Apparently, the righteous are able  to choose certain damned souls, who   are then released from eternal punishment and receive baptism (literal  or figurative) that they might be saved  with their counterparts. Buchholz concludes that  this scene “teaches a form of universal salvation,that is, if any who are saved request pardon for any  wicked, . . . the latter will be released from punishment.”106

These same lines are paraphrased in the  Sibylline Oracles, and the doctrine therein is the  same, whereby some of the damned souls are given  salvation at the hands of God through intervention  by righteous people. Interestingly, the later Ethiopic ranslation of the Apocalypse of Peter changes the  wording of these lines so that no second chance  could be interpreted from the text. This was likely  done because “someone had theological objections to it.” 107 Further, the Sibylline Oracles, when paraphrasing  this scene from the Apocalypse of Peter,contains a small interjectory note written by a later  author declaring that the doctrine taught concerning  damned souls was “plainly false: for the fire will  never cease to torment the damned. I indeed could pray that it might be so, who am branded with the  deepest scars of transgressions which stand in need of utmost mercy. But let Origen be ashamed of his  lying words, who saith that there is a term set to  the torments.” 108 The idea that righteous people could intervene on behalf of the condemned and  that their punishment would see an end was apparently held by the authors of these two texts and by  Origen. According to such beliefs, which are related  to other teachings of the era about affecting the  salvation of the dead, baptism on their behalf certainly  seems plausible. Another important area of  research in relation to the doctrine of salvation for  the dead is Christ’s three-day descent into Sheol or  Hades. Early Christians believed that after Christ  died on the cross, he descended into hell to evangelize  the dead. To those who accepted him, he placed  his “name upon their head(s)” and made them
“free.” 109 This rite was called Chrismation, which  would almost always be linked with baptism in later church practice.110 After preaching to the unevangelized  dead, Christ returned to the earth for his  Forty-Day ministry, in which he was continually  “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
A common form of symbolism to express   Christ’s descent is breaking the gates of hell or  unlocking them with his key,111 as discussed in the  “Harrowing of Hell,” the first article in this series.112
Christ’s mention of his descensus to Sheol to preach  the gospel and free the captives there is certainly  linked with the idea that  the dead therefore need  baptism.113 If they need the gospel preached to  them, why not the saving rite of baptism?

The  Epistula Apostolorum, a composition dating  roughly to ad 140–150, describes the purpose for  Christ’s descent. In the text, the Savior speaks of  the resurrection and the ultimate redemption and  judgment of the souls on earth, in which all men  will be judged “in regard of that that they have done, whether it be good or evil.” He then continues  with this important statement:
For to that end went I down unto the place of   Lazarus, and preached unto the righteous and the prophets, that they might come out of the rest which is below and come up into that which  is above; and I poured out upon them with my right hand the water (baptism, Eth.) of life and  forgiveness and salvation from all evil, as I have  done unto you and unto them that believe on
The Savior indicates that his descent and preaching  to the righteous dead and the former prophets are  tied to the resurrection. Further, the righteous dead,the former prophets, and those who are unevangelized,receive the “water of life,” or baptism—the very  thing that brings “salvation from all evil.” Apparently,this was a central reason for his descent into  the underworld—to provide baptism for the righteous  souls there that they might be judged correctly  and “come up into that which is above.”
The gnostic writing the Apocryphon of John   (which is a conversation between the risen Lord and  the apostle John written around ad 150) 115 discusses  further the purpose of Christ’s descent. Within the  text the divine Forethought 116 reveals to John:
I entered the midst of darkness and the bowels  of the underworld,117 turning to my task. The  foundations of chaos shook as though to fall   upon those who dwell in chaos and destroy  them. . . . I hurried back to the root of my light  so they might not be destroyed before their  time. . . . I brightened my face with light from  the consummation of their realm and entered  the midst of their prison, which is the prison of  the body. I said, Let whoever hears arise from  deep sleep.118
The text concludes with Christ meeting a certain  person in the depths, someone who is repentant  and ready to be released. Christ then notes, “I raised  and sealed the person in luminous water with Five  Seals that death might not prevail over the person  from that moment on.” 119 In a number of separate Sethian writings (the gnostic Christian community  or classification to which the Apocryphon of John  is attributed), the Five Seals referred to are thought  to be the “final act of deliverance” or “a baptismal
rite.” 120 Thus the final saving ordinance that instills life and awakens those who are dead from their  “deep sleep” is the rite of baptism.
The theme of the Five Seals is discussed further  in a number of other texts. The Trimorphic Protennoia  (NHC XIII) uses the symbolism in a way that  confirms the interpretation of the Five Seals as  some form of baptismal rite or liturgy.121 Composed  sometime in the early to middle second century  ad—and possibly even included “in a codex that  originally contained the long version of the Apocryphon  of John” and On the Origin of the World 122—it    recounts the three descents of the gnostic savior
called Protennoia (interpreted to be Christ by the  gnostic Christians using the work). During one of  the descents, Protennoia describes cleansing a person  and providing him with certain salvific initiations.
The text recounts:
[I gave to him] from the Water [of Life, which  strips] him of the Chaos [that is in the] uttermost  [darkness] that exists [inside] the entire  [abyss], that is, the thought of [the corporeal]  and the psychic. All these I put on. And I  stripped him of it and I put upon him a shining Light, that is, the knowledge of the Thought of  the Fatherhood. And I delivered him to those who give robes—Yammon, Elasso, Amenai—and they [covered] him with a robe from the robes of the Light; and I delivered him to the Baptists and they baptized him—Micheus, Michar, Mn[e]s[i]nous—and they immersed  him in the spring of the [Water] of Life. . . .

And  I delivered him to those who glorify—Ariom,  Elien, Phariel—and they glorified him with  the glory of the Fatherhood. And those who snatch away snatched away—Kamaliel [ ]anen, Samblo, the servants of <the> great holy Luminaries—and they took him into the light—[place] of his Fatherhood. And [he received]the Five Seals from [the Light] of the Mother,
Protennoia, and it was [granted] him [to] partake  of [the mystery] of knowledge, and [he became a Light] in Light.123
In the text, the Five Seals are taken in conjunction  with other ceremonial practices that together  provide the culminating salvation for the recipient.
Salvation is hence described through “stripping,investing in a garment of light, robing, spring baptism,enthroning, glorifying and rapture, followed  by reception of the five seals from the Light of the  Mother so that (the recipient) partakes of the mystery  of knowledge and becomes a light in light.” 124
Baptism and the Five Seals intertwine with other  saving rituals to provide salvation for those who are  recipients; one is  incomplete without the other. The  ordinances mentioned in the text are reminiscent  of temple themes encountered in apocalyptic  Jewish  texts centered on themes of ascent and ethereal  ritual, where the recipient of such blessings is normally  taken to heaven.125
While introducing the Trimorphic Protennoia,the translator/commentator declares that “the baptismal  rite of the Five Seals is a mystery of celestial  ascent which strips off the psychic and somatic garments  of ignorance, transforming and purifying  Protennoia’s members and clothing them with radiant  light.” 126 Further, “the author’s [of the gnostic  texts in question] reference to the recipients of this  rite in the first-person plural and as ‘brethren’ suggests  a [Sethian] community with a well-established  tradition of water baptism which has been spiritualized  into a mystery of ascent.” 127
These Sethian gnostics appear to elicit an  elaborate liturgy and doctrine by viewing baptism  and celestial ascent as two sides of the same coin.
Indeed, their writings indicate a near obsession with  receiving the saving gnosis and ultimately removing  themselves from this world through liturgical rites.
In these texts, then, the celestial ascent appears  inseparable from baptism and the Five Seals.128 Each  provides a connecting link and an escape from  the shackles of mortality, allowing the recipient to be reborn. Interestingly, they extend this doctrine  to cover the dead as well, as already noted in the  Apocryphon of John. Thus, the dead who receive the  gnostic salvation will be baptized and receive the  accompanying rites and all things surrounding the  Five Seals.
In the Apocryphon of John, immediately prior  to the scene that speaks of the Five Seals and saving  the dead, John poses a question that elicits a curious  response from the risen Lord. John asks, “Lord,how can the soul become younger and return into  its mother’s womb, or into the human?” 129 The commentator  notes, “Returning to the mother’s womb  is also a theme encountered in John 3:4,” in which  a similar inquiry is made by Nicodemus, “How  can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter  the second time into his mother’s womb, and be  born?” In responding to the query of Nicodemus,Christ teaches him, “Except a man be born of water  and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom  of God” (John 3:5). In his response to John in the  gnostic text, the Savior recounts, “You are truly  blessed, for you have understood. This soul will be  made to follow another soul in whom the spirit of  life dwells, and she is saved through that one.” 130


Baptistery of the Orthodox, Ravenna, Italy. Scala / Art Resource, NY.

