The Case of the Fresh Fillet and Crispy Sprats

Richard Stanley

Administrator
Part 1

For some time I have mentioned Juvenal's Satire IV as Domitian's Big Fish Story. It's possible that I may have been too hasty in making this about Domitian, yet an important meeting was held at his summer villa, which now belongs to the papacy. I should have done this some time ago, but I was too hasty, letting a summarized translation suffice, when it nowhere came close to doing it justice. Cui bono? Thanks to my re-reading of Joseph Atwill's discussions of Juvenal's satires in his Caesar's Messiah, I was inspired anew. Fortunately, my overall conclusion stays the same, but I missed a lot of important and bolstering detail, albeit that my first readings of this, as well as some other materials may not have provided me the same benefit. Now I have read a better translation of Juvenal's Satire IV and what a difference.

In the first paragraph, in addition to learning that a man named Crispinus is a lecher, he has been responsible for the live burial of a Vestal Virgin, wearing her vitta or sacrificial 'fillet'. We know she is buried alive, because this was the Roman punishment for a violated Vestal Virgin, and Juvenal tells us her blood is still warm.

Crispinus once again! a man whom I shall often have to call on to the scene, a prodigy of wickedness without one redeeming virtue; a sickly libertine, strong only in his lusts, which scorn none save the unwedded. What matters it then how spacious are the colonnades which tire out his horses, how large the shady groves in which he drives, how many acres near the Forum, how many palaces, he has bought? No bad man can be happy: least of all the incestuous seducer with whom lately lay a filleted 1 priestess, doomed to pass beneath the earth with the blood still warm within her veins.

Rufrius Crispinus was commander of the Praetorian Guard under Claudius, who Juvenal cryptically tells us is from Egypt. The Wikipedia link tells it is thought that he came to Rome as a fish merchant. How fitting for this tale and in other ways. In any case, Agrippina the Younger (the fourth wife of Claudius) removed him from his position as she regarded him as loyal to Messalina's (the third wife of Claudius and cousin to Nero) memory. Crispinus went on to marry Poppaea Sabina, the future wife of Nero. They would get divorced, and then as Josephus Flavius tells it he would later become friendly with Poppaea while she was married to Nero (after she had also married a future brief emperor, Otho.

Today I shall tell of a less heinous deed, though had any other man done the like, he would fall under the censor's lash: for what would be shameful in good men like Seius or Teius sat gracefully on Crispinus. What can you do when the man himself is more foul and monstrous than any charge you can bring against him? Crispinus bought a mullet for six thousand sesterces----one thousand sesterces for every pound of fish, as those would say who make big things bigger in the telling of them. I could commend the man's cunning if by such a lordly gift he secured the first place in the will of some childless old mail, or, better still, sent it to some great lady who rides in a close, broad-windowed litter. But nothing of the sort; he bought it for himself: we see many a thing done nowadays which poor niggardly Apicius 2 never did. What? Did you, Crispinus----you who once wore a strip of your native papyrus round your loins----give that price for a fish? A price bigger than you need have paid for the fisherman himself, a price for which you might buy a whole estate in some province, or a still larger one in Apulia. What kind of feasts are we to suppose were guzzled by our Emperor himself when all those thousands of sesterces----forming a small fraction, a mere side-dish of a modest entertainment----were belched up by a purple-clad parasite of the august Palace----one who is now Chief of the Knights, and who once used to hawk, at the top of his voice, a broken lot of his fellow-countrymen the sprats? Begin, Calliope! let us take our seats. This is no mere fable, but a true tale that is being told; tell it forth, ye maidens of Pieria, and let it profit me that I have called you maids!

The "maidens of Piera", are the Greek Muses, of which Piera is one of their cult centers. These including Calliope, the very chief of the Muses. So what is Juvenal telling us in this sentence. In honoring these goddesses of Thracian yore, albeit always depicted as being young, just how should we interpret 'mere fable' and 'true tale'? Especially as a 'sprat' is a small fish. He is comparing men to being small fish. So what to make of this 6 pound fish ... and a 'filleted' priestess?

