Abu al-Fida: Concise History (Roman Kings)

1 Apr

This is a short excerpt from Abu al-Fida’s Concise History of Humanity. This deals with history of Roman kings (or emperors, I guess, but I have called them all kings. I’m sure Tacitus would be happy). The details are at times good and at other times rather strange. I have never heard the story of Claudius’ wife converting to Christianity but I like it. He even includes, I hope not by accident, the jumping element of the Romulus and Remus (or Romaneus as he calls him) story, even it is only to say that Romulus jumped on ‘Romaneus’ in order to kill him. His main (though not only) source is a man called Abu Issa.

The work was completed in 1329. Unsurprisingly, the histories mostly focus on Christianity and Judaism:

History of the Kings of Rome

            Abu Issa wrote that the first rulers of Rome were Romulus and Romaneus [sic]. They built the city of Rome and the name of the city comes from their names. Then Romulus jumped on Romaneus and killed him. After killing his brother he ruled for 38 years. In one of them he build an amazing stadium in Rome. After him several kings ruled Rome but they were not famous and no details of their reigns have come down to us.

We should note that the centre of Roman rule was Greater Rome until their victory over Greece. They practice the religion of the Sabians. They have idols with the same names of the 7 planets and they worship them. The first of their famous kings was Ganeus (i.e. Gaius) and then Julius ruled after him, then after him Augustus was king of Rome. His name was originally written with two ‘SH’s but in Arabic it is written with two ‘S’s.

He was known as Caesar, which means ‘cut’ because his mother died before he was born and they cut open her stomach and took him out. So his name was Caesar and this became the name of the kings of Rome after him. In the twelfth year of his reign he went with a retinue of expert soldiers across land and sea. He marched to the land of Egypt and defeated the Queen of Greece, Cleopatra, who was based in Alexandria. When Augustus had beaten Cleopatra, she killed herself in the twelfth year of Augustus’ rule. After Augustus conquered Greece the memory of their history began to decline and they became part of Rome. When Augustus took control of Egypt and the Levant the Israelites came under his yoke as they were under the yoke of the Ptolemies, kings of Greece. So Augustus ruled the Jews in Jerusalem and Herod ruled as a client king, according to the histories (of Abu Issa I suppose). Jesus (PBUH) was born in the days of Augustus and the histories tell of this too.

Augustus’ conquest of Egypt and the death of Cleopatra came 282 years after Alexander’s conquest of Egypt. Augustus ruled for 43 years, of which 12 were before his conquest of Greece and 31 came after. Augustus’ death came 313 years after the victory of Alexander.

After Augustus Tiberius ruled Rome. His first year came 314 years after Alexander (so Abu Issa wrote). Tiberius reigned 22 years and he is remembered for building Tiberias, in the Levant, which bears his name. Tiberius died 335 years after Alexander.

After Tiberius Abu Issa says that Ganeus (i.e. again Gaius) ruled Rome for 4 years. In the first year of Gaius’ reign Jesus rose again so his resurrection was 336 years after Alexander and Gaius died 339 years after Alexander.

Abu Issa says that Claudius reigned for 14 years after Gaius. During his reign Simon the magician (Simon Magus) was in Rome. In the reign of Claudius the arrest of Simon Peter (St. Peter) is recorded. He went to Antioch and converted people to Christianity then he went to Rome to convert the people there and king’s wife answered the call. Claudius died 353 years after Alexander.

Then after Claudius Nero ruled (according to the Histories of Abu al-Rihan al-Beiruti). He ruled for 13 years. He is the one who killed Peter and Paul at the end of his reign and crucified them upside-down. The death of Nero was reported to be 366 years after Alexander.

After Nero, Abu Issa says that Sesienas (i.e. Vespasian) ruled for 10 years so his death came 376 years after Alexander.

After him Titus ruled Rome. He ruled for 7 years and it was him who conquered the Jews, bought and sold them, destroyed Jerusalem and burned The Temple. This comes from the History of the Destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Destruction [of the Temple]. Titus died 383 years after Alexander.

Then came Domitian and the histories say he ruled for 15 years. He pursued the Christians and the Jews and ordered that they be killed. His religion and the religion of others in Rome was idol-worship as we mentioned above. He died 398 years after Alexander.

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