IN HOC SIGNO, WARFARE: Constantine I saw a mighty sign!

TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2019

His legions triumphed beneath it:
Constantine I, the first Roman emperor who was a Christian, was engaged in a great holy war.

According to major anthropologists who report to us from the future, our rather imperfect human brains were always wired for that.

Let's be more precise! Constantine I wasn't emperor yet at the start of our story. That's what his holy war was about. Nor was he yet a Christian.

We're apparently speaking of The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, which occurred on March 28 in the year 312 and doesn't get taught in the schools any more. The leading authority on the battle sets the scene like this:
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge took place between the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius on 28 October 312. It takes its name from the Milvian Bridge, an important route over the Tiber. Constantine won the battle and started on the path that led him to end the Tetrarchy and become the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Maxentius drowned in the Tiber during the battle; his body was later taken from the river and decapitated, and his head was paraded through the streets of Rome on the day following the battle.
As every child would have known at one time, it was "Tetrarchy, goodbye!"

According to oral tradition, Maxentius, who had already drowned, was decapitated "just in case." According to disconsolate experts, our human brains were always wired for overkill at such glorious times.

Postponing assessment of such slanders, let's return to our story. As the leading authority on the topic continues, we learn about the way Constantine I was given a mighty sign:
According to chroniclers such as Eusebius of Caesarea and Lactantius, the battle marked the beginning of Constantine's conversion to Christianity. Eusebius of Caesarea recounts that Constantine and his soldiers had a vision sent by the Christian God. This was interpreted as a promise of victory if the sign of the Chi-Rho, the first two letters of Christ's name in Greek, was painted on the soldiers' shields. The Arch of Constantine, erected in celebration of the victory, certainly attributes Constantine's success to divine intervention; however, the monument does not display any overtly Christian symbolism.
Constantine, and his soldiers, were provided a mighty vision, apparently by the Christian God. They realized that they must march to war under a mighty sign:

The first two letters of Christ's name, in Greek, should adorn their shields.

In a separate rendering, the leading authority provides a bit more detail. This passage describes the fuller emergence of that mighty sign:
The historian bishop Eusebius of Caesaria states that Constantine was marching with his army...when he looked up to the sun and saw a cross of light above it, and with it the Greek words "(ἐν) τούτῳ νίκα" ("In this, conquer"), a phrase often rendered into Latin as in hoc signo vinces ("in this sign, you will conquer").

At first, Constantine did not know the meaning of the apparition, but on the following night, he had a dream in which Christ explained to him that he should use the sign of the cross against his enemies. Eusebius then continues to describe the Labarum, the military standard used by Constantine in his later wars against Licinius, showing the Chi-Rho sign.
In a move which might seem out of character, Christ "explained to [Constantine] that he should use the sign of the cross against his enemies." Christ was explaining Constantine's vision from the day before, in which he'd seen the Greek words meaning, "In this, conquer."

Eventually, the various messagings fell into place. Constantine realized that he should march his soldiers to battle under the so-called Chi-Rho sign.

When he did, Maxentius expired. Thus arose a great, famous battle cry:
"In hoc signo vinces!"
Top anthropologists, late at night, have raised an intriguing point about this story. They've noted that this famous story tends to evoke the meaning of the word "fiction" as used by Professor Harari in his gigantic best-seller, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

According to Harari, our species, through some chance mutations, developed the ability to march into war in very large groups, thanks to our ability to display group allegiance to some mighty "myth," story or sign.

This gave our species the ability to cooperate in large numbers. Other human species lacked this ability. They were driven into extinction by our vastly more numerous legions.

The future anthropologists to whom we refer cite The Battle of the Milvian Bridge for a typically gloomy reason. At present, they despairingly say, our own American liberal tribe is gathering forces to march to war under our own mighty sign.

Just yesterday morning, Professor Glaude explicitly called for such a war, saying this of Donald J. Trump:

"He wants to have this fight, Joe. We need to have it. We need to have it once and for all!"

