(Part 7h of the series: Crucifixion the Bodily Support)
Justin Martyr on the Acuta Crux (Part 7)
In the first part previous I’ve shown how Justin Martyr brings up the figure of the σταυρός (staurós) or τρόπαιον (trópaion) and how it related to a flurry of cross and ‘T’ shaped objects, one of which definitely had an attachment that could be relate to the σκόλοψ (skólops) or acuta crux that was attached to the front of the execution pole. In the second part I showed Justin telling Antoninus Pius how the Jews sat Jesus in proper position on what he, Justin, called a βήματος (bêmatos), that is, a judgment seat, although it’s impossible to tell if that seat was also the sedilis excessu of the execution pole that turned it into a Priapus stake. In the third part I noted the peculiarity of Justin's comparison of a person who is undergoing the suspension of the σταυρός and the roasting of the Passover Lamb: because the Lamb was suspended by its front paws from a horizontal wooden beam, and impaled on a wooden spit from the hindquarters right up to the mouth, as if the acuta crux Jesus was subjected to was a regular impaling stake! In the fourth I showed how early Christians took a verse of overthrowing Jeremiah’s tree and the fruit thereof into a prophecy about how wood was caused to go onto the body of Jesus, or into his body, or both. And in the fifth I showed how Justin’s accusation to the Jewish Trypho that the Jewish religious authorities extirpated the words “from the wood” out of the 96th Psalm works in favor of the Cross of Jesus Christ having had a short (maybe it wasn’t short) impaling spike meant for the crucified to sit on. And in the sixth part I showed that spike was exactly what Justin was talking about when he spoke of the Monokeros horn fixed in the middle frame.
Horns of the Unicorn - Breakdown
Now here I will show the breakdown of the comparison with Joseph’s Horns of a μονοκέρως (monokérôs), a.k.a. Rhinoceros or Unicorn, mentioned in Deuteronomy 33:13-17 and the extremities or “limbs” of the typical Roman execution pole, called a σταυρός (staurós) or crux, ca. the mid Second Century CE.
The Indian Rhinoceros.
Rhinoceros unicornis. Credit: Krish Dulal, Wikipedia.
Again, Pliny makes mention of a monoceros or unicorn in his treatise on the terrestrial animals of India (NH 8.18.31). The description he gives does not come close to the unicorn of Medieval myth, but comes closer to the Indian rhinoceros (rhinoceros unicornis), although apparently through a 4,000 mile long game of Chinese Whispers (Telephone). So, then, Justin Martyr appears to be dealing with a rhinoceros here.
Now I will breakdown the length of the passage to see if the main frame Justin talks about is a crux-immissa (Latin cross type) or sort of, or whether it was the crux-commissa (utility pole) type, and see how the Latin translations treat Justin’s Greek for the phrase “on which are suspended.”
Here we go. First, here is the passage in toto:
Now, no one could say or prove that the horns of an unicorn represent any other fact or figure than the type which portrays the cross. For the one beam is placed upright, from which the highest extremity is raised up into a horn, when the other beam is fitted on to it, and the ends appear on both sides as horns joined on to the one horn. And the part which is fixed in the centre, on which are suspended those who are crucified, also stands out like a horn; and it also looks like a horn conjoined and fixed with the other horns.
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 91 (Donaldson-Roberts transl.) 1
And now the breakdown: the Greek and Latin texts can be found at the Documenta Catholica Omnia website. 2 All the English translations below are mine.
Mονοκέρωτος γάρ κέρατα οὐδενός ἄλλου πράγματος ἤ σχήματος ἔχοι ἄν τις εἰπεῖν καί ἀποδεῖξαι, εἰ μή τοῦ τύπου ὅς τόν σταυρόν δείκνυσιν.
Monokérôtos gár kérata oudenos állou prágmatos ê sxêmatos échoi án tis eipein kaí apodeixai, ei mê tou túpou ós tón staurón deiknusín.
