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Educating Ourselves About "The Phenomenon" - UFO's in Classical Antiquity

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

Roman Reports of UFO Like Craft
Roman Reports of UFO Like Craft

UFO's in Classical Antiquity

Be skeptical, Be open minded

The assumption that what we see and report as UFO's and other paranormal objects are unique to the modern era.

This would be a false assumption.

What we call paranormal has been with mankind since the Fall and came along with Satans dominion over the earth.

Reports, if they are recorded at all in antiquity were always described in the worldview of those making the observations. For example from the article below we see objects in the sky were described as being in th shape of shields.

What did the ancient Romans see?

A flying shield or in our vernacular a flying saucer?

Did Ancient Romans See a UFO? I A strange account from Plutarch

"The writings of the historian Plutarch form a significant portion of our information concerning the rise of the Roman Republic, and its eventual end. In one of those texts, Plutarch's "Lives", he recounts something rather strange--the appearance in the sky of a bright flash of light and, apparently, a cylindrical object whose color is "like molten silver". What exactly was he describing? Was it a UFO, as some people (apparently including at least professional scholars) believe? Or something else? SOURCES: UFOs in Classical Antiquity- Stothers, Plutarch's "Parallel Lives" Religions of Rome: Vol. 1, Beard, North, & Price." from video introduction


"Abstract: A combined historical and scientific approach is applied to ancient reports of what might today be called unidentified flying objects(UFOs). Many conventionally explicable phenomena can be weeded out, leaving a small residue of puzzling reports. These fall neatly into the same categories as modern UFO reports, suggesting that the UFO phenomenon, whatever it may be due to, has not changed much over two millennia. hroughout recorded history, reports of what we today might call unidentified flying objects have been made and preserved. If more information were available to us, we would perhaps find that conventional scientific hypotheses could explain most, if not all of these. 1 Certainly this has turned out to be true of most reports from better-documented periods. There nonetheless remains a small residue of puzzling accounts, and regardless of what interpretation one places on them, these constitute a phenomenon that spans centuries of time and widely different cultures. What may surprise the serious student of the subject is that, despite the numerous articles and books published by scientists on UFOs over the past six decades, almost no scholarly studies of the very early history of the phenomenon have appeared. What little has been accomplished was initiated in 1953 by the astronomer Donald Menzel’s naturalistic interpretation of reports in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History. 2 Menzel’s study, however, proved superficial, and had the unfortunate consequence of inducing UFO enthusiasts to compile long, uncritical lists of all kinds of phenomena seen in the ancient skies and call them UFOs. 3 Their methodology was roundly * I acknowledge an interesting conversation with J. Allen Hynek many years ago, and record also my indebtedness to the Columbia University libraries and the New York Public Library. The final form of this paper owes much to the extensive and critical suggestions of S. Douglas Olson and two anonymous referees. 1 Mythological and biblical literature has been repeatedly ransacked for evidence of UFOs; see, e.g., Jessup (1956); Le Poer Trench (1960). Skeptical views were first expressedby the astronomerMenzel(1953) 124–34, andthe psychologist Jung (1958) 79–84. 2 Menzel (1953) 118–19. 3 Wilkins (1954) 163–74; Drake (1977). Other popularizing authors have generally followed, directly or indirectly, Wilkins and Drake. T 80 RICHARD STOTHERS criticized in the 1968 Condon Report by Samuel Rosenberg, who did not, however, attempt a fresh start by tracking down and analyzing the primary sources themselves. Richard Wittmann, ignoring these authors, produced in 1968 a more scholarly, but also more restricted study of ancient “flying shields.” The subject has languished since 1971 and 1975, when Peter Bicknell published two cautious articles in which UFOs were treated only incidentally...• In 217 BC “at Arpi round shields (parmas) were seen in the sky” (Liv. 22.1.9; Orosius 4.15). A parma was a small round shield made partly or wholly of iron, bronze or another metal; we do not know whether the luster of these devices (and not just their shape) was intended to be an element of the description. Mock suns are an unlikely explanation, since in the Roman prodigy lists these were routinely described as “double suns” or “triple suns” (i.e. two mock suns on either side of the real one). • In 212 BC “at Reate a huge stone (saxum) was seen flying about” (Liv. 25.7.8). The implication would seem to be that the object in question was a stony gray color; that it is said to have moved irregularly (volitare) leaves open the possibility that the object Livy describes was a bird or some kind of airborne debris. Sporadic reports of similar objects continue to appear after this in the Roman prodigy lists. The immediate sources are again Livy and his extractors Pliny, Plutarch, Obsequens and Orosius: • In 173 BC “at Lanuvium a spectacle of a great fleet was said to have been seen in the sky” (Liv. 42.2.4). • In 154 BC “at Compsa weapons (arma) appeared flying in the sky” (Obsequens 17). The term refers to defensive weapons, especially shields. • In 104 BC “the people of Ameria and Tuder observed weapons in the sky rushing together from east and west, those from the west being routed.” Thus Pliny (Nat. 2.148) who uses the term arma; Obsequens’ (43) version is essentially the same. Plutarch (Mar. 17.4) calls the weapons “flaming spears and oblong shields,” but may be merely glossing and expanding; since he noted the time as night, the phenomenon in question might be the streamers of an aurora borealis. • In 100 BC, probably at Rome, “a round shield (clipeus), burning and emitting sparks, ran across the sky from west to east, at sunset.” Thus Pliny (Nat. 2.100), although Obsequens (45) called the phenomenon “a circular object, like a round shield.” The clipeus was a round shield similar to the parma, but bigger. Seneca (Nat. 1.1.15; 7.20.2), quoting Posidonius (1st century BC), referred to a class of clipei flagrantes, saying that they persisted longer than shooting stars. 12 12 Possibly related to these are the disceus comets, which displayed electrumcolored disks surrounded by scattered rays; see Plin. Nat. 2.89; Avienus in Serv. Aen. ad 10.272; Campestris in Scholiast to Luc. ad 1.529 and in Lyd. Ost. 15; Apuleius in Lyd. Ost. 10; Mens. 4.71; Heph. Astr. 1.24. See also Fuhr (1982) on the Typhon comet, which was twisted like a red coil (Plin. Nat. 2.91).." from the Abstract PDF located on NASA's website.

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