Kriminalgeschichte, 47

Editor’s note: This image that I reproduced on Thursday in the post ‘Unsweetened pill’ about 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.
 

______ 卐 ______

 

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, 46

The Council of Nicaea, with Arius depicted
as defeated by the council, lying under
the feet of Emperor Constantine.

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

 
The Council of Nicaea and the profession of ‘Constantinian’ faith

Constantine had recommended the place, Nicaea, for the bonanza of its climate and had promised a pleasant stay. He was the one who convened the council, not the ‘Pope’. He also opened it on May 20 and held the presidency. The emperor paid the expenses of the participants, on whose number the data oscillate between 220 and 318 (for the 318 children of Abraham!). Silvestre, the supreme pastor of Rome, missed the meeting.

The emperor presented himself before the bishops ‘like an angel of God descending from heaven, resplendent in his bright garments, dazzling with light, with the fiery glow of purple and adorned with the clear gleam of gold and costly precious stones’ (Eusebius). The lords of the clergy themselves were guarded by guards and halberdiers ‘with sharp drawn swords’.

By decree of the sovereign they were ‘offered every day an opulent maintenance’. According to Eusebius, at a banquet ‘some sat at the table on the same cushions as the emperor, while others did on both sides. It could easily have been thought or imagined that it was an image of the kingdom of Christ, which was only a dream and not a reality’. As far as the dogmatic aspects are concerned—no recordings were made—, the great majority of these servants of God showed little or no interest, something that the host did not care about.

Although Constantine may not have led the sessions—a problem that has been much discussed—he did determine its course and make the decisions. For this he made sure to have the majority, and even imposed the decision formula. The formula was the somewhat changeable concept (which means the same, identical, but also similar, of the Greek homos) of the homousios of the homousia: the equality of the natures of the ‘Father’ and of the ‘Son’: ‘a sign of antagonism in front of science, which thought about the paths of Origen’ (Gentz).

In the Bible, not a single mention is made about it. That slogan—which, notoriously the emperor himself had formulated—had been opposed to the beliefs of the majority of the Eastern episcopate, even though it stemmed from Gnostic theology. The Monarchians had also used it, other ‘heretics’ (anti-Trinitarians). However, the young Athanasius, who accompanied Bishop Alexander as a deacon, ‘had not used it in his first writings as a motto of his theology’ (Schneemelcher) and ‘it took him 25 years to take a liking’ (Kraft). Although already in the council ‘he pronounced against Arianism’ and did not put it in writing until a quarter of century later.

No reasons were given nor was explained in more detail that decision of faith. The emperor, who was undeniably interested in unity and who considered the dispute of the clergy only as an intransigence, forbade any theological discussion and simply demanded compliance with the formula.

The ‘Holy Fathers’ (Athanasius), whose presence presumably gave the dictator a happiness ‘that exceeded any other’ and whom for a quarter of a year he honoured and covered them with honours, obeyed. And today, millions of Christians continue to believe in the fides Nicaena, the faith confession of Nicaea—which should be better called, according to Johannes Haller, the faith of Constantine: the work of a layman who was not even baptized. ‘We believe in one God, the almighty Father… and in one Lord, Jesus Christ… true God of the true God, begotten, not created, of the same nature (homousios) as the Father…’

In the West, the Nicaea confession of faith was still barely known a few decades later and in orthodox circles it was the subject of discussion. Even the father of the Church, Hilarius, initially opposed that baptismal faith; although he later returned to it. However, the holy bishop Zeno of Verona, a passionate enemy of the infidels and the Arians, mocked a creed that worked with formulas. At the end of the 4th century, in the sermons of Gaudentius of Brescia or Maximus of Turin, it is still mentioned ‘Nicaea at no time’ (Sieben, Jesuit).

Even Luther, in 1521, admits to hating ‘the word homousios’ although in 1539, in his work On the Councils and the Church he accepts it. Goethe is right when he affirms that ‘the dogma of the divinity of Christ decreed by the Council of Nicaea was very useful, even a necessity, for despotism’.

