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#1
Old 04-21-2003, 04:21 AM
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666 is not a number? (DCLXVI)

It seems that the number 666 is related to Satan due to an interpretation mistake.

There is a passage in Revelations, which tell us 666 is the number of the Beast. However, in versions that serves as primary sources of this book this number is written in the roman system: DCLXVI. Robert Graves, investigator of ancient themes, states that what initiallly it was taken by numbers really was a group of initials. These would be the acronym of a latin phrase: "Domitianus Caesar Legatos Christi Viliter Interfeit", reffering to the persecution that, after the death of Christ, the christians suffered by the roman authorities. This phrase, translated to english, it means: "Domitiano Cesar kill the christians with cruelty". Domitianus Cesar was Nero the Emperor, a person specially fierce to who had adopted that religion. So Saint John could be reffering to him and identify him with the Devil, a version with more credibility than the one which relates him with a number.

Source: Robert Graves, "The White Goddess"
#2
Old 04-21-2003, 07:41 AM
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Did Graves cite the manuscripts that he claimed used Roman numerals? Every photograph I have seen of an ancient codex has shown either the three Greek characters used to indicate 666 CXF * or showed the words spelled out exacwsioi execonta ex (hexachósioi hexéchonta hex or six hundred sixty six).

Unless there is documentary evidence that the Roman numerals were ever used, I would consider Graves's claim to be unsupported (and unsupportable) speculation that does not even make sense. It would mean that the Greek author included a Roman abbreviation in Latin in his Greek text. (And, since most of the symbolism is intended to be sufficiently obscure to prevent the persecuting authorities from identifying the "real" object of the revelations, including the very Roman abbreviation, (including two letters, D and L, that did not occur in Greek**), would have been just a bit counterproductive.)

Further, there is no direct connection in Revelation that links 666 to Satan. The "Beast" is the agent of oppression (hence, allegorically, the emperor), but is not directly associated with spiritual beings or fallen angels or with the "tester" of God.

* I have used the Italic capital F to represent the Greek digamma (wich it resembles), the obsolete Greek letter that continued in use to indicate 6.

** I also believe that the Greek oractice of writing a sigma (S) so that it looked like the Latin C was a later development, but it's too early in the morning to be searching on that history.
#3
Old 04-21-2003, 12:09 PM
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More importantly, as [b]tomndebb[/i] said, Revelations is allegorical and apocalyptic. The people who make a big deal out of this miss that.

It just reaffirms my belief that anyone who's going to yap about religion should be required to learn about it first before they start preaching.
#4
Old 04-21-2003, 12:24 PM
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The "number of the beast" was symbolic, as noted -- concealing the identity of one who was (or, on a non-preterist interpretation of Revelation, will be) standing in opposition to Christ and Christians and persecuting them. As Tolkien once said, "Graves is an ass -- a brilliant ass, but still an ass."

Part of the "game" here derives from the fact that the Greek alphabet was used also to represent numbers, much as we might rank three categories of something as the A, B, and C groups rather than the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd groups. Therefore, in something like a rebus, a set of letters might be both a number and a word, perhaps a name. If, for example, you let the letters from A to I represent the numerals 1-9, J-R the numbers 10, 20, etc., and S-Z the equivalent 100, 200, etc., then Polycarp would be numerically equivalent to 1,024, which is of course 210. The wise will of course see the inherent significance in that bit of symbolism -- or can make one up to fit!

The Greek name for Nero, transliterated as Neron Kaisar, happens to work out to 666 when tallied up by this gematria, and hence is often taken as "Nero=Beast." (Note that the six is represented by the digamma, a letter looking like an italic F with the value W, which was archaic even in Hesiod's day, much less nine centuries later when Revelation was written.)
#5
Old 04-21-2003, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Domitianus Cesar was Nero the Emperor, a person specially fierce to who had adopted that religion.
Um...no...Nero and Domitian were two different dudes, but interestingly enough, the author of Revelation may have believed that the Emperor Domitian was Nero in disguise. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Quote:
The death of Nero had been witnessed by few. Chiefly in the East a notion had taken hold of the mind of the people that Nero was still alive. Gentiles, Jews, and Christians were under the illusion that he was hiding himself, and as was commonly thought, he had gone over to the Parthians, the most troublesome foes of the empire. From there they expected him to return at the head of a mighty army to avenge himself on his enemies. The existence of this fanciful belief is a well-attested historic fact. Tacitus speaks of it: "Achaia atque Asia falso exterrit velut Nero adventaret, vario super ejus exitu rumore eoque pluribus vivere eum fingentibus credentibusque" (Hist., II, 8). So also Dio Chrysostomus: kai nyn (about A.D. 100) eti pantes epithymousi zen oi de pleistoi kai oiontai (Orat., 21, 10; cf. Suet., "Vit. Caes." s.v. Nero, 57, and the Sibyliine Oracles, V, 28-33). Thus the contemporaries of the Seer believed Nero to be alive and expected his return. The Seer either shared their belief or utilized it for his own purpose. Nero had made a name for himself by his cruelty and licentiousness. The Christians in particular had reason to dread him. Under him the first persecution took place. The second occurred under Domitian. But unlike the previous one, it was not confined to Italy, but spread throughout the provinces. Many Christians were put to death, many were banished (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., III, 17-19). In this way the Seer was led to regard Domitian as a second Nero, "Nero redivivus". Hence he described him as "the one that was, that is not, and that is to return". Hence also he counts him as the eighth and at the same time makes him one of the preceding seven, viz. the fifth, Nero. The identification of the two emperors suggested itself all the more readily since even pagan authors called Domitian a second Nero (calvus Nero, Juvenal. IV, 38). The popular belief concerning Nero's death and return seems to be referred to also in the passage (xiii, 3): "And I saw one of its heads as it were slain to death: and its death's wound was healed".

