Studia IV

FEAR IN THE GREEK AND ROMAN ANTIQUITY

Jean Delumeau's book, Fear in the West (14th-18th centuries), published in 1978 and translated into Romanian by the late Modest Morariu in 1986 for Meridiane Publishing House, deals in the beginning - within the larger framework of the history of fear - with the Antiquity, evoking some examples of this feeling with decisive influence on the behaviour of human communities. Thus, the Spartan constitution and the civic education of this city-state of Peloponnesos were the result of the permanent danger of Helot revolt, the original population conquered by the military caste of Doric Spartans. To subdue them through fear, the Spartan society had to gradually become militarized, ending up as an exclusively militaristic society. But in the 7th century B.C. the Spartan world still praised liberal arts, and the production of terra-cotta small statues, and especially miniature figurative bronzes fully attest to this fact. Later on, Spartan artists left their native land for other Greek cities, much more tolerant to artistic activity: the quasi-legendary cases of Dipoinos and Skyllis. When Sparta needed architects and sculptors for its civilian or religious buildings, it frequently resorted to artists from the rest of the Greek world. But Sparta's case is a singular historical case. Anyone who would start from it and would look for evidence of fear in the Antiquity (and he would find enough), wishing to make a demonstration similar to that of Jean Delumeau for the Europe of the mentioned centuries, would find himself in the wrong, because he would only be forcing, for the sake of an artificial parallelism, general conclusions contrary to those resulted from the close scrutiny of the data at our disposal.

 

 

A History of Fear or Fears of History?

There is a clearly discernible difference between individual fear and fear as a general component of the majority or the totality of social structures, on which we need not dwell. Of course, only the latter deserves a historical investigation, capable to lead to conclusions relevant as to the mentality and the spirit of an age. Individual fear is a psychological constant of all humans, and Delumeau points this out in speaking about the Antiquity. The Ancients considered panic and fear as punishments of the gods, and personified them as Deimos and Phobos, or Pallor and Pavor, sometimes even imagistically (Medusa and Phobos on the aegis of the masculine character on the Gonzaga Cameo at the Hermitage). Athenians believed that their victory at Marathon against the Persians and the panic in the Persian fleet fighting at Salamis were due to the voice of Pan, to whom they subsequently dedicated a sanctuary on the Acropolis; Pan is also said to have stopped, two centuries later, the advance of the Gauls towards the pan-Hellenic sanctuary in Delphi. Such evidence demonstrates the divinization of fear as help in battle. The Ancients, therefore, knew its important, yet temporary, role in the behaviour of communities brought to a state of tension. The cases are numerous, and sometimes coins attest to them; for instance the aes signatum from the middle of the 3d century B.C. that has an elephant on one side and a sow on the other. Claudius Aelianus (an author of Greek expression of the 2nd-3rd centuries A.C. who was born in Praeneste and taught rhetoric in Rome) writes in his book, On the Nature of Animals, I, 38, that during the battle of Beneventum, in 275 B.C., the Romans released a herd of grunting sows that frightened the Indian elephants of Pyrrhus - which had, in their turn, frightened the Romans - off the battlefield.

There were many occasions for fear in Antiquity: epidemics (the pest of Athens, during the Peloponnesos war, Thucydides, II, 52-53), pirates (the seas were periodically scoured of them, for instance by Pompey), beasts (especially in legendary times; the works of Hercules), earthquakes (frequent in the Aegean basin ever since Minoic times), fires (also frequent, especially in Rome, where houses were made of wood and had several floors), famine (the Persian blockade of the straits of classical Greece, when speculators amassed the existing grain and sold it at exorbitant prices before the arrival of the convoy of ships from the Northern shores of the Pontus Euxinus; in Rome, in order to meet the huge demand of the population, there was established the institution of Annona, which also had a personification in the official iconography), gangs of thieves (interfectus a latronibus, in the words of an inscription of Roman Dacia), wars and invasions of vagrant mercenaries, especially in the Hellenistic period (the common cause of numerous burials of monetary and precious objects thesauri).

On the individual level, fear is a normal thing, and it should not be mistaken for anxiety, which is specific to the social field. Human spirit permanently generates fear to avoid the morbid anxiety that would lead to the abolition of the self. Along this line, Levy-Strauss refers to the danger of taboo multiplication that could lead to the disappearance of whole communities.