The Lord’s phrasing appears to suggest vicarious or  proxy salvation in which the living provide those  who are “dead” in some sense with access to saving  grace. The soul, when being reborn, must follow one  who is already living, in whom “life” dwells. To save  those souls who need the opportunity to be reborn,the act must become operative through a living  agent. What could the living do to assist the dead to  gain salvation—taking into account the close parallel  between the question asked by Nicodemus and
the question posed in the gnostic text? Given the  Lord’s answer to Nicodemus (to be born of water  and of the spirit), it seems the answer  would be baptism for the dead.
Another gnostic text, the Pistis  Sophia,131 a discursive writing purporting  to contain the instructions of  the risen Lord to his apostles, hints at  vicarious baptism for those who die  without the ordinance. In one particularly  notable scene, Maria (Mary)  poses the question to Jesus:
My Lord, if a good man has  fulfilled all the mysteries, and he has  a relative, in a word, he has a man  and that man is an impious one who  has committed all the sins which are  worthy of the outer darkness; and  he has not repented; or he has completed  his number of cycles in the  changes of the body, and that man  has done nothing profitable and has  come forth from the body; and we  have known of him certainly that  he has sinned and is worthy of the  outer darkness; what should we do  to him so that we save him from the  punishments of the dragon of the  outer darkness, so that he is returned  to a righteous body which will find
the mysteries of the Kingdom of the  Light, and become good and go to  the height, and inherit the Kingdom
of the Light? 132
Maria is wondering about the status  of condemned souls, or those who  have sinned and also lacked the “mysteries”
that are given to the elect. The  condemned souls are deceased, for to  reach the Kingdom of Light they must  be “returned to a righteous body.” The “mysteries”  to which Maria refers are of great importance in  understanding the Lord’s response. Upon hearing  the question, Christ responds:
If you want to return them from the punishments  of the outer darkness and all the judgments,and return them to a righteous body  which will find the mysteries of the light, and  go to the height and inherit the Kingdom of  Light—perform the one mystery of the Ineffable  which forgives sins at all times. And when you  have finished performing the mystery, say: “The  soul of such and such a man on whom I think  in my heart, when it comes to the place of the  punishments of the chambers of the outer darkness;or when it is in the rest of the punishments  of the chambers of the outer darkness and the  rest of the punishments of the dragon: may it be   returned from them all. And when it finishes  its number of cycles in the changes, may it be  taken to the presence of the Virgin of Light; and  may the Virgin of the Light seal it with the seal  of the Ineffable, and cast it in that very month  into a righteous body which will find the mysteries  of the light in it, and become good, and  go to the height and inherit the Kingdom of the  Light. And furthermore, when it has completed  the cycles of the changes, may that soul be taken  to the presence of the seven virgins of the light  which are in charge of (lit. over) the baptism.
And may they place it (the baptism) upon that  soul, and seal it with the sign of the Kingdom of  the Ineffable, and may they take it to the ranks  of the light.” . . . Truly, I say to you: the soul  for which you shall pray, if indeed it is in the  dragon of the outer darkness, it will withdraw  its tail out of its mouth, and release that soul.133
The gnostic Christ tells Maria  that the soul of an unrepentant man  may reach the Kingdom of Light  and be released from the place of  punishments if certain procedures  are undertaken in his name, mainly  the “mystery of the Ineffable which  forgives sins at all times.” A person  on earth is to perform this mystery  as a proxy for the deceased relative  or friend; the living proxy merely  thinks of that person while performing  the rite and it will serve to release  the person from outer darkness. The significance of this passage is that a  living soul undergoes a certain rite,the mystery of the Ineffable (perhaps  baptism as this rite is connected with
forgiveness of sins), combined with  prayer, which directly influences the  salvation of a deceased soul; it is a  proxy rite of the clearest nature.
The Shepherd of Hermas teaches   that the dead will receive baptism  and hints at proxy work in a manner  similar to the Pistis Sophia. In the  apocalyptic visions, Hermas sees the  apostles preaching to the spirits in  the underworld. The text states, “They  had to rise through water. . . in order  to be made alive. In no other way  could they enter the reign of God,unless they put off the deadliness of  their [first] life. So too, those who  had fallen asleep received the seal  and [entered the reign of God]. Before  bearing the name of [the Son of] God . . . a person  is dead. But upon receiving the seal, the person puts  aside deadliness and takes on life. So the seal is the  water. Into the water they go down dead and come  up alive. The seal was proclaimed to them, and they
profited from it to enter into the reign of God.” 134
In her commentary on this specific verse, Professor  Carolyn Osiek declares that “the association  of passing through water with entering the kingdom  of God (v. 2) and receiving the seal is unmistakably  a reference to baptism; . . . the absolute necessity of  baptism is implicit here [the dead included].” 135However the Shepherd of Hermas is not finished.
Having learned this, he then asks, “Why, sir   . . . did the forty stones rise with them from the  depth already having the seal?” He is answered thus,  These are the apostles and teachers who proclaimed  the name of the Son of God, who,having fallen asleep in power and faith of the Son of God, even proclaimed to those who had previously fallen asleep and gave them the  seal of the proclamation. They descended with  them into the water and came up again, except  that these descended alive and came up alive.
Because of them, these others were enlivened  and came to know the name of the Son of God.
. . . They [those being baptized] fell asleep in  justice and great purity, except they did not  have this seal.136 
The dead are given baptism at the hands of  the apostles and teachers. Yet for some reason, the  dead who are baptized and receive life have some  forty people rise with them who already have the  seal, or baptism. The wording “descended alive  and came up alive” appears to indicate that these  are souls who are already baptized. Could this be  a reference to proxy baptisms? Osiek concludes:
“These verses, without saying so, present a good  argument in favor of baptism in the name of the  dead, apparently already an act of piety in first  century   Corinth. . . . here with the pre-Christian  dead, the problem is . . . they practiced virtue in  their lives, but had not received baptism. Through  the apostles and teachers, this problem is solved.” 137
The text is certainly vague enough to allow for the  interpretation, and it seems interesting that the  Shepherd of Hermas, a widely used text for early  Christians, would contain such language. This is  not conclusive evidence for vicarious baptisms, yet  the texts reviewed indicate that some form of proxy  work is possible and that it is related to the “rebirth”  provided through baptism.
One thing is quite certain, however—nearly all  the texts purporting to contain teachings of Christ   concerning salvation for the dead emphasize that  his teachings were closely guarded, reserved only  for those whom the Lord deemed worthy to hear   them.138 Indeed, of all the major themes presented
in the texts, this one is quite pervasive. Because of  this discretion, much remains unknown regarding  the circulation and general understanding of these  doctrines. Likely, few people had access to the texts  that claim to contain the “hidden” teachings of the  resurrected Lord. Hugh Nibley pointed out that  much of Christ’s recorded teachings on important  doctrinal topics—though only a fraction of what he  taught 139—remain shrouded in mystery, 140 particularly  Christ’s teachings concerning salvation for the
dead.141 Given this point, we should be appreciative  of what evidence still exists.
From the texts mentioned it seems clear that  a belief among some early Christian communities  was that the dead could be saved, perhaps through  vicarious work, and that many of them would  receive baptism. The ultimate question regards  form: Were the baptisms to be performed vicariously  by the living on behalf of the dead, as was  done historically by the groups previously mentioned  (and as hinted at in some texts)? Or do these  texts purport that baptism is received by the dead  only in the afterlife, with no proxy or living agent  involved?
It appears, ultimately, that the Corinthians, or  at least the reference to them in 1 Corinthians 15:29,inspired following generations of Christians to  engage in vicarious ordinance work. In the remaining  section we will set forth evidence showing that  such a practice was performed in ancient Christianity  and was more common than one might suppose.


David L. Paulsen, and Brock M. Mason

David L. Paulsen is a professor of philosophy at BYU. Brock M. Mason is an undergraduate at BYU and is double majoring in philosophy and ancient Near Eastern studies. The authors gratefully thank Laura Rawlins, Shirley Ricks, Aaron Tress, George Scott, and James Siebach for their skillful editing and the College of Humanities and the Maxwell Institute for their generous funding. The authors would also like to thank Judson Burton who was largely responsible for the exegetical section of this paper. Thanks also to at least three unnamed reviewers for their careful critiques of earlier drafts of this paper. The paper is stronger for their inputs.


106. Buchholz, Your Eyes Will Be Opened, 348.
107. Buchholz, Your Eyes Will Be Opened, 348.
108. Montague R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament: Apocryphal  Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses (Oxford: Clarendon,  1924), 524.
109. Odes of Solomon 42:20; see further Paulsen, Cook, and Christensen,“Harrowing of Hell,” 62–65.
110. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (London: Continuum,2008), 207. Kelly remarks how the rites of Chrismation
became increasingly important and were used more  and more in conjunction with baptism at the beginning of
the third century—although the rite itself existed much earlier.
In Chrismation, the initiate is anointed with sacred oil,known as chrism, while a priest speaks certain words and
performs the sign of the cross. The words repeated indicate  that the initiate will have sealed upon him the gifts of the
Holy Spirit. It is often, though not always, performed with  the rite of baptism. It is still practiced today in orthodox
churches, particularly of the East.
111. See Revelation 1:18; Christ has the “keys of hell and of  death.”
112. Paulsen, Cook, and Christensen, “Harrowing of Hell,” 62–66.
113. Note Odes of Solomon 42:11, 14, 17–20, in which Christ  descends to Sheol and creates a “congregation of living
(people) . . . and (I, Christ) placed My name upon their head.
Because they are free, and they are mine.” Though the odes  are mainly hymns and poetic in nature, they purport to be
the revelations and teachings of the risen Lord to the odist,hence the conversational nature.
114. Taken from Epistle of the Apostles, in Montague R. James,trans., The Apocryphal New Testament: Being the Apocryphal
Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses (Oxford: Oxford University  Press, 1974), 494, parenthetical explanations provided
by the translator.
115. John D. Turner notes, “The Secret Book of John contains what  purport to be secret teachings revealed by Christ in a postresurrection  appearance to the apostle John the son of Zebedee.”
Turner, introduction to the text, in Nag Hammadi Scriptures,ed. Marvin Meyer (New York: HarperOne, 2007), 104.
116. The divine Forethought that descends into darkness in the  extended ending of the Apocryphon of John is generally
understood to refer to Jesus. The corresponding footnote by  Meyer in Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 131 n. 138, reads that the
“hymn of heavenly Forethought, the divine Mother,” depicts her “as Savior.” However, “in the present Christianized version
of the Secret Book of John readers may understand the  Savior to be Jesus.”
117. Michael Waldstein and Frederik Wisse, eds., The Apocryphon  of John: Synopsis of Nag Hammadi Codices II,1; III,1; and
IV,1 With BG 8502,2 (Leiden: Brill, 1995), 171. The translation  appears thus: “I entered into the midst of darkness and
the inside of Hades. . . . And I entered into the midst of their prison which is the prison <of> the body. And I said, ‘He
who hears, let him get up from the deep sleep.” Note the  translators rendering the Coptic word for “underworld” as
“Hades,” signifying this is indeed the resting place of the  dead.
118. Selections from Apocryphon of John—Hymn of the Savior  30,11–31,25, in Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 131–32.
Further, Meyer explains that the phrase to “arise from deep sleep” is in fact, “the call to awaken” that “addresses a prototypal
sleeper—any person who may awaken to knowledge and salvation.” In other words, Christ’s descent is a call to
those who are residing in the underworld to receive knowledge  (gnosis) and ultimately salvation—posthumous salvation.
119. Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 132: In some sense, the person,after receiving the Savior and the “Five Seals,” receives
new life and awakens from “deep sleep,” or receives salvation.
120. Turner, introduction to the text, in Meyer, Nag Hammadi  Scriptures, 106. He notes, “Several Sethian treatises present
this final act of deliverance as a baptismal rite (the Holy Book  of the Great Invisible Spirit, Three Forms of First Thought,
Melchizedek, the Revelation of Adam, Zostrianos, and perhaps  Marsanes), usually called the Five Seals (Three Forms of
First Thought; the longer versions of the Secret Book of John;   the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit; and the untitled
text of the Bruce Codex).”
121. Alastair H. B. Logan, “The Mystery of the Five Seals: Gnostic  Initiation Reconsidered,” Vigiliae Christianae 51/2 (1997):
188. This article investigates the Five Seals in numerous  texts.
122. This is the contention of Yvonne Janssens in the translation/commentary of the text, contained in La Prôtennoia Trimorphe
(Québec: Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 1978), 2–5.
123. Charles W. Hedrick, ed., Trimorphic Protennoia 48,5–35,in Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII (Leiden: Brill, 1990),
124. Logan, “Mystery of the Five Seals,” 188.
125. Martha Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven in Jewish and Christian  Apocalypses (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993),
9–46; this chapter examines the mythic ascent of Enoch in  Enochic literature, his investment with priestly garments,
and his ultimate transfiguration. The entire book focuses on such ascents, where ritualistic notions are accompanied by
transcendent visions into heaven.
126. Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII, 379.
127. Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII, 379.
128. Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII, 379.
129. “The Secret Book of John—On Human Destiny,” 25,16–30,11,in Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 129.
130. Some scholars have interpreted this verse as an indication  that the souls of these men will have some form of reincarnation.
Although this is true in one sense, those who are  “saved” through “another soul in whom life dwells” will no
longer receive this reincarnation. Trumbower, in his work Rescue for the Dead, 111–12, mentions that these verses
(and some preceding it) speak of a “reincarnation for some souls.” He cites as a source Michael A. Williams, who likewise
claims this verse is speaking of reincarnation. Michael  A. Williams, Rethinking “Gnosticism”: An Argument for
Dismantling a Dubious Category (Princeton: Princeton University  Press, 1996), 197. Once John poses the question concerning
reentering the womb, a new group (of saved-souls) is  meant. The Lord responds: “This soul will be made to follow
another soul in whom the spirit of life dwells, and she is  saved through that one. Then she will not be thrust into flesh
again.” Thus, reincarnation may only apply to those spirits  who are not saved, according to the gnostic text.
131. The text is roughly dated to ad 250–300 and penned by a  gnostic Christian. It is also likely that each of the four books
that comprise the Pistis Sophia were composed by different  people, given the textual variance found in the different
132. Carl Schmidt, ed., Violet Macdermot, trans., Pistis Sophia—Book III, 128 (Leiden: Brill, 1978), 322–23.
133. Schmidt and Macdermot, Pistis Sophia—Book III, 128, 323–24.
134. Similitude 9:16, 2–4, in Carolyn Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas:A Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999), 232, brackets
in original.
135. Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas, 238.
136. Similitude 9:16, 5–7, in Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas, 232–33.
137. Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas, 238.
138. The Gospel of Thomas records in the prologue, “These are  the hidden sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Judas
Thomas the Twin recorded.” Likewise, the Apocryphon of  John expresses a similar sentiment in its opening lines: “the
teaching of the Savior, and [the revelation] of the mysteries  [and the things] hidden in silence, things he taught his
disciple John.” Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 139, 107.
These sayings were considered highly sacred, and as such  were likely not widely circulated in the ancient world. The
teachings contained therein would have been known only by  a select few.
139. See John 21:25: “There are also many other things which  Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one,
I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the  books that should be written. Amen.” It is interesting that the
apostle John, in composing his own Gospel, notes the scant  amount of information provided concerning the historical
140. Hugh Nibley, “Baptism for the Dead in Ancient Times,” in  Mormonism and Early Christianity (Salt Lake City: Deseret
Book and FARMS, 1987), 103–5. Nibley points out the peculiar  dearth of information provided by the apostles for some
of the most important of teachings, such as the “keys of the  kingdom,” which, as he explains, likely refers to salvation for
the dead.
141. Nibley, “Baptism for the Dead,” 103–9. On page 102, Nibley  points to an important discussion allegedly between Clement
and Peter as initial evidence. Clement poses the question, “If  the righteous ones whom he finds will participate and delight
in the kingdom of Christ, then those who have died beforehand  have missed out on his kingdom (referring to those
who die before the advent of Christ).” In response, Peter  assures him that such a scandal could not occur and that
salvation has been made available to them. He also reminds  Clement: these are “hidden matters, Clement. It is not irksome
for me to tell you, as far as I am permitted to reveal.”
Clementine Recognitions 1.52, in F. Stanley Jones, An Ancient  Jewish Christian Source on the History of Christianity:
Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1.27–71 (Atlanta: Scholars,1995), 84. It is not clear why these doctrines would require
such secrecy. A number of authors such as Nibley include  this teaching as an esoteric doctrine of Christianity, one
that was principally carried on by word rather than through  scripture and one that was preserved only for the most righteous
of Saints. It seems quite clear that traditions like this  did exist in the early church, and the possibility that proxy  baptism was included among this category is quite plausible.