What time the last of the Flavii was flaying the half-dying world, and Rome was enslaved to a bald-headed Nero,3 there fell into a net in the sea of Hadria, in front of the shrine of Venus that stands in Dorian Ancona, a turbot of wondrous size, filling up all its meshes,----a fish no less huge than those which the lake Maeotis conceals beneath the ice till it is broken up by the sun, and then sends forth, torpid through sloth and fattened by long cold, to the mouths of the Pontic sea. This monster the master of the boat and line designs for the High Pontiff 4; for who would dare to put up for sale or to buy so big a fish in days when even the sea shores were crowded with informers? The inspectors of sea-weed would straightway have taken the law of the poor fisherman, ready to affirm that the fish was a run-away that had long feasted in Caesar's fishponds; escaped from thence, he must needs be restored to his former master. For if Palfurius 5 is to be believed, or Armillatus,5 every rare and beautiful thing in the wide ocean, in whatever sea it swims, belongs to the Imperial Treasury. The fish therefore, that it be not wasted, shall be given as a gift.

758

We are now told that, curiously in relation to both 'bad boys' Domitian and the earlier Nero, a net 'fell' into the Adriatic Sea, in front of the shrine of Venus at Dorian Ancona, and a huge fish finds its way into the net. This monster fish has been fattening up for some time, yet at the beginning of the satire, it was only 6 pounds.

However, we've already figured out that these 'fish' are humans. This fish, the "master of the ship" has designs on the office of the Pontifex Maximus, the religious high priest of both pagan Rome and the later Roman Catholic Church, the universal church of amalgamated paganism covered with a Judaic gloss. Furthermore, the fish is reputed to have been a run-away from Caesar's fishponds, had escaped, and should be restored to his former master. It seems that it is decided that Crispinus must offer the fish back to Caesar, Domitian, as a gift.

End of Part 1
 
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Seeker

Active Member
Crispinus went on to marry Poppaea Sabina, the future wife of Nero. They would get divorced
According to the Wikipedia article on Poppaea Sabina, there were two men named Rufrius Crispinus, father and son: "Poppaea's first marriage was to Rufrius Crispinus, a man of equestrian rank. They married in 44, when Poppaea was 14 years old. He was the leader of the Praetorian Guard during the first 10 years of the reign of the Emperor Claudius until 51 when Claudius' new wife Agrippina the Younger removed him from this position. Agrippina regarded him as loyal to the deceased Messalina's memory and replaced him with Sextus Afranius Burrus. Later, under Nero, he was executed. During their marriage, Poppaea gave birth to his son, a younger Rufrius Crispinus, who, after her death, would be drowned by Nero while out on a FISHING TRIP."
 

Richard Stanley

Administrator
Part 2

As I was 'saving' Part 1 I realized that Jesus made his disciples "fishers of men", but this ironic fish is rather ambitious, a fisher of the office of the then 'pagan' Pontifex Maximus. It's also a good time to remember that, as Valliant and Fahy detailed in Creating Christ, the Flavian imperial insignia was the fish and anchor, and as well the fish and anchor was The 'Christian' (or rather Chrestian) symbol centuries before the cross.

Onward!

And now death-bearing Autumn was giving way before the frosts, fevered patients were hoping for a quartan,6 and bleak winter's blasts were keeping the booty fresh; yet on sped the fisherman as though the South wind were at his heels. And when beneath him lay the lake where Alba, though in ruins, still holds the Trojan fire and worships the lesser Vesta,7 a wondering crowd barred his way for a while; as it gave way, the gates swung open on easy hinge, and the excluded Fathers gazed on the dish that had gained an entrance. Admitted to the Presence, "Receive," quoth he of Picenum, "a fish too big for a private kitchen. Be this kept as a festive day; hasten to fill out thy belly with good things, and devour a turbot that has been preserved to grace thy reign. The fish himself wanted to be caught." Could flattery be more gross? Yet the Monarch's comb began to rise: there is nothing that divine Majesty will not believe concerning itself when lauded to the skies! But no platter could be found big enough for the fish; so a council of magnates is summoned: men hated by the Emperor, and on whose faces sat the pallor of that great and perilous friendship. First to answer the Ligurian's call "Haste, haste! he is seated!" was Pegasus, hastily catching up his cloak----he that had newly been appointed as bailiff over the astonished city. For what else but bailiffs were the Prefects 8 of those days? Of whom Pegasus was the best, and the most righteous expounder of the law, though he thought that even in those dread days there should be no sword in the hand of Justice. Next to come in was the aged, genial Crispus, 9 whose gentle soul well matched his style of eloquence. No better adviser than he for the ruler of lands and seas and nations had he been free, under that scourge and plague, to denounce cruelties and proffer honest counsels. But what can be more dangerous than the ear of a tyrant on whose caprice hangs the life of a friend who has come to talk of the rain or the heat or the showery spring weather? So Crispus never struck out against the torrent, nor was he one to speak freely the thoughts of his heart, and stake his life upon the truth. Thus was it that he lived through many winters and saw his eightieth solstice, protected, even in that Court, by weapons such as these.