“For the horns of a monokeros can provide none other undertaking or appearance that anyone could say or reveal, if not of the form that the σταυρός (staurós) points out.
Unicornis enim cornua nemo dicere aut demonstrare possit in alia re aut figura invenir, nisi in ea quae crucem exhibet.
“Namely the horns of a unicorn, no-one can say or rather demonstrate to be found in another thing or form, except in that which exhibits the crux.”
Per Monoceratis cornua nemo dicere, aut ostendere potest rem aliam, seu figuram referri, nisi eam quae cruces speciem adumbrat.
“By the horns of a monokeros no-one is able to say, or reveal any other thing, or a form to be referred, except that which represents a species of the crux.”
My comment: The Greek and the Latin translations agree with each other. And the unicorn is not the horse of Medieval myth and preteen girl fantasy, but the monokeros plinii: possibly, the Indian rhinoceros.
ὄρθιον γάρ τό ἔν ἐστι ξύλον προσαρμοσθῇ, καί ἑκατέρωθεν ὡς κέρατα τῷ ἐνί κέρατι παρεζευγμένα τά ἄκρα φαίνηται.
órthion gár tó én esti xúlon prosarmosthê, kai ekatérôthen ôs kérata tô ení kérati parezeugména tá árka faínêtai.
“For the timber is into an upright [station], indeed from/of [that] is the topmost portion erected into a ‘horn’, whenever the other timber is attached, and having been yoked beside onto that ‘horn’ those points on either side would appear as ‘horns’.”
Rectum enim unum lignum est, a quo summa pars in cornu attollitur, cum adaptum fuerit aliud lignum, et utrinque extrema, veluti cornua uni adjunct cornu apparuerint.
“Namely one timber is upright, from which the top part is lifted up into a ‘horn’, when another timber is installed and at both ends the extremities will have appeared just as a set of ‘horns’ joined to a ‘horn’.”
Hujus enim lignum unum urrectarium est, cujus pars summa tanquam cornu eminet: cum alterum lignum aptatum est, hujus extremitates instar cornuum alteri cornu junctorum proeminentes utrinque videntur.
“Namely of this one timber is erected, of which the top part rises up just as a horn: when the second timber is put on, of this the endpoints projecting out on both sides are seen [as] the equal of ‘horns’ connected to the other ‘horn’.”
Latin-3: Second Sentence:
Crux igitur nihil aliud est nisi lignum erectum. Cujus ligni, cum aliun lignum transversarium adaptur, summa pars habet cornu foram: partier utraque transversarii ligni pars prominens cornu speciem gerit;
Therefore the crux is none other except an erected timber. Of which timber, when another transverse timber is attached, the highest part holds a figure for a ‘horn’: and together each of the two transverse parts of the timber jutting out bears a semblance to a horn.
My comments: We have a tacit admission from the Roman Catholic Church that the σταυρός (staurós) / crux is none other than an upright pole, and that the transverse may not always have been attached, even though it was in the usual case in the mid Second Century CE. 3 The transverse appears to have been placed, yoked against the upright pole: προσαρμοσθῇ (prosarmosthê) “attached,” contrast with adaptatum, “having been fitted, adjusted, adapted;” aptatum, “having been fitted, adapted, applied, put on;” and adaptatur, “is fitted, adjusted, adapted.” The second attachment verb, παρεζευγμένα (parezeugména) “having been yoked beside, set beside.” Compare with adjuncta, “having been added, joined, bound to” and junctorum, “connected, adjoining, contiguous; having been joined, united, brought together, connected, yokeed.” It appears the transverse is attached as a ship’s yardarm rather than inlaid as seen in renaissance art and in films that show the crux immissa cross, consisting of two transverse beams or planks inlaid (infixum, caelaverunt) to each other. And the extremities of the transverse are not perfectly shaped as true horns but each bears a figurative resemblance to a horn.
