Apocalypse for whites • XXX

by Evropa Soberana

 
Christians stop being persecuted

In 311, another emperor, Galerius, ceased the persecution of Christianity through the Edict of Toleration of Nicomedia, and Christian buildings began to be built without state interference.

Who knows by which methods the Christians infiltrated the upper echelons, exercise the relevant pressures and launch the resources they needed for Rome to yield more and more. This emperor was a supporter of the mediocre persecution that Diocletian used, but he did not learn the lesson and perhaps thought that, by appeasing the Christian rebels, they will cease their agitations.

He was wrong. The Christians had for some time already proposed themselves to overthrow Rome. In 306, Emperor Constantine I ‘The Great’ rises to power. He reigned between 306-337. This emperor was not a Christian, but his mother Helena was; and he soon declared himself a strong supporter of Christianity.

In the year 313, through the Edict of Milan, ‘religious freedom’ is proclaimed and the Christian religion is legalised in the Roman Empire by Constantine representing the Western Empire, and Licinius representing the Oriental Empire. The Roman Empire is in clear decadence, because not only the original Romans were debasing themselves with luxury, voluptuousness and opulence and refusing to serve in the legions. The Christians have now infiltrated the bureaucratic elite, and already numerous Influential characters practice it and defend it. The Edict of Milan is important, since it ends once and for all the clandestinely in which the Christian world was immersed.

Once legalised, the Christians begin to attack without quarter the adepts of Hellenic culture. The Council of Ancyra of 314 denounces the cult of the goddess Artemis (the favourite and most beloved goddess of the Spartans) and an edict of this year provokes for the first time that hysterical populaces begin to destroy Greco-Roman temples, break statues, and murder the priests.

We have to get an idea of what was involved in the destruction of a Temple in the past. A Temple was not only a place of religious worship for priests, but a place of meeting and reference for all the People. In our days, soccer stadiums or nightclubs are minimally similar to what the Temple represented for the people. To destroy it was tantamount to sabotaging their unity, destroying the People themselves.

As for the breaking of statues, the Greeks—and this was inherited by the Romans—firmly believed that their best individuals were similar to the gods, of whom they considered themselves descendants. This is very clearly seen in Greek mythology, where there were mortals so perfect and beautiful that many gods (like Zeus) took mortal lovers, and many goddesses (like Aphrodite) did the same.

In addition, many particularly perfect and brave individuals could reach Olympic immortality as just another god. Only a people who consider themselves so close to the gods could have devised this. And to leave reflected what was that human type loved by the divine forces, the Greeks established a canon of perfection for the body and face, on which was created a network of complex mathematical proportions and sacred numbers. To destroy a statue was to destroy the Hellenic human ideal: it was to sabotage the capacity of man to reach the very Divinity, from which He proceeds and to which He must return one day.

While destructions of Greco-Roman heritage takes place, and as a reminder that early Christianity was always philo-Jewish and anti-Roman, Constantine allows Jews to visit Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem) to mourn at the Western Wall: what still is the only thing that remains of the Temple. Thus, Constantine breaks the prohibition decreed to the Jews in the year 134, when the Roman legions annihilated the Palestinian Revolt of Bar Kokhba during the Third Jewish-Roman War.

Since 317, the legions of the empire—which have nothing to do with those ancient Roman legionaries of Italic origin, but are plagued by unruly Christians on the one hand, and Germans loyal to the Empire on the other—are accompanied by bishops. In addition, they already fight under the sign of Labarum, the first two Greek letters of the name Christ: that is, X (Chi) and, P (Rho) combined with the cross, supposedly revealed to Constantine in that famous dream, ‘In hoc signo vinces’ (‘With this sign, you will win’ in Latin).

A labarum, Xtian symbol adopted by Constantine and
ordered to inscribe on the shields of the legionaries.
Note the Greek letters Chi and Rho
that form the labarum.

Kriminalgeschichte, 22

Editor’s note: Lactantius’ words quoted below (‘Now those who pretended to defy God are laid prostrate on the ground, those who knocked down the Temple [of Jerusalem] were slow to fall…’) make me think once again that there were a number of cryptos among those who defined early Christianity. In other words, it is false what white nationalists say: that Christianity was only cucked in recent times.

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

Pagan emperors viewed retrospectively

Even the pagan emperors, in spite of being considered designated ‘by God’ and maintainers of their ‘order’, were subject to the pejorative treatment from the Fathers of the Church. Those of the second century, which according to Athenagoras were still ‘clement and kind’, wise and truth-loving, peaceful and enlightened benefactors, at the beginning of the fourth century were replaced by monsters without comparable parallels.

