Biographical Gospel of the Lord

- Chapter 69 -
The Sentence For The Priests

HEN THE THREE lesser priests arrived at the place of sacrifice, they at once announced to the guards as well as to the poor young martyrs, who were overwhelmed by fear of death, that the determined-upon and irrevocable sacrifice would be carried out the following morning, and that with all the more certainty because the eminent Cyrenius himself had so ordered it.
What sort of an impression this news made on the two-thousand martyrs needs no elaboration for him who knows from historical tradition that such martyrs were tortured and killed in many ways to appease the different gods,
and that there were approximately a thousand forms of sacrifice.
Very early the next morning Cyrenius, Maronius and Joseph arose and went to the city.
It was an unusually clear morning as the three approached the determined-upon place of sacrifice.
While still some distance away, Cyrenius with the greatest bitterness of feeling already heard the terrible lament of the young people to be sacrificed.
He thereupon hastened his steps so he might put an end to this scene of horror as soon as possible.
When he arrived at the site, he was shocked at the inhuman feelings of the three lesser priests, who in greatest eagerness already awaited the command of Cyrenius to begin the slaughter.
Cyrenius immediately had the priests come to him and asked, 'Tell me, are you not at all sorry for this glorious youth, since they are to be murdered in a most cruel fashion? Have you no sympathy for them in your hearts?'
And the priests declared, 'Where the gods have feelings, there is an end to human sympathy!
The life of men is nothing to the gods - and often only an abomination; hence this disposes our feelings as their servants on earth to be like unto theirs and we can have no compassion in us,
but only an ecstasy and a rejoicing because we are able to serve the gods punctually!
Consequently we are in fact looking forward with exceeding joy to the slaughter of these by the high gods anyhow seldom required sacrifices!'
This declaration gave Cyrenius such a great jolt in his heart that he began to tremble from wrath at these priests.
But he soon regained his composure and again asked the priests, 'But how would it be, if Zeus himself were here and granted these martyrs their lives? - What would you do then?'
The priests answered, 'Then the sacrifice would have to be undertaken with all the more certainty, because that would only be a test of our priestly zealousness to serve!
If we then were to take pity on the destined martyrs, Zeus would look upon us as blasphemers and destroy us with thunder and lightning!'
At this Cyrenius continued to question the priests, saying, 'What then have the other high priests committed before the gods, in that they were so miserably killed in their palace?'
Here the priests answered, 'Do you not know that above all the gods and their priests there reigns an inexorable Destiny?
It has killed the priests, as It has excited the gods before that. Now the gods It cannot kill, but only the here and there still mortal priests!'
'Good,' retorted Cyrenius, 'Last night past midnight Destiny came to me and gave me the command to grant all these young people their lives - and to sacrifice you instead, and that as surely as my name is Cyrenius and my brother Julius Augustus Caesar reigns as first consul and emperor in Rome! - Now what do you say to these tidings?'
These dread tidings caused the priests to turn pale and brought the other martyrs back to their senses. And Cyrenius immediately had all of the martyrs spoken free, but the three priests bound and prepared for execution.