living human being” logic, that Tacitus also didn’t question the reality of Minos, the son of Zeus and Europa. He also doesn’t question the reality of Lycurgus, whom plenty of ancient historians doubt existed historically. He believes those two to be great law givers. He presents them, like he present Jesus, as actual historical figures. The question of whether the figure is real or not, is unimportant to Tacitus. That isn’t what he’s trying to prove.

The important aspect to apply to the Annals of Tacitus, with regard the mention of the Christians, is that it is hearsay. It is something Tacitus does throughout his work. Tacitus draws and myth, and presents them simply as stories – neither fact nor fiction – in a lot of his writings, not least in his apparent (and dubious) reference to Christians.

The fact remains; None of the historians and cultural writers living at the same time as Jesus, ever wrote about Jesus. I will again point to Philo as being the most damning source for Christians, in my view. Writing at the exact time Jesus apparently existed, writing about the exact places Jesus apparently performed all sorts of wondrous miracles; and does not mention him once, yet mentions plenty of other less impressive, and far more mundane anecdotes. It is clear that Josephus, also, does not mention Jesus once, despite his beloved father living in and around the area Jesus was supposedly causing shock waves.

Whether the Tacitus reference is genuine or not, is irrelevant. And that is because it is written too late to be considered contemporary evidence for the existence of Jesus. If, whether a source is genuine or not is irrelevant, then there really is no reason to consider it at all. It cannot reasonably be considered evidence for the existence of Jesus.

Tacitus, born two decades later, writing five decades after that, relying on second (at best) hand information, and even then the passage is suspicious, is evidence for nothing except that Christians may have existed in Rome at the time of the Great Fire.

If you are reduced to looking for even the briefest of mentions, by a man who wasn’t there, or in fact, alive at the time, writing 100 years after the birth of the figure you’re trying to prove, in which he simply references a group of people in Rome at the time through rumours and hearsay; i’m afraid your search for the historical figure you’re arguing for, is baseless.

I want evidence. Show me distinct, obvious, uncompromised evidence. Evidence that is not based on hearsay accounts or ambiguous and slightly dubious sources. Evidence that is not just being moulded to fit a narrative that is devoid of any contemporary evidence. Then I will change my opinion. Until then, I remain firm in my belief that Jesus Christ never existed.


…wouldn’t you just eat a salad?

January 26, 2011

“we are always asked
to understand the other person’s
viewpoint
no matter how
out-dated
foolish or
obnoxious”

In my Politics class, we sit and have a rather tedious discussion most weeks. There is a bin in the corner, about 3 metres from where I sit. I sit with a bottle of water most weeks and finish it by the time the class is over. I wonder if I throw the empty bottle in the direction of the bin, if I will get it on target. I position myself by swinging slightly backward on my chair. I always decide against it. It is tedious because there is no control over the class. People talk on one table about subjects that are absolutely nothing to do with the original topic of debate. Others frequently don’t understand the point of the arguments made by specific political philosophers, and end up rambling on for a moment or two about nothing. They would say more, if they didn’t speak. The day previous, at the gym, in the changing room, a man was in the toilet cubicle. He obviously thought no one was in the toilet and randomly said “Oh fuck it’s a big one!!!!” I am not sure how to respond to that. It’s obviously a sentence of genius. Do I edge slowly toward the door and leave quietly? Or do I bow down in front of the cubicle and worship this legend as he comes out of his castle? Two Christian girls in our class, during a rather slow discussion on Nietzsche attempted to link the entire concept of democracy (not just modern democracy, democracy in general) to Christianity. Christians often narrow mindedly take credit for concepts they simply didn’t create; usually in the subject of art, as if without Christianity there would never have been a Leonardo. But I’ve never seen such a terrible argument presented as to why democracy is a loving gift bestowed upon the World by that beacon of democracy; Christianity.

I pointed out that forms of democracy (quite different to democracy today, I accept) appeared long before Christianity stamped its ugly, overbearing foot on the progress of humanity. One of the two girls looked at me as if I was an utter idiot. She told me, in a naturally patronising voice that democracy came long after Christianity and was a product of it. I mentioned Rome to her, and the election of Tribunes of the People’s assembly, the Senate, and that after around 300bc the lower classes were allowed to stand for office, and that although Rome’s democracy was massively flawed; it was still democratic by the standards of that particular time. The Roman people idolised their Republic. They were scared of absolute power. The Ancient Greeks, long before Jesus Christ wasn’t born, invented Constitutions and in some respects, invented Democracy. She said “no“.

