THE RACE CHANGE IN ANCIENT ITALY!
300 B. C. and
300 A. D.
Ernest L. Martin
Why was Simon Magus and his Gnostic teachings so readily accepted in Rome? Why
did the ancient cool tempered and secular minded Romans come to accept an
Oriental and emotional religious teaching, which was seemingly so foreign to
All the textbooks observe this tremendous change of attitude and temperament in
the Roman people between the 3rd century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D., but few
of them treat the question at any length. It just doesn’t occur to them to find
the answer. However, the major historians now realize what caused this change in
temperament! To be truthful, there was hardly a temperament change (or at best
only a slight one). It wasn’t the temperament that changed — it was the race!
Simon Magus, in going to Rome, came amongst his own type of people — they were
basically Chaldeans, Syrians, Phoenicians, and Samaritans, with only a very
small Latin minority. Italy, by the first century of our era, was in reality,
Shemitic country. The evidence to support the truth of this assertion is beyond
The knowledge of this change of race not only helps us in explaining why
the Roman populace accepted Simon Magus, but even more importantly IT
HISTORICALLY CONFIRS BIBLICAL PROPHECIES! The Bible states that the
Babylon of prophecy is modern Rome. Many people accept this Biblical indication
merely as a symbol, but it is far from being a symbol, it is literal — actual!
Old Babylon was destroyed; the Chaldeans left Mesopotamia; the land turned into
a desert — but where did these Babylonians go? The records of history show
them today, primarily, in Italy! It is thus important to us that we have
this evidence before us. The evidence is not only interesting from a historical
point of view, but it shows that Bible prophecy is again proved to be right
This article is intended to place the basic facts of this race change at our
disposal. The evidence comes from some of the world’s most recognized historians
— men who have devoted their whole lives to the study of Roman History. They
have been quoted at length in order that no one could possibly charge an
“out-of-context” evaluation on the material. It is hoped that the longer quotes
(which I feel are important) will not prove too laborious reading — they are
necessary for the student of history.
The first portion of this paper, concerning this race change, is mainly centered
around the work of Professor T. Frank of John Hopkins University. He is
the recognized authority on the economic history of ancient Rome. He was the
author and editor of the five-volume Economic History of Rome, and the
author of many other books on ancient Roman history. His contributions to the
various classical journals were frequent and always looked for with anticipation
by historians around the world. As a matter of interest, the authoritative
Cambridge Ancient History and the Oxford History of Rome by Cory, as
well as Professor Boak in America, freely quote from his various works. Much of
the material in this paper is founded on Professor Frank’s researches, and
because of that (for the benefit of those not having studied much Roman
History), I have felt it necessary to mention his qualifications. Mention also
must be made of Professor Duff of Oxford University whose book, Freedmen in
the Early Roman Empire, represents a substantiation of Professor Frank’s
work. Truly, there is no lack of authority for the conclusions reached in this
paper, for they are not merely personal conclusions, but those of
The Race Change In Ancient Italy!
Astounding as it may seem, it can be stated with the greatest of confidence that
a fundamental change of race occurred in the Italian peninsula between the 3rd
century B. C. and the 3rd century A. D. The records of history are beyond
reproof in showing the truth of this change. What we find is Chaldean, Syrian
and Phoenician stock replacing the basic Latin races in Italy. A little
amalgamation of Latins and these immigrant Shemites did take place, but the
Latin element was so weak when the mixing began, that, in Italy, the remnant of
the Latin race was completely submerged by these incoming Shemites. And by the
end of the Empire, Italy had become a Shemitic country. When the Bible speaks of
Babylonians and Tyrians being the Romans of prophecy — the Romans of our day —
it means it! The very descendants of those ancient Babylonians and
Tyrians are now found in Italy. And, even secular history puts them there!
this difficult to believe? Then let us notice the evidence from history.
this article, we will quote at length what the most imminent historians have to
say on this subject. And, the only conclusion we can possibly come to is that a
change of race did take place in Italy and that Shemites from the East took over
First, we will quote from the foremost historian on the economic history of Rome
before his death in 1939, Professor T. Frank. His monumental five-volume work on
Roman Economics and Social Life is the recognized authority on the
subject. He, probably more than any other person, has studied at length the
native Roman records, epigraphical information and archaeological finds relative
to his subject.
consistently refers to his works. Now, let us notice what Professor Frank says
about the race question in the American Historical Review, vol. 21, July
1916, p. 689. The information he records is illuminating.
There is one surprise that the historian usually experiences upon his first
visit to Rome. It may be the Galleria Lapidaria of the Vatican or at the Lateran
Museum, but, if not elsewhere, it can hardly escape him upon his first walk up
the Appian Way. As he stops to decipher the names upon the old tombs that line
the road, hoping to chance upon one familiar to him from his Cicero or Livy, he
finds prenomen and nomen promising enough, but the cognomina all seem
awry. L. Lucretius Pamphilus, A. Aemilius Alexa, M. Clodius
Philostosgas do not smack of freshman Latin. And he will not readily find in
the Roman writers now extant an answer to the questions that these inscriptions
invariably raise. Do these names imply that the Roman stock was completely
changed after Cicero’s day, and was the satirist (Juvenal) recording a fact when
he wailed that the Tiber had captured the waters of the Syrian Orontes? If
so, are these foreigners ordinary immigrants, or did Rome become a nation of
ex-slaves and their offspring?
Unfortunately, most of the sociological and political data of the empire are
provided by satirists. When Tacitus informs us that in Nero’s day a great many
of Rome’s senators and knights were descendants of slaves and that the native
stock had dwindled to surprisingly small proportions, we are not sure whether we
are not to take it as an exaggerated thrust by an indignant Roman of the old
stock. . . . . To discover some new light upon these fundamental questions of
Roman history, I have tried to gather such fragmentary data as the corpus of
inscriptions might afford. This evidence is never decisive in its purport, and
it is always, by the very nature of the material, partial in its scope, but at
any rate it may help us to interpret our literary sources to some extent. IT HAS
AT LEAST CONVINCED ME THAT JUVENAL AND TACITUS WERE NOT EXAGGERATING. It
is probable that when these men wrote a very small percentage of the free
plebians on the streets of Rome could prove unmixed Italian descent. By far the
larger part — PERHAPS NINETY PERCENT — had Oriental blood in their veins
(pp. 689, 690).
What Professor Frank did, besides referring to literary sources, was to study
the epigraphical information on the various tombs and monuments in Rome and
throughout Italy. He studied over 13,900 different names and found that about
three quarters bore names of foreign derivation. The vast majority had Greek
cognomina — not Latin at all.
For reasons which will presently appear I have accepted the Greek cognomen as a
true indication of recent foreign extraction, and, since citizens of native
stock did not as a rule unite in marriage with liberti, a Greek cognomen
in a child or one parent is sufficient of status (i.e., was foreign) (p. 691).
the other hand, the question has been raised whether a man with a Greek cognomen
must invariably be of foreign stock. Could it not be that Greek names became so
popular that, like Biblical and classical names today, they were accepted by the
Romans of native stock? In the last days of the empire this may have been
the case; but the inscriptions prove that the Greek cognomen was not in
good repute. I have tested this matter by classifying all the instances in the
13,900 inscriptions where the names of both father and son appear. From this it
appears that fathers with Greek names are very prone to give Latin names to
their children, whereas the reverse is not true (pp. 692, 693).
Clearly the Greek name was considered as a sign of dubious origin among the
Roman plebians, and the freedman family that rose to any social ambitions made
short shift of it. For these reasons, therefore, I consider that the presence of
a Greek name in the immediate family is good evidence that the subject of the
inscription is of servile or foreign stock. The conclusion of our pro’s and
con’s must be that nearly ninety per cent of the Roman-born folk
represented in the above mentioned sepulcharal inscriptions are of foreign
Who are these Romans of the NEW type and whence do they come? How many are
immigrants, and how many are of servile extraction? Of what race are they?
Professor Frank will answer these questions! Information on this matter cannot
come from epigraphical material, it must come from literary sources — from
eyewitnesses. In this we are not left without evidence. In fact, there is quite
a lot of information on who these foreigners were. These “Romans” bore Greek
names. This is enough to show that the majority came from the East — from Greece
and the Hellenistic world. However, from literary evidence we can gain a better
insight into the exact locality from whence most came into Italy.
Juvenal, speaking of the Roman population speaks about these people with Greek
names. He says most epithetically: “These dregs call themselves Greeks but how
small a portion is from Greece; the River Orontes has long flowed into the
Tiber” (III, 62).
Juvenal, then, tells us that very few of these people were actually Greek. They
were from the Hellenistic world — to be exact, from the Levant.
How did these Orientals get into Italy? Some came by migration, but the vast
majority — as the records show — came as slaves. When Rome conquered the
East, vast numbers of peoples were captured and brought back to Italy as slaves.
The great majority of slaves came from the East — particularly Asia Minor and
Therefore, when the urban inscriptions show that seventy per cent of the city
slaves and freedmen bear Greek names and that a larger portion of the children
who have Latin names have parents of Greek names, this at once implies that
THE EAST WAS THE SOURCE of most of them, and with that inference Bang’s
conclusions (Dr. Bang of Germany) entirely agree. In his list of slaves that
specify their origin as being outside Italy (during the empire), by far the
larger portion came from the Orient, especially FROM SYRIA and the
provinces of ASIA MINOR, with some from Egypt and Africa (which for
racial classification may be taken with the Orient). Some are from Spain and
Gaul, but a considerable portion of these came originally from the East. Very
few slaves are recorded from the Alpine and Danube provinces, while Germans
rarely appear, except among the imperial bodyguard. Bang remarks that
Europeans were of greater service to the empire as soldiers than servants. This
is largely true, but, as Strach has commented, the more robust European
war-captives were apt to be chosen for the grueling work in the mines and in
industry, and largely they have vanished from the records. Such slaves were
probably also the least productive of the class; and this, in turn, helps to
explain the strikingly ORIENTAL aspect of the new population (pp.
There is another reason why European captives were not found with much
representation in Italy. When the Romans took over prosperous Gaul, with its
vast agricultural areas, the captive slaves were kept in the areas to farm the
land. This is also true for Spain, After all, Italy was being stocked with
masses of Oriental slaves, to bring Gauls to Italy would bring about
redundancies; and who would care for the farms of Gaul and Spain? This is the
main reason Dr. Bang found so very few western and northern Europeans as slaves
in Italy. The East supplied most to the fatherland.
However, can it really be said that these Eastern slaves displaced the old Latin
stock of Italy? Can we believe that slaves, even though they were brought by the
tens of thousands to Italy could completely take over the country? It seems, at
first glance, almost an impossibility for such a thing to happen.
But it did! There are many reasons which brought about the change of race.
It was not alone the bringing of these new races. Other factors were happening
to the original Latin race as well. Let us get a rundown of them by Professor
There are other questions that enter into the PROBLEM OF CHANGE — OF RACE AT
ROME, for the solution of which it is even more difficult to obtain
statistics. For instance, one asks, without hope of a sufficient answer, why
the native stock did not better hold its own. Yet there are at hand not a
few reasons. We know for instance that when Italy had been devastated by
Hannibal and a large part of its population put to the sword, immense bodies of
slaves were brought up in the East to fill the void; and that during the second
century B. C., when the plantation system with its slave service was coming into
vogue, the natives were pushed out of the small farms and many
disappeared to the provinces of the ever-expanding empire. Thus, during the
thirty years before Tiberius Gracchus, the census statistics show no increase.
During the first century B. C., the importation of captives and slaves
continued, while the free-born citizens were being wasted in the social, Sullan,
and civil wars. Augustus affirms that he had had half a million citizens under
arms, one eighth of Rome’s citizens, and that the most vigorous part. During the
early empire, twenty to thirty legions, drawn of course from the best free
stock, spent their twenty years of vigor in garrison duty while the slaves,
exempt from such services, lived at home and increased in numbers. In
other words, the native stock was supported by less than a normal birthrate,
whereas the stock of foreign extraction had not only a fairly normal birthrate
but a liberal quota of manumissions to its advantage (p. 703).
The foregoing are the main problems which affected the race decay of the Latins
in Italy. The main points were the decimation and emigration of the native
stock, while foreigners, especially from Syria and Asia Minor, took their place.
Also, records show the birthrate of the Latins was very low while that of slaves
was very large (slaves were encouraged to have children so that more servants
could be had). So, the slave population in Italy, during the first century B.C.,
increased rapidly while the native stock, who were still in the peninsula,
diminished to an alarming proportion.
