Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chapter Six of My New Book

It is impossible to argue that Marcia did not have a massive influence on Christianity.  The very fact that a lengthy account of the 'Satanic influence' of her 'Carpocratian' sect was inserted into official episcopal succession list of the Roman Church speaks volumes.  Yet even this document was little more than a prophesy of the evil she would inflict on the traditional beliefs and values of the community.  The worst was yet to come.  Indeed the apocalyptic character of Hegesippus's testimony is unmistakable. Marcia was on the verge of totally redefining the Church, or if you will "she led multitudes astray."

It should be impossible to believe that a woman could have had this much influence in antiquity unless she was well connected.  Marcia certainly was moving in the highest circles of Roman society at the time these words were written.   Nevertheless her ultimate triumph necessarily took place long after the Outlines were published.  Her relationship with Commodus is mentioned by every historian who wrote anything substantial about the period.  In most of these accounts it is suggested that Christianity as such 'benefited' - or if you will 'was influenced' - by that arrangement.  Nevertheless as is so often the case, the devil is in the details.

What exactly took place in the eight years between the years 184 - 192 CE which set in motion the Catholic Church as we know it?  The pivotal year here seems to be 189 CE, the year that her name sake Demetrius was sent to Alexandria.  Could Pope Demetrius have been her husband?  The situation cannot be proved definitively as we will have to confess in this chapter.  Nevertheless we will put forward that the consistent descriptions of the Carpocratians - the original 'gnostics' - as 'wife-swappers' is the key to unlock the mystery.  Marcia Demetria and Demetrius could well have been married before the inscription on the fountain outside of Rome was established and her relationships with Quadratus and Commodus only confirmed the 'sharing wives in common' theme in the Patristic literature.

Indeed it is interesting to note that Marcia is never said to be married until the odd statement in Dio Cassius at the end of her career.  She was the mistress of Marcus Ummidius Quadratus Annianus or 'Quadratus' and the concubine of Commodus but this 'Demetrius' who she must have married is never mentioned.  The idea however that Marcia was a married woman engaged in some Christian wife swapping cult is certainly very appealing.  Quadratus was married but having an affair allegedly with Commodus's sister Lucilla who was once married to Commodus's uncle the Emperor Lucius Verus.  In short, there seems to have been a strangely incestuous circle in the Imperial court many of whom were ultimately involved in a plot to kill Commodus.

This collective wife-swapping might well be remembered in a number of reports that have made there way down to the fourth century Church Father Epiphanius.  He claims to have studied in detail this gnostic community and even been seduced by one or two of their female 'dupes' who survived down to this late period.  His account of their nocturnal rites are quite colorful and culminate with the description - "And the husband will move away from his wife and says to his own wife—“Get up, perform the Agape with the brother.” And when the wretched couple has made love—and I am truly ashamed to mention the vile things they do, for as the holy apostle says, “It is a shame even tospeak” of what goes on among them."[2]

The idea then that this Demetrius who moved to Alexandria was somehow Marcia's unmentioned husband has a lot going for it.  Let's start with the shared name they have in common.  The names of Roman citizens usually consisted of three parts: the praenomen (given name, which not everyone had), nomen gentile (family name), and cognomen, which was chosen by the family.  Women's names were the feminine form of their father's nomen gentile, which menat that sisters had the same name. As long as a girl was unmarried, the second part of her name would be formed from her father's cognomen.  After marriage, she might change to a form of her husband's cognomen.

For instance Antonius Tiberius Cicero’s daughter would be named Tiberia.  If Tiberia got married , she would keep her clan name (nomen) and sometimes added her husband’s cognomen (3rd part of his name, feminine form). In other words, Tiberia marries Marcvs Ivlivs Octavivs. She becomes Tiberia Octavia.  We see many examples of this change of name in the ancient inscriptions which survive.  Tertia Crumelonia Turstiaca  which is generally assumed to be the female form of her husbands cognomen Turstius and similarly Frema Rutilia P(ubli) Sociaca from the cognomen Socius.  So it is that the coincidence that we have two Christians, one male the other female sharing the cognomen Demetrius is intriguing.  More significant however is the fact that Demetrius has the confidence and swagger to walk into the Alexandrian Church as a married outsider and managed to get himself ordained as Pope.  This is simply amazing in its own right.