Then more talking ensued…

One person talking louder to make themselves known after the last person. About eight different conversations in the same small room is too much even for my confidence and ego to try to fight over. I dropped my argument. I stared around the room and out of the window. My Kindle holds thousands of books. I have downloaded at least 200 so far, and have only started reading one. Tony Blair’s most recent book. It’s very self serving and has an air of utter arrogance about it. He describes himself as a rebel at heart. He was certainly a great statesman and I have a lot of time for much of what he achieved. But the fact remains, his “modernising” turned the Labour Party into a Tory-Lite Party, capitulating to the excessive power of finance capital. I am reading poems by Bukowski too. As you can tell by the start of this blog. I wish I had more time, and a quiet room. That way, I would have spent the next thirty minutes destroying the argument of massively misinformed, delusional Christians. I get a kind of sadistic enjoyment out of it. I don’t respect or understand their view, when their view is ridiculous, and just outright bullshit.

Democracy, previous to Rome can be traced back as far as pre-historic civilisation. Tribes working as a unit would presume to work together far more democratically, for the common good, than any system forced upon humanity during Christianities harsh hold over Europe. In fact, Christian Europe resembled a system far closer to the that advocated in the Old Testament. The first Pope, in the Bible, says:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
-1 Peter 2:13-17

I think that’s pretty conclusive. Firstly, I take issue with ‘live as God’s slaves’. No. The Christian God disgusts me. I cannot think of anyone worse, to be the ‘slave’ of.  Secondly, it is evident that the first Catholic Pope demanded that his contempories submit to the sovereign authority, whom at the time, was an Emperor, far removed from any democratic principles. St Peter’s role in the Church spanned four Roman Emperors; Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and eventually being crucified under the despotic lunatic Nero. We don’t know who he was writing about when he demanded we all submit to Caesar. I doubt it was Nero, given that Nero really didn’t like Christians. But even if St Peter had demanded that the Caligula, Claudius or Tiberius were to be submitted to entirely, the nature of those first three Emperors after Augustus should be examined. Perhaps they were deep down, democratic?

Tiberius was massively disliked, especially before he died. He spent far more money on the Imperial palaces than on the people. Although the area that St Peter would have lived for much of his life; Israel, has a town named “Tiberias” after the Emperor………. created by…….. King Herod. Executions for small crime went up under Tiberius. He was a bit of a maniac. In fact, he was so anti-democratic, he had his main opponent in the Senate; Gaius Asinius, executed for treason, simply for opposing the Emperor. Why would a loving God desire his faithful subjects to give themselves up to such tyranny? Why didn’t he demand the overthrow of such evil, for a far more democratic model? Why wasn’t that God preaching democratic values, if democracy truly is the product of Christian logic?

Caligula was no better. He had absolutely every Senator who opposed the Emperor investigated, and if he deemed it necessary, executed. This sent a stark warning to the Senate and the final remnant of the old Republic; submit entirely to the Emperor, or die. He then started dressing as a God in public, he called himself Jupiter in documents, and he made Senators who he distrusted, run by the side of his chariot to show their inferiority. Two temples were created and funded by Caligula, for the sake of worshipping…. Caligula. Perhaps this is the beacon of democracy and rule by the people that St Peter was obviously referring to when he demanded people ‘honor the emperor’.

Claudius, likewise, was not elected by popular democratic means. He was the grandson of the sister of Augustus; Octavia. So he believed, through his bloodline, that he was entitled to the Imperial throne. Inherited public power is about as far removed from democracy as it is possible to get.  He pronounced himself the Judge and Jury in many trials during his reign. Absolutely less democratic than even the hardly democratic Republican era of Rome.

So, that leaves us with the notion that St Peter, when asking his people to submit as slaves to God and as subject to Caesar, did not care one bit for democracy, or for personal and intellectual freedom, or the plight of the Imperial subjects and the injustices within the Empire. And so we must conclude, that early Christianity has more in common with its Middle Ages history, than it does with a couple of Christian students’ warped interpretation of democratic history.

Christianity during the Middle Ages was most certainly responsible for the most cruel period of human history in Europe. It was also used as the basis for Monarchy. Kings and Queens did not use Christianity in a manipulative sense just to hold on to power, they genuinely believed, as did their subjects, that they had a divine right to rule, laid out by God. They had inherited the throne of David. That was the justification for Monarchy ruled by ruthless, violent Christianity. Henry VIII was so worried about how he was to be viewed as a King by God, that he divorced Catherine of Aragon, on the pretence that God had punished him by giving him no male heir with Catherine, because she was his dead brother’s wife first.

