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Paper: Eternal Rome: Guardian of the Heavenly Gates
Volume: 501, Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena VIII
Page: 205
Authors: Latura, G.
Abstract: The power of the Roman Empire did not come solely by way of brutal force. A spiritual vision inherited from the Greeks inspired the Romans—an ascent through the classical Planets to the intersections with the Milky Way, where stood the gates of heaven. This vision stretches back, through Macrobius and Cicero, to Plato's Republic and Timaeus. The Eternal City, capital of the Empire for four centuries, claimed control over the celestial portals, a tradition that is traced on Roman coins and medals over thousands of years. Julius Caesar borrowed enormous sums to campaign for the office of Pontifex Maximus—high priest of Rome—spending a fortune on “bread and circuses” to secure the support of the masses. Consolidating power at every turn, Caesar as dictator-for-life became absolute master of Rome, the city that, according to its coins, ruled the cosmos. Though his mortal frame fell to the knives of the senators, Caesar's soul was seen ascending to heaven as a comet. Thus was born the myth of Divvs Ivlivs—the divine avatar of the Roman Empire, whose name would become synonymous with the title of emperor over millennia (German Kaiser, Hungarian Csaszar, Russian Tsar, to name a few). Caesar's heir, Octavian, piously waited for Lepidus to die of old age before grabbing the office of Pontifex Maximus for himself, a title that would define the celestial authority of the ruler of Rome until Gratian renounced it four centuries later. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, convinced Gratian that such a pagan title was not fit for a Christian. Once the Roman emperor discarded the title Pontifex Maximus, the bishop of Rome picked it up and placed it above his own head, as can be seen on coins and medals of the Vatican to this day. In Jubilee years, the Pope knocks down the brick wall that has kept closed the Holy Door for a generation, a ceremony that reaffirms Rome's control of the celestial gates.
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