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Chapter 7 - On the Roman Pontifex Maximus. A criticism of the heathen priesthood in Rome.
7,1. Cyrenius says, “Lord, You are aware of my important and difficult governmental duty; but now I have the impression that there is nothing to it and that it all takes care of itself, even without me and my support! I now feel like the fifth wheel because I know that You, Lord, now manage all affairs for me, and there was never a better order in my government than right now, when You, oh Lord, look after me!
7,2. Oh, you lucky empire! Rome, my parental home, how much you can secretly delight in the fact that the Lord has turned His merciful eye on you and that he wants to draw to Himself children from between your old walls and castles and huts! Lord, my life is Yours: If You had been in Rome rather than here and had given the Romans such a sign, there would be no man left who would not pay You the highest divine veneration! But You know Your plan, and know Your ways, and that is why it is best as You arranged and destined it!”
7,3. My Jarah, who had been as quiet as a mouse so far, finally said, “Rest easy about Rome great governor! I can accept the actual Romans; but in Rome there are idol-priests who are all subordinate to a so-called PONTIFEX MAXIMUS! [Supreme Leader] They have the people fooled and have their conscience by the collar with their Hades and even Tartarus like punishments, with the latter supposedly lasting eternally in the most monstrous way! Woe to those who would dare to stir up such a hornet’s nest! Truly, those would soon suffer miserably! I believe that your priests would be a thousand times worse than our temple priests, who still carry Moses and the prophets on their backs and their chests, even if mostly in memory. Yours do not even have anything in memory; all their doings and troubles are of the highest self-interest and uncontrollable desire to rule over everything.
7,4. Two priests subordinate to Rome, who stayed at our inn, told me once that the Pontifex maximus is such a high entity that even Zeus himself, who most certainly visits the P.m. once a year, bows to him three to seven times before he dares to speak a word to his highest representative on earth and give him in greatest awe some new laws for the mortal people of the world. Of course, Zeus does not quite honor the P.M. for his sake, but for the sake of the foolish, ignorant mortals who should understand from that what kind of ineffable and immeasurable Greatness and Majesty surrounds the highest god’s highest representative on earth.
7,5. He is a master on earth over all emperors, kings, princes, generals and numerous other highest nobles. He also has all elements under his exclusive control. When he stomps his holy foot on the ground, it shakes in fear like the leaves on an aspen tree in an angry storm, and the mountains of the world start spewing fire and thus support the angered Pontifex maximus, so he can successfully take out his at all times just revenge in Zeus’ name.
7,6. Good and bad years would depend on him alone. If he blesses the earth then there would be overabundant harvests in the whole world; if, however, he does not bless the earth, it will not look so good with the harvests in the world, - and if he wants to put a curse on the world, everything would be done with, and war, hunger, pestilence, and thousand other unheard-of pests would come over the world! All other gods, except for Zeus, have to obey him; in case of refusal he can ban them from earth for a hundred years – which, however, never happens and would never happen because all the gods are too deeply convinced of the ineffable Greatness of the Pontifex maximus.
7,7. Thus a Pontifex maximus has a triple authority: firstly, over all gods except Zeus, with whom he is of equal rank, of course; secondly, over the whole world and its elements; and finally thirdly, over all people, animals and trees, bushes and plants. In addition he rules over all planets and all stars, has the clouds, winds, lightning, thunder, rain, hail and snow in his hand, and the sea wavers constantly before his infinite power!
7,8. The two Roman priests told me a lot more about their Pontifex maximus in this way. I thought for a while that they were just joking, but I sadly convinced myself soon enough that the two fools took it very seriously. When I began to proclaim the only true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and His doings, they started to laugh at me and assured me that I was completely mistaken and wrong, as they had a thousand arguments to one that it was as they had told me.
7,9. I asked them if they knew, whether the Pontifex maximus was mortal or immortal. One of them answered a bit hastily and said that the P.m. is still mortal in this world, but that as soon as he dies, Zeus immediately takes him to the highest Elysium where he will dine at Zeus’ table for a hundred years and through that finally become a real deity in the kingdom of gods. This story did not suit the other one at all because he immediately corrected, ‘You have spoken nonsense once again! Since when has a P.m. been mortal?! What you said about him is valid only for us, lower priests, especially if we did not completely earn the P.m.’s. benevolence; the P.m. never dies and cannot die because Zeus bestowed immortality upon him! Look’, he further said, ‘I know the fourth already, and of all four, none ever died; nevertheless only one immortal, not four, sits on the throne, even though they are all completely immortal, since no P.m. can ever die, just as the highest throne in the world can never be lost!
7,10. I finally said once again, ‘But this is impossible! How can four be one and one be four?! This sounds like nonsense to me! In short’, I said, ‘your Pontifex maximus has been marked as a fool by you, is otherwise as mortal a man as ours, and his power lies first of all in the emperor’s weapons, in the great foolishness and blindness of the degenerate people, and finally in a type of poorest magic; it is easy to perform miracles before very foolish and spiritually blind people! Go with your fooleries and let me be! It is enough that you are so foolish! Why should I join you as well?’
7,11. The two got furious with me and with each other because of that and started to bitterly reproach each other, and fought each other out the door. I asked them through the window, as they tussled like a couple of dogs, if the Pontifex maximus had also decreed this through a new law from Zeus from the Elysium. Fortunately they did not hear me and proved the Pontifex maximus’ immortality ever more to each other until finally some of our servants pulled them apart.
7,12. So now please tell me dear, great Cyrenius how would the Lord have come across in Rome in the face of such foolish zealotry? Without any fire and brimstone, certainly worse than badly! Oh, the dear Lord knew for ages where on earth at this time it would still be best and most suitable and that is why He stepped among His people exactly here and nowhere else in the world! See, this is my opinion; what is in contrast yours? What do you or the emperor in Rome think about the ominous Pontifex maximus?”
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