The Pope arguably had the most power in Europe during the Middle Ages. English people did not consider themselves English first. They considered themselves loyal to the Pope. They did not elect the Pope and they had no say over the policies coming out of Rome. They merely had to accept what the Vatican was telling them. Thomas More (who, quite comically, is now a Saint) advocated the burning to death of anyone who dared to own a Bible in English. Catholics believed only the Vatican and those who were scholarly and rich enough to read Latin, should have the right to interpret the Bible for the rest of the Catholic World. That couldn’t be less democratic if it tried. It wasn’t until Henry broke with Rome in 1534, that England as a culture and a united people started to take some shape. But even then, the despotic power of Rome was merely transfered to the despotic power of the King. No form of democracy was created. The beginnings of Protestantism were not democratic. Americas beginnings were not democratic. The Athens system in the centuries preceding the apparent birth of Jesus included a system that did not allow women or slaves the right to vote. America, similarly started off, for a very long time actually, not allowing women or slaves or anyone whose skin colour was slightly darker than their own, the right to vote.

Skip a couple of Centuries to America, and some would argue that Christianity was responsible for the birth of the nation. Not true. The historian Robert T Handy argues that:

“No more than 10 percent– probably less– of Americans in 1800 were members of congregations.”

Most of the Founding Fathers were Freemasons and Deists. They were, as was America, products of the Enlightenment. Freemasonry and the thinking of the Enlightenment, the moving away from strict Christian dogma, is far more important to the development of early America. George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, and the man who was essentially the pillar on which the early Republic stood and managed to survive the early years, was a devout Freemason from the early 1750s, until the day he died. He became a master mason at the end of the 1590s.

Thomas Jefferson famously despised the dogma of organised religion, stating:

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god.”

Jefferson received a letter from the third President, John Adams, stating:

“I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved — the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!”

It is thus evident that the United States was not the product of some new found Christian love and appreciation for democratic principles. The Constitution specifically states that there shall be no religious oppression. It does not mention the wondrous contribution Christianity has made to the onset of democracy.

Democracy, like Capitalism, like falls of Kingdoms and Republics and Empires is the result of social evolution and the collective cultural mind of a population rebelling to meet the challenges of major shifts in consciousness and technology and economics. It is not the result of Christian dogma.

The historical reality is almost always, on every issue, entirely at odds with Christian delusion. They never accept it. They invent history. Just like the two girls invented history, and invented their own special brand of logic in my politics class. It was however, one of the only times that my mind hasn’t wandered in that class. Usually we talk about one particular philosopher and it just gets too crowded with the sounds of unrecognisable voices blurred together. It all just sounds like a constant irritating ringing in my ear. There was a man sat out a chip shop in Leicester yesterday. It was 11am. The chip shop must have only just opened. He had a huge bowl of chips. He had his legs wide open, to accommodate the mass of draping fat that swung down below his knees as he sat. At that point, wouldn’t you just accept you may have been wrong all those years? Wouldn’t you just eat a salad?


Render unto Caesar…

January 22, 2011

As you walk down the Rue de Souffle in the Latin Quarter of Paris, looking straight ahead of you, it is impossible to ignore the pure beauty of the Pantheon as it towers above everything else surrounding it. The road, named after the Architect of the Pantheon; Jacques-Germain Soufflot, is at first glance a fitting tribute to the French master of Neoclassical architecture. Voltaire, who is buried in the Crypt at the Pantheon, is said to have been taken in the funeral procession to the Pantheon, alongside a crowd on the Rue de Souffle, of over a million people.

Inside the Pantheon, you will have already past the huge columns forcefully holding up the entrance. You are then greeted by an amazing inner dome, which reaches to the sky, and is just as wide as it is tall. In the centre, is a giant piece of scientific brilliance, by the scientist Léon Foucault, erected in 1851 with the intention of being the first to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth on its axis. I cannot explain the experiment, because it hurts my head to think about it too much; needless to say, it is a work of beauty.

An equally as beautiful work of art stands at the back of the main hall. I stood in awe for a while at the incessantly attractive sculpture, depicting the “heroes” of the French revolution. The realism is romanticism at its finest, surrounded by neoclassicalism at its finest.

The Crypt is now the resting place of some of the greatest French artists, writers, philosophers, poets and politicians that ever lived. Voltaire, Mirabeau, Victor Hugo, Rousseau, Soufflot, Braille, Curie, Dumas; are all buried in the Crypt at the Pantheon.

And yet, despite all of this, there is a sign within the crypt at the Pantheon, letting people know, that actually, the structure is in constant need of restoration because its falling apart.

The successful failure, as i’m naming the beautiful yet slightly shoddy craftsmanship of the Pantheon in its attempt to resurrect the architectural genius of the Pantheon still standing strongly in the centre of Rome, is mirrored in 19th Century France when it comes to the death of the Monarchy, an attempt at Republic, and the falling into Empire. Rome experienced much the same structure of governance.