The behavior of Constantine was not in any way an isolated event. Since then, the emperors, and not the popes, were the ones who made the decisions about the Church. Throughout the 4th century the bishops of Rome did not play any decisive role in the synods nor were they determining authorities. From Constantine, the ‘imperial synodal power’ prevailed.

The confession of faith of the Arians, which contrasted the homoiusios (of a similar nature) to the homousios, was snatched from the speaker’s hands, in Nicaea, shattering the document before he had finished reading it. ‘At once it was rejected by all and branded as erroneous and false; there was a great tumult’ (Theodoret). In the sacred meetings, speaking through the mouth of Eusebius, a participant in them, there reigned ‘everywhere bitter disputes’, as was often the case in councils.

The emperor threw directly into the fire, without even reading them, the writings of complaints and quarrels of the bishops. All those who shared ‘of good will the best opinion’ received ‘his highest praises; on the contrary, he rejected the undisciplined with horror’.

Arius was again condemned.

Kriminalgeschichte, 45

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

 
It was not fought for faith, but for power and for Alexandria

The exacerbated interest in faith was not really more than the obverse of the question. From the beginning, this secular dispute was less about dogmatic differences than about the core of a typical clerical policy. ‘The pretext was the salvation of souls’—admitted even Gregory of Nazianzus, son of a bishop and holy bishop in turn, who avoided meddling in worldly matters and who often eluded his ecclesiastical offices by fleeing—, ‘and the motive was anxiety of domain, not to mention tributes and taxes’.

The hierarchical ambitions for power and the disputes over the Episcopal sees, in whose course the theological rivalries were often forgotten, gave duration and vehemence to those enmities. It not only excited the Church but, at least in the East, also the state. Not only did the council fathers sometimes engage in quarrels until the Holy Spirit spoke, but also lay people beat themselves bloody in public.

Any dispute produced there between the clergy, Arian and Monophysite, iconoclasm exceeds the limits of a mere quarrel between friars and shocks all political and social life for centuries. This makes Helvetius affirm, in a lapidary way: ‘What is the consequence of religious intolerance? The ruin of the nations’.

And Voltaire assures that ‘If you count the murders perpetrated by fanaticism from the brawls between Athanasius and Arius up to the present day, you will see that these disputes have contributed to the depopulation of the Earth rather than the warlike confrontations’, which undoubtedly it has been very often a consequence of the complicity between the throne and the altar.

However, just as the policies of the State and the Church were intimately intertwined, so were the latter and theology. Of course, there was no official doctrine about the Trinity, but only different traditions. Binding decisions ‘were only made in the course of the conflict’ (Brox).

In spite of this, each of the parties, especially Saint Athanasius, liked to call his desire for prestige and power a matter of faith; thus could accusations be constantly presented and justified. Athanasius immediately theologises any political impetus and treats his rivals as heretics. Politics becomes theology and theology, politics. ‘His terminology is never clear enough, the question is always the same’ (Loofs). ‘With Athanasius it is never about formulas’ (Gentz).

What most characterizes the ‘father of orthodoxy’ is that he leaves his extremely confused dogmatic position, using it until the 350s, to designate the ‘true faith’, those topics that would later be used to stigmatize the Arian or semi-Arian ‘heresy’: that he, the defender of Nicaea and the homousios, rejected for a long time the theory of hypostasis, thereby delaying the union; and that he, the bulwark of orthodoxy, even cleared the way for an ‘heretical doctrine’, Monophysitism.

For that reason, the Catholics of the 5th and 6th centuries had to ‘touch up’ the dogmatic treatises of their doctor of the Church. However, for a long time the Arians proposed a formula of profession that coincided literally with that often used by Athanasius, but then appeared as ‘Arian heresy’ since whatever the opponent said, it was always bad in advance, malignant and diabolical; and any personal enemy was an ‘Arian’.

All this state of affairs was facilitated by the fact that for a time there had been total confusion in theological concepts, and the Arians had split again. Even Constantine II, who had gradually favoured them more and more radically— ‘to all the corrupt bishops of the Empire’ (Stratmann, catholic), ‘to the caricatures of the Christian bishop’ (Ehrhard, catholic)—, got so fed up of the dispute over the ‘nature’ of Christ that ended up forbidding it.

