Goths of Rome

Goths

Two Goths pose with a smiling girl dressed in black.

These days if you find Goths in Rome they are likely to be nihilistic teenagers with pale skin, dressed head to toe in black.  If they seem over emotional they may be emos rather than goths.  Tribes of teenagers sacking the city of Rome may seem absurd but in ancient days the Gothic armies were probably heavily manned by teenage warriors.

The first and most famous invasion was the “Sack of Rome” by the Visigoths under Alaric.  When people speak of “Barbarians at the Gates” it is a direct reference to the Sack in 410 AD.  Not the first sack of Rome, but the first since the attack by the Gauls under Brennus some 800 years earlier.

Once breached Rome fell prey to many new opportunists.  The Vandals carried off any portable wealth that the Visigoths left when, led by Genseric, they sacked the city 455 AD.

The Goths rounded off the “4 Sacks of Ancient Rome” in 546 AD when the Ostrogoths under Totila sacked the city.

The Ostrogoths also tried in 537 AD when Belisarius occupied the City in his reconquest of Italy for Emperor Justinian.  Belisarius was Justinian’s favourite general, victor over the Persians at the battle of Dara, victor of the Vandals, the man who saved Constantinople from the Nike riots, when the people of new Rome rioted because of the shortage of good running shoes. OK, maybe that’s a lie.  The Greek for victory is Nika, from the Goddess of victory, Nike.  The password for the rioters was the word they shouted at the chariot races, so they were the Nika riots (victory riots).  When Phil Knight decided to make running shoes he decided to call them after the Greek Goddess of Victory, and as a point of information the final e in Nike is pronounced as it is in all Greek female names such as Phoebe, Penelope, Ariadne and Chloe.

It was on this day in 537 that the Siege of Rome by the Ostrogoths began.  There was no Ostrogothic sack of Rome in 537, which kind of gives a hint to how the siege will end.  Strangely enough I am currently reading Robert Graves “Count Belisarius” and by coincidence I reached the Siege of Rome on exactly the anniversary of the Siege of Rome.

As a novel Count Belisarius is not a patch on I Claudius which is a masterpiece.  The account of Belisarius reads far more like a history book than a novel.  Unlike with Claudius the author fails to bring the characters to life as living breathing people.  It is an interesting and very accurate account of events, but it struggles as a novel.

Bellisarius

The missing Menorah

Titus.png

On this day in AD 70 the siege of Jerusalem ended with the destruction of the Second Temple by Titus, son of Vespasian, at the head of a Roman army.

According to the historian Josephus the Menorah of the temple was taken as spoils of war and brought back to Rome.  It was carried in the Triumphal Procession of Vespasian and Titus and is recorded on the Arch of Titus.

Using the spoils taken from Jerusalem Vespasian constructed the Templum Pacis, the temple of peace in the Forum of Vespasian.  The Menorah was stored in the temple for hundreds of years until the sack of Rome by the Vandals in 455 AD.

The Vandals brought the Menorah back with them to their capital in Carthage, in the Roman African province, modern day Tunisia.

One hundred years later the Vandals had become soft from living on the fat of the land.  Their armies were no longer the terror of the western Mediterranean.  Emperor Justinian of the Eastern Roman Empire sent his favourite general, Belisarius, to retake Africa for Rome.  In 533 AD Belisarius defeated the armies of King Gelimer and his brothers.

According to the historian Procopius the Menorah was found amongst the treasures of the Vandals and was taken to Constantinople.  It was displayed in the Ovation given by Justinian to his victorious general.  Gelimer was prostrated before the Emperor, and was allowed to live out his life on a Roman estate.

According to Procopius Justinian gave the Menorah back to the Jews in Jerusalem.  On the one hand it is hard to believe that such an ardent Christian emperor would have given this treasure to people he regarded as little short of heretics.  On the other hand he may have looked at the fate of the Second Temple, Rome and Carthage and wondered if he really wanted to keep the Menorah in his capital.

Whatever the truth this is the end of the tale for the Menorah.  It is never seen again.  Some say it is hidden in the Vatican City and the Vandals never found it.  Others say it was looted from Jerusalem when the Persians sacked the city in 614 AD.  Some think it was in a ship that sank in the Tibur when the Vandals were leaving Rome and that it lies at the bottom of the sea outside Ostia.  Others think it was still in Jerusalem during the Crusades and was taken by the Knights Templar.  Whatever the truth it is a tempting theme for a “Da Vinci Code” style adventure, or a new quest for Indiana Jones.