Of course it has to be acknowledged that we don't know enough about 'Marcia Demetria' and 'Demetrius' to determine if indeed they were once married.  Nevertheless the hints of some sort of relationship is extraordinarily interesting.  For as we go beyond the question of 'was Marcia Mrs. Demetrius?' to 'are they somehow connected?' a number of intriguing parallels emerge starting with the explanation for the name 'Harpocratians' which must have been associated with Marcia as early as 160 CE in Rome.

The name Harpocratian must be related to the Roman understanding of Jesus being a 'real person' born on the 25th of December or '8th day before the kalends' to use the original Roman terminology.  There have been all kinds of outlandish explanations to the association with the Egyptian god Harpocrates or 'Horus the child.'  Horus was the god intimately associated with the ancient rulers of Egypt.  His parents Isis and Osiris had their sexual union celebrated on March 25 and Egyptians celebrated the birth of their son nine months later on December 25th celebrated the birthday of Harpocrates a name which taken by some to mean “the sun in winter.”[3]

The late first century Greek historian Plutarch confirms to us that Harpocrates was born on the winter solstice saying:

Thus we shall attack the many boring people who find pleasure in associating the activities of these gods with the seasonal changes of the atmosphere or with the growths, sowing, and plowing of crops, and who say that Osiris is being buried when the corn is sown and hidden in the earth, and that he lives again and reappears when it begins to sprout. For this reason it is said that Isis, when she was aware of her being pregnant, put on a protective amulet on the sixth day of Phaophi, and at the winter solstice gave birth to Harpocrates, imperfect and prematurely born, amid plants that burgeoned and sprouted before their season . . . and they are said to celebrate the days of her confinement after the spring equinox. (Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris, 65B-c)

The issue of determining the winter solstice was confusing in antiquity for, even though it was properly defined as being December 21, the change was only visible three days later. As such ancient writers tended to treat the 25th of December as the solstice while being aware it wasn't technically so.[4]

To this end the parallels between the traditional birth date of Harpocrates and Christmas must have been have been responsible for the community of Marcia at Rome being identified as 'the Harpocratians.'  Indeed it has been determined that the earliest writer to ever identify Jesus's birthday as being the 25th of December was a Roman Church writer named Hippolytus who writes in his Commentary on Daniel 4.23.3 that "the first advent of our Lord in the flesh, when he was born in Bethlehem, eight days before the kalends of January [December 25th], the 4th day of the week [Wednesday], while Augustus was in his forty-second year, [2 or 3BC] but from Adam five thousand and five hundred years.  He suffered in the thirty third year, 8 days before the kalends of April [March 25th], the Day of Preparation, the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar [29 or 30 AD], while Rufus and Roubellion and Gaius Caesar, for the 4th time, and Gaius Cestius Saturninus were Consuls."[5]

That this Roman writer was the earliest to make reference to this tradition is confirmed by the ninth century chronicler George Syncellus who writes:

At the completion of that day (the 24th), our Lord and God Jesus Christ, the only-begotten son of God,was born according to the flesh from the blessed Mary, eternal Virgin, and in nature and in reality truly the holy Mother of God; his birth was on the next day, 25 December, in Bethlehem a city of Judaea, in the forty-third year of the reign of Augustus Caesar over the Romans, in the consulate of Gulpicius, and Marinus and Gaius Pompeius as it is reported in accurate and ancient manuscripts. We have not compiled this on our own. It is based rather on the traditions that have come down from Hippolytos, the blessed apostle, archbishop of Rome, and holy martyr.[6]

Clearly ancient writers could find no written support for the 25th of December as the birth of Christ earlier than Hippolytus.  This would seem to suggest that the understanding originated in Rome, at least as early as 202 - 211 CE which are the traditional dates for his Commentary on Daniel.