But there are other, special fields of fear, too. The first one is, of course, the fear of death. The Ancient world accepted death, believing or not in the immortality of the soul, in ressurection or reincarnation. The Eleusis Mysteries created, by initiation, the belief in the perpetuity of life, of genesis, death being only a final and secondary term of life. To the Ancients, life was the field of total possibility, of virtue, of knowledge, of joy, of positive and negative values and deeds. To Greeks and Romans, death was the absolute nonsense on which one could speculate only about the moment, the cause and the manner of happening. The Greek and Roman civilizations were basically civilizations of creative, rational life. Their irrational aspects were thoroughly investigated by Eric Robertson Dodds (1893-1979). The peace of a Greek funerary stela of the 4th century B.C. or the two preceding centuries is indeed monumental. Looking at these stones in the National Museum in Athens or in Piraeus, we fell even today purified from the fear of death. Jiri Frel wrote a superb poem in prose (The Death of a Hero) about one of the most beautiful archaic sculptures, now in the Paul Getty Museum in Malibu (USA), that represents the moment of „passage" of a young warrior, leaning on the shoulder (the only one preserved) of his friend. Also illustrative for the Greek attitude in the face of death are the words of Achilles addressed to Trojan Lycaon, before killing him: „Die, brother, and do not wail, for Patroclus is dead, and what are you compared to him?" In Roman funerary art, death immortalizes the social status of the individual, whatever it might have been, and the famous book of Richard Brilliant, Rank and Gesture in Roman Art, tells us everything about this subject.

Fear of gods, of beliefs (superstitions) or oracles is another area of individual fear, but it is also fear on a social scale. But its generality is somewhat smaller. First of all, because belief in gods and fear of them was decreasing, evolving towards the end of Antiquity into the Oriental salvation cults, i.e. mystery religions.

This is when the material traces of this kind of fear proliferate: stone or metal icons, figurative amulets with or without inscriptions, sometimes cryptical, of Gnostic or even Christian origin. At the same time, this individual fear gradually changes into collective, social fear. But long before these late times, in the Poem of Nature by Titus Lucretius Carus (97-58 B.C.) we may find Stoic-Epicurean moral writings about fear of gods and of death, grafted on the atomist-materialist conception. The philosophical position of Lucretius, however, should not be considered widely spread during his time. „O, quantum haec religio potuit suadere malorum" - Oh, how many crimes religion has inspired - exclaims the poet in the end of story of Iphigenia's sacrifice by her father, Agamemnon (I, v. 80-101). Then, fear of death, like religion - and we have to admit that the argumentation is a masterpiece - generates equally monstruous crimes in the sense of behaviour morality: „From fear of death people frequently/ Acquire, alas, such a distaste for life/ For the bright light of the Sun/ That, sadly, take their own lives/ Forgetting that only fear of death/ Is the source of suffering: it is the only one that/ Enslaves honesty and breaks the vows of friendship/ Only its counsel/ With a word breaks piety/ Only to stay away from death/ Oh, how many of this world/ Have betrayed their country and their parents!" (III, v. 68-80).

And finally, because it also existed, there was the political fear. Tacitus and Suetonius are its anatomists, but the circle of its experiencers is as small as the one of Lucretius' adepts. Fear of tyranny and of the repression of tyrants prompted many Greek intellectuals to leave their native cities for other places. Among the earliest examples we may quote the case of Pythagoras, who ran from Samos to Crotona, in the south of Italy, around 531 B.C. to escape the murderous hatred of Polycrates, the great „builder" of the island. The mad emperors of the first century of the Roman Empire had their disidents, too; these came from the upper circles of the intellectuality, the administration, and the army. Even the plebeians of Rome were sometimes at odds with the emperors. Gaston Boissier's book, Opposition under the Caesars, published at the end of the last century, is still highly relevant to the subject. But the fear those emperors inspired was limited to the population of Rome. Thanks to Augustus' measures, the vast empire remained de facto immune to this kind of fear. Provincials had a political, or, rather, administrative fear of some dishonest or simply psychopatic governor. However, these cases were extremely rare, and when they appeared, they lasted only a very short time.

Both in the Greek and the Roman worlds there were frequent disturbances of various kinds (tarahái, as inscriptions call them), as well as civil wars. Sometimes the importance of these wars has been exaggerated by modern commentators, their material, and therefore psychological, effect being generally minimal and of short duration, as attested by the archaeological strata of the inscriptions that mention them.

