The ancient Romans took dreams seriously, but sometimes they weren’t sure what their dreams meant. For help, they went to fortune tellers. And when the fortune tellers needed help, they consulted their handbooks on dream interpretation – one or two of which have survived. So we know what kinds of things typical Romans dreamed about.
Romans had nightmares about crucifixion.
That shouldn’t be a surprise – it was carefully designed to be a slow, cruel, public way to die, a good way to show how foolish it was to defy the power of Rome. When Julius Caesar was a young man and the Roman Republic just barely defeated the rebellious slaves led by Spartacus, the Appian Way – the main road south from Rome – was lined with mile after mile of crucified rebels.
Today is Good Friday, and we Christians remember one particular crucifixion. Jesus of Nazareth, “God from God, Light from Light…was made man (and was)…crucified under (the authority of) Pontius Pilate…for our sake.” It’s a somber day, the only real day of grief in the whole church year.
Before long, it will be Easter, and we’ll remember that nobody likes a happy ending better than God does. But today, we mourn.