Christianity’s Criminal History, 101

 

Editors’ note:

To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, see the abridged translation of Volume I (here).

 

The Christian Book Burning
and the Annihilation of Classical Culture

Where is the wise person? Where is the educated one? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

—St. Paul, I Corinthians 1:20

Charlatanism is initiated among you by the schoolteacher, and as you have divided the science into parts [sacred & profane], you have moved away from the only true one.

—Tatian

After Jesus Christ, all research is already pointless. If we believe, we no longer demand anything that goes beyond our faith.

—Tertullian

If you want to read historical narratives, there you have the Book of The Kings. If, on the contrary, you want to read the wise men and philosophers, you have the prophets… And if you long for the hymns, you also have the psalms of David.

—Apostolic Constitution (3rd Century)

Religion is, therefore, the central core of the entire educational process and must permeate all educational measures.

Lexicon for Catholic Life (1952)

 
Constantine ordered to burn the fifteen books of the work Against the Christians written by Porphyry, the most astute of the opponents of Christianity in the pre-Constantinian era: ‘The first state prohibition of books decreed in favour of the Church’ (Hamack). And his successors, Theodosius II and Valentinian III, condemned Porphyry’s work again to the bonfire, in 448. This happened after Eusebius of Caesarea had written twenty-five books against this work and the doctor of the Church Cyril nothing less than thirty.

Towards the end of the 4th century, during the reign of Emperor Valens, there was a great burning of books, accompanied by many executions. That Christian regent gave free rein to his fury for almost two years, behaving like ‘a wild beast’, torturing, strangulating, burning people alive, and beheading. The innumerable records allowed to find the traces of many books that were destroyed, especially in the field of law and the liberal arts. Entire libraries went to the fire in the East. Sometimes they were eliminated by their owners under the effect of panic.

On the occasion of the assaults on the temples, the Christians destroyed, especially in the East, not only the images of the gods but also the liturgical books and those of the oracles. The Catholic Emperor Jovian (363-364) had the Antioch library destroyed by fire: the same library installed there by his predecessor Julian the Apostate. Following the assault on the Serapis in 391, during which the sinister Patriarch Theophilus himself destroyed, axe in hand, the colossal statue of Serapis carved by the great Athenian artist Bryaxis, the library was consumed by flames.

After the library of the Museum of Alexandria, which already had 700,000 rolls, was consumed by a casual fire during the siege war by Cesar (48-47 BC), the fame of Alexandria as a city possessing the most numerous and precious bibliographic treasures only lasted thanks to the library of the Serapis, since the supposed intention of Antony to give Cleopatra, as compensation for the loss of the library of the museum, the entire library of Pergamum, with 200,000 rolls , does not seem to have come to fruition. The burning of libraries on the occasion of the assault on the temples was indeed something frequent, especially in the East.

It happened once again under the responsibility of Theophilus, following the destruction of an Egyptian sanctuary in Canopus and that of the Marneion of Gaza in 402.

At the beginning of the 5th century, Stilicho burned in the West—with great dismay on the part of the Roman aristocracy faithful to the religion of his elders—the books of the Sibyl, the immortal mother of the world, as Rutilius Claudius Namatianus complained. To him, the Christian sect seemed worse than the poison of Circe.

In the last decades of the 5th century, the libelli found there (‘these were an abomination in the eyes of God’—Rhetor Zacharias)—were burnt in Beirut before the church of St. Mary. The ecclesiastical writer Zacharias, who was then studying law in Beirut, played a leading role in this action supported by the bishop and state authorities. And in the year 562 Emperor Justinian, who had ‘pagan’ philosophers, rectors, jurists and physicians persecuted, ordered the burning of Greco-Roman images and books in the Kynegion of Constantinople, where the criminals were liquidated.

Apparently, already at the borderline of the Middle Ages, Pope Gregory I the Great, a fanatical enemy of everything classical, burned books in Rome. And this celebrity—the only one, together with Leo I, in gathering in his person the double distinction of Pope and Doctor of the Church—seems to have been the one who destroyed the books that are missing in the work of Titus Livy. It is not even implausible that it was he who ordered the demolition of the imperial library on the Palatine. In any case, the English scholastic John of Salisbury, bishop of Chartres, asserts that Pope Gregory intentionally destroyed manuscripts of classical authors of Roman libraries.

Everything indicates that many adepts of the Greco-Roman culture converted to Christianity had to prove to have really moved their convictions by burning their books in full view. Also, in some hagiographic narratives, both false and authentic, there is that commonplace of the burning of books as a symbol, so to speak, of a conversion story.

It was not always forced to go to the bonfire. Already in the first half of the 3rd century, Origen, very close in this regard to Pope Gregory, ‘desisted from teaching grammar as being worthless and contrary to sacred science and, calculating coldly and wisely, he sold all his works of the ancients authors with whom he had occupied until then in order not to need help from others for the sustenance of his life’ (Eusebius).

There is hardly anything left of the scientific critique of Christianity on the part of adherents to classical culture. The emperor and the Church took care of it. Even many Christian responses to it disappeared! (probably because there was still too much ‘pagan poison’ on its pages). But it was the classical culture itself on which the time came for its disappearance under the Roman Empire.
 

The annihilation of the Greco-Roman world

The last emperor of classical antiquity, the great Julian, certainly favoured the adherents of the old culture, but simultaneously tolerated the Christians: ‘It is, by the gods, my will that the Galileans not be killed, that they are not beaten unjustly or suffer any other type of injustice. I declare, however, that the worshipers of the gods will have a clear preference in front of them. For the madness of the Galileans was about to overthrow everything, while the veneration of the gods saved us all. That is why we have to honour the gods and the people and communities that venerate them’.

After Julian’s death, to whom the orator Libanius felt united by faith and friendship, Libanius complains deeply, moved by the triumph of Christianity and by its barbarous attacks on the old religion.

Oh! What a great sorrow took hold not only of the land of the Achaeans, but of the entire empire… The honours of which the good ones participated have disappeared; the friendship of the wicked and unbridled enjoys great prestige. Laws, repressive of evil, have already been repealed or are about to be. Those that remain are barely fulfilled in practice.