The theologians of the post-Constantinian era compared this war of religion, increasingly unintelligible, with a naval battle in the midst of the fog, a nocturnal combat in which it is impossible to distinguish the friend from the foe, but in which one hits with viciousness, often changing sides, preferably, of course, towards the side of the strongest in which all means are allowed; one hates intensely, intrigues are plotted and jealousies provoked.

Even Jerome, the father of the Church, affirmed in his moment that he did not manage to find peace and tranquillity neither in a small corner of the desert, because every day the monks asked him accounts of his faith. ‘I declare what they want, but it is not enough for them. I subscribe to what they propose to me and they do not believe it. It is easier to live among wild beasts than among such Christians!’

Numerous aspects of the chronology of the dispute are still controversial, even doubting the authenticity of many documents. However, the direct starting point was the revolt provoked by a debate about the Trinity around the year 318 in Alexandria, a city in which they fought for more than faith.

Alexandria, founded in 332-331 by Alexander the Great, the city of the poet Callimachus, the geographer Eratosthenes, the grammarian Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace. The city of Plotinus and later of Hypatia, was the main metropolis of the East, a cosmopolitan city of almost a million inhabitants, whose luxury only rivalled that of Rome.

Alexandria was mapped out with broad views, it was rich and an important commercial plaza, with a fishing fleet that obtained not insignificant catches and stood out for its monopoly in the papyrus industry, which supplied to the whole world.

Alexandria, the place where the Old Testament was translated into Greek (the Septuagint), was also the seat of a patriarchy—it is not true that St. Mark founded it; the first bishop of whom there is historical record is Demetrius I—, and it was, within the whole of the Church including that of the West, the largest and most powerful of all Episcopal sees. The two Egypts, Thebes, Pentapolis and Libya were under its jurisdiction.

This position had to be maintained, consolidated and expanded. The Alexandrian hierarchs, called ‘popes’ and who soon became immensely wealthy, intended during the 4th and 5th centuries to get at all costs the domination of the totality of the Eastern dioceses. Their theology was also opposed to that of Antioch, which also joined the struggle for rank between the two patriarchs, always winning he who supported the emperor and the ecclesiastical and imperial seat of Constantinople.

In constant struggle against ecclesiastical competitors and the State, a political apparatus of the Church arose here for the first time, similar to what would later be in Rome. According to this, the bishops of the secondary seats acted, who paid for any change of course with the loss of their Episcopal armchairs, or either they won them. Not one of the innumerable paleo-Christian churches of Alexandria was preserved.

Around the year 318, Patriarch Alexander would have preferred to silence the burning question about the ousia, the nature of the ‘Son’. There was a time when he was personally linked to the orator Arius (around 260-336), denounced by the Meletians and since 313 he was the presbyter of the church of Baucalis, the most prestigious in the city and the centre of a large group of followers formed by young women and workers of the dams.

But Arius, who was a kind and conciliatory scholar and probably composed the first popular songs of the Christian era (now totally forgotten), had renounced the Episcopal seat in favour of Alexander, and in the contest he participated less in a personal capacity than as an exponent from the school of theologians of Antioch, which he had neither founded nor directed. On the other hand, Bishop Alexander had previously defended, which was also reproached by Arians, ideas and doctrines similar to those he was now pursuing; he affirmed that Arius spent ‘day and night in insults against Christ and against us’.

After two public debates, at a synod that brought together 100 bishops, St. Alexander excommunicated and exiled Arius and all his followers—a decision that undoubtedly contributed to the struggle of the high office against the privileges of his priests—, and warned everywhere against the intrigues of the ‘heresiarch’. He also informed the Roman bishop Silvestre (314-335). And by means of two encyclicals, in 319 and probably in 324, he appealed to ‘all other beloved and venerable servants of God’, ‘to all the bishops beloved by God of all places’.

This resulted in measures and countermeasures being taken. Some princes of the Church anathematized Arius while others expressed their appreciation. Among the latter was the important intercessor before the court, the influential Bishop Eusebius, supreme pastor of Nicomedia, the city of residence of the emperor, who welcomed his banished friend; and Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, already famous as biblical exegete and historian.

