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Saturday, March 26, 2005

More about Good Friday, this time about everybody's favorite Biblical hand-wringer, Pontius Pilate. In fact I think this would make a pretty good feature: "Where Are They Now?" on characters in the Bible. According to specious sources, after the Jesus episode Pilate
was exiled to Gaul and eventually committed suicide there, in Vienne.... His body, says the Mors Pilati ('Death of Pilate') was thrown first into the Tiber, but the waters were so disturbed by evil spirits that the body was taken to Vienne and sunk in the Rhone: a monument at Vienne, called Pilate's tomb, is still to be seen. As the waters of the Rhone likewise rejected Pilate's corpse, it was again removed and sunk in the lake at Lausanne. Its final disposition was in a deep and lonely mountain tarn, which, according to later tradition, was on a mountain, still called Pilatus (actually pileatus or 'cloud-capped'), close to Lucerne. Every Good Friday the body re-emerges from the waters and washes its hands. There are many other legends about Pilate in the folklore of Germany, and his death was (unusually) dramatized in a medieval mystery play cycle from Cornwall, the Cornish Ordinalia.
It's hard to say which is my favorite fictionalized Pontius Pilate: The one in The Master and Margarita who suffers from awful migraines, or the one played by David Bowie in The Last Temptation of Christ.

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