JACOBUS

PAUL TRITTIN'S purpose for writing Jacobus . . .

   "I wanted to give a voice to eunuchs, both natural (gay) and castrated. I chose the first century for that is the midpoint between the first written record about eunuchs (2100 B.C.) and our century (2100 A.D.).   I want to  help build a bridge between theologically based values and the anger of the gay liberation movement,” Paul S. Trittin, author   

Criminalized for being different . . .

  "On May 14, 390 A.D. an imperial decree was posted at the Roman hall of Minerva which criminalized for the first time the romantic and (sic) sexual practice of those whom we call 'homosexual' men -- this had never happened before in the history of law. The prescribed penalty was death by burning. This law was promulgated by an emperor who at the time was under a penance set by St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, and the law was issued in the context of a persecution of heresies. Homosexual men at the imperial court had been powerful opponents of Catholic doctrine during the fourth century conflicts over the nature of Jesus Christ, known as the Arian controversies." Mark Brustman, in "The Historic Origins of Church Codemnation of Homosexuality.  

Their very existence denied . . .

    Eunuchs have had a rough time. Many had been captured, enslaved, and castrated. Finally, in the ninth century, elite and powerful church leaders actually removed the words “natural eunuch” from the lexicon thereby denying the very existence of a group of men Jesus himself discussed in a positive context with his disciples as an example of men who should not marry. (Matthew 19:12).    

 

 The creative ability and physical stamina of these half-men was truly needed for the expansion of the Roman Empire. Why would churches suddenly deny their existence and  access to God’s love? 

Sexuality and spirituality in a historical novel . . .

  “Why would you want to write JACOBUS, a book about marginalized people who no one likes and who are accused of doing abominal things?" a reader asked.


"That's precisely why I had to write it," Trittin answered. "Everyone has a need and desire for love.  Even slaves and eunuchs are not beyond the human cry for intimacy. That's what the book is all about."    

Jacobus' Life. . .

Jacobus grew up fast in Judaeo-Roman culture.

  I have always been precocious, but being gifted is not my fault. At the age of twelve, my father decided it was time for me to continue my education by preparing for the world of work. This was not uncommon for the life expectancy was only twenty-five to thirty years.


 At fourteen he apprenticed me to learn the maritime trade under the guidance of Captain Lucius Paulus. It was on the Dolphin that I learned the art of reconciliation. I lived and slept with eunuchs both natural and castrated, and worked with both slaves as well as free men.      

Home had many rooms.

  I was born into wealth and I enjoyed the privilege of living in luxurious surroundings. My extended family's maritime trading provided everything my twin and I needed except a mother’s love and a father’s compassion. There were no manuals for raising natural eunuchs so we taught ourselves some things. However, understanding nurses and tutors provided an outstanding academic education.     

Rome

  Syracuse in Sicily may have been the center for the Aetna Shipping company, but Rome was the center of the maritime world. Peaceful Valentia, Spain, exotic Alexandria, and the oriental charm of India each had appeal but it was in the markets of Rome where you found the irresistible good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. Rome’s seaport was Ostia, but the heart of  the city was quickened by business, government, and culture culminating in the thrill and throb of power.  

it was a great classroom.

   I learned much working on the Dolphin. The dislike of Tectos, a slave, for a free man named Horse exploded into anger in just three weeks when Tectos caught Horse with a stolen tusk. In the fracas that followed, Horse’s foot was injured so extensively that without  surgical care his foot had to be amputated to spare his life. Unable to walk he was immediately taken to the center of the seaport city, Syracuse, and left there to beg. 


  It was Tectos who not only expressed concern for Horse, but he was the one who went to the city center every day with food and water for the one the crew and come to despise. What motivated  compassion in this eunuch? How does compassion relate and lead to reconciliation?     

Alexandria . . . reconciliation . . .

   Alexandria, Egypt, was the largest and most beautiful seaport ever built, but is was the reconciliation that occurred there that gave us such fond memories. Rabbi Sadhu and his wife, Rahelani, had come from India to approve or reject the deal I had brokered with their son, Yacobsa, a natural eunuch like me. Because he was ‘different,’ he was alienated from his parents. Years earlier they had  sent him away to a Persian rabbinical school to study the Torah but really to dissuade his interest in men.  


