Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pompey the Great: ‘Roman Alexander’?

Image result for pompey


Damien F. Mackey



Conventional ancient Roman history/chronology needs to be subjected to revisionist scrutiny just as we found to have been the case with ancient Egypt and the Near East.

This article will be a continuation of efforts towards trying to determine whether the seemingly impregnable fortress of conventional ancient Roman history is firmly based, or if it, too, might be susceptible to breaches when revisionist pressure is applied.





So far my revision has engaged two areas of ancient Roman history, one Republican and one Imperial.


Republican. My recently completed three-part series:


Jesus Christ was the Model for some legends surrounding Julius Caesar





found me arriving at the conclusion that the renowned ‘Julius Caesar’ was largely - if not entirely - a composite figure, based upon, among others, Jesus Christ; Alexander the Great; and Octavius (Augustus).


Imperial. Already, in my semifictional work:


I Am Barabbas





I had suggested the following possible folding of two supposedly distinct phases of early Roman imperial history, the First and Second Jewish Revolt:  


This is a hypothetical account of the life of the largely unknown Barabbas, a lestés, which description today is recognised (based on Saint John’s Gospel and Josephus) as meaning more than just a brigand, but rather a partisan fighter. “[Barabbas] had committed murder in the insurrection” (John 15:7), presumably indicating a revolutionary action against the Romans. 

According to this article, he was SIMON BAR ABBAS, the same as the famous Simon Bar Giora who led the Jewish Revolt against Rome in the 60’s AD.

Known in tradition as Jesus Barabbas, he was once baptised by the Apostle Philip as Bar-Jesus, meaning “Disciple of Jesus”, but he was not a sincere convert.

My connection between Simon Barabbas and Simon Bar Giora is based on this, albeit vague, tradition: “Some sources also say that [Barabbas] was later killed while taking part in another revolt against the Romans” (, and, conversely, that Simon Bar Giora had previous “form” as a revolutionary bandit. “[Simon Bar Giora was] already apparently known as a partisan leader”



Bar Giora (also Bar Poras), meaning “Son of the Proselyte”, can be taken as a descriptive, rather than a proper, name. The Jews were fond of using the phrase “Son of … (Man, the Father, Deception, the Lie, Iniquity, the Star, etc., etc.)”.


Now here comes the really controversial bit. 


I have for quite some time considered that the First Jewish Revolt in which Simon Bar Giora figures prominently was the very same event as the so-called Second Jewish Revolt led by the far more famous Simon Bar Kochba, or Simon “Son of the Star”, ostensibly 70 years later (during the 130’s AD), at the time of the emperor Hadrian.

Bar Kochba is a messianic figure.

I know that history can repeat itself, and that one might argue, for instance, that there were many common factors in the First and Second World Wars of the C20th. 

In previous articles I had noted that the First and Second Jewish Revolts were similarly, e.g.: 

-          of about 3 years’ duration;

-          had a prominent military leader named Simon Bar ….;

-          and had a religious leader named Eleazer.


But the most compelling argument in favour of a necessary (as I think) synchronisation of the activities of Simon Bar Giora and Simon Bar Kochba is that the destruction in Israel was so complete in the first case, at the hands of Vespasian and Titus, with the entire land devastated, the great City (Jerusalem) and its Temple completely burned to the ground, and the people slaughtered wholesale, or sent into slavery, that I do not consider it reasonable to suggest that, some 60-70 years later (and again readers might cite the recovery of nations much sooner after the First World War going in to the Second – but these nations, e.g. Germany, had not been obliterated internally), Simon Bar Kochba was able to command armies of 400,000 men in Israel against a Hadrian-led Rome and to have several of the most famous of all the Roman legions on the verge of annihilation - only afterwards to see some 580,000 Jewish men die, almost 1000 fortified villages in Israel completely devastated, once again, and the people, once again, slaughtered or taken into captivity en masse.


The “Son of the Star” was now being called, contemptuously, Bar Kozeba, “Son of Deception”, or “Son of the Lie”.