καί τό ἐν τῷ μέσῳ πηγνύμενον ὡς κέρας καί αὐτό ἐξέχον ἐστιν, ἐφ᾽ ᾧ ἐποχοῦνται οἱ σταυρούμενοι. καί βλέπεται ὡς κέρας καί αὐτό σύν τοῖς ἄλλοις κέρασι συνεσχηματισμένον καί πεπηγμένον.
kaí tó en méso pêgnúmenon ôs kéras kaí autó exéchon estin, ef’ w epoxountai oi stauroúmenoi. kaí blépetai ôs kéras kaí autó sún tois állois kérasi sunêschematisménon kaí pepêgménon.
“And that which is fixed in the middle, and itself is projecting out just as a horn, on which are carried / ‘ride’ who are crucified / impaled. And it even looks like a horn, having been skillfully shaped and conjoined with those other horns.”
Et illud quod in medio figitur, ut ei insideant qui crucifiguntur, ipsum etiam veluti quoddam cornu eminet, et cornu speciem exhibit cum aliis cornibus conformatum et fixum.
“And that one which is fixed in the middle, so that on the same item may sit those who are crucified / impaled, likewise itself reaches upward just as a certain horn, and presents a likeness to a horn, when it is skillfully shaped and fixed with the other horns.”
Illud vero quod in medio defixum est, et ipsum tanquam cornu eminet, quo innixi sustinentur, qui crucifiguntur, et apparet veluti cornu illud quoque cum aliis cornibus conformatum atque compactum.
“Indeed that one which is fixed in at the middle, and itself reaches upward, by which having supported themselves by grasping are held upright those who are crucified / impaled, and it appears just as the well-known horn also having been skillfully shaped and assembled together with the other horns.”
Aliud etiam cornu in illo lingo cernitur, quod in media cruce fixum est, ut insideant qui cruci affiguntur. Itaque crux composite est ex cornibus unicornis.
Yet another horn is discerned on that wood, which in the middle of the crux is fixed, so that those who are fastened on to the crux may occupy it as a perch. And so the crux is assembled out of the ‘horns’ of a unicorn!
My comments: “And that which is fixed in the middle” (καί τό ἐν τῷ μέσῳ πηγνύμενον (kaí tó en méso pêgnúmenon)) is in agreement across all three Latin translations: Et illud quod in medio figitur “And that which is fixed in the middle,” illud vero quod in medio defixum est “indeed that which is infixed at the middle,” and quod in media cruce fixum est: “that which is fixed in the middle of the crux.”
The Greek “And the same is standing out / projecting as a horn” (ὡς κέρας καί αὐτό ἐξέχον ἐστιν (ôs kéras kaí autó exéchon estin)) is also in agreement between the Greek and the Latins: ipsum etiam veluti quoddam cornu eminet “likewise itself reaches upward just as a certain horn,” et ipsum tanquam cornu eminet “and itself reaches upward,” and “Aliud etiam cornu in illo lingo cernitur “And so another horn is discerned on that wood.”
The Latin-1 mentions that the horn in the middle is just like a certain horn (tanquam quoddam cornu): a cornu unicornis: either that of the monokeros plinii or rhinoceros unicornis.
The Right Reverend John Pearson appears to have had this support figured out in 1659 -- the Seventeenth Century! For he wrote:
The form then of the cross on which our Saviour suffered was not a simple but a compounded figure, according to the custom of the Romans, by whose Procurator* he was condemned to die. In which there was not only a straight and erected piece of wood fixed in the earth, but also a transverse beam fastened unto that towards the top thereof; and beside these two cutting each other transversely at right angles (so that the erected part extended itself above the transverse), there was also another piece of wood infixed into, and standing out from, that which was erected and straight up. 4
Vivat Crux Graffito, Pompeii, 79 CE.
