Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

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Giuseppe
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:04 am

But you have liked the argument 2 of KK, in this comment:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2738&start=40#p63682
I know Tacitus uses chiastic alliteration and sentential chiasms, but does he ever use narrative chiasms? Doesn't this seem to be a good argument for christian origin?
It seems in my view that your preferred option is to give up the entire Testimonium Taciteum, rather than considering the alternative possibility that only the Christ-line is interpolated in Tacitus.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by spin » Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:39 am

Giuseppe wrote:But you have liked the argument 2 of KK, in this comment:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2738&start=40#p63682
I know Tacitus uses chiastic alliteration and sentential chiasms, but does he ever use narrative chiasms? Doesn't this seem to be a good argument for christian origin?
I think you misunderstood. First this was argument #1 and note my last question suggesting narrative chiasms point to christian origin.
Giuseppe wrote:It seems in my view that your preferred option is to give up the entire Testimonium Taciteum, rather than considering the alternative possibility that only the Christ-line is interpolated in Tacitus.
Yep, it's my understanding that Tacitus ends by saying that nothing Nero did could shake the belief that the fire was started by a command. Suddenly, the fire is forgotten about and christians are arrested for reasons that the writer is unable to express. Its overblown style drowns the end of the fire narrative. This is not Tacitus.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:45 am

Now it is clear! I have intepreted wrongly ''Doesn't this seem to be a good argument for christian origin?'' as saying: ''Doesn't this seem to be a good argument for Tacitus describing the real christian origin?''.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:34 am

Giuseppe wrote:Only arguments 1 and 2 of KK are really interesting, in my view.
Thanks Giuseppe. 2 of 5 is a good rate.

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MrMacSon
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:13 pm

.
This is quite a fascinating parallel especially with a different emphasis and taking into account the account about Cneus Collegas in War VII, 4
Giuseppe wrote:
It is interesting the comparison between the Fire of Antioch and the Great Fire of Rome:

Josephus, War, VII, 3-4:
2. It happened also about this time, that the Jews who remained at Antioch were under accusations, and in danger of perishing, from the disturbances that were raised against them by the Antiochians; and this both on account of the slanders spread abroad at this time against them; and on account of what pranks they had played not long before...

3. For as the Jewish nation is widely dispersed over all the habitable earth, among its inhabitants; so is it very much intermingled with Syria, by reason of its neighbourhood; and had the greatest multitudes in Antioch, by reason of the largeness of the city: wherein the Kings, after Antiochus, had afforded them an habitation, with the most undisturbed tranquillity...

they both multiplied to a great number, and adorned their temple gloriously by fine ornaments, and with great magnificence, in the use of what had been given them. They also made proselytes of a great many of the Greeks perpetually; and thereby, after a sort, brought them to be a portion of their own body. But about this time when the present war began, and Vespasian was newly sailed to Syria, and all men had taken up a great hatred against the Jews; then it was that a certain person, whose name was Antiochus, being one of the Jewish nation, and greatly respected on account of his father, who was governor of the Jews at Antioch, came upon the theatre at a time when the people of Antioch were assembled together; and became an informer against his father, and accused both him and others, that they had resolved to burn the whole city in one night: he also delivered up to them some Jews that were foreigners, as partners in their resolutions.

When the people heard this, they could not refrain their passion, but commanded that those who were delivered up to them should have fire brought to burn them: who were accordingly all burnt upon the theatre immediately. They did also fall violently upon the multitude of the Jews; as supposing that by punishing them suddenly they should save their own city.

...Antiochus ..aggravated the rage they were in; and thought to give them a demonstration of his own conversion, and of his hatred of the Jewish customs, by sacrificing after the manner of the Greeks. He persuaded the rest also to compel them to do the same; because they would by that means discover who they were that had plotted against them; since they would not do so. And when the people of Antioch tried the experiment, some few complied: but those that would not do so were slain. As for Ailtiochus [Antiochus?] himself, he obtained soldiers from the Roman commander, and became a severe master over his own citizens. Not permitting them to rest on the seventh day; but forcing them to do all that they usually did on other days. And to that degree of distress did he reduce them in this matter, that the rest of the seventh day was dissolved, not only at Antioch; but the same thing, which took thence its rise, was done in other cities also in like manner, for some small time.