To this increase in
the population the native stock seems not to have contributed much.
Decimated by long wars, fought by citizen crimes, which secured to Rome a
Mediterranean empire, its ranks were thinned still further by the withdrawal of
colonies of citizens to the provinces beyond the sea and by a heavy decline in
the birthrate even among the poorer classes. The native Roman and Italian
population steadily dwindled and the gaps were filled by NEW RACES
(La Piana, Foreign Groups in Rome During the First Centuries of the Empire,
The Harvard Theological Review, vol. XX, pp. 188, 189).
This population decline of the native races was alarming to Caesar and to
Augustus. Laws were enacted by these rulers to attempt some reversal of the
“race-suicide” (as the historians call it) of the Latin peoples. But their laws
were completely thwarted.
One of the most serious evils with which the imperial government was called upon
to contend was the decline in population. Not only had the Italian stock
almost disappeared from the towns, but the descendants of freedmen had not
been born in sufficient numbers to take its place. Accordingly, while the Lex
Papia Poppaea offered privileges to freeborn citizens for the possession of
three children, it used the whole question of inheritances of freedmen and
freedwomen for the encouragement of procreation (A. M. Duff, Freedmen
in the Early Roman Empire, Oxford Univ. Press 1928, p. 191).
other words the laws backfired on them. Instead of causing an increase in native
Italian stock, it encouraged the procreation of multitudes of ex-slaves who had
been freed by magnanimous Romans. Caesar simply could not stem the tide by laws
— everything was against him.
The centre of the empire had been more exhausted by the civil wars than any of
the provinces. The rapid disappearance of the free population had been
remarked with astonishment and dismay, at least from the time of the
Gracchi. If the numbers actually maintained on the soil of the Peninsula had not
diminished, it was abundantly certain that the independent native races had
given way almost throughout its extent to a constant importation of slaves.
The remedies to which Caesar resorted would appear as frivolous as they were
arbitrary . . . . . He prohibited all citizens between the age of twenty and
forty from remaining abroad more than three years together, while, as a matter
of state policy, he placed more special restrictions upon the movements of the
youths of senatorial families. He required also that the owners of herds and
flocks, to the maintenance of which large tracts of Italy were exclusively
devoted, should employ free labour to the extent of at least one-third of the
whole. Such laws could only be executed constantly under the vigilant
superintendance of a sovereign ruler. They fell in fact into immediate
disuse, or rather were never acted upon at all. They served no other purpose
at the time but to evince Caesar’s perception of one of the fatal tendencies of
the age (i.e. race deterioration in Italy), to which the eyes of most statesmen
of the day were already open (Merivale, The Romans Under the Empire, vol.
2. pp. 395, 396. 397).
Or, as Professor Duff says: “Even in Augustus’ day the process of
Orientalization had gone too far. The great emperor saw the clouds, but he
did not know they had actually burst. His legislation would have been a prudent
and not a whit excessive a century earlier; but in his time Rome was a
cosmopolitan city, and the doom of the Empire was already sealed” (Freedmen
in the Early Roman Empire, pp. 207, 208).
These laws were enacted too late, and never enforced! Professor Frank shows,
despite their inaction.
The race went under.
The legislation of Augustus and his successors, while aiming at preserving
the native stock, was of the myopic kind so usual in social lawmaking, and
failing to reckon with the real nature of the problem involved, it utterly
missed the mark. By combining epigraphical and literary references, a fairly
full history of the noble families can be procured, and this reveals a startling
inability of such families to perpetuate themselves. We know, for instance, in
Caesar’s day of forty-five patricians, only one of whom is represented by
posterity when Hadrian came to power. The Aemilsi, Fabii, Claudii. Manlii,
Valerii, and all the rest, with the exception of Comelii, have
disappeared. Augustus and Claudius raised twenty-five families to the patricate,
and all but six disappear before Nerva’s reign. Of the families of nearly four
hundred senators recorded in 65 A. D. under Nero, all trace of a half is lost by
Nerva’ s day, a generation later. And the records are so full that these
statistics may be assumed to represent with a fair degree of accuracy the
disappearance of the male stock of the families in question. Of course members
of the aristocracy were the chief sufferers from the tyranny of the first
century, but this havoc was not all wrought by delatores and assassins.
The voluntary choice of childlessness accounts largely for the unparalleled
condition. This is as far as the records help in this problem, which, despite
the silences is probably the most important phase of the whole question of
the change of race. Be the causes what they may, the rapid decrease of the
old aristocracy and the native stock was clearly concomitant with a
twofold increase from below; by a more normal birth-rate of the poor, and the
constant manumission of slaves (pp. 704, 705).
all of this, the remarks of Professor Duff will not be unappropriate:
may be asked in this connexion what became of the Latin and Italian stock.
Reasons may be given for the coming of the foreigners, but at the same time
some explanation may be demanded for the disappearance of the native. In the
first place there was a marked decline in the birthrate among the aristocratic
families. . . . As society grew more pleasureloving, as convention raised
artificially the standard of living, the voluntary choice of celibacy and
childlessness became a common feature among the upper classes. . . . But what
of the lower-class Romans of the old stock? They were practically untouched
by revolution and tyranny, and the growth of luxury cannot have affected them to
the same extent as it did the nobility. Yet even here the native stock
declined. The decay of agriculture. . . drove numbers of farmers into the
towns, where, unwilling to engage in trade, they sank into unemployment and
poverty, and where, in their endeavours to maintain a high standard of living,
they were not able to support the cost of rearing children. Many of these
free-born Latins were so poor that they often complained that the foreign slaves
were much better off than they — and so they were. At the same time many were
tempted to emigrate to the colonies across the sea which Julius Caesar and
Augustus founded. Many went away to Romanize the provinces, while society was
becoming Orientalized at home. Because slave labour had taken over almost
all jobs, the free born could not compete with them. They had to sell their
small farms or businesses and move to the cities. Here they were placed on the
doles because of unemployment. They were, at first, encouraged to emigrate to
the more prosperous areas of the empire — to Gaul, North Africa and Spain.
Hundreds of thousands left Italy and settled in the newly-acquired lands. Such a
vast number left Italy — leaving it to the Orientals — that finally restrictions
had to be passed to prevent the complete depopulation of the Latin stock, but as
we have seen, the laws were never effectively put into force. The migrations
increased and Italy was being left to another race. The free-born Italian,
anxious for land to till and live upon, displayed the keenist colonization
activity (Freedmen in the Early Roman Empire, pp. 200, 201).
There were two major reasons why the native Latin flocked first to the cities
and then to foreign lands. The first, as we have mentioned, was slave
labor. The small farm owner with a few acres could not compete with the
large landowner with hundreds if not thousands of slave labourers. The free-born
farmer, by sheer economics, was often forced to sell his small holding to the
larger farmer and then go to live in the cities and onto the doles. But there is
a second important reason why the small farmers and even the village free-born,
gave up their holdings — this was the desolation of a good deal of the land in
Italy. The Hannibalic and Civil wars had rendered whole sections sterile by the
ravages that took place. Vast areas of once fertile soil in Italy were, by the
first century B.C., desolate wastelands. This was especially true in certain
Central and Southern regions. The Central Etruscan area was so desolate that one
General returning to Rome, complained of traveling for miles without so much as
seeing a village.
The stock of (Latin) men capable of bearing arms in this (Central) district on
which Rome’s ability to defend herself had once mainly depended, had so totally
vanished, that people had read with astonishment and perhaps with horror the
accounts of annals — sounding fabulous in comparison with things as they now
stood — respecting the Aequain and Volscian wars. . . . Varro complains,
‘the once populous cities,’ in general ‘stood desolate’ (Mommsen, The History
of Rome, vol. V, p. 394).
What had happened was disastrous to Italy — at least to the Latin stock. Italian
land was in two general states: either vast areas were rendered completely
unproductive through desolation and were worth hardly anything agriculturally,
or, the areas that were fertile came to be in the hands of large rich
land-owners and farmed by thousands of slaves. There was no place for the
freemen. It is no wonder that the poor native Latin looked elsewhere for his
fortune — there was little place for him in Italy by the first century B.C.
Riches and misery in close league drove the Italians out of Italy, and
filled the peninsula partly with swarms of slaves, partly awful silence
(because of desolation) (ibid., p. 395).
Huge masses of Latins left Italy for Spain and Gaul. This desire for the Roman
of free-birth to go to other areas of the empire, is mentioned by Seneca. He
shows how the Italian looked for every opportunity to leave his native country:
This people (the Romans), how many colonies has it sent to every province!
Wherever the Roman conquers, there he dwells. With a view to this change of
country, volunteers would gladly ascribe their name, and even the old
man, leaving his home would follow the colonists overseas (Helvia on
Consolation, VII, 7).
Or, as Mommsen continues:
The Latin stock of Italy underwent an alarming diminution, and its fair
provinces were overspread partly by parasitic immigrants, partly by sheer
desolation. A considerable portion of the population of Italy flocked to
foreign lands. Already the aggregate amount of talent and of working power,
which the supply of Italian magistrates and Italian garrisons for the whole
domain of the Mediterranean demanded, transcended the resources of the
peninsula, especially as the elements thus sent abroad were in great part
lost for ever to the nation (ibid., p. 393).
And what is equally important to explain the loss of Latin stock, the thousands
of soldiers in foreign countries (Augustus had over 100,000 in foreign garrisons
alone), when retiring from their service careers, more often than not chose for
their pension-lands, territory outside of Italy. Merivale shows that by the
first century D. C. “there were no tracts of land of public domain left within
the Alps for the state to distribute in public grants” (ibid. p. 395). The
veterans had to take provincial areas, especially those in Gaul, Spain, and
North Africa, as their demobilization pay. This was not objected to by the
veterans because Italy just wasn’t productive enough to live on, especially if
the holding was small. The veteran normally chose the immediate area in which he
had been stationed for his twenty some years service. Let us remember that the
garrisoned soldier often had his family with him — it was not unlike the armed
forces today in this regard.
However, when the Caesars finally awoke to the disastrous effect that this
draining of the Latin population was having to the native hold on Italy, the
process of the unwitting de-Latinization of Italy had gone so far that it became
impossible to do anything about it. Of course, the state tried to reverse the
situation. Lands were even bought up in Italy and many veterans were forced to
take up residence in their homeland. But this even backfired! The veterans,
yearning for the better provincial areas, soon sold their lands to the large
landowners and went back to the new provinces. In fact, all the legislation
regarding the strengthening of the Latin stock in the home country came to
nothing. “They (the laws) fell in fact into immediate disuse, or rather were
never acted upon at all” (Merivale, vol. II, p.397).
summing up, Professor Duff gives us a keen insight on what was happening in
Italy and why the Latin race went under with a new stock taking its place:
Among all the causes of the change of race (apart from manumission) war
was the most important. The armies of the late Republic and civil wars had
consisted largely of Italians, who, if they were not killed off, were at least
deprived of domestic life during their prime. Meanwhile the freedmen, usually
excluded from the army, and the freedman’s descendant, never a keen soldier,
were allowed an uninterrupted family life and produced offspring with greater
freedom. Moreover, after his twenty years’ service, it was frequently the case
that the legionary never returned home, but joined his fellow veterans to found
a colony in the province where he had served.
The Roman thus gave away to the Easterner in Italy, while he made a place for
himself in the provinces (Freedmen in the Early Roman Empire, pp. 201,
What a strange situation! By the first century B.C., Italy found itself stocked
with slaves (Merivale says at least two-thirds were of servile origin at this
time), and the natives were constantly leaving the country. And, of those
free-born who remained in Italy, the thought of propagation was not taken
seriously while the slaves were producing many times the offspring. It can
easily be seen how this slave population — the vast majority were from Asia
Minor and Syria — replaced the old stock.
top of this, there was a strong movement in the first century B.C. of freeing
slaves — letting them take over the activities of the former free-born who had
left or was leaving the country. The rate of emancipation was so high that laws
were finally enacted to curtail the practice. For what was happening? Simply
this: thousands of slaves were becoming freedmen and by virtue of this, they
became the new Roman citizens. The emancipations or manumissions were not
done a corner, but were becoming the fashion of the day by the beginning of our
era. When a slave owner died, he often freed every slave in his household — and
some households had upwards of several thousand. These ex-slaves — now freedmen
and consequently Roman citizens — were the most energetic of peoples in Italy.
