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Tabloids of the Roman Empire

By Carl S ~

As you stand in the checkout line scanning the tabloid headlines, consider those of ancient Rome. You're already familiar with tabloid “fake news and alternative facts” mixed together with actual happenings, places, celebrities, and ordinary people with “extraordinary” experiences. It should come as no surprise to you embellishments, rumors, and outright falsehoods abound. Tabloids flourish on indifference to truth. You can't find this crap anywhere else. It catches our attention, guarantees sales.

Picture yourself in ancient times waiting in line at your local agora, or open marketplace, dealing with the “tabloids” of those times. (Of course they weren't published; no printing press.) They were rumors and stories, scriptures, some becoming “tradition,” their main appeal to the same audiences as today. Their “reporters” were “tall story tellers,” some boldly passing themselves off then, like now, as prophets, seers, authorities of the gods. In other words, they are con men. Some things never change. As now, they claimed to know secrets, like “proof” of the intervention of the God / gods in human lives, and access to “spirit-alternative reality.” The “reporter-authors” sold illegitimate news.

Reporting REALITY requires an ETHICAL backbone demanding BACKUP EVIDENCE. For examples, let's begin with two true established historical events. For one, headlines throughout the Empire would proclaim, “SPARTACUS DEFEATED as leader of slave rebellion. SIX THOUSAND SLAVES CRUCIFIED along Appian Way. Go and see for yourself.” And: “TWO YEAR Jewish Zealot REBELLION ENDS at Temple complex of Masada – MASS SUICIDE.” (In contrast, “Spartacus' affairs with Roman wives” would be exclusive to tabloids, along with “his ingratitude to his owners and society.” Also:”JEWISH AUTHORITY claims Masada Zealots WERE NOT REAL JEWS.”

What if a very, very, famous “CELEBRITY” covered EXCLUSIVELY by the tabloids” never existed, because no other sources mentioned “his” existence, which means, all the historians at the time? REAL celebrities have always been in the spotlights, everywhere. BUT, so have invented folk heroes. We already know that actual rebels and reformers, (and “he” was said to be both), along with traitors and spies, receive international attention. More are known today than ever before; some we can immediately name.

Imagine old Roman tabloids: “RABBI REJECTS LAWS of his Jewish scriptures, saying the Chosen People should reject law of “an eye for an eye, a life for a life,” but must instead forgive those who harm them!” Or: “SELF PROCLAIMED PROPHET BERATES SANHEDRIN, falsely claiming they have “trumpets played to announce each time they give alms!” And wouldn't it be deliciously scandalous if Jewish tabloids reported HE BLASPHEMED, claiming to be “Before Abraham, I AM,” a claim describing Yaweh alone? This same “Man claims he can REBUILD a destroyed Jerusalem temple IN THREE DAYS.” Then there's: “MAN WALKS ON WATER. Witnesses less than sober?”

Never underestimate the impact of people believing “alternative realities.”What of other outstanding “news?” “BLOODBATH. 2300 infants and children slaughtered by Herod's troops.” Or: “EARTHQUAKE! Temple split open, the DEAD RISE from their GRAVES, return to their families. Where are they now? An EXCLUSIVE REPORT.” Who could resist reading: “MIRACLE WORKER FEEDS FIVE THOUSAND men, plus untold women and children, WITH THREE LOAVES of BREAD and TWO FISHES!” or: FIVE HUNDRED MEET DEAD MAN WHO HAS RETURNED TO LIFE.” News like that would have spread, like a California WILDFIRE, through the ENTIRE Roman Empire. Yet, over three dozen historians in those times make no mention of this “man” or his “miracles”.

Imagine ancient tabloids reporting:
"RELIABLE SOURCES CONFIRM the BODY of a famous crucified Jewish 'KING' was STOLEN by leaders of the very Sanhedrin he publicly despised. They then secretly burned his body alongside Passover lambs at the Temple. HIS FOLLOWERS CLAIM HE CAME BACK TO LIFE, maintaining all those who say otherwise are liars.”

Oho! Who can say either or both of these claims aren't false news? No evidence exists. But believing marketable bullshit exists.

Tabloids have their usefulness as entertainment, offering within their pages examples of how far people will go to believe “fake news claims,” no matter how outrageous they are, or maybe BECAUSE they are. Nobody really knows if their “sources” exist, or cares to investigate. Very few people would take them seriously. Unless of course, their unknown authors are called “evangelists,” and the tabloids are called “gospels,” worshiped as “gospel truth.” Gospels are BALLYHOO AND BOSH.

Gospels soon became the Pravda of Christian propaganda, even though St. Paul, who preached a Christ redeemer, makes no mention of them. And, according to those gospel-tabloids, even their alleged “Jesus” himself believed fake news, alternative facts. Indeed, ”he” and Paul each CREATED and PROMOTED their own “alternative realities” as ABSOLUTE, ULTIMATE TRUTHS! Those alternative facts and fake news have been sold to humankind for thousands of years. They started out as delusional thinking, but came to be really useful in attaining power and money via supply and demand. There's lucrative profit to be made. As long as these REAL realities prevail, “though Earth and the heavens may pass away, the “WORD” OF THE TABLOIDS will never pass away.”

Never underestimate the impact of people believing “alternative realities.” Billions of people living in dominant religions psychologically suffer by trying to live up to the standards their religion's tabloids demand to be obeyed. Millions of innocent human beings have been tortured and hanged, heads have rolled, and they’ve been burnt alive and murdered in other unspeakable ways. Millions more killed in religious wars. And all because beliefs in alternative facts and false news trumped evidence.