The triumphal shrieks of the Christians began around 314, by Lactantius. His pamphlet De Mortibus Persecutorum (‘On the Deaths of the Persecutors’) is so bad by the choice of its theme, its style and its level, that for a long time it was wanted to deny the authorship to this Cicero Christianus, although today its authenticity is considered (almost) indisputable.

In his writing, Lactantius pulls no punches on the Roman emperors, published in Gaul as he educated Crispus, son of Constantine: ‘Enemies of God’, ‘tyrants’ whom he compares to wolves and describes as ‘beasts’. The political environment had barely changed, Campenhausen said, and ‘the old ideology of martyrs and persecuted people disappears from the Church as if it had been carried away by the wind, replaced by its opposite’.

Although persecutor of the Christians, the emperor Decius (reign 249-251) had set out to govern peacefully, as he left recorded in his coins (pax provinciae), and according to historical sources was a man of excellent qualities until he fell defeated before the Gothic leader Kniva and died in Abritus, a place corresponding to the present region of the Dobruja.

Decius was for Lactantius ‘an enemy of God’, ‘an abominable monster’ that deserved to end as pasture of ‘beasts and vultures’. Of Valerian (reign 253-260), who also persecuted the Christians and who died as prisoner of the Persians, Lactantius affirms that ‘they stripped the skin, which was tanned with red tint to be exposed in the temple of the barbarian gods as a reminder of that great triumph’.

Diocletian (reign 284-305) had used Lactantius as rhetor latinus in Nicomedia when he was a poor man and then, during the persecutions and Lactantius residing in the imperial capital, Diocletian did not touch a single thread of his clothing. But he deserves the appellation of ‘great in the invention of crimes’. As for Maximian (reign 285-30), co-regent with Diocletian, according to Lactantius, ‘he was not able to refuse any satisfaction of his low passions’, ‘Wherever he went, they took the maidens from the arms of their parents, and put them at his disposal’.

But the worst ‘of the wicked who ever encouraged’ was Emperor Galerius (305-311), son-in-law of Diocletian. Lactantius considers him the true inspirer of the pogroms initiated in 303, in which he proposed to ‘mistreat the whole human race’.

When ‘the mean-spirited man wanted to amuse himself’ he called one of his bears, ‘in fierceness and corpulence comparable to himself’ and cast it human beings to eat. ‘And while he broke the limbs of the victim, he laughed, so that he never ate dinner without accompanying the outpouring of human blood’, ‘the fire, the crucifixions and the beasts were the daily bread’, and he ‘reigned with the most absolute arbitrariness’.

Taxes were so abusive that people and pets died of starvation, and only beggars survived… But behold, that so compassionate sovereign remembered them also, and wishing to put an end to their hardships had them assembled to take them out in boats to the sea and drown them there.

Christian historiography!

At the same time, Lactantius never fails to assure us in this ‘first contribution of Christianity to the philosophy and theology of history’ (Pichon), that he has compiled all these facts with the most conscientious fidelity, ‘so that the memory of them is not lost and that no future historian can disfigure the truth’.

The punishment of God reached Galerius in the form of cancer, ‘an evil sore in the lower part of the genitals’ while Eusebius, more modest, prefers to allude to those ‘unnamed’ parts. Subsequently, other ecclesiastical writers such as Rufinus and Orosius invented the legend of a suicide.

Instead, Lactantius, after establishing Galerius’ fame in historiography as a ‘barbarian savage’ (Altendorf), devotes several pages to describing with a sneer the evolution of the disease. The lexicon is similar to that used in another passage where he explains, following the example of Bishop Cyprian, the satisfactions that the elect will experience when contemplating the eternal torment of the damned:

The body is covered with worms. The stench not only invades the palace, but spreads throughout the city… The worms devour him alive and the body dissolves in a generalized rot, among unbearable pains.

Bishop Eusebius added to his account the following passage: ‘Of the doctors, those who could not resist that repugnant stench above all measure were slaughtered there, and those who afterwards could not find remedy, tried and executed without compassion’.

Christian historiography!

The case is that Galerius, whose agony was painted by the Fathers of the Church without sparing any of the old issues, although he died sick on 30 April 311 he signed the so-called Edict of tolerance of Nicomedia, by the which he ended persecutions against the Christians and proclaimed that Christianity was a lawful religion.

