Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross

Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross

Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross

Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross

Synopsis

Crucifixion - in the ancient world and the folly of the message of the cross.

Excerpt

Crucifixion was already, as in Rome, the punishment for serious crimes against the state and for high treason among the Persians, to some degree in Greece and above all among the Carthaginians. That is, it was a religious-political punishment, with the emphasis falling on the political side; however, the two aspects cannot yet be separated in the ancient world. It was a source of wonder to the Romans that the Carthaginians (unlike the Romans themselves) tended to crucify especially generals and admirals who had either been defeated or who proved too wilful. Crucifixion was also a means of waging war and securing peace, of wearing down rebellious cities under siege, of breaking the will of conquered peoples and of bringing mutinous troops or unruly provinces under control. In contrast to the Carthaginians, the Romans as a rule spared their own nobility and Roman citizens, but otherwise their practice was the same. And we must ask whether at the main crises of the Civil War the threat of crucifixion did not sometimes become a reality.

Polybius 1.11.5; 1.24.6; 1.74.9 etc.; Livy 38.48.12: ubi in crucemtolli
imperatores dicuntur (where generals are said to be crucified); cf. Valerius
Maximus 2.7 ext. 1; Justin, Epitome 18.7.15; Livy 28.37.2.

Crucifixions at the sacking or siege of cities: see p. 22 n.1: Babylon;
pp.691.: Barca in Cyrenaica; p.73: Tyre (by Alexander); pp. 25f. n.17:
Jerusalem (by Titus and Varus). The fortress of Machaerus was forced
into surrender in exchange for safe conduct by the threat of crucifying a
prisoner, p. 8.

See Cicero, Philippicae 13.21 against Marcus Antonius: hostis
taeterrimus omnibus bonis cruces ac tormenta minitatur (a most hideous
enemy is threatening all good men with crucifixion and torture); Lucan,
De Bello Civili 7.303f.: Caesar's speech before Pharsalus:

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