Interestingly, we are provided the detail that winter frosts are in effect, so this allows the big fish to not spoil on the land journey from Ancona to Domitian's villa south of Rome. Was this detail aded to add plausible deniability to literalism? Or, are we witness to some similar esoteric element as Christ, and mythic pals, being born on the Winter Solstice?

Next, we're told that the fish, once six pounds, is too big for a private kitchen to handle, and that the fish wanted to be caught. This all seems to be said in order to flatter Domitian, the Monarch. And apparently it worked. The meeting, we are told, is set with Domitian's advisors, none of whom seem to be comfortable with Domitian and vice-versa. So, perhaps, if we are to believe this framing, Domitian is being used, not part of the 'cult' trying to establish the new religion, as such as Bartram claim. Or, maybe this is what readers are suppose to believe?

I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; (1 Corinthians 1: 14 KJV)​

Next above, we get to one Crispus, a Latin name remarkably like Crispinus, and who is also a name out of the NT, an associate of Paul's. He is not only converted from Judaism in Corinth, but Crispus is the leader of the synagogue there. Are these two separate 'Crispus' individuals sharing one name? Or, are we witness again to Imperial court personages appearing in the Bible. Which, BTW, Atwill asserts that the associates of gospel Jesus are statistically necessarily from the family of the Maccabees. We'll come back to Crispus and Crispinus later.

Next to him hurried Acilius, of like age as himself, and with him the youth 10 who little merited the cruel death that was so soon hurried on by his master's sword. But to be both young and noble has long since become a prodigy; hence I would rather be a giant's 11 little brother. Therefore it availed the poor youth nothing that he speared Numidian bears, stripped as a huntsman upon the Alban arena. For who nowadays would not see through patrician tricks? Who would now marvel, Brutus, at that old-world cleverness of yours? 12 'Tis an easy matter to befool a king that wears a beard.

Aha, we are being told again that the king is being decieved. The Brutus being referred to is not the assassin that killed Julius Caesar, but rather his ancestor, who allegedly killed the last king of the Tarquin's Julius Caesar's alleged ancestor. And note the additional parallel between Julius Caesar and Jesus with King David. BTW, in this regard, Atwill has something amazing, for another thread, to say about gospel Jesus really being tied to Aaron and not to David. This seems to align nicely with Flavio Barbiero's claim about Aaron and Moses.

"For who nowadays would not see through patrician tricks?" Say what!!!!


No more cheerful in face, though of ignoble blood, came Rubrius, condemned long since of a crime that may not be named, and yet more shameless than a reprobate who should write satire. There too was present the unwieldy frame of Montanus; and Crispinus, reeking at early dawn with odours enough to out-scent two funerals; more ruthless than he Pompeius,13 whose gentle whisper would cut men's throats; and Fuscus,14 who planned battles in his marble halls, keeping his flesh for the Dacian vultures. Then along with the sage Veiento came the death-dealing Catullus,15 who burnt with love for a maiden whom he had never seen----a mighty and notable marvel even in these days of ours: a blind flatterer, a dire courtier from a beggar's stand, well fitted to beg at the wheels of chariots and blow soft kisses to them as they rolled down the Arician hill. None marvelled more at the fish than he, turning to the left as he spoke; only the creature happened to be on his right. In like fashion would he commend the thrusts of a Cilician gladiator, or the machine which whisks up the boys into the awning.
But Veiento was not to be outdone; and like a seer inspired, O Bellona, by thine own gadfly, he bursts into prophecy: "A mighty presage hast thou, O Emperor! of a great and glorious victory. Some King will be thy captive; or Arviragus 16 will be hurled from his British chariot. The brute is foreign-born: dost thou not see the prickles bristling upon his back?" Nothing remained for Fabricius but to tell the turbot's age and birthplace.

