Alexamenos Graffitti (Crucified Ass)

This crude graffiti cartoon from the early second century, may be the oldest known depiction of Christ. The image is scratched into the plaster wall of that barracks of a Roman slave-training school, and depicts a donkey headed man on a crucifix. Next to him is a figure with a raised arm, ostensibly Alexamenos, the butt of the joke. The Greek caption reads “Alexamenos sebete theon” (Alexamenos worships his god.)

Some scholars disagree that the figure is meant to represent Christianity; some believe the Donkey headed figure may represent Bacchus. Still others point to the drawing as evidence of a close relation between the cults of Jesus and Bacchus/Dionysus).

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