on Acts 28 :11
After three months - Supposing that they had reached Malta about the end of October, as we have already seen, then it appears that they left it about the end of January, or the beginning of February; and, though in the depth of winter, not the worst time for sailing, even in those seas, the wind being then generally more steady; and, on the whole, the passage more safe.
Whose sign was Castor and Pollux - These were two fabulous semi-deities, reported to be the sons of Jupiter and Leda, who were afterwards translated to the heavens, and made the constellation called Gemini, or the Twins. This constellation was deemed propitious to mariners; and, as it was customary to have the images of their gods both on the head and stern of their ships, we may suppose that this Alexandrian ship had these on either her prow or stern, and that these gave name to the ship. We, who profess to be a Christian people, follow the same heathen custom: we have our ships called the Castor, the Jupiter, the Minerva, the Leda, (the mother of Castor and Pollux), with a multitude of other demon gods and goddesses; so that, were ancient Romans or Grecians to visit our navy, they would be led to suppose that, after the lapse of more than 2000 years, their old religion had continued unaltered!
Virgil speaks of a vessel called the Tiger. Aeneid, x. ver. 166: -
Massicus aerata princeps secat aequora Tigri.
"Massicus, chief, cuts the waves in the brazen-beaked Tiger."
Of another called the Chimera. Aen. v. ver. 118, 223: -
Ingentemque Gyas ingenti mole Chimaeram.
"Gyas the vast Chimera's bulk commands."
And of another called the Centaur. Aen. v. ver. 122, 155, 157: -
- Centauro invehitur magna.
"Sergestus, in the great Centaur, took the leading place."
Besides these names, they had their tutelary gods in the ship, from whom they expected succor; and sometimes they had their images on the stern; and when they got safely to the end of their voyage, they were accustomed to crown these images with garlands: thus Virgil, Geor. i. ver. 304: -
Puppibus et laeti naute imposuere Coronas.
"The joyous sailors place garlands on their sterns."
on Acts 28 :11
And after three months - Probably they remained there so long because there was no favorable opportunity for them to go to Rome. If they arrived there, as is commonly supposed, in October, they left for Rome in January.
In a ship of Alexandria - See the notes on Acts 27:6.
Whose sign - Which was ornamented with an image of Castor and Pollux. It was common to place on the prow of the ship the image of some person or god, whose name the ship bore. This custom is still observed.
Castor and Pollux - These were two semi-deities. They were reputed to be twin brothers, sons of Jupiter and Leda, the wife of Tyndarus, king of Sparta. After their death, they are fabled to have been transported to heaven, and made constellations under the name of Gemini, or the Twins. They then received divine honors, and were called the sons of Jupiter. They were supposed to preside over sailors, and to be their protectors; hence it was not uncommon to place their image on ships. Compare Lempriere's Dictionary.
on Acts 28 :11
28:11 Whose sign was - It was the custom of the ancients to have images on the head of their ships, from which they took their names. Castor and Pollux - Two heathen gods who were thought favourable to mariners.