Two synods that resolved in favour of Arius made possible his rehabilitation and return. The Arian party of Alexandria was acquiring more and more force, coming to name a counter-bishop. Alexander defended himself in vain, lamented the ‘den of thieves’ of the Arians and came to fear for his own life. Riots followed, which spread throughout Egypt, and finally the Eastern Church split.

New Episcopal conferences, such as the Synod of Antioch in 324, again condemned Arius, writing to the ‘bishops of Italy, who depend on the great Rome’, although without considering the Roman power as sovereign or that it had come to play some role of relevance. And in the year 325 a council was held in the Emperor’s summer residence.

Kriminalgeschichte, 44

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

Athanasius at the Council of Nicea

 

Chapter 18: Athanasius, Doctor of
the Church (towards 295-373)

‘Saint Athanasius was the greatest man of his time and perhaps, pondering everything in a scrupulous way, the greatest that the Church could ever have presented’.

— Abbé de Bletterinni

‘The grateful posterity gave the efficient Alexandrian bishop the deserved nickname of “the Great”; both the Eastern and Western churches venerate him as a saint’.

— Joseph Lippl

‘Every political question is taken to the field of theology; his adversaries are heretics while he is the defender of pure faith. The adversaries learn from him the association between theology and politics. As a kind of anti-emperor, he anticipated the prototype of the great Roman popes, being the first of the great Egyptian patriarchs who ended up separating their country from imperial unity’.

— G. Gentz

‘The actors in the history of the Church were largely the same as those in the history of Byzantium in general’.

— Friedhelm Winkelmann

‘From the 4th century to the 7th, by the Father, by the Son and by the Holy Spirit, the schools of theology, the popes and the patriarchs fought with every means at their disposal. They judged, degraded and proscribed each other; there began to operate secret services and propaganda machinery; the controversies degenerated into wild ecstasies; there were riots and street skirmishes. There was murder; the military crushed the revolts; the anchorites of the desert, with the support of the court of Byzantium, instigated the multitudes; intrigues were hatched for the favour of emperors and empresses. State terror was unleashed; the patriarchs fought among themselves, they were elevated to the throne and dethroned again as soon as a new trinitarian conception succeeded’.

— Hans Kühner

 

Kühner goes on to say: ‘The first great doctors of the Church appeared, and the saints, against all human passions, performed a series of mental exercises worthy of all praise that have become part of both the history of the faith and of the history of thought’. However, it should be pointed out that this did not occur against all human passions but largely because of them, because he who takes the spirit seriously cannot believe that one is two or three or that three is equal to one.

Christian theology calls this supra-rational and not counter-rational or irrational. It calls it mystery, not absurd. And having so many things between heaven and earth that our scholastic philosophy cannot imagine, it is unnecessary to take for granted everything that has been imagined, nor do we have to take the greatest absurdity and consider it a great mystery. ‘If God’, says Diderot, ‘for whom we have reason, demands us to sacrifice reason, he is a conjurer who makes what he has just given disappear’.

 
The complicated nature of God and the dominion of darkness

Any science worth its salt is based on experience, but what comes to be known about God, if it exists? In the early days of Christianity, ‘a whole mass of the most diverse ideas’ about the celestial spirits was considered (Weinel, theologian). In the 2nd and early 3rd centuries, ‘hardly anyone’ cared about the ‘Holy Spirit’ (Harnack, theologian), and in the 4th century, according to Hilarius, doctor of the Church, no one knows what will be the creed of the following year.

However, the theologians went deeper and deeper into the subject in the course of time. They came to discover that God was something like a single being (ousia, substance) in three people (hypostaseis personae). That this triple personality was a consequence of two ‘processes’ (processiones): of the generation (generatio) of the Son from the Father and of the ‘exhalation’ (spiratio) of the Spirit between the Father and the Son. That these two ‘processes’ were equivalent to four ‘interactions’ (relationes): the quality of father and son, the exhalation and the exhaled being, and these four ‘interactions’ in turn give five ‘particularities’ (proprietates, notiones). That in the end, all this, in mutual ‘permeation’ (perichoresis, circuminsessio) would give only one God: actus purissimus!

