Part 4 - The Tropaeum and the Furca.
First it is very important to take a look at what other kinds of crosses were in the ancient Roman Empire. The Antenicene Church Fathers made mention of tropaea, votivis crucibus (votive crosses, i.e., tropaea), and the iugum (military yoke - actually a furca). In fact, one Church Father - Minucius Felix in his Octavian 29 referred to the support frame of the tropaeum as a simplicis crucis - the genitive of crux simplex, meaning simple cross. It is extremely important to see what the tropaeum and the iugum were and how they were related to the crux.
B. Testimony of the Ante-Nicene Fathers on the Cross and the Tropaeum.
Select words phrases are color-coded so you can compare the English with the Greek and the Latin immediately below the block quotes. The quotes in the original languages are shown under Heading "D" below. The Greek Word Study Tool and the Latin Word Study Tool are excellent places to obtain the meaning of the words in their original tongues.
B.1. Justin Martyr (103-165 CE)
Presentation of the wax image of Julius Caesar at his funeral, March 17, 44 BCE.
Source: Francesco Carotta, Jesus Was Caesar
But in no instance, not even in any of those called sons of Jupiter, did they imitate the being crucified; for it was not understood by them, all the things said of it having been put symbolically. And this, as the prophet foretold, is the greatest symbol of His power and role; as is also proved by the things which fall under our observation. For consider all the things in the world, whether without this form they could be administered or have any community. For the sea is not traversed except that trophy which is called a sail abide safe in the ship; and the earth is not ploughed without it: diggers and mechanics do not their work, except with tools which have this shape. And the human form differs from that of the irrational animals in nothing else than in its being erect and having the hands extended, and having on the face extending from the forehead what is called the nose, through which there is respiration for the living creature; and this shows no other form than that of the cross. And so it was said by the prophet, “The breath before our face is the Lord Christ.” And the power of this form is shown by your own symbols on what are called “vexilla” [banners] and trophies, with which all your state possessions are made, using these as the insignia of your power and government, even though you do so unwittingly. And with this form you consecrate the images of your emperors when they die, and you name them gods by inscriptions. Since, therefore, we have urged you both by reason and by an evident form, and to the utmost of our ability, we know that now we are blameless even though you disbelieve; for our part is done and finished.
trophy = τροπαίων
that (form) of the cross = το σχήμα του σταυρού
trophies = τροπαιων
with this form = επί τούτω τω σχημάτι
B.2 Minucius Felix (flourished between 150 and 270 CE)
Roman Tropaeum, Charlottenberg Museum, Berlin.
Note that what Minucius Felix called a crux simplex is of the crux immissa type.
Source: Francesco Carotta, Jesus Was Caesar
Roman Coin commemorating Julius Caesar's Triumph over Gaul.
Venus Genetrix on Obverse, Cruciform Tropaeum on Reverse.
Again, Minucius Felix's crux simplex is a crux immissa.
Source: Francesco Carotta, Jesus Was Caesar
Roman Legionnary's Satchel. Its frame is a cruciform furca.
Source: Matthias Kabel, Wikipedia
These, and such as these infamous things, we are not at liberty even to hear; it is even disgraceful with any more words to defend ourselves from such charges. For you pretend that those things are done by chaste and modest persons, which we should not believe to be done at all, unless you proved that they were true concerning yourselves.
For in that you attribute to our religion the worship of a criminal and his cross, you wander far from the neighbourhood of the truth, in thinking either that a criminal deserved, or that an earthly being was able, to be believed God. Miserable indeed is that man whose whole hope is dependent on mortal man, for all his help is put an end to with the extinction of the man. The Egyptians certainly choose out a man for themselves whom they may worship; him alone they propitiate; him they consult about all things; to him they slaughter victims; and he who to others is a god, to himself is certainly a man whether he will or no, for he does not deceive his own consciousness, if he deceives that of others. Moreover, a false flattery disgracefully caresses princes and kings, not as great and chosen men, as is just, but as gods; whereas honour is more truly rendered to an illustrious man, and love is more pleasantly given to a very good man. Thus they invoke their deity, they supplicate their images, they implore their Genius, that is, their demon; and it is safer to swear falsely by the genius of Jupiter than by that of a king.
Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for. You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods. For your very standards, as well as your banners; and flags of your camp, what else are they but crosses glided and adorned? Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it. We assuredly see the sign of a cross, naturally, in the ship when it is carried along with swelling sails, when it glides forward with expanded oars; and when the military yoke is lifted up, it is the sign of a cross; and when a man adores God with a pure mind, with hands outstretched. Thus the sign of the cross either is sustained by a natural reason, or your own religion is formed with respect to it.
You, indeed... adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods = Vos plane... cruces ligneas ut deorum vestrorum partes forsitan adoratis. This is precisely so with the funerals of the Caesars as Justin Martyr had testified to and Francesco Carotta has so recently uncovered.
criminal and his cross = hominem noxium et crucem eius
trophies = tropaea
of a simple cross = crucis simplicis
of a man affixed to it = adfixi hominis
when the military yoke is lifted up = cum erigitur iugum
sign of a cross = crucis signum
Minucius Felix obviously thought it was an infamous thing for anyone to worship a criminal and his cross, discussion here. Needless to say, if an historical Jesus was declared King in a triumphal procession by the masses and the next day led a direct action at the Temple, a complex up to 35 acres in area and the recognised seat of a licit (legally established) religion, he most certainly would have been arrested by the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate for crimen maiestatis populi Romani imminutae (a charge of having diminished the majesty of the people of Rome: i.e., a capital crime against the State), tried, found guilty, sentenced to death and suspended to die on a stake or gallows known to all Latin speakers as a crux.
B.3. Tertullian (160-220 CE)
An aged prophet brings the holy child Dionysius a large votive cross or tropaeum as an omen of his ultimate fate. Such a votive cross was borne around in Athens during a three-day festival celebrating the death and resurrection of the pagan demigod.
Source: Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, plate 3
The demigod Dionysius hangs on a votive cross or tropaeum. This crucifiction is just like the crucifiction of Jesus Christ for his legs are depicted together as they are bent.
Source: Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, cover.
Children were openly sacrificed in Africa to Saturn as lately as the proconsulship of Tiberius, who exposed to public gaze the priests suspended on the sacred trees overshadowing their temple--so many crosses on which the punishment which justice craved overtook their crimes, as the soldiers of our country still can testify who did that very work for that proconsul.
who exposed to public gaze the priests suspended on the sacred trees overshadowing their temple--so many crosses on which the punishment which justice craved overtook their crimes = qui sacerdotes in eisdem arboribus templi sui obumbratricibus scelerum votivis crucibus exposuit
Martin Hengel describes it this way:
A proconsul of Africa, otherwise unknown, punished with utmost severity the priests of 'Saturn', i.e., the Carthaginian god Baal-Hammon, who kept up this ancient practice of child sacrifice. He had them hanged 'on the very trees of their temple, in the shadow of which they had committed their crimes, as though on consecrated crosses.'
as though on consecrated crosses = votivis crucibus. The original Latin indicates Hengel is 100% correct.
You put Christians on crosses and stakes: what image is not formed from the clay in the first instance, set on cross and stake? The body of your god is first consecrated on the gibbet.
The body of your god is first consecrated on the gibbet [crossarm] = in patibulo primum corpus dei vestri dedicatur. Tertullian is in agreement here with Justin Martyr and Minucius Felix. The deification of deceased Caesars in imago on a cruciform tropaeum was completely forgotten until rediscovered by Francesco Carotta.