Now here is the clincher: 


The nail in the coffin of the textbook history for these times is that Simon Bar Kochba issued coins depicting “The Redemption of Israel” - oh, yes, and so did Simon Bar Giora do the exact same thing. And, guess what was depicted on Bar Kochba’s coins?: THE TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM, which I believe he was so desperately defending, with the Ark of the Covenant inside it, and a star, his own star, depicted over the Temple. 




Yet all of this had supposedly disappeared with Titus’s assault, 60-70 years earlier! Of course, the history books rationalise this – as they must always do in the case of anomalous situations caused by their faulty chronologies – by saying that Simon Bar Kochba may have resumed the Temple services for a brief time. That is, of course, even without a Temple! More natural to say, I think, that the revolt of Simon Bar Kochba preceded the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple by the Romans.


The difficulty now becomes one of “folding” early Roman Imperial history (as I think the evidence demands ought to be done) in order to align the 60’s AD with the supposed 130’s AD. An alignment of the mad Nero Domitius with the mad Domitian might perhaps suggest itself, thereby greatly easing the pressure on the chronology of St. John the Evangelist. There is that strong ancient tradition of a “Nero redivivus” (i.e., of a Nero coming to life again). Anyway, readers may be able to suggest some compelling possible model of alignment.


Such I think is entirely necessary if the Book of Apocalypse is ever to be properly interpreted.


I noted at this point that the revision has already successfully undertaken some necessary folding of Egyptian and Mesopotamian history: “Historical “folding” has also been required in Egyptian and Assyro-Babylonian history, for instance, and I think that plausible “folds” have now been achieved in those cases (at a far higher level of research than here)”.

For respective examples of this, see my:


Egypt’s Old and Middle Kingdoms Far Closer in Time than Conventionally Thought





Bringing New Order to Mesopotamian History and Chronology



Apart from the inestimable benefit of getting rid of the artificial ‘Dark Ages’ - P. James et al., Centuries of Darkness, being a leader in the field here - such revisionism can serve to make more realistic certain ancient genealogies. Thus I continued in my “Barabbas” article:  


For instance, it was found that the conventional Egyptian history, in the case of some detailed genealogies of officials serving a string of named pharaohs, ends up with a whole lot of octogenarian persons, or older, still actively functioning in office. Similarly does the received Roman Imperial chronology create aged but still active characters: e.g. John the Evangelist, in his 90’s (according to a tradition) vigorously chasing a young man on horseback; Yohanan ben Zakkai still going at 120 (highly unlikely), straddling the supposedly two Jewish Revolts. 

[End of quotes]


Now, reverting back to the Roman Republican period again, I turn to a brief consideration of Julius Caesar’s famous contemporary and fellow triumvir, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, or, as we know him better, Pompey ‘the Great’.



Is Pompey also a composite?


If there is any value in the conclusions that I reached about ‘Julius Caesar’ in my series, “Jesus Christ was the Model for some legends surrounding Julius Caesar”, then that, I believe, must put extreme pressure on the validity of ‘Pompey the Great’ himself, Caesar’s fellow triumvir (along with Crassus). More especially so as Pompey, too, like Julius Caesar, was - as we shall shortly learn - likened to Alexander the Great – Pompey perhaps even more explicitly so than Caesar was. 

N. Fields tells of it in Warlords of Republican Rome. Caesar versus Pompey (2008, p. 67):


Meteoric Rise


His flatterers, so it was said, likened Pompey to Alexander the Great, and whether because of this or not, the Macedonian king would appear to have been constantly in his mind. His respect for the fairer sex is comparable with Alexander’s, and Plutarch mentions that when the concubines of Mithridates were brought to him he merely restored them to their parents and families. …. Similarly he treated the corpse of Mithridates in a kingly way, as Alexander treated the corpse of Dareios, and ‘provided for the expenses of the funeral and directed that the remains should receive royal interment’. …. Also, like Alexander, he founded many cities and repaired many damaged towns, searched for the ocean that was thought to surround the world, and rewarded his soldiers munificently. Finally, Appian adds that in his third triumph he was said to have worn ‘a cloak of Alexander the Great’. ….