The last King of Rome; Lucius Tarquinius was driven to exile by Lucius Brutus in 509bc, and the Roman Republic era began. The end of the Roman Republic arguably ended with Julius Caesar being proclaimed Dictator for life in around late 45bc. Caesar was considered the hero of the common people. His face was stamped on coins, he sat on a throne-like seat in the Senate which had no one had dared to do since the fall of the Kingdom, he then had a statue of himself erected. This aroused suspicion that he intended to overthrow the beloved Republic and establish himself as King (which is probably true), and so a group of Senators lead by Brutus (an apparent ancestor of the Brutus who established the Republic 450 years previous, though it isn’t provable) murdered Caesar in the Theatre of Pompey (not in the Senate house, as most people think), underneath the statue of Pompey; Caesar’s old friend turned enemy. In killing the people’s hero Julius Caesar, his adopted son Octavian soon became the people’s hero, and used his popularity to hunt down and kill all of Caesar’s killers, to do away with Marc Anthony and to establish himself, cunningly, as the first Emperor of Rome; Augustus.

Similarly, as King Louis XVI was killed off by revolutionaries set to form a Republic, the aspirations of a young general who had visions of expanding the territory of France, as Caesar had done as General of the Roman Legions during his expanding of the Roman territory into Gaul (modern day France, Austria, Switzerland); Napoleon Bonaparte. After his success as a General, Bonaparte became First Consulate of the French Senate in 1799. Effectively, granting himself the right of Dictator for life, as Caesar had done. Following Caesar’s lead, Bonaparte started to wear the crown of laurel leaves. Caesar took the idea of wearing a laurel wreath from the old Greek tales of the God Apollo, who was always depicted wearing one. Caesar was putting himself on a par with the Gods. Napoleon was trying to emulate Caesar. It is almost scientific. The violent change from Kingdom to Republic to Empire is almost the necessary result of socio-historical processes that have been seen in Rome, France, and to some extent, the USA. Whilst personal characteristics of people like Caesar and Napoleon, and their lust and arrogance for absolute power are important in the narrative, they are merely one part in a much larger narrative of history that leads from Kingdom to Empire. When Republic is faltering, it is amazing to see, throughout history, an overbearing and maniacal personality appears on the scene almost right on cue, to force his way into the seat of power. Empire is inevitable at that point, and Empire is necessarily imperialist by nature. Napoleon and Caesar were both not popular with the nobility of their respective Country’s before in their younger days. Napoleon felt he was of social inferiority in comparison to the French nobility, he was an introvert and a loner by nature. Caesar’s family had very little political influence and he was a bit of an outcast. Napoleon saw, as did Caesar, that the State was falling, and a strong political and military mind could quite easily fill the gap. Napoleon once remarked:

“What a great people were these Romans, especially down to the Second Punic War. But Caesar! Ah Caesar! That was the great man!”

Napoleon, had himself crowned Emperor, emulating Caesar’s adopted son, Octavian (Augustus) in 1804. The French Empire expanded at first, but soon crumbled under his leadership. He successfully defeated coalition partners of Europe five times, before tempting fate with an ill conceived invasion of Russia in 1812, and was forced to abdicate and exiled in 1813. The strong and mystifying exterior of Napoleon, soon crumbled, like the walls of the Pantheon.

One could argue that Napoleon is actually not at all the personified mirror of the Pantheon, and actually far more successful than Julius Caesar given that Caesar was murdered before he could become Emperor, whereas Napoleon was successful in turning France into an Empire, taking control of most of Western and Central Europe in less than twelve years, and lasted a decade more than Caesar after taking power. Napoleon was a genius. Although, one would have to take into consideration the lasting legacy of both Caesar and Napoleon. For example, every Emperor of Rome was referred to as Caesar, for over 400 years after his death. The name Napoleon has long since died, other than Orwell’s use of the name for a horse in Animal Farm. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe was plunged into centuries of the Dark Ages; a truly regressive era in our history. When Napoleon fell, France thrived. The people adored Caesar. The people did not adore Napoleon. Caesar was proclaimed a God, and worshipped as such for the next half a millennium. Napoleon never came close to such accolade. The model of Rome during the Empire has been the inspiration for great artists, architects (such as Souffle’s Pantheon, and even as far as the Capitol building in Washington D.C), sculptors, writers, and people like Napoleon have tried to copy the system of governance for centuries since the final collapse of Rome in the fifth century. I cannot imagine the short phase of French Empire is going to be the inspiration for any such renaissance. The greatest poets during the Renaissance in Florence and Milan were crowned with a laurel wreath, in the style of Caesar to show that they were the masters of the poets. The legacy of the Roman Empire is far stronger and has a greater romance attached to it, than Bonaparte’s France.