I shall exemplify with an eloquent, even picturesque particular case, that happened both in Rome and in Dacia, with the multiple effects of which I have dealt elsewhere (Portretul roman în România - The Roman Portrait in Romania, Bucharest, 1985, pp. 153-155). On a sarcophagus discovered on Via Appia and displayed at the former Lateran Museum (now hosted by the newer building of the Vatican), which belonged to L. Annius Octavius Valerianus, there is an inscription which says that the deceased was a learned man (musikòs anér), and there are also a series of panels representing the soil tilling, sowing, the harvesting of grain, its transportation and grinding, and bread baking.

The inscription also includes two elegiac lines with a stoic touch „Evasi, effugi. Spes et Fortuna valete/Ni(hi)l mihi vobiscum est; ludificate alios!": „I'm gone and so I'll stay, good bye, Fortune and Hope/ You are nothing to me any more, play with someone else!" The carving of the sarcophagus is unfinished, in the sense that the relief has only been grossly carved, but not polished. The late Prof. D. Tudor made known, a short time before his death, information about a brick of the plane necropolis of Romula (Reşca), bearing the same name and elegiac lines, which he has associated with the mentioned sarcophagus. He supposed that Valerianus had been the landlord of Romula in the time of the Severuses, an age of great prosperity for the community. As my late professor claimed that the necropolis went out of use during the reign of Gordian III (the latest coins found there date back to that time), I have advanced a solution that seems more adequate, i.e. that the events of Rome in the year 238 (the plundering of the city by the soldiers of Maximin the Thracian) correlated with the disturbances of Dacia created by the free Dacians and the Sarmatians - against whom Maximin had fought since 236 - simultaneously caused the death of Valerianus at Romula and the sudden impoverishment of his family in Rome. Undoubtedly, civil wars and the exiles that followed them caused, especially to the population of Italy, a great loss of human lives and, at the same time, a justified fear. Almost a century of internal political instability, which ended with the exile of Octavianus, caused an endemic fear. This, in my opinion, is one of the reasons for the creation of the institution of principality, with the pro forma observance of the republican organization; this observance was due to another old fear: the fear of royalty, whose destroyer had been Brutus the Old (around 500 B.C.).

 

 

Fear in the Ancient Culture

Let us examine the theoretical positions of the Greeks and Romans towards fear and terror as they are reflected in the maxims of men of culture.

Individual or collective, panic is a transient state. „Men's fear disappears in time." (Aeschylus, Agamemnon, v. 857). Then, fear is a proof of low breed: „You see, I think - and rightly - that he is descended from gods/ For fear shows in petty men" (Vergilius, The Aeneid, IV, 13). „He who watches the wind does not sow and he who fears the clouds does not reap" (The Ecclesiast, 11, 4), or: „He who is afraid of the inevitable cannot live in peace" (Cicero, Words in Tusculum, 2, 2); „He should of many be afraid, the one who many fear." (Syrus Publilius, Sentences, 531) „Fear and terror are weak bonds for love." (Tacitus, Agricola, 32); „It is unworthy of us to give up the quest for things we need for fear that we might lose them." (Plutarch, Solon, 7); „It is not worthwhile to live for fear, without the joy of living." (Democritus, fragments 199-201, 205, 206); „In fact, what is the fear of death, if not pretending we know something we do not?" (Plato, The Apology of Socrates); „Our daring grows on the fear of others." (Titus Livius, Since the Foundation of Rome, III, 26). And finally, „Caution is the true courage" (Euripides, The Prayers, II, 2), for „The wise man looks for that which is without pain, and not for that which is pleasurable". (Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, VII, 12)

Here we should dwell longer on fear and pity and on their role in the Aristotelian definition of tragedy. The literature on this problem is considerable, but somewhat beside our point, as it deals mainly with fear as the subject of philosophical analysis, beyond the sapiential level of Lucretius's poem. From a cultural zone where it is a pleasant surprise, there comes the exciting book of the late Alexander Nicev, Professor at the University of Sofia, L'enigme de la catharsis tragique dans Aristote, Sofia, 1970, which we recommend to the interested reader.

 

Dogma and Fear

The writing of some parts of the Old Testament is approximately contemporary with the Homeric poems. Martin Nilsson has shown that the ancient Minoic and Mycenian gods have, in comparison with those of Greece after its dark age (11th-8th century B.C.), a greater degree of generalization, which is specific to tribal societies.