Full of bitterness, Libanius continues to address his co-religionists:

That faith, which until now was the object of mockery and that fought against you so fierce and untiring, has proved to be the strongest. It has extinguished the sacred fire, the joy of sacrifices, has ordered to savagely neat [its adversaries] and demolish the altars. It has locked the shrines and temples, if not destroyed them or turned them into brothels after declaring them impious. It has abrogated any activity with your faith…

In that final assault on the Greco-Roman world, the Christian emperors were mostly and for a long time less aggressive than the Christian Church. Under Jovian (363-364), the first successor of Julian, Hellenism does not seem to have suffered major damage except the closure and demolition of some temples. Also the successors of Jovian, Valentinian I and Valens, during whose government appears for the first time the term pagani referring the faithful of the old polytheism, maintained an attitude of relative tolerance toward them.

The Catholic Valentinian with plenty of reasons, because his interest was in the army and needed inner peace, tried to avoid religious conflicts. He still covered the high positions of the government almost evenly, even with a slight predominance of the believers in the gods.

Under Valens, nevertheless, the high Christian officials already constituted a majority before the Hellenes. Yet he fought the Catholics, even using the help of the Hellenes for reasons, of course, purely opportunistic.

Although the emperor Gratian, for continuing the rather liberal religious policy of his father Valentinian I, had promised tolerance to almost all the confessions of the empire by an edict promulgated in 378, in practice soon followed an opposite behaviour, for he was strongly influenced by the bishop of Milan, Ambrose.

Under Valentinian II, brother of Gratian, things really turned around and the relationship between high Christian officials and the adherents of the old culture was again balanced and the army chiefs, two polytheists, played a decisive role in the court. Even in Rome two other Hellenes of great prestige, Praetextatus and Symmachus, exerted the charges of praetorian and urban prefect respectively.

Gradually, however, Valentinian, as his brother once did, fell under the disastrous influence of the resident bishop of Milan, Ambrose. Something similar to what would happen later with Theodosius I. Ambrose lived according to his motto: ‘For the “gods of the heathen are but devils” as the Holy Scripture says; therefore, anyone who is a soldier of this true God must not give proof of tolerance and condescension, but of zeal for faith and religion’.

And indeed, the powerful Theodosius ruled during the last years of his term, at least as far as religious policy was concerned, strictly following Ambrose’s wishes. First, the rites of non-Christians were definitively banned at the beginning of 391. Later the temples and sanctuaries of Serapis in Alexandria were closed, which soon would be destroyed. In 393 the Olympic games were prohibited. The infant emperors of the 5th century [1] were puppets in the hands of the Church. That is why the court also committed itself more and more intensely in the struggle against classical culture, a struggle that the Church had already vehemently fuelled in the 4th century and that led gradually to the systematic extermination of the old faith.

The best-known bishops took part in this extermination, which intensified after the Council of Constantinople (381), with Rome and the East, especially Egypt, as the most notorious battlefields of the conflict between the Hellenes and the Christians.
 
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[1] Deschner is referring to emperors Arcadius, Theodosius II and Honorius whose reigns will be described in other translations of his books.

Why Europeans must reject Christianity, 13

by Ferdinand Bardamu

 
Christianity: bringer of violence and bloodshed

Word of mouth is notoriously ineffective as a means of spreading religious propaganda. This explains why Christianity’s growth remained largely unspectacular until the early 4th century. Of course, the primary reason for the Christianization of the empire was the conversion of Constantine to the new religion. The influence of Christianity in the empire was continuously reinforced and strengthened by the imperially coercive legislation of his successors. Christianization also sanctioned acts of religious violence against pagans, which contributed significantly to the religion’s spectacular growth in numbers and influence. Christianity unleashed a wave of violence that nearly drowned Europe in an ocean of blood. Without Constantine, and the religious violence of his successors, Christianity would have remained just another competing religion in the provincial backwaters of the empire, like Mithraism or the Eleusinian Mysteries.

The imperial policy of Christianization was further aided by the religion’s intrinsic advantages over rival philosophical and religious belief systems, making it more palatable to the ignorant masses. This facilitated its rapid spread across the empire until, by the reign of Theodosius in the late 4th century, most urban areas were predominantly Christian. These advantages included the egalitarian ethos of the Christian church. Unlike Mithraism, which was elitist, Christianity accepted all potential recruits, regardless of ethno-linguistic or socio-economic difference. The Christians of the first three centuries practiced a form of primitive communism. This attracted the chronically indigent, as well as freeloaders. Another advantage was the child-like simplicity of Christian doctrine.

The Crisis of the 3rd century, where rival claimants fought each other for the title of Caesar, was an internecine conflict lasting for decades. It produced widespread economic instability and civil unrest. This disruption of daily life encouraged men and women to seek refuge in the mystery religions, but also Christianity, which offered easy answers in an increasingly chaotic and ugly world. The Christian religion promised life everlasting to those who successfully endured tribulation on earth.

Passage of the edict of Milan in 313 meant that Christians would go from being a persecuted minority to a persecuting majority. Although persecution of religious dissidents had occurred before Constantine, such events were comparatively rare. Roman “persecution” of Christianity was mild and sporadic. It was not even religious in nature, but political; Christians refused to swear loyalty to the state by offering the pinch of incense to the emperor’s genius. Christians were not so much persecuted as they were subjected to Roman police action for disobeying the laws of the land. In contrast, Christian persecution of pagans and heretics was entirely motivated by religious hatred. It combined the authoritarian anti-pagan legislation of the emperors with the bigotry of the clergy and the violence of the Christian mob.

The first repressive laws against paganism were passed by Constantine. In 331, he issued an edict that legalized the seizure of temple property. This was used to enrich church coffers and adorn his city of Constantinople. He redirected municipal funds from the curiae to the imperial treasury. The curiae used these funds for the construction and renovation of temples, as well as for pagan banquets, processions and festivals. The redirection of municipal funds significantly diminished the influence of paganism in the public sphere. Constantine also showed preference for Christians when considering prospective candidates for government posts. For the first time in the empire’s history, conversion to Christianity was considered an attractive proposition.

Pagan temples and statuary were first vandalized and destroyed under Constantine. Christians believed that this first wave of iconoclasm was in fulfillment of scriptural command: “Ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves; . . . for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exod. 34.13f). The earliest Christian iconoclasm included the partial destruction of a Cilician temple of Asklepios and the destruction of temples to Aphrodite in Phoenicia (ca. 326 AD).