Galerius was not a monster as painted by the pens of Lactantius and other Fathers of the Church, but as described by more reliable sources, a just and well-intentioned sovereign, though certainly uneducated. Lactantius is the one who then states that the sovereigns of the gentiles were ‘criminals before God’, and he celebrates that they have been ‘exterminated from the root with all their type’. ‘Now those who pretended to defy God are laid prostrate on the ground; those who knocked down the Temple were slow to fall, but they fell much lower and had the end they deserved’.

In contrast, the Father of the Church only finds praise for the massacres perpetrated by Constantine with the Frankish prisoners in the amphitheatre of Trier. ‘The Lord has annihilated them and wiped them out from the face of the earth; let us sing, then, the triumph of the Lord, let us celebrate the victory of the Lord with hymns of praise…’

Published in: on October 20, 2017 at 2:02 pm  Comments Off on Kriminalgeschichte, 22  
Tags:

Kriminalgeschichte, 20

Note of the Editor: In this section Deschner says:

Therein lies the destructive tendency, of consequences that even reach us today, that instead of the ‘natural cosmos’ there is an ‘ecclesiastical cosmos’: a radical religious anthropocentrism, whose numerous repercussions and ‘progress’ endure beyond medieval theocracy [emphasis added].

Bingo! This is exactly what Savitri Devi tried to convey in Impeachment of Man, and also the Nazis right after they reached power.

Pay due attention how these early Christian writers refer to the adepts of Greco-Roman culture as ‘gentiles’ (the painting in this post depicts Clement, author of Exhortations to Gentiles).

 

______ 卐 ______

 

Below, abridged translation from the first volume of Karlheinz
Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums

(Criminal History of Christianity)

The defamation of the cosmos and pagan religion and culture (Aristides, Athenagoras, Tatian, Tertullian, Clement and others)
 
Aristides

By the middle of the 2nd century, Aristides, one of the first apologists, whipped (in a text of apologetics that was not discovered until 1889 in the monastery of St Catherine of Sinai) the divinization of water, fire, winds, sun and, of course, the cult of the land; this being the place ‘where the filth of humans and animals, both wild and domestic… and the decomposition of the dead’, ‘recipient of corpses’.

Nothing, then, of the animal kingdom or the vegetable kingdom. Nothing of pleasure. And the polytheistic worlds are ‘madness’, ‘blasphemous, ridiculous and foolish talk’, which are the source of ‘all evil, hideous and repugnant’, ‘great vices’, of ‘endless wars, great famines, bitter captivity, and absolute misery’, all of which falls upon humanity ‘because of paganism’ and only for that.
 
Athenagoras

[On the other hand], at the end of the 2nd century the Athenian Athenagoras wants to see God, the father of reason, even in creatures devoid of it, and demands that the image of God be honoured not only in the human figure, but also in birds and terrestrial animals. Prudently, this Christian declares that ‘it is necessary that each one choose the gods of his preference’. Athenagoras does not harbour the intention to attack their images and does not even deny that they are capable of working miracles; Augustine takes a very similar stance.

How humble, or could almost say pious, Athenagoras seems in his A Plea for the Christians, when he asks for the ‘indulgence’ of the pagans Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, and praises their ‘prudent government’, their ‘kindness and clemency’, their ‘peace of mind and love of humans’, their ‘eagerness to know’, their ‘love of truth’ and their ‘beneficent actions’. He even assigns them honorary titles that did not correspond to them.
 
Tatian

However, at the same time, that is, towards 172, the Eastern Tatian writes a tremendous philippic against paganism. For this disciple (Christianized in Rome) of St Justin and future leader of the Encratites ‘heresy’, for the ‘barbarian philosopher Tatian’, as he called himself, the pagans are pretentious and ignorant, quarrelsome and flatterers.

They are full of ‘pride’ and ‘bell-like phrases’, but also of lust and lies. Their institutions, their customs, their religion and their sciences are nothing more than ‘follies’, ‘stupidity under multiple disguises’, ‘aberrations’. In his Oratio ad Graecos Tatian criticizes ‘the talk of the Romans’, ‘the frivolity of the Athenians’, ‘the innumerable mob of your useless poets, your concubines and other parasites’.