He has also demonstrated that the latter are individualized within the Greek polytheism through specific traits which are rational rather than mythical or mysterious. Thus there takes places that typically Greek anthropomorphization of the numen of each of them; they are, therefore, emblematic impersonations of the forces of humanity. The monotheism of the Old Testament, with its omnipresent fear for the vengeful God and his infrangible law, given to the chosen people and thanks to which it survived the trials of history, is spiritually better known today than the religious quality of the Homeric poems, in fact their lack of religious character, in the current view. Devoid of sacred precepts and texts recording them (the sacred laws of Gortyna are strictly local deontological indications), the Greek religious spirit basically did not know any dogma, the Eleusis Mysteries being only a primitive form of collective initiation compared to the initiatic paideia of the Orient; these mysteries could have been „constructed" even at the end of the 8th century B.C. (if we are to assign a cultural value to the oldest building found there). Same as the Roman religion, the Greek religion was linked to the civic sense of the individual, whom it metaphysically projected and strengthened. Fear of gods did not go beyond the fear of the dissolution of the social body. Hence the absence of an idolatric relation that would understand fear of divinity as an instrument of preserving public order or ancestral situations at any cost. There is a detachment from the divine in the Homeric poems that we find permanently established in the Greek world after the Persian wars. At this level we can feel the full and detached Greek historic conscience. If, during the Trojan War, gods metaphorically took one or another of the sides, now the personal predicting daimon of Themistocles inspires the decisive actions. Greece survived the great trial by courage, perseverance, civism, individual ethnic conscience, and not by some miracle performed through the consensus of the Olympians. No fear came down from Olympus, even if the altars dedicated to the godly Areopagus never ceased to smoulder. The same thing happened in the second century of the Empire, the acme of the Roman civilization, when gods had withdrawn discreetly and the religion of Christ had not yet emerged. „Mors est pretium pecati", St. Augustine said two centuries later, speaking about the original sin of the Bible, on which the civilization of guilt was going to be established, the civilization of the lost paradise, of the sin of knowledge, of the happiness of the weak, and of the other cheek turned to be slapped again.

That is the time of the great rupture of the Greek and Roman culture, whose product we are. Because of it, we can no longer understand the spirit of that culture. Greece was continued in Rome, and the spectacular proof of this transition is the work of Polybios, in the same way in which the proof of the mentioned rupture are the life and deeds of Julian the Apostate. Julian confronts Christianity with its own fallacious weapons; he is no longer ancient, but an „englyphic" (en creux), apologist, a counterpart of the ultradogmatic spirit of Tertulian, who had learnt in Athens the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle and rejected them in favour of the „testimony" of the uncultured adepts of the Galilean.

What ideological value could have another Judaic sect for Rome? Minor, as long as its legions saw to it that the administration and the peace of the vast empire should not be affected. Like any human thing, it, too, was going to end some time, and to try to see in this various „causes" meant in fact to recognize in them the symptoms of natural aging. Senescit mundus, Seneca said. The barbarians that wanted to be included in the empire, to enjoy the security and civilization they had not helped to build and which they did not know how to continue, the depreciation of coin, which had become fiduciary, the precariousness of the productive system of colonies and the inefficiency of the great depopulated estates, the enormous cost of defense campaigns, grown chronic, the economically eroding effect of the spread of Christianity, and the fear caused by the secret police of the tetrarchs, made up of cruel and pitiless Illyrians, these are only some of the characteristics of the end of Antiquity. By adopting Christianity as the official religion, Constantine the Great stopped at the same time the proliferation of Christian communism or egalitarianism, which was implicitly aimed at the destruction of Roman finances and of the private free economic enterprise. A veritable civil war between Christians and heathens undermined the army, the administration, social life as a whole. Material and physical insecurity caused the breeding of fear, and this combined with the complex of culpability brought by the Christian dogma, the sword of the original sin cutting short creative initiative, „Iusti resurgunt, avari cremantur" read Peregrination Etheriae ad loca sancta, some time later; the avaricious that burnt in Hell were those who did not give their property to the church.

 

But the latest events, which happened between the writing of this article and its typing, have led to the beginning of the official abolition of communism in the very place where it was born.