4. Now after these misfortunes had happened to the Jews at Antioch a second calamity befel them; the description of which -when we were going about- we premised the account foregoing. For upon this accident, whereby the four-square market place was burnt down, as well as the archives, and the place where the public records were preserved, and the royal palaces; and it was not without difficulty that the fire was then put a stop to, which was likely, by the fury wherewith it was carried along, to have gone over the whole city; Antiochus accused the Jews, as the occasion of all the mischief that was done.

Now this induced the people of Antioch (who were now under the immediate persuasion, by reason of the disorder they were in) that this calumny was 'true'; and would have been under the same persuasion, even though they had not borne an ill will at the Jews before, to believe this man’s accusation: especially when they considered what had been done before; and this to such a degree, that they all fell violently upon those that were accused, and this, like madmen, in a very furious rage also, even as if they had seen the Jews in a manner setting fire themselves to the city.

Nor was it without difficulty that one Cneus Collegas, the legate, could prevail with them to permit the affairs to be laid before Cæsar. For as to Cesennius Petus, the president of Syria, Vespasian had already sent him away. And so it happened that he was not yet come back thither.

But when Collegas had made a careful enquiry into the matter, he found out the truth: and that not one of those Jews that were accused by Antiochus had any hand in it: but that all was done by some vile persons greatly in debt; who supposed, that if they could once set fire to the market-place, and burn the public records, they should have no farther demands made upon them. So the Jews were under great disorder, and terror, in the uncertain expectations of what would be the upshot of these accusations against them.
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Tacitus, Annals 15:44 :
But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order.

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.

Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.

Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city as of hatred against mankind.

Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car.


Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but rather to glut the cruelty of one man that they were being destroyed.

Could Josephus have known about the Great Fire of Rome and have described in apologetical terms the Fire of Antioch? Or could Tacitus have derived his anti-Neronian accusation from Josephus in this case?

In both the stories we have... only a person (respectively, Nero and Antiochus) behind the anti-Jewish accusation of fire.
Following Arthur Drews, who wrote "We are therefore strongly disposed to suspect that the passage (Annals, xv, 44) was transferred from [the Chronicle of] Sulpicius to the text of Tacitus ...", could Sulpicius (or others) have been used War VII, 3-4?

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Giuseppe » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:42 am

I find interesting this argument 1, for his implications on all the other arguments:
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:

Argument 1

A - Consequently, to get rid of the report,
B - ...... Nero fastened the guilt and
C - ............ inflicted the most exquisite tortures on
D - ....................... a class hated for their abominations,
E - ................................ called Chrestians by the populace.
E’ - ............................... Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme
..................................... penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our
..................................... procurators, Pontius Pilatus,
D’ - ...................... and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment,
............................ again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even
............................ in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world
............................ find their centre and become popular.
C’ - .............. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon
................... their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the
................... crime of firing the city as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was
................... added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and
................... perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt,
................... to serve as a nightly illumination when daylight had expired.
B’ - ..... Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus
........... while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car.
A’ - Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose
.... a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good but rather to glut
.... the cruelty of one man that they were being destroyed.

Can the chiasm be destroyed by the presence of "Christus" in opposition to the original ChrEstiani? I mean, if the chiasm expected by KK is the following:

A
.. B
.... C
...... D

.............. E
.............. E'

...... D'
.... C'
.. B'
A'


But in E we have ''Chrestiani'' while in E' we have ''Christus''. This fact emphasizes the contrast between E and E', and (surprisingly? Strangely?) no explanation is given about the reason of a ChrIst founder of ChrEstiani.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:32 am

spin wrote: Here are some of the problems with Annals 15.44:

1. The testimonium taciteum is not part of the discourse that Tacitus constructed against Nero. It is tacked on with little interest in maintaining the discourse against Nero and it took no account of the previous statement that ended the discourse by focusing the reader's attention on the fact that the fire seems to have started via an order (implicitly from Nero).
The description of the fire started in A.15.38. He analyzes the impact of the fire in A.15.41. In A.15.42 Tacitus then describes the new palace of Nero built after the fire as well as further wasteful measures he enacted, but which got nowhere. A.15.43 talks about Nero's city reconstruction measures. We finally arrive at the close of the discourse:

"Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, where water was procured to sprinkle the temple and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order."

What Tacitus has done, and he has consciously constructed his text with meticulous care, was to place the relevant post-dated facts, including the passage about the reconstruction, before this conclusion. This conclusion is masterly:

"But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order."

