Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Impalements In Antiquity (4C)

WARNING!: This post may be upsetting to some.

Part 14C of the series: "The Romans NEVER CRUCIFIED the Way We Think They Did!" (Cont'd)

Previous in this series:

Part 14B Impalements in Antiquity (4B).
Part 14A Impalements in Antiquity (4A).
Part 13B Impalements in Antiquity (3B).
Part 13A Impalements in Antiquity (3A).
Part 12 Impalements in Antiquity (2).
Part 11 Impalements in Antiquity (1).
Part 10 Humiliations.
Part 9 Utility Poles and Masts.
Part 8 Crown of Thorns.
Part 7 Crucifixion and Priapus.
Part 6 From Wax Image to Exposed Body.
Part 5 The First Crucifix.
Part 4 The Tropaeum and the Furca.
Part 3 Crux - Modern English Use and Ancient Quotidian Meanings.
Part 2 Crux.
Part 1.

Previous Series - Crucifixion – The Bodily Support:

Part 4 Physics of Crucifixion.
Part 3 Manuscript Evidence.
Part 2 Archaeological Evidence. UPDATED 7-31-2012
Part 1.

Part 14C - Impalements in Antiquity (4C) - Media and Persia.

A. Recap.

Previously I discussed the Behistun Inscription and the chronicles of Herodotus. I noted that the behistun verbiage may have been unclear, that was Draius was saying "I lifted him up on the wood." He knew exactly what he meant, but thanks to long established Christian tradition that tells over and over again that Jesus Christ was nailed to the wooden Cross upon his arrival at Calvary Hill, and then raised up on it. But when I looked at Herodotus' writings, they showed that the Persians impaled people. Herodotus used conjugates of ἀνασκολοπίζω for the impalement of living people, and ἀνασταυρόω for that of persons who were already dead, with one exception: the execution of Sandoces.

B. Greek and Roman Writers.

B.1. Herodotus.

Additional Discussion.

I should close out Herodotus, not with more examples of impalements (I do not know of any more) but of a crucifixion or crucifixion-like suspension of a Persian satrap by the name Artayctes, in 479 BCE. Herodotus reports:
It was here that not long afterwards the Athenians, when Xanthippus son of Aphiron was their general, took Artayctes, a Persian and governor of Sestus, and crucified him alive; he had been in the habit of bringing in women right into the Temple of Protesilaus at Elaeus and doing impious deeds there.

Herodotus, Histories 7,33,1fin, A.D. Godley, tr. [1]
The phrase "crucified him alive" is ζῶντα πρὸς σανίδα διεπασσάλευσαν, "alive against a board he stretched [Artayctes] out by nailing his extremities to it". [2] It certainly fits the limited modern definition of crucifixion (attaching to a cross) here. In fact, the Greeks have a word for it: ἀποτυμπανισμός (apotympanismos). [3] But note here it is not a Persian satrap doing the crucifying. It is an Athenian general, Xanthippus.

Herodotus continues about Artayctes' execution:

But Xanthippus the general was unmoved by this promise*, for the people of Elaeus desired that Artayctes should be put to death in revenge for Protesilaus, and the general himself was so inclined. So they carried Artayctes away to the headland where Xerxes had bridged the straight (or, by another story, to the hill above the town of Madytus), and there nailed him to boards and hanged him. As for his son, they stoned him to death before his father's eyes.

Herodotus, Histories, 9,120,1, A.D. Godley tr. [4]

*100 talents reimbursement to the temple Artayctes had plundered and 200 talents for himself and his son as ransom - see line 3
The phrase "nailed him to boards and hanged him" is expressed in Greek as πρὸς σανίδας προσπασσαλεύσαντες ἀνεκρέμασαν [5], of which the preceding English translation is right on the money and describes the Greek apotympanismos perfectly.

 And Herodotus finishes up two chapters later:
This Artayctes who was crucified was the grandson of that Artembares who instructed the persians in a design which they took from him and laid before Cyrus, this was the purport:...
Herodotus, Histories, 9,122,1 A.D. Godley, tr. [6]
And the word for "crucified" is ἀνακρεμασθέντος, "having been hanged up on [boards]". [7] Nothing contradictory there.

So let the record show that what many so-called scholars cite as an example of crucifixion by the Persians is actually a crucifixion or crucifixion-like suspension done to a Persian by Greeks under their penalty of apotympanismos.

Herodotus' record also shows that the punishment doled out by the Persians was impalement, possibly with an additional hanging by the wrists from a transverse overhead beam, a suspension similar to crucifixion.

B.2. Thucydides.