Psalm III : by Allen Ginsberg
To God: to illuminate all men. Beginning with Skid Road.
Let Occidental and Washington be transformed into a higher place, the plaza of eternity.
Illuminate the welders in shipyards with the brilliance of their torches.
Let the crane operator lift up his arm for joy.
Let elevators creak and speak, ascending and descending in awe.
Let the mercy of the flower’s direction beckon in the eye.
Let the straight flower bespeak its purpose in straightness — to seek the light.
Let the crooked flower bespeak its purpose in crookedness — to seek the light.
Let the crookedness and straightness bespeak the light.
Let Puget Sound be a blast of light.
I feed on your Name like a cockroach on a crumb — this cockroach is holy.

 

African Vandals

Belisarius

General Belisarius

The Battle of Tricamarum ended the rule of the Vandals in North Africa, Dec 15th 533.  I have always felt sorry for the Vandals.  Originating in the Baltic Shield area of Scandanavia / Northern Germany they were shunted through Europe by pressure from other tribes.  Constantine gave them permission to move from modern day Poland southwards of the Danube to Pannonia, an area now covered by Austria /Hungary.

When the Huns began to raid the Roman empire the Vandals & Alans found themselves in an exposed position.  They shifted westwards through Gaul, crossed the Pyrenees and settled in North Western Spain.  The Visigoths followed them and pushed them further south.  They established themselves in southern Spain, giving their name to the region of Andalucia.

Then they migrated across to Africa and established a kingdom in the former territory of Carthage in modern day Tunis.  For a time they held sway in the region, extending their reach to Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Malta and the Balearic Islands.  When they sacked Rome in 455 they for all time associated their names with the act of Vandalism.  In 534, a mere 80 years later, they were wiped out by Belisarius, the famous general of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.

The last king of the Vandals was given estates in modern day Turkey where he lived out his final days.  I can’t imagine it was a happy retirement, and inspired this poem.

 

Gelimer in Galatia

With iron fist I rule
this soft slave army
maintaining broad estates
that sour my stomach
which was made for coarser food.

I was raised on brutal fare,
the savage greatness of my folk
in days when we sacked Rome
and carried off her wealth
to our African kingdom.

My wet cousin, Hilderic King
I ousted with my brothers
for his milksop conversion
to Eastern Heresy
and the favour of that Roman Emperor.

Three years free I led my Vandals
before my nemesis landed
and slew my brother Ammatas
the day I executed
my cousin Hilderic, prisoner.

My last hope died on the winter sands
bathed by blood of my blood, Tzazo,
his regiment, my faithful soldiers
my city, my heart,
but not my life.

A hard, cold mountain winter
glued the ribs to our bellies
and though I refused to kneel
not once but twice
at last I bowed my head.

I marched in triumph once
before cheering Roman crowds
through Constantinople’s streets
bound in chains to celebrate
the glory of Justinian.

King without a crown,
with these fine lands, soft subjects,
suitably tamed
stripped of regal pride
I delivered the words they gave me.

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”

Ginsberg is Beat

Fruit

Hey daddy-o the rising sun glints chrome shine flash on the moving city street and high the calendar shines from a building glass window where the sunshine is the key at June too

and makes me think happy birthday of thee, June 3

Allen Ginsberg who spells your Jewish/Bhuddist/Krishna name like a surname

instead of like barbarians who stood at Constantinople’s gates where WB Yeats sailed when Ireland became no country for him.

And what of you?  How is your New Vision? Does the beat go on, and on and on and on to the break of om?

 

 

A Supermarket In California: by Allen Ginsberg

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the
streets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit
supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!

What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles
full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! — and you,
Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the
meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price
bananas? Are you my Angel?

I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and
followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting
artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does
your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel
absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to
shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.

Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in
driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you
have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and
stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

Beattruck.jpg

Flag of the USA

USA flag

We all know the story about how the Flag of the USA has 50 stars which represent 50 states and 13 stripes which represent the original 13 colonies.

All lies.  To begin with, there are not even 50 states in the USA, there are only 45.  The “District of Columbia” is not a State.  Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia are not states, they are “Commonwealths”.  Other commonwealths of the USA are Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.  So the USA has 45 states and if you include districts and commonwealths the number is 52.  So why are there not 52 stars on the flag?

Also, why 13 stripes?  There were 24 British colonies in America when the rebellion began.  For instance, Florida was part of the British colonies, and is now part of the USA.  But it is not counted as one of the “original” colonies.

The truth is shocking.  When you hear the truth all will become clear.  Why are the USA attacking Afghanistan?  Why are they in Iraq?  Why do they bomb Syria?  Why did they support the “Arab Spring” revolts in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain etc?

Here is the truth, and please forgive me as I must bring you back in time all the way to the Crusades.