There is no escaping the fact that Nero is guilty of starting the fire. Tacitus doesn't need to say it. His statement has all the subtlety of the snake. Having displayed his art so well, is he going to waste that effort to insert a nugget concerning christian martyrdoms, a distraction from his condemnation of Nero?

In the narrative, this treatment of the christians is just another human effort already covered by the fact that all human efforts didn't banish the sinister belief. Why it was not placed before the conclusion is unfathomable for the quality of the rest of the narrative. The conclusion about the conflagration being "the result of an order" is drowned by a description of christian martyrdoms and all of Tacitus's work pinning the fire on Nero has dissipated into a gorefest of christians going crispy crackly into the night.

....

4. It is a passage about something Nero attempted in order to dispel the rumours that he'd started the fire, after Tacitus stated that none of his efforts could dispel the rumours.
The description of the fire started in A.15.38. He analyzes the impact of the fire in A.15.41. In A.15.42 Tacitus then describes the new palace of Nero built after the fire as well as further wasteful measures he enacted, but which got nowhere. A.15.43 talks about Nero's city reconstruction measures. We finally arrive at the close of the discourse:

"Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, where water was procured to sprinkle the temple and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order."

What Tacitus has done, and he has consciously constructed his text with meticulous care, was to place the relevant post-dated facts, including the passage about the reconstruction, before this conclusion. This conclusion is masterly:

"But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order."

There is no escaping the fact that Nero is guilty of starting the fire. Tacitus doesn't need to say it. His statement has all the subtlety of the snake. Having done that he's going to waste that effort to insert a distraction about christian martyrdoms, isn't he? In the narrative, this treatment of the christians is just another human effort after describing the fact that all human efforts didn't banish the sinister belief.

The conclusion about the conflagration being "the result of an order" is drowned by a description of christian martyrdoms and all of Tacitus's work pinning the fire on Nero has dissipated into a gorefest of christians going crispy crackly into the night.

I have gone back and forth on the Testimonium Taciteum for a very long time now, and its status in limbo remains mostly unchanged to this day. I do, however, wish to make a start by addressing the easiest of spin's reasons for doubt: arguments #1 and #4, quoted above and originally posted elsewhere on this forum.

Item #1 depends upon a highly subjective evaluation. After pointing out a particularly great sentence (the greatness of which I do freely acknowledge), spin asks, seemingly rhetorically, about whether Tacitus is "going to waste that effort to insert a nugget concerning Christian martyrdoms." There is not much to say about this kind of argument. Yes? No? Maybe? More meat is required: comparisons or contrasts with other Tacitean paragraphs of similar scope and character, for example. The only part of #1 which is not so subjective is this one:
In the narrative, this treatment of the Christians is just another human effort already covered by the fact that all human efforts didn't banish the sinister belief. Why it was not placed before the conclusion is unfathomable for the quality of the rest of the narrative.
But by this point argument #1 is already leaning into argument #4, and spin seems to have misconstrued the structure of Tacitus' prose in this section:

Annals 15.43-44:

43 Of Rome meanwhile, so much as was left unoccupied by his mansion, was not built up, as it had been after its burning by the Gauls, without any regularity or in any fashion, but with rows of streets according to measurement, with broad thoroughfares, with a restriction on the height of houses, with open spaces, and the further addition of colonnades, as a protection to the frontage of the blocks of tenements. These colonnades Nero promised to erect at his own expense, and to hand over the open spaces, when cleared of the debris, to the ground landlords. He also offered rewards proportioned to each person's position and property, and prescribed a period within which they were to obtain them on the completion of so many houses or blocks of building. He fixed on the marshes of Ostia for the reception of the rubbish, and arranged that the ships which had brought up corn by the Tiber, should sail down the river with cargoes of this rubbish. The buildings themselves, to a certain height, were to be solidly constructed, without wooden beams, of stone from Gabii or Alba, that material being impervious to fire. And to provide that the water which individual license had illegally appropriated, might flow in greater abundance in several places for the public use, officers were appointed, and everyone was to have in the open court the means of stopping a fire. Every building, too, was to be enclosed by its own proper wall, not by one common to others. These changes which were liked for their utility, also added beauty to the new city. Some, however, thought that its old arrangement had been more conducive to health, inasmuch as the narrow streets with the elevation of the roofs were not equally penetrated by the sun's heat, while now the open space, unsheltered by any shade, was scorched by a fiercer glow. 44 Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom.

The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women.