Constantine’s sons, Constans and Constantius II, followed in their father’s footsteps. In 341, Constans issued an edict banning animal sacrifice. In 346, Constans and Constantius II passed a law ordering the closure of all temples. These emperors were egged on by the Christian fanatic Firmicus Maternus who, in an exhortation addressed to both emperors in 346, called for the “annihilation of idolatry and the destruction of profane temples.” The fact that pagans continued to occupy important posts in the imperial administration made it difficult to legislate the active destruction of temples, statuary and inscriptions without alienating a large segment of the empire’s population. Nevertheless, Constantine’s sons turned a blind eye to private acts of Christian vandalism and desecration.

After the death of Constantius II, Julian was made emperor in 361. Having succumbed to the influence of pagan tutors in his youth, he developed a deep hatred for the “Galilean madness.” Accession to the throne allowed him to announce his conversion to Hellenism without fear of retribution. Julian set about reversing the anti-pagan legislation first enacted by his uncle. He re-opened the temples, restored their funding and returned confiscated goods; he renovated temples that had been damaged by Christian vandals; he repealed the laws against sacrifice and barred Christians from teaching the classics. Julian’s revival of pagan religious practice was cut short in 363, when he was killed in battle against the Persian Sassanids.

His successor Jovian revoked Julian’s edicts and re-established Christianity as most favored religion in the empire. The emperors who came after Jovian were too occupied with barbarian invasion to be concerned with internal religious squabbles; it was more expedient to simply uphold the toleration imposed on pagans and Christians alike by the Edict of Milan. Anti-pagan conflict again came to the forefront with Gratian. In 382 he angered pagans by removing the altar of Victory from the Senate. In the same year, Gratian issued a decree that ended all subsidies to the pagan cults, including priesthoods such as the Vestal Virgins. He further alienated pagans by repudiating the insignia of the pontifex maximus.

In 389, Theodosius began his all-out war on the old Roman state religion by abolishing the pagan holidays. According to the emperor’s decrees, paganism was a form of “natural insanity and stubborn insolence” difficult to root out, despite the terrors of the law and threats of exile. This was followed by more repressive legislation in 391, which re-instated the ban on sacrifice, banned visitation of pagan sanctuaries and temples, ended imperial subsidies to the pagan cults, disbanded the Vestal Virgins and criminalized apostasy. He refused to return the altar of Victory to the Senate house, in defiance of pagan demands. Anyone caught performing animal sacrifice or haruspicy was to be arrested and put to death. In the same year, the Serapeum, a massive temple complex housing the Great Library of Alexandria, was destroyed by a mob of Christian fanatics. This act of Christian vandalism was a great psychological blow to the pagan establishment.

Pagans, dissatisfied with the imperially-sponsored cultural revolution that threatened to annihilate Rome’s ancestral traditions, rallied around the usurper Eugenius. He was declared emperor by the Frankish warlord Arbogast in 392. A nominal Christian, Eugenius was sympathetic to the plight of pagans in the empire and harbored a certain nostalgia for pre-Christian Rome. He restored the imperial subsidies to the pagan cults and returned the altar of Victory to the Senate. This angered Theodosius, emperor in the east. In 394, Theodosius invaded the west and defeated Eugenius at the battle of Frigidus in Slovenia. This ended the last serious pagan challenge to the establishment of Christianity as official religion of the empire.

Apologists for Christianity argue that imperial anti-pagan legislation was more rhetoric than reality; their enforcement would have been difficult in the absence of a modern police state apparatus. This objection is contradicted by archaeological and epigraphic evidence. First, based on stratigraphic analysis of urban temples, cult activity had virtually ceased by the year 400, after passage of the Theodosian decrees. Second, temple construction and renovation declined significantly under the Christian emperors. In Africa and Cyrenaica, temple construction and renovation inscriptions are far more common under the first Tetrarchy than the Constantinian dynasty, when pagans still constituted a significant majority of the empire’s citizens. By the end of the 4th century, the authoritarian legislation of the Christian emperors had seriously undermined the strength and vitality of the old polytheistic cults.

The emperors did not stop with the closure of pagan religious sites. In 435 AD, a triumphant Theodosius II passed an edict ordering the destruction of all pagan shrines and temples across the empire. He even decreed the death penalty for Christian magistrates who failed to enforce the edict. The Code Justinian, issued between 529 to 534, prescribes the death penalty for public observance of Hellenic rites and rituals; known pagans were to seek instruction in the Christian faith or risk property confiscation; their children were to be seized by officials of the state and forcibly converted to the Christian religion.

Imperially mandated closure of all urban temples resulted in the privatization of polytheistic worship. This further exacerbated the decline of the pagan religious cults because of the object-dependent nature of ritual practice, which could not be fully realized in the absence of statuary, processions, festivals, lavish banquets and monumental building. In urban areas, imperial legislation was clearly effective. This was ruthlessly enforced by professional Christians and zealous magistrates, who used the additional muscle of the Roman army to get their own way, especially when preaching and public example failed.

Pagan rites and rituals were still observed at rural sanctuaries and temples for some time after the closure of urban centers of worship. These remained off the beaten track, so to speak, and were harder to shut down.

Churchmen like the fiery John Chrysostom, cognizant of this fact, exhorted the rich landowning class of the east to convert the heathen on their country estates. Those who allowed pagan worship on their rural properties were just as guilty of violating imperial anti-pagan legislation as the pagans themselves. Itinerant Christian evangelists, like Martin of Tours, fanned out across the countryside, winning souls for Christ through a campaign of intimidation, harassment and violence. In the end, aggressive evangelism, privatization of pagan religious practice and social marginalization ensured the death of paganism in rural areas.

Christianization of the empire was complete by 600 AD, although it is unclear to what extent Christ was considered just another deity to be worshipped alongside the old pagan gods.

Kriminalgeschichte, 54

Below, an abridged translation from the first volume of Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums (Criminal History of Christianity). For a comprehensive text that explains the absolute need to destroy Judeo-Christianity, see here. In a nutshell, any white person who worships the god of the Jews is, ultimately, ethnosuicidal.

 

Patriarch George, an Arian ‘wolf’, monopolist and martyr

George of Cappadocia, an ultra Arian, seized power in Alexandria. He was one of the followers of the sovereign who joined his ecclesiastical office with a surprising sense of finances.