It is interesting to learn that the original name of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, who, like Pompey, would desecrate the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, was likewise “Mithridates” (


And (p. 98):


In a sense Pompey personified Roman imperialism, where absolute destruction was followed by the construction of stable empire and the rule of law. It also, not coincidentally, raised him to a pinnacle of glory and wealth. The client–rulers who swelled the train of Rome also swelled his own. He received extraordinary honours from the communities of the east, as ‘saviour and benefactor of the People and of all Asia, guardian of land and sea’. …. There was an obvious precedent for all this. As the elder Pliny later wrote, Pompey’s victories ‘equalled in brilliance the exploits of Alexander the Great’. Without a doubt, so Pliny continues, the proudest boast of our ‘Roman Alexander’ would be that ‘he found Asia on the rim of Rome’s possessions, and left it in the centre’. ….


Pompey is even supposed to have gone so far as to have tried to emulate Alexander’s distinctive appearance:


The marble bust of Pompey is in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Copenhagen). Its somewhat incongruous appearance, the round face and small lidded eyes beneath the leonine mane of hair, is because Pompey, the most powerful Roman of his day, sought a comparison with Alexander the Great, whose distinctive portraits were characterized by a thoughtful facial expression and, more iconographically, locks of hair brushed back high from the forehead, a stylistic form known as anastole, from the Greek "to put back."


Did Pompey absorb - like I argued may have been the case with Julius Caesar - not only Alexander-like characteristics, but also general Hellenistic ones?

And might that mean that the famous event of Pompey’s desecration (by his presence therein) of the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, supposedly in 63 BC:


The capture of the Temple mount was accompanied by great slaughter. The priests who were officiating despite the battle were massacred by the Roman soldiers, and many committed suicide; while 12,000 people besides were killed. Pompey himself entered the Temple, but he was so awed by its sanctity that he left the treasure and the costly vessels untouched ("Ant." xiv. 4, § 4; "B. J." i. 7, § 6; Cicero, "Pro Flacco," § 67). The leaders of the war party were executed, and the city and country were laid under tribute. A deadly blow was struck at the Jews when Pompey separated from Judea the coast cities from Raphia to Dora, as well as all the Hellenic cities in the east-Jordan country, and the so-called Decapolis, besides Scythopolis and Samaria, all of which were incorporated in the new province of Syria.


may be in fact a muddled version of that real historical incident when Antiochus (Mithridates) ‘Epiphanes’ most infamously desecrated the Temple by erecting an image of Zeus in his own likeness on the altar? 

Description: Image result for antiochus IV temple 

Jesus Christ was the Model for some legends surrounding Julius Caesar. Part Three: Divine Augustus.

Damien F. Mackey
Finally, the ‘Julius Caesar’ that has come down to us is also found to have similarities remarkably akin to those of that historically verifiable Julius Caesar, Octavianus Augustus.
The Lord of History and
the Emperor of Rome
Jesus Christ, whose birth occurred during the reign of emperor (Julius Caesar) Augustus, is the absolute Fulcrum of history. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
Professor P. Kreeft, writing of Jesus as the philosopher par excellence, has reminded us that, owing to Jesus, history is now divided between what came before his birth and whatever is subsequent to it (The Philosophy of Jesus):
Amazingly, no one ever seems to have looked at Jesus as a philosopher, or his teaching as philosophy. Yet no one in history has ever had a more radically new philosophy, or made more of a difference to philosophy, than Jesus. He divided all human history into two, into "B.C." and "A.D."; and the history of philosophy is crucial to human history, since philosophy is crucial to man; so how could He not also divide philosophy?
He, as Paul tells us (Philippians 2:6-7):
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance ….
And He ‘found that human appearance’, as a helpless baby, during the reign of the aforesaid emperor Augustus (Luke 2:1-7. NIV):

The Birth of Jesus


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. ….
Fortunately, in the last few years, the vexed problem of the “census” in Luke’s Gospel - and the true date for the Birth of Christ - has been sorted out by D. Graham in:

Ancient History, Archaeology and the Birth of Jesus Christ

Ancient History, archaeology, and the Birth of Jesus Christ
The date is 8 BC. The Lord of History apparently stands on the side of historical revisionism, correcting the conventional BC history by some 8 years.
In fact, He whose kingdom is Truth, came to correct every manner of human falsehood. Replying to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, Jesus proclaimed (John 18:37): ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me’.
The Lord of the Cosmos and the Alpha and Omega of Creation, will even defer, in part, to the lord of empire and kingdoms (Mark 12:17): “Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’. And they marvelled at him”.
Yet this was He about whom (
Paul instructs us that God made our existence take its origin in Christ Jesus as our Alpha; that God created all things in and through the First Born, the Incarnate Christ; through that same Christ who is now fully in charge of this universe; who, when He will finalize His work of submitting the Cosmos to Himself, will deliver it back to God: "When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the One who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all" (1 Cor 14:28).
Exploring Comparisons:
‘Julius Caesar’ and Octavianus
Some of the ‘Julius Caesar’, ostensibly the ‘perfect man’, that has come down to us may have picked up elements from the Divine Jesus (Ecce Homo), the God-Man; and from the Hellenistic king worship; the undefeatable Alexander the Great, the military genius.
But even if that were so, does it mean that there was not an actual Julius Caesar apart from all of this?
In the case of my recent studies of the Prophet Mohammed, I eventually came to the firm conclusion that ‘he’, a composite biblical character, did not exist in reality as a C7th AD person, and that ‘his’ biography actually plays havoc with real history:
Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History
And that the ‘Mohammed’ that has come down to us was based largely - at least up until the time of ‘his’ marriage - upon Tobias (my Job), the son of Tobit:
Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage
Is the same type of conclusion to be reached about ‘Julius Caesar’, that he was a non-real composite, from whose biography a significant piece of presumed Roman history may need to be rescued?
Military Campaigns
These took ‘Julius Caesar’ to the same places wherein Octavianus would campaign: namely, Gaul; Britain; Greece; Spain; Africa (Egypt), with a famous civil war also involved.
Julius Caesar
The military campaigns of Julius Caesar constituted both the Gallic War (58 BC-51 BC) and Caesar's civil war (50 BC-45 BC). They followed Caesar's consulship (chief magistracy) in 59 BC, which had been highly controversial. The Gallic War mainly took place in what is now France. In 55 and 54 BC, he invaded Britain, although he made little headway. The Gallic War ended with complete Roman victory at the Battle of Alesia. This was followed by the civil war, during which time Caesar chased his rivals to Greece, decisively defeating them there. He then went to Egypt, where he defeated the Egyptian pharaoh and put Cleopatra on the throne. He then finished off his Roman opponents in Africa and Spain. Once his campaigns were over, he served as Roman Dictator until his assassination on March 15, 44 BC. These wars were critically important in the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.
Julius Caesar elaborated plans for a campaign against Parthia, but his assassination averted the war.
  • 46 BCE: Octavius accompanied Julius Caesar in the public precession celebrating the victory of Caesar over his opponents in Africa.
  • 45 BCE: Octavius accompanied Caesar on his military expedition to Spain to defeat and destroy the sons of Pompey, his defeated rival, who were trying to perpetuate their father's opposition to Caesar.
    • 44 BCE: …. The troops of Octavius joined with troops which the Senate has at its command. The combined forces drove Antony out of Italy into Gaul. In the battle with Anthony's forces the two elected Consuls of Rome were killed. Octavius's troops demanded that the Senate confer the title of Consul on Octavius. Octavius was officially recognized as the son of Julius Caesar. He then took the name Gaius Julius Caesar (Octavianus). He was more generally known as Octavian during this period.
      • 42 BCE: The Senate deemed Julius Caesar as having been a god. This enhanced Octavian's status still further. Antony and Octavian undertook a military expedition to the East to defeat Brutus and Cassius. In two battles at Philippi the troops of Brutus and Cassius were defeated and Brutus and Cassius killed themselves. The Triumvirate then divided up the Empire. Anthony got the East and Gaul. Lepidus got Africa and Octavian got the West except for Italy which was to be under common control of all three.
