Great personalities defend eugenics, 3

by Evropa Soberana

 
Christian domination

In the Middle Ages, through persecution resulting in actual death, life imprisonment and banishment, the free thinking, progressive and intellectual elements were persistently eliminated over large areas, leaving the perpetuation of the race to be carried on by the brutal, the servile and the stupid. It is now impossible to say to what extent the Roman Church by these methods has impaired the brain capacity of Europe. (Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race).

The coming of Christianity plunged classical philosophy into centuries of near-oblivion and clashed with the established and ancient European belief in the inequality of men. Spreading first among the slaves and lowest classes of the Roman empire, Christianity came to teach that all men were equal in the eyes of a universal Creator God, an idea that was totally alien to older European thought which had recognized a hierarchy of competence among men and even among the gods.

Opposing the traditions of classical philosophy and scientific enquiry, Christianity introduced the concept of a single, omnipotent “God of History” who controlled all the phenomena of the universe with men and women being creations of that God. Since all men and women were the ‘children of God’, all were equal before their Divine Maker! Faith in the church’s interpretation of supposedly prophetic revelations became more important than scientific or philosophical enquiry; and to question the church’s view of reality came to be perceived as sinful. (Eugenicist Roger Pearson, ‘The Concept of Heredity in the History of Western Culture’, Part I).

Primitive Christianity represented an atrocious trauma for the West and the European collective unconscious. It swept away the teachings of the classics and only very slowly could Europe recover, step by step, re-conquering and gathering the scattered pieces of wisdom that had been hers and that suffered destruction at the hands of fanatic parasites, poisoned by the desert dogma virus.

The Church had a foreign and anti-European concept of God, taken directly from the Bible. When the early Judeo-Christians taught that God had incarnated in a Jew who died at the hands of the strong (the Romans) for the ‘salvation’ of the weak and sinful—the slaves, the sick, the criminals, the prostitutes, the excrement of the Roman streets and throughout the Empire—, they were laying the groundwork for an atrocious trauma from which European man has never recovered.

In fact, under more modern forms (‘solidarity’, ‘humanitarianism’, ‘equality’, cowardice, sedentary lifestyle, herd mentality, servility, pacifism, conformism) almost all modern Westerners drag variations of such Christian ballast. In the above image, the crucified Christ by Velázquez, the talent of a great Spanish painter was wasted with a strange anorexic, passive and masochistic Jewish idol, instead of some triumphant pagan god.

European populations, especially Celts, Germans, Balts and Slavs—who had always been instinctively governed by eugenic principles—were suddenly engulfed in a misunderstood humanism, which had fermented in the crowded and dirty cities of the Eastern Mediterranean. Christianity frustrated any eugenic, biological and pro-natural possibility for centuries and centuries, so we should not be surprised at the shortage of eugenic testimonies in that era.

In Christendom heretical groups such as the Cathars, the Templars, the alchemists, the old Masons, the Rosicrucians, certain religious orders (orders that accumulated knowledge, such as the Franciscans, Benedictines, Cistercians) and, of course, the Renaissance, could have meant a great change for Europe and a flip-flop for the Church had it not been thwarted by Protestantism, the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation and the Thirty Years War (1618-1638).

This war meant the end of the paganising alternative, the fall of the Holy Empire and the death of a third of the total German population, inaugurating a repulsive period of plagues, famines, religious hysteria, internal wars and witch hunts that devastated the Germanic European layers of better biological quality (Huguenots, Quakers) until Christian authority started to lose strength and credibility in favour of even more dangerous dogmas: the ‘Enlightened’ dogmas.

Therefore, if there is anything salvageable from the Middle Ages it is, undoubtedly, the ‘other’ Middle Ages of castles, knights, troubadours, crusaders and princesses. Three institutions deserve mention: the cavalry, the nobility and the Holy Empire.

When the descriptions of the great characters of the time are read or someone examines the skeleton of a prominent king, there is nothing but awe: Emperor Charlemagne (742-814) measured more than two metres; Roland, his paladin, was also described as a giant; the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada (1015-1066) measured seven feet, that is, approximately 2.10 metres; the redhead Sancho VII the Strong (1194-1234), king of Navarra, measured even more; Jaime I the Conqueror (1208-1276), king of Aragon, was described as a giant, and the same goes for the first Crusade kings of Jerusalem.

All these men were, in addition to heroes of their time, giants of genetics belonging to a practically extinct lineage—but likely to be resurrected by an appropriate selective bio-politics. As the Spanish author Enrique Aynat wrote, ‘The Nobility, like it or not, has natural causes. It was born from the primitive inequality of talents and characters. It has remained a sought and conscious selection, set by an institution. The Indo-European had naturally accepted ,without coercion, the superiority of the Nobility knowing that it had left families that, both physically and morally, represented the summum of the selection’ (Eugenesia, Editor’s translation).

Roger Bacon (1214-1294) and Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

Roger Bacon was an English Franciscan friar greatly ahead of his time. A compulsive scholar, in his work he wrote treatises on grammar, physics, optics, mathematics and philosophy. He was even interested in the manufacture of gunpowder and the situation and size of celestial bodies.

Long before Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo and the Renaissance, Roger Bacon foresaw the invention of flying devices and steamboats, and in his detailed optical studies he anticipated the possibility of designing artefacts such as microscopes, telescopes and glasses. Along with his revolutionary alchemical experiences, all this was considered suspicious of heresy in his time and he became imprisoned. Roger Bacon died forgotten and fell out of favour.

Three centuries later, natural philosophers like Bruno and Francis Bacon rehabilitated Bacon’s reputation and portrayed him as a scientific pioneer.

Although it seems innocuous, the phrase by Francis Bacon I quote below is inconceivably heretical. It suggests that man is subordinate to Nature and the same principles can be applied to animals.

Naturam non vinces nisi parendo (‘You will not master nature unless you obey it’).
 

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Note of the Editor: I have redacted the above passages because in the original text there is confusion between Roger Bacon and Francis Bacon. Even today, with their anti-Nordicism and Christian ethics, white nationalists are not obeying Nature. (As to his Christian ethics, see what I said about Greg Johnson this Monday.)
 

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Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) was a lawyer, statesman, a friend of Erasmus and an English writer known for his Utopia where he disguised his ideas of state leadership under the science-fiction genre.

In Utopia there is a eugenic policy very similar to the Spartan, where the couple should, first of all, look naked to find out what kind of person they married in terms of genetic qualities. Thomas More criticised such an idea to escape the possible religious repression, but what he does is expose it to the public eyes. He would be beheaded for refusing to recognise King Henry VIII as head of the Church in England. For that reason alone the Catholic Church canonised him.

In choosing their wives they use a method that would appear to us very absurd and ridiculous, but it is constantly observed among them, and is accounted perfectly consistent with wisdom. Before marriage some grave matron presents the bride, naked, whether she is a virgin or a widow, to the bridegroom, and after that some grave man presents the bridegroom, naked, to the bride.

We, indeed, both laughed at this, and condemned it as very indecent. But they, on the other hand, wondered at the folly of the men of all other nations, who, if they are but to buy a horse of a small value, are so cautious that they will see every part of him, and take off both his saddle and all his other tackle, that there may be no secret ulcer hid under any of them, and that yet in the choice of a wife, on which depends the happiness or unhappiness of the rest of his life, a man should venture upon trust, and only see about a handsbreadth of the face, all the rest of the body being covered, under which may lie hid what may be contagious as well as loathsome. (Utopia, published in 1516).