It is easy to imagine what times were then beginning, and how lasting the fear cultivated by the Church to its own benefit and to that of those masters that obeyed was going to be. Episcopus loci was at that time a kind of political deputy of God, and he made and unmade earthly matters in the name of God. „Who is the soldier and who is the emperor?" was the equality before death, and it demolished the complex and seculary system of that virtus, the mainstay of the ancient world. The kneeling of the individual, an exclusively Asiatic gesture, also demanded by Alexander the Great, who punished its refusal by death, becomes a liturgical attitude before the hierarchy of the church. I do not insist, as in so many other occasions, on the vast ramifications of Christian intrigue, with its series of crimes, compared to which the intentional persecution of the „martyrs" seemed accidental, and not planned. „O, quantum haec religio potuit suadere malorum," is the Lucretian prophetic maxim, applied to this twilight of pagan civilization, for pagani, the inhabitants and the landlords of the villages had remained the last non-Christians, just like today's peasants, who owned a piece of land, no matter how small, which enabled them to survive without accepting the pact with the devil of communism.

The Greek philosophy and its Latin echo is called upon, at a certain moment, to provide a „scientific" basis to the fear implanted by the Christian dogma, ridiculous to the pagan intellectuals to the same extent to which the uncultured communist „ideologues" seemed ridiculous to the sane members of the inter-bella free societies. And it is not accidental, and it should not be laughed at the fact that the last great destructive religion of human kind fell into the world from the walls of the third Rome, the Kremlin of Moscow. Its victims and the victims of the fear it generated throughout Europe and the world reach into hundreds of millions, and the fear is still present within ourselves and will die only out when we die.

I think that we are witnessing a great historic moment, the counterpart, 17 centuries later, of the official adoption of Christianity by Constantine the Great. The red inquisition of the last dogma fell after the fall of the Inquisition of the Church.

Maybe the brutal comparison between Christianity and Communism will make the finer intellectuals sniff, and will make them call it a coarse taste for cheap reductionism; coarse, and in a way biased! Biased towards what? To the free spirit? Dear intellectual scholastics! There is only one moral, and not a Christian moral and a Communist moral. The common ground of the two so-called morals and the peremptory proof of their fallacy, as well as the full justification of the brutal comparison is the behaviour of the Orthodox priests who, with the exception of the victims, have been the living image of this sophism of history.

Having lived through „the fear and the misery of the third Reich" and of the third Rome, we can better understand what the Christian filter still prevents us to see in that ancient virtus, the expression of a perfectible, and not perfect society, anabatic and not fallen in the hopeless gulf of its own imperfection.

Whoever may be tempted to speak more or less gracious nonsense about the existence of fear as a mass phenomenon in the Greek and Roman Antiquity, will have first to think of communism and the installation of Christianity in the troubled context of that old Orient, as of two twilight phenomena, similar and moralizing at the level of the morphology of culture.

Those who preach life on earth like that of heavenly Jerusalem (a kind of Utopia or Civitas Solis), those who imagine that sometime it was or it will be like this generate today a terrible fear, cultivate our complex of the original sin (and of social origin and of class struggle, respectively), and denies the millennia-old imperative of human dignity, creativity and courage.

 

 

Palinode to a Discourse on Fear

The exemplary life and death of Socrates, as well as that of Christ (the famous Imitatio Christi of Christian martyrology) are two human models of which only the latter has made a bimillenary career. As a historical character, Christ was an exceptional individual, before whom we should bow low. He could sit among the great heroes of the Antiquity, in their most European meaning: man accedes to divinity and becomes its recipient; his life contains a considerable part of the divine essence and this is the reason why the posthumous transformation into a hero is the natural consequence of such a life.

The Fathers of the Church, who gave the Oriental, dogmatic and exclusivist Christianity the bright aura of ancient philosophy, played a particularly important role in the intellectualization of that religion which preached the smell of the desert and the mortification of the flesh, and which seemed coarse and rudimentary to the cultured pagans of the twilight period of Western Antiquity. The late appearance of those medallions called contorniat, representing cultural or imperial personalities of the Greek and Roman world, was rightly interpreted by A. Alföldi as a reaction to the Eastern Christian anticulturalism. The images of Julian the Apostate, particularly the posthumous ones, whose number have greatly increased with the last decades' discoveries, is also a symptom of the mentioned situation.

