|Denarius from Tiberius' reign with the inscription "Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the divine Augustus."|
Well, last night was my late night at work and I didn't get to the Thursday Advent reading. Perhaps I'll go back and catch up. It was supposed to be on Melchizdech. But here is tonight's.
The First Friday of Advent
Augustus (né Gaius Octavius, 63 bce–14 ce) founded and ruled the Roman Empire beginning in 27 bce. He was Emperor during Jesus' infancy and boyhood. Seutonious, in his Life of Augustus, reported reported that Augustus had a miraculous birth and a childhood filled with many portents and signs. Some instances reported were fire from heaven (lightning) that struck his family's city wall, a pillar of fire rising from the sacrificial wine poured out in the temple on the day of his birth, and a dream his father had of him appearing as a god-like figure. A few months before he was born “a portent was observed at Rome which gave warning that Nature was pregnant with a king for the Roman People.” This would be troubling to those who desired to keep their own power. “Thereupon the senate in consternation decreed that no male child born that year should be reared; but those whose wives were with child saw to it that the decree was not filed in the treasury, since each one appropriated the prediction to his own family.”
Another interesting story is related as such:
When Atia [his mother] had come in the middle of the night to the solemn service of Apollo, she had her litter set down in the temple and fell asleep, while the rest of the matrons also slept. On a sudden a serpent glided up to her and shortly went away. When she awoke, she purified herself, as if after the embraces of her husband, and at once there appeared on her body a mark in colors like a serpent, and she could never get rid of it; so that presently she ceased ever to go to the public baths. In the tenth month after that Augustus was born and was therefore regarded as the son of Apollo. Atia, too, before she gave him birth, dreamed that her vitals were borne up to the stars and spread over the whole extent of land and sea, while Octavius dreamed that the sun rose from Atia's womb.
- Why do you think these stories about Augustus were told? Can you imagine how they would begin (“get started”)?
- Unusual birth stories are common in many cultures. What do you think these stories are trying to say about the person being born?