Well now, these are some rough characters attending this meeting with their hated emperor. And as Praetorians have been known to take out their emperor, does Crispinus (the Younger perhaps?) have some ill feelings towards Domitian? And then we get some strange prophecy which a Sybil would have trouble matching for being cryptic, regarding a fish at least. And how would Fabricius know the age and birthplace of a fish?

"What then do you advise?" quoth the Emperor. "Shall we cut it up?" "Nay, nay," rejoins Montanus; "let that indignity be spared him. Let a deep vessel be provided to gather his huge dimensions within its slender walls; some great and unforeseen Prometheus is destined for the dish! Haste, haste, with clay and wheel! but from this day forth, O Caesar, let potters always attend upon thy camp!" This proposal, so worthy of the man, gained the day. Well known to him were the old debauches of the Imperial Court, which Nero carried on to midnight till a second hunger came and veins were heated with hot Falernian. No one in my time had more skill in the eating art than he. He could tell at the first bite whether an oyster had been bred at Circeii, or on the Lucrine rocks, or on the beds of Rutupiae;17 one glance would tell him the native shore of a sea-urchin.
The Council rises, and the councillors are dismissed: men whom the mighty Emperor had dragged in terror and hot haste to his Alban castle, as though to give them news of the Chatti, or the savage Sycambri,18 or as though an alarming despatch had arrived on wings of speed from some remote quarter of the earth.
And yet would that he had rather given to follies such as these all those days of cruelty when he robbed the city of its noblest and choicest souls, with none to punish or avenge! He could steep himself in the blood of the Lamiae; 19 but when once he became a terror to the common herd he met his doom.20

The meeting ends, and Domitian survives, yet we are told that he meets his end when he becomes a terror to the common herd. So, at the end of the satire we're led to believe that the whole thing is about the fate of Domitian. Nero's debauches are invoked, including literal references to his eating excesses, but since Juvenal is obviously writing after Domitian is gone, why not detail Domitian's excesses? If a fish is not a fish, then might we suspect that Juvenal has invoked this meeting of enemies as a rhetorical cover, again, to disguise that the fish has a deeper meaning. Supposedly Domitian spared Juvenal's life, by exiling him, rather than killing him. And why would Domitian, with his bloody reputation considering his family and friends, prefer to be in the close company of so many why hate him?

As I have been covering on the Cleopatra to Christ thread with Atwill's coverage of Juvenal's satires, many of them seem to refer to Christianity' (Chrestianity). So, why not Satire IV?

Why ponder over the development and history of the fish, a fish that was once the slave of a caesar, or if he should be returned to the current Caesar? What sense does this make if the whole point was about the fate of Domitian?
 

Richard Stanley

Administrator
Part 3

Here is how Joseph Atwill handled Satire IV, of which he oddly attributed it uniquely different (The Sixteen Satires, 4) than the other satires (e.g. Satire X, etc.) he referenced:

If the authors of the Gospels were being less than transparent when they referred to the Jewish rebels as fish, they were at least using a metaphor common in the first century. For example, Rabban (chief Rabbi) Gamaliel spoke of his disciples through a parable in which they were compared to four different kinds of fish—an unclean fish, a clean fish, a fish from the river Jordan, and a fish from the sea. Roman authors also used the metaphor. Juvenal, a contemporary Roman poet, specifically compares fugitive slaves and informers to fish.40 [The reference to Satire IV -rs]​
The structure of the comedy is important. Jesus speaks of "catching men" in a seemingly symbolic sense. Josephus then records that Jesus was indeed a "true" prophet. His vision of "catching men" at Gennesareth did come to pass, the joke being that it came to pass literally, and not in the symbolic manner that Jesus seemed to have meant with the phrase. This is the most common structure of the humor created by reading the New Testament in conjunction with War of the Jews. (Caesar's Messiah, First Edition, pg. 40)​

As to Rabban Gamaliel, we indeed see him discussing fish metaphors for his various levels of disciples. The highest is a fish .. found in the sea. Hmmm!! Might a fish like this want to jump in a net?