As much as they have given themselves the headaches over the centuries, the theologians know ‘that any intellectual work on the Trinity dogma will remain “an unfinished symphony”’ (Anwander) or, no matter how deep they delve into it, ‘a mystery of impenetrable faith’, as the Benedictine Von Rudioff humbly writes, asserting with all seriousness that none of it ‘speaks against reason; we do not say that three is equal to one but that three people are a being’. However, in 1977, it seems to Karl Rahner ‘that the history of dogmas, in the broadest sense of the word, continues and must continue—and therefore the history of dogmas continues’.

No matter how much theologians may say—an endless process of often nebulous concepts, especially because in the history of dogmas they have imposed their beliefs by all means, including violence—, those disputes have never possessed any basis of experience. Because of this, and speaking through Helvetius, ‘the reign of theology was always seen as the domain of darkness’.

In the 4th century an attempt was made to shed light on this darkness, and everything became even darker. ‘Everyone suspects their neighbour’, recognises Basil, father of the Church, ‘the blasphemous tongues have been released’. But the councils, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, that tried to clarify the mysteries, only contributed to create greater confusion. Even Gregory of Nazianzus, the holy father of the Church, mocks the clerical conferences and admits that they seldom come to a good end, stoking more controversy instead of softening it: ‘I avoid the meetings of bishops because until now I have never seen any synod ending well; they do not solve any ill but simply create new ones. In them there is only rivalry and struggles for power’.

On the one hand, of the important Council of Nicaea (325) hardly something survived, as well as some other synods. On the other hand, the victors prevented the circulation of the writings of their opponents, when they did not manage to destroy them.

Only a few fragments of Arius, or Asterius of Cappadocia, a moderate Arian, have come to us through quotations in replication writings. Although Catholic treatises were frequently disseminated, especially those written by the fathers of the Church Hilarius de Poitiers (died 367) and Athanasius of Alexandria (died 373), they only are subjective propaganda products. The no less tendentious historians of the 5th century Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret and Philostorgius, of strict Arian tendency, are already of later generations.

A good idea of the spiritual historiography of that era and its unscrupulous tendency to falsify is provided by the first global history of the Church after Eusebius, that of Gelasius of Caesarea (died between 394 and 400).

Unknown until recently, it has been largely reconstructed and its importance lies in its sources: descriptions of the historians of the 5th century Church (Rufinus, the oldest in the West, Socrates and Gelasius of Cyzicus). Gelasius was also successor (the second) of Eusebius, a high dignitary and archbishop of Caesarea with jurisdiction throughout Palestine.

Friedrich Winkelmann has presented in a very concise manner the method of this unique and great contemporary history of the Church during the Trinitarian dispute: the stereotyped defamation of the adversary. The archbishop, author of the work, hardly cares about the advances or the differentiations produced. Of the Arians, he only relates reticences and intrigues; they are nothing but inconvertible troublemakers, ‘puppets of the devil who speaks through their mouth’.

Gelasius attributes to Arius a perjury. He also lies in saying that it was not Constantius but his son, the Emperor Constantine, who wanted to rehabilitate Arius. On the other hand, Constantine—another lie—did not banish Athanasius, the opponent of Arius, but sent him back to Alexandria full of honours. Gelasius is also the first to expose the falsehood that Constantine named in his testament Constantine II, the Catholic, heir to his kingdom; but that a local priest gave the testament to Constantius in exchange for the promise to support Arianism. The bishop of Caesarea not only masks all the negative, overlooking most of the events, but he also simply runs his imagination, against the strict truth; in sum, what manifests itself is ‘a great complex of a gross falsification of history’.

But was it Athanasius, doctor of the Church, no less scrupulous, agitator and apologist? Globally, he reprimands the Arians: ‘Whom haven’t they not outraged at their will? Whom have they not mistreated to the point that he died in misery or his relatives were harmed? Where is a place that does not show any memory of their wickedness? What adversary have they not annihilated, wielding pretexts invented in the manner of Jezebel?’