They were the ones, who as slaves, had done the business, the teaching, the
doctoring, the farming, the building, etc., while the rich Roman did nothing but
amuse himself and the poverty stricken free-born was shifting for himself, more
often than not on the dole and idle. Now, that thousands of these slaves were
gaining their freedom, they continued their trading and business activities.
They became the energetic stock of Italy.
With thoughtful citizens, partly owing to the Stoic doctrine of the fraternity
of man, humaner views gradually spread and made for amelioration in the lot of
servitude, and for so much readiness in masters to liberate slaves that
Augustus, recognizing the serious infiltration of alien blood into the body
politic, introduced restrictions on manumission. Yet this proved but a
slight check, and Tacitus records a significant remark that ‘if freedmen
were marked off as a separate grade, then the scanty number of free-born
would be evident.’ This shows how very few native free-born were left in
Italy by our era. This freemen were now freedmen — ex-slaves or their
descendants. They were taking over the complete population. The rise of
successful freedmen to riches made a social change of the utmost moment, and the
wealth amassed by a Narcissus or a Pallas gives point to Martial’s use of
‘wealthy freedmen’ as something proverbial (vol. VI, pp. 755, 756).
The ex-slaves, now freedmen, who really made names for themselves were generally
from Syrian or Eastern extraction.
seems unquestionable that the slaves from the eastern provinces were numerically
preponderant in Rome, and — what is still more important — that they played a
more important part in Roman life. . . . The large population of slaves gave
rise to a numerous class of foreign origin, the liberti or
freedmen, which came to play an important part in the life of the city. Rome’s
policy of manumitting slaves was very liberal and the grant of freedom
and citizenship made it possible for them to become merged in the citizen body
of Rome. Former slaves and sons of slaves spread into trades and crafts that
required civil standing, and in Cicero’s day it was these people who already
constituted the larger element of the plebian classes (La Piana, Foreign
Groups in Rome, pp. 190, 191).
These freedmen from the East began to take over almost all of the active
enterprises which govern society and commerce as a whole. By the first century,
freedmen were beginning to be so powerful — their number far out did any Latin
stock that remained — that even top governmental posts were coming their way.
One thing which must, most of all, have shocked the aristocracy, even though of
recent date, was the large number of Orientals, especially freedmen, who
— had been given some of the highest posts in the empire (Cambridge Ancient
History, vol. X, p. 727).
This history goes on and on showing personal incidents of Oriental ex-slaves
gaining posts that only the Latin aristocracy could hold in the Republic. In
fact, these ex-slaves finally took over almost complete control. Tacitus
complains that in Nero’s day most of the senators and members of the aristocracy
were now men of ex-slave status — and most of these were of Eastern origin.
Ex-slaves became so powerful that in Nero’s time they were put in charge of the
highest governmental offices — a thing which an ancient republican Roman would
have gasped at.
The reign of Nero saw no abatement in the power of the imperial freedmen
(ex-slaves). When Agrippina was accused of treason, freedmen were present to
hear her defense. One of Nero’s freedmen, Polyclitus, was actually employed as
an arbitrator between a senator and a knight; for when Suetonius Paullinus, the
legate of Britain, had disputes with his procurator, Polycritus was sent to
settle their differences. He proceeded to the island (of Britain) with the
gorgeous train of an Oriental potentate, but the barbarians failed to
comprehend why their conqueror should bow the knee to a slave. When Nero went on
his theatrical tour to Greece he left the freedman, Helius, in charge of Rome.
Twelve years before this menial had been employed by Nero to murder Silanus; and
was now absolute master of the imperial city (Duff, pp. l78, 179).
These instances of freedmen taking over the government are not isolated
cases. This was the general trend. Professor Duff gives examples of how in times
after Nero, the descendants of these ex-slaves were the power behind the throne.
In fact, by the third century even many of the Emperors were actually
descendants of the slaves of earlier centuries.
The denationalized capital of the great empire, came to be ruled by the
offspring of races which originally had come to the city only to serve (La
Piana, Foreign Groups in Rome, p. 223).
Let us not for a moment forget that by the first century B.C. the urban populace
of the cities in all Italy were of slave or ex-slave extraction. These are the
clear findings of the historians. The taking over the government by the
descendants of slaves was brought about because the major population, by the end
of the first century A. D., was of ex-slave extraction — the former Latin nobles
disappeared almost completely.
But however numerous the offspring of the servile classes, unless the Romans had
been liberal in the practice of manumission, these people would not have
merged with the civil population. Now, literary and legal records present
abundant evidence of an unusual liberality in this practice at Rome, and
the facts need not be repeated after the full discussion of Wallon, Buckland,
Freulander, Dill, Lemonnier, and Cicotti. If there were any doubt that the laws
passed in the early empire for the partial restriction of manumission did not
seriously check the practice, the statistics given at the beginning of the paper
should allay it. When from eighty to ninety per cent of the urban
population proves to have been of servile extraction, we can only conclude
that manumissions were not seriously restricted (Frank, ibid., pp. 698,
Yes, by the first century of our era, the vast majority of free Italians were
now ex-slaves or the descendants of ex-slaves. “By far the larger part —
perhaps ninety per cent — had Oriental blood in their veins” (Ibid.,
The Effect of the Race Change
Professor Frank can now be called on to analyze the overall effect of this
change. His findings, along with others, now make many things hitherto somewhat
unclear, just as clear as daylight! Many enigmas are now explained! Let us
notice what he relates.
This Orientalization of Rome’s populace has a more important bearing than is
usually accorded it upon the larger question of why the spirit and acts
of imperial Rome ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT from those of the republic. There was a
complete change in the temperament! There is today a healthy activity in the
study of the economic factors that contributed to Rome’s decline. But what lay
behind and constantly reacted upon all such causes of Rome’s disintegration was,
after all, to a considerable extent, the fact that the people who had built
Rome HAD GIVEN WAY TO A DIFFERENT RACE. The lack of energy and enterprise,
the failure of foresight and common sense, the weakening of moral and political
stamina, all were concomitant with the gradual diminution of the stock which,
during the earlier days, had displayed these qualities. It would be wholly
unfair to pass judgment upon the native qualities of the Orientals
without a further study, or to accept the self-complacent slurs of the Romans,
who, ignoring certain imaginative and artistic qualities, chose only to see in
them unprincipled and servile egoists. We may even admit that had these new
races had time to amalgamate and attain a political consciousness a more
brilliant and versatile civilization might have come to birth (ibid., p.
Professor Frank has given us the answer, which has long puzzled people: why is
the temperament of the early Roman so utterly different from the Italian of
Constantine’s time? As the Cambridge Ancient History puts it:
What of the enormous change in intellectual outlook and spiritual atmosphere
between Augustus and Constantine? Is not the result something more
Oriental than Greek or Roman in type and temper? (vol. XII, p. 448).
The answer is plain. It is not the ancient Roman gradually changing his
basic temperament; this change represents a change of race. The later
intellectual and spiritual temperament of Constantine’s Italians are outright
Oriental and totally different from the earlier Romans.
Let us notice the spiritual side of this change, not of temperament, but of
race. These incoming races from Syria, Asia Minor and Phoenicia brought with
them their Chaldean sun-worship and the mystery cults. The early Romans
repudiated these Oriental religions, but the slaves, who soon became the greater
part of the population and freedmen, accepted them outright. Professor Frank
calls attention to this change from one type of religion to another. “It would
be illuminating by way of illustration of this change to study the spread
of the mystery religions.” What of this change? How did the Romans accept the
Chaldean mystery religion? Professor Frank answers:
May it not be that Occidentals who are actually of Oriental extraction, men
of emotional nature, are simply finding in these cults the satisfaction that,
after long deprivation, their temperaments naturally required?
Why of course. This is the clear answer. Most of the Oriental slaves brought
their Chaldean religion right with them into Italy. Then, when later, in the
first and second centuries of our era, the new Gnostic-Chaldean cults
springing up in Syria and Samaria, found fertile ground in the now Orientalized
Italy. These Italians were the same type of peoples as those who were bringing
in the new mystery cults. It is just that plain!
Professor Duff also notices the striking differences in the early race in Italy
and the Oriental one which followed. He calls attention to the fact that these
later “Romans” accepted the Oriental religions so quickly.
The cumulative effect of these Oriental religions helped to break the old Roman
character. Another more powerful solvent was also inherited from slavery and
manumissions. The profuse intermixture of race, containing without interruption
from 200 B.C. far into the history of the Empire, PRODUCED A TYPE UTTERLY
DIFFERENT FROM THAT WHICH CHARACTERIZED THE HEROES OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC.
Instead of the hardy and patriotic Roman with his proud indifference to
pecuniary gain, we find too often under the Empire an idle pleasure-loving
cosmopolitan whose patriotism goes no further than applying for the dole and
swelling the crowds in the amphitheatre (ibid., pp. 205, 206).
Yes, what a difference! This change cannot be explained as being a gradual
change in temperament. It goes much deeper than that. As the work by the
Encyclopedia Britannica says:
Slavery was the most determined enemy of that spirit of conservatism and
tradition which had been the strength of the Roman race. The slaves did not
spring from the soil of Rome, their recollections and affections were elsewhere,
and when they became citizens they did not hesitate to welcome foreign
customs and to introduce them into the city. Whilst the statesmen and leading
men wore themselves out in trying to preserve what remained of the ancient
spirit and old customs, down below, amongst those classes of the populace which
were constantly being recruited from slavery, there was a continual working
to destroy it. It was thus that, thanks to this secret and powerful
influence, new religions easily spread throughout the empire (Historians
History of the World, vol. 6, p. 365).
was this new, ex-slave population — now the people of the land, the new Italians
— who readily absorbed and propagated these Chaldean mystery cults. It was in
their nature to do so.
“In short,” says Professor Frank, “the mystery cults permeated the city, Italy,
and the western provinces only to such an extent as the city, Italy, and the
provinces were permeated BY THE STOCK THAT HAD CREATED THOSE RELIGIONS” (ibid.,
What foresight! How correct Professor Frank is!
Those mystery religions had their creation in ancient Babylon. These vast hordes
of Easterners who had come or had been brought to Italy to make their new homes,
were saturated with Chaldeans — literal Chaldeans, from Babylon, Syria, Samaria,
and Phonecia. Almost the whole new Italian stock was Shemitic and that was
largely Babylonian by origination.
the third and fourth centuries A.D., when even the aristocracy at Rome was
almost completely foreign, these Eastern cults, rather than those of old
Rome, became the centers of ‘patrician’ opposition to Christianity. In other
words, the western invasion of the mystery cults in hardly a miraculous
conversion of the even-tempered, practical-minded Indo-European to an
orgiastic emotionalism foreign to his nature. THESE RELIGIONS CAME WITH
THEIR PEOPLES, and so far as they gained new converts, they attracted for the
most part people of Oriental extraction who had temporarily fallen away from
native ways in the western world (ibid., p. 708).
How true that observation is! There was practically a complete change of race
between the third century B.C. and the time of Constantine — the Shemite had
come! As Professor Duff states:
The fact that the Romans who resisted Hannibal (late 3rd century B.C.) and those
who succumbed to the Goths (5th century A.D.) WERE TOTALLY DIFFERENT PEOPLES
is one of the main explanations of the decline and fall” (Freedmen in the
Early Roman Empire, Oxford University Press, p. 207).
With the observations of these historians, perhaps it will be in order to bring
in God’s revelation on this matter. That is, do peoples change their basic
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, Or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also
do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23).
“Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods?” (Jer. 2:11).
How plain the whole matter is, the later ‘Romans’ didn’t change their gods. They
were basically Babylonian by race and brought their Babylonian gods and worship
with them to Italy.
Historians have long been aware of the striking similarities between ancient
Babylonian civilization and that of Rome — particularly Medieval Rome. Professor
Sayce, the noted historian of Near Eastern nations, gave a remarkable parallel
between Babylon and later Rome.
Babylon remained (after the time of Solomon) the capital of the Kingdom and the
holy city of Western Asia. Like the sovereigns of the HOLY ROMAN
EMPIRE, it was necessary for the prince, who claimed rule in Western Asia,
to go to Babylon and there be acknowledged as the adopted son of Bel
before his claim to legitimacy could be admitted. Babylon became more and more a
priestly city, living on its ancient prestige and merging its ruler INTO A
PONTIFF. From this time down to the Persian era, it was the religious
head of the civilized East” (Historians History of the World, pub. by
the Ency. Brit. vol. 1, p. 364).