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“Celtic” and Mediterranean Interaction-(ΚΕΛΗΤΕΣ-CELTS-PART I)


The Dagda

Dagda’s Harp

The supreme god of the Celtic pantheon appears to have been the Dagda. The name means the ‘Good God’, not good in a moral sense, but good at everything, or all-powerful. The Dagda is a father-figure, a protector of the tribe and the basic Celtic god of whom other male Celtic deities were variants. Celtic gods were largely unspecialised entities, and perhaps we should see them as a clan rather than as a formal pantheon. In a sense, all the Celtic gods and goddesses were like the Greek Apollo, who could never be described as the god of any one thing.

Because the particular character of Dagda is a figure of burlesque lampoonery in Irish mythology, some authors conclude that he was trusted to be benevolent enough (or ineffectual) to tolerate a joke at his expense.The supreme god of the Celtic pantheon appears to have been the Dagda.

Irish tales depict the Dagda as a figure of power, armed with a club and associated with a cauldron. In Dorset there is a famous outline of an ithyphallic giant known as the Cerne Abbas Giant with a club cut into the chalky soil. While this was probably produced in Roman times, it has long been thought that it represents the Dagda. This has been called into question by recent studies which show that there may have been a representation of what looks like a large drapery hanging from the horizontal arm of the figure, leading to suspicion that this figure actually represents Hercules(Herakles), with the skin of the Nemean Lion over his arm and carrying the club he used to kill it. In Gaul, it is speculated that the Dagda is associated with Sucellos, the striker, equipped with a hammer and cup.

The Morrigan

In the Irish branch of Celtic mythology, the Dagda’s consort was known by various names. The most common of these was the Morrigan. Her name is pronounced in modern Irish as “More Ree-an”; in old Irish the ‘g’ was pronounced as a soft ‘gh’, like gamma in Greek. The name translates to ‘Great Queen’. Sometimes she is referred to in the plural as Morrigna, but she was also known variously as Nemhain (Panic), Macha, Anann, and Badhbh Catha (Scald-crow of Battles), among other names.

She was said to change into a crow or raven, also a horse, as well as she being an earth goddess, also soverignty, and a tutelary goddess – or goddess of the tribe. Macha has solar attributes, with her white horse, as a sun goddess. So, in essence, Morrigan is the “Queen of the Heavens” as well as Queen of the earth – so her powers extend to air and earth. Her battle aspect was discredited due to Victorian fallacy, as she is given the battle role for her reign over the battlefield giving the army of her favor aide, as well as military protection, and acting as the goddess of Soverignty, and not a battle goddess as so many Neopagans usually classify her. As well as her connections to the cauldron of rebirth, Daghda protects it, and it is said that those who partake of it never leave unsatisfied.

Belenus was a more regional deity, who was worshipped mostly in Northern Italy and the Gaulish Mediterranean coast. He was primarily a god of agriculture. A great festival called Beltane was associated with him.


The widespread diffusion of the god Lug (seemingly related to the mythological figure Lœgh in Irish) in Celtic religion is apparent from the number of place names in which his name appears, occurring across the Celtic world from Ireland to Gaul. The most famous of these are the cities of Lugdunum (the modern French city of Lyon) and Lugdunum Batavorum (the modern city of Leiden). Lug is described in the Celtic myths as a latecomer to the list of deities, and is usually described as having the appearance of a young man. His weapons were the throwing-spear and sling, and in Ireland a festival called the Lughnasa (Modern Irish lœnasa) was held in his honor.

Other Gods

The Celts also worshipped a number of deities of which we know little more than their names. Among these are the goddess Brigit (or Brigid), the Dagda’s daughter; nature goddesses like Tailtiu and Macha; and Epona, the horse goddess. Male gods included Cu Roi and Goibniu, the immortal brewer of beer.

Cernunnos (the Horned One) is evidently of great antiquity, but we know little about him. It is probably he who appears on the famous embossed silver bowl found in Gundestrup, Denmark which dates from the 1st or 2nd century BC. The Roman writer Lucan (1st century AD) mentions the gods Taranis, Teutates and Esus, but there is little Celtic evidence that these were important deities.

Some of these gods and goddesses may have been variants of each other; Epona the Gallo-Roman horse goddess, for instance, may well have developed into the goddesses Rhiannon, in Wales, and Macha, who was mostly worshipped in Ulster. Polytheistic peoples rarely care to keep their pantheons in the neat and tidy order in which scholars would like to find them.


Often it is said that the Celtic peoples built no temples, and worshipped only outside in groves of trees. Archaeology has long shown this is untrue, with various temple structures throughout the Celtic world being known. With the Roman conquest of parts of the Celtic world a distinct type of Celto-Roman temple called a fanum also was developed. This was distinguished from a Classical temple by having an ambulatory on all four sides of the central cella.

Celtic Worship

The early Celts considered some trees to be sacred. The importance of trees in Celtic religion is shown by the fact that the very name of the Eburonian tribe contains a reference to the yew tree, and that names like Mac Cuilinn (son of holly) and Mac Ibar (son of yew) appear in Irish myths.

Roman writers stated that the Celts practiced human sacrifice on a fairly large scale and there is peripheral support for this in Irish sources; however, most of this information is secondhand or hearsay. There are only very few recorded archaeological discoveries which substantiate the sacrificial process and thus most contemporary historians tend to regard human sacrifice as rare within Celtic cultures.

There was also a warrior cult that centered on the severed heads of their enemies. The Celts provided their dead with weapons and other accoutrements, which indicates that they believed in an afterlife. Before burial, they also severed the dead person’s head and shattered the skull, perhaps to prevent the ghost from wandering.


Priests from this class were in charge of a great deal of religious festivals, as well as organizing the calendar; a daunting task as the Celtic calendar is incredibly accurate, but required manual correction about every 40 years, meaning lengthy mathematic discourse.

There are many questions arising as to what calendrical practice was used by the Celtic people. Regarding this issue there are three primary schools of thought. These three theories all attempt to offer us a better understanding of the Celtic calendar. To use the term ‘Celtic calendar’ is somewhat inaccurate, as it were the Druids who were primarily concerned with calendar-keeping.

One of the most commonly accepted beliefs holds that the year was divided into thirteen months with an extra day or so the end of the year used to adjust the calendar. This theory states that the months correspond to the vowels of the Ogham or Celtic Tree Alphabet. For every of the months there was a designated tree. From this a ‘tree calendar’ wheel emerged

Most archaeologist and historians accept another calendar. This calender is represented by the surviving fragments of a great bronze plate, the Coligny Calendar, which originally measured 5 feet by 3-1/2 feet. This plate, found in eastern France, was engraved in the Gaulish language (similar to Welsh) in Roman-style letters and numerals. It depicts a system of time keeping by lunar months, showing 62 consecutive months with 2 extra months inserted to match the solar timetable. They appear to have worked with a 19-year time cycle that equaled 235 lunar months and had an error of only half a day.

The third school of thought is an amalgam of both of the others. The proponents of this last theory believe that the first calendar pre-dates the Coligny discovery.

It is from ancient writers such as Caesar that we learn that the Celts were to have counted by nights and not days and in reckoning birthdays and new moon and new year their unit of reckoning is the night followed by the day.

Ancient Celtic philosophy believed that existence arose from the interplay between darkness and light, night and day, cold and warmth, death and life, and that the passage of years was the alternation of dark periods (winter, beginning November 1) and light periods (summer, starting May 1).

The Druidic view was that the earth was in darkness at its beginning, that night preceded day and winter preceded summer a view in striking accord with the story of creation in Genesis and even with the Big Bang theory. Thus, Nov. 1 was New Year’s Day for the Celts, their year being divided into four major cycles. The onset of each cycle was observed with suitable rituals that included feasting and sacrifice. It was called The Festival of Samhain – linked with Halloween.

The Celts measured the Solar year on a wheel, circle or spiral, all of which symbolize creation and the constant movement of the universe Ð growth and development.

To the ancients, the heavens appeared to wheel overhead, turning on an axis which points to the north polar stars. At the crown of the axis, a circle of stars revolved about a fixed point, the Celestial Pole, which was believed to be the location of Heaven.

At the base of the axis was the Omphalos, the circular altar of the Goddess’ temple. The universe of stars turning on this axis formed a spiral path, or stairway, on which souls ascended to Heaven.

This Sunwise, clockwise, or deiseal (Gaelic), motion of the spirals represented the Summer Sun. The continuous spirals with seemingly no beginning or end signified that as one cycle ended another began Ð eternal life. The spiral’s never-ending, always expanding, motion also symbolized the ever- increasing nature of information and knowledge. Many of these symbols often also appeared in triplicate, a sign of the divine.

In addition, the seasons of the year were thought to be part of this cycle. In Gaelic, the names of the four seasons date back to pre-Christian times:

      1. Earrach for “Spring”

2. Samhradh for “Summer”

3. Foghara for “Harvest” for Autumn

4. Geamhradh for “Winter”

Festivals – Law

The social structure of Iron Age Celtic society was highly developed. It was a tribal society that was bonded together by a complex system of laws and social customs. The established body of Law was known as ‘Fenechas’, the law of the Feine (Freemen), or more commonly, the Brehon Laws. This body served the People for centuries.