Even the Benedictine Baur speaks of a ‘civil war between Catholics and Arians’. Naturally, the same happens with all the authentic Catholic apologists: the Arians—whose name would soon become one of the worst insults in history of the Church—were prey to the devil and degraded the Christian name before a world, still half pagan, ‘with abominable intrigues, persecutory rage, lies and infamies of all kinds, even by means of mass murders’. Therefore, it was time ‘for this poisonous plant to disappear at last from the world’.

At the centre of this dispute among theologians was the question of whether Christ was true God, if he had the same nature as God himself. The Orthodox, although sometimes disappointed, affirmed this, while the Arians, the majority of the Eastern bishops at the height of their power (after the Council of Milan, 355), denied it.

When it seemed that the latter had almost won, they split into radicals, who considered the ‘Son’ and the ‘Father’ as totally disparate and different (anhomoios), semi-Arians, who in their opinion were considered more or less homousians, and a party that rejected the previous two and defended homoism, pointing out the similarity (which was left intentionally vague) or equality of ‘Father’ and ‘Son’, but not the ‘identity of nature’, the homousios of the Nicaeans.

The Arians and the Orthodox remained attached to monotheism, but for the first, no doubt closer to the primitive Christian faith, the ‘Son’ was totally different from the ‘Father’. He was a creature of God, although complete and very on top of all the others. Arius speaks of him with the utmost respect.

For the Orthodox Jesus was, in the mouth of Athanasius, ‘God made flesh’ (theos sarkophoros), but not a ‘man, who leads to God’ (anthropos theophoros); the ‘Father’ and the ‘Son’ being a single nature, an absolute unit; they were homousios, of the same nature. For only in this way was it possible to sustain the dogma of the double, or even triple, divinity and pray to the ‘Son’, the new one, as well as to the ‘Father’, as the Jews already did. The Arians were accused of ‘polytheism’ and ‘having a big God and a small one’.

For the popular masses of Constantinople, who, as everywhere, flocked to the preferred ‘National Church’, the question of faith was apparently captivating and fascinating, with the Christological dispute reaching a great popularity in streets, squares and theatres, as ironically says a contemporary of the late 4th century:

This city is full of artisans and slaves who are profound theologians, who preach in stores and on the streets. If you want to change a coin with a man, first he will inform you about where the difference between God the Father and God the Son lies, and if you ask for the price of a loaf of bread, instead of answering you they will explain that the Son is below the Father; and if you want to know if you have the bathroom ready, the bathroom attendant will answer you that the Son has been created from nothing.

The three Asses

Decades ago a friend from the park where I played chess, a great lover of literature, paraphrased something he had read from Schopenhauer: That doctors teach us how weak man is; the lawyers, what the fuck he is, and the theologians how assholes men are.

Most white nationalists are ignorant of the grotesquery inherent in the ‘Byzantine discussions’ of the founders of their religion. In the next thirty entries translating Karlheinz Deschner’s first volume, we will present the thought of the political theologians who defined the Christian dogma as it has reached our days: Athanasius, Ambrose and Augustine, ‘the three Asses’ as I call them.

Taking into account that to date I have received almost no feedback about Deschner’s book, visitors will wonder why I’m now wasting my time to enter into the details of the foundational theology of the 4th and 5th centuries.

The answer is simple: if the Christian problem encompasses the Jewish problem, we must approach more systematically the subject than the essayistic way les philosophes of the Enlightenment tried to defenestrate Christianity.

The serious student of the aetiology of Aryan decline would do well to become familiar with these Deschner texts. If to the casual visitor the forthcoming incursion into the world of theology seems a little boring, at least he should address it through the very entertaining novels by Gore Vidal, Julian, and Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose: although the latter describes the mature theology of the 14th century.

Kriminalgeschichte, 43

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

A marble bust of Valens

 
Trembling and gnashing of teeth under the Arian Valens

Valentinian’s brother, Valens (364-378), was the last emperor who officially supported Arianism. He acted against the sects and other deviations, even against the semi-Arians who then, in order to thrive, made a shameful abjuration in Rome.