Such a parallel could hardly be accidental. Just as the rulers of Asia Minor,
Syria, Assyria, and Babylon had to be acknowledged by the Pontifex Maximus of
Babylon, so the later rulers of Austria, Germany, France, and Spain had to be
recognized by the Pontifex Maximus of Rome — the Pope!
How plain it is that the Babylonians have made an exact replica of ancient
Babylon. Rome is the new Babylon.
From Babylon to Syria
That the people of the later Roman Empire were basically from Syria and Asia
Minor is without doubt! These “Syrians” replaced the old stock of Rome. As plain
as this is, however, it is one thing to say that these new Romans were
transplanted Syrians, but quite another to prove that they, were basically
Babylonians. Realizing that evidence must be given, this portion of the article
is designed to fill the gap. We will use Biblical and secular sources to show,
without doubt, that Syria in the last centuries before our era was saturated
with Babylonian stock. This being shown to be true, it will then follow that the
slaves taken to Rome from the Levant area must represent the same general stock.
The reality of this Babylonian movement to Italy will be self-evident as we
proceed in the article.
Let us first note that the Bible tells us to expect Babylonians in Rome! The
Book of Revelation locates the new Babylon on the city of the seven hills. And,
as we have seen, the Roman stock which brought about Babylonian religion to
Italy, were the people “who created those religions.” Does this not indicate a
Chaldean movement into Italy? It certainly does! These people were primarily
only remains for us to find out who those Syrians were.
The Bible the Key
All have recognized that the Bible gives information about several Babylonian
nations being transported into the old hill country of Ephraim — into Samaria!
But what is not generally known is that scripture reveals these Babylonians as
being not only in the Samaritan area — they were placed in ALL the areas west of
the Euphrates — IN ALL OF SYRIA!
We normally restrict the Babylonian colonization of the West only to Samaria,
but from the records of the Samaritans, those of the Jews and especially the
records of the Bible, we can prove that these Babylonians were not limited alone
to Samaria. Babylonian peoples were settled in Syria and Phoenicia as well as
Samaria! Let us carefully observe, first, the Biblical record of this
What the Bible Says!
When the Jews were rebuilding the temple right after the Babylonian captivity,
the peoples of Samaria came to the Jews and said: “Let us build with you: for we
seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto Him since the days of
Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither” (Ezra 4:2).
The Jews declined this Samaritan petition because of their utterly corrupt
religion. This refusal infuriated the Samaritans. They resolved to thwart any
attempt to rebuild the temple if they couldn’t have a hand in it. Thereupon,
they wrote a letter to the king of Persia asking him to put a stop to the
building. The contents of this letter is interesting because it reveals a lot
more about the origin of the Samaritans and about where they were living in
Palestine than any other Biblical reference. And the Bible has recorded this
letter to afford us a key as to the distribution of Babylonians west of the
Euphrates. Let us notice what these Samaritans said of themselves.
Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their
companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites,
the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the
Elamites, and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnapper
(Asshur-banipal) brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, AND THE REST
THAT ARE ON THIS SIDE OF THE RIVER (i.e., west of the Euphrates), and at
such a time (Ezra 4:9, 10).
Let us first notice that these tribes were all SHEMITES! (Almost all were
from Mesopotamia with the exception of some Elamites from Persia). The major
core were from the area of Babylon!
And more importantly, note that these nations (they were whole nations) were
settled not only in the cities of Samaria, but also in the REST on this side the
River — that is, the rest of the cities west of the Euphrates. This side the
This was the ordinary designation of Syria in the official
language of the old Persian Empire (Bevan, The House of Seleucus, vol. I,
How clear it all is! These Eastern peoples were brought into the whole
region THAT WE NOW CALL SYRIA, and not alone to Samaria. They were brought
there to fill up the devastation and the void which hung on the land after the
Assyrian wars. Let us remember that Northern Israel was emptied of Israelites —
the Samaritan portion of these people came in to replace them. On the other
hand, we are told that ancient Syria — north of Israel — was also invaded by
Assyrian and that many of the ancient Arameans were taken back to northern
Assyria. It was, like the land of Israel, left practically empty! The prophet
Amos (Chapter 1:3-5) foretold that the Arameans were to be taken
captive by the Assyrians to KIR (the Kir valley area just south of the
Caucasus). This prophecy probably does not mean that every single Aramean was
taken away — even though on the surface that is what the prophecy says. However
a good deal of the native stock of ancient Aram were removed, like Israel, from
their land. Those few who were left must have amalgamated with the incoming
stock from the East. The land of Syria was repopulated, just like the land of
Israel, with people allied with Assyria. After all, the eastern seaboard area of
the Mediterranean was one of the most strategic to Assyria. They didn’t move
exiles or rebellious nations, into the Syrian and Palestine areas — that would
have been the height of folly. Besides, Syria and Samaria were never regions of
exile like the Caucasus and Caspian Sea areas. These people were colonists.
Many of them came from regions annexed to Assyria by Esar-haddon, but they were
his allies. They came to redevelop the land — to strengthen it for Assyria. It
would have been a crazy maneuver to place rebellious tribes into an area
bordering the naturally rebellious Egypt. Babylonian nations were being granted
these lands by Assyria in order to stabilize the western flank of the empire and
to make it secure. Later, when the Babylonian empire came along, these very
people proved to be even more helpful. During the time of the Persian empire,
these Babylonians — with a few other Shemitic peoples — were still in the
Syrian region. They were, as the Bible says “in all the areas west of the
Even the records of the Samaritans and the Jews support the above information.
Josephus mentions an official letter of the Samaritans which was written to
Antiochus Epiphanes in which the Samaritans stated that their forefathers had at
one time lived in the northern area near the city of Sidon. See Antiquities,
Book XII, ch. 5, sec. 5. In fact, the Samaritans from Babylon had kinfolk
all along the northern area of the Phoenician coast. Sidon was the center of
this Babylonian influence.
Assyrian times this ancient city of Sidon had been completely destroyed by
Esar-haddon king of Assyria — the Sidonian king was killed and all the
former people taken captive. Esar-haddon tells how the destruction came about in
his own official cuneiform records. He states that after Sidon’s destruction, he
rebuilt the city and, naming it after himself, restocked it with people from the
countries of the East. This official record can be checked in The Assyrian
Eponym Canon, pp. 137, 138. This cuneiform record is the first of
Esar-haddon bringing peoples from the East to the Phoenician seaboard. It agrees
remarkably with the Bible record, when the Scriptures state that these
Samaritans and their kin had come into the area “since the days of Esar-haddon,
king of Assur, WHICH BROUGHT US UP HITHER” (Ezra 4:2). The
Assyrian record and the Bible are speaking about the same peoples!
was Esar-haddon who brought up these Babylonian and Elamite people; he first put
them in his new city of SIDON. It is no wonder that the Samaritans told
Antiochus that their original home was the area around SIDON. That
is where those from Samaria were first placed. There can be no doubt of this for
these Samaritans even asked Antiochus to check “the public records.”
There were state records which clearly showed that the Samaritans were telling
the truth in this matter. When Antiochus answered their letter, after having
checked those public records, he addressed them as “the Sidonians who live at
Shechem” (ibid.). Even Josephus himself refers to them as SIDONIANS
of recent origin (but at the same time saying they anciently came from Eastern
countries). Plus all this, the Jewish Targum written about 50 B. C., referring
to Genesis 10, calls SIDON a Samaritan city. It calls it Cutha —
the city of the Cuthites. (Cuthites was, and still is, the name the Jews use for
Now what does this all prove? Very much! It serves to indicate that the
Samaritan influence was not only limited to the hill country of Ephraim — the
Samaritans were only a part of many nations brought over from Babylon into
Palestine and Syria. Sidon was the first big stronghold of them (they were not
called Samaritans in Sidon because the word ‘Samaritan’ is geographical and can
only be used of those in Samaria). These Babylonians who lived in Sidon were
called Sidonians, they were, of course, the same stock as the Samaritans.
Likewise the transplanted Babylonians in the other cities west of the Euphrates
were not called Samaritans, but were still of the same stock. There was a major
difference between the Babylonians in Samaria and the Babylonians in Sidon and
Syria (not in race but in religion): the Samaritans accepted the Old Testament
Law as a basis for their idolatrous religion, while the others, at first, cared
little for accepting the Old Testament. This singled out the Samaritans as being
somewhat different from the others in Syria but they were all of the same
So, what is the outcome of this? It means that the Bible puts Babylonians in
all the cities of Syria and Phoenicia as well as in Samaria, and that
the secular records support it. Thus, Babylonian influence in the West was much
greater in scope than has hitherto been realized by some historians. But there
is more to come!
Syria Becomes the New Babylon
now come to a matter concerning ancient history that all historians accept. And
that is: The Seleucid kingdom (called ‘the kingdom of the north’ in Daniel)
can be designated a Babylonian kingdom! Yes, actually a Babylonian kingdom.
has been customary to call the Seleucid realm a Greco-Macedonian regime. And,
this is true — but only on the surface. Let us see.
After Alexander the Great had conquered Asia, he made as capital of this vast
eastern domain, the city of Babylon. He planned further African and European
conquests but was prevented from carrying out his grandiose designs by his
untimely death at Babylon. His death put the government into confusion. There
was, however, a treaty between the major claimants to the domain: it was divided
into four major areas with rulers over each. After some further bickering
between the new rulers, the central area of the former empire fell out to
Seleucus, a general of Alexander’s army. He took over this central Babylonian
region and proclaimed himself the king of Babylon. In a short time he took over
all of Syria. And, for over 250 years he and his descendants controlled as “the
kingdom of the north” the areas of Syria and Mesopotamia.
Seleucus, surnamed Nicator, who had received this province (of Syria) in his lot
in the division of the Macedonian dominions, raised it into an empire, known in
history by the name of the kingdom of Syria or BABYLON (Lemprierre’s
Classical Dictionary, p. 587).
Yes, Seleucus’ kingdom was called either Syrian or Babylonian. And what is
interesting, in later times the kings of the Seleucid empire consistently call
themselves not the kings of Syria, but rather THE KINGS OF BABYLON
(e.g. Bevan, The House of Seleucus, vol. I, p. 255). They wanted to
maintain the historical tradition of the old Babylonian empire — that they were
its successors — not that they were “Syrians” who had little historical
background. And as we will presently see, the Seleucid kings represented their
kingdom as a resurrection of the old Babylonian kingdom.
What type of kingdom was this “kingdom of the north” racially? At first, it was
made up of about five per cent Greeks and Macedonians (mainly of soldiers,
veterans and a few Greek colonists) while the rest was made up of the native
populations of the various countries of the kingdom. Seleucus was very prone to
build new cities in his Asian empire. He built no less than thirty. They were
all designed on the Greek manner. The architecture was Greek and so were the
social institutions. Some few Greek colonists were brought in to give the
cities the ‘Greek’ flavour. And more importantly, Greek was the language imposed
on the citizens of this kingdom.
From this, we might imagine that the kingdom was, in fact, a real Greek kingdom.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Greek element became a thin veneer
upon the old traditions, religions and society in general. Oh yes, we must say
that the old stock saw their own culture through Greek guise — especially, they
used the Greek language — but the real warp and woof of the kingdom was as
Oriental as it ever had been. The Greek religions were brought to Syria and
Babylon, and they became Babylonian. Some Greek peoples came to the area, and
they soon, by amalgamation became Syrians and Babylonians. The Seleucid kingdom
was Oriental to the core! These are wide-sweeping statements, but they can
be supported by the plain records of history. Let us see.
