The name of Spartacus has withstood over two millennia of slavery and empire, and become immortalized within the insurrectionary tradition. The personal name of his wife, “a prophetess (μαντική) subject to visitations of the Dionysiac frenzy,” has been not been passed down by the written record, but her title—the prophetess—endures, as does her source of inspiration: the Dionysiac frenzy. The revolt which began with the prophetess, Spartacus, and a handful of his fellow gladiators lasted two years (73-71 BCE) spread across Italy to include thousands of liberated slaves, as well freeborn “herdsmen and shepherds” who joined the uprising. The rebellion terrified the Roman elite, threatening the very center of the empire both geopolitically and socially. In the United States, slavery was never abolished: it was codified as “punishment for crime.”
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At the keynote address of the recent National Earthquake Conference in Long Beach, the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, Thomas Jordan, warned that the southern San Andreas Fault is long overdue for a large earthquake. And in 2013, the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast estimated “a greater than 99 percent probability of a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake in the next 30 years in the state as a whole.” I’ve written before about ongoing crises such as California’s drought and the inevitable consequences of the American delusions of progress and white supremacy. Drought, especially, is a crisis characterized not by a singular event, but rather by an ongoing “non-event” (Cohen 72-73). Furthermore, the longer a drought lasts, the greater the emotional anxiety generated about when it will finally end.
There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. Michael York, author of “Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion”, writes a response to Christian apologist Peter Kreeft. Kreeft’s article “Comparing Christianity & The New Paganism” says that “new paganism is a joining of forces by three of the enemies of theism: humanism, polytheism and pantheism,” to which York counters that “Kreeft betrays the essential dichotomizing bi-polarity of the theistic construct.” I recommend reading the entire, highly enjoyable, response.
Just a few quick news notes for you on this Friday. Swords, Sandals, and Sex: I know I’ve been talking about Starz new series “Camelot” quite a bit lately, so today I’d like to highlight an excellent essay concerning its stylistic predecessor at the cable network: “Spartacus.” Academic and Patheos.com columnist P. Sufenas Virius Lupus has recently watched both seasons of “Spartacus,” and files this examination of how the show treats sex, history, and religion at his personal blog. “However, my main critique of the newer Spartacus isn’t its history, nor its sexuality (although more will be said on the latter in a moment), it is precisely the matter that Rome got right (even though some bits weren’t quite right in terms of timing, e.g. the taurobolium in the first episode)–the religious aspects of Spartacus: Blood and Sand and its successors is very off. In the 1960 Spartacus, the character of Crassus (a member of the First Triumvirate) says to the very young Julius Caesar at one point that he’d like to obtain a pigeon for a sacrifice, to which Caesar replies that he thought Crassus did not believe in the gods; Crassus replies, “Privately, I believe in none of them; publicly, I believe in them all!” And this is precisely the matter that the newer incarnation of Spartacus goes wrong on–it makes the matter of the gods too much about “belief,” when that is not what pre-creedal religion’s spirituality was based upon.”