Of course Marcia Demetria died in Rome about twenty years before these dates.  It is interesting to note that the Philosophumena which is usually attributed to Hippolytus, not only embraces Marcia as a 'philotheos' but also erased reference to Marcellina from its heavily censored account of the 'Carpocratians.'[7]   Indeed a careful reading of the Marcia reference in the Philosophumena makes clear that both Hippolytus and his rival, Callistus the bishop of Rome, were essentially arguing over the question of whether Callistus had the favor of Marcia.  Hippolytus's point in the narrative is so deny a claim on the part of the bishop that he was rescued from the mines by Marcia.

Hippolytus, clearly responding to some propaganda promoted by Callistus, says that "Marcia, a concubine of Commodus, who was a God-loving female, and desirous of performing some good work, invited into her presence the blessed Victor, who was at that time a bishop of the Church, and inquired of him what martyrs were in Sardinia. And he delivered to her the names of all, but did not give the name of Callistus, knowing the villanous acts he had ventured upon. Marcia, obtaining her request from Commodus, hands the letter of emancipation to Hyacinthus, a certain eunuch, rather advanced in life. And he, on receiving it, sailed away into Sardinia, and having delivered the letter to the person who at that time was governor of the territory, he succeeded in having the martyrs released, with the exception of Callistus. gut Callistus himself, dropping on his knees, and weeping, entreated that he likewise might obtain a release."  This is very significant as it demonstrates how important Marcia was to the third century Roman Church.

Indeed Hippolytus goes on to say that "Hyacinthus, therefore, overcome by the captive's importunity, requests the governor to grant a release, alleging that permission had been given to himself from Marcia s (to liberate Callistus), and that he would make arrangements that there should be no risk in this to him. Now (the governor) was persuaded, and liberated Callistus also."  Clearly there must have been a claim that Marcia actually did ask for the release of Callistus and Hippolytus here argues against it saying that it was a lie concocted by Hyacinthus.  Interestingly also is that current bishop Victor is also alleged to have been opposed to Callistus as we read in what follows that when Callistus "arrived at Rome, Victor was very much grieved at what had taken place; but since he was a compassionate man, he took no action in the matter. Guarding, however, against the reproach (uttered) by many,--for the attempts made by this Callistus were not distant occurrences,--and because Carpophorus also still continued adverse, Victor sends Callistus to take up his abode in Antium, having settled on him a certain monthly allowance for food."

Of course in due course Zephyrinus succeeds Victor as bishop of Rome and Callistus emerged as his deacon.  Yet with respect to our original question - did Hippolytus get the idea of Christmas from the Harpocratians?  - it would seem that at the very least that the Commentary on Daniel reports on an established Roman tradition undoubtedly originally associated with Marcia.  It is also worth noting that Commodus was intimately associated with the Alexandrian cult of Harpocrates.  Not only do we find depictions of Commodus with the shaved head of the priests of Isis and the cult of the Hellenistic divinity Serapis but also a gold statue of Commodus as Horus between a bull (Osiris-Apis) and a cow (Isis-Hathor) which has been argued to be "not only further evidence of his cultic activities, it can also be considered in light of the Egyptian myth of succession and dynastic rule."[8]

Moreover Commodus is intimately associated with two other epithets that have an important bearing in this discussion.  The first is that of 'Victor' - the name of the Roman bishop but also an important title in the cult of Hercules - and the second that of Invictus is directly connected to Christmas.  When the Emperor Aurelian inaugurated his new temple dedicated to Sol Invictus and held the first games for Sol on December 25, 274, he was only following a century old tradition originally associated with Commodus.  Commodus was the first Emperor to use the title Invictus and every Emperor after him followed suit until the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (218 - 222 CE) took wholly took over the identity of Sol Invictus Elagabal, a god to whom he served a priest in his youth.