Thucydides (460-395 BCE) reports on the death of one Inaros, a king of Libya, who instigated a revolt in the Achaemenid Persian vassal of Egypt in 455 BCE.
1. Thus the enterprise of the Hellenes came to a ruin after six years of war. Of all that large host a few travelling through Libya reached Cyrene in safety, but most of them perished. 2. And thus Egypt returned to the subjection of its king, except Amyrtaeus, the king in the marshes, whom they were unable to capture from the extent of the marsh; the marshmen being also the most warlike of the Egyptians. 3. Inaros, the Libyan king, the sole author of the Egyptian revolt, was betrayed, taken, and crucified impaled.

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War 1,110,1-3, 1910 tr. [8]
The word for "was crucified impaled" is ἀνεσταυρώθη, 3rd person singular aorist indicative passive of  the verb ἀνασταυρόω, which means the same as ἀνασκολοπίζω in Classic and early Koine Greek. [9] And in the Benjamin Jowett translation (1881) the word ἀνεσταυρώθη is translated as "was impaled".

B.3. Plutarch.

This is a chronicle of Parsyatis, the Queen Mum, who had the officer Masabates, an eunuch of king Artaxerxes skinned alive and impaled because he had dishonoured the younger Cyrus' body by cutting off his head and right hand. She loved to play dice, and so she proposes a wager to the king. They roll a few rounds of dice in a game. Artaxerxes wins a bet of a thousand darics. On the second game the queen asks an eunuch selected by the winner out of each loser's five most trusted for the stake and the king agrees. The queen wins and picks Massabates. (Plutarch Artaxerxes 17,1-4) And here's the sad end of the poor eunuch:

And before the king suspected her design, she put the eunuch in the hands of the executioners, who were ordered to flay him alive, to set up his body slantwise on three stakes, and to nail up his skin to a fourth. This was done, and when the king was bitterly incensed at her, she said to him, with a mocking laugh: " ‘What a blessed simpleton thou art, to be incensed on account of a wretched old eunuch, when I, who have diced away a thousand darics, accept my loss without a word.’

Plutarch, Artaxerxes, 17,5, Bernadotte Perrin, ed. [10]
Now in this passage the Greek has καὶ τὸ μὲν σῶμα πλάγιον διὰ τριῶν σταυρῶν ἀναπῆξαι for the phrase "to set his body slantwise on three stakes". The Greek transliterates as "and indeed the body sideways through (over, across and onto) three stakes to be impaled". [11]

B.4. Discussion.

Now here we have here I believe is consistent verbiage that the Persians did not crucify, they impaled people. How they did it, of course, may be the reason why scholars think they did crucify as in the case of Sandoces (Herodotus Histories 7,194,1-2) who manages to survive the penalty somewhat - or completely -unharmed. In the next installment, Part 14D, I will show that in the example of Polycrates, the ancients probably did think he was impaled. And if not that, then they were projecting the Roman penalty with a cornu, not the limited modern sense of Crucifxion.


[1] Perseus Digital Library, Herodotus Histories 7,33. The Greek of the latter part of line 1 reads:
ἔνθα μετὰ ταῦτα, χρόνῳ ὕστερον οὐ πολλῷ, ἐπὶ Ξανθίππου τοῦ Ἀρίφρονος στρατηγοῦ Ἀθηναῖοι Ἀρταΰκτην ἄνδρα Πέρσην λαβόντες Σηστοῦ ὕπαρχον ζῶντα πρὸς σανίδα διεπασσάλευσαν, ὃς καὶ ἐς τοῦ Πρωτεσίλεω τὸ ἱρὸν ἐς Ἐλαιοῦντα ἀγινεόμενος γυναῖκας ἀθέμιστα ἔρδεσκε. 
[2] Perseus Word Study Tool, ζῶντα "living", πρὸς "against", σανίδα, "a board or a plank", and διεπασσάλευσαν "stretched out by nailing the extremities".

[3]  Perseus Word Study Tool, ἀποτυμπανισμός. Cf. with Martin Hengel, Crucifixion, John Bowden, tr., Philadelphia, Fortress Press (1977), p. 72, where Α.Δ. Κεραμόπουλος (A.D. Keramopoulos) is quoted as stating, "Thus it is clear (from the deciphering of a rediscovered passage from a lost anonymous history** that described Pausanius, the raped and humiliated assassin of Philip of Macedon, who killed him because he repeatedly denied him justice, as being subjected to ἀποτυμπανισμός) that ΑΠΕΤΥΠΑΝΙΣΑΝ means this punishment which Justin IX 7,10 describes as in cruce pendentis Pausaniae," even though in cruce pendentis may not mean "hanging on a cross" but "hanging on / by means of an impaling stake."