The ex-pupil of the sophists finds ‘lack of measure’ in Diogenes, ‘gluttony’ in Plato, ‘ignorance’ in Aristotle, ‘gossip of old women’ in Pherecydes and Pythagoras, ‘vanity’ in Empedocles. Sappho is no more than a ‘dishonest female, a prey to wrath of the uterus’, Aristippus a ‘lustful hypocrite’, Heraclitus a ‘vain self-taught’. In a word: ‘They are charlatans not doctors’, ironizes the Christian, ‘great in words but lacking in knowledge’, who ‘walk on hooves like wild animals’.

Tatian makes a tabula rasa of the classical rhetoric, of the schools, of the theatre, ‘those hemicycles where the public greets listening to filth’. Even the plastic arts (by theme and chosen models), and even what the whole world has admired and still admires, the poetry and philosophy of the Greeks, Tatian continually opposes the ‘frivolity’, ‘folly’, the ‘sickness’ of paganism to Christian ‘prudence’. Faced with ‘the rival and deceitful doctrines of those whom the devil makes blind’ he opposes the ‘teachings of our wisdom’.

With this discourse (‘unique and forceful requisition against all the achievements of the Hellenic spirit in all disciplines’ according to Krause) it begins the undermining of all pagan culture, followed by ostracism and almost total oblivion in the West for more than a millennium.

Tatian militated on the very front of the ancient Church—which stretched from St Ignatius (who rejected all contact with pagan literature and could almost be said that rejected instruction in general) and his co-religionist Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, the polygraph Hermias and his Satire on pagan philosophers as crude as elemental, the father of the Church Irenaeus, the bishop Theophilus of Antioch and others who manifested their unrest against the old philosophy—, condemned as ‘false speculations’, ‘ravings, absurd, delusions of reason, or all these things at once’.

According to St Theophilus (a rather mediocre spirit, but the head of a prestigious site), what the representatives of Greek culture spread, without exception, is nothing more than ‘babble’, ‘useless talk’, since ‘they have not had the less hint of truth’, ‘have not found even the slightest bit of it’.
 
Tertullian

For Tertullian, the height of impiety and the culmination of the seven deadly sins, which are generally assumed in the Gentiles, is the worship of multiple gods, not taking into account that in the end these are but the forces of nature personified and deified, or those of sexual potency. Tertullian, perhaps more than any other Christian author before him, undertook a systematic struggle against this worship.

Tertullian notes with satisfaction that the pagans had little respect for their own idols and for the uses of their religion. He puts in sights the impassibility of the gods, the indignity of their myths; he mocks and gets scandalised that Christians cannot go anywhere without stumbling over gods. He prohibits them from any activity remotely related to ‘idolatry’, as well as the elaboration and sale of images and all professions useful to paganism, including military service.
 
Clement

Even a friend of Greek philosophy as Clement of Alexandria, in his Exhortations to Gentiles rebutted all those ‘sanctified myths’, ‘impious altars’, ‘diviners and insane and useless oracles’ and all their ‘schools of sophistry for unbelievers and gambling dens where madness abounds’.

As regards the ‘mysterious cults of the ungodly’ Clement intends to ‘reveal the delusions hidden in them’, their ‘holy frenzy’ since there is nothing more in them than ‘deceitful orgies’, ‘totally inhuman’, ‘seed of all evil and perdition’, ‘abominable cults’ that would no doubt only impress ‘the most uncultured barbarians among the Thracians, the most foolish among the Phrygians, and the most superstitious among the Greeks’.

Christians of antiquity did not understand the fascinating cycle of the life of plants, so celebrated by the pagans, or the interpretation of ancient myths in relation to fecundity, which implied the participation in tellurian and cosmic realities, as well as the experience, deeply religious, of the echo of the beautiful and the vital in every human being. Therein lies the destructive tendency, of consequences that even reach us today, that instead of the ‘natural cosmos’ there is an ‘ecclesiastical cosmos’: a radical religious anthropocentrism, whose numerous repercussions and ‘progress’ endure beyond medieval theocracy.

While condemning the divinization of the Cosmos, Clement launches in his Protrepticus a systematic anathema against sexuality, so linked with pagan cults, ‘with your demons and your gods and demigods, properly called as if we were talking about semi-donkeys [mules]’.

At the beginning of the 4th century, the Synod of Elvira promulgated a series of anti-pagan provisions: against ‘worship of idols’, against magic, against pagan customs, against marriage between Christians and pagans or idolatrous priests, all sanctioned with the highest ecclesiastical penalties. The pagan cult involved excommunication even in articulo mortis, as well as for murderers and fornicators. However, the council in question abstained from extremist positions. In Canon 60, for example, it denied the categorisation of martyrs to those who had perished during the tumults resulting from the destruction of ‘idolatrous images’. This was because Christianity was not yet an authorized religion.