      • 31 BCE: Antony decided to bring his forces to the western side of Greece. Cleopatra accompanied him. Octavian sent a military expedition under the command of Agrippa to challenge Antony's control of Greece. Octavian later joined Agrippa and their fleet bottled up Antony and Cleopatra's fleet in the Gulf of Ambracia. A naval battle ensued at Actium in which Cleopatra, for fear of being captured, pulled her ships out of the battle and headed back to Egypt thus ensuring the defeat of Anthony's forces. Anthony and some of his ships escaped from the battle and followed Cleopatra.
      • 30 BCE: Octavian invaded Egypt; Anthony commits suicide and Cleopatra follows suit in a tragic sequence of events. ….Octavian annexed Egypt into the Roman Empire and put it under his direct control.
      • 20 BCE: The empires of Rome and Parthia reached a peace agreement in which Parthia accepted Armenia as being within the Roman sphere of influence.
Augustus prepared invasions [of Britain] in 34 BC, 27 BC and 25 BC. The first and third were called off due to revolts elsewhere in the empire, the second because the Britons seemed ready to come to terms.[1] According to Augustus's Res Gestae, two British kings, Dubnovellaunus and Tincomarus, fled to Rome as supplicants during his reign,[2] and Strabo's Geography, written during this period, says that Britain paid more in customs and duties than could be raised by taxation if the island were conquered.[3]
Crossing the Rubicon
This is a defining moment in the ambitious progress of Julius Caesar. N. Fields tells of it in Warlords of Republican Rome. Caesar versus Pompey (2008, pp. 145-146):
… on the night of 10 January Caesar crossed the Rubicon into Italy accompanied by a single legion, legio XIII, apparently repeating, in Greek, a proverb of the time, ‘let the die be cast’. ….
On one side [of the Rubicon] Caesar still held imperium pro consule and had the right to command troops, on the other he was a mere privatus, a private citizen. It was frank initiation of a civil war. ….
Moreover, just as Julius was then faced with the situation of “the fugitives Antonius and Cassius” (p. 146), so was Octavianus - as we shall shortly learn - when he crossed the Rubicon. In fact, he would cross it twice. Fields (p. 204):
For the second time in ten months Octavianus set out to march on Rome. Crossing the Rubicon at the head of his eight legions, he then pushed on to Rome with the celerity of Caesar …. On 19 August Octavianus took over one of the vacant consulships. Cicero’s protégé, the ‘divine youth whom heaven had sent to save the state … was not quite 20 years old.
…. Antonius entered Gallia Transalpina unopposed ….
(P. 207): Their next chief task was to eliminate Brutus and Cassius ….
Again an item common to Julius Caesar and Octavianus.
The First Triumvirate was a political alliance between three prominent Roman politicians (triumvirs) which included Gaius Julius Caesar, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) and Marcus Licinius Crassus. "Pompey and Caesar now formed a pact, jointly swearing to oppose all legislation of which any one of them might disapprove. It lasted from approximately 59 BCE to Crassus' defeat by the Parthians in 53 BCE.[1] The alliance was "not at heart a union of those with the same political ideals and ambitions", but one where "all [were] seeking personal advantage."[2]
The Second Triumvirate is the name historians have given to the official political alliance of Gaius Octavius (Octavian, Caesar Augustus), Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, formed on 26 November 43 BCE with the enactment of the Lex Titia, the adoption of which is viewed as marking the end of the Roman Republic. The Triumvirate existed for two five-year terms, covering the period 43 BCE to 33 BCE. Unlike the earlier First Triumvirate,[2][3] the Second Triumvirate was an official, legally established institution, whose overwhelming power in the Roman state was given full legal sanction and whose imperium maius outranked that of all other magistrates, including the consuls.
Whether or not Julius Caesar really existed as an entity distinct from, for example, Octavianus, by the time that all of the accretions that have been added to that presumed historical person have been removed from him, and from his history, the original model will have thinned out about as radically as Julius Caesar’s famous receding hairline.
13th August 2015