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The Forged Letter Attributed To Marcus Aurelius

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Chapter Summary

One of the most interesting sources related to the rain miracle is the - surely forged - Greek letter in which the emperor reports the events to the senate. Although Scaliger had already devoted some attention to the letter, it was only Harnack who fitted it into the sources on the rain miracle in detail. According to him the letter is obviously forged, but it followed reliable sources, as its author knew about the emperor's letters addressed to the senate; he gives an account of the solders' prayer; he tells the story of the rain comforting the Romans and the thunder destroying the enemy; and he names two Romans: Pompeianus and Vitrasius Pollio; and he mentions troops who surely participated in the war. A new feature of the letter is the unsuccessful prayer of Marcus that lets the letter fit properly into the pagan-Christian debate about the rain miracle.

Keywords: forged Greek letter; Marcus Aurelius; pagan-Christian debate; rain miracle



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