Nevertheless we can already begin to see that with Commodus and Marcia the first in roads were made with respect to establishing Jesus as yet another living embodiment of Sol Invictus.  Aurelius's open embrace of the sacred day of December 25th would have already had the support of the Roman Church given the groundwork already established by the 'Carpocratians' at the end of the second century.  Indeed we see clear signs of Aurelian's good relations with the Roman presbytery during the Paul of Samosata crisis.[9]

If we can be fairly certain that Christmas was an innovation adopted by Hippolytus through an original association with the custom's established by Marcia, we can do an even better job of connecting Hippolytus to her namesake Demetrius the Pope of Alexandria.  Demetrius is one of the most important figures in the history of the Church, even if he is often viewed as something of a villainous character.  As silly as his marriage narrative from the Coptic History is at first glance, there is something here which fits the general nature of the Roman Church culture of the period.  Demetrius says that he and his wife were married young, never consummated that union and basically lived separate lives.

As we have previously noted, Demetrius must certainly have been an outsider to the Alexandrian Church.  Indeed we can also conclude that he must have imposed on the tradition rather than elected from within.[10] Everything we know about Demetrius suggests that he came from without to turn the whole tradition upside down.  As the tenth century Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria Eutychius notes, he was on a mission to decentralize the traditional authority of the Pope in Egypt -  "from the time of Ananias, who was appointed patriarch of Alexandria by Mark the Evangelist, until Demetrius the eleventh patriarch of Alexandria, there were no bishops in Egypt, and the predecessors of the last-named patriarch appointed none.  But when Demetrius became patriarch, he appointed three bishops, and he was the first patriarch of Alexandria who made bishops. When he died, Heraclius was constituted patriarch of Alexandria after him, and appointed twenty bishops."[11]

It is indeed a strange thing to watch a man with unlimited power voluntarily give up power.  There are of course many possible explanations for his actions, but the end result is the same - Demetrius was again actively tampering with established tradition.  Indeed it wasn't just that Demetrius wanted to reorganize the power structure of the Egyptian Church.  There is evidence to suggest that he also innovated with respect to the celebration of Easter.   Eutychius again reports "that this took place under the following patriarch, Demetrius, who wrote to Gabius, bishop of Jerusalem; to Maximus, patriarch of Antioch; and to Victor, patriarch of Rome, concerning the reckoning of the Christian Passover, and how it might be derived from the Jewish Passover; several books and letters were written on the subject, until they all agreed on the present use of Easter, and of the forty day fasting preceding."[12]  Indeed there are numerous pieces of evidence which support this understanding from earlier sources.

Yet Eutychius's claim that Dionysius initiated the effort is something of a misrepresentation.  The impetus was clearly coming from Rome; Alexandria was merely marching alongside bishop Victor.[13]  The Roman Church was attempting to streamline the Christian Passover and once again we see Demetrius ceding the traditional authority of the Alexandrian throne.  Previous to Demetrius Christians celebrated a forty day fast after the Epiphany.  The Coptic Synaxarium (a collection of information related to the various saint days) acknowledges that Demetrius not only broke with that tradition but was instrumental developing the new celebration.  We read "when Pope Demetrius was consecrated . . . he established the calculation by epacts for regulating the dates of the fast and the Resurrection. He sent letters to Victor of Rome, Maximus of Antioch, and Agapius of Jerusalem."[14]

Another entry for the fourth day of Baramhat (= 31 March), commemorates a council on the island of Bani-Omar. The bishop of that place had sent letters to Serapion of Antioch, Democratus of Rome, Demetrius of Alexandria, and Symmachus of Jerusalem on the same matter.  All replied that Easter was to be observed only on the Sunday following the Passover. The local bishop called a council of some eighteen bishops at Bani-Omar at which these letters were read.  Some of the dissidents agreed to observe Sunday, others persisted in their ways and were excommunicated. Demetrius decided to try to mediate the dispute and "called a meeting of astronomers, including Ptolemy of Pharos, and with their help established the reckoning by epacts to determine the day of the Jewish Passover and to fix the Feast of the Resurrection on the Sunday thereafter."[15]

The most important piece of evidence related to Demetrius is preserved in three published stanzas of Ethiopic poetry praising Demetrius as 'the inventor of the epacts' -‘epacts’ being additions to the cycle of the moon to help reconcile a lunar calendar with one based on a solar calendar.