The brief revival of the French Empire under Napoleon III was arguably more successful in terms of policy successes and the modernisation of France as an industrial power. And yet Napoleon III is often overlooked as a key figure in French history. His taking of power from the 2nd Republic which was established after the fall of his uncle, Napoleon, was largely a result of the fact that the new Republic was not a Republic at all, having abolished Universal Suffrage and a left over from the political upheaval of the fifty years previous. Stable government had not been known in France by the time Napoleon III took control, for around sixty years.

By the time Octavian became Emperor Augustus in Rome, the Republic had been dead for a long time. Whilst Augustus’ reign was far superior to Caesar’s and Napoleon’s and most Emperors with perhaps the exception of Trajan, he only managed to become Emperor – albeit cleverly and shrewdly – by building on the groundwork laid by his adoptive father, Julius Caesar. The political instability and the uncertain population was crying out for leadership; Octavian provided it.

Rome has a proud tradition. It, along with Ancient Greece certainly spawned Western Neoclassical art and architecture that has produced, with inspiration from the Ancient World, some spectacular works of art. The library in Helsinki is a great example of a Neoclassical building with a modern twist. Le Petit Trianon at Versailles in Paris, has a White House-esque look to it, fundamentally Neoclassical, but modern in feel. St Peter’s in Vatican City, is beautifully designed, and looks back across the Tiber and across history, to its Roman and Pagan ancestry for inspiration. Rome is the father of such brilliance. As it is politically….

If the line of history is to play out again and again, then surely it is not a coincidence that the Republic of the United States of America, which emerged as a result of the violent revolution against Kingdom, is often considered to now be an Empire. But, why is there no Emperor? Why has the Republic not collapsed as History would proscribe? Is America a new kind of Empire? A purely economic Empire, that is a product of advanced Capitalism? A Capitalist American Empire that requires a Napoleon-esque strategic mind, not for Statism and the old conception of Empire, but for ruthless business, coupled with aggressive foreign policy; the new Empire. And so no longer requiring of an overbearing, too powerful Centralised State with a single powerful person at its helm, because that would be contradictory to its “free market” economic purposes and so does it transcend the part of history that would proscribe the fall into the hands of a single person, because the Emperor, is no longer a human being, but instead the excessive power of capital? Or is it destined, after a period of prolonged success, to follow an inevitable path of history?


The English Renaissance

April 29, 2010

The European Renaissance was a breeding ground for absolutely magnificent Italian painters and sculptors. Carravagio, an early Rembrandt, is a particular favourite of mine, his macabre use of shadowing is stunning. Bernini’s sculptors in the centre of Rome, define the city for me. But the likes of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Donatello and Botticelli are synonymous with fantastic art work. Especially when you view them up close. Standing in the centre of the Sistine Chapel and gazing at Michelangelo’s handy work, is simply incredible.

So one wonders, why were there no great English Renaissance artists? Why did we miss out? I honestly cannot name one great English Renaissance artist up until the Hellenism of the Eighteenth Century; but even then, our artists were nothing in comparison to our Poets who invoked Antiquity when speaking of paradise. Lord Byron and John Keats among those.

Oscar Wilde wrote of this particular brand of English Renaissance as:

“of the vision of Homer as of the vision of Dante, of Keats and William Morris as of Chaucer and Theocritus. It lies at the base of all noble, realistic and romantic work as opposed to the colourless and empty abstractions of our own eighteenth-century poets anti of the classical dramatists of France, or of the vague spiritualities of the German sentimental school”

He shows here that 18th Century Romanticism, and Hellenism of the pre-Raphaelites were essentially the English catching up to the methodology of the Italian Renaissance artists two centuries previous. The essence, being a passionate romantic humanism. You can see this very essence, in the works of Millais and Rossetti. Works that take their inspiration from Antiquity, and Renaissance Europe. If you go to Tate Britain, you will see “Ecce Ancilla Domini” by Rossetti. You could be forgiven for thinking it was created in Ancient Greece or Quattrocentro Italy, or Renaissance Florence; it was produced in 19th Century England. And whilst these works certainly take inspiration from the Italian Renaissance (despite the Pre-Raphaelite’s apparent disdain for Renaissance artistry), they still have a wonderful individual quality of their own, that separate them into something entirely new, yet I can never quite figure out what that quality is. It is simply there. The Pre-Raphaelites represented a lost idea of spirituality, in an age of enlightenment. We can safely say, that England gained it’s Renaissance, two or three centuries after the rest of Europe.

But that still begs the question, why wasn’t England producing any art of any worth during the 15th, 16th, and 17th Centuries. I’d suggest, it was all because of Religion.