Dr. W.W. Tarn, one of the authors of the Cambridge Ancient History, shows
how this “Greek” kingdom of Seleucus reverted quickly back to a Babylonian and
Mercenaries settled in Asia (the Seleucid Empire) had from the start taken
native wives; certainly by the first century intermarriage and the mixture of
peoples in daily life and trade was doing its work, and, precisely as in Egypt
at the time, the term ‘Greek’ sometimes denoted culture, NOT BLOOD; the
‘Greek woman, a Syro-Phoenician BY RACE’ of Mark 7:26 was such a
‘culture Greek’, perhaps with Greek political rights in her city. After the
European immigration of the few Greek colonists in the third century B. C. came
to an end, first a balance was established, then the Greek began to lose ground,
partly through mixing his blood with Asiatic stocks (Hellenistic Culture,
The disintegration of this Greek veneer was started very early — even with
Alexander. He commanded the bulk of his army officers to marry into the native
population. This was done on a wide scale. Even Seleucus, the beginner of the
new empire centred at Babylon, was married to an Oriental princess. The fruit of
that mixed union was Antiochus the First, the king that followed Seleucus to the
throne. From that time onward, the deterioration continued to such an extent
that Greek blood almost wholly disappeared except in a few isolated districts in
the extreme western part of the empire. Certain forms of Greek culture retained
their force, and especially the Greek language became the official language of
the empire, but the Greek race almost entirely disappeared within a few
The Roman historian Livy reports a statement of a Roman consul to his troops in
189 B.C. Speaking about the submergence of the Greek racial characteristics in
the East, he said:
The Macedonians who settled in Alexandria in Egypt, or in Seleucia, or in
Babylonia, or in any of their other colonies scattered over the world, have
degenerated into Syrians, Parthians, or Egyptians. Whatever is planted in a
foreign land, by a gradual change in its nature, degenerates into that by which
it is nurtured (Livy, XXXVIII, 17).
Also, even though the armies of Antiochus the Third were sometimes called
Greeks, Livy and Plutarch report they were actually “all Syrians” (Livy, XXXV,
49, 8; Plutarch, Titus, 17).
Let us also recall that Juvenal said the multitudes of “Greeks” in Italy were
not Greeks at all but were from Syria — “the river Orontes has long flowed into
the Tiber” (III, 62). This clearly shows, even though the Syrians had Greek
names and even some Greek cultural tendencies, they were hardly real Greeks!
other words, the Greek race in Syria and Babylonia succumbed. This decay was
begun by Alexander himself when he encouraged — actually ordered — his men to
marry with eastern stocks. The effect was the complete overwhelming of the Greek
minority. By the end of the second century B. C. the Greek racial element was so
small as to be non-existent in most regions of the empire. The Seleucid kingdom
has virtually reverted to the native stock.
an example of how this reverting can take place, historians give us a modern
equivalent of the Greek invasion and penetration of Syria and Babylon: the
British take-over of India. Just like the spread of the Greek language in Nearer
Asia, so English became the official tongue of all India. And, as Alexander gave
Asia a Greek culture, the British have given India its civil service, its
jurisprudence and a form of democracy. However, there is one matter in which the
analogy breaks down: Alexander had his men marry into the Asian stock thus
deteriorating the race, while the British commanded no such thing, and in fact
such intermarriage with the Indians was actively frowned upon. The intermarriage
of Alexander’s Greeks with the natives, soon extinguished the Greek blood, while
in India there are still some British colonies of pure race.
Thus, it can be plainly observed, from the above analogy, and from the
historical sources, that the Greek kingdom of Alexander degenerated directly
back to its native population.
The records of history prove this conclusively! For example, when Alexander
brought his Greek gods and religions to Syria and Babylonia, the natives were
willing to call their own gods by some of the Greek names of deity, but to
replace the Babylonian gods with the Greek ones, they most emphatically refused.
In actual fact, the Greek gods turned into Babylonian ones!
Greece was ready to adopt the gods of the foreigner, but the foreigner rarely
reciprocated; Greek Doura (the Greek temple in Mesopotamia) freely admitted the
gods of Babylon, but no Greek god entered Babylonian Uruk. Foreign gods
might take Greek names; they took little else. They (the Babylonian gods) were
the stronger, and the conquest of Asia (by the Greeks) was bound to fail
as soon as the East had gauged its own strength and Greek weakness (Tarn,
ibid., pp. 301, 302).
Speaking of this retention of indigenous worships in the East, Dr. Cumont
The native religions retained all their prestige and independence. In their
ancient sanctuaries that took rank with the richest and most famous in the
world, a powerful clergy continued to practise ancestral devotions according
to barbarian rites, and frequently liturgy, everywhere performed with
scrupulous respect, remained (in Syria) Semitic (Oriental Religions in Roman
Paganism, p. 22).
Yes, the old Babylonian gods of the Syrians were not exchanged for the
incoming Greek ones. Besides, as it can be clearly shown, well over ninety-five
per cent of the people of Syria and Asia, even at the beginning of the Seleucid
empire, were native Orientals. The invading Greeks had little chance of
uprooting the basic religions and philosophies of these people. And, by
intermarriage and mixture, it was the Greek alien who gave way to the native
Oriental. The later ‘Greek’ kings succumbed almost entirely to Oriental ways —
especially in religion. “The East led its conqueror captive” says Dr.
Tarn (ibid., p. 306).
The political aspects of the Seleucid kingdom were no less Oriental. They
based their administration on the old Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian forms.
Thus, there was a historical continuity in government all the way from Assyria
to the Seleucid kingdom (Tarn, ibid., p. 118).
One feature of Seleucid rule was the resurrection of Babylonia, whose
ancient culture was to the Seleucids what that of Egypt was to the Ptolemies.
Cuneiform literature revived (under Persian rule the art had decayed); besides
scientific astronomical work and business documents, chronicles of current
events were written, and myths were versified. Rituals, incantations, and omen
literature were frequently copied and studied, as were Sumerian hymns and their
Babylonian translations. . . . The last cuneiform document extant dates from 7
B.C. This activity points to a RELIGIOUS REVIVAL, which was fostered by the
early kings. Antiochus I carried to completion Alexander’s project of
restoring Bel’s temple at Babylon which Xerxes had destroyed. He re-founded
Nebo’s temple at Borsippa, while Bel’s priest Berossus dedicated to him
(Antiochus) his work on Babylonian history. Under Seleucus a priest of Uruk,
possibly at his request, found at Susa and copied the old ritual of the gods at
Uruk, whose worship was re-established. The temple of Anu at Uruk was restored
in 182 B. C. under Seleucus IV. The priests of Uruk also collected a
temple library. Mr. Sidney Smith has suggested to me [Dr. Tarn] that the
Seleucids favoured Babylonian religion as a bulwark against Zoroasterianism
(ibid., pp. 118, 119).
The Seleucids almost totally abandoned the religious forms of the Olympian gods
and reverted to Babylonianism! The Seleucid empire saw, as Dr. Tarn has clearly
observed, “the resurrection of Babylonia.” Even Alexander’s policy was to
bring back the old Babylonian empire. “Alexander presented himself to the
Babylonians as the restorer of the old order than as an innovator”
(Bevan, ibid., vol. I, p. 245). And even though the Greek language
became the lingua franca of the kingdom, and though the Babylonian gods took
Greek names, the religious and political society remained Babylonian. As an
example of this, perhaps we can mention the idol which Antiochus Epiphanes
erected in the Holy Place. Native records tell us that it was Baal Shamayim —
the Babylonian sun-god! See Moses Hadas, Hellenistic Culture, p. 25. The
Greek name of the idol was Zeus Olympus, but it was clearly the old Mesopotamian
sun-god. The Seleucids adopted Babylonian religion throughout their domain.
Throughout Syria, the Seleucids restored temple lands — vast territories in some
cases — to the priests. This was to get the priesthood on their side in
governing the people. The co-operation between the priests and the kings
was generally very good — except when their power got so strong that they, in
the time of the later Seleucids, began to dictate to the kings certain policies
to be followed.
short, as Dr. Tarn remarks, the Seleucid kingdom saw the resurrection of,
Babylonia. All of the sudden Babylon had come back to prominence. No wonder the
Seleucids consistently identified themselves with the ancient Babylonians, and
that their kingdom, as Lemprierre’s Classical Dictionary records, was
known as the Kingdom of Babylon (p. 587).
Babylonians and Syrians
Seleucus had his first capital at Babylon. In commemoration of his desire to
make a revived Babylonian kingdom, he devised a new standard calendar for his
realm. The first year of this new calendar was the year 312 B.C. when he
first made Babylon the capital of his empire. Throughout his realm people were
required to date all documents from this new era. The new system (based upon the
old Babylonian Lunar-Solar calendar) was called the Seleucid calendar, and the
first year of it was known as the beginning of the Seleucid Era. All the Jews of
Babylon took over this Era for computation of dates subsequent to 312 B. C. it
was even followed, later on, by Palestinian Jews. It was only abandoned by
official Jews when the creation era was finally adopted in the second century
This new calendar of Seleucus was important, for it focused attention upon
Seleucus as the new Babylonian king and by virtue of this, the ruler of the
central region of Alexander’s empire.
few years after making the city of Babylon his capital, Seleucus decided to
build a new capital city some 40 miles north on the Tigris. The reason for the
move was mainly brought about by nature. Old Babylon was decaying. The Euphrates
was changing its course away from the city. Uncontrollable swamps were beginning
to abound in the area. On the other hand, the ravages of wars had their toll on
the old city.
Seleucus built a new city, using some of the material of old Babylon. All the
population moved to this city on the Tigris — it was called
Seleucia-on-the-Tigris or new Babylon. Thus, the Babylon of Belshazzar
was left empty and very soon, according to the records, taken over by serpents,
strange birds and foul animals.
Seleucus, having called this city by his own name, and designed it for an
eminent monument thereof in after ages, gave it many privileges above the other
cities of the east, and these were a further invitation to the Babylonians to
transport themselves to it, and by these means, Babylon became wholly
desolated so that nothing was left remaining of it but its walls (Prideaux,
Connexion, vol. I, p. 540).
The new city of Seleucus was Greek on the outside, but in the core Babylonian.
The ground plan, for instance, was built in the form of an eagle — the symbol of
the old Babylonian empire.
“Although the days were long past when the Babylonians had borne rule in Asia,
the Babylonian people and the Babylonian civilization existed still” (Bevan,
ibid., p. 250).
The new city gathered to it not only the old inhabitants of old Babylon but also
people “from Assyria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Syria, and Judaea” — that is, from
all Mesopotamia! (Smith’s Smaller Classical Dictionary, p. 476). This
city was new Babylon, the capital of the Seleucid empire. As Bevan says, Babylon
was simply “transferred to another site” (ibid., p. 253). It became
common to call the inhabitants of Seleucus-on-the-Tigris as “Babylonians”
(Strabo, XVI, 743).
The Seleucid Capital Moved West — to Antioch
was not long after the building of “new Babylon” that Seleucus made another
important decision. Recognizing that the western part of his kingdom was
politically more important than the East, he decided to build a further new city
in the West — a city which could be his political capital. And thus, the famous
city of Antioch was built.
This new city of Antioch represents an important link in our present study of
Chaldeans moving into the West — into Syria. For just as old Babylon was left
desolate when the Babylonians flocked to Seleucia-on-the-Tigris, there were
likewise swarms of people from Mesopotamia moving to Antioch when it became the
real capital of the kingdom. In fact, Seleucus didn’t stop with building Antioch
in the West — he built new cities all over Syria. No less than 30 completely new
cities were built over his empire and most were in Syria. He invited
thousands of people to come from Mesopotamia to populate these cities. Josephus
tells us that many of the Jews who were in Mesopotamia flocked to every one
of these new western cities (see Antiquities, XII, 3, 1). But Jews
weren’t the only ones to move west into this new area of influence, native
Mesopotamians also migrated on a large scale. In fact, the region of western
Syria had become so racially “Babylonian” by the end of the Seleucid rule, that
Strabo said the peoples of Mesopotamia and those of Syria were a homogenous
group — they had become the same racial stock with no appreciable differences
between them (Book I, ch. II, sec. 34).
The plains of Mesopotamia and Coele-Syria, inhabited by kindred races,
extended across frontiers which are not marked out by nature, and, relations
between the great temples situated east and west of the Euphrates continued
(even in Roman times) without interruption (Cumont, Astrology and Religion
Among the Greeks and Romans, pp. 77, 78).
Yes, the priesthoods, and even the peoples, of Mesopotamia and those of Syria
near the beginning of our Era were of the same general stock. There can be no
doubt of this!
Antioch — the New Babylonian Capital
When Seleucus built Antioch, he invited some Greek colonists to the city as well
as bringing many Mesopotamian peoples with him as its new inhabitants. The
Babylonian priests became the foremost of Antioch’s citizens.
Antioch had “a high Greek civilization mixed with various Oriental elements
and especially with the superstitions of CHALDEAN ASTROLOGY” (Smith’s
Geography, vol. I, p. 143).
is a simple fact that the Seleucid empire soon became a Chaldean one. This was
especially true in the field of religion — the Olympian religious forms were
abandoned in favour of the original Chaldean ones.