William Penn (1644-1718). A member of the Puritan religious society of the Quakers, he emigrated to America for religious persecution in Britain and founded the province, now a state, of Pennsylvania. Many of the political principles he adopted there laid the foundations for the subsequent American Constitution. Penn represented the old Puritan English race, considered as foundational for the United States. He was held in high regard by the later American eugenicists that we will see later.

Men are generally more careful of the breed of their horses and dogs, than of their children (Reflections and Maxims, 1693).

Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), an English economist and demographer, was the first to point out that the world’s population grew faster than resources grew; that overpopulation was a danger, that natural resources were limited and that man was bound to hunger, conflict and epidemics if he did not behave responsibly as to his reproduction, hence the expression ‘Malthusian catastrophe’.

It does not, however, by any means seem impossible that by an attention to breed, a certain degree of improvement, similar to that among animals, might take place among men. Whether intellect could be communicated may be a matter of doubt: but size, strength, beauty, complexion, and perhaps even longevity are in a degree transmissible…

As the human race, however, could not be improved in this way, without condemning all the bad specimens to celibacy, it is not probable that an attention to breed should ever become general; indeed, I know of no well-directed attempts of this kind, except in the ancient family of the Bickerstaffs, who are said to have been very successful in whitening the skins and increasing the height of their race by prudent marriages, particularly by that very judicious cross with Maud, the milk-maid, by which some capital defects in the constitutions of the family were corrected. (‘An Essay on the Principle of Population’, 1798).

Frederick the Great (1712-1786), King of Prussia, an example of strategic-tactical genius, top-notch politician and one of the most brilliant military commanders of all time, colonised the East with German peasants and pushed Prussia into the category of a European superpower. At his death he had laid the foundations of what in the 19th century would become the Second Reich.

It is unpleasant to see the work that is taken under our harsh climate to grow pineapples, bananas and other exotic fruits, while dealing little with human prosperity. At any event, man is more important than all bananas together. He is the plant to cultivate, which deserves all our attention because he represents the pride and glory of our country.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), politician, inventor, scientist and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. His ideas about freedom, finance, banking and independence opposed him to the great powers of his time. In a letter to a doctor, Franklin observed:

Half the lives you save are not worth saving, as being useless, and almost all the other half ought not to be saved, as being mischievous. Does your conscience never hint to you the impiety of being in constant warfare against the plans of Providence?

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), a German philosopher who was influenced by Plato, Hinduism, Buddhism, Goethe and who in turn influenced Wagner, Nietzsche and Hitler himself. Schopenhauer attached great importance to the will as a universal force, restored dignity to Nature, spoke about the importance of the species, denied the validity of Christianity and made important criticisms of the faulty tenets of Western civilisation; criticisms that led him to defend eugenic policies.

If we now connect the conviction we have gained here of the inheritance of the character from the father and the intellect from the mother with our earlier investigation… we shall be led to the view that a real and thorough improvement of the human race might be attained to not so much from without as from within, thus not so much by instruction and culture as rather upon the path of generation.

Plato had already something of the kind in his mind when in the fifth book of his Republic he set forth his wonderful plan for increasing and improving his class of warriors. If we could castrate all scoundrels, and shut up all stupid geese in monasteries, and give persons of noble character a whole harem, and provide men, and indeed complete men, for all maidens of mind and understanding, a generation would soon arise which would produce a better age than that of Pericles. (The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II).

The English imperial aristocracy. The British ruling class that took England to very high levels of glory during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries is considered of Germanic heritage, owing its blood mainly to Anglo-Saxons and Normans. Its system of upbringing and selection, as its militaristic orientation, was admired even by Nazis such as Günther, Darré, Hitler, Rosenberg and Savitri Devi who saw in the Anglo-Saxon countryside the repetition of Germanic ideas that continued alive in North America and Australia. Their mentality is summed up in the maxim ‘To breed, to bleed, to lead’.

As examples of the nation that gave birth to eugenics, we see here two members of the British ruling class, so reminiscent of the Roman patricians. Left, Charles George Gordon (1833-1885), famous for victorious campaigns in China and Egypt, and for being killed as governor of Sudan during the Mahdi rebellion. Right, Reginald Dyer (1864-1927), a veteran of endless campaigns in India, Pakistan, Burma and Afghanistan. In his time he was criticised by some (‘bloodthirsty madman who murdered hundreds of innocents’) and praised by others (‘he avoided the killing of whites throughout India’).

Great personalities defend eugenics, 2

by Evropa Soberana

Antiquity

With the de-barbarization that ensued after the emergence of a sedentary lifestyle, the people soon realised that a society uprooted from Nature immediately degenerates. In short, humanity woke up to the dangers of civilisation.

To compensate for it, the leaders of these societies set up processes aimed at counteracting the pernicious effects of the greatest cancer that humanity has suffered: dysgenics, that is, the degeneration of the race that results from the absence of natural selection.

Here we will see that, in many civilised societies of antiquity, the laws of Nature were automatically followed. Its leaders intervened consciously and voluntarily to stop human reproduction and allow reproduction only to the best, so that the species did not degenerate. As Madison Grant wrote, where the environment is too soft and luxurious and it is not necessary to fight to survive, not only weak individuals are allowed to live. Strong types also gain weight mentally and physically!

The most illustrative examples of this era are Hindus, Greeks (among these the Spartans) and Romans. The Hellenic ideal of the kalokagathia, that is to say, an association of goodness-beauty—achieved by maintaining the purity of blood within the framework of a process of selection of the best—laid the foundations to everything that in the West has been considered ‘classical’ and ‘beautiful’ since then until recently.

In another long essay we have seen that the art that has come to us from European antiquity is perhaps only two percent of what existed and, to top it off, probably the least interesting and sublime: primitive Christians destroyed almost every legacy Greco-Roman civilisation. No one can know how many philosophers and authors suffered total destruction of their works, without anyone knowing again who they were or what they thought; and many other classic writings were censored, adulterated, corrected or mutilated.

However, we have at least some spoils of the pre-Christian era. Although ninety-eight percent of classical art was destroyed by the early Christians, what survived speaks for itself as a tribute to the selection, balance, health and excellence of all human qualities.

The Hindus. The Indo-European (i.e., Nordic) invaders arrived in India around 1400 BCE and immediately placed measures to favour high birth rates of the best elements of the population, identified with the Aryan invaders, and the decline of the worst, identified with the Negroid-Dravidic stratum.

The entire caste system was a great eugenics process in which the chandala (a term also used by Nietzsche to define the morals of Jews and Christians), the outcast, the untouchable, the sinful caste, the one considered inferior, was subjected to a horrendous lifestyle: using only the clothes of the dead bodies, drink only water from stagnant areas or animal tracks, not allow their women to be attended during childbirth, prohibition of washing, work as executioners, burials and latrine cleaners, and an unpleasant etcetera. Such impositions favoured that diseases were endemic among them; they fell like flies so that their numbers never constituted a danger for the best.

We are therefore faced with an example of negative eugenics: limiting the procreation of the worst. These measures are included in the Laws of Manu, the legendary Indo-Aryan legislator who laid the foundations for caste hierarchy. According to scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky, a renowned Ukrainian geneticist, ‘The caste system of India has been the greatest genetic experiment ever conducted by man’ (Genetic Diversity and Human Equality).