 Then, if any of you think we render superstitious adoration to the cross, in that adoration he is sharer with us. If you offer homage to a piece of wood at all, it matters little what it is like when the substance is the same: it is of no consequence the form, if you have the very body of the god. And yet how far does the Athenian Pallas differ from the stock of the cross, or the Pharian Ceres as she is put up uncarved to sale, a mere rough stake and piece of shapeless wood?  Every stake fixed in an upright position is a portion of the cross; we render our adoration, if you will have it so, to a god entire and complete. We have shown before that your deities are derived from shapes modelled from the cross. But you also worship victories, for in your trophies the cross is the heart of the trophy.  The camp religion of the Romans is all through a worship of the standards, a setting the standards above all gods. Well, as those images decking out the standards are ornaments of crosses. All those hangings of your standards and banners are robes of crosses. I praise your zeal: you would not consecrate crosses unclothed and unadorned.
any of you think we render superstitious adoration to the cross = qui crucis nos religiosos putat
in that adoration he is sharer with us = consecraneus erit noster
we render our adoration, if you will have it so, to a god entire and complete = Nos, si forte, integrum et totum deum colimus. Although Tertullian states that Christians don't worship cruces, he is not as emphatic as Minucius Felix who said flat out the Christians absolutely did NOT worship a criminal or his cross.
in your trophies the cross is the heart [internal structure] of the trophy = in tropaeis, cum cruces intestina sint tropaeorum. Again, this is what has been known since Julius Lisius' De Cruce as a crux immissa, but was called a crux simplex by Minucius Felix.
are ornaments of crosses = monilia crucum sunt
are robes of crosses = stolae crucum sunt
As was affirmed by Justin Martyr, and proven again by Francesco Carotta, the above applies very well to the display of the wax image of a deified Roman Emperor on a cruciform tropaeum at his funeral, and other solemn occasions where a cruciform tropaeum was erected.B.4. Conclusion.
It is quite obvious that the early Christians were confusing the crux which was sometimes some kind of cruciform [cross-like] gallows with a "seat" and other times a simple impaling stake, with the tropaeum and the military furca, also known as an iugum. This is an early portent of how the Christian churches would be portraying the Crucifiction after Emperor Constantine abolished the penalty (or at least the parts of the execution known as the bearing of the crossbeam and the breaking of legs). And does this confusion show up in early Christian iconography? Indeed it does!
Domatilla Sarcophagus, Bearing of the Cross (above top) and Resurrection (?????) (above bottom), ca. 350 CE.
Not twenty years after Constantine allegedly got rid of the practice and already people were forgetting how criminals were crucified: with an outrigged impaling stake used as a seat to support the weight of the body and further torture and humiliate the criminal. After all, who would want to remember it? This strongly indicates to almost absolute certainty that Christians copied the crucifictions of other gods like Dionysius and the displays of deified Emperors in imago. Here the cross is clearly shown as a tropaeum or what Minucius Felix called a crux simplex, and also carried about like a portable furca.
Ivory Sarcophagus ca. 430 CE, British Museum, London.
Note Jesus is "hanging" on an ankh-like cross made of fancy boards like a cardboard cutout or a mannekin on a stick, the same as the artists' conception of the wax image of Julius Caesar (above). To the left, Judas Iscariot is hanging from a tree exactly as one would expect a man who hanged himself would.
Relief, Sta Sabina Basilica, Ravenna, Italy, ca. approx. 450 CE.
Note Jesus and the two thieves are standing with their hands nailed to hidden boards. None are crucified the way Romans crucified (impaled) their criminals.
C. Where Christians Got Their Cross and Crucifix.
It appears that the Christians got their present-day cross and crucifix not from the Roman execution crux, but from a different cross altogether: the tropaeum. Below are two videos posted by a Youtuber by the name of Calpurnpiso, who shows that the cross was a sign of victory back in ancient Rome. He claims ~ correctly, I might add ~ that Christians got their cross from the tropaeum, meaning trophy, a symbol of victory. Christians always sing of victory in Jesus (through The Cross, naturally) and that Mark's Gospel shows that The Crucifiction of Jesus Christ is actually his triumphal procession!