The Seleucids believed in CHALDEAN astrology, and the kings of Commagne,
as well as a great number of Syrian cities, had the signs of the zodiac
as emblems on their coins. It is certain that this pseudo-science penetrated
into those regions (of eastern and western Syria) long before the Hellenistic
period. Chaldeanism modified the entire Semitic paganism (Oriental Religions,
Speaking of Antioch, the Seleucid capital, and the religious motives which
governed the region, Cumont says:
There can be no doubt that Babylonian doctrines exercised decisive
influence on this gradual metamorphosis and this latest phase of Semitic
religion. The SELEUCID PRINCES OF ANTIOCH showed as great a deference
to the science of the Babylonian clergy as the Persian Achaemenids had done
before them. We find Seleucus Nicator (the first king) consulting these
official soothsayers (i.e. Chaldeans) about the propitious hour for founding
Seleucia on the Tigris....The cities of Syria often stamp on their coins certain
signs of the zodiac to mark the fact that they stood under their patronage.
If the princes and cities (of Syria) thus acknowledged the authority of
astrology (the special science of the Chaldeans), we may imagine what was the
power of this scientific theology in the temples. We may say that in the age of
Alexander IT PERMEATED THE WHOLE OF SEMITIC PAGANISM (Astrology and
Religion, pp. 80, 81).
other words, Syria and the Seleucid empire was saturated with Chaldean teaching.
Its religion and philosophies, while using Greek names and Greek cultural words,
were nevertheless thoroughly Babylonian. The temperaments of these people
demanded such a religion.
was Babylon that retained the intellectual supremacy, even after its
political ruin. The powerful sacerdotal caste ruling it did not fall with
the independence of the country, and it survived the conquests of Alexander.
The researches of Assyriologists have shown that its ancient worship
persisted under the Seleucids, and at the time of Strabo the Chaldeans still
discussed cosmology and first principles in the rival schools of Borsippa and
Orchoe. The ascendancy of that erudite clergy affected the surrounding
regions, but more than anywhere else (it affected) the SYRIANS, who were
connected with the Oriental Semites by bonds of language and blood (Cumont,
Oriental Religons, p. 122).
And what is interesting, even when the capital of the empire moved to Antioch,
the Seleucid kings called themselves not kings of Antioch or Syria but
retained the prestige title: KINGS OF BABYLON (e.g. Becan, ibid.,
vol. 1, p. 255). This was intended to show that though the geographical
influence had changed, the historical tradition had not: the Seleucid kingdom
was basically a Babylonian one with a Greek veneer.
Now what happened to the population of the Mesopotamian lands, and their
economic position after the removal of the capital to Antioch? In both cases
there was continual deterioration. First, many people were attracted to
the West because political influence was in that direction. Secondly, in the
later years of the Seleucid empire, the Mesopotamian area became a war-zone in
the struggles between the Parthians and the Seleucids. Thousands of people, who
had a natural affinity toward their brethren in the west (many had relatives
there), retreated towards the Mediterranean areas. Also, because of the war-zone
and the migrations, the irrigation system which had so wonderfully made
Mesopotamia a huge garden was beginning to waste away to a considerable extent.
Much of the land, near the end of Seleucid rule, was reverting to deserts or
into impassable swamps. It was only natural that the people looked for, and went
to, the more prosperous areas of the kingdom.
Dr. Cumont explains about the deterioration of Mesopotamia.
Hipparchus saw the ruin of the country (of Babylon) where was born the science
(of astrology) which he illumined. Invaded by the Parthians about the year 140
B.C., recaptured by Antiochus VII of Syria in 130 B.C., reconquered soon
afterwards by King Phraates, Mesopotamia was terribly ravaged for more
than a quarter of a century. Babylon (Seleucia), sacked and burned in 125 B. C.,
never recovered her former splendour: a progressive decay brought on her a
death by slow consumption. Henceforth it is far from the Chaldean’s native
land, in Syria, in Egypt, and in the West, that we must follow the
development of the religious ideas derived from the Chaldea of Antiquity (Astrology
and Religion, p. 41).
Yes, the Babylonians of Mesopotamia went into Syria and some into Egypt, and by
transplantation even into the West. The first step from Mesopotamia to the West
was, of course, Syria. It must be remembered that Syria was much more prosperous
in Seleucid times than now. There were huge farms all over Syria, from the
Mediterranean eastwards even beyond Palmyra. A Syrian of the second century
before Christ, Posidonius, said: “All the people of Syria, because of the great
plenty which their land afforded, were relieved of any distress regarding the
necessaries of life” (Athenaeus, Bk. V., 195).
This western region was absorbing the Mesopotamian population. And what is
revealing, the eastern Mesopotamian population was deteriorating and the region
was turning into desert at the same rate as Syria was growing in population and
prosperity. In fact, by Roman times Syria was the most populous area in the
whole Roman Empire (Trevor-Roper, The End of Antiquity, The Listener,
p. 916), while Mesopotamia had dwindled to remarkable proportions. Actually, by
the second century of our era, when the Roman Empire finally annexed Mesopotamia
to its rule, they considered the area so unworth anything that they withdrew
their legions after only a generation of occupation. Hadrian, conquering the
region for Rome, destroyed Seleucus-on-the-Tigris and reduced it to a ghost
city. This was the fate of many of the few cities which remained in the region.
In actual fact, Mesopotamia in not many generations after became a desert or a
semi-desert region, and basically, still is to this day.
Now the important point for us to realize in this present study is that it was
western Syria that absorbed most of the Mesopotamian movements of people. This
is the plain truth of history. Thus, we can easily see why the kings of the
Seleucid realm continued to call themselves the kings of Babylon and their
kingdom Babylonian — the Babylonian system had now moved westward to Antioch.
has already been mentioned in chapter one that most of the slaves that came to
Italy — and later became the citizens of Rome — were primarily from our
area under discussion — Syria. During the decay of the later Seleucid
kingdom, thousands of Syrian slaves were taken to Italy as indemnities to the
Romans and further multitudes were taken when the Romans carried them off as the
booty of war.
Under the Empire the importation of slaves increased. Depopulated Italy needed
more and more foreign hands, AND SYRIA furnished a large quota of the
forced immigration (Cumont, Oriental Religions, p. 106).
is certain that the first worshipers of the Syrian goddess in the Latin world
were slaves. During the wars against Antiochus the Great (the Seleucid king)
a number of prisoners were sent to Italy to be sold at public auction, and
the first appearance in Italy of the CHALDAEI has been connected with that event
(ibid., p. 105).
After this time, we read of many Chaldeans in Italy — especially around Rome.
They first came, however, with the Syrian slaves from the Seleucid empire — that
empire, as we have seen, was filled with Chaldeans.
Another reason why people were taken from the Levant to the West, is simply
because Syria was an overpopulated country just before our Era. Italy, on the
other hand, after the Punic wars, had a great loss of population. Swarms of
slaves were brought from Syria to fill up the “void” in Italy and Sicily. (It
has been proved that almost every slave in Sicily was from Syria. See the
Story of the Nations series on Sicily.)
These Syrians who were transported to Rome (many of them, as we have seen, were
transplanted Mesopotamians) took their Chaldean religions directly with them.
The importance which the introduction of THE SYRIAN RELIGIONS into the
Occident has for us consists in the fact that indirectly they brought certain
theological doctrines OF THE CHALDEANS WITH THEM (Cumont, Oriental
Religions, p. 124).
The Chaldean astrology, of which the Syrian priests were enthusiastic
disciples, had furnished them (the Romans) with the elements of a scientific
theology (ibid., p. 199).
the process of time these Orientals finally becoming the later Romans (as
explained in Chapter One), Babylonian sun-worship and the mystery religions
became the official religions of Rome. “The Syrian religions had spread
far and wide in the Occident IDEAS CONCEIVED ON THE DISTANT BANKS OF
THE EUPHRATES” (ibid., p. 25). Yes, the transplanted Syrians were the
primary vehicle which brought pure Babylonianism to the West — to Italy! As a
matter of fact, the Emperor Aurelian in the third century of our era, had so
strongly a temperament of a Syrian that he proclaimed the Syrian sun-god as
the official god of the Romans. This Syrian sun-god was even proclaimed as
the author of the Roman race, i.e., the new Roman race, of which
the later Caesars were representatives.
This Sun-worship was the final form which Roman paganism assumed. In 274 A.D.
the emperor Aurelian conferred on it official recognition when, on his return
from SYRIA, inspired by what he had seen at Palmyra, he founded a
gorgeous temple in honour of Sol Invictus — the invincible Sun — served
by priests (which he had brought with him from Syria) who had precedence even
over the members of the ancient Collegium pontificum; and in the following
century, the Claudian emperors worshipped the almighty star (the sun) not only
as the patron BUT ALSO AS THE AUTHOR OF ITS RACE. The invincible
Sun raised to the supreme position in the divine hierarchy, peculiar protector
of sovereigns and of the Empire, tends to absorb or subordinate to himself all
other divinities (Cumont, Astrology and Religion, p. 133).
The god Bel whom Aurelian brought from Asia to set up as a protector of his
states, was in reality a BABYLONIAN who had emigrated to Palmyra [in
Syria] (Cumont, Oriental Religions, p. 124).
What an interesting thing! Even the later Roman emperors, who had in their midst
primarily a Syrian Oriental race, said that the BABYLONIAN SUN GOD was the
author of that Roman race! The later Italians recognized their origin.
Peoples from Syria Transform the Roman Empire
this juncture we should briefly mention the later influence of Levantine Syrians
(those who were not taken as slaves to the West). It is not too much to say that
they played one of the most influential of parts in making the Roman Empire
great. For one thing, the major part of Roman wealth was in the East. Nearly all
manufacturing, industry, and culture remained eastern — the West being
predominant only in agriculture and soldiery. The Syrians, being in the very
center of this prosperous region, capitalized on their propitious situation,
manufactured goods and delicacies from the further east were wanted and needed
in the West. The Syrians being the natural heirs of the old Syro-Phoenician
trading system, stepped into the shoes of their forefathers and became the
giants of commerce throughout the Empire — they practically had a monopoly in
the enterprise! These Syrians established many trading colonies in all the Roman
world — every major port had colonies of Levantine Syrians (we are not now
speaking of the freed Syrians who were making up the general population of Italy
and Sicily). The influence of these trading Syro-Phoenicians cannot be over
emphasized. The effect they played on later Roman history, particularly in the
history of the Middle Ages, was of lasting influence.
Let us now observe what scholars say about these Syrian traders who monopolized
trade in the Roman world. Dr. Cumont, who is the recognized authority on
comparative religions in Rome, gives an excellent and correct rundown. “At the
beginning of our Era the Syrian merchants undertook a veritable colonization of
the Latin provinces. The Levantine traffic attained a development previously
unknown. We can trace the history of the Syrian establishments in the Latin
provinces from the first to the seventh century, and recently we have begun to
appreciate their economic, social and religious importance at its true value.
“The Syrians’ love of lucre was proverbial. Active, compliant and able,
frequently a little scrupulous, they knew how to conclude first small deals,
then larger ones, everywhere. Using the special talents of their race to
advantage, they succeeded in establishing themselves ON ALL COASTS OF THE
MEDITERRANEAN, even in Spain The Italian ports where business was especially
active, attracted them in great numbers. But they did not confine
themselves to the seashore; they penetrated far into the interior of the
countries, wherever they hoped to find profitable trade. They followed the
commercial highways and traveled up big rivers. By the way of the Danube they
went as far as Pannonia, by the way of the Rhone they reached Lyons.
they were especially numerous. (Dr. Tarn says that Southern Gaul and up the
Rhone was especially Oriental in race, not Greek or Gallic.) In this new country
(Gaul) that had just been opened to commerce fortunes could be made rapidly. The
Syrians traveled over the entire province (of Gaul) as far as Treves, where they
had a strong colony. Not even the barbarian invasions of the fifth century
stopped their immigration. Saint Jerome describes them traversing the entire
Roman world amidst the troubles of invasion, prompted by the lust of gain to
defy all dangers. In the barbarian society the part played by this civilized and
city-bred element was even more considerable. Under the Merovingians in about
591 they had sufficient influence at Paris to have one of their number elected
bishop and to gain possession of ALL ecclesiastical offices. (It may be
remarked that Syrians also gave the Papacy several popes in the eighth century
and even an archbishop of Canterbury, as an example of their commercial
importance in England, was a Syrian.)
