Mark 2:1-12 and the siege of Massilia in Lucan, Pharsalia, Book 3:

Hamburg harbor, 16. 7. 1989
Hamburg harbor, 16. 7. 1989

1. the account of Lucan: Lucan, in the Pharsalia Book 3, describes the siege of the Gallic city of Massilia (now Marseilles) by Caesar’s troops during the civil war with Pompey.

In 49 BC, Caesar, coming from Rome, was on his way to Spain and besieged the fortified city of Massilia. In 3:399-486, Lucan describes two details that later become central to Mark’s narrative.

(1) Caesar’s soldiers are prevented from advancing by projectiles thrown from the besieged city. They then form a closed roof over their helmets with their shields, a so-called turtle formation, which reliably protects them from the enemy projectiles.

Only when their forces weaken and the previously closed roof shows gaps, the enemy projectiles can penetrate the ranks of the soldiers and cause damage.

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