The most common body of Brehon Laws was codified in 438, by the order of Laighaire, a High King of Ireland. The proceedings by which this work was done by three Kings, three Brehona (Recitors of the Law), and three Christian missionaries. By this act Pagan Fil’ and Christian monks came together and worked out a set of laws that was workable for people of both religions. The body of that law has been transmitted to us in the volumes known as the Senchus Mor.

The body of Law known as Brehon Law, as contained in the Senchus Mor is a body of national law. However, national law was secondary to local law. Whether local or national it was the Brehons who acted as the recitors of the Law.

There has been some confusion about who acted as the judge. It was the nobility who acted as such. As stated the Brehons were the recitors of the Law. After the Brehon had recited the Law, only then could the King or Queen render a decision. This is why lore is replete with examples of the Kings or Queens Druid, actually the Ard-Fili, having the right to speak before the King.

If the Brehon, who was a member of the intellectual/skilled caste, recited the law incorrectly they were expected to forfeit their fee and pay damage costs. The Brehon laws were responsible for regulating how people interacted. Hospitality, etiquette and other things were set out in ways that left little room for doubt. The codes of behavior established in the Law was such that all members of a family had to adere to it.

Codes of behavior and levels of responsibility were laid down in the laws for each social group. The more responsibility a social group had, the more restrictions were placed on them. Status was determined by the ownership of cattle and a few other things. There was no concept of land ownership in early Celtic society. This stands in sharp contrast to the Roman and Anglo patterns.

Druids also carried out sacrifices of crops, animals, and during specific festivals, humans. In a Celtic society, people were not executed for crimes, except during these festivals. Such executions varied, depending on what god the execution was dedicated to. Among the most famous is the human sacrifices practiced in the course of Essus worship.

Essus was, more or less, a benevolent law god to many Celts, particularly Gauls. However, Essus worship also intoned a sense of merciless behavior toward repeated criminals, rapists, traitors, and other societal dregs. The offender, if found guilty, would be taken to the temple of Essus, where an oak would be growing through an opening in the temple roof. His stomach would be cut open, and he would be hung from an oak branch.


The Celts’ gods were often named after natural things. For example the source of rivers would often have their own goddesses, though rarely many gods. Another theme with Celt gods were triple deities; not only goddesses, but numerous gods. For example the Mothers of Britain, or Cromm Cruach’s slovenly, deific, and humanistic forms. The main deities of Celtic religion, contrary to much misconception, were usually male.

The world in some remaining myths is often depicted as having been forged by a god with a hammer, such as Dagda or Sucellos, who then poured all life from a magic cauldron or cup; a source of pre-Christian Holy Grail’ myths in Celtic societies.

While deities varied, several constant deities or demigods existed over a wide area. A great example is Lugos, a heroic sun god from Gaul and the southern, Gallic parts of Britain. He is also known as Lugh (in Ireland), Llew (in non-Gallic Britain), and Lug (among Celtiberians, who were not culturally true Celts). Early depictions of him exist as early as the Hallstatt era, suggesting him as one of the longest existing gods of Celtic religion.

Similar is the horse and fertility goddess, Epona, who was also worshipped by the Romans when they came to rule Gaul. She also seems to have existed from the early era. Finally, there is Sucellos, who is argued by some to have been the ‘creator of the universe’ in some Celtic religions. He is party to Dagda of Ireland, and was worshipped over an enormous area, including by non-Celtic peoples such as the Lusitani.

He was the patron god of the Ordovices tribe of Britain, and was built up by the Arverni and their allies to replace the druidic god Cernunnos, as the Gallic druids were allies of their enemies in the rule for Gaul; the Aedui. Other religious practices also existed; Celts seem to have universally removed body hair.

Some postulate this as religious, but was more realistically part of the Celtic propensity for cleanliness. Body hair kept dirt close to the body, and Celts were an extremely cleanly people, so this was unacceptable. However, Celts also took heads from dead enemies. This was definitely a religious practice in origin.

However, even post-Christian Gaels continued this practice into the middle ages; some Irish even took to scalping the heads that they took, so they could braid the scalp through rings on their weapons. The religious connotations by that point were slim, but it does imply that taking heads had incredible cultural importance to have persisted so long after the religious background had been removed.

Celts believed the soul resided in the head, and that capturing a head meant that one captured the soul of an opponent, and that when a Celt died, the dead whom he had collected would serve him as slaves for eternity.



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(ΣΥΝΕΧΕΙΑ ΑΠΟ  28/06/2014)













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THE PELASGIANS – The History of Etruria ,A Ture (1z)

(being continued from  29/06/14)

















By Mrs Hamilton Gray  1839

from the foundation of tarqynia to the foundation of Rome


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Για περισσότερο από χίλια χρόνια, το Βυζάντιο αποτέλεσε την έπαλξη υπό την προστασία της οποίας ζούσε ολόκληρος ο δυτικός κόσμος. Μέσα σ΄αυτήν την ασφαλή ζώνη ήταν που μπόρεσε να αναπτυχθεί ο δυτικός πολιτισμός στην πρώτη του φάση , τη μεσαιωνική. Η διαδεδομένη φλυαρία περί δήθεν χιλιετούς παρακμής της Ανατολικής Ρωμαϊκής αυτοκρατορίας αντιφάσκει προς την τιτάνια στρατιωτική προσπάθεια των τάχα παρηκμασμένων Βυζαντινών. Η εξαιρετική ζωτικότητά τους δεν έγκειται μόνο στη φυσική και υλική αντοχή τους αλλά και στα πολιτιστικά τους επιτεύγματα.Κατ΄αρχάς οφείλουμε να θυμηθούμε ότι το σύνολο σχεδόν της αρχαιοελληνικής γραμματείας που έχουμε σήμερα στη διάθεσή μας διασώθηκε χάρη στους αντιγραφείς χειρογράφων των βυζαντινών σχολιών και μοναστηριών. Στο Βυζάντιο- και όχι στη Λατινική Δύση- συνέχιζαν να διαβάζονται, να μελετώνται, να σχολιάζονται και να αντιγράφονται τα μεγάλα έργα των αρχαίων Ελλήνων. Ο κόσμος θα ήταν φτωχότερος, πιθανότατα πολύ φτωχότερος, άν οι Βυζαντινοί δεν πρόσφεραν στην ανθρωπότητα την υπηρεσία αυτή (Κlaus Oehler, ” Η συνέχεια στην Ελληνική Φιλοσοφία…”, ό.π., σσ. 46-47)

Από μεθοδολογική άποψη, μπορούμε να διακρίνουμε την επίδραση της αρχαίας Ελλάδας στο Βυζάντιο σε άμεση, δηλαδή την επιβίωση και συνέχεια του ελληνικού πολιτισμού στις μεθόδους παραγωγής και διακυβέρνησης, στην κοινωνική δομή, τη γλώσσα, τα ήθη, τα έθιμα, την παιδεία, τη φιλοσοφία, τις επιστήμες, την τεχνική κ.οκ, και έμμεση, δηλαδή τη διείσδυση του ελληνικού πνεύματος στο νέο κυρίαρχο πολιτιστικό υπόδειγμα, το χριστιανικό. Διότι δεν πρέπει να ξεχνάμε πως ο βυζαντινός πολιτισμός είναι κατ΄εξοχήν χριστιανικός , και, ως προς αυτό, συνιστά μιά πραγματική τομή με τον παλαιότερο ελληνικό και ρωμαϊκό πολιτισμό. Το νέο πολιτιστικό υπόδειγμα είναι  στραμμένο κυρίως στην ηθική και εσωτερική διάσταση του βίου και προκρίνει το πνευματικό – θρησκευτικό στοιχείο και την εσωτερικότητα σε σχέση με τη γνώση και την τέχνη. Ωστόσο, το Βυζάντιο, παρ΄ότι κατ΄εξοχήν έκφραση ενός χριστιανικού- πνευματικού πολιτισμού που έχει  ενσωματώσει το ελληνικό στο χριστιανικό στοιχείο, δεν παύει να αποτελεί ένα κρατικό μόρφωμα, διαθέτει εκαπιδευτικό και νομικό σύστημα διαχωρισμένα από την Εκκλησία, τομείς στους οποίους αναδεικνύεται άμεσος κληρονόμος του ελληνιστικού κόσμου. Εν τέλει, υπογραμμίζει ο Σεβτσένκο,  ” ο Ελληνισμός , καταβληθείς από τον Χριστιανισμό, με τη σειρά  του κατέκτησε τον Χριστιανισμό” , όπως είχε γίνει παλαιότερα με τη Ρώμη.
Η συνάντηση ελληνισμού-χριστιανισμού υπήρξε ίσως η σημαντικότερη για τις συνέπειές της πνευματική  “συνάντηση” στην Ιστορία της Ευρώπης , και έχουμε αναφερθεί συχνά σε αυτήν. Διερευνώντας τις σχέσεις τους, επισημαίναμε πως η ορθοδοξία αποτελεί εκείνη τη χριστιανική εκδοχή που διαμορφώθηκε μετά από μακροχρόνια αντιπαράθεση- αλληλοδιείσδυση με την ελληνική σκέψη, προς την οποία και προσομοιάζει. Αυτή η προνομιακή σχέση με τον ελληνισμό εμφαίνεται και από στοιχεία όπως , η άρνηση του παπικορωμαϊκού ολοκληρωτισμού και του “ιουδαϊκού ” προτεσταντισμού.   η απόδοση βαρύνουσας σημασίας στην τριαδικότητα, τη Θεοτόκο ( από κοινού με τον καθολικισμό) , τους αγίους ( ας μην ξεχνάμε πως και οι απόστολοι τελικώς κατέληξαν θα είναι δώδεκα, όπως και το δωδεκάθεο), η απόρριψη της ύπαρξης Καθαρτηρίου και η διάκριση μεταξύ θείας ουσίας και θείων ενεργειών. Ακόμα και μέσα στο αυτοκρατορικό βυζαντινό κράτος, η Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία θα διατηρήσει κάτι από το δημοκρατικό και αντι-ολοκληρωτικό πνεύμα του αρχαίου ελληνισμού, γεγονός που μαρτυρεί η μετάφραση του Ευαγγελίου σε άλλες γλώσσες, η αυτονόμηση των Εκκλησιών, οι ατελείωτες δογματικές έριδες και αιρέσεις, η αδυναμία να συγκροτηθεί ένα ιεραρχικό σύστημα αντίστοιχο με το παπικό. Υπ΄αυτήν την έννοια, η Ρώμη θα κληρονομήσει μάλλον τη ρωμαϊκή συγκεντρωτική παράδοση, ενώ η ορθοδοξία την ελληνική και ελληνιστική “αναρχία”.
Επιπροσθέτως , η δυσκολία προσαρμογής της ορθοδοξίας στο ωφελιμιστικό πνεύμα της “προόδου” των νεώτερων χρόνων εξηγεί εν πολλοίς την “καθυστέρηση” του ορθοδόξου κόσμου έναντι του καπιταλιστικού κόσμου, του οποίου η ιδεολογία είναι ταυτισμένη με το πνεύμα του προτεσταντισμού ( όπως γνωρίζουμε από τον Μαξ Βέμπερ και μετά) αλλά και του ιουδαϊσμού. Αυτή η “καθυστέρηση” έναντι της νοησιαρχίας και της λογικής της αποδοτικότητας είναι μία ακόμα απόδειξη της βαθύτατης επιρροής που ασκούσε στην ορθοδοξία το πνεύμα του ελληνικού  κόσμου, σύμφωνα με το οποίο η γνώση και η επιστήμη δεν μπαίνουν στην υπηρεσία της τεχνολογίας, ενώ η “θέαση” του κόσμου παραμένει το υψηλότερο αγαθό.  Θα λέγαμε, κάτι το ανάλογο με την “ησυχία” των πατέρων και του Γρηγορίου Παλαμά.
‘ Ενας από τους σημαντικότερους μελετητές και εραστές του αρχαίου ελληνικού πνεύματος , ο Κώστας Παπαϊωάννου, υπογραμμμίζει πως εκείνο το στοιχείο που εξασφάλιζε την ενότητα των είκοσι διαφορετικών λαών που ζούσαν στην Αυτοκρατορία, ήταν η ελληνική γλώσσα και η ορθόδοξη πίστη ” το Βυζάντιο αποτελεί μιά δεύτερη άνθηση του ελληνισμού”, καθώς ο χριστιανισμός όχι μόνο δεν σφράγισε αρνητικά την ελληνική παράδοση αλλά μπολιάστηκε πάνω της και προκάλεσε “μιά ανανέωση κεφαλαιώδους σημασίας”. Ο ελληνισμός “μπόρεσε να δείξει το πραγματικό του μέγεθος από τον τρόπο που επεξεργάστηκε την βυζαντική ορθοδοξία”. Το ελληνικό πνεύμα θα διαποτίσει την πατερική θεολογία με την ελληνική πίστη στη φύση, ” που ακτινοβολεί στο έργο του Αγίου Βασιλείου, του Γρηγορίου Νύσσης, ή του Μάξιμου του Ομολογητή, για τους οποίους ο κόσμος δεν είναι μιά ζοφερή φυλακή” αλλά μιά “Θεοφάνεια” , μιά “φανέρωση του Θεού”, όπως υπογραμμίζει ο πατέρας του χριστιανικού μυστικισμού, ο Διονύσιος ο Αρεοπαγίτης. Ο Μάξιμος στην κριτική του στον Ωριγένη, τονίζει πως θα πρέπει απερίφραστα να απορρίψουμε κάθε αντίληψη που υποστηρίζει πως ” αυτό το μοναδικό αριστούργημα, ο ορατός κόσμος, μέσα στον οποίο ο Θεός αναγνωρίζεται από μιά σιωπηλή αποκάλυψη, εχει ως μοναδική του αιτία  την αμαρτία. Για τον Κ. Παπαϊωάννου:
Μέσα σ΄ένα τέτοιο σύμπαν όπου κάθε τι το υπαρκτό συνιστά μιά “Θεοφάνεια” , το κάθε όν συνιστά ένα αγαθό, ενώ το κακό δεν είναι παρά μιά εξωπραγματική σκιά. Αυτός είναι ο λόγος για τον οποίο η βυζαντινή τέχνη αρνήθηκε να υιοθετήσει τις δαιμονικές στρεβλώσεις και τα τερατόμορφα “αγρίμια” με τα οποία οι αποκαλυψιακές ενοράσεις στόλισαν τις πύλες των μητροπόλεων του Βορρά…”.
Κάτι ανάλογο θα συμβεί και στον τομέα της καλλιτεχνικής δημιουργίας : η βυζαντινή ζωγραφική και η υμνολογία θα αποτελέσουν το υψηλότερο δημιούργημα της βυζαντικής τέχνης, έχοντας εντάξει την ελληνική παράδοση σε μιά νέα σύνθεση.

