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Re: Sacrificing to standards

On Mon, 10 Mar 1997 05:54:51 +0200 (WET), msorion@pluto.mscc.huji.ac.il
>Date: Sun, 9 Mar 1997 06:58:28 +0100
>From: Ian Hutchesson <mc2499@mclink.it>
>Having talked to a few Roman scholars here in Rome, I receive the notion
>that Roman legions sacrificing to their standards is not an idea accepted in
>the realm of Roman history. I'm led to believe that the convenient idea
>relating to the pesher Habakkuk is based on a series of coin interpretations
>that could simply be wrong. However, I have not read the original article,
>though everyone seems to take the notion as gospel. Even if the coin
>interpretations are wrong, this wouldn't necessarily negate the ironic
>situation that either the Habakkuk pesher writer or his informant was also
>misinterpreting the information received.

     Ian, I won't disagree with OS EQVI.  A brief runthrough of my sources
     led to my Latin Dictionary and its long entry under SIGNVM.  A brief
     rundown of the development of the Roman Army still led nowhere.  I
     simply found no mention of such worship.

     Two considerations widened my search.  The Roman army that came with
     Pompey and even with Vespasian were citizen armies.  Roman personal
     worship was rather private, the forms very different from Greek

     Just as if to emphasize this, a page of Roman portrait scuplutre
     showed me a cut of a statue of Augustus as Ponifex Maximus, the chief
     priest of the Roman Religion, head veiled as per custom.  This remind-
     ed forcefully how private Roman cult practice was and how subdued.  It
     also reminded me that Roman family worship was even more private, not
     following the Greek pattern of public or cingregational involvement.

     At the same time, I think you muust know the devotion Commonwealth
     forces pay to The Colours.  The US troops and people have made it into
     a public cult, pledging allegiance to it, which other countries do
     not.  That is not to say that Roman Legions did not revere their
     Standards.  They were, like The Colours, a rallying point in battle,
     the SIGNIFER having a special duty to protect that rallying point.  As
     to Legionnaries sacrificing to the Standard, I have strong doubts they
     did.  However, Greek practice certaily had upset the Jews some cen-
     turies before and any sort of salute might have been taken as worship. 
     In fact, though I just thought of it now, it would not surprise me if
     a strict reading of Halakha would take Pledges Of Allegiances and the
     routine followed by many regiments of drumhead services as forbidden.

     What is the present view.  It may bear on the past views.

Toms Simms

     [...Delete... for possible later discussion.  Roman use of elephants
     followed sensible military practice.  The big beasts were useful to
     terrorize the uninitated but quick troops on nimble feet could ham-
     string the animals and turn them into more danger to their masters
     than to their masters' enemies.  Alexander's quick work fighting Porus
     in India did not sink in to his successors until the Romans defested

>Ian Hutchesson