A woman always gives the world a child endowed with the same qualities as the one who has fathered him… A man of abject birth takes the natural evil of his father or his mother, or both at the same time, and can never hide its origin (Law of Manu, Book X).

Lycurgus (8th century BCE), a regent of Sparta, travelled through Spain, Egypt and India accumulating wisdom and, later, carrying out a revolution in Sparta after which the polis would militarize and establish a social system based on eugenics. The measures of this program highlight the infanticides of deformed, ugly or stupid newborns. Broadly speaking, Lycurgus’s policy was based on training perfect human beings that gave birth to perfect human beings, and there was no place for genetic engenders in that plan. On the other hand, the crypteia, carried out by the Spartan authorities on the helots (the submissive plebs) can perfectly be considered a very brutal and primitive example of negative eugenics.
 

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Editor’s Note: Having helots as slaves was a fatal flaw for Spartan civilisation. The laws of Lycurgus did not foresee that eugenic customs would fatally relax after a catastrophic war (as would happen after the Peloponnesian War). A real solution would have been, as William Pierce saw in his study on Greece, to exterminate the non-Nordic Mediterraneans of Sparta and extend such policy to all Greece, and eventually to all Europe.
 

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As for the Spartan policies of positive eugenics—favouring the multiplication of the best—we see popular rituals such as the coronation of a male champion and a female champion in a sports competition, or a king and queen in a beauty pageant, or tax exemption to the citizens who left four children. The best were expected to marry the best. Single people over twenty-five years old were extremely frowned upon and punished with fines and humiliating acts.

If the parents are strong, the children will be strong (Fr. 7).

Heraclitus (535-484 BCE), a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher known for his aphorisms in the style of the Oracle of Delphi. He established that wisdom was much more than a mere accumulation of knowledge and intelligence, also valuing intuition, instinct and will. He said: ‘I ask all mortals to father well-born children of noble parents’.

Leonidas (dies in 480 BCE), King of Sparta and supreme commander of the Greek troops in the Battle of Thermopylae. He fought in numerical inferiority against the Persians until the end, giving time for the evacuation of Greek cities, granting margin for an Athenian victory in the battle of Salamis and laying the foundations of the definitive Persian defeat in Plataea. Leonidas and his Spartans are an example of heroism, dedication to their people, a spirit of sacrifice, training and honour for all Western armies of all time.

Marry the capable and give birth to the capable! (exhortation to the Spartan people before leaving for the Thermopylae according to Plutarch, On the Malice of Herodotus, 32).

Theognis of Megara (6th century BCE) was one of the great Greek poets. He has bequeathed us in his Theognidea a series of interesting reflections and advice to his disciple Cyrnus. Among other things, Theognis divides the population into ‘good’—the nobility, identified with the Hellenic invaders—and ‘bad’—the native plebeian population of Greece, which progressively accumulated money and rights:

In rams and asses and horses, Cyrnus, we seek
the thoroughbred, and a man is concerned therein
to get him offspring of good stock;

Yet in marriage a good man thinketh not twice of wedding
the bad daughter of a bad sire if the father give him many possessions;

Nor doth a woman disdain the bed of a bad man if he be wealthy,
but is fain rather to be rich than to be good.

For ’tis possessions they prize;
and a good man weddeth of bad stock and a bad man of good;
race is confounded of riches.

In like manner, son of Polypaus,
marvel thou not that the race of thy townsmen is made obscure;
’tis because bad things are mingled with good.

Even he that knoweth her to be such, weddeth a low-born woman for pelf,
albeit he be of good repute and she of ill;
for he is urged by strong Necessity, who giveth a man hardihood.

 

Critias (460-403 BCE), Athenian philosopher, speaker, teacher, poet and uncle of Plato. He is known for being part of the Spartan occupation government known as the thirty tyrants. We will appreciate the importance that this man attached not only to inheritance, but to sports training without which a human being will never be complete.

I begin with the birth of a man, demonstrating how he can be the best and strongest in the body if his father trains and endures hardness, and if his future mother is strong and also trains.

Plato (428-347 BCE), probably the most famous philosopher of all time, was inspired by Sparta to propose the measures of Greek regeneration in his work The Republic, plagued with values of both positive eugenics—promoting the best—as negative eugenics—limit the worst—, especially with regard to the caste of the ‘guardians’. Plato, like most Greek philosophers, was in favour of exposing defective children to the weather so that they died.

It is necessary, according to our principles, that the relationships of the most outstanding individuals of one sex or the other are very frequent, and those of the lower individuals very rare. In addition, it is necessary to raise the children of the first and not of the second, if you want the flock to not degenerate (The Republic).

Based on what was agreed, it is necessary for the best men to join the best women as often as possible, and on the contrary, the worst with the worst; and the offspring of the best and not the worst should be raised, so our flock will become excellent (Statesman, 459).

That even better children are born from elite men, and from useful men to the country, even more useful children (Statesman, 461).

Xenophon (430-354), soldier, accomplished horseman during the Peloponnesian war, mercenary in the heart of Persia during the expedition of the ten thousand, philosopher, pro-Spartan and historian. Notorious anti-democrat who abhorred the Athenian government, he longed for fairer forms of government such as those he met in Persia and Sparta, where he sent his children to be educated. Together with Plutarch, Xenophon is the greatest source of information about Sparta, admiring the eugenic practices established by Lycurgus.

[Lycurgus] considered that the production of children was the noblest duty of free citizens (Constitution of the Lacedaemonians).

An old man had to introduce his wife to a young man in the prime of life whom he admired for his qualities, to have children with him (Constitution of the Lacedaemonians).

Isocrates (436-338 BCE), politician, philosopher and Greek teacher, was one of the famous ten Attic speakers and probably the most influential rhetorician of his time. He founded a public speaking school that became famous for its effectiveness and criticised the politics of many Greek cities, which instead of stimulating their birth rate inflated their numbers through the mass immigration of slaves, which he considered inferior to the Hellenic population. In this quotation it is verified to what extent Isocrates valued quality versus quantity:

It should not be said as happy that city which, from all extremes, randomly accumulates many citizens; but the one that best preserves the race of the settled since the beginning.

Euripides (480-406 BCE), playwright, a friend of Socrates and undoubtedly one of the greatest poets of all antiquity; his stain was an excessive machismo that led him to criticise the greater freedom enjoyed by women in Sparta. Disappointed and disgusted by the policies of a decadent Greece he retired to Macedonia, a place where Hellenic traditions were still pure, where he finally died.

There is no more precious treasure for children than to be born of a noble and virtuous father and to marry among noble families. Curse to the reckless who, defeated by passion, joins the unworthy and leaves his children to dishonour in return for guilty pleasures (Heracleidae).

Aristotle (384-322 BCE), the famous philosopher who educated Alexander the Great and laid the western foundations of Hellenism, logic and sciences such as biology, taxonomy and zoology. Aristotle extends extensively in his work Politeia on the problems posed by eugenics, birth control, childhood feeding and education (books VII and VIII). He generally admired the ancient Spartan system, with some reservations—in my opinion unfounded as Sparta was not decadent—because the ephorate was tyrannical.

(Left, a Patrician bust.) The Patricians were the Roman leaders in the early days, when Rome was a Republic. These men were the patriarchs or clan chiefs of each of the thirty noble families descended from Italic invaders, and they ran all Roman institutions including the legions, the courts and the Senate. Sober, pure, ascetic and hard, their people held them in high regard as repositories of the highest wisdom and Roman posterity honoured them as gods.