D. Greek and Latin Sources.D.1. Justin Martyr First Apology 55
D.1.a - Greek
'Αλλ' ουδαμού ουδ' επί τίνος των λεγομένων υιών του διός το σταυρωθηναι εμιμησαντο. Ου γαρ ενοείτο αυτοίς, συμβολικώς, ως προδεδηλωται, των εις τούτο ειρημένων πάντων λελεγμένων όπερ, ως προείπεν ο προφήτης,το μέγιστων συμβόλων της ισχύος και αρχής αυτού υπάρχει, ως και εκ των υπ' όψιν πιπτοντων δείκνυται. Κατανοήσατε γαρ πάντα τα εν τω κόσμω, ει άνευ του σχήματος τούτου διοικείται, η κοινωνίαν έχειν δύναται. Θάλασσα μεν γαρ ου τέμνεται, ην μη τούτο το τροπαίων, ο καλείται ιστίων, εν τη νχη σώον μείνη γη δε ουκ αρουται ενευ αυτού σκαπανείς δε την εργασίαν ου ποιούνται, ουδέ βαλαυσουργοί ομοίως, ει μη δια των το σχήμα τούτο σχοντων εργαλείων. Το δε ανθρωπείων σχήμα ουδενί άλλω των αλόγων ζώων διαφέρει, η τω ορθών τη είναι, και έκτασιν χειρών έχειν, και εν τω προσώπω από του μετωπίου τεταγμένων τον λεγόμενων μυξωθρα φέρειν, δι ου η τη αναπνοή εστί τω ζώω, και ουδέν άλλο δείκνυσιν η το σχήμα του σταυρού. Και δια του προφήτου δε ελέχθη ούτως "Πνεύμα προ προσώπου ημών, Χρήστος Κύριος." Και τα παρ' υμιν δε συμβολα την του σχηματος τουτου δυναμιν δηλοι 'λλωμεν και των τροπαιων δι' ων αι τε προσδοι υμων πανταχου γινονται' της αρχης και δυναμεως τα σημεια εν τουτοις δεικνυντες, ει και μη νοσυντες τουτο πραττετε. Kαι των παρ' υμίν αποθνησκόντων αυτοκρατόρων τας εικόνας επί τούτω τω σχημάτι ανατιθετε, και θεούς δια γραμμάτων επονουαζετε. Και δια λόγου συν και σχήματος του φαινομένου, όση δύναμης, προτρεψαμένοι υμάς ανεύθυνοι οίδαμεν λοιπόν όντες, καν υμείς απιστείτε το γαρ ημέτερον γέγονε και πεπεπενται.
D.1.b. - Latin
Nusquam autem nec in ullo eorum, qui dieuntur, Jovis filiorum crucis supplicium imitati sunt. Neque enim illis in mentem venerat, eo quod non sine symbolis, ut demonstravimus, dicta fuerint, quaecunque dieta ea de re fuerant; quae quidem, ut supra dixit propheta, maximum est ejus potestatis et principatus signum, quemadmodum ex his etiam, quae sub aspectum cadunt, ostenditur. Intuemini enim animo quaecunque in mundo versantur, an sine hac figura administrari, et commercio inter se conjungi possint. Mare non scinditur, nisi tropaeum illud, quod dicitur velum, integrum in navi maneat. Terra vero absque eo non aratur; fossores opus non faciunt, nec manuarii pariter artifices nisi adhibitis hanc figuram praeferentibus instrumentis. Humana autem forma non alia re ab animantibus rationis expertibus differt, nisi quod erecta est, et extensionem manuum habet, et in vultu nasum a fronte prominentem gerit, qui et animali ad respirationem usui est, nec aliud quam crucis formam ostendit. Propheta quoque sic locutus est: 'Spiritus ante faciem nostram Christus Dominus'. Hujus etiam figurae vim declarant vexillorum apud vos et tropaeorum signa, quibuscum semper in publicum proceditis, ac in eis vestri imperii et potestatis insignia faciatis. Quin et morientium apud vos imperatorum imagines in hanc formam consecratis, eosque litteris inscriptis appellatis deos. Cum vos igitur et verbis et figurae omnibus conspicuae consideratione cohoriati pro viribus simus, nos deinceps extra culpam futuros novimus, etiamsi increduli maneatis. Quod enim in nobis situm erat, id perfectum et absolutum est.