The tone changed when it was elevated to the category of official religion. In the conflict with the old believers the great inflection occurs in 311, when emperor Galerius authorized Christianity, albeit grudgingly.

Porphyry

The following excerpts are taken from the introduction and epilogue of Joseph Hoffman’s book, Porphyry’s Against the Christians. Ellipsis omitted between unquoted passages:


wanderer
Persecution is a slippery term in the annals of the early church. An older generation of church historians, using the martyrologies and writings of the church fathers as their sources, believed that the era from Nero to Constantine was one of almost unremitting slaughter of professing Christians. Their opinion was enfeebled somewhat by the certainty that the Romans could have tried a “final solution” to the Christian problem much earlier, if they had wanted, and the fact that along with boasting of their many martyrs, church writers like Origen also bragged that rich folk, high officials, elegant ladies, and illuminati were entering the church in great numbers. The pagan writers tried to counter this trend in their insistence that Christianity was really a religion for the lazy, the ignorant and superstitious, and the lowborn—“women, yokels and children,” Celsus had sneered. But the ploy was ineffective. Diocletian’s persecutions revealed that Christianity had crept into the emperor’s bedroom: his wife, his daughter, their servants, the treasury official Audactus, the eunuch Dorotheus, even the director of the purple dye factory in Tyre, were Christians or Christian sympathizers. Insulting the new converts did not stop the process of conversion. The political solution of the third century, therefore, was an attempt to scare people off—to make being a Christian an expensive proposition. Persecution was the strong-arm alternative to failed polemical tactics by the likes of Celsus, Porphyry and Hierocles.

In 250 Decius decreed simply that Christians would be required to sacrifice to the gods of Rome by offering wine and eating sacrificial meat. Those who refused would be sentenced to death. To avoid this punishment, well-to-do Christians seem to have given up this new religion in substantial numbers, becoming in the eyes of the faithful “apostates,” a new designation derived from the Greek word revolt. The apostates also numbered many bishops, including the bishop of the important region of Smyrna, as well as Jewish Christians who rejoined the synagogue, as Judaism was not encompassed in the Decian order.

In the reign of Valerian (253-260) the focus shifted from the practice of the Christian faith to the church’s ownership of property. In August 257, Valerian targeted the wealth of the clergy and in 258 the riches of prominent Christian lay persons. The tactic was obviously intended to make upper-crust Romans think twice before throwing their wealth in the direction of the “beggar priests” as Porphyry called them.

On 31 March 297, under the emperor Diocletian, the Manichean religion was outlawed. Like Christianity it was an “import” of dubious vintage. More particularly, it was Persian, and Rome was at war with Persia. Holy books and priests were seized and burned without much ado. Professing members of the cult were put to death without trial. The most prominent Roman Manicheans (the so-called honestiores) were spared, but their property was confiscated and they were sent to work in the mines. The process against the Manicheans boded worse things to come for the Christians.

Diocletian published his first decree against the Christians in February 303. The edict to stamp out (“terminate”) the Christian religion was issued. Diocletian had hoped to cripple the movement. Termination would have meant extermination. But the survival tactics of the movement made police work difficult. Christians had become sly. The enthusiasm of martyrdom was now paralleled by accomplished doubletalk.

Executions increased, especially after rumors reached Galerius that plots against the throne were being fomented in Christian circles. New edicts were issued with regularity, each a little more severe than the one before. The fourth edict (304) required that all the people of a city must sacrifice and offer libations to the gods “as a body,” Christians included. Diocletian abdicated, in declining health. Galerius issued an edict of toleration.

Maximinus Daia, who had an active retaining program in place, designed to reeducate lapsed Christians in their pagan heritage. But the life was going out of the movement to repress Christianity. The pagan critics had not succeeded in stemming the popularity of the movement, and the “persecuting” emperors (except perhaps Diocletian himself) had miscalculated both the numbers and the determination of the faithful. The movement was Rome’s Vietnam, a slow war of attrition which had been fought to stop a multiform enemy. Even at their worst under Diocletian, the persecutions had been selective and, in their intense form, short-lived. And (as has been known since the seventeenth century) the number of martyrs was not great.