Their descendants formed the Patricians, the later Roman aristocracy, which gradually decayed throughout the Empire until almost completely dissolving, turning Rome into a disgusting decadent monster that deserved to be razed. After the Punic wars and Julius Caesar, Rome largely lost its Indo-European spirit.

In the IV of the XII tablets of the law, it was established that deformed children must be killed at birth. It was also left to the patriarchs of the patrician clans to decide which were the unfit children. They were usually drowned in the waters of the Tiber River, and other times abandoned, exposing them to wild animals and elements in a process called exposure. Apparently, the Romans did not fare so badly with this purifying tactic as we see in their conquering history.

Distorium vultum sequitur distortio morum, ‘A crooked face follows a crooked moral’—Roman proverb.

Meleager of Gadara (1st century BCE), Greek epigram compiler within the Hellenistic stage, who wrote: ‘If one mixes good with bad, a good progeny would not be born, but if both parents are good, they will beget noble children’ (Fr. 9).

Horace (65 BCE-8 CE) said: ‘The virtue of parents is a great dowry’ and ‘’The good and the brave descend from the good and the brave’ (Odes, IV, 4, 29).

Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE), Roman philosopher of the Stoic school (the same school that Marcus Aurelius and Julian the Apostate belonged), of Hispanic-Celtic origin and teacher of Emperor Nero.

We exterminate hydrophobic dogs; we kill the indomitable bulls; we slaughter sick sheep for fear that they infest the flock; we suffocate the monstrous foetuses and even drown the children if they are weak and deformed. It is not passion, but reason, to separate healthy parts from those that can corrupt them (Of Anger, XV).

Plutarch (45-120 CE). Philosopher, mathematician, historian, speaker and priest of Apollo at the Oracle of Delphi. It is also one of the important sources of information about Sparta in his books Ancient Customs of the Lacedaemonians and Life of Lycurgus.

Leaving a being who is not healthy and strong from the beginning is not beneficial for the State or for the individual himself (Ancient Customs of the Lacedaemonians).

When a baby was born he was taken to a council of elders to be examined. If the baby was defective in some way the elders threw him down a ravine. Such a baby, in the opinion of the Spartans, should not be allowed to live (Life of Lycurgus).

Darkening Age, 26

Shenoute the Great, a.k.a. Saint Shenoute the Archimandrite (347-465 C.E.), the abbot of the White Monastery in Egypt, is considered a saint by the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and is one of the most renowned saints of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

In ‘Merciful Savagery’, chapter fifteen of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:
 

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Monks—anonymous, rootless, untraceable—were able to commit atrocities with near impunity. ‘Our angels’ some Christians called them. Rubbish, said non-Christians. They were not angels but ignorant, boorish thugs, men in appearance only who ‘led the lives of swine, and openly did and allowed countless unspeakable crimes’. As the author Eunapius wrote with sardonic distaste: ‘in those days every man who wore a black robe and consented to behave in unseemly fashion in public, possessed the power of a tyrant, to such a pitch of virtue had the human race advanced!’ Even a wholeheartedly Christian emperor mutedly observed that ‘the monks commit many crimes’…

For as they went through the door, the monks found themselves in a room whose air was heavy with incense and where the light of numerous lamps glimmered on countless carved surfaces: they were in a chamber full of heathen idols. Here was a statue of the lecherous parricide Zeus; there was one of Zeus’s father, Kronos; there was the deceitful Hecate…

They smashed the statues and threw the broken fragments in. The waters swirled, then swallowed the remnants of Gessius’s paganism without a trace. A nest of Satan had been emptied.

Later, when Shenoute was criticized for breaking and entering into another man’s house, he was utterly intransigent. ‘There is no crime,’ he declared, ‘for those who have Christ.’

The laws of the land may not have mattered to Shenoute. The laws of his monastery were, on the other hand, to be obeyed at all times. And there were a lot of them.

More than five hundred rules circumscribed every aspect of Shenoute’s monks’ lives from the moment they got up, just before dawn, to the moment that they went to sleep, and everything they did in between. There were rules on what the monks wore; what they ate (precious little, mainly bread); when they ate (infrequently); when they prayed (relentlessly); how they prayed (audibly); where they had their hands when they prayed (emphatically, for some reason, not near their ribs); how they slept (alone and without erotic desire); how they washed (infrequently, without looking at one another’s bodies or their own); whether or not they shaved (absolutely not, except with permission, for: ‘Cursed shall be any who shaves himself…’); and even where they defecated. As one rule (that perhaps raises more questions than it answers) explained: if anyone needs to ‘defecate into a pot or a jar or any other vessel… they shall ask the Male Eldest’. Once inside a monastery, the monk’s life was no longer his own…

The monastery even controlled minds—or attempted to. From the moment of waking, monks in Shenoute’s monastery were rarely at rest, their days filled with a punishing regime of physical work and prayer. They were even more rarely silent. Lest their minds wander onto ungodly paths as they performed the tedious basket-weaving that was a monk’s lot, they were encouraged to chant constantly—prayers, or passages of scripture—anything at all. Just as the weaving chained hands, keeping them from sin, so the chanting chained wandering minds. It has been said that the monastery at work would have sounded like nothing so much as a swarm of bees in flight.

Why did people sign up for such an unappealing life? It is possible that they didn’t know the full extent of its austerity when they joined. Monks who entered Shenoute’s monastery were not presented with a comprehensive contract at the door, or read their rights upon arrival. Instead, monastic discipline was more of a revealed religion; the full extent of the White Monastery laws being only slowly explained to each new entrant, little by little, once they were already inside. This may have been less Machiavellian than it sounds: to hear all the laws in one go would have made for a long evening. Nevertheless, by the time monks fully realized the form of their new life they would—now bereft of their money, their land and even their own clothes—have been almost powerless to leave it.

Once a monk had given himself to his new monastic master he had to obey him—or face the consequences. Numerous rules begin with the formulation ‘Cursed be…’ Cursed were those who didn’t give all their wealth to the monastery; cursed were those who shaved without having been ordered to; cursed were those who looked at another monk with desire. If a monk ate, say, the forbidden fruit of cucumber at the wrong time then, the law informed him, ‘he sins’. At least sixty of the rules were devoted to sexual transgressions. Looking desirously at the nakedness of your neighbour while he washed was wrong; as was staring ‘with desirous feeling’ at your own nakedness; those who sat ‘close to one’s neighbour with a filthy desire in their heart’ were also cursed’.

Note that last one: ‘with a filthy desire in their heart’. No sin had been committed. The mere intention of sin was now a sin in itself. In Shenoute’s monastery even thoughts were policed. ‘Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him?’ the Lord had asked. The answer from the White Monastery at least was a resounding no. As this new generation of hard-line Christian preachers constantly reminded their congregations in fierce, hectoring speeches, there was nowhere to hide from the all-seeing eyes of the Lord…

Religious intensity was not new. Greece and Rome had known those who took religion to extremes and who had gone about their lives feeling humbled and crushed by fear of the gods. Generally, though, religious fervour had been a private passion—and it had kept within the confines of the law. But as Christianity gained control, religiosity started to become a public duty and would, with self-righteous pride, overstep the boundaries of the law. Some of the most important thinkers of the era supported such behaviour. If necessary, one must make oneself obnoxious. One must stop at nothing—even harming other people—in the service of the Lord. There is, after all, no crime for those who have Christ.