And from Michael L. Rodkinson (Ed,), New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud (1900), pp. 138-139:

As to disciples, R. Gamaliel the elder compares them to the following four kinds of fish: an unclean, a clean fish, a fish found in the Jordan, and one found in the Ocean. By an unclean fish is meant a disciple of poor intellect, who, notwithstanding his study of Scripture, Mishna, Halakhoth, and Agadoth, still remains poor-minded. By a clean fish is meant a disciple of rich intellect, who studies Scripture, Mishna, Halakhoth, and Agadoth, and develops his mind. By a fish from the Jordan is meant a scholar who has studied all the mentioned subjects, but has not acquired the faculty of answering questions put to him. And by a fish found in the Ocean is meant a scholar who studied all the above subjects and has the ability of answering the questions put to him.

From Wikipedia:

The Acts of the Apostles introduces Gamaliel as a Pharisee and celebrated doctor of the Mosaic Law in Acts 5:34–40. In the larger context (vs.17–42), Peter and the other apostles are described as being prosecuted before the Sanhedrin for continuing to preach the gospel despite the Jewish authorities having previously prohibited it. The passage describes Gamaliel as presenting an argument against killing the apostles, reminding them about the previous revolts of Theudas and Judas of Galilee, which had collapsed quickly after the deaths of those individuals. Gamaliel's advice was accepted after his concluding argument:
"And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." —Acts 5:38–39
The Book of Acts later goes on to describe Paul the Apostle recounting that although "born in Tarsus", he was brought up in Jerusalem "at the feet of Gamaliel, [and] taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers" (Acts 22:3).

And from Jewish tradition:

In the Talmud, Gamaliel is described as bearing the titles Nasi "prince" and Rabban "our master", as the president of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem; although some dispute this, it is not doubted that he held a senior position in the highest court in Jerusalem.[3] Gamaliel holds a reputation in the Mishnah for being one of the greatest teachers in all the annals of Judaism: "Since Rabban Gamaliel the Elder died, there has been no more reverence for the law, and purity and piety died out at the same time".[7]

[Note to fishes: His title is Nasi, meaning "prince". Egyptian NZR means "prince". Samson, the Nazarite, was a Danite "prince". Queen Helen, from Adiabene/Edessa was taking the 'Judaic' Nazarite rites. What does Nazarene mean then?]

There is controversy over Gamaliel, perhaps beginning with Paul claiming to have studied under him, and hence allegations that Gamaliel was a secret Christian. Ralph Ellis claims that Gamaliel was this indeed, his very name associated with his origins from Gamala, which Ellis asserts links back to Egypt.

What happens to this conjecture then if we also consider Ellis' 'Serial Lives' assertion that Saul/Paul is really a young Josephus Flavius? Both personas well familiar with royal courts including the Roman Imperial court. As one entity, one 'fish', this fish was connected to two different periods with the Roman court. And what human (according to himself) to have ever existed was more capable of answering questions on all these subjects? Wouldn't he be the biggest of such fish, even if he is telling whoppers?

Next, hopefully, I'll get back to Crispus and Crispinis -- saintly shoe makers and fish mongers?
 
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Seeker

Active Member
"What then do you advise?" quoth the Emperor. "Shall we cut it up?" "Nay, nay," rejoins Montanus; "let that indignity be spared him. Let a deep vessel be provided to gather his huge dimensions within its slender walls; some great and unforeseen Prometheus is destined for the dish! Haste, haste, with clay and wheel! but from this day forth, O Caesar, let potters always attend upon thy camp!" This proposal, so worthy of the man, gained the day. Well known to him were the old debauches of the Imperial Court, which Nero carried on
"Montanus" was believed by Roman Piso to be another alias of the Roman aristocrat Arrius Calpurnius Piso, who wrote as "Josephus" (as part of the Flavian writing team?), according to this theory. Piso's father was sentenced to death by Nero, and Piso himself, although he was favored by Vespasian and Titus, was eventually banished by Domitian. From memory, I believe that Piso was involved in the demise of both Nero and Domitian, using freedmen. So Juvenal's "Montanus", in the above paragraph, would actually be describing the big fish as Piso/Josephus (himself), who was not "cut up"(executed) by Domitian, but deeply hidden (banished), but he leaves "potters"(freedmen) in Domitian's camp to take care of (murder) him. Charles N. Pope of the "Domain of Man" site goes even further, and says that Josephus was another identity of Nerva, who succeeded Domitian (!!!). Thus, both the Crispinus and Piso family stories have parallels, as the fathers are condemned by Nero, but the Crispinus son does not survive his "fishing trip", while the Piso/Josephus son does, and "resurrects" with the Flavians, surviving both Nero and the entire Flavian dynasty.
 