We soon experienced Mister's Trump War, these future experts despondently say, displaying the confusion of tenses natural to communications from the future. For the record, they communicate with us through the peculiar nocturnal transmissions the haters deride as mere dreams.

Under which particular sign is our tribe preparing to march off to war? Most important, just because this approach worked for Constantine I, will it work for us?

That second question is being ignored, as is normal at junctures like this. "Did you learn nothing from Gone With the Wind?" several top experts have asked us.

Tomorrow: The emerging shape of our sign


  1. "Under which particular sign is our tribe preparing to march off to war?"

    If I may I suggest: the sign for your "transgender bathrooms".

    It has a cross too, so perhaps Jesus will approve.

    ...on the second thought - no crescent. So it's probably racist. Damn.

  2. Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President and fucking lunatic, yesterday just matter of factly stated in front of the entire globe the following:

    “I don’t want to kill 10 million people,” he said. “I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth, it would be gone, it would be over in literally 10 days.”

    Yes, you read that right: The US president is saying that he has some secret plan to “win” the war against the Taliban — a war that has lasted nearly 20 years — in just over a week.

    This is not even being reported on the front page of MSN.

    Goddam liberals, eh Bob?

    1. What's the outrage now, dembot? That he doesn't want to kill 10 million people?

    2. Mao,
      This is a media criticism blog.
      Now that you've been schooled on that, try to figure out on your own "What's the outrage now?"
      C'mon dembot zombie, you can do it.

    3. Is Somerby complaining because of insufficient coverage of the Milvian bridge incident?

    4. mm - Trump's stupid boast isn't front page news, because it's just a hypothetical comment. Trump's actual policy in Afghanistan remains a negotiated defeat.

    5. That would be fine if Trump were merely the failing the businessman he was all his life, boasting otherwise to young females that he eyed with bad intent.

    6. Fair enough, mm, but I also think people like David must live in terrible constant fear, they recognize that whatever comfort they have attained in the USA, it is tenuous and can be snatched away in a moment. Living such a nightmare will warp some, leading them to pander to the sick folks in power instead of fighting for justice and a more equitable system that would propagate a happier and healthier society.

    7. The leader of the free world, casually musing openly on his plan to commit genocide , strikes David as nothing but an idle "boast".

      Today we watch as Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President, flashes a white power sign, then goes on to explain how his Article 2 powers allow him to do "anything he wants". David gets a woody.

    8. "The leader of the free world, casually musing openly on his plan to commit genocide..."

      Dear dembot, are you actually a clinical imbecile, or just pretending to be one? Considering all these weird tics you habitually exhibit, I'd bet it's a clinical condition.

    9. Dear Dittohead, Go fuck yourself.

      When I hear Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President, openly say “I have plans on Afghanistan.... I understand what he is literally saying because English is my mother tongue, you fucking Dittohead.

    10. Meh. Don't kid yourself, dembot. Dembot is your mother tongue.

    11. Hey Dittohead, isn't time for you to go stick your head up "anal cyst's" draft dodging limpdick's ass for 3 hours?

    12. Interesting dembot fantasies. Go on, please.

    13. The mm Mao show is the best thing going. I have to concur with Mao that mm can't possibly believe Trump's comments about having "plans" available to him indicates an intent to commit genocide. Curious whether mm really heard it that way or is being disingenuous, but don't expect clarification.

    14. I never said than, Anon. I never said he had "intent" to commit genocide. I said only a fucking lunatic psychopathic emotionally stunted morally bankrupt megalomaniacal narcissistic ginormous asshole holding his position in the world would ever even think about saying such a thing. Ever.

    15. "but don't expect clarification"

      Well, since the dembot's claiming English as its native language, only clinical dembotism could explain its ignorance of the widely-known fact that the Pentagon develops all kinds plans.

