Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

SIMON HEFFER has been arguing that Enoch Powell's `rivers of blood' speech was warning against the dangers not of racism but of multiculturalism. But what does multiculturalism mean? If its opposite is monoculturalism, no Westerner has lived in a monoculture for a very long time.

In about AD 58, Paul was arrested by the Roman authorities in Jerusalem for causing a riot. Claudius Lysias, garrison commander, ordered him to be flogged. As he was being tied up, Paul revealed that he was a Roman citizen, who had been found guilty on no charge. Claudius was summoned, and in the ensuing exchange revealed that he (Claudius) had bought his citizenship. Paul replied, `It was mine by birth.'

Paul was a Jew. He had been born in Tarsus, an important city in the province of Cilicia (south-east Turkey) which had become part of the Roman empire from 102 Bc, and he had inherited his status as a citizen from his father, by birth. We have to reconstruct Claudius Lysias' history, but he was probably a Greek, from the eastern Mediterranean, who had been a slave under the emperor Claudius. He must have done well in that position, bought his freedom and thus inherited the status of his master, as was normal in such cases. …

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