Patriarch George raised a funerary monopoly, although apparently also acquired the one of the sodium carbonate and tried to buy the papyrus lagoons, along with the Egyptian salt mines. Among his favourite religious projects were the inheritances, a special field of the saviours of Christian souls throughout all the centuries. Bishop George not only tried to get the heirs to lose what their relatives had left them, but he even told the emperor that all the buildings of Alexandria were public property. In short, the Egyptian primate ‘took advantage of the ruin of many people’, so, as Ammianus writes, ‘everyone, without distinction, hated George’.[1]

Although he was ordained for Alexandria as early as 356, he did not start working until the end of February 357, with savage fury, ‘like a wolf or a bear or a panther’ (Theodoret). In front of a blazing bonfire, he caused Catholic widows and maidens to be beaten on the soles of their feet, apparently completely naked, with palm branches or to burn them on a low fire. He made ‘whipping in a totally new way’ (Athanasius) to forty men; many died. Athanasius reports of raids, assaults, the capture of bishops, who were chained; of imprisonments, the exile of more than thirty bishops ‘with such lack of consideration that some of them committed suicide on the road and others in exile’.

In the autumn of the year 348, Athanasius resorts to violence. Patriarch George is saved from an assassination attempt in the church and must flee. On November 26, 361 he returns, to his disgrace, without knowing the death of his protector Constantius. He is quickly locked up, on December 24, but Catholics and pagans take him out and, together with two very unpopular imperial officials, he is dragged through the streets and beaten until he dies.

However, shortly before Bishop George had called the strategist Artemius, military governor of Egypt, and with his help had also persecuted the pagans; destroyed the temple of Mithras, demolished statues and sacked the pagan shrines, of course for the benefit of the Christian churches that they wanted to build. (Julian had the temple destroyer Artemius decapitated in the year 362, for which he was venerated as an Arian martyr.)

Catholics and ‘idolaters’ walked the streets with Bishop George’s corpse on the back of a camel. For hours they raged with the dead man. Then they burned him and scattered his ashes, mixed with those of animals, by the sea.

And while the wild Arian wolf becomes a martyr, precisely at Christmas, Athanasius returned once more and, finally—after the pagan Julian again banished him in 362; the Catholic Jovian made him return in 363, and the Arian Valens will exile him for the last time in 365-366—, Athanasius slept in the Lord on May 2, 373, old and much appreciated.[2]

 
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Note of the translator: The footnotes still lack the general bibliography, which will be ready as I finish the abridgement of this first volume.

[1] Epiphan. Haer 76,1,4 f. Ammian. 22,11,4 f. Grant, Christen 75 f.

[2] Ammian. 22,11,3 f. Theodor. 2,14; 3,4; 3,9. Socr. e.h. 3,2 f; 3,7; 4,1,14 f; 4,8,4; 4,13; 4,16. Soz. 4,9 f; 4,28,3 f; 5,7,3 f; 5.12; 5,15. Philostorg. 7,2. Athan. ad episc. Aeg. 7. Hist. Arian. ad mon. 48 f; 54 f; 59 f. Apol. de fuga sua 6 f; 24. syn. 37. Historia Acephala 5 f. Theodor. e.h. 2,14; 3,18,1. Rufin e.h. 10,34 f. Epiph. haer. 76,1. Greg. naz. or. 4,86; 21. Pallad, hist. Laus. c. 136. Chron. pasch. 546,4 f. Pauly I 626. RAC I 861. LThK 1st ed. I 706. Lecky II 159. Lippl XV f. Geffcken, Der Ausgang 119 f. Schuitze, Geschichte I 137 f. Bidez, Philostorgios III f. Stein, Vom römischen 236 f, 255 f, 270 f. Seel 175 f. V. Campenhausen, Griechische Kirchenväter 80 f. Dannenbauer, Entstehung I 76. Lacarrière 150 f. Jacob, Aufstände 152. Camelot, Athanasios 977. Poppe 50.

Kriminalgeschichte, 50

Note of the Editor:

The city Antioch, ‘the cradle of Christianity’ was a melting-pot town that played a central role in the emergence of both Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity. Evropa Soberana mentions that Luke the Evangelist was from Antioch, and when writing about St. Ignatius of Antioch, a subversive ideologue thrown to the lions by the Romans, Soberana adds: ‘It is interesting to pay attention to the names of the preachers since they always come from the mongrelised areas: eastern and Judaised’.

Left, one of the maps that appear in Soberana’s PDF (Caption: ‘The extension of Christianity around the year 100. Note that the areas of Christian preaching coincide with the densest Jewish settlement areas’). Also remember that, right after Julian was assassinated, a Christian emperor ordered the burning of the Antioch library that had been founded by Julian: a library that presumably contained documents showing the true origins of Christianity.

Below, an abridged translation from the first volume of Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums (Criminal History of Christianity):

______ 卐 ______

Antioch

For a long time the divisions had split the great patriarchal seat of Antioch. The current Turkish Antakya (28,000 inhabitants, including 4,000 Christians) does not reveal what it once was: the capital of Syria, with perhaps 800,000 inhabitants, the third largest city in the Roman Empire—after Rome and Alexandria—, the ‘metropolis and eye’ of the Christian East.

Located not far from the mouth of the Orontes in the Mediterranean, built majestically by the ostentatious Syrian kings, famous for its luxurious temples, churches, arcaded streets, the imperial palace, theatres, baths and the stadium, an important centre of military power, Antioch played a great role in the history of the new religion from the beginning.

It was the city in which the Christians received their name from the pagans; the city in which Paul preached and already entered into conflict with Peter; where Ignatius stirred the spirits, and where the theological school founded by Lucian, the martyr, taught his teachings, representing the ‘left wing’ in the Christological conflict, and marked the history of the Church of that century, although most of the members of the school (even John Chrysostom) were accused of heresy throughout their life or part of it, especially Arius.

Antioch was a place of celebration of numerous synods, especially Arian synods, and more than thirty councils of the old Church. It was here where Julian was residing in the years 362-363 writing his Against the Galileans; where John Chrysostom ‘saw the light of the world’. Antioch became one of the main bastions of the expansion of Christianity, ‘the head of the Church of the East’ (Basil) and seat of a patriarch who in the 4th century ruled the political dioceses of the East: fifteen ecclesiastical provinces with more than two hundred bishoprics.

Antioch was full of intrigue and turmoil, especially since the Arians had deposed the patriarch Eustochius, one of the most passionate apostles of the Nicene doctrine, for ‘heresy’ because of his immorality and his rebellion against Emperor Constantine, who banished him until his death.