But no human effort [sed non ope humana], not the lavish gifts of the emperor or the propitiations of the gods [non largitionibus principis aut deum placamentis], banished the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

Tacitus has, in chapter 43, described Nero's lavish gifts: colonnades to be erected at his own expense, for example, and rewards proportioned to each person's position and property. He has next described, in the first half of chapter 44, Nero's propitiations of the gods: consultation of the Sibylline books, sacred banquets, and nightly vigils. Now he gives us that sentence which spin rightly characterizes as masterly: "But no human effort, not the lavish gifts of the emperor or the propitiations of the gods, banished the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order." These are human efforts: the usual kinds of things that an emperor would do to save his reputation and, moreover, to restore Rome itself. But now Nero is going to resort to something not quite so human, as it were, in the second half of chapter 44.

In Annals 6.19 Tacitus, in his description of a particularly savage set of actions undertaken by Tiberius, writes that "the force of terror had utterly extinguished the sense of human fellowship [humanae commercium], and, with the growth of cruelty [saevitia], pity was thrust aside." In this sentence human fellowship is contrasted with being cruel (we retain this same sense of contrast between "human" and "inhuman" in English, as well). Likewise, Annals 15.44 is contrasting the ordinary human means of appeasing a populace (offering gifts to the people and propitiations to the gods) with the far crueler tactic of attacking a segment of the population which, however vile on their own merits, had nothing to do with the fire.

The structure is:
  1. Nero tries offering gifts in the form of (re)construction projects and (re)compensatory measures.
  2. Nero tries publicly propitiating the gods.
  3. No such human effort seems to work.
  4. So Nero resorts to something cruel (something "inhuman" as opposed to "human").
Arguments #1 and #4, then, so far fail to persuade me in any way. The other arguments (#2-3 and #5-7) I am still considering; and they do not appear to succumb so immediately to a simple analysis of the passage itself.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:45 am


But if you can show me that one of these men is mentioned by the well-known writers of that time,----these events happened in the reign of Tiberius or Claudius,----then you may consider that I speak falsely about all matters. |379

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/julia ... 1_text.htm

Julian means for "writers of that time" not the writers lived under Tiberius or Claudius, but the writers who talked about that time (of Tiberius and Claudius).

Josephus and Tacitus fit that description.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:30 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:45 am

But if you can show me that one of these men is mentioned by the well-known writers of that time,----these events happened in the reign of Tiberius or Claudius,----then you may consider that I speak falsely about all matters. |379

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/julia ... 1_text.htm

Julian means for "writers of that time" not the writers lived under Tiberius or Claudius, but the writers who talked about that time (of Tiberius and Claudius).

Josephus and Tacitus fit that description.
Yes, if Julian means writers who wrote about that time, rather than writers of that time — and if we can accept that by "these men" Julian means to include Jesus and Paul alongside Cornelius and Sergius, which does seem a priori likely to me — then this reference is practically perfect for demonstrating that Tacitus said nothing about Jesus.

Despite Tacitus' somewhat minimal reception among ancient writers, Julian (as emperor) would doubtless have access to his works, especially after century III, if Ammianus Marcellinus is correct:

Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 10.3: 3 He had Cornelius Tacitus, the writer of Augustan history, placed in all the libraries, claiming him as a relative; and in order that his works might not be lost through the carelessness of the readers he gave orders that ten copies of them should be made each year officially in the copying-establishments and put in the libraries.

Moreover, and very much to the point, Julian knew Ammianus Marcellinus personally, whose history seems to have been intended as a continuation of Tacitus' works, beginning at the very point at which Tacitus had ended.

Therefore, if Julian can be construed as saying that writers writing about the times of Tiberius and Claudius had nothing to say about Jesus or Paul (or Cornelius or Sergius), then the authenticity of the Testimonium Taciteum stands in grave jeopardy.

However, on the surface of things, Julian appears to be referring to contemporaries of Tiberius and Claudius. What are the arguments in favor of the other meaning?
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:49 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:30 am
However, on the surface of things, Julian appears to be referring to contemporaries of Tiberius and Claudius. What are the arguments in favor of the other meaning?
the argument would be that in the construct:
the well-known writers of that time

..."of that time" is a genitive objective and not a mere genitive subjective (specifying merely the time of their activity as writers).

I will add other arguments possibly in the next future (I am expecting a mythicist book where precisely this argument is made, and where other arguments may figure in such sense).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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