The Italian Renaissance artists of the 15th-17th Centuries, were all Roman Catholic. They followed the Catholic tradition to it’s very fundamentals. And whilst the art itself may have presented Holy figures as mere mortals, the grandeur of those Holy figures, was supremely Catholic; colourful and striking, romantic backdrops and visions of the Divine with human emotion and imperfections. The artists were commissioned by Popes and grand Catholic nobles like the Medici. Renaissance art in Italy, was Catholicism on canvas.

England, around that same time, had spent the 1530s breaking with Rome, and separating ourselves entirely, from the Continent. Catholicism became a dangerous practice. Even the Catholic Queen of England, was lucky to have survived it. Queen Catherine just so happened to be a close relative of the powerful Holy Roman Emperor, who was a staunch Catholic. She had his support. If it wasn’t for that relationship, she would have been almost certainly executed during the English Henrician reformation. Catholicism was dangerous in England in the 16th Century. Catholic extravagance, including it’s art, were not appreciated in England. The Reformers considered them to be the same sort of anti-Bible sentiment, as idol worship. The Pope, the great art work commissioner, was considered an anti-Christ, in the eyes of the English reformers. And so, by that logic, i’d argue that any attempt at such elaborate and extravagant art works used for the eminence of the Catholic Church, would have been utterly obscene, to the English Court.

The Court painter, the man behind the great portraits of Thomas More and Jane Seymore, was Hans Holbein, a man who followed the writings of Luther, and Erasmus. Holbein was a humanist, and gradually became very anti-Catholic. Perfect for the Tudor Court.

Catholicism, whilst it has been rather violent, and has a history of very unchristian-like viciousness, has undoubtedly produced some of history’s most beautiful works of art. One wonders what great works of art may have been produced throughout England, had the break from Rome not happened, and had Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon produced a son and heir in the first place.


Never be tired of England

April 23, 2010

Happy St Georges Day.
Did you know that King George III never formally acknowledge the independence of the USA? Therefore, we still own it. Nor did we agree to the full independence of Australia (The Australia Act of 1986, I choose to ignore). Therefore, we still own that too. And when I get there in July, I will proclaim myself Governor of Australia for Her Majesty The Queen. We’ll forget this silly “independence” thing in no time.

The Daily Mail in it’s quest to tarnish Nick Clegg as some great evil, had this to say earlier this week:

“His wife is Spanish, his mother Dutch, his father half-Russian and his spin doctor German. Is there ANYTHING British about Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg?”

It’s amazing isn’t it?
Nick Clegg, the posh English intelligent Lib Dem leader, is apparently an evil foreigner, despite the fact, that he was born….. in Berkshire.
Given that the husband of the Queen is a relative of the Russian tsars, I hope the Daily Mail will soon begin an anti-monarchy quest.

Today is St Georges day.
It is beautiful outside.
I have sat in my garden with a book and a drink sat by me, for most of it.
The reasons I do not fly the St Georges cross flag is something I dislike about the way it has been manipulated. St Georges cross and the Union Jack have been hijacked by the far right in recent years, to show that they aren’t too keen on muslims. It is used by those who keep claiming muslims are out to destroy England, rape your children, punch your grandmother in the face, and ban Christmas. It is from those who use the phrase “it’s political correctness gone mad” to cloak their inherent stupidity and ignorance. “You know, you can’t even smear shit into a a pakistani man’s face in the shape of the cross of St George whilst telling him to fuck off out the Country any more, without the politically correct bias liberal media telling you it’s racist. It’s political correctness gone mad!!!” I don’t want to associate myself with that type of person. Anyone who associates England with “the white race” is disgusting, in my view.

But I do love this country. In fact, I absolutely adore this country. I do not appreciate the far right telling me that I hate this country, simply because I am not a nazi. I do not believe in a singular concept of “Englishness”. My views on Englishness, are pretty post-modern in that respect. I love this country, for my own reasons, which I will now list.