To punish a sinner violently, to flog them, beat them, make them bleed—this was not to harm them but to help them, by saving them from worse punishments to come. Shenoute worried that if he didn’t beat the monks in his care then he was offending God. Punishments used against erring Christians even in Augustine’s time ranged from the confiscation of property to being barred from church, beatings, and floggings with rods. It is better, said Augustine, ‘with severity to love, than with gentleness to deceive’. This was not cruelty. Did not the shepherd bring wandering sheep back to the flock with his rod? The Church, he wrote, ‘persecutes in the spirit of love’.

This was holy violence. Jesus may have told his followers that they should, when struck by an aggressor on their right cheek, offer him the other, but his fourth- and fifth-century followers were less forgiving. As John Chrysostom explained, if a Christian happens to hear someone blaspheme then, far from turning their own cheek, they should ‘go up to him and rebuke him; and should it be necessary to inflict blows, spare not to do so. Smite him on the face; strike his mouth; sanctify thy hand with the blow.’ Murder committed for the sake of God, argued one writer, was not a crime but actually ‘a prayer’.

Some of Chrysostom and Shenoute’s methods of control would be mirrored, a hundred or so years later, for very similar reasons, in imperial law. When the emperor Justinian came to power in AD 527, he set about reforming the morals of his subjects with a zeal and a legal thoroughness as yet unseen. He had a good incentive: if he did not punish them then, he firmly believed, God would punish him.

Civil officials now found themselves required to enforce laws about what went on in private homes. Church officials found themselves pressed into service as de facto spies. Roman emperors had always used informers—delatores. Now, they were put to the service of the Church. Men of all ranks were required to become informers. Any breach of the laws was to be reported.

Bishops were required to become the emperor’s spies and report back on their fellow officials. If they refused or failed in their duties, then they themselves would be held accountable. Among those whom the clergy were tasked with reporting on were actors, actresses and, as one revealing little law added, prostitutes ‘who wore monastic habits’. The punishments could be terrible. If a nurse aided and abetted an affair of a young woman in her charge, she would be punished by having molten lead poured down her throat. Correction was paramount. Justinian, as the chronicler Procopius put it, was determined to ‘close all the roads which lead to error’.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 119

Editor’s note: It is vital to see how Honorius, the Christian emperor, behaved in the immediate years before and after the sack of Rome of 410 by the blond Visigoths.

We could define Western Christian Civilisation, in which we still live (I write this in the year 2019 of the Christian Era) as the historical phenomenon in which the barbarians of the North embraced the god of the Jews. If instead the blond beast had embraced the Aryan gods of the Greco-Roman world, we would not be suffering now from the darkest hour of the West.

Intuitively, Emperor Honorius knew what would happen if these free-minded barbarians found a culture that would represent them better than Judeo-Christianity. That is why, in the years around the sack of Rome, he was desperate to obliterate what remained of the ancient world, including the burning of the books of science that Greece had left us. The aim was that under no circumstances did the fiery blondes of the north, who finally broke through successfully in Rome itself, got any knowledge about the classical world.

Honorius succeeded: the barbarians of the north never knew what they must have known: an Aryan culture related to their race was thriving before the cult of Semitic origin that took over Rome. When in 2002 I read the following passage from Deschner’s book, in the margin of the page I wrote in red ink ‘Se acabó’ (‘It’s over’), in the sense that the Greco-Roman culture died with these draconian measures:

 

______ 卐 ______

 

Now the monarch no longer only seeks the right to punish the heterodox, but also to change their faith… On March 23, 395 he forces the so-called mathematicians to burn their books before the eyes of the bishops and to enter the Catholic Church. Those who oppose are expelled, and those who are especially reluctant, banished.

On November 15, 407, the destruction of all the cult images and ‘pagan’ altars was ordered, as well as the confiscation of the temples not yet seized, together with all their goods and income.

It is also pointed out that the images of idols that still remain in the temples must disappear, ‘since this, as we already know, has been arranged on several occasions by imperial order’. So-called pagan festivals must also be eliminated, and owners of private chapels must destroy them. A whole series of provisions issued against ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’ followed on November 24 and 27 of the year 408, January 15 of the year 409, and February 1, April 1 and June 26 of the year 409.

The government of Ravenna promulgated in the year 415 an especially harsh disposition against the ‘perverse superstitions’. The State now confiscated all the real estate of the temples. All the rents that once belonged to ‘superstitions with cursed justice’ must now belong ‘to our house’. All ceremonies of ‘pagan’ nature are also suppressed and certain infidel associations are forbidden.

Finally, on December 7, 415, the use of infidels in the state service is forbidden for the first time through legislation. They no longer have access to any office of the administration, of justice or of the militia. In fact, compared to the forty-seven high Christian positions there were only three who were not. In the last years of the government of Honorius, since 418, there is no senior official of ‘pagan’ confession.

___________

To contextualise these excerpts of a 3-page section of Vol. II in Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.

Julian, 65

At dawn on the first of December I left Milan for Gaul. I said farewell to Helena, who was to join me later at Vienne. We both behaved according to the special protocol the eunuchs have devised governing a Caesar’s farewell to his new wife as he goes to a beleaguered province. Then, accompanied by the newly arrived Oribasius, I went down to the courtyard of the palace to place myself at the head of my army.

Outside in the frosty air, some three hundred foot soldiers and a score of cavalry were drawn up. I took this to be my personal bodyguard. I was about to ask the whereabouts of the army of Gaul when I was joined by Eutherius. He was frowning. “I’ve just spoken to the Grand Chamberlain. There has been a last-minute change in plans. Your legions have been assigned to the Danube.”

I indicated the men in the courtyard. “Is this my army?”

“I am afraid so, Caesar.”

I have never in my life been so angry. Only the arrival of Constantius prevented me from saying the unsayable. I saluted the Emperor; gravely, he returned the salute. Then he mounted a black horse and I mounted a white one. His personal guard (twice the size of my “army”) fell into place behind him. My troops and household brought up the rear. Thus the Augustus and his Caesar launched the power of Rome against the barbarians. It was ludicrous.

The few citizens who were up and around at this hour cheered us dutifully. We made a particularly fine impression at the vegetable market which is just inside the city gate. The farm women waved their carrots and turnips at us, and thought us a brave sight.

Neither Constantius nor I spoke until we were out on the main road, the high Alps visible to us across the Lombard Plain. He had agreed to escort me as far as the two columns which stand on either side of the road midway between Lumello and Pavia. He had obviously decided this would give us sufficient time for a good talk. It did.

Constantius began with, “We have great confidence in Florentius, our praetorian prefect at Gaul.” This was an announcement; there was no invitation for me to comment.

Of course he has confidence in Florentius, I thought savagely, otherwise he would have had him murdered by now. But I said, “Yes, Augustus.” And waited. We rode a few more yards. Occasionally, our armoured legs touched, metal striking metal, and each would shrink instinctively from the other. The touch of another man has always disturbed me; the touch of my father’s murderer alarmed me.

We passed a number of carts containing poultry; they had pulled off the road at our approach. When the peasants saw the Emperor, they fell fiat on their bellies, as though blinded by the sight of that sacred figure. Constantius ignored them.

“We are fond of our sister Helena.” This was also launched upon the dry cool air in an oracular tone.