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Richard Stanley

Administrator
That's the trouble with this cryptic stuff, too many ways to interpret.

If Piso is indeed 'Josephus', then then we have to wonder just how much of War is real, versus say cribbed mostly from the missing history of Pollio's account of JC's civil war with Pompey, the military campaign mapped onto both War and the Galilee portion of the gospels.

All of which just makes it so much more anxious waiting to see what might be released from the Piso library efforts, and/or will we have another delay as happened with the DSS?

I just added the page number reference to Atwill's commentary on Satire IV. It's page 40 and the reference number is ... '40'. Joe gnows the Shakespearean code system. ;) There must be one more '40' on the page.
 
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Seeker

Active Member
That's the trouble with this cryptic stuff, too many ways to interpret.

If Piso is indeed 'Josephus', then then we have to wonder just how much of War is real, versus say cribbed mostly from the missing history of Pollio's account of JC's civil war with Pompey, the military campaign mapped onto both War and the Galilee portion of the gospels.
Yes, I agree, and Arrius Calpurnius Piso/Josephus is also supposed to be a model for the Biblical Jesus, descended (if not a natural son of Caligula) from Julius Caesar (can this correlate somehow with Ellis?), perhaps that family connection is how Josephus got his source material, after all:

"It would seem most possible that Cneius Calpernius Piso was the son of Julius Caesar and Calpurnia Piso, thereby drawing a direct line to Arrius Piso.

JULIUS CAESAR
M. CALPURNIA PISO (LUCIA PISA) CAESONINAE
|
MARCUS GNAEUS (CNEIUS) CALPERNIUS PISO
M. PLANCINA MUNATIA
|
GAIUS CALPERNIUS PISO CAESONINAE
M. MARIAMNE (’MARY’, ARRIA THE YOUNGER)
|
ARRIUS (JOSEPHUS) CALPERNIUS PISO
M. BOIONIA SERVILA PRISCILLA"
However, Roman Piso is candid enough to admit this about Josephus:

"Josephus deliberately tries to confuse by

(1) Writing about personages out of their chronological order. Example: Speaking of King Solomon, then Vespasian (pg. 173) (Ant. of the Jews, B. VIII, Ch. II, 5).
(2) Misspelling names. Example: He even spells his own name in places “Josepos” and to see this, you will need to find the Loeb Classical Library editions of Josephus which have the Greek words spelled as they are in the earliest texts. He says: “Josepos said thus...” (pg. 569) (Wars, B. VII, Ch. II, 1). Also, see page 574 (Wars of the Jews, B. V, Ch. XIII, 3).
(3) Deliberately misleads with ‘half-truths’. Example: “He (King Herod) was by birth a Jew.” This is a half-truth and Josephus knew it. (Ref. pg. 422) (Ant. B. XX, Ch. VIII, 7). (4) He deliberately perpetuates and invents superstitious notions, ideas and beliefs
Here we have some “Fantastic Statements” by Josephus:

“... a great deal of fictitious blood was shed,” (pg. 400) (Ant. B. XIX, Ch. I, 13)
“Yet were there fictitious stories added to what was really done.” (pg. 517)
(Wars of the Jews, B. III, Ch. IX, 5)"



No wonder mainstream historians give up, and call those who investigate such matters, for hidden meanings, "conspiracy theorists".
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
That's the trouble with this cryptic stuff, too many ways to interpret.
I have the sense that Juvenal was writing the day not long after some meeting took place, and that everyone present would have immediately recognized every detail. Some would find it hilarious, others might consider it a rather poisonous lampoon. It might have been a meeting that seemed momentous enough at the time, but perhaps not so noteworthy from a distance of two thousand years. We don't have a surviving record that fits all the facts, and so we're left to guess.