  The proposed contract exceeded their expectations. The sincere high praise I heaped on their son and learning that I was also a Jew who worshipped the same creator God was sufficient to seal the deal. They not only approved the arrangements, but they accepted our invitation to travel with us to Jerusalem for Passover.     

Elephants and retirement?

  When I was a young man, King Shikrit of Panyan gave me a baby elephant. It was impossible to take the animal back to Syracuse from India so he arranged for Jaya to care for the gift. To travel between Shikrit's palace and a neighboring king, our journey was on the backs of elephants as they formed a caravan going up the river to his palace. 


In retirement forty years later, my life-long friend, Hanno, and Jaya traveled with me and my elephant to Alexandria. We stopped in Jerusalem to mourn its destruction by the Romans. 

PRODUCTS

An excerpt from pages 267-268 . . .

     As the crowd quieted, we heard a shrieking scream as the sound of   hammers pounding heavy spikes into bone and wood filled the silence between the screams. Suddenly all was silent other than a grown man crying. Then we saw a second cross being lifted up and dropped into its hole, also punctuated by a horrendous scream from the naked victim. But that wasn’t Jesus. 


     Then the crowd became as quiet as death itself. Once again we heard the hammers striking the nails, one after another . . . the haunting silence. Then we saw a third cross being lifted up and dropped into the hole . . . still silence. It was Jesus, naked and in the company of two thieves. Even the crowd was silent and in awe. A few from the Sanhedrin tried to ridicule him but the crowd neither jeered nor scoffed. The silence was disturbed only by the sobs from broken hearts. Following Simon we began the slow journey up the hill.


     As Simon pushed his way up, people saw his bloody appearance and made way, and told others to do the same. When the soldiers recognized Simon, they made a place for us by a group of crying women and the young disciple John. People wondered what the bloody Judean was dong there with the strange international delegation followed by their servants. The greatest surprise was how elegantly dressed the Indians were . . . even their exotic servants.


     As the brown skinned lady who appeared so regal almost like a queen in her gold and jewels, knelt near the other women, she gazed up into the eyes of Jesus. In a voice more beautiful than the night before, she began to sing a song of praise to God in Malayalam. Once again she used her hands to first express her soul’s praise and then her pain. Once again her servant women pulled out their finger cymbals and followed her lead. At that moment I saw Rahelani for who she really was, a princess who was accustomed to taking control of any situation . . . even death. As she finished, she bent down, her head touching the ground, and sobbed. Then I remembered what the sadhu told us after she had creamed when she saw Jesus collapsed on the street, “God revealed to her what was happening and it almost made her heart stop.” 


 We stood there for hours. We watched. We listened. Even the thieves on either side of Jesus changed their tone, especially the one to his left who we heard calling him Lord. During this time, Stephen and I were able to share with John our beliefs that God revealed to us that something amazing was preparing to happen. He looked at us in disbelief. How could we know what Jesus had shared with him and the other disciples? We couldn’t explain it. We just knew. For some reason God had brought the twelve of us together from across the empire and beyond to be there with Jesus and him on the day of his death. Such a miraculous happening proved a great comfort to John. . . . .   


Who Is Paul Trittin?

Trittin, the history researcher . . .

Museums and castles in Europe, Russia, or Africa are on his first choice list of things to do. However, Biblical Archeology Review and similar periodicals are tolerable substitutes for the man who cut his teeth on the Columbia Encyclopedia in junior high. Nothing historical is off-limits for him.

Trittin, the creative artist . . .

This was a set design for a Christmas musical, The Gift, which he wrote and produced for a large church in Kansas City.  It was typical of the detail he has given to all his creative endeavors.


He was the first non-Flemish artist invited to show in a contemporary Flemish Art Exhibit in Belgium. Trittin was also commissioned to do four paintings of Native Americans for the Bank of America office in London.


Trittin, the publisher turned author . . .

Trittin was one of four founders of Global University, a  unique concept for reaching third-world seminary students in the seventies. He worked with authors from every continent and for sixteen years coordinated the publication of religious books and Bibles in five languages.


Finally, he succumbed to the call to tell the story of 4200 years of sexual misunderstanding, political intrigue, maritime expansion, and the birth of Christianity. Jacobus, A Eunuch's Faith, is an important read of historical fiction relating sexuality and faith without sermons or religious jargon.