Hail to Demetrius, who regulates abstinence from drink, who organizes the fasting from food for the Fifty Days, had he not been inspired by the Holy Spirit of Revelation, how could he ever have found and discovered the calculation for periods of time that is called 'epact'?

Hail to you, O priests, to you be given thanks and praise that you came diligently and without delay to that place of gathering and assembly where the calculation by epact taught by the Holy Spirit was communicated to you through the Hail to your hands, O Demetrius, which wrote the calculation of the epacts, both past and future.[16]

Several manuscripts of the Ethiopic computistical tradition recently studied by Otto Neugebauer attribute to Demetrius  a 'Computus' written in the 26th year of his episcopate and the 206th year since Christ that corresponds to 214 CE.[17]  Indeed this is confirmed by noting that the 26th year of the episcopate of Demetrius, in the chronology that Eusebius gives, would also correspond to 214.

As Alden Mosshammer notes in his definitive work on the subject of Easter calculation, in a system of epacts, the calculator adds 11 days to the age of the moon each year as of some date in a solar calendar. Usually that date is either the first day of the civil calendar or, to simplify calculations, the day before. The epact for the year, the number of additions to the moon, becomes the basis for determining the age of the moon as of any date in the solar calendar.  Mosshammer notes that "when Demetrius ‘invented the epacts’, he discovered a device for calculating the date of 14 Nisan that would produce a periodic list after eight years."[18]  As such we can be safe to assume that, working with the Alexandrian calendar and its equal months of 30 days each, Demetrius decided to number the days of the moon from 1 to 30 and to express the age of the moon as of some date that would be convenient for calculating the date of the 14th day of Nisan.

Mosshammer adds that "we do not know what date he chose, but it may very well have been he who adopted what was later the standard practice of defining the epact as of the last epagomenal day in the
Alexandrian calendar."  In other words, the traditional Egyptian calendar was made up of twelve months of thirty days or 360 days with five or six added days (= epagomenal) added after the last day of each year.
According to the Ethiopic texts, Demetrius established his method of calculation beginning from the year corresponding to 214 CE. The earliest extant Paschal table of any kind—that attributed to Hippolytus—is based on the 8-year cycle and begins in ad 222 CE, exactly eight years later.

The Paschal table of Hippolytus is a document of the Roman church. It is, however, written in Greek. As Marcel Richard has suggested, the Hippolytan table probably represents the adoption in Rome of Demetrius’ methods, adapted to the Roman calendar and to the Roman rules.[19]  Yet this alone is very striking as we have now stumbled upon two pieces of evidence which might suggest that Demetrius must have been very closely related to - or in a sense identical with - Irenaeus of Lyons.  How can this be explained?  The answer might be that Irenaeus acted as an adviser to Demetrius in some sense, similar to Annianos and Cyril of Alexandria centuries later.[20]

The second interesting piece of evidence is the connection of the computus of Demetrius and Hippolytus.  There is an undeniable relationship here which is paralleled by Hippolytus being the most explicit proponent of Irenaeus's orthodoxy.  There is a conscious borrowing of Irenaeus's classic work Against Heresies throughout Hippolytus's Philosophumena.  The tenth century Byzantine Church Father Photius also possessed an earlier version of this work with the title "Syntagma against Thirty-Two Heresies of Hippolytus, the Student of Irenaeus."[21]

The point then is that no one doubts that Hippolytus was Irenaeus's devoted student.  What people haven't noticed before is that Hippolytus's adoption of Demetrius's methods of 'squaring' the Jewish lunar calendar with the solar calendar is the ultimate solution to the Passover controversies of the previous generation.  As many students of religion know, Victor the bishop of Rome excommunicated so-called 'Quartodecimanists' in Asia for continuing to calculate the Passover according to the Jewish calendar.  The 'rest of the Church' - i.e. the twin Patriarchates of Rome and Alexandria - are said by Eusebius to terminate the fast "on no other day than on that of the resurrection of our Saviour."

