In the story of Decius Mundus, the chaste Paulina confides with her husband and close friends how Anubis "appeared to her" and "favored her", i.e., by his invitation through the senior priest of Isis to have sexual relations with the god in the Temple of Isis. Centuries earlier, Queen/Pharaoh Hatshepsut memorialized her own divine conception in the Temple of Amun in Egypt with a depiction of the god taking the form of her father and impregnating her mother.
Within the royal family, both in Hatshepsut's time and Paulina's, incest, adultery, and fornication were the accepted means of producing royal children. These practices were however generally excuses and even considered blessed if orchestrated by the Great King and his Chief Wife as they deemed appropriate. Sexual relations between royal persons taking place apart from the consent of the king was considered a threat, as it could result in unwanted rival claimants to the throne.
Isis was the goddess that was barren but determined to get a child. The context of Paulina going to this goddess' temple, although she was married, is consistent with an infertile royal woman seeking another royal male partner with which she could become pregnant. In the story of Abram and Sarah, Sarah plays the part of barren Isis. She is not portrayed as taking matters into her own hands, but as being directed by "the Lord" and supported by her legal husband Abram.
The context of Paulina in the Temple of Isis in Rome is then consistent with what we now understand about the royal reproduction model. The naivety of Paulina probably relfects her youth. However, even her husband assumes that the operation is legitimate, that is, ordained by the Emperor. As such, it would have been accepted as a high honor. In the case of Sarah, the pretense of mistaken identity is also made, even though the actions of her paramours Pharaoh and then King Abimelech were authorized. In the case of Decius Mundus, there is no actual scandal until he reveals that his passion had not been pre-approved. When Tiberius is informed, he is naturally outraged and metes out stiff punishments.
It is of interest that Decius Mundus was willing to pay a vast sum for only the opportunity to sire a child by Paulina. Paulina's family was already immensely wealthy and so the indecent proposal was rejected. Decius Mundus then began a hunger strike, which parodies the "temptation of Christ" episode found in the Gospels. Decius did ultimately gain the "world" of Paulina, but we are not told whether or not she actually became pregnant.
A short time later, just after the death of Tiberius in 38 BC, Caligula married a woman of dignity named Lollia Paulina. Anthony Barrett writes in Caligula:
"The third wife [of Caligula] belonged to a wealthy family, possibly from Pompeii. She was a fine-looking woman whose beauty went back at least three generations, according to Suetonius, and Caligula was reportedly first encouraged by reports of her looks, but may also have been motivated by an increasingly difficult financial situation, since she was a woman of great inherited wealth. The elder Pliny saw her at a modest dinner party, covered with emeralds and interlaced pearls over her head, neck, and fingers, the total amounting to 40 million sesterces. For those who doubted that such wealth could belong to one woman, she reputedly carred the proof of ownership on her person. She was also married already. Her husband, Publius Memmius Regulus, had been suffect consul of 31, and had been involved in the overthrow of Sejanus. At the time of Caligula's wedding he was governor of Moesia, Macedonia and Achaea, to which he ahd been appointed in 35 and where he would stay until 44. Suetonius says that Memmius was called from his province to participate in the ceremony, to which Dio adds a very curious comment. He says that Caligula forced Memmius personally to give his wife in marriage to Caligula, in case she would not be 'properly married, contrary to the laws'. " (from p 89-90)
"What then, of the divorce from Lollia? Dio states that Caligula got rid of her on the pretext that she was barren, but that in reality he was tired of her. It is worth noting in this context that according to Tacitus a later argument in favour of Lollia as a prospective wife for Claudius was that she was apparently barren, and would not present a threat to the succession." (from p 95)
In the story of Mary mother of Jesus, it is proclaimed to Mary by Gabriel, "The Holy Ghost shall come uon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee". (Luke 1:35 KJV) The Holy Ghost/Spirit in pagan terms was equivalent to Thoth-Anubis, the very god impersonated by Decius Mundus when he "leaped out" and upon the willing Paulina.
It was entirely superfluous for royal persons to take the theatrical stage and perform. Their entire existence was an acting job. As noted elsewhere, the "angel Gabriel" that "appeared" to (read: impregnated) Mary was Prince Antipater son of Herod the Great. His sexual tryst with the young Mary/Mariamne IV and with other leading ladies (such as Mariamne II/Elizabeth) was authorized. It is of note that Gabriel was part of popular conception at this very time and was associated with the coming of a sacrificial Messianic figure.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.