I love the English summer time. I love traditional English seaside holidays. I love the sound of English amusement arcades on the seafront. I love Tudor history. I love being in the city centre for Diwali celebrations. I love the English countryside. I love standing in the sea on the English south coast despite it being freezing. I love the scent of England in the early summer mornings. I love English Christmas, the food, Morcambe and Wise, and bucks fizz. I love red post boxes. I love the majority of the people who are always polite, friendly, and tolerant. I love that I am the grandson of a World War II navy veteran. I love eccentric Brits. I love Camden. I love not understanding a word the speaker says over the tannoy at a local Tesco. I love Newstead Abbey. I love Bradgate Park. I love feeding ducks. I love those little green or red or blue or yellow arm bands the local swimming pools give you, to let you know when your time in the water is up. I love how we are a mash of cultural differences and historical struggles. I love how we cannot go a day without at least one cup of tea. I love Brit pop! I love getting into bed, under a huge new duvet on a freezing winter’s night. I love wearing an England football shirt throughout the World Cup and Euros every couple of years. I love reading the papers before the World Cup that tell me that Wayne Rooney is at his peak. I love not understanding why our clocks go forward and backward every now and again. I love trilby hats. I love speakers corner. I love hearing the sound of an ice cream van. I love that we are part of Europe. I love Devon and Cornwall. I love our charity days like Red Nose day and Children in need. I love the National Health Service. I love that we are a country that still cares for it’s sick and injured. I love that we are a nation of compassion and acceptance rather than distrust, dogmatic individualism and miserable hatred. I love great British comedians like the Pythons, and Spike Milligan and comedies like Blackadder and Only Fools. I love our sense of humour. I love our sarcasm. I love talking to random people on the park when i’m taking the dog for a run. I love our political music like The Clash and The Jam. I love London. I love bike rides around England. I love black cabs. I love that on one long road just outside of Brighton there is a church, a mosque, a synagogue and a gay bar a little further down, and no problems arise. I love that we have minimum wage. I love the BBC. I love how overly excited our papers get when Wimbledon begins. I love our poets like Wordsworth and Byron. I love that Darwin was English. I love traditional English breakfasts. I love that we do not care what our leaders’ religious beliefs are. I love random games of football on the park. I love our regional colloquialisms. I love the words of Shakespeare and Milton.

I highlighted “I love how we are a mash of cultural differences and historical struggles” because I think it raises an important point. We have never been a single culture, that is now being “eroded“. You cannot erode something that is not static. We have always been a mash of cultures constantly updating and changing. There have been times when those in control or those sporting racist and xenophobic views have tried to impose uniformity, but Britain is great because we have always rejected uniformity in that sense. I will give you an example.

For the majority of English history, since the year 0, this country has been Catholic. Our history, is Catholicism.
Before the 1530s, England was a Catholic nation. The Catholic church was a predominant feature of every community within England. It’s Latin mass, it’s imagery and it’s elaborate dressings along with it’s rituals and rites were what defined England. We weren’t really a nation state at all. We were a vassal of Rome, in all honesty. Given that our own King could not divorce without the permission of the Pope, suggests that ultimately, control lay with Rome. The English people liked it that way. That was England. That was our culture.

During the Reformation Parliaments of the 1530s, the preambles to the statutes written by Thomas Cromwell, try to rewrite this culture, to suit their own needs. The break from Rome and establishment of an English Church would have been massive. Within the space of three years during the 1530s, the entire English system of power, law, and the basis of community had changed beyond recognition. The Henrician church and the Roman Catholic Church were vastly different systems of control and belief.

According to historian Sir William Holdsworth:

“The preamble to the Statute of Appeals is remarkable.. because it manufactures history upon an unprecedented scale.”

Anyone who happened to disagree with the King’s god-given right above the Pope, to be “Supreme Head of the Church in England“, was swiftly and quite horrifically dealt with. It did not bother Henry or Cromwell or Cranmer or any of the other reformers within Court, that the vast majority of the English public, did not believe the King had power above that of the Pope. English culture, for over a millenium, put the Pope as their true ruler, and no one else. Catholicism, (which by the way, was brought to us by immigrants – the Romans, after Claudius invasion of the Country) was so ingrained in the minds of the public, that people like Thomas More were willing to die for their opposition to Cromwell’s reform, rather than betray their beliefs.

The preamble by Cromwell, to the Act of Supremacy of 1534 intriguingly tries to force opinion again, rewrites history, imposes the Act as objective truth (so much so that the accompanying Treason Act made it punishable by death to say the King was not Supreme head of the Church, or talk about the Pope being Head before him), and one wonders whether Cromwell would have gone this far, had the Pope granted Henry his divorce from Catherine in the first place:

“Albeit the king’s Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England, and so is recognized by the clergy of this realm in their convocations.”

I cannot express just how momentous a change this Reformation Parliament truly was. We were now completely cut off from the Church in Rome, and therefore, cut off from Europe in it’s entirety. Propaganda from the government of Henry made it an offence to be Catholic.

A little over fifteen years later, after Henry had backtracked a little, adding more confusion to what it meant to be English; his son Edward was a child, and only allowed to read books by Protestant writers. He grew up anti-Catholic. When the Duke of Northumberland became the defacto King whilst Edward was still too young, the first thing he did, was rid the council of anyone who still held even slightly Catholic views. After Edward died, Mary then tried to revert back to Catholicism and rejoin the jurisdiction of Rome. Elizabeth, after Mary, settled the dispute, and created a settlement that held mainly Protestant beliefs, but incorporated Catholic beliefs too, although the authority of the Pope was still denied.

