Empire, Oil, and Disaster - blog about my new book

A religious sect getting more and more attention of the world. Jews in the Middle East already have problems with them. Coincidentally, a terrible terract happens in the largest city of the empire. The same religious sect is blamed for it. The year is 64 AD. The sect is Christians. The place is Rome of the emperor Nero.
Beware of September Ides!

Location: United States

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New 2006 Year!

I wish you all a great year.

By the way, the first book of "The Third Day of September Ides" is already edited and it's going to be published really soon, in first quarter.

Happy New Year!



Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Last Judean High Priests

The [1] gives the following list between the ill-famous Caiaphas – you know, AD 33 and around – and to the last High Priest at the time when Titus destroyed the Temple. Although the source looks like the book XX of “Antiquities of the Jews” by Josephus Flavius, the actual list is the latest comment to the book, and I was not able to check this list нуе. But anyway, it contains
  • Jonathas, who was allegedly killed by the order of procurator Felix, or, may be, by sicarii,
  • Ismael, who was retained in Rome as a hostage after petitioning in the conflist with Festus, and
  • Ananias, who was killed by the rebels.

These three give us approximate dates to base the story line. Here is the whole list:

  • Josephus Caiaphas, the son-in-law to Ananus.
  • Jonathan, the son of Ananus.
  • Theophilus, his brother, and son of Ananus.
  • Simon, the son of Boethus.
  • Matthias, the brother of Jonathan, and son of Ananus.
  • Aljoneus.
  • Josephus, the son of Camydus.
  • Ananias, the son of Nebedeus.
  • Jonathas. ?-62
  • Ismael, the son of Fabi. 62-?
  • Joseph Cabi, the son of Simon.
  • Ananus, the son of Artanus. ?-66
  • Jesus, the son of Damnetas.
  • Jesus, the son of Gamaliel.
  • Matthias, the son of Theophilus.
  • Phannias, the son of Samuel.
As a reminder, at the time described by the books, Ananus also spelled as Ananius seems to be the High Priest.

[1] http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-20.htm


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Yosef Ben-Matityahu (37 AD – c.100 AD)

Yosef Ben-Matityahu a.k.a. Joseph, son of Matthias, a.k.a. Flavius Josephus, is an interesting and somewhat controversial figure of the time described in the book. We remember him as a historian and the author of “Judean War” and “Jewish Antiquities”, but his life seems to be deeply entwined with many historical personages of the time.

Somewhere in 62/63 at the age of 26 he came to Rome to free Jewish priests that were sent there by procurator Felix and held there by Nero. Here is what Joseph writes about this mission: “And when I had thus escaped, and was come to Dieearchia, which the Italians call Puteoli, I became acquainted with Aliturius, an actor of plays, and much beloved by Nero, but a Jew by birth; and through his interest became known to Poppea, Caesar's wife, and took care, as soon as possible, to entreat her to procure that the priests might be set at liberty. And when, besides this favor, I had obtained many presents from Poppea, I returned home again.

Actually, it seems that “when, besides this favor” was quite a time. He returned somewhere in 65 AD, the year described in the second book, when Judea was already close to the boiling point and merely a year until the revolt. Few things catching the eye here: “Aliturius … much beloved by Nero”, “I had obtained many presents from Poppea”. It sounds almost like he does not want to admit something in public, but cannot resist a temptation to hint at it… although for contemporaries, “beloved by Nero” was hard to call merely a hint. Especially after Nero married one of his “beloved” actors. “Many presents from Poppea” also sounds somewhat ambiguous, especially keeping in mind that Joseph was the petitioner on the whole affair. What were these presents for?

Well, I think you’ve got the idea. When he gets to Judea in 65, he becomes a general in the revolt. When Vespasian surrounded and captured the city of Jotapata in July 67, Joseph and his brothers-in-arms decided to kill themselves before surrendering, and everybody except Josephus committed suicide. According to controversial sources, Joseph fixed the lot to be the last one, and once everybody was dead, surrendered. Then he claimed that the prophecy (of a king coming from Judea that started the war) actually applies to Vespasian. This flattery saved his life and Vespasian held him as a hostage, interpreter, and collaborator. Eventually, Joseph got his freedom, Roman citizenship and became the author of several books of history that made him remembered until our days.

Now, an interesting question: after his first mission to Rome, he returned to Judea in 65 AD, that’s the time when Nil, Benjamin and Isidora are going to Judea. Travel was not safe in ancient times. In fact, Joseph almost drowned on the way to Rome when his ship, with 160 more passengers, sank in Adriatic Sea. Going with a Roman official was much safer, if he would care to pick up a Jewish priest as his fellow traveler. Which is quite possible considering Poppaea’s affection to him, as well as that Joseph certainly was in contact with Benjamin’s teacher, ben-Ata. And if Nil and Isidora took him “into the work” during this trip, would it explain his later behavior? I wonder…


[1] Wikipedia:
[2] The Life Of Flavius Josephus, (3)
[3] The Works of Flavius Josephus - Translated by William Whiston
[4] The Works of Josephus
[5] Flavius Josephus Home Page
[6] A Chronology of the Life of Josephus and his Era

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Throwing trash on a new Year

Long ago I’ve heard about a funny Italian custom to throw trash out of windows on a New Year Eve for a good luck. Lately, I walked over an interesting information ([1]) that may light up the history of this custom. Here are the quotes:

“Modern Date : June 15th Market Day”

“This day concludes the previous weeks of religious celebration and purification, and on this day the accumulated trash of the festivals was thrown, ceremoniously, into the Tiber. This was as symbolic of final purification as it was necessary by this time.”

“This is the ancient Egyptian New Year's Day. On this day the Dog Star (Sirius) rises for the first time just before dawn. This event heralded the first flooding of the Nile (usually).”

Interesting, isn’t it? The day followed festivals of Diana, Vesta and Mater Matuta, not to mention several single-day celebrations. So, throwing trash was a quite functional action. Of course, throwing trash into a river does not combine in our minds with purification, but, well, clearly there was not Green party in the Ancient Rome, so let’s just consider it a cultural difference.

Incidentally, the same day was the Egyptian New Year, and Egypt was considered a source of mysteries and magic. What people want on a New Year? Good luck. So, with the time, quite an utilitarian custom of throwing trash on that day combined with a magical mysterious Egyptian New Year become a magical act to obtain a good luck.

Was it really the reason for that Italian custom? It’s hard to say. Could be.

[1] Roman Calendar, June 11

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