Blog Watch: No Umpire for the Empire



Our redivivus is really a zealot, it seems. He can’t stop posting; see his newest blunder here (archived). We’re not getting tired of wanna-be savants (see our previous articles here and here), but it’s obvious to us that the man is a lost cause. So here are just a couple of quick final points.

Criticism. A.P. alleges that Carotta shows an interest in his humble blog, because A.P.’s criticism matters to him. First of all, it’s not A.P.’s blog that’s “humble”, but the criticism itself; please translate “humble” as: insignificant, biased, undocumented, etc. Secondly, our rebuttals don’t come from Carotta, but from Divus Iulius, who thinks that His successor Antoninus is not a Pius at all, but an impius who is dishonoring the title of Roman Emperor. He needn’t worry, though: all good things go by three, and it’s likely that there will not be another return coming from our side of the imperial court. But he may feel free to serve again: we do appreciate that Carotta’s theory receives attention—whether positive or negative doesn’t really matter. So we would like to thank A.P. in advance for any future blunders.

Transposition. It is surprising that the term diegetic transposition would appear “intimidating” to Antoninus “Pius”, who as a Roman Emperor was utriusque linguae peritus, and had no difficulty understanding the meaning of the Greek word diêgêsis. Anyway, the great French narratologist, who framed the theory of the diegetic transposition, is well known and cited here (Genette 1982 in Carotta 2008, 1, n. 1). The work for A.P. to refer to is Genette’s fundamental book, not the Merriam Webster.

Statue. That the statue, which had been placed on the base with the inscription PARENTI OPTIME MERITO, was lost, shouldn’t surprise anyone. A lot of ancient bases were preserved, but not the statues, of course, and with most of the few preserved statues we don’t know on which base they were originally placed. But what we do know is the reaction that this Caesar statue with the above inscription provoked in Cicero. So we can conclude how it looked like. That important scholars like the renowned archeologist Erika Simon thought it possible that the Caesar Torlonia was a copy of the Parenti Optime Merito statue, is relevant, even if Simon were wrong—what isn’t disputed among scholars?!—, because it indicates how the real statue would have looked like—according to the important scholars.

Inscription. The inscription Archiereos Megistos is not tautological: the Greeks who wrote it, knew their language better than A.P., we have to suppose. If they wrote Archiereos Megistos instead of only Archiereus, they must have had a reason, which is obviously that they wanted to make clear they were speaking of the Roman highest pontiff, the Pontifex Maximus, and not of one of the many other archiereis, which you could come across in each ancient town. The fact that there is only one inscription with the complete title, and without contraction, does not indicate that it was not used in liturgical prayers and chants, as it is proven by comparisons with other religions; cf. e.g.: “Les appellations mystiques prennent place dans les oraisons et dans les chants de la liturgie bien avant de figurer sur les dédicaces” (Graillot H. 1912. Le culte de Cybèle Mère des Dieux à Rome et dans l’Empire Romain, Paris, 221). According to this law the contraction Christos would have appeared on inscriptions only much later. This is a further blunder by A.P., and it shows that he doesn’t even rudimentarily know the art of textual criticism.

Chrêstós. Here A.P. has really dug himself into a hole. After making a fool of himself by originally citing two more of Plutarch’s chrêstoi, Alexander and Caecilius Metellus, without noticing that they were both deified like Caesar, he now presents even more, and it’s another piece of evidence that he’s essentially a clueless fraud. He expands the illustrious list with Mark Antony, whom he calls an “arch-villain” (sic!), and of course he ignores something important again, namely that in the Greek East he was greeted as a “New Dionysos”, i.e. also as a God. Furthermore A.P. mentions even the populus Romanus in this context, as yet another allegedly insignificant chrêstós. However, the Roman people’s sacrosanctitas was even more certain and fundamental than that of all the Gods combined, as the hypostasis shows, the Dea Roma. So here we have witnessed yet another own-goal of our incurable parrot. He again has missed a good opportunity to remain silent.

Manger. This one is as telling. Of course there are two Gospel accounts speaking of a manger, but they don’t “go back” to it: they go “ahead”, as Carotta shows. The two gospels with the manger are not independent. They are based on Mark, which is why they are called “synoptical”, and they only added some more pieces of the story to their own gospel, from the famous Q, sondergut, etc. More relevant here is the fact, that Mark and John, i.e. both the independent gospels, do not have the manger. The reason is shown by Carotta: the manger belongs to the infancy narrative of the other Caesar, Julius’ heir, Octavianus, the later Augustus, born ad capita bubula, and raised in a small rural cella as a young child—hence the “manger”, and the ox in auxiliary traditions. Here again A.P. has shown that he didn’t read the book at all, because Carotta does dedicate a couple of pages to the infancy narrative of Caesar Augustus. And just for the record: the use of Augustus’ infancy narrative in the Gospel Nativity was well-known before Carotta, something that A.P. also ignores.

Dear student: read first, criticize later—not the other way round, as you have consistently done.