**POxy 1798 (fr. 1)

[4] Perseus Digital Library, Herodotus, Histories, 9,120. The Greek text of line 4 reads as follows:
ταῦτα ὑπισχόμενος τὸν στρατηγὸν Ξάνθιππον οὐκ ἔπειθε: οἱ γὰρ Ἐλαιούσιοι τῷ Πρωτεσίλεῳ τιμωρέοντες ἐδέοντό μιν καταχρησθῆναι, καὶ αὐτοῦ τοῦ στρατηγοῦ ταύτῃ νόος ἔφερε. ἀπαγαγόντες δὲ αὐτὸν ἐς τὴν Ξέρξης ἔζευξε τὸν πόρον, οἳ δὲ λέγουσι ἐπὶ τὸν κολωνὸν τὸν ὑπὲρ Μαδύτου πόλιος, πρὸς σανίδας προσπασσαλεύσαντες ἀνεκρέμασαν: τὸν δὲ παῖδα ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖσι τοῦ Ἀρταΰκτεω κατέλευσαν. 
[5] Perseus Word Study Tool, πρὸς "against", σανίδας "boards or planks", προσπασσαλεύσαντες "having nailed him fast to", and ἀνεκρέμασαν "hanged him up on [them]"

[6] Perseus Digital Library, Herodotus, Histories 9.122. The Greek text of line 1 reads as follows:

τούτου δὲ Ἀρταΰκτεω τοῦ ἀνακρεμασθέντος προπάτωρ Ἀρτεμβάρης ἐστὶ ὁ Πέρσῃσι ἐξηγησάμενος λόγον τὸν ἐκεῖνοι ὑπολαβόντες Κύρῳ προσήνεικαν λέγοντα τάδε.
[7] Perseus Word Study Tool, ἀνακρεμασθέντος. Verb-participle singular aorist passive masculine genitive of ἀνακρεμάννυμι, "to hang up on a thing".

[8] Perseus Digital Library, Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War 1,110. The Greek of lines 1 through 3 reads as follows:
1. οὕτω μὲν τὰ τῶν Ἑλλήνων πράγματα ἐφθάρη ἓξ ἔτη πολεμήσαντα: καὶ ὀλίγοι ἀπὸ πολλῶν πορευόμενοι διὰ τῆς Λιβύης ἐς Κυρήνην ἐσώθησαν, οἱ δὲ πλεῖστοι ἀπώλοντο. 2. Αἴγυπτος δὲ πάλιν ὑπὸ βασιλέα ἐγένετο πλὴν Ἀμυρταίου τοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἕλεσι βασιλέως: τοῦτον δὲ διὰ μέγεθός τε τοῦ ἕλους οὐκ ἐδύναντο ἑλεῖν, καὶ ἅμα μαχιμώτατοί εἰσι τῶν Αἰγυπτίων οἱ ἕλειοι. 3. Ἰνάρως δὲ ὁ Λιβύων βασιλεύς, ὃς τὰ πάντα ἔπραξε περὶ τῆς Αἰγύπτου, προδοσίᾳ ληφθεὶς ἀνεσταυρώθη.
[9] Perseus Word Study Tool, ἀνασταυρόω and ἀνασκολοπίζω. The LSJ and Middle Liddell lexica both say that in Herodotus and other Classic (and by extension early Koine Greek) writers the two words' meanings are identical. Be sure to click on the LSJ and Middle Liddell menu tabs at each link.

[10] Perseus Digital Library, Plutarch, Artaxerxes 17. The Greek for line 5 reads as follows:
καὶ πρὶν ἐν ὑποψίᾳ, γενέσθαι βασιλέα τοῦ πράγματος ἐγχειρίσασα τοῖς ἐπὶ τῶν τιμωριῶνπροσέταξεν ἐκδεῖραι ζῶντα, καὶ τὸ μὲν σῶμα πλάγιον διὰ τριῶν σταυρῶν ἀναπῆξαι, τὸ δὲ δέρμα χωρὶς διαπατταλεῦσαι. γενομένων δὲ τούτων καὶβασιλέως χαλεπῶς φέροντος καὶ παροξυνομένου πρὸς αὐτήν, εἰρωνευομένη μετὰγέλωτος, ‘ὡς ἡδύς,’ ἔφασκεν, ‘εἶ καὶ μακάριος, εἰ χαλεπαίνεις διὰ γέροντα πονηρὸν εὐνοῦχον, ἐγὼδὲ χιλίους ἐκκυβευθεῖσα δαρεικοὺς σιωπῶ καὶ στέργω.’ 
[11] Perseus Word Study Tool, διὰ "through", τριῶν "three", σταυρῶν "pales", and ἀναπῆξαι "to transfix upwards, fix on a spit, i.e., impale" Although one of the words included in the LSJ for ἀναπῆξαι / ἀναπήγνυμι  is "crucify" - that doesn't sound right because no example by the Romans is cited in the listed lexica and it certainly makes no sense here, how is one to crucify another across three crosses??? Even if it's not impossible, it sounds stupid. Unless one decides to sharpen the tops of the crosses to points and impale the person on them. Then the transverses act as brakes. 

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