The goal of the fourth edict against the Christians in 304, in fact, had been to compel loyalty to unpopular rulers, and in 308 the greatly detested Maximinus tried the same tactic, “to offer sacrifices and wine-offerings.” The tactic was ineffectual, Eusebius says, because even the enforcers had lost their heart to impose the penalties and to support the machinery required for the “sacrifice factories” Maximinus tried to set up.

Unhappy with this failure, he sponsored a literary attack, circulating forged gospels and memoirs containing the stock slanders against Jesus. These were posted in public gathering-places and schoolteachers were required to assign portions of them to children as lessons. To substantiate charges against the moral habits of the Christians, Maximinus then hired agents (duces) to round up prostitutes from the marketplace in Damascus. Tortured until they confessed to being Christians, they then signed statements to the effect that the churches routinely practiced ritual prostitution and required members to participate in sexually depraved acts. These statements were also distributed to the towns and cities for public display.

Desperate times, desperate men, desperate measures.

By the time Galerius issued his edict of toleration in favor of the Christians on 30 April 311 three waves of attack had failed: the erratic policies of emperors Nero and Marcus Aurelius; the literary and philosophical attacks, carried on in collusion with imperial sponsors; and the more sustained persecutions of the third century, ending in 311. Paganism was dying. Maximinus’ plan for “reeducating” Christians in the religion of their ancestors had failed.

After Constantine’s conversion—whatever it may have been—only Julian (332-363), his nephew, remained to pick up the baton for the pagan cause. Julian did his best to reestablish the old order. He reorganized the shrines and temples; outlawed the teachings of Christian doctrine in the schools, retracted the legal and financial privileges which the Christians had been accumulating since the early fourth century; wrote polemical treaties against the Christians himself, and—in a clever political maneuver—permitted exiled bishops to return to their sees to encourage power-struggles and dissention within the church. Naturally, the Christians despised him. The distinguished theologian Gregory of Nazianzus had been Julian’s schoolmate in Athens, where both learned a love for the classical writers (but where Julian had been converted to Greek humanism). Cyril of Alexandria wrote a long refutation of Julian’s Adversus Christianos (Against the Christians), parts of which hark back to Porphyry and Hierocles. All in all, this pagan interlude—never really a renaissance—lasted only three years, until Julian’s death in June 363.

In the middle of this period we have just described stands Porphyry of Tyre. Born in 232, Porphyry was eighteen when the persecution broke out under emperor Decius. Twelve years later, his dislike for Christianity was firmly established. Porphyry had heard Origen preach, studied the Hebrew scripture, especially the prophets, and the Christian gospels, and found them lacking in literary quality and philosophical sophistication. He had joined a “school” in Rome (ca. 262) run by the famous neoplatonic teacher, Plotinus, where he remained until about 270. In Sicily, following Plotinus’ death, and back again to Rome, Porphyry developed an intense dislike of popular religion—or superstition, as the Roman intellectuals of his circle preferred to call it, regarding Christianity as the most pernicious form of a disease infecting the empire. In a work titled Pros Anebo he pointed out the defects in the cults. Then he tackled Christian teaching in a work. Popular under the rescript of Galerius in 311, the work was targeted for destruction by the imperial church, which in 448 condemned all existing copies to be burned.

The first thing to say about Porphyry’s fifteen books against the Christians is that they are lost. The exact title is not known, and its popular title, Kata Christianon, can be dated securely only from the Middle Ages. Opinions radically differ over the question whether the books can be substantially restored. A few facts can be stated succinctly, however. First, the church was unusually successful in its efforts to eradicate all traces of Kata Christianon from at least 448. Not only were Porphyry’s books destroyed, but many of the works of Christian writers incorporating sections of Porphyry’s polemic were burned in order to eliminate what one critic, the bishop Apollinarius, called “poison of his thought.”

Second, the ninety-seven fragments gathered by Harnack, half of which were taken from the fourth-century writer Macarius Magnes, are enough—if barely enough—to give us shape of Porphyry’s critique. That Macarius does not name his opponent and sometimes seems to characterize rather than quote his opinions could easily be explained as a strategic decision by a Christian teacher who wished his defense to survive. Naming his adversary—or quoting him too precisely—would have almost certainly guaranteed the burning of Macarius’ defense. Put appositely, anyone wishing to write a defense of the faith in the fourth or fifth century would have been foolhardy to identify the enemy as Porphyry.

[Third], I think we owe it to Porphyry and his “interpreters” to permit them speak to us directly. Having been buried—more or less successfully—since 448, the words should be permitted to breathe their own air.