What is often overlooked in the typically superficial reading of this material in Eusebius is the fact that this isn't actually a reference to Sunday.  It was Irenaeus who introduces the idea that "the Lord's day" could be a compromise between the Asian practice of still celebrating Easter as a Jewish Passover and the Roman and Alexandrian practice of venerating the 25th of March (= "the day of the resurrection of our Saviour").  This is why he is called 'the peacemaker' or the peaceable one.  Indeed 'the Lord's day' is only mentioned twice in the whole section and both references are associated with Irenaeus.

Eusebius says that notes that Victor would only allow for the 25th of March but that "synods and assemblies of bishops were held on this account, and all, with one consent, through mutual correspondence drew up an ecclesiastical decree, that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be celebrated on no other but the Lord's day, and that we should observe the close of the paschal fast on this day only." (Church History 23.2).  The person responsible for this unanimity of course is Irenaeus "who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord's day." (ibid 24.11)  Irenaeus simply imposes the 'solution' which reaches over the heads of the various bishops.

When did this take place?  It was certainly after the reign of Commodus and more than likely the closing years of the second century.  It is worth noting that Paschal table developed by Demetrius in 214 CE is the fulfillment of this compromise.  Yet when we start to think about matters here for a moment it is difficult to believe that the Irenaeus could have reached this compromise without having the tables to determine Easter.  As such what was really going on is that Hippolytus wasn't copying Demetrius as much as both men were following an original table established by Irenaeus either in 190 or 198 CE.[22]  It should be readily noticed that 198 CE is certainly more likely to be the correct year for the establishment of the practice.  We are left wondering given Victor's reign as bishop ends around this time whether he left on his own accord or was removed from office.[23]

We shouldn't think that the tables of Irenaeus, Demetrius and Hippolytus agreed with one another in every respect.  There were certainly likely to be disagreements.  Nevertheless one feature which certainly was universal was the assignment of March 25th as "the day of the resurrection of our Saviour."  Hippolytus certainly mentions this date as also the Incarnation of the Lord which already implies the birth of Jesus on 25th of December was also there.  These dates may or may not have also been shared by Irenaeus.  Yet the strongest evidence for Irenaeus calculating Easter tables is two curious statements he makes about the timing of Jesus's death and how old he was at his crucifixion.  In the second book of his Against Heresies, Irenaeus says Jesus was over forty and in Proof of the Apostolic Preaching that it occurred during the rule of the Emperor Claudius (41 - 54 CE).

Scholars have long puzzled over these curious 'errors' on Irenaeus's part.  The obvious solution is that it reflects Irenaeus's use of an Easter table as part of his desire to find a middle position between the Quartodecimists and those who merely venerated the 25th of March.  For we learn from the Byzantine chronicler Georgy Syncellus that a certain Annianus of Alexandria developed an Easter table from earlier material which identified the year 5534 on 25 March 42 CE.  This would help explain both the age and the timing of Jesus's crucifixion.  Yet it also does something more - it confirms that Demetrius was closely associated with Roman Church even though he was the Pope of Alexandria.  Our next step is to prove that he close to the Imperial government and with it his 'wife' and namesake Marcia Demetria.