“Those establishments [commercial colonies] exercised a strong influence upon
the economic and material life of the Latin provinces, especially in Gaul. As
bankers, the Syrians concentrated a large share of the money business in
their hands and monopolized the importing of the valuable Levantine commodities
as well as of the articles of luxury. Their moral and religious influence was
not less considerable: for instance, it has been shown that they furthered
the development of monastic life during the Christian period, (these
transplanted Syrians were responsible for developing the monastic system — the
system which virtually governed Medieval Europe for over two hundred years), and
that the devotion to the crucifix was introduced into the Occident by them.
During the first five centuries Christians felt an unconquerable repugnance to
the representation of the Saviour of the world nailed to an instrument of
punishment more infamous than the guillotine of today. The Syrians were the
first to substitute reality in all its pathetic horror for a vague
symbolism” (Oriental Religions, pp. 107-109).
Dr. Cumont stops in the eighth century with the story of these commercial
peoples. Actually, some of their most important functions came later, for the
later commercial cities of Venice, Genoa, Pisa, and Marseilles, and the banking
centres of Italy and France, which in the Middle Ages dominated the whole
character of European life, were the heirs to and the descendants of these early
Syro-Phoenicians. Even the Crusades were brought about, it has been maintained
by some historians, by the wish of these commercial cities to open up again
traffic into the East. Everyone knows that the Crusades were motivated more by
greed and lucre than by the religious spirit. By the end of crusading times,
there was some Jewish influence being felt in these commercial cities along with
We have, however, gone too far ahead in the story of how peoples from Syria (by
SYRIA we mean the whole Levantine area: Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Samaritans,
etc.), so radically changed the character of the later Roman world. We now have
to go back to earlier times, for there is still very many important things to be
The first chapter showed how Italy was taken over by Orientals — mainly coming
from Syria. Now we have seen the Biblical evidence which shows that Babylonians
came into Syria at the same time they were being placed in Samaria. But later,
under the Seleucid kingdom — the new Babylonian kingdom — there were further
migrations from Babylon westward. Upon the fall of Syria to the Romans, these
Babylonians (for multitudes of them were outright Babylonians) were taken to
Italy where they finally took over, with a little racial mixing, the whole of
the country. THUS, from the clear records of history, we should have no problem
in showing that new Babylon is literally located on the seven-hilled city of
closing, it is interesting to note that the prophet Daniel spoke about the
Babylonian image as legs and feet of iron and clay. The image is very top heavy
and unstable, but it is one image! Babylon was the head of gold. The
Persians, however, inherited all the Babylonian traditions and even established
their winter headquarters at Babylon. This was the silver portion of the
image. Alexander and his successors were the brass portion of the one image.
Their headquarters was also at Babylon — the “resurrection” of Babylonia
occurred. Seleucus moved “political” Babylon and Babylonian people to Antioch.
Daniel, from this time onward, calls this government “the Kingdom of the North”
(by this time the Babylonian system had moved directly north of Jerusalem). But
the Babylonians later moved or were transported to Italy. Rome — the kingdom of
iron and clay — assumed the role as the last political head, the new
Thus, Daniel spoke of one image — one society and culture — one real political
power. There was, of course, a Persian veneer in the silver portion, and a Greek
one in the brass, but by later Roman times there was a clear reversal to the
original Babylonian society. So we see that the same people were predominant in
all sections of the image. No wonder that Daniel saw only one image, not
Eastern Teachings Transform Rome
have seen that the new Romans brought with them Oriental religions which, to
early Latins would have been utterly repugnant to their nature. But, there was a
race change in Italy. The new race was mainly Easterners who felt right at home
in the old Babylonian sun-cults and mystery religions. It is hardly any wonder
that Rome went over to Babylonianism — as Dr. Frank says:
The Mystery cults permeated the city, Italy and the western provinces only to
such an extent as the city, Italy and the provinces were permeated BY THE
STOCK THAT HAD CREATED THOSE RELIGIONS (American Historical Review,
vol. 21, p. 707).
Understanding that these new Romans only accepted those beliefs which appealed
to their temperaments, it will pay us to review the philosophies which the
Oriental Romans accepted. The origin of the later Roman philosophies were
directly in the East — primarily and basically from Syria!
Take for example the one philosophical belief which had practically universal
acceptance by the whole of Roman society in the first and second centuries of
our era — the Stoic philosophy!
Stoicism is one of the most interesting philosophies that ever came out of the
East. It has been compared as the most ‘Christian’ of all philosophies. Many
books have been written endeavouring to show the remarkable parallels between
Stoicism and Christianity (especially Roman Catholicism). There is some definite
agreement between Catholicism and this philosophy. Let us notice what it
The philosophy taught the universal brotherhood of man, the doing away with
national barriers, intermarriage, one law over all. They called the ideal state
as one governed by a central city — the city of God! When the Roman Empire came
along, all the Stoic philosophers saw in the Empire all the physical state.
Because of this, and other reasons, the philosophy was taught in profusion over
the Empire, and nowhere was it accepted more, and with a type of religious
crusading spirit, than in Italy. Platonism had gone by the board, it was too
etherial and sceptical; the Aristotelian position was abandoned because his
teaching was not universal enough; Epicureanism, the only possible rival of
Stoicism, was too selfish, anti-religious and not conducive to universal
brotherhood. Only one philosophy suited the Roman temperament of the first and
second centuries — that was STOICISM.
Stoicism was the one philosophy that did not, in one way or another, repudiate
the pagan gods. It agreed that they should definitely be retained for man, for
his happiness needs religion. So, the Stoic philosophers encouraged to a great
degree paganism. The religion that the later Stoics advocated was generally the
Roman variety because their utopian city of world rule was Rome. Only by
acknowledging Rome could they hope to achieve their universal state. And they
achieved their world-state to a remarkable degree through the Empire. It is
little wonder why most of the noble Romans accepted the doctrines of Stoicism in
deference to all other philosophies — no philosophy suited the temperaments nor
the grandiose design of the later Romans than this one of Eastern origin.
Stoicism Was Not of Greek Origin
has often been believed by most ordinary people that Greece was the home of
philosophy, and to a certain extent that is true — all philosophies are
basically Grecian in origin with the exception of STOICISM!
Dr. Lightfoot, writing about the two philosophies which gained more adherents
after the time of Aristotle — Epicureanism and Stoicism — says:
These two later developments of Greek philosophy both took root and grew to
maturity in Greek soil. But while the seed of the one (Epicureanism) was
strictly Hellenic, the other (Stoicism) was derived from an Oriental stock.
Epicunts was a Greek of the Greeks, a child of Athenian parents. Zeno (the
founder of Stoicism) on the other hand, a native of Citium, a Phoenician colony
in Crete, and probably of Shemitic race, for he is commonly called ‘the
Phoenician.’ Babylon, Tyre, Sidon, Carthage, reared some of his most illustrious
of his successors. Not a single Stoic of any name was a native of Greece
proper (Philippians p. 273).
The Stoic philosophy was entirely foreign to the pure Greek, as it would have
been to the early Roman — their temperament would not have sustained all
the teachings of Stoicism. Not a single Greek of pure stock joined the ranks of
its teachers. They were all Orientals.
The principal Stoic teachers all came from the East, and that therefore
their language and thought must in a greater or less degree have some the stamp
of their Oriental origin. We advance a step further towards the object of our
search, if we remember that the most famous of them were not only Oriental
but Shemitic, Babylonia, Phoenicia, Syria, Palestine, are their homes (ibid.,
Yes, none of the Stoic teachers were Greeks — the teaching was too Oriental for
the Greeks, but it wasn’t too Oriental for the later Romans, for they accepted
it as their national philosophy.
was not however among the Greeks, to whose national temper the genius of
Stoicism was alien, that this school achieved its proudest triumphs. . . .
The Romans offered a more congenial sphere for its influence. And here
again it is worth observing, that their principal instructors were almost all
Easterners. Posidonius for instance, the familiar friend of many famous
Romans and the most influential missionary of Stoic doctrine in Rome, was
a native of Syrian Apamea (ibid., p. 310).
Stoicism Was Babylonian in Origin
The truth is, the Chaldeans could not be outdone in the field of philosophy.
When, during the Greek period, the religions in Greece took a back seat to the
study of philosophy, and many influential people were abandoning their ancient
religious allegiances, the Chaldeans entered the new field by creating a
philosophy of their own — a philosophy which would retain the gods and at the
same time be attractive to intellectuals. Thus, Stoicism was born.
Stoicism readily agreed also with the determinism of the Chaldeans,
founded, as it was, upon the regularity of the sidereal movements. Thus it was
that this philosophy made remarkable conquests not only in Syria but far as
Mesopotamia. “I recall,” says Dr. Cumont, “only the fact that one of the
masters of Stoicism, the successor of Zeno of Tarsus at Athens, was Diogenes of
Babylon and that, later on, another distinguished Stoic, Archidemus, founded a
famous school at Babylon itself” (Astrology in Greece & Rome, p. 70).
And, as Dr. Cumont continues to reveal:
the empire of the Seleucids alongside ‘Chaldaism’, Hellenism had
established itself in a commanding position: Above the old native beliefs the
doctrines of STOICISM in particular exercised dominion over men’s minds. It
has been often observed that the masters of the Stoic school are for the most
part Orientals. The leading representatives of these doctrines — were all
Syrians. In a certain sense it may be said that STOICISM was a Semitic
philosophy (ibid., pp. 81, 82).
And indeed it was. Stoicism was the Babylonian reaction to Greek philosophy.
Stoicism was the philosophy designed for the Orientals — the philosophy designed
to maintain Chaldeanism in an age which looked like Greek secular philosophy
might take the place of religion. Thus, Stoic philosophy was invented to retain
Chaldeanism amongst the intellectuals — and it succeeded remarkably. The whole
Roman world virtually succumbed to it.
Speaking of Babylonian astrological beliefs, Dr. Cumont says:
shall be struck with the power of this sidereal theology, founded on ancient
beliefs of Chaldean astrologies, transformed in the Hellenistic age under
the twofold influence of astronomic discoveries AND STOIC THOUGHT, and
promoted, after becoming a pantheistic Sun-worship, to the rank of official
religion of the Roman Empire (ibid., p. 99).
What a revelation! Babylonian doctrines and religion came to be the official
Roman religion, and one of the big helps in bringing it there was STOICISM.
This was the philosophy that did not ridicule the gods, but felt they were ever
necessary for true philosophy. In fact, STOICISM can be said to be the saviour
of Babylonian paganism among the intellectual classes.
were the first to conceive the idea of necessity dominating the universe.
This is also one of the ruling ideas of the STOICS (ibid., p. 153).
Certain profound affinities reconciled STOICISM with CHALDEAN
doctrines (ibid., p. 69).
And perhaps it will now be in order to quote from the Cambridge Ancient
History on the agreement of STOICISM AND BABYLONIANISM.
early as the Seleucids, Zeno of Citium and many of his chief disciples, such as
Diogenes of Babylon and Antipater of Tarsus, had been Orientals, and it
may be said that STOICISM was largely a Semitic philosophy not only in
respect of its teachers but of its doctrines also. Its pantheism which defies
all the elements of Nature, and its acceptance of the fatalism of astrology side
by side with the retention of belief in the active intervention of God in
earthly matters, link the Porch (Stoicism) with the Syro-Babylonian
temples. Later there were many Syrians among the leading savants who
initiated the Romans into the precepts of the various schools (vol. XI,
There we have it! Need we go on?
is so clear that Stoicism is Babylonian philosophy. Its teachings and doctrines
were accepted open-armed in Italy, and why? The answer should be plain. Just as
the new Romans brought their religions with them — religions which suited, their
temperaments — so, they brought their philosophical beliefs with them. Stoicism
made no headway among the secular-minded Greeks, and the ancient Roman would
have laughed it to scorn, but the new class of Romans who were themselves
Orientals accepted it lock, stock and barrel. In fact, the real development
happened in Italy.
Though the germ of Stoicism was derived from the East, its systematic
development and its practical successes were attained by its transplantation
into western soil. In this respect its career, as it traveled westward,
presents a rough but instructive parallel to the progress of the (Roman)
Christian Church. The fundamental ideas, derived from Oriental parentage,
were reduced to a system and placed on an intellectual basis by the
instrumentality of Greek thought (Lightfoot, ibid., p. 276).
