And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,…
Among the Babylonians and Persians it was customary on a certain feast to bring forth a malefactor from the prison, to place him on a throne, adorned with the royal insignia, to treat him with homage and honour, give him a splendid banquet, and then tear off his crown and royal apparel, scourge him, and put him to death by burning him alive. In Aricia, the priest, king for the year, was anciently sacrificed annually, but afterwards a slave was taken and adorned with royal and priestly ornaments for a few days, and treated with all reverence, and then was stripped and put to death. Throughout the heathen world, at midwinter, it was customary to thus give a short-lived dignity to some person, who was afterwards despoiled of his splendour and put to death, and this custom lingered on in a modified form in Europe, and at Twelfth Night Epiphany kings and queens were installed. Even in Mexico, when discovered and invaded by the Spaniards, a somewhat similar usage was found. A young man for a whole year was treated with homage, and given everything he desired, and then was suddenly despoiled and put to death. Haman, when he desired the royal apparel for himself, and the royal steed, had little idea that he was seeking a brief glory which would end in the gallows, just like the annual exaltation and execution of the Sagan, as he was called. The Romans kept their Saturnalia when the slaves took their masters' places, and were dressed in the best robes, and banqueted at their tables, whilst their lords served them. And then, in a night, all was changed, and the slave was subjected to the rod and bondage. The soldiers were wont to keep their Saturnalia, and knew all about the custom of dressing up a victim as a king, then disrobing him and putting him to death, and now they practised this on Jesus. Their act was not one prompted by a sudden fancy. It was a thing to which they were either themselves accustomed, or knew of it as a rite still in use. They regarded Jesus as a victim, and as a victim they treated Him to this short honour; but they did it, for all that, in mockery.
(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,