Brought out from an on-line image of the Pozzuoli. (See n. 5)
And the Greek for “on which are carried / ‘ride’ those who are crucified / impaled” (ἐφ᾽ ᾧ ἐποχοῦνται οἱ σταυρούμενοι (ef’ w epoxountai oi stauroúmenoi) ) is reflected in the Latin-1 ut ei insideant qui crucifiguntur “so that on the same item may sit those who are crucified,” the Latin-2 quo innixi sustinentur, qui crucifiguntur, “by which having supported themselves by grasping are held upright those who are crucified” and the Latin-3 ut insideant qui cruci affiguntur “so that those those who are fastened on to the crux may occupy it as a perch.”
The Greek ἐποχοῦνται is in the famous / infamous medium voice and not only does it mean “are carried by” but also means “ride,” 6 and when it refers to a female animal in congress with a male animal, it means “couple with,” i.e., “ride” in an entirely different sense. Compare with the Latin insideant (here used in the active with a dative noun or pronoun: indirect object) “sit on, be situate on, stand upon, occupy as a perch,” and the Latin innixi (used with an ablative noun: instrumental agent) “support themselves by grasping, leaning on.”
So we have clear support in the Latin that the horn on which the crucified were carried was actually one on which they were situated, sat, perched, leaned and grasped: in other words, ‘rode’ -- coupled with. And with “the dance of the cross” it wasn’t just a simple impalement or mini-impalement, it was more like… fucking. The French and the Germans are right: the Pompeiian epithet “In crvce figarvs” (figaris) does mean va te faire crucifier and lass dich ans kreuz schlagen, “Go fuck yourself with a crux!” How rude. ;^)
IN CRVCE FIGARVS
Pozzuoli Graffito. This poor bugger was literally riding a thorn!
And the participle σταυρούμενοι is in the famous / infamous medium as well, so not only does it mean “being crucified / impaled / pile-driven,” it also means “crucifying / impaling / pile-driving themselves.” This despite the Latin documents using the passive crucifiguntur “are crucified / impaled” and cruci affiguntur “affixed to a crux (nailed to or impaled on it or both)” And note that not only does the medium voice have famous / infamous connotations, the verb σταυρόω (staurów) itself has a famous / infamous meaning as well. So when this verb is conjugated in the middle voice, it can acquire a double infamy… or more precisely, an infamy squared.
And the last “And it even looks like a horn, having been skillfully shaped and conjoined with those other horns,” the Greek (καί βλέπεται ὡς κέρας καί αὐτό σύν τοῖς ἄλλοις κέρασι συνεσχηματισμένον καί πεπηγμένον (kaí blépetai ôs kéras kaí autó sún tois állois kérasi sunêschematisménon kaí pepêgménon)) has as its Latin counterparts: et cornu speciem exhibit cum aliis cornibus conformatum et fixum “and presents a likeness to a horn, when it is skillfully shaped and fixed with the other horns;” et apparet veluti cornu illud quoque cum aliis cornibus conformatum atque compactum. “and it appears just as the well-known horn also having been skillfully shaped and assembled together with the other horns;” and Itaque crux composite est ex cornibus unicornis “And so the crux is assembled out of the ‘horns’ of a unicorn!”
The Greek and the first two Latins are in agreement that the ‘horn’ fixed in the middle actually looked like a horn. For the Greek συνεσχηματισμένον (sunêschematisménon) the first two Latins use conformatum, “skillfully / symmetrically shaped,” meaning the Greek, too, would mean “completely formed, fashioned, shaped in accordance with.”
This is confirmed with the participle πεπηγμένον, which covers the sense of having been assembled and conjoined, as well as fixed, and which is buttressed to cover those meanings by the Latins: fixum “fastened, attached, erected, set up;” compactum “joined together, frame, make by joining;” and composite est “is fitted together, joined, connected.”
And again, in the Latin-2 we have mention again of the well-known horn (cornu illud) and one has to ask, what kind? The monerceratis cornua “horns of a monokeros,” which is Pliny’s Monokeros, a mythical creature probably in my opinion derived from garbled or confused reports of what people actually saw in India --- the description of the Indian rhinoceros through a 4,000 mile game of Chinese Whispers, known in America as the game of Telephone.