“She is dear to me, too, Augustus,” I replied. I was afraid he was going to lecture me on my marital duties, but he made no further mention of Helena.

Constantius was constructing a case. His occasional fiat sentences, suitable for carving in marble, were all part of an edifice created to contain me. I was to obey the praetorian prefect of Gaul, even though as Caesar I was his superior. I was to remember that Helena’s first loyalty was to her brother and ruler, not to her husbafid. So far, I understood him clearly.

“We have heard from your military instructor that you show promise.”

“I shall not fail you, Augustus. But it was my understanding that I was to go to Gaul with an army, not an escort.”

Constantius ignored this. “You have come to soldiering late. I hope you are able to learn what you will need to know.”

This was not optimistic, but not unnatural. There was no reason for anyone to suspect that a philosophy student should show any talent for war. Curiously enough, I had every confidence in myself because I knew that the gods would not desert me now they had raised me up. But my cousin had no way of knowing my feelings, or judging my capacity. He merely saw a young untried soldier about to go into battle against the fiercest fighters in the world.

“At all times remember that we are divine in the eyes of the people and sacred to heaven.”

I took the “we” to mean Constantius and myself, though he may have been merely reminding me of his own rank. “I shall remember, Augustus.” I always called him by his proper title, though he much preferred Lord, a title I despise and do not use for it means that one is the master of other men, rather than simply first among them.

“Control your generals.” Though he still sounded as if he were repeating maxims, I could tell that now he was on the verge of actual advice, if not conversation. “No officer should be admitted to senatorial rank. All officers must be under strict civilian control. Any governor of any province outranks any general sent to him. No officer must be allowed to take part in civil affairs. Our praetorian prefects are set over all military and civil officials. That is why the administration of the empire runs as smoothly as it does.”

Needless to say, I did not remark that the collapse of Gaul was hardly a sign of smooth administration. But in principle Constantius’s advice was good and I tend still to follow it. There is no denying that he had a gift for administration.

“In matters of taxes, take whatever is owing us. Show no mercy to the cities and villages which are delinquent in meeting payments. It is their nature to complain. Assume that your tax gatherers are honest unless proved otherwise. They are never honest, but no one has yet found a way to correct their abuses. As long as they return to you the larger part of what they collect, be satisfied.”

I was later to revise the system of taxation in Gaul, disproving everything he said. But all that in its proper place.

“Control the generals.” He repeated this suddenly as if he’d forgotten he had already said it to me. Then he turned and looked at me for the first time that day. It was startling. No longer was he the sun god on his charger. This was my cousin, my enemy, my lord, source of my greatness and potential source of my death. “You must know what I mean,” he said, sounding like a man, not an oracle. “You have seen the state disrupted. Our high place threatened. Provinces wrecked. Cities destroyed. Armies wasted. The barbarians seizing our lands, because we were too busy fighting one another to protect ourselves from the true enemy. Well, Caesar, remember this: allow no general sufficient power to raise an army against you. You have seen what I have had to suffer. Usurper after usurper has wasted our power. Be on your guard.”

“I will, Augustus.”

Then he said, very slowly, his eyes on mine, “As I am on my guard.” He looked away when he saw that his meaning was quite clear. Then he added for good measure, “We have never yet lost so much as a foot of earth to any usurper, nor will we ever.”

“As long as I live, Augustus, you shall have at least one arm to fight for you.”

We rode until midday. Then at the two columns we stopped. It was a fine brisk noon and, despite the chill in the air, the sun was hot and we were all sweating under our armour. A halt was ordered.

Constantius and I dismounted and he motioned for me to accompany him into a hard stubbled field. Except for our troops, no one was in sight. In every country peasants vanish when they see armed men coming: all soldiers are the enemy. I wish one could change that.

Constantius walked ahead of me towards a small ruined shrine to Hermes which stood at the edge of the field (a favourable omen, Hermes has always watched over me). Behind us, our men watered horses, rearranged armour, swore and chattered, pleased by the good weather. Just as Constantius entered the shrine, I broke a dead flower off its stalk. Then I followed him inside the shrine, which smelled of human excrement. Constantius was urinating on the floor. Even in this, he was grave and majestic.

“It is a pity,” I heard myself saying, aware as I spoke that I was breaking protocol, “what has happened to these old temples.”

“A pity? They should all be torn down.” He rearranged his clothes. “I hate the sight of them.”

“Of course,” I muttered.

“I shall leave you here,” he said. We stood facing one another. Though I deliberately stooped, I could not help but look down on him. He edged away from me, instinctively searching for higher ground.

“Whatever you need, you shall have. Call on me. Also, depend on our praetorian prefect. He represents us. You will find the legions of Vienne alert, ready for a spring campaign. So prepare yourself.”

He handed me a thick document. “Instructions. To be read at your leisure.” He paused. Then he remembered something. “The Empress has made you a gift. It is with your baggage. A library, I believe.”

I was effusive in my gratitude. I said words but Constantius did not listen. He moved to the door. He paused; he turned; he tried to speak to me. I blushed. I wanted to reach out and take his hand and tell him not to fear me, but I did not dare. Neither of us was ever able to face the other.

When Constantius finally spoke, his voice broke with tension. “If this should come to you…” Awkwardly he gestured at himself to indicate the principate of the world. “Remember…” Then his voice stopped as if a strangler’s thumb had blocked the windpipe. He could not go on. Words had failed him again, and me.

I have often wondered what it was he meant to say; what it was I should remember. That life is short? Dominion bitter? No. Constantius was not a profound man. I doubt if he had been about to offer me any startling insight. But as I think back on that scene in the ruined shrine (and I think of it often, I even dream of it), I suspect that all he meant to say was, “Remember me.” If that is what you meant, cousin, then I have, in every sense, remembered you.

Constantius left the shrine. As soon as his back was to me, I placed the withered flower on the profaned floor and whispered a quick prayer to Hermes. Then I followed the Emperor across the field to the road.

Once mounted, we exchanged formal farewells, and Constantius rode back to Milan, the dragon banner streaming in the cool wind before him. We never saw one another again.

Robert Morgan’s comment

This idea, pervasive on the right, that white people can’t defend themselves is a pet peeve of mine. Granted, there would be penalties for doing so, but they could be a race of Brenton Tarrants if they wanted to be. The truth is, nobody is responsible for white compliance with the culture of political correctness but white people. White people invented this culture of totalitarian control and worship of the Other. They enforce it and inflict it on themselves. The idolization of the Jew Jesus is the prototype for 2000 years of it. For what was and is Christianity but worship of the racial Other? During the Christian takeover of Western civilization almost every vestige of what preceded was intentionally destroyed by the fanatic devotees of the crucified rabbi. Temples to the gods were demolished, pagan philosophers were tortured and murdered, whole libraries consigned to flames, and—the ultimate in “de-platforming”—even the possession of pagan literature was declared a capital offense.

That these totalitarian trends again visible in the modern world continue and arguably even originate from America, a country founded by Christian religious fanatics, does not surprise me, nor should it surprise anyone. Americans have their own history of worship of the racial Other. They fought a Civil War over it, the point of which was to elevate the negro to a status equal to themselves, as shown by the subsequent passage of amendments to the Constitution granting him citizenship and the vote. A big part of this was again driven by religious mania, notably white and Christian.