D.2. Minucius Felix Octavius 29 - Latin
Haec et huiusmodi propudia nobis non licet nec audire, etiam pluribus turpe defendere est: ea enim de castis fingitis et pudicis, quae fieri non crederemus, nisi de vobis probaretis.
Nam quod religioni nostrae hominem noxium et crucem eius adscribitis, longe de vicinia veritatis erratis, qui putatis deum credi aut meruisse noxium aut potuisse terrenum. Ne ille miserabilis, cuius in homine mortali spes omnis innititur: totum enim eius auxilium cum extincto homine finitur! Aegyptii sane hominem sibi quem colant eligunt: illum unum propitiant, illum de omnibus consulunt, illi victimas caedunt. At ille, qui ceteris deus, sibi certe homo est, velit nolit: nec enim conscientiam suam decipit, si fallit alienam. Etiam principibus et regibus, non ut magnis et electis viris, sicut fas est, sed ut deis turpiter adulatio falsa blanditur, cum et praeclaro viro honor verius et optimo amor dulcius praebeatur. Sic eorum numen vocant, ad imagines supplicant, Genium, id est daemonem, implorant, et est eis tutius per Iovis Genium peierare quam regis.
Cruces etiam nec colimus nec optamus. Vos plane, qui ligneos deos consecratis, cruces ligneas ut deorum vestrorum partes forsitan adoratis. Nam et signa ipsa et cantabra et vexilla castrorum quid aliud quam inauratae cruces sunt et ornatae? Tropaea vestra victricia non tantum simplicis crucis faciem, verum et adfixi hominis imitantur. Signum sane crucis naturaliter visimus in navi, cum velis tumentibus vehitur, cum expansis palmulis labitur: et cum erigitur iugum, crucis signum est, et cum homo porrectis manibus deum pura mente veneratur. Ita signo crucis aut ratio naturalis innititur aut vestra religio formatur.
D.3.a. Apoligeticum 9.2 - Latin
Infantes penes Africam Saturno immolabantur palam usque ad proconsulatum Tiberii, qui eosdem sacerdotes in eisdem arboribus templi sui obumbratricibus scelerum votivis crucibus exposuit, teste militia patriae nostrae, quae id ipsum munus illi proconsuli functa est.
D.3.b. Apoligeticum 12.3 - Latin
Crucibus et stipitibus imponitis Christianos: Quod simulacrum non prius argilla deformat cruci et stipiti superstructa? in patibulo primum corpus dei vestri dedicatur.
D.3.c. Apoligeticum 16.6-8 - Latin
 Sed et qui crucis nos religiosos putat consecraneus erit noster. Cum lignum aliquod propitiatur, viderit habitus, cum materiae qualitas eadem sit; viderit forma, dum id ipsum dei corpus sit. Et tamen quanto distinguitur a crucis stipite Pallas Attica, et Ceres Pharia[m], quae sine effigie rudi palo et informi ligno prostat?  Pars crucis est omne robur, quod erecta statione defigitur. Nos, si forte, integrum et totum deum colimus. Diximus originem deorum vestrorum a plastis de cruce induci. Sed et Victorias adoratis in tropaeis, cum cruces intestina sint tropaeorum.  Religio Romanorum tota castrensis signa veneratur, signa iurat, signa omnibus deis praeponit. Omnes illi imaginum suggestus in signis monilia crucum sunt; siphara illa vexillorum et cantabrorum stolae crucum sunt. Laudo diligentiam: Noluistis incultas et nudas cruces consecrare.
Part 5 - The First Crucifix