And so, we have straight from Justin Martyr’s mouth that the description of the crux or σταυρός (staurós) in use at the time was shaped like a T or a mast with its yardarm and included a horn-like attachment that rose up and curved out and crucified the condemned by penetration, wherein the sufferer was quite literally fucked… and it was his own strong leg and butt muscles that were doing the fucking. And contrary to modern Christian perceptions of the Crucifiction of Jesus Christ, wherein he is portrayed as hanging from a tropaeum cross, Justin Martyr has the poor man literally fucking himself on a Priapus stake! And less than a century later, Origen, in Alexandria across the Mediterranean from Rome, called crucifixion the mors turpissima crucis (the most polluted death of the cross) 7. Why? Because it was an ugly parody of male-on-male sex, meant to kill in a manner so cruel, hideous and unspeakably vile, others would be deterred from doing the same crimes the crucified ones committed.
Maybe it helps explains why Christianity has been so homophobic throughout its history.
Next, Irenaeus and his five ends and high points.
Greek and Latin Word Definitions.
Not all the definitions of the Greek and Latin words included above will be presented here. The ones that aren’t, can be looked up at Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, IBG Greek Verb Chart, Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Numen Word Study Tool, and William Whitaker’s Words.
ἐξέχον (exéchon): participle singular present active neuter nominative, “standing out, projecting.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
ἐποχοῦνται (epoxountai): verb third person plural indicative middle of ἐποχέομαι (epoxéomai) “be carried, ride,” which appears to be the first person medium-passive counterpart of the active verb ἐποχεύω (epoxeúô) “of the male animal: spring upon, cover, (in the medium) couple with.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, ἐποχέομαι, ἐποχεύω; BGI Verb Ending Chart, Link. (Note: medium = middle)
παρεζευγμένα (parezeugména): participle plural perfect passive neuter nominative of παραζεύγνυμι (parazeúgnumi), “having been joined, yoked against, coupled.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link; IBG Greek Word Chart, Link.
πεπηγμένον (pepêgménon): participle singular perfect middle-passive neuter nominative, “having been fixed, compacted, planted, fastened together, fitted together, constructed, built.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
προσαρμοσθῇ (prosarmosthê): verb third person present indicative passive of προσαρμόζω (prosarmózô), “attach closely to.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link; IBG Greek Verb Chart, Link.
σταυρούμενοι (stauroúmenoi): participle plural present middle-passive masculine nominative, “being fenced with pales, pile-driven, impaled, crucified [or actively doing the same to themselves!].” IBG Verb Ending Chart, Link. Perseus Word Study Tool, Link. See also FdVR post Σταυρόω.
συνεσχηματισμένον (sunêschematisménon): participle singular perfect middle-passive neuter nominative, “having been given a certain form, formed, fashioned, arranged” + “with, along with, altogether, completely.” From σύν- (sún-) and σχηματίζω (schêmatízô) Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link1, Link2, IBG Verb Ending Chart, Link.
adaptatum: participle singular perfect passive neuter nominative of adapto, “having been fitted.” Lewis and Short, Link; William Whittaker’s Words, Link.
adaptatur: verb third person present indicative passive of adapto, “is fitted.” Lewis and Short, Link; William Whitaker’s Words, Link.
adjuncta: participle singular perfect passive feminine nominative of adjungo, “having been added, joined, bound to.” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
aptatum: participle singular perfect passive neuter nominative, “having been put on.” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
compactum: participle singular perfect passive neuter nominative, “having been joined together, frame, made by joining.” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
composite: participle singular perfect passive neuter vocative, “having been brought together, placed together, united, fit together, joined, connected,” (i.e., assembled). Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
conformatum: participle singular perfect passive neuter nominative, “having been formed, fashioned, shaped symmetrically of skillfully.” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
crucifiguntur (cruci + figuntur): noun single masculine dative + verb third person plural present indicative passive, “are fixed, fastened, thrust on, affixed and / or attached to a tree, pole, gallows, frame and / or stake (i.e.: crucified, impaled).” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link 1, Link 2.