The point of this, is that we have never been one single minded Nation. We have always been a mesh of different beliefs and forced uniformity. Catholics viewed Protestants with suspicion in the same way that those racists who claim to be pro-British now view Islam. Irrational fear. There is nothing English about it. We have always updated, and we have always been in a constant state of change, there is no single identity. English culture is created by it’s people, and it is changed and updated with every passing generation. The people can be Catholic, Pagan, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Sikh, Black, White, Asian, Gay, Straight, fat or thin. It doesn’t matter. That is what makes Britain great, and it is the one thing I love most about this country.


Rome

April 18, 2010

As you stroll down the rather beautiful Via Del Circus Massimo, you are presented with churches on your left, and the Circus Maximus on your right with the ruins of the palaces of antiquity looming on the Palatine overhead. If you take a left at the end of the famous arena that is now simply a big field, you are on Via Dell’Area Massima di Ercole, and on your left is a large building that now houses theatre props and equipment. It stands as a rather ordinary building in the centre of the City. Not many people realise that underneath it, still stands an old Pagan temple built by the cult of Mithra around 200ad.

Much of what we see in Rome today, left over by the Roman era, is a teardrop in the ocean of what actually still exists underground. Since the end of the Roman Empire, their successors (the Byzantines among others) have preserved the old city of Rome and simply built on top of it. Vast Roman streets and slums have been preserved under ground. Archeologists predict that only 10% of the underground Rome has been found, which is incredibly exciting for those of us who have an interest in Roman history.

I have been to Rome twice. And whilst I haven’t yet been to cities like Milan or Venice or Paris, I cannot imagine any City being greater than Rome. You get the instantaneous feeling that you are standing in a truly eternal city. The epicentre of two great empires; Rome and Catholicism. It is a surreal feeling.

Sat at a little Italian cafe, with violinists playing in the centre of the complex, looking out at the architecture of Bernini at the Piazza Navona is quite honestly indescribable. Beauty and history are two very complementary subjects.

As you walk through the centre of the Roman World; the Forum, you get a feeling that you have been transported back through history. You start to feel that you are standing in the spot where Sulla struck fear as a much hated tyrant. Where Cicero would have stood. Where Caesar would have strolled arrogantly, proclaiming himself some sort of God. Where Octavian would have rode gallantly through the main area draped in robes and cheered through the streets by hundreds of thousands of supporters, having defeated Marc Antony and “saved” Rome. And later, where the people would have almost hero worshiped Claudius and Trajan and Hadrian. It is so seeped in history, it is almost like walking onto a film set because it doesn’t seem real.

The Catholic section of the City is just as amazing. I am always in two frames of mind about Catholic Rome. On the one hand, it is beautiful. The Sistine Chapel, the Raphael rooms, and the architecture again by Bernini among others, is simply stunning. It is unrivaled anywhere on the planet. The atmosphere as the sun sets behind St Peters is something I don’t think I will forget any time soon. However, the very foundation of the Catholic Church is built on oppression and quite horrendous violence. I cannot imagine Jesus would be proud of Catholicism, if he stood in the centre of St Peters square and viewed with astonishment the great wealth they have accumulated in his name.

The Trevi fountain is locked away in Trevi Square, a tightly boxed area surrounded by cafes filled with Italian businessmen on cell phones, and lovers surrounding the fountain itself having their memories recorded on camera. It lights up at night. The Baroque Architect Nicola Salvi is responsible for the fountain. Although his work mimics that of Bernini whose undertaking of the creation of the fountain died with him (as you can tell i’m quite the fan of Bernini) The fountain depicts the Roman god of the sea, Neptune on a chariot made of shells being pulled by two horses. The horses’ moods reflect the moods of the sea directed by Neptune. One is angry and abrasive, the other is calm and uninterested. Whilst built about two hundred years after the Renaissance period, the statue seems to adhere entirely to Renaissance architecture, ignoring the common Baroque use of Neptune as a servant to City state propaganda (see “Neptune offers the wealth of the sea to Venice” by Tiepolo for typical Baroque depictions of Neptune). When it comes to the Trevi Fountain, Neptune is always in control, as in Roman myth. The myth comes to life, when you stand in front of the fountain and visualise the statue as if it had come to life.

I cannot describe in words just how I feel when i’m in Rome. I owe it to my love of Roman and Catholic history. Words on a page in books on the subjects that I read, suddenly become reality when stood in the City itself. It is a wonderful feeling. I cannot recommend Rome enough.

GO!!!!!