Abjuring Christianity for the crimes it had concocted Julian blamed it, in mid-4th century A.C., precisely for its anti-cultural spirit. But whatever may be reproached to the incipient religion and to its Church, it cannot be reproached to Christ as a person. If his divinity may be questionable, his divine humanity is beyond any doubt. It seems to me that it would be too simplist to designate him as an emanation of Judaism, when he is rather a miraculous symbol of the essence of Hellenism. Otherwise the religion he had founded would not have had any appeal for the cultured and rich classes of the late Roman Empire, even more so because it consisted of a remarkable ethnic mixture. And last but, maybe, not least, the happy afterlife should be connected to the euhemerist spirit and the Utopia ideals of the Greek novel at the end of Hellenism, just like the Apocalipse of St. John the Divine is not at all unlike Gnostic Christian (2nd-century A.C.) and pre-Christian literature and imagery, or the revelations of Hermes Trismegistus.

*

The free-will abdication of the Czar in the imperial train stationed at Mogylev was the final blow dealt to the sinking Russia, through the high treason of its first soldier, who deserted in moments of great difficulties for the state. If Mikhail Gorbatchev had not had the strength (of course, under different historical circumstances and supported by Eltsin's personality) to refuse to resign when he was arrested by rebels in Crimea, assuming the immense risk to force the conspirators to unmask themselves, the future of mankind would have again entered, for who knows how long, in the shadow it had just emerged from.

The apologists of communism, educated at the school of Western Europe, Marx and Engels, suggest to the (professional) revolutionary Lenin, who had also been educated in the European spirit, the same way of thinking the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians suggested to Tertulian: „For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God turned risible the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are..." (Cor I, 1, 19-28). A shocking urge to abolish civilization, logic, intelligence in general! Change the appropriate terms and you will discover the pattern of Lenin's speeches. The cult of Reason, even that of the (freemason) French Revolution is millenia away from the devastating hordes of Genghis Lenin, spread over the greatest continental empire after the Roman one, chronologically speaking.

The anathema of Christ was aimed at the tangled relations and endless frictions among the Jews of his time. Christ's spiritualism accepted social order and the widely tolerant and non-interfering mentality of the Roman Empire. But the Apostles become pitiless.

Unlike Christ, they were too close to the world not to be affectively and partially involved in it. The poor in spirit are, too, the Jews about whom Christ spoke with the spirit of poverty. But the Apostles, and especially Paul, extrapolated everything to the whole Roman world. In the capital of the Empire, Paul has the revelation of the inanity of the religion he was preaching, and he does not hesitate to implicitly admit this: „For I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, 'He who through faith is righteous shall live.' For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth." (Romans I, 16-28).

Much more adequate, more realistic in the sense of behaviour moral, less comminatory about the pagan culture, are the two epistles of St. Peter. The sympathy for the person of the apostle, the great respect and the great goodnes that he inspired to those around him are proved by the many inscriptions in a very warm tone that we can still see scratched on the walls of funerary and cult chapels in the Catacombs of St. Sebastian in Rome. They confirm the words of Jesus: „Tu es Petrus et super istam petram aedificabo Ecclesiam Meam," written in gold letters at the basis of the cupola built by Bramante in the Cathedral of the Vatican, the center of which stands exactly above the tomb of St. Peter.

The polytheist mentality of the Ancients accepted Judaic monotheism with great difficulty. Philosophers, who did not need the support of any religion, probably accepted it somewhat more easily, for their theological thinking had evolved a great way toward a theoretical henotheism. The problem of the trinity was subsidiary, and it was only for cultured Christian circles.

In the end of this palinode I would like to point out the distinctions I have already made: 1) the references of many of Christ's teachings are exclusively to the Judaic environment, the only one he knew; 2) their subsequent generalizations by the Apostles and then by apologists to the whole heathendom; 3) finally, the special stand of Peter, much more reserved and adequate: the poor and uncultured plebeans of Rome had to know the laws of a moral life. Peter is rightly considered the founder of social militant Catholicism!

The negative part of the Christian dogma, in fact the residue of any dogma, may be compared with the communist dogma. How far is Peter from Lenin, one of the Antichrists of our century! The insecurity and fear that both Communism and Christianity have cultivated in billions of people are doubtlessly the same. About each of them Miranda would sweetly say: „O, brave new world/ That have such people in it," (The Tempest, V, I) as if they had not led to immense damage to the cultural, physical and moral order of the world. But history, like the life of any man, is little else than suffering. That is why, once again, to be saved from fear, let us be afraid from the very beginning of, and let us drive away immediately, those who preach the total happiness of everyone. They are the possessed executioners of unjustified and terrible hatred.

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