The filled or closed cross with short arms of equal length
was a common sign in ancient Greece, in pre-Columbian America, and in
the Near East approximately 1,000 years before the birth of
Christ. But crosses were already used in the Euphrates-Tigris region
around 1500 B.C. They first seem to have been wheel crosses with four spokes,
which wheels in time lost their rim and became real crosses, albeit
with rounded outer edges on the arms as a legacy from their past
history as wheels. Like the fourspoked wheels of the sun god these
early crosses were power symbols, and had nothing to do with torture.
The Romans were a cruel and barbaric race, whatever you may have learned in school and however efficiently you may have been able to deafen yourself to the screams of terror and agony of the women and children burned, chewed on by starved crocodiles and lions, or carefully pierced alive on poles to die slowly in the Coliseum for the pleasure of the populace of Rome. The ruling patricians had ordered the use of T-crosses as racks for torturing workers (slaves, often prisoners of war) and peasants not willing to obey the whims of their masters. But for those among them who happened to make a faux pas the patricians reserved the right to die quickly by decapitation with the help of a sharp sword in the hands of an expert. The origin of the word cross is the Latin word crux, from the verb cruciare, meaning to torture. When the successful new ideology of Christianity began to spread, the worship of suffering also spread, and the promoters of apostles and would-be saints competed in devising ugly past deaths for their protégés the immensely sought-after prize being the honor of having a torture rack named after them (like the cross of St. Peter, the cross of St. Andrew, the cross of St. Philip, etc.).
The Greek cross, however, with its short, broad arms, was never a pictogram of a suitable torture rack but a close descendant of the four-spoked wheel crosses, the symbol for divinity in the Euphrates-Tigris and Syrian regions. The sun god of these regions was symbolized in two ways: by the four-spoked wheel with or without two spread wings on either side, and by the fourpointed star sign, with or without a circle aroumd it, . From which of these two four-armed symbols the first so-called Greek crosses evolved we do not know, but we know that the sign appears together with symbol representing the divinity of fertility, sexual pleasures, hunting, and warfare associated with the planet Venus on a Babylonian seal from around 1500 B.C.
Since we now in some detail have explored the origin of the symbol par preference for the Western way of life, let us proceed to today's uses of the cross other than as a symbol for suffering and torture. In the United States has been used as a meteorological sign to denote a mixing of air masses. Note the relation of this use of the cross sign to the Hopi sign and its probable meaning: the four winds or corners of the earth.
Apart from being named Greek cross, the sign of this entry is also called St. George's cross. This version of the cross is also the logotype adopted by the Red Cross, established as an international organization in 1863 at the Geneva convention, the first serious attempt to agree on laws to, at least cosmetically, check the insane activity of warfare. St. George's cross was common on the shields and standards used by the crusaders around the year 1100. Today it can be seen on the flags of Greece and Switzerland.