So, “Whites do not enjoy these same privileges, …”? I don’t buy it. They have all the privileges they allow themselves. The only thing keeping them in check is their own unwillingness to act in their own defense. Throwing off two thousand years of religious nuttery and prostration before the racial Other isn’t going to be easy. It will take a cultural revolution, and can’t happen without lots of bloodshed and tears. But possible? Yes.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 116

The non-white Honorius:
one of the children-emperors.

Editors’ note: To contextualise this translation of a 5-page section, ‘Honorius, Stilicho, Alaric and the first incursions of Germanic Christians’ taken from Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.
 

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At first, in the name of the western emperor Honorius (395-423), crowned when his father Theodosius was already on his deathbed, and who was only eleven years old when he died, the half-vandal and general of the imperial army (magister militum), Flavius Stilicho, ruled.

Son of a Vandal officer, who led a cavalry regiment with Valens, Stilicho was Catholic. He ordered that the golden ornaments to be removed from the doors of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. He also ordered the burning of the very ancient Sibylline books, and prosecuted the ‘heretics’, especially the Donatists, thanks to the intervention of Augustine, and restored the privileges of the Church. […]

In Stilicho’s time the irruption in Italy of the Visigoths occurred, a Germanic tribe that had embraced Christianity prematurely. The Goths became the main missionaries among the Germanic peoples. Soon most of the ‘barbarians’ that had settled since the middle of the 4th century in the Danubian provinces, especially in Pannonia and Messia (where in other times there were already ‘bishoprics’), were no longer ‘pagans’ but Arians. According to the historian of the Church Socrates, impressed by their defeat before Constantine, that is, forced by the sword, the Goths ‘believed in the religion of Christianity’.

These despots eager of power constantly fought against the Romans—in 315, 323, 328—who defeated them, with an especially serious defeat in 332, in which their dead, which apparently included women and children, were estimated at one hundred thousand. The most recent investigations also admit that Constantine’s warlike successes and the political relationship of the Goths with the Roman Empire gave ‘impulse’ to the Christianisation of the latter. Already bishop Theodoret, the father of the Church, said that such policy proved its effectiveness in a curious saying: ‘The historical facts show that war gives us greater benefits than peace.’ […]

According to Eunapius of Sardis (around 345-420), a fervent enemy of the Christians, the betrayal of the monks also allowed the attack of Alaric in the Thermopylae. Be that as it may, Greece had never been so devastated before: Macedonia, Thessaly, Boeotia, Attica. The Thebans were saved by their thick walls. Athens (which was protected by Athena and Achilles, a tendentious pre-Christian tale) was terribly plundered. The rest of the country, its villages, temples and works of art, suffered harsh punishments; Corinth was set on fire, and Boeotia was desolate for decades. […]

Honorius, mounted on the victory cart and with Stilicho at his side, hurried to Rome, for the Milvian Bridge, with the glorious spoils of victory in the escort of Christ, as Prudentius sings.

Mantra letter

Hello Mr. Tort,

Raised profoundly as a Catholic, today I am convinced that it is not enough to leave the religion of our parents. Liberation will need us to burn down worldwide all Christian churches to the ground. Such is my inspiration and mentality in the struggle for our survival.

—Albus


What happened to the immense Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?

It was built near Ephesus in the 6th century BCE over an area considered sacred since, at least, the Bronze Age. Its construction took 120 years and it could be said that it was comparable to a cathedral.

St. John Chrysostom and his henchmen flattened it in 401 following a Christian emperor’s edict (the year after Chrysostom had instigated the massacre of 7,000 blond Goths in Constantinople). The stones were used for a tomb and a bath-house and a cross was raised on the spot where Diana’s statue had stood (what remains today of the temple can be seen: here).

Published in: on February 16, 2019 at 12:01 am  Comments (7)  

Darkening Age, 21

Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Story of Saint Paul: The Burning of the
Books at Ephesus
, designed ca. 1529, woven before 1546 (medium:
wool and silk, woven under the direction of Jan van der Vyst).

 

Editor’s note. Bold-typed emphasis in the last paragraph is mine. In chapter eleven of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:

In Egypt, a fearsome monk and saint named Shenoute entered the house of a man suspected of being a pagan and removed all his books. The Christian habit of book-burning went on to enjoy a long history. A millennium later, the Italian preacher Savonarola wanted the works of the Latin love poets Catullus, Tibullus and Ovid to be banned while another preacher said that all of these ‘shameful books’ should be let go, because if you are Christians you are obliged to burn them’…

* * *

Before there had been competing philosophical schools, all equally valid, all equally arguable. Now, for the first time, there was right—and there was wrong. Now, there was what the Bible said—and there was everything else. And from now on any belief that was ‘wrong’ could, in the right circumstances, put you in grave danger.

As Dirk Rohmann has highlighted, Augustine said that works that opposed Christian doctrine had no place in Christian society and had scant time for much of Greek philosophy. The Greeks, Augustine said dismissively, ‘have no ground for boasting of their wisdom’. The Church’s authors were greater, and more ancient. John Chrysostom went far further. He described pagan philosophy as a madness, the mother of evils and a disease.

Classical literature was filled with the incorrect and demonic and it came under repeated and vicious attack from the Church Fathers. Atheism, science and philosophy were all targeted. The very idea that mankind could explain everything through science was, as Rohmann has shown, disparaged as folly. ‘Stay clear of all pagan books!’ the Apostolic Constitutions advised Christians bluntly. ‘For what do you have to do with such foreign discourses, or laws, or false prophets, which subvert the faith of the unstable?’ If you wish to read about history, it continued, ‘you have the Books of Kings; if philosophy and poetry, you have the Prophets, the Book of Job and the Proverbs, in which you will find greater depth of sagacity than in all of the pagan poets and philosophers because this is the voice of the Lord… Do therefore always stay clear of all such strange and diabolical books!’…

An accusation of ‘magic’ was frequently the prelude to a spate of burnings. In Beirut, at the turn of the sixth century, a bishop ordered Christians, in the company of civil servants, to examine the books of those suspected of this. Searches were made, books were seized from suspects and then brought to the centre of the city and placed in a pyre. A crowd was ordered to come and watch as the Christians lit this bonfire in front of the church of the Virgin Mary. The demonic deceptions and ‘barbarous and atheistic arrogance’ of these books were condemned as ‘everybody’ watched ‘the magic books and the demonic signs burn’. As with the destruction of temples, there was no shame in this…

What did the books burned on such occasions really contain? Doubtless some did contain ‘magic’—such practices were popular prior to Christianity and certainly didn’t disappear with its arrival. But they were not all. The list given in the life of St Simeon clearly refers to the destruction of books of Epicureanism, the philosophy that advocated the theory of atomism. ‘Paganism’ appears to have been a charge in itself—and while it could mean outlawed practices it could, at a stretch, refer to almost any antique text that contained the gods. Christians were rarely good chroniclers of what they burned.

Sometimes, clues to the texts remain. In Beirut, just before the bonfire of the books, pious Christians had gone to the house of a man suspected of owning books that were ‘hateful to God’. The Christians told him that they ‘wanted the salvation and recovery of his soul’; they wanted ‘liberation’. These Christians then entered his home, inspected his books and searched each room. Nothing was found—until the man was betrayed by his slave. Forbidden books were discovered in a secret compartment in a chair. The man whose house it was—clearly well aware of what such ‘liberation’ might involve—‘fell to the ground and begged us, in tears, not to hand him over to the law’. He was spared the law but forced to burn his books. As our chronicler Zachariah records with pleasure, ‘when the fire was lit he threw the books of magic into it with his own hands, and said that he thanked God who had granted him with his visit and liberated him from the slavery and error of demons’. One of the books removed from the house in Beirut is mentioned: it is very possible it was not magic but a history by a disapproved-of Egyptian historian.