What an interesting and true remark! The Catholic Church, which Lightfoot calls
the Christian Church, developed on the same lines as Stoicism — the Chaldean
philosophy. Some of the very doctrines of the Stoics went directly into
One of the famous Stoics of the Roman world was Seneca — a Shemite himself. The
Catholics continue to call him “our Seneca” and greatly praise his work, even
though he was a firm advocate of paganism. Most of the famous Romans were
Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Plutarch could not think or speak
otherwise than as they did because the philanthropic ideas of Stoicism
have become an integral and essential part of their nature (Historian’s
History, vol. 6, p. 311).
Thus was Stoicism, the philosophy of the Oriental Romans. The widespread
acceptance of this normally alien philosophy is proof enough that the Romans who
accepted it are in themselves aliens to the old Roman stock. And it also proves
that these new Romans must be basically Babylonian because they accepted a
philosophy designed for Babylonians.
The Orientalization of Rome
The histories are so full of information about the Orientalization of later Rome
that we need not linger long on the subject — it is so plainly proved. As we
have seen, in the first chapter, there was a complete change of race in Italy
between the republican period and that of the later Empire. This race change
accounts, in a primary sense, for the enormous difference in Roman government,
religion and culture — in a word, for the strange difference in Roman
civilization. The newer people coming in from the East completely revolutionized
the whole of Roman society. But, the change took time: it didn’t happen
overnight! It is now for us to see briefly how this change took place.
There is much to say about our subject from the time of Augustus to the time of
the Antonines, but to make a very long story shorter, we will look at events in
the Roman Empire from the time of the Severi — that is, from 193 A. D. to
this time Orientalization had gone a long way: the emperors were now being
deified as the old Babylonians had been (this was not done in ancient Rome until
the time of Augustus); Chaldeans had already become advisors to the Emperors,
and the religions from the East were making tremendous headway amongst the now
Orientalized society of Italy. But with the Severi, we can say that Rome became,
from this time onwards, especially Oriental. Let us see why this was the case.
First, Septimus Severus was the first Roman Emperor who was not of Roman
extraction — he was a Phoenician from North Africa. As a matter of fact, he was
so completely Phoenician that he never learned Latin until being taught it in
Later, when his sister visited him in Rome, her Latin was so “Phoenician” that
he was ashamed for her to talk in public. He was not, however, ashamed of his
Phoenician ancestry — far from it, he gloried in it.
After becoming Emperor, to show his independence of the old Roman institutions,
and to bring a thoroughly Eastern flavour into his government, he went to Syria
and there married the daughter of the high priest of Emesa — the priest of the
Babylonian Sun-god. Her name was Julia Domna — the priestess of the Sun. Why was
this marriage concluded? Simply in order to make a Syro-Phoenician hierarchy to
rule the Roman Empire. “That Septimus now chose to ally himself with Julia Domna
is the clearest possible indication that his authority should depend on his
own race. Rome had defeated Carthage, Rome had dominated Syria.
Now, Carthage would unite with Syria to dominate Rome” (Perowne,
Caesars and Saints, p. 51).
This union was highly propitious to the spread of Chaldeanism on a large scale
in Rome — now the gates were wide open. In fact, Severus was told by his
Chaldean advisors to marry Julia — great things were awaiting him and his race
if he did (Historians’ History, vol. 6. p. 388).
Julia was a sagacious and domineering woman. She had two desires: one, was the
elevation of her two sons by Severus to the purple, and secondly, the
glorification of her own race — it was to be Syria and Syrians to rule the whole
Empire, and under the Severi it came just to that. “Severus and Julia now wished
to demonstrate that it was from Africa and from Asia that the life and
leadership of the Roman Empire had sprung. Phoenician Syria still spoke and
wrote the Phoenician language, just as Severus’ own Africa did. Syria,
therefore, was to be the scene of a magnificent rulership, of the revival of an
ancient race” (ibid., p. 77). And indeed, Syria and the Syro-Phoenician
race became the top peoples in the Empire. Severus made Antioch the capital of
the whole empire for over five years, and when he was asked about his estimation
of Rome, retorted that it was just one more province, like the rest. However,
many benefits came to the inhabitants of Italy as they conformed to his policies
— and in most cases they were completely willing to do so.
Severus was followed to the throne by his two sons, who reigned for a while
together then successively. The throne later came to two grandsons. In all, the
Syro-Phoenicians dominated the Roman Empire from 193 A.D. to 235 A. D. And
during this period, Rome underwent a revolution in society — this begins the
time of the real Orientalization of the whole system.
The two sons of Septimus Severus carried on their father’s policies, but from
our present study let us look at the reign of his grandson — Emperoror
Elagabalus (218-222 A. D.). This young man was a full-pledge priest of the
sun-god in his native country of Syria. As Gibbon describes him, he was
“consecrated to the honourable ministry of the high priest of the Sun; and this
holy vocation contributed to raise the Syrian youth to the empire of Rome” (Decline
and Fall, ch. 6).
Yes, it was his priesthood in the temple of the Sun which brought him to the
purple. Gibbon continues telling how this came about. “The soldiers who resorted
in crowds to the temple of the Sun, beheld with veneration and delight the
elegant dress and figure of a young Pontiff, they recognized or they thought
that they recognized, the features of Caracalla (the recently deposed emperor),
whose memory they now adored.
His artful mother noticed the awe of the soldiers as they beheld her son
performing the rituals, and then she proclaimed him the natural son of the
With this knowledge, the eastern army proclaimed him emperor and very soon after
he legally mounted the throne of the Empire. Thus, for the first time, a Syrian
pontiff assumed the purple. We can imagine what such an ascendancy did to Roman
Civilization — he carried religious reforms throughout the Empire to enormous
Let us again read Gibbon’s account of Emperor Elagabalus’ reforms: “The Sun was
worshipped at Emesa (in Syria) under the name of Elagabalus, under the form of a
black conical stone, which, as it was universally believed, had fallen from
heaven on that sacred place. To this protecting deity, Emperor Elagabalus, not
without some reason, ascribed his elevation to the throne. The display of
superstitious gratitude was the only serious business of his reign. The
triumph of the god of Emesa over all religions of the earth, was the real object
of his zeal and vanity: and the appellation of Elagabalus (for he presumed
as pontiff and favourite to adopt that sacred name) was dearer to him than all
the titles of Imperial greatness. In a solemn procession through the streets of
Rome, the way was strewed with gold dust; the black stone, set in precious gems,
was placed on a chariot drawn by six milk-white horses richly caparisoned. The
pious emperor held the reigns, and, supported by his ministers, moved slowly
backwards, that he might perpetually enjoy the felicity of the divine presence.
In a magnificent temple raised on the Palatine Mount, the sacrifices of the god
Elagabalus were celebrated with every circumstance of cost and solemnity. Around
the altar a chorus of Syrian damsels performed their lascivious dances to
the sound of barbarian music, while the gravest personages of the state and the
army, clothed in long Phoenician tunics, officiated in the meanest
functions, with affected zeal” (ibid.).
The whole government at Rome was becoming, literally, an Oriental court. The
people were dressing in long robe-like Syro-Phoenician garb. The Emperor himself
dressed like a Babylonian pontiff with full regalia. Or, as Gibbon puts it:
“He was drawn in his sacerdotal robes of silk and gold, after the loose flowing
fashion of the Medes and Phoenicians (clearly Chaldean): his head was covered
with a lofty tiara, his numerous collars and bracelets were adorned with
gems of an inestimable value.”
What a description! Here was an Emperor — a pontiff himself — dressed exactly
like the Popes today — tiara on the head, richly flowing robes and precious
jewels, carried about from place to place. He elevated his own Syrian priests to
the official priesthood at Rome (Historians’ History, vol. 6, p. 398).
And what is interesting, he commanded everyone to address him as Sardanapolis
(Asshur-banipal) and claimed that the Roman Empire was, under him, a revival of
the Assyro-Babylonian Empire (ibid., p. 378). He was surnamed “the
Assyrian” because of his pretensions (ibid., p. 398). These
incidents are all important, for it shows that this priest-emperor was
thoroughly Oriental — that is, Chaldean.
The next reign was that of Elagabalus’ cousin, Alexander Severus. His nature was
not as extreme in religion as was his predecessor, even though he was likewise a
pontiff of the sun-god. Alexander sought to conciliate some of the peoples in
the Empire who were a little upset over Elagabalus’ abruptness in endeavouring
to change the character of religion. Alexander did away with the most odious
forms of Elagabalus’ religious fervour, but retained some of the essential
elements in sun-worship. It is said that he, endeavouring, to conciliate all the
religions in his empire, erected in his private chapel the images of Jupiter,
Solon, Plato, Abraham and Christ. He was the first emperor who made an
effort in syncretizing the religions in his domain. He was not quite successful.
looking over the five reigns of these Phoenician and Syrian emperors, we read
from the Historians’ History: “The Syrian emperors, as far as political
traditions are concerned, inasmuch as they were not Romans and had none of the
Roman prejudices, often give proof of an openness of mind which would have been
impossible to the great emperors of the second century, all of whom were
intensely conservative. They flung the doors of the empire wide open.
It was in religion above all that these Syrian emperors inaugurated a
liberality of mind and a tolerance unknown before. The Syrian women of Emesa,
Julia Domina, Julia Maesa, Julia Mamaea, Julia Soaemias, (the mothers or wives
of the emperors), beautiful, intelligent, venturous to the point of utopianism,
are hampered by no Roman tradition or conventionality. They dared to do what no
Roman woman had ever done; they entered the senate, took part in the
deliberations, and practically governed the empire, dreaming of Semiramis and
Nitocris” (vol. 6, p. 404).
From the end of the Syrian rulers, the next group of emperors, all the way to
Constantine, were soldiers and not one of them was Roman, in fact, not a single
one was even Italian. Most came from humble origins in the Balkans (by the way,
the Balkan region was a strong-hold of Mithraic sun-worship which can be proved
to have come out of Babylon). One emperor in this period was a Moor, and one was
even an Arab. These emperors were all keenly interested in the new
Oriental religions which were now completely infiltrated the Empire. One of
these emperors, Aurelian, who reigned from 270 to 275 A. D., was from the
Balkans. His father was a farmer while his mother, like the Syrian emperors’
mothers, was a priestess of the Sun (ibid., vol. 6, p. 421). He grew up
as an adherent of Oriental Sun-worship. It is no wonder, as we have already seen
in chapter two of this work, that when he went to Syria, after having become
emperor, he brought back with him the Babylonian Sun-god and its official
priesthood to Rome and established that sun-god as the protector of the Empire.
In fact, the later Claudian emperors stated that this Babylonian god was the
author of their race.
With all this Babylonian sun-god worshipping going on, we can well imagine how
the Roman world was turning into an Oriental one. It was progressively getting
more Oriental all the time. The complete transformation, however, came with
Diocletian, the predecessor of Constantine. The Historian’s History
informs us: “Diocletian permanently introduced Eastern forms of government.
Until his time the outward appearance of the emperor had only a passing air of
Orientalism, but with Diocletian this character of government was
established for all time to come. From Diocletian the white bandeau or
diadem, borrowed from the East, became the distinctive sign of the ruler,
whilst formerly the purple raiment had been the sole sign. Diocletian and his
next successor (Constantine) introduced the remaining Oriental regal
ornaments. The emperor Aurelian had, indeed, set them the example here” (vol. 6,
p. 435). “The Asiatic pomp, which had been adopted by Diocletian, assumed
an air of softness and effeminacy in the person of Constantine” (ibid.,
Why yes, the whole court by the time of Constantine was completely Orientalized
it was an Eastern monarchy now in the West. It is interesting that Dr. Shotwell
of Columbia University, speaking about the times of Diocletian and Constantine,
said: “The tongue of Greece gave free access to the philosophy of the Orient,
and its pantheon was filled with all the gods of the world, Rome’s thought
became the reflex of that of the Hellenized east (that is, the thought of Syria
and Egypt). If Rome conquered the ancient world, it was made captive in
return. The Roman government and society WERE NO LONGER ROMAN IN ANYTHING
BUT NAME. The administration of the empire had become a Persian absolutism
(inherited from Babylon), and its society was verging towards Oriental
caste” (ibid., vol. 7, pp. XIII, XIV).
With Constantine we find the real completion of the Chaldean movement to Rome
and Italy, By now, not only the people, but the religion, philosophy and even
the government of old Babylon had been transferred to the West. And, with the
accepting of a form of Christianity — that type promulgated by Simon Magus,
himself a Babylonian — the force had now arisen which was to govern the future
Western world, a force which is still effecting us today, and a force which will
effect us even more in the next few years.
Reprinted, 2001, by Giving & Sharing.