However, at the time of the Meletian schism, which lasted fifty-five years, from 360 to 415, there were three suitors who fought among themselves and who tore at their disputes both the Eastern and the Western Church: Paulinians (fundamentalists) followers of the doctrine of Nicaea, semi-Arians and Arians.

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Apocalypse for whites • XXXIII

by Evropa Soberana

 
The anti-Hellenist genocide continues, with more virulence

Julian, the last patriotic emperor of Rome, is succeeded by Emperor Flavius Jovian: a fundamentalist Christian who reinstates terror, including the Scythopolis camps. In 364 he orders the burning of Antioch’s library. We must assume that what has come to us today from the philosophy, science, poetry and art in general of the classical era is nothing but a mutilated dispossession of what was left behind by Christian destruction.

Through a series of edicts, the emperor decrees the death penalty for all individuals who worship gods instead of the god of the Jews (including domestic and private worship) or practice divination, and all the assets of the temples of the old religions are confiscated. With a decree of 364, the emperor forbids non-Christian military leaders to command over Christian troops.

That same year, Flavius Jovian is succeeded by Emperor Valentinian, another insane fundamentalist. In the eastern part, his brother Valens continued the persecution of the followers of classical culture, being especially cruel in the easternmost part of the empire. In Antioch, he executed the former governor and the priests Hilary and Patrician.

The philosopher Semonides is burned alive and Maximus, another philosopher, is decapitated.[1] All the Neo-Platonists and loyal men to Emperor Julian are persecuted with fury. At this point there should already be a strong anti-Christian reaction from the part of the wise men and all the patriots in general. But it was too late; and all they had left was to preserve their knowledge in some way.

In the squares of the eastern cities huge bonfires are erected where the sacred books, the Gnostic wisdom, the Egyptian teachings, the Greek philosophy, the Roman literature burns… The classic world is being destroyed, and not only in that present, but also in the past and in the future. The Christian fanatics want, literally, to erase all traces of Egypt, Greece and Rome; that nobody knows that they ever existed and, above all, know what the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans have said, thought and taught.
 
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[1] Maximus of Ephesus is mentioned in my previous Julian entry: a novel in which the author has him playing an important role in the plot (see also Kriminalgeschichte 43).

Apocalypse for whites • XXXII

by Evropa Soberana

 

“Why were you so ungrateful to our gods as to desert them for the Jews?” —Julian, addressing the Christians

  
The Emperor Julian as the last flick of the tail of Rome

While Europe is in this lamentable state, and all hope seems lost, there is a last representative figure of the ancestral tradition: the Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus (331-363), whom Christians will call Julian the Apostate, for having rejected Christianity (in which he was educated) and advocated a return to the past.

Julian restored the old ways in 361, organized religious practices to oppose the Christian Church, and proclaimed benevolence towards the Hellenists. In 362, he ordered to destroy the tomb of Jesus in Samaria.

Julian was a philosopher, ascetic, artist, Neo-Platonist, Stoic, strategist, man of letters, mystic and soldier. In wars, he always accompanied his legions, suffering the same privations and calamities as a foot infantry soldier. It is said that this emperor had a vision in dreams before his death: The imperial eagle of Rome (solar symbol of Jupiter) leaves Rome and flies towards the East, where he takes refuge in the highest mountains in the world. After sleeping for two millennia, he wakes up and returns to the West with a sacred symbol between his legs, and is acclaimed by the people of the empire.

In 363, in full campaign against the empire of the Emperor Shapur II, Julian is killed by a stabbing in the back by a Christian infiltrated in his ranks.

The last emperor who was an adept of classical culture was also the man who, trying to avoid the end, envisioned a new beginning. It belongs to that mysterious list of great men born too late or too soon.

After this last announcement of future resurrection, Rome is already eaten up, rotten, cursed. It has gone from a coarse, forceful, natural and Spartan spirit to a decadent, cosmopolitan, promiscuous, pseudo-sophisticated and complacent world with slaves—and from there to the Christian creed. Now nothing will save Rome from the final, galloping decay.

Emperor Julian (331-363). From now on, we will see how
the statues of the Roman emperors gradually degenerate.

Kriminalgeschichte, 47

Editor’s note: This image of the ethnic group of the first Christians in a province of the Roman Empire is really worth a thousand words. Deschner tells us below that St. Athanasius ‘was short and weak; Julian calls him homunculus’.

We can imagine the envy that these mudblood Christians felt for the pagan Aryans! It is a pity that white nationalists are unaware of the role that ethnic struggles played in the Christian takeover of the Roman Empire.
 

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Below, abridged translation from the first
volume of Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte
des Christentums
(Criminal History of Christianity)

 
Character and tactics of a Father of the Church

Probably like Paul and like Gregory VII, Athanasius—one of the most discussed personalities in history (even today some of the facts about his life remain controversial)—was short and weak; Julian calls him homunculus. However, like Paul and Gregory, each one of them was a genius of hatred. This cleric, the most obstinate of his century, compensated his scarce physical presence with enormous activity.

He was one of the ecclesiastical personages that with great tenacity and lack of scruples induced errors. However, the Catholics declared him Father of the Church, which is one of the highest honours for which the facts are adjusted: ‘Brutal violence against his near adversaries: mistreatment, beatings, burning of churches, murder’ (Dannenbauer).

We may add bribery and counterfeiting; ‘imposing’ if we want to use the term used by Erich Caspar, but ‘totally devoid of attractive human traits’. In an analogous way Eduard Schwartz expresses himself about this ‘humanly repulsive nature, but superb from the historical point of view’, and records ‘the inability to distinguish between politics and morality, the absence of any doubt about his own self-legitimacy’.

The theologian Schneemelcher, on the other hand, splits hairs distinguishing the ‘pamphlets of ecclesiastical policy of Athanasius with his abhorrent polemics and lack of veracity’ of his ‘dogmatic writings which brighten the heart of orthodoxy’, and considers Athanasius a man ‘who wants to be a theologian and a Christian and who nevertheless remains always in his human nature’, which means that the theologian and Christian, and many of his actions, combine the rewarding orthodoxy with hatred and lies. Schneemelcher himself cites the ‘intrigues’ and ‘the violent impulses of the hierarchs’.

St. Epiphanius (whose religious fervour contrasted, as is well known, strongly with his intelligence), revered as ‘patriarch of orthodoxy’, testifies about Athanasius: ‘If he was opposed, he resorted to violence’.

