Setting Sail for Rome
It was three months after the shipwreck that we set sail on another ship that had wintered at the island—an Alexandrian ship with the twin gods as its figurehead. Our first stop was Syracuse, where we stayed three days. From there we sailed across to Rhegium. A day later a south wind began blowing, so the following day we sailed up the coast to Puteoli. There we found some believers, who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. The brothers and sisters in Rome had heard we were coming, and they came to meet us at the Forum on the Appian Way. Others joined us at The Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he was encouraged and thanked God. When we arrived in Rome, Paul was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier.Acts 28:11-16
Three months later after wintering on Malta they head off in the Spring to complete their journey to Rome. Before we sail let’s consult our travel guide in order to know the nature of our journey ahead and what is ahead of us. You can see from a look at Page’s map above (The One Stop Bible Atlas, Nick Page – Lion 2010) that they are now on another ship, which as Luke tells us, was an Alexandrian ship with the twin gods as its figurehead. Page makes it clear to us that we have changed ships yet again. This time we are travelling on the Castor and Pollux (The Twins).
Castor and Pollux were twin brothers in Greek and Roman mythology. Together they are called the Dioscuri. They were the sons of Leda. Their twin sisters were Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra. According to the myth, Castor and Pollux were changed into the constellation Gemini (the Twins). Tyndareus, the king of Sparta, was the father of Castor (a mortal), while Zeus was the father of Pollux (a demigod). During a battle Castor was killed. Heartbroken at the death of his brother, Pollux prayed to Zeus to make Castor immortal which meant Pollux would have to give up half of his immortality. Zeus agreed to the request, and so Castor and Pollux were transformed into the Gemini constellation. To balance the cosmos though the Twins would be live on Mt Olympus half the year, and the other six months would be spent in the Underworld. This is according to Greek myth; I will cover the biblical interpretation of the Constellation Gemini in five Saturday’s time when I write the Nugget on Gemini.
Syracuse was situated on the east coast of Sicily, about midway between Catania and the south-eastern extremity of the island. Syracuse was known as the most brilliant Greek colony on the shores of the Western Mediterranean. Paul and Luke stopped there for three days. The original Corinthian colony founded in 734 BC (Thucydides vi. 3) was confined to the islet Ortygia, which separates the Great Harbour from the sea. Later the city spread over the promontory lying northward of Ortygia and the harbour.
Syracuse assumed a pre-eminent position in the affairs of Sicily under the rule of the tyrants Gelon (485-478 BC; compare Herodotus vii. 154-55) and Hieron (478-467 BC). It grew substantially after the establishment of popular government in 466 BC (Diodorus xi. 68-72). The Syracusans successfully withstood the famous siege by the Athenians in 414 BC, the narrative of which is the most thrilling part of the work of Thucydides (vi, vii). Hieron (275-216 BC), ruled Syracuse and Sicily and was the steady ally of the Romans. His grandson and successor Hieronymus deserted the alliance of Rome for that of Carthage, which led to the celebrated siege of the city by the Romans under Marcellus and its fall in 212 (Livy xxiv. 21-33). Henceforth Syracuse was the capital of the Roman province of Sicily. Cicero calls it “the greatest of Greek cities and the most beautiful of all cities” (Cicero Verr.iv. 52).
Rhegium (the modern Reggio di Calabria) was a town situated on the east side of the Sicilian Straits, about 6 miles south of a point opposite Messina, on Sicily. Originally a colony of Chalcidian Greeks, the place enjoyed great prosperity in the 5th century BC, but was captured and destroyed by Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, in 387 BC, when all the surviving inhabitants were sold into slavery (Diodorus xiv. 106-8, 111, 112). The city never entirely recovered from this blow, although it was partially restored by the younger Dionysius. On the occasion of the invasion of Italy by Pyrrhus, the people of Rhegium had recourse to an alliance with Rome (280 BC) and received 4,000 Campanian troops within their walls, who turned out to be very unruly guests. For, in imitation of a similar band of mercenaries across the strait in Messana, they massacred the male inhabitants and reduced the women to slavery. They were not punished by the Romans until 270 BC, when the town was restored to those of its former inhabitants who still survived. The people of Rhegium were faithful to their alliance with Rome during the Second Punic War.
The ship in which Paul sailed from Malta to Puteoli encountered unfavorable winds after leaving Syracuse, and reached Rhegium by means of tacking. It waited at Rhegium a day for a south wind which bore it to Puteoli, about 180 miles distant, where it probably arrived in about 26 hours. Puteoli “sulphur springs”, the modern Pozzuoli: A maritime city of Campania, which occupied a central position on the northern shore of a recess in the Gulf of Naples, protected on the West by the peninsula of Baiae and Cape Misenum.
The earliest event in the history of Puteoli which can be dated definitely was the repulse of Hannibal before its walls by a Roman garrison in 214 BC. The design of the Carthaginian to secure a seaport as base of supplies and communication was thus thwarted. A Roman colony was established here in 194 BC, and Puteoli thus became the first Roman port on the Gulf of Naples. Its subsequent remarkable prosperity and commercial activity are to be attributed to the safety of the harbour and the inhospitable character of the coast nearer Rome. For Puteoli became the chief seaport of the capital before the creation of an artificial harbour at Portus Augusti by Claudius, and before Trajan made the mouth of the Tiber the principal converging point for the overseas trade. The imports at Puteoli consisted mainly of Egyptian grain and oriental wares, dispatched from Alexandria and other cities of the Levant. Puteoli had a strong eastern component in the population. The harbour was rendered doubly safe by a mole, which is known to have been at least 418 yards in length, consisting of massive piers connected by means of arches constructed in solid masonry. Extensive remains of this mole still exist. The shore line devoted to purposes of commerce (emporium) extended for a distance of about 1 1/4 miles westward from the mole. At the height of its prosperity under Claudius and Nero, the town is thought to have contained a population of nearly 100,000.
The region in which the town was situated is of volcanic formation, hence the name given to Puteoli being due to the odor of the sulphureous springs or to the wells of a volcanic nature which abound in the vicinity. The volcanic dust, called pozzolana today, was mixed with lime to form a cement of the greatest durability, which was weatherproofing against the influence of seawater.
Extensive remains of an amphitheatre, which measures 146 by 115 metres across the space enclosed by the outer facade within the arena, indicate the former affluence of Puteoli. The region about Puteoli together with Baiae became the favorite resort of the Roman nobility, and the foundations of many ancient villas are still visible, although partly covered by the sea. The apostle Paul founded a Christian community at Puteoli, when he arrived there on his way to Rome, and stopped 7 days with them. Proof that it didn’t take long for Paul to plant a church.
Via Appia was the ordinary route to Rome. The Via Appia from Capua, was 155 Roman, (142.3 English miles). Later, Domitian reduced the distance to 139 Roman miles (about 129 English miles) by laying out the Via Domitia along the coast, joining the Via Appia at Sinuessa.
Now that we have consulted the travel guide we are ready to sail on Friday (the next Gems day).
Commit your way to Lord and He will make your paths straight, even when unfavourable winds blow.Ian Vail
Success doesn’t consist in never making mistakes, but in never making the same one a second time!Anon
A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz)
If you love deeply, you’re going to get hurt badly. But it’s still worth it.C S Lewis