Christianity’s Criminal History, 79

Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

Opposition to the Old Testament

In the 2nd century, when Christians were still not exercising war as they would do permanently a little later, among them there were perhaps more opponents of the Old Testament than defenders. And none of them saw more clearly their incompatibility with the biblical Jesus doctrine than the ‘heretic’ Marcion, at least none of them derived consequences of such premise and with such success. In his Antitheses (lost) Marcion showed the contradictions and elaborated the first canon of Christian writings, based on the Gospel of Luke, the one with the least Hebrew influence, and in the letters of Paul.

Apostle John (left) and Marcion of Sinope (right), from Morgan Library MS 748, 11th century.

Seventeen, eighteen centuries later, theologians weave wreaths of praise towards the outlaw, from Harnack to Nigg; the theologian Overbeck, friend of Nietzsche (‘the God of Christianity is the God of the Old Testament’!) states that he has correctly understood this Testament; for the Catholic theologian Buonaiuti ‘it is the most dense and insightful enemy’ of ‘ecclesiastical orthodoxy’.

It is precisely the ‘heretical’ circles that have fought the Old Testament. Many Christian Gnostics condemned it globally. Two hundred years later, the Visigothic apostle Ulfilas, an Arian of pacifist sentiments, was shocked by the contrast between Yahweh and Jesus. In his version of the Bible to the Gothic he made around the year 370, which is the oldest German literary monument, the bishop did not translate any of the Old Testament history books.

After the century of the Enlightenment, criticism intensified again. The perceptive Lessing, who also considers the historical foundations of Christianity precarious, exclaims at the sight of the old book of the Jews: ‘On this clay, on this clay, great God! If you had mixed a couple of gold nuggets…!’

With greater passion Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) scourges the ‘unprecedented blasphemy’: to claim that the Almighty God had expressly ordered Moses to attack a defenceless people and because of their different beliefs to completely annihilate all living beings; to assassinate in cold blood all the children and the unarmed men, to slaughter the prisoners, to tear apart the married women and to respect only the young girls for carnal commerce and rape. Mark Twain (1835-1910) could not help but comment caustically that the Old Testament is essentially concerned with blood and sensuality; the New with salvation and redemption through fire.

Theologians have also rejected the Old Testament as the foundation of life and doctrine, among them some as renowned as Schleiermacher and Harnack, who strongly opposed that this book

be preserved as a canonical document in Protestantism. We must make a clean slate and honour the truth in worship and teaching. This is the act of courage demanded today—almost too late—to Protestantism.

But what good would it do? The masses would continue to be deceived by the New Testament and its dogmas. But the Catholic Wörterbuch christlicher Ethik (Dictionary of Christian ethics) still finds, in 1975, ‘the roots of the ethos of the Old Testament’ in ‘the decisive personal attention’ of Yahweh ‘to the world and to man’, found in the Old Testament ‘fundamentally and to the defence of what we call human rights; behind its humanum there is Yahweh with all of his divine weight’ (Deissler).

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 73

Below, a translation from a section of the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

The five books of Moses, which Moses did not write

The Old Testament is a very random and very fragmentary selection of what was left of ancient transmission. The Bible itself quotes the titles of nineteen works that have been lost, among them The Book of the Wars of the Lord, The Story of the Prophet Iddo, The Book of the Good. However, the researchers believe that there were many other biblical texts that have not left us even the title. Have they also been holy, inspired and divine?

In any case the remains are enough, more than enough; especially of the so-called five books of Moses, presumably the oldest and most venerable, that is, the Torah, the Pentateuch (Greek pentáteuchos, the book ‘containing five’ because it consists of five rolls): a qualifier applied around 200 AD by Gnostic writers and Christians. Until the 16th century, it was unanimously believed that these texts were the oldest of the Old Testament and that they would therefore be counted among the first in a chronologically ordered Bible. That is something that today cannot even be considered. The Genesis, the first book, is without good reason at the head of this collection. And although still in the 19th century renowned biblical scholars believed they could reconstruct an ‘archetype’ of the Bible, an authentic original text, that opinion has been abandoned. Or even worse, ‘it is very likely that such an original text never existed’ (Comfeld / Botterweck).

The Old Testament was transmitted mostly anonymously, but the Pentateuch is attributed to Moses and the Christian churches have proclaimed his authorship until the 20th century. However, while the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the first Israelite fathers, must have lived between the 21st and the 15th centuries BC, or between 2000 and 1700 if they actually lived, Moses—‘a marshal, but at the bottom of his being with a rich emotional life’ (Cardinal Faulhaber)—must have lived in the 14th or 12th century BC, if he also lived.

In any case, nowhere outside the Bible the existence of these venerable figures, and others more recent, is ‘documented’. There is no proof of their existence. Nowhere have they left historical traces; neither in stone, bronze, rolls of papyrus, nor in tablets or cylinders of clay, even though they are more recent than, for example, many of the Egyptian sovereigns historically documented in the form of famous tombs, hieroglyphs or cuneiform texts: authentic certificates of life. Therefore, writes Ernest Garden, ‘either one is tempted to deny the existence of the great figures of the Bible or, in case of wishing to admit their historicity even with the lack of demonstrative material, it is supposed that their life and time they passed in the way described by the Bible… had circulated for many generations’.