Here is a link to a scholarly paper which discusses various possible interpretations, apparently recommending the possibility that the fish is St. John. The abstract is in English but the paper is in Italian, one might be able to use Google Translate to get the gist.

revistas.ucm.es/index.php/GERI/article/viewFile/GERI0000120343A/14351

Juvenal’s IV Satire is undoubtely a strong attack against Domitian, but scholars do not agree about its interpretation. Recently it has been supposed that the fish —it is the very subject of the satire and is captured and offered to the emperor, who convokes the Senate in order to decide how to cook it— represents the Vestalis Maxima Cornelia, who was put to death by Domitian because of her supposed incestus. This interpretation has the merit of evidentiate the historical and religious character of the fact to which Juvenal here intended to allude. The satire presents several references to the Christians, who were in fact persecuted by Domitian: e. g. Juvenal deplores the condemnation of Acilius Glabrio, who was put to death by Domitian with the accusation of political opposition and Christianity; he speaks of delatores, who played an important role in the anti-Christian persecution, and of cerdones, perhaps —again— the Christians; the fish could be a Christian symbol, and so on. I suppose that the satirist had here in mind the torment of St. John, who according to Tertullian and Hieronym was brought from Ephesus to Rome and put into a dolium ferventis olei: he remained alive and was then exiled to Patmos.
 
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Richard Stanley

Administrator
How does this change matters if there are no Christians, but as the achaeology suggests, only elite Chrestians at this time?

Is the focus the Vestal Virgin, escaped slaves, Domitian, Christians (who don't exist yet for centuries according to Bartram), Chrestians, or a big fish like Josephus?
 

Seeker

Active Member
I have the sense that Juvenal was writing the day after some meeting took place
I don't think so, because Juvenal adds as a postscript that Domitian was later assassinated.
The Council rises, and the councillors are dismissed: men whom the mighty Emperor had dragged in terror and hot haste to his Alban castle, as though to give them news of the Chatti, or the savage Sycambri,18 or as though an alarming despatch had arrived on wings of speed from some remote quarter of the earth.And yet would that he had rather given to follies such as these all those days of cruelty when he robbed the city of its noblest and choicest souls, with none to punish or avenge! He could steep himself in the blood of the Lamiae; 19 but when once he became a terror to the common herd he met his doom.20
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Juvenal was writing the day after some meeting took place
I don't think so
OK. To further pin down the date of the events described in the poem, Wikipedia (quoting Brian Jones's book "The Emperor Domitian") tells us that the incident with the Vestal Virgin happened in 87 AD. Acilius Glabrio was still alive when he was consul in 91, and he is still alive during the discussion about the fish. Domitian was killed in 96. Not so much later that anyone would have forgotten.

How does this change matters if there are no Christians, but as the achaeology suggests, only elite Chrestians at this time?
Perhaps there were no "Christians", but there were radical Essene Jews and Sicarii. If the elite "Chrestians" were trying to convince the Jewish radicals that Izates was the Jewish Messiah, what sort of archaeological evidence would one expect to find?
 

Seeker

Active Member
the incident with the Vestal Virgin happened in 87 AD. Acilius Glabrio was still alive when he was consul in 91, and he is still alive during the discussion about the fish. Domitian was killed in 96. Not so much later that anyone would have forgotten.
Excellent digging for dates, Jerry! The younger Glabrio was executed in 95 AD, and may have been a "Christian":
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manius_Acilius_Glabrio_(consul_91)
The "Crispus" mentioned at that meeting may have been deceased by AD 90:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucius_Junius_Quintus_Vibius_Crispus#cite_note-18
Since the father and son named Crispinus perished under Nero, it would appear that Juvenal is taking "literary license", by conflating Crispinus with Crispus, and also doing the same with the fish stories in this satire. He also "conflates" Domitian by sarcastically describing him as a "bald-headed Nero". However, if there is an esoteric meaning to this story, could the "big fish" really be Josephus, who actually had relations with both Nero and the Flavians?
 
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Richard Stanley

Administrator
Well, the big fish, who wanted to be caught and was after the Pontifex Maximus (the man or the office?), Domitian, was brought before him for judgement to be 'rendered'. It's like a trial of kangaroo sorts perhaps. But the big fish starts his (or her?) final journey before the chief of the Muses, Calliope.

But the big fish will not be cut up like Osiris, into vestal fillets. Rather a vessel will be built to contain it, awaiting some Promethean destiny.

Later, Domitian is supposedly killed by some Stephanus.

Who killed Stephen? Was it the council, was it Saul/Paul/Josephus? Was Stephen really James/Jacobus?
 

Seeker

Active Member
Continuing with Richard's line of thought, we know about the personal relationship of Josephus with the Flavian Emperors Vespasian and Titus, but how much do we really know historically about his relationship with the last Flavian Emperor, Domitian, has this been deliberately covered over in obscurity for some reason?
 