΄Ελληνες και Ρωμαίοι, φυλετικός και οικουμενικός ελληνισμός
Η Κωνσταντινούπολη, κατοικούμενη από ελληνικό πληθυσμό και διαθέτοντας ένα πανεπιστήμιο θεματοφύλακα της αρχαίας παράδοσης, υπήρξε η εστία ενός πολιτισμού έντονα σφραγισμένου από τον ελληνισμό, υπογραμμίζει ο Παπαϊωάννου.  Οι βιβλιοθήκες της διατηρούσαν όλους του θησαυρούς της σκέψης της αρχαιότητας. και οι δρόμοι της, οι μορφές της, οι κήποι της, τα ανάκτορά τους, τα περίφημα λουτρά του Ζευξίππου, το ιπποδρόμιο, αποτελούσαν πραγματικά “μουσεία” όπου ευρίσκονταν συγκεντρωμένα τα αριστουργήματα της ελληνικής τέχνης- και τα οποία, δυστυχώς, δεν σώζονται, γι΄αυτό και η εικόνα μας για το Βυζάντιο έχει διαμορφωθεί σχεδόν αποκλειστικά από την εκκλησιαστική αρχιτεκτονική και ζωγραφική, τη μόνη που άφησε αρκετά σπαράγματα από τον κάποτε ακέραιο μεσαιωνικό ελληνικό κόσμο.
Για χίλια ολόκληρα χρόνια, η αρχαία ελληνική υπήρξε η γλώσσα, των γραμμάτων, σε τέτοια έκταση, ώστε οι μορφωμένες τάξεις θα απαρνηθούν τη δημώδη, την πραγματικά εθνική γλώσσα, προς όφελος  εκείνης που μιλιόταν στην Αθήνα και την Αλεξάνδρεια κατά την ελληνιστική εποχή. “Από  τη φυλή και από τη γλώσσα είμαστε συμπατριώτες και κληρονόμοι των αρχαίων Ελλήνων” έλεγε ο Θεόδωρος Μετοχίτης, στα τέλη του 13ου αιώνα.
Στο όνομα αυτής της αρχής ο πατριάρχης Νικόλαος Μουζάλων παρέδωσε στις φλόγες έναν βίο αγίου γραμμένο στην καθομιλουμένη. Από εκεί και η λατρεία για τον ΄Ομηρο και τον Πλάτωνα, η αγάπη για τη μυθολογία και η σταθερή αφοσίωση στα πρότυπα της αρχαιότητας. Οι Βυζαντινοί, μέχρι το τέλος, εξακολουθούσαν να διδάσκουν και να αποστηθίζουν τον Όμηρο, ενώ ποιήματα για την Παναγία και για τον Ευαγγελισμό, όπως οι “κέντρωνες” περιλαμβάνουν δάνειους στίχους από την Ιλιάδα ή την Οδύσσεια. ( Κ.Παπαϊωάννου , Η βυζαντινή και ρώσικη ζωγραφική, ό.π., σ.23).
Ο ιστορικός Νόρμαν Μπέινς θεωρεί τη βυζαντινή παράδοση ως άμεση συνέχεια του ελληνιστικού κόσμου και υποστηρίζει πως η παιδεία που διαμορφώθηκε στα βασίλεια των διαδόχων του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου επιβίωσε και επηρέασε βαθύτατα το Βυζάντιο. ” Οι βυζαντινοί είναι χριστιανοί Αλεξανδρινοί, οι οποιοι στην τέχνη ακολουθούν τα ελληνιστικά πρότυπα, ενώ κληρονομούν τη ρητορική παράδοση, τη φιλομάθεια και τον θαυμασμό για τον αιώνα της κλασικής Ελλάδος “.
Πώς και γιατί όμως οι Βυζαντινοί ΄Ελληνες κατέληξαν να αποκαλούνται Ρωμαίοι- για μεγάλο χρονικό διάστημα σχεδόν αποκλειστικά και , εν συνεχεία , εναλλακτικώς προς το “Γραικοί ” και ” ΄Ελληνες”;
Πριν ελάχιστα χρόνια, η αναφορά στους ΄Ελληνες ως Ρωμαίους ή Ρωμιούς εθεωρείτο αυτονόητη στην παράδοσή μας και λέξεις όπως η “ρωμιοσύνη” ήταν συνώνυμες με την ελληνικότητα. ωστόσο, την τελευταία περίοδο προωθείται η καινοφανής και αυθαίρετη αντίληψη ότι οι “Ρωμιοί δεν είναι Έλληνες”, διότι οι ΄Ελληνες “εξαφανίστηκαν από το ιστορικό προσκήνιο μετά το 146 π.Χ και την οριστική κατάληψη της Ελλάδας από τους Λατίνους.Σύμφωνα με αυτή την εκδοχή της ιστορίας, οι ΄Ελληνες εξαφανίζονται, ενώ η Βυζαντινή Αυτοκρατορία, που εξακολουθούσε  να αποκαλείται “ρωμαϊκή”, δεν έχει πλέον οργανική σχέση μαζί τους, παρότι οι Βυζαντινοί μιλούσαν ελληνικά και μελετούσαν ενδελεχώς τους αρχαίους. Προς επίρρωση μάλιστα αυτής της άποψης, επιστρατεύεται και το γεγονός ότι, εξ΄αιτίας της επικράτησης του χριστιανισμού, την ίδια στιγμή που η Κωνσταντινούπολη αποσπά την πρωτοκαθεδρία από τη Ρώμη, η λέξη  ” ΄Ελληνας” ταυτίζεται πλέον με τον “εθνικό”, δηλαδή τον παγανιστή. Ποιά άλλη χρεία αποδείξεως, λοιπόν, για να καταδειχθεί πως οι ΄Ελληνες αντικαταστάθηκαν από αυτούς τους ακαθορίστου εθνικής ταυτότητος “χριστιανούς ρωμιούς”;