When violence affected him, as in the years 357-358 fleeing from the officials of Constantius, he pathetically preaches tolerance and condemns force as a sign of heresy. But this always was the policy of a Church that, when defeated, preached tolerance and freedom in the face of oppression, but when accessing the majority and power, it did not retreat before coercion and infamy. For the Christian Church, especially the Catholic Church, never aspires to essential freedoms but only to its own freedom.

When the Catholic Church was the State, St. Optatus of Milevis approved in 366-367 to fight against the ‘heretics’, even passing them by the arms. ‘Why’, the saint asks, ‘should it be forbidden to avenge God [!] with the death of the guilty? Do you want tests? There are thousands in the Old Testament. It is not possible to stop thinking about terrible examples’. And indeed: there is no lacking of texts in the Sacred Scriptures!

However, when the Arians were in power, the Catholics presented themselves as defenders of religious freedom. ‘The Church threatens exile and jail’, lamented St. Hilary, ‘it wants to take faith by force… exile and prison. It persecutes the clerics. The comparison between the Church of yesteryear, now lost, and what we have before our eyes, cries out to heaven’.

Athanasius similarly appeals to the emperor, who was on the side of the Catholics. However, when the emperor supported the Arians, Athanasius advocated the libertas ecclesiae and the emperor’s politics suddenly became ‘unheard of’ and the emperor became the ‘patron of atheism and heresy’, a forerunner of the Antichrist, comparable to the demon on earth. Athanasius did not hesitate a moment to insult him gravely in a personal way, treating him as a man without reason and intelligence, a friend of the criminals and of the Jews. ‘The truth is not announced with swords, spears and soldiers’, he says. ‘The Lord has not used violence against anyone’.

Even the Jesuit Sieben admits ‘that Athanasius was forced to make such claims because of the difficulties caused by the persecution. As soon as the Nicaea faction reached supremacy and enjoyed the emperor’s attention, those tones did not rise again’. However, the same Athanasius could dedicate to that same emperor, when he hoped to recover through him his episcopal see, numerous panegyrics praising him with new attributes for his humanity and his clemency, even treating him as a Christian who had always been full of divine love. In his Apology to Constantius, published in 357, he courts the sovereign in a disgusting way.

However, in the year 358, in his History of the Arians he fills Constantius with contempt and hatred. Athanasius constantly changes his mind about the emperor and the Empire, adapting or opposing him, according to the situation, according to the needs. During his third exile he even dared to rebel openly against his (Christian) lord. However, the emperor’s early death prevented him from having to draw conclusions about those considerations.

Kriminalgeschichte, 41

Note of the Editor: Julian had designated a successor, Secundus Salutius, in case he prematurely died or was assassinated. When Julian was indeed assassinated, Salutius, who supported Greco-Roman culture, inexplicably rejected the purple that belonged to him according the Emperor’s will. And when the Christian Jovian was then chosen but soon died in an accident (as we will see in this post), the army offered once more the purple to the pagan Salutius and he rejected it again!

‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’.

 

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Jovian, Valentinian I and Valens

Although a ‘convinced Christian’, at the time of accessing the throne Jovian ordered to celebrate a sacrifice and consult the viscera. His first act of government was a shameful treaty with the Persians, in which he made great territorial concessions.

Very different from the ascetic Julian, the Catholic emperor Jovian, of mediocre culture although fond of playing being a patron, celebrated by the Church as ‘companion of the saints’, was lover of the wine, women and the celebrations. He restored the labarum as an imperial banner and not only murdered a senior notary of the same name, whom he feared as a possible candidate for the throne, but also deposed numerous civil and military officials among those named by Julian, confiscating their property and exiling them or executing them.

Solidus of emperor Jovian

According to Theodoret, these measures only affected those who had committed abuses against Christians or against the Christian Church. Jovian spared the life a certain Vindaonius Magnus, who had destroyed a ‘house of God’ in Berytus, in exchange for his paying for the reconstruction from his pocket. Paganism was not especially persecuted, even if one or another temple (such as that of Corfu) was closed or destroyed, sacrifices were forbidden or a library established by Julian in the temple of Trajan burned in Antioch (mainly because it contained anti-Christian works).

A little incapable, but obedient to the suggestions of the clergy, as soon as he stepped on Roman lands Jovian restored the privileges to the jubilant priests, in addition to giving them others that they did not have before. In the course of time they snatched many more. The exiled priests returned; the prelates crowded the court in droves, and even in the East the Nicene faith revived.

Saint Athanasius, distinguished by the emperor with an epistle and triumphantly received at Hierapolis, prophesied to Jovian in writing ‘a long and peaceful reign’—only eight months later, on February 17, 364, the emperor died in Dadastana (Bithynia), at the young age of thirty-one years, ‘beautifully prepared for death’, according to Theodoret, but actually intoxicated by a coal brazier. He was buried in the apostolic temple of Constantinople.

Again Second Salutius rejected the purple, reason why after hard discussions the dignitaries of the empire chose, at the end of February of the year 364, Valentinian, descendant of some farmers of Pannonia and son of the general Gratian. On March 28, in the field of Mars, the new emperor appointed co-regent for the eastern part of the empire his brother Valens, although he reserved for himself lapotior auctoritas.

It is from the time of Valentinian and Valens that the use of the word pagani was generalized to designate the adherents of the old religion.

Among the high positions of the army and of the administration the pagans still predominated, although for the last time and by the scarce majority of 12 to 10. In the part assigned to Valens, the payroll of the known officials gives us, along with nine polytheists, a Manichaean, three Arians and ten Orthodox. Many prestigious senators from Julian’s time and before left office, evidently because of their beliefs. In addition, the co-regulators enacted confiscations of temple properties (to incorporate them into their private funds), punishments against astrologers and threats of capital punishment for practitioners of night spells.

Both emperors were confessed Christians; it is even said that Valentinian had been retaliated for it in Julian’s time, while there is no similar incidence for Valens’ case. Both announced by decree (supposing it to be authentic) that ‘the Trinity is constituted by only one essence and three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and we order that this is what everyone should believe…’

Soon, however, there were doctrinal differences between them and each one devoted himself to promoting his own. While Valentinian I, the emperor of the West, remained faithful to the Nicene Creed, Valens, who ‘had been orthodox at the beginning’ (Theodoret) promoted Arian beliefs in the East. In a certain way, it could be said that this is how the eternal rivalry between the East and the West was expressed. Both, and especially Valens, were quite uneducated; both were brutal, in particular Valentinian, and both had a deer-like panic of witchcraft.