eminet: verb third person singular present indicative active, “standing out, projecting, reaching upward.” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
fixum: participle singular perfect passive neuter nominative, “having been fixed, fastened, attached, affixed, posted, erected, set up.” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
innixi: c. w/ dat. or abl., participle plural perfect passive masculine nominative of innitor: “having leaned upon, having supported oneself by.” The references indicated by the Lewis and Short indicates that when the passive is used with the ablative, it appears to become the medium (ex’s.: ipse hasta innixus, “grasping [and leaning on] his spear” (Livy 4.19.4) (Spillan transl.: “by help of his lance”), et innixus moderamine navis “And taking hold uppon the sterne” (Ovid Metamorphoses 15.726) (Golding transl.)). Perseus Word Study Tool, Link.
insideant: verb third person present subjunctive active of insideo: “may sit on, settle on, be situate upon, occupy as a perch.” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
junctorum: adjective plural neuter genitive of junctus, “connected, adjoining, contiguous;” participle plural perfect passive neuter genitive of jungo, “having been joined, united, brought together, connected, yoked.” Perseus Digital Library Lewis and Short, Link 1 and Link 2; William Whitaker’s Words, Link.
Text References and Notes.
1. New Advent.org, Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 91, Link.
2. Documenta Catholica Omnia, Justin Martyr, Dialogus cum Tryphone Judaeo 91, PDF p. 111-112, cols. 692, 693 for the Greek and cols. 691, 694 for the Latin-1, Link; Irenaeus, Contra Haereses Lib. II., PDF p. 184, col. 794, n. (39) for the Latin-2, Link; and Justin Martyr, PDF p. 111, col. 692, n. (71) for the Latin-3.
4. Pearson, John, D.D., Chevallier, Temple, B.D., rev. and corr., An Exposition of the Creed, Cambridge, England, The University Press (1859), p. 384-5. See also p. 385, n. 1. (You may see the 1847 ed. at Google Books Preview, Link, pp. 362-5 and p. 364, n. 99)
5.. Zaninotto, Gino; Savarino, P. and Scannerini, eds.; “The Shroud and Roman Crucifixion: A Historical Review;” The Turin Shroud, past, present and future - International Scientific Symposium (Turin, 2-5 March 2000); Cantalupa: Effatà Editrice (2000), pp. 285-324, Puzzuoli Graffito fig. 5. P. 305, Vivat Crux fig. 6 p. 306. On-line image of the Pozzuoli kindly provided by Antonio Lombatti.
6. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin, Ed., A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), “CRUX” (Link):
It was impossible that the whole weight of the body should rest upon the nails; hence there was a piece of wood projecting from the stipes on which the sufferer sat, or rather rode (κέρας ἐφ᾽ ᾦ ἐποχοῦνται οἱ σταυρούμενοι, Just. Mart. Dial. c. Tryph. 91; sedilis excessus, Tertull. adv. Nat. 1.12; cf. Iren. adv. Haer. 1.12). The expression acuta si sedeam cruce, in the famous lines of Maecenas ap. Sen. Ep. 101, probably refers to this support, and not, as Lipsius thought, to impalement (see Archd. Farrar in Dict. of the Bible, s. v. Cross). when it was wanting, the body was probably sustained by ropes….
The wording is unclear, but I suspect that the above authors presumed the sufferer ‘rode’ the piece the way one rides a horse or a bicycle. Epigraphy indicates otherwise.
7. Origen, Commentary on Matthew 27:22ff, ap. Hengel, Martin; Bowden, John, transl.; Crucifixion. Philadelphia, Fortress Press (1977), p. xi: "son solum homicidam postulantes ad vitam, sed etiam iustum ad mortem et ad mortem turpissimam cruces 'asking not only life for a murderer but also death for an innocent man, indeed the utterly vile death of the cross.'" We now know that Origen certainly did not mean the cross nearly all Christians today think was the gear of Jesus’ execution. If nothing or no one else, Celsus made sure of that.