[3] :In the 1st century BC Varro, De Lingua Latina 6.8 says that the Latin word bruma means “the shortest day” (i.e. the solstice).  From this longer quote: Dicta bruma, quod brevissimus tunc dies est; solstitium, quod sol eo die sistere videbatur, quo ad nos versum proximus est. "Bruma is so named, because then the day is brevissimus ’shortest’: the solstitium, because on that day the sol ’sun’ seems sistere ‘to halt,’ on which it is nearest to us." In the 1st century AD, Ovid also tells us in his Fasti 1.161 that bruma is the new sun: bruma novi prima est veterisque novissima solis "Midwinter is the beginning of the new sun and the end of the old one" In the 1st century AD, Pliny the Elder tells us in his Natural History 18.221, discussing the solstices and equinox that the bruma — which he still understands as the winter solstice — begins on 25 December: … omnesque eae differentiae fiunt in octavis partibus signorum, bruma capricorni a. d. VIII kal. Ian. fere, aequinoctium vernum arietis, solstitium cancri, alterumque aequinoctium librae, … "the bruma begins at the eighth degree of Capricorn, the eighth day before the calends of January, … "Later writers use bruma more loosely, and Isidore of Seville in Etymologies 5:35.6 in the 7th century says frankly that it means winter. In the 3rd century we get our first Christian connection of the birth of Christ with the sun.  Cyprian, in De pascha Computus, 19 writes: O quam præclare providentia ut illo die quo natus est Sol . . . nasceretur Christus. "O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which the Sun was born . . . Christ should be born." In the 4th century, Servius tells us in his Commentary on the Aeneid 7. 720 that the “new sun” is 25 December.  Commenting on the words of Vergil (underlined):  vel cum sole novo prima aestatis parte: nam proprie sol novus est VIII. Kal. ian.; sed tunc non sunt aristae, quas ab ariditate dictas esse constat." Or when the new sun in the first part of the year; for properly the new sun is the 8th day before the kalends of January; but at that time there are no harvests, which ab ariditate dictas esse constat." In 354 AD the Chronography of 354 displays on 25 December, the VIII kal. Ian., ”Natalis Invicti”, presumably the natalis of Sol Invictus.  This may be either the birth of the unconquered sun, or the anniversary of the dedication of the temple. In the fourth century Gregory of Nyssa comments in his Sermon on the nativity of the Saviour: "And again let us resume it: “This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it,” – (the day) on which the darkness begins to decrease, and the lengths of night are diminished by the increase of the sun’s rays. At the end of the 4th century, or perhaps later, ps.Chrysostom preaches on the solstice and the equinox.  The sermon de Solst. Et Æquin. has never been translated, but the following excerpt appears in the Catholic Encycloped, giving a reference to the 1588 edition of “II, p. 118, ed. 1588″.  I suspect in reality the material is in Migne!  This also identifies the date with the sun, and here is clearly the birth of the new sun.  It says: "Sed et dominus noster nascitur mense decembris . . . VIII Kal. Ian. . . . Sed et Invicti Natalem appelant. Quis utique tam invictus nisi dominus noster? . . . Vel quod dicant Solis esse natalem, ipse est Sol iustitiae." But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December . . . the eighth before the calends of January  . . . But they call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord. . .? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.  I was also interested in whether we could tell whether 25 December really was the astronomical solstice under the Julian calendar.  This I was unable to determine.  But it may not have been.  The solstice moves, even under the Gregorian calendar, and only astronomers in antiquity would have been measuring it exactly.  That the solstice had passed would become apparent to most people only a day or two later, perhaps.  Some remarks by Julian the Apostate in 361 — over the Christmas period — in his Hymn to King Helios are interesting in this context, as they reflect this idea of deferral.  The Kronia is of course the Greek for Saturnalia. But our forefathers, from the time of the most divine king Numa, paid still greater reverence to the god Helios. They ignored the question of  mere utility, I think, because they were naturally religious and endowed with unusual intelligence ; but they saw that he is the cause of all that is useful, and so they ordered the observance of the New Year to correspond with the present season; that is to say when King Helios returns to us again, and leaving the region furthest south and, rounding Capricorn as though it were a goal-post, advances from the south to the north to give us our share of the blessings of the year. And that our forefathers, because they comprehended this correctly, thus established the beginning of the year, one may perceive from the following. For it was not, I think, the time when the god turns, but the time when he becomes visible to all men, as he travels from south to north,that they appointed for the festival. For still unknown to them was the nicety of those laws which the Chaldaeans and Egyptians discovered, and which Hipparchus and Ptolemy perfected : but they judged simply by sense-perception, and were limited to what they could actually see.  