After their proclamation, Valentinian and Valens travelled together through Thrace and Dacia, to separate in Sirmium.

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Kriminalgeschichte, 40

Below, abridged translation from the first
volume of Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte
des Christentums
(Criminal History of Christianity)

 
Christian tall stories

Christians, preachers of love of the enemy and of the doctrine that all authority emanates from God, celebrated the death of the emperor with great public banquets, with festivals in churches and chapels and dances in the theatres of Antioch: the city that, as Ernest Renan says, ‘was full of puppeteers, charlatans, actors, magicians, thaumaturges, witches and religious swindlers’.

The diatribe in three volumes that Julian had written shortly before his death, Against the Galileans, was promptly destroyed, but fifty years later, Cyril, the doctor of the Church still bothered to argue against it: Pro sanela Christianorum religione adversas libros athei Julian in thirty volumes, of which ten have reached us in their Greek text and ten others in Greek and Syriac fragments. Naturally, a bishop like Cyril, an avowed enemy of philosophy who even tried to prohibit its teaching in Alexandria, did not intend to grasp the thought of Julian, but only ‘crush it with maximum energy’ (Jouassard).

The Christians also destroyed all the portraits of Julian and the epigraphs that commemorated his victories, without sparing means to erase from the memory of men the remembrances of him.

During Julian’s life, the most famous doctors of the Church had kept a prudent silence, but shortly after his death, and for a long time more, they dedicated themselves to attacking him.

Ephrem, another saint whose odious songs were repeated by the parishioners of Edessa, dedicated a whole treatise to ‘Julian the Apostate’, the ‘pagan emperor’ and, according to him, ‘frantic’, ‘tyrant’, ‘trickster’, ‘damned’ ‘and’ idolatrous priest’. ‘His ambition caught the deadly release’ that ‘tore his body pregnant with oracles from his magicians’ to send him definitively ‘to hell’. The clerical historians of the 5th century, who sometimes were also jurists, such as Rufinus, Socrates, Philostorgius, Sozomen and Theodoret, speak of Julian in a still worse tone.

While the Christian world defamed the ‘apostate’, as he usually does with its enemies, the Enlightenment corrected that image in the diametrically opposite sense.

In 1699, the Protestant theologian Gottfried Arnold, in his Impartial History of the Church and of Heresy, rehabilitated the figure of Julian.

A few decades later, Montesquieu praised him as a statesman and legislator. Voltaire wrote: ‘Thus, that man who has been described to us horribly was perhaps the most noble of all, or at least the second’. Montaigne and Chateaubriand count him among the greatest historical figures.

Goethe praised himself for understanding and sharing Julian’s animosity against Christianity. Schiller wanted to make him protagonist of one of his dramas.

Shaftesbury and Fielding praised him, and Gibbon believes that he deserved to have owned the world. Ibsen wrote Caesar and Galilee and Nikos Kazantzakis his tragedy Julian the Apostate, premiered in Paris in 1948.

More recently, between 1962 and 1964, the North American Gore Vidal dedicated a novel to him. On the other hand, the Benedictine Baur (representative, in this, of many current Catholics) continues to defame Julian in the 20th century.

After the death of Julian, and having renounced the designated successor, Salutius, a moderate pagan philosopher and prefect of the praetorians of the East who had been a personal friend of Julian, the Illyrian Jovian acceded to the throne.

Kriminalgeschichte, 39

 

Emperor Julian

(Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus)
Caesar: 6 November 355 – February 360
Augustus: February 360 – 3 November 361
Sole Augustus: 3 November 361 – 26 June 363

 
The pagan reaction under Julian

Like his brother Gallus, Julian was also spared from the killing of relatives, although as a member of the imperial dynasty he was kept closely guarded: first in a magnificent estate of Nicomedia, which had been owned by his mother (Basilina, deceased shortly after the birth of Julian), and then in the lonely fortress of Macellum, located in the heart of Anatolia, where his older brother was also imprisoned. The distrustful emperor wove a dense network of spies around both princes, to transmit him each and every one of their words.

They lived ‘like prisoners in that Persian castle’ (Julian), practically arrested and surely threatened with death. In Nicomedia, Julian was given a preceptor, Bishop Eusebius, a relative of Basilina, ecclesiastic and man of the world already known at the time, who, following the custom of Oriental prelates, used to dye his nails with cinnabar and his hair with henna. He was instructed to educate the child severely in the Christian religion; to prevent him from contacting the population, and to ‘never talk about the tragic end of his family’, although at seven Julian was very aware of it and this caused frequent crying spells and terrible nightmares.

In Macellum, where he was confined for seven years with scarcely any other company than that of his slaves, he had as his educator the Arian Jorge of Cappadocia, who was in charge of training him for the priesthood. But then Julian was able to leave the place and settled in Constantinople, where he lived the disputes between Arians and Orthodox and knew the real life of that world of violent riots and fiery mutual excommunications. Towards the end of 351, when Julian was twenty years old, Constantius ordered him to continue his studies in Nicomedia. Julian visited Pergamum, Ephesus and Athens, where he had notable teachers who won him for paganism.

Appointed caesar in 355 by Constantius, and proclaimed augustus by the army in Paris in 360, the same sovereign, who had no offspring, at the time of death appointed Julian as successor… when the two opposing armies marched to the encounter of the other. An ephemeral restoration of polytheistic traditions took place, with the establishment of a Hellenistic ‘state religion’, whose organization followed in many respects the pattern of Christian canons.

Julian tried to replace the cross and the nefarious dualism of Christians by a formula composed of certain streams of Hellenistic philosophy and a ‘solar pantheism’. Without neglecting the other gods of the pagan pantheon, he had a temple built for the Sun god—probably identified with Mithra—in the imperial palace; on numerous occasions he proclaimed his veneration for the basileus Helios, the Sun king, which was already a bi-millennial tradition:

Since my childhood, I was inspired by an invincible longing for the rays of the God, who have always captivated my soul, in such a way that I constantly wanted to contemplate it and even at night, when I was in the country, I forgot everything to admire the beauty of starry heaven…

Today we have become accustomed to interpreting Julian’s reaction as a nostalgic movement, a romantic anachronism or the absurd attempt to turn the hands of the clock backwards. But why do we interpret it that way? Was he refuted, or could he be, instead of being drowned in blood? What is certain and undeniable is that Emperor Julian (from 361 to 363), called ‘the Apostate’ by the Christians, was far superior to his Christian predecessors in character, morality and spirituality.