The Catholics were very harshly persecuted during the last years of the regime of this emperor, which met resistance and made even the exiled be considered martyrs. Among these were the bishops Athanasius of Alexandria, Meletius of Antioch, Pelagius of Laodicea, Eusebius of Samosata, Barses of Edessa and many others. Some Catholics were drowned in Antioch, and there were also martyrs in Constantinople. It is even said that in the year of the Lord 370, Valens sent secret letters to his prefect Modesto, arranging that eighty Catholic bishops and priests be led with deceit aboard a ship, which was burned with all its passengers on the high seas; it is also said that whole hosts of ‘true faith supporters’ were thrown into the Orontes.

‘A persecution has fallen upon us, my venerable brothers, the most bitter of all’, lamented, in 376, Basil, doctor of the Church, in a letter to the bishops of Italy and Gaul (although he personally had not been molested). Houses of prayer were closed, the service of the altars abandoned, the bishops imprisoned under any false pretext, and sent at night to exile and death. ‘It is well known’, continues Basil, ‘although we have preferred to silence it’, the desertion of priests and deacons, the dispersion of the clergy; in a word, ‘the mouth of the believers has been closed, while the blasphemous languages are loose and dare everything’.

Valens was so afraid of witchcraft that he punished it with the death penalty from the first year of his term. For this reason, he continued the persecution begun by Constantine against the followers of black magic, the clairvoyants, the interpreters of dreams, since the winter of 371 and for two years ‘like a beast in the amphitheatre; his fury was so great that he seemed to regret not being able to prolong the martyrdom of his victims after death’ (Amianus).

In the year 368, a senator lost his head because a lady with whom he was in relationships felt the victim of an enchantment. Prosecutor Marino suffered the death penalty because he had procured the hand of a certain Hispanila with magical arts. The coachman Athanasius died burned for exercising the arts of black magic.

Fear spread throughout the East; thousands were detained, tortured, liquidated, including high public officials and wise philosophers. Participants or simple witnesses were burned alive, strangled, beheaded, as in Ephesus, despite being ill, the philosopher Maximus, who had been friend and preceptor of Julian. Their property was confiscated, they were extorted with heavy fines; it was enough a reckless word, or have dared to make a scallop.

The demagoguery burned entire libraries, claiming that they were ‘magic books’. And since the machinery of justice was still too slow for Valens, beheadings and bonfires dispensed with judicial formalities; at the same time, he considered himself a merciful sovereign, like his brother Valentinian, as well as a faithful Christian, a good husband and a chaste man. No one denies that the ‘purity of manners’ prevailed in his court. An executioner who led to the execution of a naked adulteress was also burned alive in punishment for such shamelessness.

Procopius, forty years old and a relative of Julian, rose up in Constantinople, mainly with the support of the pagans. Valens had him beheaded without delay on May 27, 366 AD. Valens ‘lost all sense of the measure’ (Nagí). He persecuted even the women of the insurgents, burned countless books and continued to enrich himself along with his executioners. All this happened in the middle of almost a decade of conflicts with the Persians.

In the year 367, the emperor also began a campaign against the Ostrogoths, who had helped Procopius. The operations ran between peat bogs and swamps, and although a price was placed on the heads of the Goths, the war ended without success in 369. On August 9, 378, in Adrianople, Valens lost the battle and life.

We have seen, then, how that formidable empire was ruled by the first Christian majesties: Constantine, his sons, and the emperors Jovian, Valentinian I, Valens. Did they behave in a more benign, more humanitarian, more peaceful way than their predecessors, or Julian the Apostate?

Along with the constant massacres inside the empire, at the borders, in enemy territory, the eternal clerical quarrels intervened. The internal politics of the 4th century was determined by the struggle between the two main confessions, the Arians and the Orthodox. At the crucial point was Athanasius of Alexandria, the most prominent bishop straddling between Constantine and Valens and one of the most nefarious of all times, whose imprint would be noted in the days to come.