Από την άλλη πλευρά, η αναμφισβήτητη συνέχεια του ελληνισμού δεν πρέπει να θεωρηθεί ως μιά γραμμική πορεία χωρίς τομές και ρήξεις, αλλά ως μιά μεταξέλιξη με αναβαθμούς, μεταλλαγές και μετατοπίσεις, οι οποίες ιστορικοποιούν και σχετικοποιούν αυτή τη συνέχεια. Διαφορετικά, θα επρόκειτο για μια α-ιστορική και μεταφυσική αντίληψη περί ελληνικού έθνους, αναλλοίωτου στους αιώνες.Και είναι τόσο προφανείς οι διαφορές ανάμεσα στους αρχαίους ΄Ελληνες και τους νεώτερους, ανάμεσα στους αρχαίους και τους Βυζαντινούς κ.ο.κ, ώστε η εμμονή σε μιά διαχρονικά “αναλλοίωτη” ελληνική ταυτότητα να λειτουργεί εν τέλει ως επιχείρημα εκείνων που τις υπαρκτές διαφοροποιήσεις επιθυμούν να τις αναγάγουν σε διαφορές είδους. άλλο έθνος οι αρχαίοι ΄Ελληνες, άλλο οι Βυζαντινοί, άλλο οι νεώτεροι.
Στην πραγματικότητα ,λοιπόν, το ελληνικό έθνος, στην ιστορική του διαδρομή, πέρασε από τρεις φάσεις: τη φυλετική πολεοκρατική, στην αρχαιότητα,, την οικουμενική πολιτισμική, από τα ελληνιστικά χρόνια μέχρι τα τέλη της πρώτης χιλιετίας και τη φάση του έθνους- κράτους από το 1204 μέχρι σήμερα ( με μιά “οικουμενική” παρέκβαση επί Τουρκοκρατίας).Και άν η “συνέχεια” είναι πραγματική και τα στοιχεία της αδιαμφισβήτητα, στη γλώσσα, τον πολιτισμό, τα ήθη και τα έθιμα, και προπαντός στην αυτοσυνειδησία, εξ΄ίσου σημαντικές είναι και οι τομές και οι μετασχηματισμοί.
Στην πρώτη περίοδο, κατά την αρχαιότητα, το ελληνικό έθνος χαρακτηρίζεται από μιά φυλετική και “πολεοκρατική” οργάνωση. Παρότι οι ΄Ελληνες έχουν συνείδηση της κοινότητάς τους, που ενισχύεται κατά τη διάρκεια των εξωτερικών πολέμων, από τον Τρωϊκό έως τους Περσικούς, ταυτόχρονα η πολιτειακή τους οργάνωση χαρακτηρίζεται από τη φυλετικότητα και τον πατριωτισμό της πόλης-κράτους, που συναρθρώνεται με την ευρύτερη εθνική τους συνείδηση.
Μιά συγκρότηση τέτοιου τύπου εισήλθε σταδιακά κατά τη διάρκεια της κλασικής περιόδου, σε σύγκρουση με τις ανάγκες μιά ευρύτερης πολιτειακής διαμόρφωσης. Οι Αθηναίοι, οι Σπαρτιάτες , οι Θηβαίοι θα διεκδικούν επί εκατόν πενήντα χρόνια την πρωτοκαθεδρία και θα επιδιώκουν την ένωση της Ελλάδας υπό την ηγεμονία τους. Εν τέλει, δε, την περιβόητη  ενοποίηση θα επιτύχει μιά ελληνική δύναμη που βρισκόταν στην περιφέρεια της κλασικής Ελλάδας, και της οποίας οι πολιτικοί θεσμοί δεν είχαν μετεξελιχθεί προς την κατεύθυνση της πόλης- κράτους, οι Μακεδόνες. Το τίμημα αυτής της μετάβασης ήταν υψηλό, αφού αποδυνάμωσε τις μορφές άμεσης δημοκρατίας και αυτοδιοίκησης της πόλης- κράτους, αλλά ταυτόχρονα αποτελούσε  τον μόνο τρόπο να πάψουν οι ΄Ελληνες να συγκρούονται μεταξύ τους.
Οι Μακεδόνες επειδή ήταν ίσως οι μόνοι ΄Ελληνες που είχαν λιγότερη ανεπτυγμένη την έννοια της τοπικής πολιτειότητας, ήταν και οι καταλληλότεροι να επιχειρήσουν τη μετάβαση, από τη φυλετική και “πολεοκρατική” οργάνωση του ελληνισμού, προς μία ευδρύτερη κρατική συγκρότηση, η οποία εμπεριείχε μεν τις παλαιότερες κρατικές οντότητες των πόλεων, αλλά με μειωμένες πλέον διακιοδοσίες.Η συνένωση του ελληνικού έθνους υπό τους Μακεδόνες πραγματοποιείται τη στιγμή που επιχειρείται μιά χωρίς προηγούμενο επέκταση του ελληνικού κόσμου προς τα ανατολικά- ίσως και με αυτό το κίνητρο. Τη μάχη της Χαιρωνείας (338 π.Χ) θα ακολουθήσουν σχεδόν αμέσως εκείνες του Γρανικού (334) και της Ισσού (333).
΄Ανοιγε ο δρόμος για τη δεύτερη μεγάλη περίοδο του ελληνικού έθνους, την “οικουμενική”. Ο αρχαίος κόσμος , στη λεκάνη της Μεσογείου και την Εγγύς Ανατολή, έμπαινε στην περίοδο της συγκρότησης οικουμενικών κρατών, που στηρίζονταν στη διευρυμένη απόσπαση αγροτικού υπερπροϊόντος και την επέκταση του εμπορίου και των επικοινωνιών.  Και οι΄Ελληνες ήταν οι πρώτοι στον αγώνα δρόμου για τη συγκρότηση μιάς οικουμενικής αυτοκρατορίας. Διέθεταν ανώτερη παραγωγική οργάνωση, ισχυρότερο στρατό και, πάνω απ΄όλα, έναν πολιτισμό που βρισκόταν σε τόσο υψηλό επίπεδο για την εποχή του, ώστε αποτελούσε ένα οικουμενικό “υπερόπλο”.΄Οταν ο  Αλέξανδρος κατέλαβε την Ανατολή, ο ελληνικός πολιτισμός, με αιχμή την ελληνική γλώσσα, επιβλήθηκε σε μεγάλη έκταση και βάθος, ώστε, πολύ σύντομα, τα διανοούμενα στρώματα και οι άρχουσες τάξεις της Εγγύς Ανατολής όχι απλώς τον ενστερνίστηκαν, αλλά μεταβλήθηκαν σε οιονεί, ή κυριολεκτικά, ΄Ελληνες. Στη Μικρά Ασία, τη Συρία, την Παλαιστίνη, την Αίγυπτο, τη Μεσοποταμία, έως τα σύνορα της Ινδίας, θα δημιουργηθούν εκατοντάδες ελληνικές πόλεις. Ανοίγεται επομένως μιά δεύτερη περίοδος στην ιστορία του ελληνικού έθνους, η “οικουμενική” , η οποία με αφετηρία την ελληνιστική εποχή, θα διαρκέσει τουλάχιστον δεκατρείς αιώνες, από τον Μ. Αλέξανδρο έως τον Βασίλειο τον Βουλγαροκτόνο και τους Κομνηνούς.
Η κατάληψη του ελληνιστικού κόσμου από τους Ρωμαίους δεν μετέβαλε ουσιαστικά την υφή της ελληνικής οικουμενικότητας. Παρά τη ρωμαϊκή επικυριαρχία, η ελληνική πολιτισμική ταυτότητα θα συνεχίσει να ηγεμονεύει στην Ανατολή, ενώ ο ελληνικός πολιτισμός και η ελληνική γλώσσα θα επεκταθούν και προς τη Δύση: στη Ρώμη, τη Γαλατία, την Ισπανία, τη Βρετανία, η ελληνομάθεια θα αποτελεί κριτήριο υψηλότερου πολιτισμού και ανώτερης παιδείας.
΄Οσο για τη ρωμαϊκή επικράτηση επί του ελληνικού κόσμου, αυτή οφείλεται σε πολλούς παράγοντες. Κατ΄αρχάς, την ιστορικη ¨”τύχη”, τη συγκυρία- ο Μέγας Αλέξανδρος πέθανε τη στιγμή που ήταν έτοιμος να στραφεί προς τα δυτικά. Κατά δεύτερο λόγο, τη γεωγραφία. Η Ρώμη βρισκόταν στο κέντρο μιάς χερσονήσου μεγαλύτερης από την ελληνική, με ανάγλυφο πολύ πιό ομαλό, ενώ κατείχε στη Μεσόγειο μιά στρατηγική γεωπολιτική θέση, στο κέντρο, μεταξύ ανατολικής και δυτικής λεκάνης, και βρισκόταν πολύ λιγότερο εκτεθειμένη από την Ελλάδα σε εξωτερικές επιδρομές. Εν συνεχεία, και συναφώς, τη φύση του ρωμαϊκού κράτους και της ρωμαϊκής επέκτασης. Η Ρώμη, στους πρώτους αιώνες της επέκτασής της, θα ασχολείται  αποκλειστικά με τη  σταδιακή κατάκτηση ολόκληρης της Ιταλίας, κατά τη διάρκεια  της οποίας θα σγκροτήσει όχι μόνο μιά απαράμιλλη στρατιωτική μηχανή αλλά και ένα συνεκτικό κρατικό σύστημα και ένα καταπλητικό δίκτυο συγκοινωνιών, γεγονός που της προσέφερε τη δυνατότητα να ενσωματώνει οργανικά τις νέες κτίσεις στο ρωμαϊκό κράτος και της έδινε τον απαραίτητο χρόνο για να το πράξει. Η ίδια μεθοδικότητα και διάρκεια χαρακτηρίζει και τις λοιπές ρωμαϊκές κατακτήσεις, που θα συνεχίζονται επί αιώνες.Αντίθετα, η αστραπιαία κατάκτηση της Ασίας από τον Μέγα Αλέξανδρο δεν πρόσφερε το απαραίτητο χρονικό βάθος για τη διαμόρφωση και συγκρότηση  νέων σταθερών κρατικών δομών. Η Ρώμη υπήρξε το πρώτο κατ΄εξοχήν κράτος, με τη σύγχρονη έννοια του όρου. Γι΄αυτό και η διάρκεια της κυριαρχίας της υπήρξε τόσο μεγάλη και σταθερή. Τέλος, το σημαντικότερο, ίσως, στοιχείο υπήρξε η διαίρεση, ενδημική, μεταξύ των Ελλήνων , που επέτρεψε στους Ρωμαίους να αντιμετωπίσουν τους ΄Ελληνες διαδοχικά, και συχνά προσεταιριζόμενοι τους  μεν εναντίον των δε (Λαϊκή και Αιτωλική Συμπολιτεία, Ρόδιοι κ.λπ.).