      Including, incidentally, the infamous "operation Northwoods", devised during the Kennedy (The Liberal Superman) administration.

      Of course there are plans to nuke Afghanistan, and always have been.

    16. Afghanistan is an ally of my country, you fucking dittohead nitwit. Only a fucking lunatic with casually talk about committing genocide on our fucking ally, imbecile Dittohead limpdick.

    17. You see, Dittohead morons like David and Mao are quite comfortable with Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President, publicly taking about committing genocide. If the Chickenshit Acting President actually did commit genocide, then they'd have to think about whether they think he acted properly.

    18. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

  3. Somerby describes the decapitation after drowning as typical human overkill. This is a misinterpretation and very unfair to humans in general.

    Back in those times, they did not have sophisticated ways of measuring vital functions, no beeping heart monitors. If someone had a head injury or was unconscious for some other reason, they could not with certainty tell if they were dead or in a coma.

    The practice of holding a wake (sitting with the body for some period of time) was because it was possible the person might come out of it and wake up. There are coffins that have been unearthed that have been found with scratch marks on the lid because the buried person was not actually dead. No one wants that.

    In this case, decapitation was intended to make sure the drowned person was actually dead. It is reasonable given the limitations of medicine and not some blood-thirsty "overkill" as Somerby suggests and then builds a theory of human failure upon.

    1. Maybe it was just easier to put the head on a pike to parade it, rather than the whole body.

  4. Gone with the Wind isn't much of an anti-war movie. It is intended to rehabilitate the opinion of the South's role in the Civil War. It depicts the South as the victims. That is a form of re-fighting the civil war, not an attempt to end all wars.

  5. “Did you learn nothing from Gone With the Wind?"

    Yes. We learned the following:

    ‘There was a land of Cavaliers and cotton fields called the old south

    Here in this pretty world gallantry took its last bow

    Here was the last ever to be seen of knights and their ladies fair, of master and of slave

    Look for it only in Books, for it is not more than a dream remembered, a civilization gone with the wind’

    And if that isn’t the most sickening historical revisionism you’ve ever seen, then what is?

  6. We learned that tomorrow is another day, and that Rhett didn’t give a damn.

  7. “Constantine, and his soldiers, were provided a mighty vision, apparently by the Christian God. They realized that they must march to war under a mighty sign…”

    Hm. Just happpened to be reading this before this essay.

    “Wherever you go, the monuments and statues glorifying humanity’s violent history are always presented as a form of liberation. Tourist attractions. Generals, princes, and kings atop horses, brandishing swords and guns, “grace” squares and monuments as a reminder to the common folk of who is looking down on them and to whom they should look up (to), or look out (for). Yet even when they do show obeisance to their “masters” who rule them from the heights, the commoners are left out of the spoils of empire, and if they object, they are taken out without hesitation.”


    1. The commoners weren't left out of the spoils of Christian movements, they are at the center of them and owe ideas like equality and social welfare programs to the influence of Christian theology.

    2. Equality and social welfare pre date Christians by millennia, going all the way back to hunter and gatherer society which is how humans lived for tens of thousands of years until the last 10k years when concepts like surplus and competition became prevalent.

    3. Yes, dembot, the great ideas of hunters and gatherers, immortalized by great hunting-gathering philosophers.

      Thanks for the laugh, though.

  8. The infamous Eusebius notorious for errors and interpolations? I reckon a comparison with Somerby is apt.

  9. The Mueller Report was not a dud. It was shut down by Barr. Even so, it contains a great deal that is damaging to Trump and his cronies and there were lots of indictments.

    1. It's a big fat turd and Democrats are going to keep looking for a diamond in it. Meanwhile, Trump is on track to win 45 states.

    2. 1:18

      Polls show Trump losing every state but 17, and the 17 states in which he does have leads, are the states with the least amount of electoral votes.

      Every top Democratic contender trounces Trump in every poll, even Trump's internal poll - this is in line with the trend of the 2018 election.

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