Divination and prophecy were often used as pretexts to attack a city’s elite. One of the most infamous assaults on books and thinkers took place in Antioch. Here, at the end of the fourth century, an accusation of treasonous divination led to a full-scale purge that targeted the city’s intellectuals. By sheer chance, Ammianus Marcellinus, a non-Christian and one of the finest historians of the era, happened to be in the city; a wonderful piece of luck for later historians and wretched luck for the man himself, who was horrified. As Ammianus describes it,

the racks were set up, and leaden weights, cords, and scourges put in readiness. The air was filled with the appalling yells of savage voices mixed with the clanking of chains, as the torturers in the execution of their grim task shouted: ‘Hold, bind, tighten, more yet.’

A noble of ‘remarkable literary attainments’ was one of the first to be arrested and tortured; he was followed by a clutch of philosophers who were variously tortured, burned alive and beheaded. Educated men in the city who had considered themselves fortunate now, Damocles-like, realized the fragility of their fortune. Looking up, it was as if they saw ‘swords hung over their heads suspended by horse-hairs from the ceiling’.

And, once again, there was the burning of books as bonfires of volumes were used as post-hoc justification for the slaughter. Ammianus Marcellinus writes with distaste that

innumerable books and whole heaps of documents, which had been routed out from various houses, were piled up and burnt under the eyes of the judges. They were treated as forbidden texts to allay the indignation caused by the executions, though most of them were treatises on various liberal arts and on jurisprudence.

Many intellectuals started to pre-empt the persecutors and set light to their own books. The destruction was extensive and ‘throughout the eastern provinces whole libraries were burnt by their owners for fear of a similar fate; such was the terror which seized all hearts’. Ammianus wasn’t the only intellectual to be scared in these decades. The orator Libanius burned a huge number of his own works…

* * *

The Great Library of Alexandria might have attempted to collect books on every topic, but Christianity was going to be considerably more selective…

One surviving Byzantine manuscript of Ovid has been scarred by a series of ridiculous redactions—even the word ‘girl’ seems to have been considered too racy to remain. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Jesuits were still censoring and bowdlerizing their editions of the classics. Individual abbots, far from Umberto Eco’s avenging intellectual ideal, sometimes censored their own libraries. At some point in the fifteenth century, a note was left in a mutilated manuscript in Vienna. ‘At this point in the book,’ it records, ‘there were thirteen leaves containing works by the apostate Julian; the abbot of the monastery… read them and realised that they were dangerous, so he threw them into the sea.’

Much classical literature was preserved by Christians. Far more was not. To survive, manuscripts needed to be cared for, recopied. Classical ones were not. Medieval monks, at a time when parchment was expensive and classical learning held cheap, simply took pumice stones and scrubbed the last copies of classical works from the page. Rohmann has pointed out that there is even evidence to suggest that in some cases ‘whole groups of classical works were deliberately selected to be deleted and overwritten in around AD 700, often with texts authored by [the fathers of the Church or by] legal texts that criticised or banned pagan literature’. Pliny, Plautus, Cicero, Seneca, Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, Livy and many, many more: all were scrubbed away by the hands of believers…

The texts that suffer in this period are the texts of the wicked and sinful pagans. From the entirety of the sixth century only ‘scraps’ of two manuscripts by the satirical Roman poet Juvenal survive and mere ‘remnants’ of two others, one by the Elder and one by the Younger Pliny.

From the next century there survives nothing save a single fragment of the poet Lucan.

From the start of the next century: nothing at all.

Far from mourning the loss, Christians delighted in it. As John Chrysostom crowed, the writings ‘of the Greeks have all perished and are obliterated’. He warmed to the theme in another sermon: ‘Where is Plato? Nowhere! Where Paul? In the mouths of all!’

The fifth-century writer Theodoret of Cyrrhus observed the decline of Greek literature with similar enthusiasm. ‘Those elaborately decorated fables have been utterly banned,’ he gloated. ‘Who is today’s head of the Stoic heresy? Who is safeguarding the teachings of the Peripatetics?’ No one, evidently, for Theodoret concludes this homily with the observation that ‘the whole earth under the sun has been filled with sermons’.

Augustine contentedly observed the rapid decline of the atomist philosophy in the first century of Christian rule. By his time, he recorded, Epicurean and Stoic philosophy had been ‘suppressed’—the word is his. The opinions of such philosophers ‘have been so completely eradicated and suppressed… that if any school of error now emerged against the truth, that is, against the Church of Christ, it would not dare to step forth for battle if it were not covered under the Christian name’…

Much was preserved. Much, much more was destroyed. It has been estimated that less than ten per cent of all classical literature has survived into the modern era. For Latin, the figure is even worse: it is estimated that only one hundredth of all Latin literature remains. If this was ‘preservation’—as it is often claimed to be—then it was astonishingly incompetent. If it was censorship, it was brilliantly effective. The ebullient, argumentative classical world was, quite literally, being erased.

Darkening Age, 20

In chapter 10 of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:
 
In Alexandria, Cyril conducted house searches to hunt out works by the loather pagan emperor Julian ‘the Apostate’…

This was a new literary world and a newly serious one. ‘The extent to which this new Christian story both displaced and substituted for all others is breathtaking,’ writes the modern academic Brent D. Shaw… And in the place of humour, came fear. Christian congregations found themselves rained on by oratorical fire and brimstone. For their own good, of course. As Chrysostom observed with pleasure: ‘in our churches we hear countless discourses on eternal punishment, on rivers of fire, on the venomous worm, on bonds that cannot be burst, on exterior darkness’…

Less than a hundred years after the first Christian emperor, the intellectual landscape was changing. In the third century, there had been twenty-eight public libraries in Rome and many private ones. By the end of the fourth they were, as the historian Ammianus Marcellinus observed with sorrow, ‘like tombs, permanently shut’…

As a law of AD 388 announced: ‘There shall be no opportunity for any man to go out to the public and to argue about religion or to discuss it or to give any counsel.’ If anyone with ‘damnable audacity’ attempted to then, the law announced with a threat no less ominous for being vague, ‘he shall be restrained with a due penalty and proper punishment’…

In Athens, some decades after Hypatia’s death, a resolutely pagan philosopher found himself exiled for a year…

What was not ‘of profit ‘ could easily fade from view. The shocking death of Hypatia ought to have merited a good deal of attention in the histories of the period. Instead it is treated lightly and obliquely, if at all. In history, as in life, no one in Alexandria was punished for her murder. There was a cover-up. Some writers were highly critical—even to fervent Christian eyes this was an appalling act.

But not all: as one Christian bishop later recorded with admiration, once the satanic woman had been destroyed, then all the people surrounded Cyril in acclamation for he had ‘destroyed the last remains of idolatry in the city.’ The affected myopia of Christian historians could be magnificent: as the historian Ramsay MacMullen has put it, ‘Hostile writings and discarded views were not recopied or passed on, or they were actively suppressed.’

The Church acted as a great and, at times, fierce filter on all written material, the centuries of its control as ‘a differentially permeable membrane’ that ‘allowed the writings of Christianity to pass through but not of Christianity’s enemies.’