Trained in philosophy and literature, not only was he ‘the first truly cultured emperor for more than a century’ (Brown), but also deserved ‘a prominent place among writers of the time in the Greek language’ (Stein), and he knew to surround himself with the best thinkers of his time. Julian was zealous in the fulfilment of his duty and enemy of all gentleness, since he never had mistresses or ephebes, never got drunk; the emperor went to work since dawn. He tried to rationalise the bureaucracy and place intellectuals in top government and administrative positions.

Julian abolished the splendours of the court, the possession of eunuchs and jesters, and the whole system of flatterers, parasites, spies and whistleblowers who were fired by the thousands. He reduced the service, reduced the taxes by a fifth, acted with severity against the unfaithful collectors and sanitized the state mail. He also abolished the labarum, that is, the banner of the army with the anagram of Christ, and tried to resurrect ancient cults, festivals and the Paideia: classical education. He ordered the return of the old temples or the reconstruction of those that had been destroyed, and even the return of the statues and other sacred ornaments that adorned the gardens of the individuals who had appropriated them.

But he did not ban Christianity; on the contrary, he allowed the return of the exiled clerics, which only served to foment new conspiracies and tumults.

The Donatists of Africa, while praising the emperor as a paragon of justice, disinfected their newly recovered churches by scrubbing them up and down with sea water, sanded the wood of the altars and the plaster of the walls, regained the influence lost under Constans and Constantius II, and prepared to enjoy their revenge. The Catholics were converted by force, their churches expropriated, their books burned, their chalices and monstrances thrown by the windows and the hosts thrown to the dogs; some abused clerics died. Up to 391, the Donatists continued to have high status, at least in Numidia and Mauritania.

It is true that Julian, as a supporter of polytheism, criticized the Old Testament and its monotheistic rigours, as well as the arrogance of the supposed chosen people, but he granted Yahweh a rank equal to that of the other gods and even admitted that the God worshiped by the Jews was ‘the best and most powerful of all’. A Jewish delegation that visited him in Antioch in July 362, obtained the authorization to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem and the promise of new territories, in a kind of anticipation of the current ‘Zionism’, which motivated the jubilation of the diaspora. The reconstruction of the temple was initiated with great eagerness the following spring, while Julian undertook his campaign in Persia, but towards the end of May a fire, judged ‘providential’ by the Christians, as well as the death of Julian, meant the end of the works forever.

Julian was always in favour of tolerance, even towards Christians. If his dispositions regarding the ‘Galileans’, he said on one occasion, were benign and humanitarian, they should reciprocate by not bothering anyone, nor trying to impose assistance on their churches. In a letter to the citizens of Bosra, he wrote:

To convince and to teach men, it is necessary to use reason and not blows, threats or corporal punishment. I will not tire of repeating it: if you are sincere supporters of the true religion, you will refrain from bothering, attacking or offending the community of the Galileans, who are more worthy of pity than hatred, since they are wrong in matters of such power and transcendence.

Now, and although Julian was a supporter of tolerance… he could not avoid the use of violence against the violent, the Christians who were dedicated to desecrating and even destroying the newly rebuilt temples in Syria and Asia Minor, as well as statues. His legislation in the matter of education provoked many hatreds, inasmuch as he forbade Christians to study Greek literature (saying ‘let them stay in their churches interpreting their Matthew and Luke’). He also demanded the return of the columns and capital stolen from the temples by the Christians to adorn their ‘houses of God’.

If the Galileans want to have decoration in their temples, congratulations, but not with the materials belonging to other places of worship.

Libanius tells how the ships and chariots that returned their columns to the sacked gods could be seen everywhere. On October 22, 362, the Christians set fire to the temple of Apollo in Daphne, which had been restored by the sovereign, and destroyed the famous statue. In retaliation, Julian had the Basilica of Antioch and other churches consecrated to various martyrs razed. (Incidentally, Christians said that the temple had been struck by lightning but according to Libanius, there were no storm clouds on the night of the fire.)

In Damascus, Gaza, Ashkelon, Alexandria and other places the Christian basilicas burned, sometimes with the collaboration of the Jews; some believers were tortured or killed, including Bishop Marcus de Arethusa, so he entered the payroll of the martyrs. But, in general lines, ‘more offended had been the rights of the pagans’ (Schuitze), and in any case said pogrom was no more than a reaction to the excesses of the Christians, their abuses and their diatribes against paganism.

Throughout the empire, from Arabia and Syria, through Numidia, and even the Italian Alps, Julian was celebrated as a ‘benefactor of the state’, ‘undoing past wrongs’, ‘restorer of temples and the empire of freedom’, ‘magnanimous inspirer of the edicts of tolerance’. Even one of Julian’s main intellectual detractors, Gregory of Nazianzus, confessed that his ears ached from hearing so much praise from his liberal regime, according to Ernst Stein, ‘one of the healthiest the Roman Empire ever had’.

During the campaign in Persia, initiated by the emperor from Antioch (which was the main base of operations of the Romans against the Persians), on March 5, 363, a favourable occasion was presented. Julian, who was not wearing a breastplate, fell north of Ctesiphon, on the banks of the Tigris. Why was he unarmed? Was he wounded by an enemy spear or, as some claim, from his own ranks? Nobody knew.

Libanius, who was friend of Julian, assures that the author was a man ‘who refused to render cult to the Gods’. And even a Christian historian claims that Julian died at midnight on June 26, 363, when he was thirty-two years old and had governed for twenty months, victim of an assassin in the pay of the Christians…, a hero without blemish, naturally, who ‘perpetrated this audacious action in defence of God and religion’.

The Persians argued that he could not be one of their own, because they were out of range when the emperor was wounded in the midst of his troops. ‘Only one thing is certain’, Benoist-Méchin wrote, ‘and it is that he was not a Persian’, although he does not provide any definitive proof. ‘Be that as it may’, wrote Theodoret, father of the Church, ‘was he man or angel who wielded the sword, the truth is that he acted as the servant of the divine will’.