Το ελληνικό έθνος έφερε έντονα τα στίγματα της προηγούμενης φυλετικής και πολεοκρατικής οργάνωσης και δεν ήταν το κατάλληλο όργανο για τη διαμόρφωση ενός σταθερού οικουμενικού  κράτους.  Παρέμεινε ωστόσο, μιά πολιτιστική υπερδύναμη. Και ό,τι ακολούθησε είναι πλέον πασίγνωστο. Οι Ρωμαίοι, κατώτεροι πολιτιστικά, υποχρεώθηκαν να εξελληνιστούν σε βάθος και ταυτοχρόνως να εξελληνίσουν και τους λαούς  που κατακτούσαν, ιδιαίτερα στη Δύση. ΄Οσο για την Ανατολή, που ήδη “ελληνοκρατείτο”,  η ρωμαϊκή σταθερότητα προσέφερε το πλαίσιο για τη διατήρηση της ελληνικής πολιτιστικής κυριαρχίας, η οποία, δίχως τις ρωμαϊκές λεγεώνες, θα είχε υποκύψει ίσως στις επιθέσεις των “βαρβάρων”.
‘ Οπως λοιπόν επισημαίνουν ο Διονύσιος Ζακυθηνός και ο Γάλλος ιστορικός της αρχαίας Ρώμης. Πωλ Εν, η ρωμαϊκή αυτοκρατορία ήταν στην πραγματικότητα μιά διπλή αυτοκρατορία, κατά το ανάλογο της αυστροουγγαρικής, μιά ελληνο-ρωμαϊκή αυτοκρατορία. Μόνο που οι ρόλοι ήταν μοιρασμένοι , οι Ρωμαίοι κατείχαν την πολιτική και στρατιωτική εξουσία και οι ΄Ελληνες την πολιτισμική και πνευματική.
Η Ρωμαιοκρατία εν Ανατολή ανήκει εις την σφαίραν της Ελληνικής ιστορίας είναι ιδικός της χώρος αυθεντικός και αναπόσπαστος. Μεγάλη εποχή γενέσεων  συνεχίζει αδιαταράκτως την παγκόσμιον αποστολή των Ανελξανδρινών και Ελληνιστικών χρόνων, συγχέεται μετ΄αυτής και παρασκευάζει τας νέας τύχας της Ανθρωπότητος. Εις τους κόλπους της εκυοφορήθη το Ελληνικόν Βυζάντιον. Δια του συγκρητισμού της παιδείας της επετεύχθη η προσέγγισις του Ελληνισμού μετά του Χριστιανισμού.
Εν τούτοις, ο καταμερισμός πνευματικής και πολιτικής εξουσίας, δεν ήρε τον υφέρποντα  ανταγωνισμό μεταξύ Ελλήνων και Λατίνων, αντίθετα τον αναπαρήγαγε.Οι Ρωμαίοι κρατούσαν ζηλότυπα την πολιτική εξουσία στα χέρια τους και δεν επέτρεπαν την πρόσβαση των Ελλήνων σε αυτή- γι΄αυτό δεν υπήρξε κανένας αυτοκράτορας ελληνικής καταγωγής, παρότι υπήρξαν και Ασσύριοι και Ισπανοί και Ιλλυριοί και ΄Αραβες κ.α. Οι ΄Ελληνες από την πλευρά τους, διατηρώντας την πολιτιστική ηγεμονία, αρνούνταν να ταυτιστούν με τους Ρωμαίους, σε αντίθεση με όλους τους άλλους κατακτώμενους λαούς, που διεκδικούσαν την πρόσβαση στη ρωμαϊκότητα. Για πέντε ολόκληρους αιώνες, τονίζει ο Βεν, “οι ΄Ελληνες διατήρησαν πάντα, κάτω από την αυτοκρατορία, το συναίσθημα της διαφοράς τους και της ανωτερότητάς τους”.
Πώς  και γιατί , λοιπόν, λιγότερο από έναν αιώνα μετά, το τέλος της ηγεμονίας των Λατίνων, γύρω στα 400 μ.Χ , θα γίνουν αίφνης Ρωμαίοι (Ρωμιοί) και θα διατηρήσουν αυτή την ονομασία για 1400 χρόνια ( μέχρι την επανάσταση του 1821;) Την μία αιτία την γνωρίζουμε και έχει δια μακρών αναλυθεί,το ότι, δηλαδή, η επικράτηση του Χριστιανισμού, εξ΄αιτίας της ταύτισης των Ελλήνων με τους παγανιστές , έκανε τους ΄Ελληνες χριστιανούς να εγκαταλείψουν για ορισμένους αιώνες την ονομασία ΄Ελλην. ΄Ετσι έως τους μέσους βυζαντινούς χρόνους, το ” Ελλην” θα καταστεί συνώνυμο του “εθνικός” και “ειδωλολάτρης”, παρ΄όλο που τα ελληνικά ήταν ήδη η κυρίαρχη γλώσσα του κράτους. ( Οι όροι ” Έλληνες” και “ελληνισμός” ‘αρχισαν να είναι συνώνυμοι με το “ειδωλολάτρες ” και “παγανισμός” όταν οι Εβραίοι της πτολεμαϊκής Αλεξάνδρειας μετέφρασαν την Πεντάτευχο στα Ελληνικά και απέδωσαν τη λέξη “εθνικοί” με το ΄’ ΄Ελληνες”, απ΄όπου στη συνέχεια μεταφέρθηκε και στα χριστιανικά κείμενα.)
΄Ομως αυτή η ερμηνεία , ως αποκλειστική απάντηση στο ερώτημα, παρουσιάζει πολλά κενά. Πώς οι ΄Ελληνες εγκατέλειψαν τόσο εύκολα το όνομά τους και αποδέχθηκαν αυτή την ταύτιση, ενώ, μέχρι της αρχές του 4ου αιώνα, αρνούνταν συστηματικά να δεχθούν τη “ρωμαϊκότητα” και να εγκαταλείψουν την “ελληνικότητα”;
Αυτό συνέβη επειδή, μετά την ίδρυση της Κωνσταντινούπολης και τη μεταφορά του κέντρου βάρους της αυτοκρατορίας στα ανατολικά, οι ΄Ελληνες , εκτός από την πολιτισμική εξουσία, κατέκτησαν και την πολιτική! Η ελληνο-ρωμαϊκή αυτοκρατορία θα γίνει ελληνική και οι Λατίνοι θα υποταχθούν στην εξουσία της “Νέας Ρώμης”. Σύμφωνα με τον Κλωντ Λεπελλέ, η ανεξαρτησία , που αρχίζει για τους ΄Ελληνες στον 5ο αιώνα, δεν απέρριψε τη ρωμαϊκότητα προς όφελος του ελληνισμού, αλλά, αντίθετα, όπλισε τον ελληνισμό με τα όπλα της ρωμαϊκής εξουσίας. Πραγματοποιήθηκε μιά “αληθινή μεταφορά της ρωμαϊκής κληρονομιάς στην Ανατολή”.
Κατά συνέπεια, τώρα πιά, οι ΄Ελληνες μπορούσαν να αποκαλούνται…Ρωμαίοι! Γι΄αυτό εξάλλου, επί χίλια χρόνια θα αποκαλούν τους Δυτικούς Λατίνους και όχι Ρωμαίους. Ρωμαίοι ήταν πλέον οι ΄Ελληνες!
Στους αιώνες που ακολούθησαν οι Ρωμαίοι της Ανατολής θα ξεχάσουν τη γλώσσα της Ρώμης, τη λογοτεχνία της, ακόμα και την ίδια την ιστορία της. Οι ΄Ελληνες αφού έγιναν κύριοι μιάς ελληνικής Ρώμης θα είναι στο εξής οι αληθινοί Ρωμαίοι και έτσι θα ονομάζονται για μιά χιλιετία.
Μιά και είναι ΄Ελληνες θα αδιαφορήσουν για τον λατινικό κόσμο, και, εφόσον στο εξής αυτοί είναι η ρωμαϊκή αυτοκρατορία, ο Ιουστινιανός θα προσπαθήσει να ανασυγκροτήσει την ενότητα αυτής της αυτοκρατορίας προς όφελος του “ρωμαϊκού ” θρόνου της Κωνσταντινούπολης. η νικηφόρος Ελλάδα θα κατακτήσει την ηττημένη κι εκβαρβαρισμένη Ιταλία και θα την μεταβάλει σε εξάρτημα της Ανατολής. Η Ρώμη στο εξής, δεν θα είναι παρά μιά βυζαντινή πόλη ανάμεσα στις άλλες, ο νόμιμος ηγεμόντας της θα είναι ο αυτοκράτορας της Κωνσταντινούπολης και οι πάπες θα είναι οι λίγο έως πολύ πιστοί υπήκοοί του. Από το 678 έως το 752, ένδεκα ποντίφηκες στους δεκατρείς θα είναι ΄Ελληνες και θα μιλούν ελληνικά μέσα στα ανάκτορα του Λατερανού.(Paul Veyne, L’ Empire ….,o.π. σσ.256-257)
Αυτοί οι νέοι Ρωμαίοι, οι Βυζαντινοί ‘ Ελληνες, θα συνεχίσουν για χίλια χρόνια την αυτοκρατορία, απέναντι σε μια Δύση που μόνο μετά τον Καρλομάγνο θα αρχίσει και πάλι να διεκδικεί τη ρωμαϊκότητα.
Εν κατακλείδι , το ελληνικό έθνος, στην οικουμενική του φάση, όταν η ταυτότητα ήταν περισσότερο πολιτισμική, γλωσσική και εν μέρει θρησκευτική, έκανε αποδεκτό τον αυτοπροσδιορισμό Ρωμαίοι- που επί πέντε αιώνες είχε καταστεί συνώνυμος της αυτοκρατοράις- μόνο όταν έκανε αυτή την αυ τοκρατορία δική του! Και ενώ πάρα πολλοί σύγχρονοί μας, ακόμα και ιστορικοί, επιχειρούν να συσκοτίσουν αυτό το γεγονός, ένας Βυζαντινός, ο ιστορικός Λαόνικος Χαλκοκονδύλης (Αθήνα 1430-1490) είχε ήδη πλήρη συνείδηση των εξελίξεων (!):
Από εκείνη την εποχή οι ΄Ελληνες αναμίχθηκαν με τους Ρωμαίους, και επειδή οι ΄Ελληνες ήταν πολύ περισσότεροι, κατόρθωσαν να διατηρήσουν τη γλώσσα και τον πολιτισμό τους,αλλά άλλαξαν το όνομά τους, και δεν αποκαλούντα πιά σύμφωνα με το εθνικό (πάτριον) όνομά τους, οι δε βασιλείς του Βυζαντίου καμάρωναν να τους προσαγορεύουν βασιλείς και αυτοκράτορες  των Ρωμαίων, και δεν επιθυμούσαν πλέον να τους αποκαλούν βασιλείς των Ελλήνων.
Γι΄αυτό , εξ΄άλλου , το βυζαντινό “ρωμαϊκό” κράτος, θα ταυτιστεί σε τέτοιο βαθμό με την Ορθοδοξία ως συστατικό στοιχείο της νέας αυτεξούσιας ταυτότητάς του. Η Ορθοδοξία θα μεταβληθεί στο πνευματικό όχημα αυτού του νέου οικουμενικού ρόλου του ελληνισμού.Και μέχρι σήμερα, πολλοί Κωνσταντινουπολίτες και Αιγυπτιώτες θα συνεχίζουν να αυτοαποκαλούνται Ρωμιοί, ως μιά υπόμνηση της αυτοκρατορικής (sic) καταγωγής τους.
΄Οσο , μάλιστα , απομακρύνεται χρονικά η ανάμνηση της αντίθεσης με την αρχαία ελληνική θρησκεία, καθώς και οι ρωμαϊκές επιβιώσεις, υποχωρεί σταδιακώς η ονομασία “Ρωμαίοι” (Ρωμιοί) ως αποκλειστική ονομασία και επανεμφανίζονται οι ονομασίες ” ΄Ελληνες” και “Γραικοί” ως συνώνυμες. Χαρακτηριστικό δε , a contrario, της “αυτοκρατορικής υφής” της ονομασίας “Ρωμαίοι”, είναι το γεγονός πως οι Βυζαντινοί αρχίζουν να ονομάζονται και πάλι ΄Ελληνες σε μεγάλη κλίμακα, μετά την οριστική συρρίκνωση της αυτοκρατορίας, ιδιαίτερα στη Νίκαια, μετά το 1204.
΄Ετσι ΄, όταν το 1453 θα πέσει οριστικώς η αυλαία, οι τρεις αυτοί όροι είχαν καταστεί ταυτόσημοι και στο εξής θα χρησιμοποιούνται αδιακρίτως και εναλλακτικώς για να υποδηλώσουν τους νεώτερους ΄Ελληνες.


