December 05 2020
My good news is that I located a very tricky text that was smaller than small in finer than fine print.
What I’m writing about here is not the so-called holy grail (as in Monty Python and
THC – sorry, THG
), but something else that only a Latin or Greek semi-classicist like me could love. By using two stacked bifocals on my head combined with a binocular jeweler’s loupe, and holding the magnifier for my compact Oxford English Dictionary, that in combination all together amounted to about ninety diameters enlargement, I located something and marked it with a green “sharpie” pen on a coffee mug which I recently purchased for $19.99 from “RomaOptima.com” that bears a truly nano-scopic reproduction of the Latin text (with damaged letters too) of the Res Divi Augusti
(or Accomplishments of the [Divine] Emperor Augustus). So, what’s that to me, or you in AD/CE 2020? Well, for years many people have said that the census account in what is called the New Testament is incorrect because no census was recorded for or near 1 BC or 1 AD. (There is no year “zero” in the world-wide calendar.)
And the real question is, Is this important now?
The matter that interested me was the relatively recent acceptance by the previous Pope in 2012 in his book “Jesus of Nazareth
” of what nerds more informed than myself had been saying for years. That is, that our secular calendar that is based on calculations by the sixth century monk known as Dionysius Exiguus (or in English, Dennis the Small) is wrong by up to eight years. Dionysius added up a lot of poorly recorded intervals and made a mistake because the available records were rather sketchy. Furthermore, multiplication and division are almost impossible to do with Roman numerals. Romans used an abacus which is quite fast for adding and subtracting and wrote down what they got. (Multiplication is like shorthand addition.) So what Dionysius thought was the year 525 was most likely 532 or 531. This redating fits with eclipse records, coins, and the widespread stone census records of the second (2nd) of Augustus’s three (3) pedestrian speed “censuses of all the world” that began in “8 BCE” (“Before Common/Christian Era”). I said “pedestrian speed” because communication from the eastern Mediterranean to Rome took a long time on land or by boats that hugged the coasts and sailed only in good seasons. The names of the Roman consuls for the second census of Augustus are given on this mug and in books. Of the books I have, the best is Res Gestae Divi Augusti; Text, Translation, and Commentary
, by Alison E. Cooley, published by the University of Cambridge, 2009, see pp 66-67, which has the texts with the damaged letters identified so that reading the mug was much easier. A less useful version is Res Gestae Divi Augusti; The Achievements of the Divine [to the Romans] Augustus
, edited by P.A. Brunt and J.M. Moore, Oxford University Press, 1967 [and continually], pp 22-23.
The relevant sentence is: tum [iter]um consulari cum imperio lustrum [s]olus feci C(aio) Censorino [et C(aio) Asinio] co(n)s(ulibus), quo lustro censa sunt civium Romanorum [capit]a quadragiens centum millia at ducenta trigenta tria m[illia].
Parentheses indicate Roman abbreviations; brackets show damaged stone letters. A Greek translation with different damaged points exists in modern Turkey. The Cambridge translation reads: “Then for a second time I conducted a census on my own with consular power in the consulship of Gaius Censorinus and Gaius Asinius [8 BC]; in this census registered 4,233,000 individual Roman citizens.” Of course, Roman “citizens” were a smallish percentage of the entire population.
What’s particularly nice is that the relevant spot on the mug is shown in the picture just above in lines six through ten in the column just below the words “AVGUSTI
” and “ROMANUM
I should warn you that the website https://romaoptima.com/collections/all
seems to be currently experiencing difficulties which doesn’t make purchasing your own mug easy. I found a link by chance for the mug and used it in September 2020. However, at the top there’s an online picture of what I got.