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Richard Stanley

Administrator
Suetonius doesn't mention Josephus, but does mention Epaphroditus was executed as a reminder to Domitian's staff that the best of intentions could never justify a freedman's complicity in the murder of his master. According to Suetonius, Epaphroditus helped Nero commit suicide after everyone else had deserted Nero.

Stephanus was Flavia Domitilla's steward, and she seems to be a 'Chrestian' based upon her 'Mithraic' sarcophagus and her 'Christian' catacombs. Suetonius claims that the trigger for the assassination was the execution of his cousin, Flavius Clemens, of whom a footnote (that of translator Robert Grave's) says was accused of being converted to Judaism, not to Christianity - as is usually claimed.

Maybe Flavius Clemens was the first Chrestian 'pope', and this was the reason, not Judaism or non-existent, at the time, Christianity. It is said elsewhere that Flavius Clemens was tied upside down to an anchor and drowned. Why an anchor? Whom was fixed upside down to a cross? The supposed first pope, the rock upon which the Church was to be built?

759

Rockfish anyone? Why is this rockfish fixed upside down to an anchor?

On the night before the assassination, Domitian is reputed to announce a Blood Red Moon as the Moon enters Aquarius. Interesting, as a Blood Red Moon is part of Revelation, and one was part of Francis' visit to the USA in September, 2015, during his flight back to Italy. Now, the Age is transitioning to Aquarius, instead of Pisces.

Domitian's account is the end of Suetonius' The Twelve Caesar's and it ends talking about a raven who, a few months before the assassination, is heard to say "All will be well"! (actually "Cras, cras", which means 'tomorrow, tomorrow'). This inspired a verse as follows:

There was a raven, strange to tell,
Perched above Jove's own gable, whence
He tried to tell us 'All is well' --
But had to use the future tense.

Suetonius then states that Domitian dreamed that a lump of gold sprouted from his back, meaning that the empire would be fat and rich after he had gone. Suetonius assures that this came to pass.

"All's well that ends well?"

Why does it say "after he had gone" and not "after he was murdered"? Yes, what does the original Latin say?

Suetonius was a high official of Hadrian's court. Supposedly he and some others were fired for some indiscretions regarding Hadrian's wife.

It should be remembered regarding Hadrian, that his 'boyfriend' Antinous, from Bithynia, drowned in the Nile under mysterious circumstances. Some allege that he was ritually sacrificed, to be raised to god status and assimilated with Osiris (and his resurrection). If it happened like so, was this a transitional Chrestian cult element?
 
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Seeker

Active Member
Later, Domitian is supposedly killed by some Stephanus.

Who killed Stephen? Was it the council, was it Saul/Paul/Josephus? Was Stephen really James/Jacobus?
Interesting naming connections, but of course if Stephen is really James he was martyred in the AD 60's, while Domitian was assassinated in 96.
Concerning my previous mentioning of Apollonius of Tyana, Roman Piso has him as another identity of Josephus/Arrius Calpurnius Piso.
Flavius Clemens, the cousin of Emperor Domitian, was married to his second cousin, Flavia Domitilla (niece of Domitian), mentioned above by Richard, and if he truly was Pope Clement (there is disagreement about this, though not that Flavius Clemens was executed), then Roman Piso has him as a son of Josephus/Arrius Calpurnius Piso (who was also St. Peter, the first "Christian" Pope [!!!]).
Roman Piso also states that Josephus/Arrius Calpurnius Piso and his family was banished by both Nero and Domitian (they disapproved of the Piso/Josephus Christianity plot and NT writing, perhaps because they wanted to be "God", and not have Piso rival them?), that some sons of Piso tried to assassinate Domitian at different times and failed, but Stephanus, the steward of the also banished Flavia Domitilla (who would also be a cousin of Josephus/Piso), finally succeeded, and the Piso family came back to Rome. If nothing else, "Roman Piso" at least gives us a happy ending to the Piso story (for now). "All's well that ends well"!
 
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Richard Stanley

Administrator
Albeit there are the chronological shifts (incuding in equating Stephen with James) of most Roman Provenance theories, here I am not suggesting that the Stephen of the Bible is the same person as Stephanus. Rather, more likely a suggestion of a payback, or perhaps coincidence. Or, Domitian was just doing his job, and he pleasantly retired to the Hidden Resort in Ephesus.
 
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