But the truth of these facts was recognised, as I said, by a later generation. Before the beginning of the year, at the end of the month which is called after Kronos, we celebrate in honour of Helios the most splendid games, and we dedicate the festival to the Invincible Sun. And after this it is not lawful to perform any of the shows that belong to the last month, gloomy as they are, though necessary. But, in  the cycle, immediately after the end of the Kronia follow the Heliaia. That festival may the ruling gods grant me to praise and to celebrate with sacrifice ! And above all the others may Helios himself, the King of the All, grant me this, even he who from eternity has proceeded from the generative substance of the Good: even he who is midmost of the midmost intellectual gods ; who fills them with continuity and endless beauty and superabundance of generative power and perfect reason, yea with all blessings at once, and independently of time !” But the end result of all of this seems perfectly clear; in the 4-5th centuries, Christmas day was on the day of the winter solstice, as far as anyone knew, and Christ was born with the new sun, as the Sun of Justice, Sol Iustitiae.
[5] -George Syncellus 382 (p455 The Chronography of George Synkellos: A Byzantine Chronicle of Universal History from the Creation Translated with Introduction and Notes by William Adler and Paul Tuffin
[6]  Commodus, the son of a princeps and destined to be princeps, could effortlessly put himself in this tradition, especially since earlier emperors had employed elements of this tradition and paved the way. Gold, silver, and bronze coins from the two final years of Commodus' reign, which depict the princeps on the obverse and Sarapis or at times Sarapis and Isis on the reverse179, do not have a cultic motif as their primary meaning. The reverse legend Serapidi Conseru(atori), which refers to the function of protecting the transport of cereals180, in combination with Aug(ustus) Co(n)s(ul) P(ater) P(atriae) S(enatus) C(onsultum) and the various images point clearly to the political sphere. In addition, these conseruator coins recall Trajan's coin issues with the legend Iuppiter conseruator imperii princeps and conseruatori patris patriae.
[19] (1974: 309)
[20] It is well establish outside of Egypt that it was Irenaeus rather than Dionysius who acted as 'peacemaker' between bishop of Victor of Rome and those churches who were resisting his efforts to adopt the new Easter celebration.  Nevertheless as many early commentators even within the Church have noted the name of Irenaeus in Greek is something of a play on the very word for 'peacemaker.'  This has always left open the suggestion that Irenaeus might well be a title rather than a name.  Indeed it is interesting to note that Origen of Alexandria identifies the four fold canon introduced by Irenaeus and likely brought to Alexandria by Demetrius as having been established by a 'peace-maker.'[ ]
[21] which is described as "beginning with the Dositheans, it extends to the heresies of Noëtus and the Noetians, which he [Hippolytus] writes were refuted by Irenaeus in his lectures, of which his present work is a synopsis. His style is lucid, somewhat severe, and lacking in redundancies…"[ ]  The relationship is similarly established by the sixth century writer Stephen Gobar notes that "Hippolytus and Irenaeus say that the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews was not his (Paul's)."  It is important to note that the great chronicler of Church history Eusebius has very little to say about Hippolytus other than him being "the president (proestos) of another church somewhere" and importantly that Dionysius of Alexandria sent a letter to the Roman church, using one Hippolytus as a courier."  The idea that Hippolytus was still connected with Alexandria is significant and at least opens the door to the idea that Irenaeus had a presence there too.  Hippolytus is usually taken to be as devoted a student to Irenaeus as Irenaeus was to his master Polycarp.  It is noteworthy that Clement's claim that Luke was the author of the canonical Epistle to the Hebrews does not contradict the tradition of Irenaeus and Hippolytus.

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