As has already been pointed out, the "666" was a coded reference to Nero, but Nero was dead at the time that Revelation was written. This makes it very likely that the author believed that Domitian was Nero.
#6
Old 04-21-2003, 12:56 PM
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Its really Carrot Topp
#7
Old 04-21-2003, 01:02 PM
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Originally posted by vanilla
Its really Carrot Topp
That would explain his successs.

Watch out for those 1-800-dial-666 commercials. That's one of the signs of the end times.
#8
Old 04-21-2003, 01:11 PM
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Graves has to be taken with more than a grain of salt. If you read his works, especially The White Goddess, you develop a very cautious attitude towards his conclusions, because his standards of proof are not those of most other people. IIRC, in the rtelevant passage of TWG he says that he looked "slantwise" at an abbreviated inscription on a coin and was able to divine the interpretation without any sort of corroboration, and he felt the same was about interpreting "666" as a Roman Numeral/abbreviation. I'll take a more secure and supported explanation, thank you. In several of his works, including his generally useful The Greek Myths, he "explains" a lot of myths as misinterpretations of works of art that have not themselves survived to the present day. In other words, he makes up a piece of artwork that he thinks must have inspired the myth, and re-interprets it himself. It doesn't bother him that this artwork doesn't exist to substatioate his hypothesis. In this way, a drawing of Hermes holding a bag with an apotropaic eye on top, in the presence of three women (reproduced on the cover or the frontispiece of The White Goddess) becomes the myth of Perseus consulting the Graiae. Accept this far-out explanation at your own risk.
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Old 04-21-2003, 02:29 PM
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I am really not supporting Graves' explanation about the true origin of 666. That was my doubt, in fact, and I appreciate all your valuable contributions.

With this, I'm not virtually concluding this thread; just stating that I can't discuss further because I'm not sure about this matter.

Continue, please.
#10
Old 04-21-2003, 03:53 PM
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Re: 666 is not a number? (DCLXVI)

Don't be silly - of course it's a number. Without it, the integers wouldn't be closed under addition, and mathematics would never recover from the fallout.

Quote:
Originally posted by Polycarp
If, for example, you let the letters from A to I represent the numerals 1-9, J-R the numbers 10, 20, etc., and S-Z the equivalent 100, 200, etc., then Polycarp would be numerically equivalent to 1,024, which is of course 210. The wise will of course see the inherent significance in that bit of symbolism -- or can make one up to fit!
So in binary, you're a perfect 10000000000!

Bo Derek's got nothin' on you.
#11
Old 04-21-2003, 10:05 PM
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i don't know any references, but i believe 666 or six hundred three score and six is referred to as the beasts's number... NOT his letters.

i don't agree with everything av1611.com has to say, but you might check to find references concerning a number or search for my posts to find a thread i made a while back called "w=6?" which links to the exact page on av1611.com conrcerning the number.
#12
Old 04-22-2003, 03:59 AM
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Wasn't the "D = 500" a mediaeval addition? I have vague memories of a Latin teacher telling me that....

Anyone?

Grim
#13
Old 04-22-2003, 03:21 PM
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There are also some texts, I believe favored by byzantine churches, which ascribe 616 as the number in question.

It is interesting that Nero Caesar, spelled in hebrew, or using the gemmatric numerology then popular in helenistic judaism, became 666 or 616 depending on the spelling used.

It is also interesting that revelation 17 mentions 7 kings, "five who were, one who is and persecutes the saints, and one yet to be". (1) Julius, (2) Augustus, (3) Tiberius, (4) Caligula, (5) Claudius, then (6) Nero (7) Galba (who only ruled a few months).

Nero had a red beard, and liked to dress in animal skins while sexually abusing his victims. A "red beast" indeed.

There is much debate on when Revelations was written. It could have been before 68AD, or after 95AD. References to the temple, and to the generation not yet passed in Matthew 24 make this a significant part of the debate.

It could also be, although most Christians do not like this concept, that the book of the Revelation of St John was written long after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but in the popular literal style of pseudepigraphy; in other words, in the form of a series of letters which recount the recent past, but are meant to seem much older and prophetic. Thus, it would seem to early christians that the book had foretold a recent apocolypse, when it did not. Mary Shelly's Frankenstein is a much more modern example of this literary style.
#14
Old 04-22-2003, 05:05 PM
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Pretty cool that 666 is an interesting number whether represented as arabic numbers of Roman numerals!

Never noticed that before. Are there Roman numerals for 100,000 and 10,000? What would 654321 look like in Roman numerals?
#15
Old 04-22-2003, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by nogginhead
Pretty cool that 666 is an interesting number whether represented as arabic numbers of Roman numerals!

Never noticed that before. Are there Roman numerals for 100,000 and 10,000? What would 654321 look like in Roman numerals?
There are two systems of representing numbers above 3,999 in Roman numerals -- one using parentheses, and the other the macron ("long vowel" mark). In either case you begin again at I, followed by V, with the appropriate "I mean thousands" modifier.

Using parentheses, 654,321 would be:
(LXV)MMMMCCCXXI

Using the macron, it would be:
___
LXVMMMMCCCXXI


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