Από το  βιβλίο του Γεωργίου Καραμπελιά , με τον τίτλο 1204 , σε μιά πολύ επιμελημένη έκδοση από τις ΕΝΑΛΛΑΚΤΙΚΕΣ ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ, θα ανεβάσουμε δύο χαρακτηριστικά αποσπάσματα, υπό μορφήν πρώτου και δεύτερου μέρους, με την ελπίδα, να κεντρίσουμε το ενδιαφέρον των αναγνωστών μας

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The Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century (VII)




8. Map of storage facilities uncovered south of the Crusader wall and reconstruction of a granary in  Caesarea (after J. Patrich, “Warehouse and Granaries in Caesarea Maritima,” in Caesarea Maritima:A Retrospective after Two Millennia, ed. A. Raban and K. Holum [Leiden–New York, 1996], p. 147, fig. 1,and p. 167, fig. 21)

Wool and linen were the main textiles, but hemp was also used extensively. The  uses of textiles (in clothing, hangings, rugs, upholstery, nautical ropes, sails) and the techniques associated with textile manufacture (carding, weaving, dyeing) required
the use of highly specialized artisans. The workshops of Sardis were by and large dyeworks.
Egypt occupied a distinguished place among the producer regions on the evidence  of the important samples that have come down to us.211 Silk posed a particular problem, insofar as it was not manufactured within the empire until the Justinianic
period and was thus the object of a highly regulated trade with the Sasanians, supervised by imperial functionaries.212
There is ample evidence of woodworking (carpentry, shipbuilding, joinery, and basketmaking),crafts associated with hides (leatherwork, the preparation of fur, shoemaking,clothing manufacture, and the manufacture of parchment), as well as work in  bone, ivory, and wax.213

The most important manufacturing sector, however, was metalwork,which comprised two highly differentiated sectors: work in base metals on the  one hand, and, on the other, work in precious metals. The first included artisans who  worked iron, copper alloys, lead, and tin, and it brought into play a vast production  that included a variety of objects: nails, clamps, keys, tools of every sort, utensils, and  weapons, which might be manufactured in the imperial fabricae  Sardis,Concordia,Antioch, Caesarea), as well as by private entities,214 and made use of precious metals and leather. Weaponry, like military dress, made a strong impression on the “barbarian”  populations and was widely imitated. These trades were carried out by simple  artisans, such as the Cilician blacksmith mentioned in the Miracles of St. Artemios.215
Work in precious metals—silver and gold—brought wealthy and influential guilds into the manufacturing process, and, given the primary materials involved, they handled  substantial amounts of capital. Here again, church treasuries emphasize the wealth of
the sixth century, both in the East and in Constantinople itself. Court ceremony favored  the production of a very high level of goldsmithing that combined gold, precious  stones, pearls, and enamels.216 The system of hallmarks underlined the state’s interest
in controlling the flow of silver. Gold, the preeminent monetary substance, must have  been regulated even more closely. The wealth of goldsmiths (chrysochooi) could transform them into money changers (collectarii, trapezitai) and subsequently bankers (aurarii,argyropratai), following a hierarchy suggested by Charlotte Roueche´.217 They might  then figure in the collection of taxes and have access to public funds over which they  could exercise control. There is abundant testimony to the rise in the power of these  guilds during the reign of Justinian. We cannot rule out the possibility that the banker  Julianus had been a Byzantine agent. At Bostra, three inscriptions show chrysochooi  supervising the utilization of public funds (demotika). At Scythopolis, a goldsmith became   a palatinus, and Peter Barsymes, a money changer, became praetorian prefect
under Justinian.

Trade: Textual and Archaeological Evidence

Trade in the abovementioned agricultural and Byzantine artisanal products, whose  density within the metrokomiai we have glimpsed on a local level, remained active during  a large part of the sixth century, albeit on a more modest scale than during the
preceding centuries. Until the 1970s and even the 1980s, our knowledge of these exchanges  for the most part relied on the testimony of texts; it has since benefited from  the contributions of archaeology and, in particular, from the study of pottery finds.218
The interpretation and comparative analysis of this evidence is, to be a sure, a delicate task; and ensuring consistency in materials classification, the stratigraphy of the physical  context, and statistical methodology are not unproblematic.219 While we must
guard against imbuing them with absolute value, such data nonetheless yield invaluable  quantitative information regarding the geographic directions of commercial exchange  and their evolution relative to one another. This documentation nonetheless
remains incomplete for two reasons: on the one hand, it is limited to products that  were transported as commodities in and of themselves (tableware or cooking ware) or  products whose transport required the use of ceramic containers (amphoras or jars):
liquids (oil, wine), semiliquids (salted foods, condiments such as garum),220 and, occasionally,dried fruit or pulses. A foodstuff as essential as wheat, by contrast, would leave  no direct traces (or nearly none); wine as well, possibly as early as the sixth century,began to be transported in barrels. On the other hand, the documentation available  to us for the most part concerns maritime exchange.
Maritime trade had the advantage of a much lower cost than land exchange, a fact  that has often been emphasized with respect to cereal products (Jones reckons it from  seventeen to twenty-two times lower). It would nonetheless be erroneous to minimize
the role of land transport: the differential was less significant for high-value products  of a weight or volume analogous to wheat that could travel over short distances in  containers lighter than amphoras (among others)221 and thus justified not only the
shipment of silk or spices by land, but other products as well. Antioch thus tapped  products from a hinterland that was not limited solely to the Orontes valley, but extended  as far as Melitene, Chalcis, and Edessa; the city maintained reciprocal relations
with the rural areas of Cilicia and northern Syria, providing textiles, tools, and other  manufactured products—African Sigillata ware, for example—in exchange for foodstuffs  or timber.222 A portion of this merchandise was reshipped by way of Antioch’s
large-scale trade; the remainder constituted local commerce.
This trade may be glimpsed through the evidence of a few inscriptions, regrettably mutilated, such as the municipal tariffs of Anazarbos and Cagliari223 (Fig. 7). The first,which dates from the mid-fifth to the mid-sixth century, taxes the following products:
saffron, garum, ropes, gourds (? khouzia), fenugreek (karphion, a pulse), garlic, fried  foods (fish), wine, salt, grafted plants, raw silk, tin, lead, slaves, cattle, caroubes (pulsesin general?). The second, dating to the reign of Maurice, mentions palms (sparta),
sheep (for butchering, taxed in pounds of meat), vegetables (olera), “summer produce”(extibalia), wine, wheat, and “birds” (abis). Without attempting to draw conclusions as  to chronology from the comparison of these two fragmentary pieces of evidence, one
may distinguish Anazarbos—clearly more important and active, stocking not only foodstuffs, but also luxury products (silk) and raw materials for artisan work and even  reexport—from Cagliari, which took in food solely for the town itself, as well as palms
to weave baskets, sandals, and roofing materials. To a certain degree, one may also  distinguish the reference in the Nessana papyri of a total indicative of a sizable transaction  (270.5 solidi repaid to some merchants by one Father Martyrius) from other, morelocal transactions, none of which exceeds 10 solidi (the purchases of camels and donkeys  valued at 21⁄3 to 8 solidi, and the purchase of a slave for 3 solidi).
Medium- and long-distance maritime trade benefited from a port infrastructure,the maintenance or restoration of which in the course of the sixth century reflects its  endurance and vitality, albeit unequally distributed, given that the eastern Mediterranean
was clearly the better endowed in this regard. With the construction on the Propontis  of the harbor of Julian and subsequently the harbor of Theodosios and its associated  granaries, Constantinople witnessed a remarkable growth during the fourth and  fifth centuries in the capacity of its harbors, previously limited to the two natural ones  on the Golden Horn. In total, the city had some 4 km of quays that could accommodate  the simultaneous docking of five hundred midsized ships.224 Recent excavations at  Caesarea have similarly demonstrated the vast size of early Byzantine granaries (Fig.8). Nor should we minimize the role of docking facilities within the eastern Mediterranean,for example, the ports of Cyprus (Paphos), Crete, and Rhodes, where the governor of the province of the islands had his seat. Each had its own docks or harbors, in  some cases specialized ones, such as the harbor at Thasos, which was fitted with cranes  to load marble onto ships.225 Antioch was accessible through a navigable channel that  was maintained along the Orontes River. To the north of the channel, the port of Seleucia  Pieria, according to an inscription, accommodated ships coming not only from Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Cilicia, but also from Palestine and Egypt.226


Cecile Morrisson and Jean-Pierre Sodini


211 Bagnall, Egypt, 82–84 (in which most of the sources cited date to the 4th or 5th century). On  groups of Coptic textiles, many of which date to the 6th and 7th centuries, see the summary bibliography  in Sodini, “La contribution de l’arche´ologie,” 180–81.
212 N. Oikonomides, “Silk Trade and Production in Byzantium from the Sixth to the Ninth Century:
The Seals of Kommerkiarioi,” DOP 40 (1986): 33–53, and idem, “The Role of the Byzantine State in  the Economy,” EHB 962. On the silk textiles themselves, see A. Muthesius, “Essential Processes,Looms, and Technical Aspects of the Production of Silk,” EHB 146ff.
213 Sodini, “La contribution de l’arche´ologie,” 165–72; Bagnall, Egypt, 84.
214 Such as the one managed by Thalassius, the friend of Libanios: G. Dagron, Naissance d’une  capitale: Constantinople et ses institutions de 330 a` 451 (Paris, 1974), 132.
215 Sodini, “Artisanat urbain,” 85–86, 101–2; J. C.Waldbaum, Metalwork from Sardis: The Finds through  1974 (Cambridge, Mass., 1983). Aphrodisias yields a new term to designate the workshop of a blacksmith  (mudrostasi´a): Roueche´, Aphrodisias, no. 208.
216 Sodini, “Artisanat urbain,” 85–86, and “La contribution de l’arche´ologie,” 170–171; and more  recently, Boyd and Mango, Ecclesiastical Silver Plate; for a summary of the latter, see Morrisson, “Tre´-sors d’argenterie,” 539–48.

217 C. Roueche´, “Aurarii in the Auditoria,” ZPapEpig 105 (1995): 37–50. The examples that follow  are drawn from this study. J. Gascou (Antiquite´ tardive 5 [1997]: 376) has, however, challenged the  meaning of aurarii mentioned in the circuses and theaters; rather than bankers, could they be favisores  (clappers)? A preferable recent hypothesis considers them to be financial managers of circus games.
The term is not attested in any other context. See C. Zuckerman, “Le cirque, l’argent et le peuple. A  propos d’une inscription du Bas-Empire,” REB 58 (2000): 69–96, esp. 73–78. See also G. Dagron,“The Urban Economy, Seventh–Twelfth Centuries,” EHB 427–30.
218 Panella, “Merci e scambi.”
219 C. Panella, “Le merci: Produzione, itinerati e destini,” in Societa` romana e impero tardoantico, ed.A. Giardina (Rome, 1986), 3:21–23, 431–59; for a state of the art, see J. Keay and C. Abadie-Reynal,“A propos des Actes du Colloque de Sienne, 1986: Amphores romaines et histoire e´conomique, Rome 1989,”JRA 5 (1992): 353–66; M. Bonifay and D. Pie´ri, “Amphores du Ve au VIIe s. a` Marseille: Nouvelles  donne´es sur la typologie et le contenu,” JRA 8 (1995): 94–120.
220 The importance of North Africa in this sector has recently been emphasized: Ben Lazreg et al.,
“Production et commercialisation.

221 A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire (284–602) (Oxford, 1964), 841–42. D. J. Mattingly, “Oil  for Export? A Comparison of Libyan, Spanish and Tunisian Olive Oil Production in the Roman  Empire,” JRA 1 (1988): 33–57, at 52, citing K. Greene, Archaeology of the Roman Economy (Berkeley,1986), 35–43.
222 Liebeschuetz, Antioch, 61–100; J.-P. Sodini, “Villes et campagnes en Syrie du Nord:E´ changes et  diffusion des produits d’apre`s les te´moignages arche´ologiques,” in Models of Regional Economies in  Antiquity and the Middle Ages to the 11th Century, ed. E. Aerts, J. Andreau, and P. Ørsted (Louvain,1990), 72–83.
223 Anazarbos: G. Dagron, in G. Dagron and D. Feissel, Inscriptions de Cilicie (Paris, 1987), no. 108,pp. 170–85; J. Durliat, “Taxes sur l’entre´e des marchandises dans la cite´ de Carales-Cagliari a` l’e´poque byzantine,” DOP 36 (1982): 1–14.

224 Mango, De´veloppement urbain, 38.
225 J.-P. Sodini, A. Lambraki, and T. Kozelj, Les carrie`res de marbre a` l’e´poque pale´ochre´tienne (Paris,
1980), 119–22.
226 G. Dagron, “Un tarif de sportules a` payer aux curiosi du port de Se´leucie de Pie´rie (VIe sie`cle),”
TM 9 (1985): 437–38.

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