In the year 1120 the Crusaders found  a great secret, or treasure, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the ruins of the ancient Temple of Solomon.  The order of Knights Templar was founded to guard this terrible secret.  So what secret could be so terrible?

What they found was an ancient prophesy from 1,000 BCE.  This prophesy spoke of a prophet who would arise in Mecca, that his name would be “Worthy of Praise” and that he would sweep the Jews from the face of the earth.  King Solomon was so worried by this prophesy that he had a great shaft dug on the Temple Mount.  He buried the prophesy in this shaft and covered it over.  He built a great temple on top of the shaft, in the hope that the God of the Jews would be praised, and would prevent the prophesy from coming true.

Two thousand years later when the Crusaders dug up this prophesy they saw that it had come true.  The prophet was Mohammed and his name means “praiseworthy”.  The armies of Islam were sweeping the world.  When this prophesy came to light there was a secret meeting between the Pope in Rome, the Patriarch in Constantinople and the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.  They agreed to a plan to set up an organisation to combat Islam.  This organisation was the Knights Templar.

From the very beginning the Knights Templar was set up with great wealth and great secrecy.  To cover their real purpose they were given a role to “protect pilgrims on the roads to the holy land”.  But this was only ever a cover.

At this stage I want you to remember two images.  One is the image of the Templar Banner, red crosses on a field of white.

Flag Templar

The other is the banner of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, gold crosses on a field of blue.

Flag Jerusalem

To cut a long story very short, the Knights Templar amassed a huge treasure.  They then used this treasure to establish a country, the USA, which has the purpose of fighting Islam  They pretended to disappear, and had a sham trial of the order by the French King in 1307.  In truth they went into hiding.  They searched for a home where they could establish their new kingdom.

Look at any image of the Ships used by Columbus and what is the first thing you will notice?  The Templar cross!  Yes, Columbus was a member of the Templar order, on a mission to find a country in the New World where the war against Islam could grow.  Columbus was not the only Templar sent to establish the new world.  Look at the “San Antiago”, the ship of Amerigo Vespucci, look at the “Mathew” the ship of John Cabot, or “The Golden Hind” the ship of Francis Drake and even the Mayflower.  What they all have in common is that they carry a white flag with a red cross.  They were all Templar ships.

When the founding fathers of the USA designed their flag they did not want to be obvious.  So the flag of the USA has a hidden set of meanings.  We can begin with the Templar Cross.  They took a simple white flag and on it they wrote the Islamic Creed, the Shahada.  It reads

Lā ʾilāha ʾillā l-Lāh Muḥammadur rasūlu l-Lāh

which means There is no god but God, and Mohammed is the messenger of God

Put a number against each word in the creed.

1Lā 2ʾilāha 3ʾillā 4 l-Lāh 5Muḥammadur 6rasūlu 7l-Lāh  

They placed these words in a vertical column on the flag, 7 words, each of which was then covered with a red stripe, a symbol of the triumph of the Templar Cross over Islam.  So the stripes actually say “Death to the Islamic Creed”.  On the original flag, stored in the Smithsonian Museum in a secure vault, the Shahada is actually embroidered beneath the stripes in a green silken thread, as green is a colour sacred to Islam.  This is why there are 7 red stripes on the US flag.  7 stripes for 7 words.

So what do the stars mean?  The Star is a symbol used in Islam to represent the Hope that one day all the world will submit to Allah and his prophet Mohammed.  The religion is based on 5 pillars;  1 Shahada (the creed) 2 Salat (pray 5 times a day) 3 Zakat (give alms to the poor) 4 Sawm (fast during Ramadan) and 5 Hajj (make a pilgrimage to Mecca).  The 5 pointed star is the symbol of the 5 pillars of Islam.

There are 49 countries in the world that have majority Islamic populations.  The blue section of the flag of the USA is based on the blue flag of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.  There are 49 white stars to represent each of the majority Islamic countries, and one more star to represent Muslims who live as a minority in other countries.

If the USA succeed in conquering a Muslim country and converting it back to Christianity they will replace the white star with a gold cross.  The aim of the USA is to have a flag with 50 gold crosses.  If this happens the Prophesy of the Ancient Temple of Solomon will be broken.

Every morning in every school in the USA children make a pledge to the Flag of the USA.  Soldiers in the US Army make the same pledge.  The words of the pledge are:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under Godindivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

So you see, this is a prayer to make the world one nation under a Christian God.

Anyone buying this?  I love a good conspiracy theory!

PS, if you see Muslims burning a US flag, tell them they are burning the words of the Shahada.  That’s blasphemy, punishable by stoning to death!