Kriminalgeschichte, 42

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

Solidus of Valentinian I

 

Rivers of blood under the Catholic Valentinian I

The Catholic Valentinian I (364-375), who resided frequently in Milan and Trier, born in 321 in Cibalae, an important military post in Pannonia, was blond and blue-eyed, diligent, daring and cunning. Officer of the personal guard of Julian, and of forty-three years of age at the time of accessing the throne, he cared little about the dogmas or the disputes of the clergy. But he restored the privileges of the clergy created by Constantine and forbade Christians to be condemned to fight as gladiators. As a puritan Catholic he was, he sanctioned adultery with the death penalty and he himself was a faithful husband (at least with his second wife, Justina, younger than the first).

In a law of November of 364, the emperor provided that judges and officials who had intentionally harmed Christians would be sentenced to death or confiscation of property. In contrast, both Valentinian and Valens were tolerant of the Jews and granted privileges to their theologians. In this way, Valentinian tolerated almost all the sects, and above all showed a surprising indulgence to Auxentius, the Arian bishop of Milan, although on the other hand he was the first Christian emperor to persecute the Manichaeans, arranging against them, in 372, the exile and confiscation of their places of worship; in 373 he made a bloodbath among the Donatists, who had rebelled…

Then the magister militum Theodosius, an Hispanic Catholic and father of the future emperor, was launched against [usurper] Firmus; twice he offered peace through several bishops, and many others broke his promise. The rebellious troops were put to the sword after surrendering, and they could consider themselves lucky those who were saved with only both hands cut. To those thus deceived they had no choice but to fight with the vigour of despair, from which resulted a terrible war, of an unusual cruelty, which ravaged all of North Africa. General Theodosius not only burned alive, or at least mutilated the soldiers who deserted, tired of fighting, but also practiced the tactic of scorched earth over vast territories and exterminated the Mauritanian tribes until he made hundreds of thousands of victims. Once the rebellion was crushed, the pope forbade the celebration of the Donatist cults.

Valentinian, in his capacity as a ‘convinced Christian’ (as Bigelmair, and even Joannou describe him), did not back down from the judicial crime against wizards, fortune-tellers and ‘sex offenders’. His motto: severity and not clemency is the mother of justice. His judges were instructed to proceed harshly, and the benignity of some provisions was more than compensated for by the lack of scruples of many of them. ‘The most elementary principles of justice were mocked by death sentences without proof, or founded on confessions taken away by torture’ (Nagí).

The emperor, the son of peasants, hated the old Roman nobility and had his houses searched for magic recipe books and love filters. Men and women of the best families were banished or executed, and their property confiscated. In his fits of rage, Valentinian ordered executions without blinking; minor faults were punished with the bonfire or the decapitation, the major ones with the death by torture. A page who during a hunting party had released the dogs too soon was whipped to death, and it was not an exceptional case. He never exercised his right of pardon.

The delinquents were sometimes thrown to two she-bears that the sovereign had in cages next to his bedroom. In recent times, Reinhold Weijenborg has tried to refute this anecdote referred to by Amianus by saying that ‘it cannot be true in its literal sense’. So a second reading has been invented, according to which those two cages would be the rooms of the empresses, Marina Severa and Justina.

Theodosius was a ‘great terror of the Saxons’ during the years 368 and 369. He pacified Britannia until the old wall of Adriano following imperial instructions. Theodosius also made frequent raids on the other side of the Rhine. He twice fought against the Alamanni, although during the second campaign they inflicted heavy losses, until their King Vithicab (whose father, Vadomar, had served the Romans in Julian’s time) was killed by some assassins sent by Valentinian. Theodosius also ravaged with the fire and the sword the territories of Franks and Quadics. In 370, he obtained from the Saxons a withdrawal by treaty, to then attack them with treachery and exterminate them.

Emperor Valentinian, who considered himself a peaceful person (a frequent error of perspective among his class and condition), died of a fit of rage. He was parleying with poor Quadics whose king Gabinus, Marcellianus had invited in 374 in his dux Valeriae to assassinate him with a stab in the back during a banquet (see the murder of the king of the Alamanni, which we have just recounted), when having mounted in anger his face became congested, purple, and fell as if struck by lightning. Valentinian had a vomit of blood and died immediately, on November 17 of the year 375, in the border city of Brigetio, being buried in Constantinople.

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’.

 

______ 卐 ______

 

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.

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’.