For Judaism, Moses is the most important figure in the Old Testament. It is mentioned 750 times as a legislator; the New Testament does it 80 times. It is claimed that all the Laws were being handled as if Moses had received them at Sinai. In this way he acquired for Israel a ‘transcendental importance’ (Brockington). Each time he was increasingly glorified. He was considered the inspired author of the Pentateuch. It was attributed to him, the murderer (of an Egyptian because he had beaten a Hebrew), even a pre-existence. He became the forerunner of the Messiah, and the Messiah was considered a second Moses. Many legends about him emerged in the 1st century BC; a novel about Moses, and also a multitude of artistic representations. But the tomb of Moses is not known. In fact, the prophets of the Old Testament quote him five times.

Ezekiel never mentions him! And yet, these prophets evoke the time of Moses, but not him. In their ethical-religious proclamations they never rely on Moses. Neither the papyrus Salt 124 ‘has a testimony of any Moses’ (Cornelius). Nor does archaeology give any sign of Moses. The Syrian-Palestinian inscriptions barely quote him in as little measure as cuneiform texts or hieroglyphic and hieratic texts. Herodotus (5th century BC) knows nothing of Moses. In short, there is no non-Israelite proof of Moses, our only source of his existence is—as in the case of Jesus—the Bible.

There were already some who in Antiquity and in the Middle Ages doubted the unity and authorship of Moses in the Pentateuch. It was hardly believed that Moses himself could have reported on his own death, ‘an extraordinary question’ Shelley mocks, ‘almost as how to describe the creation of the world’ in Genesis. However, a deep criticism only came from the pen of Christian ‘heretics’, as the primitive Church saw no contradiction in the Old or New Testaments.

In the modern age Andreas Karlstadt was one of the first scholars in which some doubts were aroused when reading the Bible (1520). More doubts were raised by the Dutchman Andreas Masius, a Catholic jurist (1574). But if this pair, and shortly afterwards the Jesuits B. Pereira and J. Bonfrère, only declared some citations as post-Mosaic and continued to consider Moses the author of the whole text, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes declared that some paragraphs of the Pentateuch were Mosaics but post-Mosaic most of the text (Leviathan, 1651). In 1655 the reformed French writer I. de Peyrère went even further; and in 1670, in his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus Spinoza denied Mosaic authorship for the whole thing.

In the 20th century some scholars of religion, among them Eduard Meyer (‘it is not the mission of historical research to invent novels’), and Danek of the school of the Prague, have questioned the historical existence of Moses himself; but their adversaries have rejected such hypothesis.

It is curious that even the most illustrious minds, the greatest sceptics and scientists under whose daring intervention the sources of material are shelled so that there is little space left for the figure of Moses, present us again, as if by sleight of hand, Moses in all his greatness as the dominant figure of all Israelite history. Although everything around this character is too colourful or too obscure, the hero himself cannot be fictional they say. As much as the criticism of sources has reduced the historical value of these books, almost annulled it, ‘there remains a broad field of the possible’ (Jaspers). It is not surprising, then, that among some conservatives Moses is of greater importance than the Bible!

In short: after Auschwitz, Christian theology returns to win over the Jews. ‘Today again a more positive idea of ancient Israel and its religion is possible’. However, Moses is still ‘a problem’ for the researchers, ‘there is no light to illuminate his figure’ and the corresponding traditions remain ‘outside the capacity of historical control’ according to the Bibl. Hist. Handwörterbuch (Hist. Bibl. handwritten book). Although these scholars strongly refuse to ‘reduce Moses to a nebulous figure, known only to legends’, they admit at the same time that ‘Moses himself is faded’. They claim that ‘the uniqueness of the Sinai event cannot be denied’ but they add immediately ‘although the historical demonstration is difficult’. They find in the ‘stories about Moses a considerable historical background’ and some paragraphs later claim that this ‘can not be proved by facts’, that ‘it cannot be witnessed by historical facts’ (Cornfeld / Botterweck).

This is the method followed by those who do not deny the evidence itself, but neither do they want everything to collapse with a crash (No way!). For M.A. Beek, for example, there is no doubt that the patriarchs are ‘historical figures’. Although he only sees them ‘on a semi-dark background’ he considers them ‘human beings of great importance’. He himself admits: ‘To date we have not been able to find documentary evidence of the figure of Joshua in Egyptian literature’. He adds that, apart from the Bible, he does not know ‘a single document containing a clear and historically reliable reference to Moses’. And he continues that, if we do without the Bible, ‘no source is known about the expulsion from Egypt’. ‘The abundant literature of the Egyptian historiographers silences, with a worrying obstinacy, events that should have deeply impressed the Egyptians, if the account of the Exodus is based on facts’. Beek is also surprised that the Old Testament rejects

curiously enough, any data that would make possible a chronological fixation of the departure from Egypt. We do not see the name of the Pharaoh that Joshua knew, nor the one who oppressed Israel. This is all the more amazing because the Bible retains many other Egyptian names of people, places and offices.

Even more suspicious than the lack of chronological reference points in the Old Testament is the fact that none of the known Egyptian texts cites a catastrophe that affected a Pharaoh and his army while chasing the fleeing Semites. Since historical documents have an abundance of material on the epoch in question, at least some allusion would be expected. The silence of the Egyptian documents cannot be dismissed with the observation that court historiographers do not usually talk about defeats, since the events described in the Bible are too decisive for Egyptian historians to have overlooked them.

‘It is really curious’, this scholar continues, ‘that no tomb of Moses is known’. Thus, ‘the only proof of the historical truth of Moses’ is for him ‘the mention of a great-grandson in a later epoch’.

‘And Moses was 120 years old when he died’ says the Bible, although his eyes ‘had not weakened and his strength had not diminished’ and God himself buried him and ‘no one knows to this day where his tomb is’. A pretty weird end. According to Goethe, Moses committed suicide and according to Freud his own people killed him. The disputes were not rare, as with Aaron and Miriam. But as always, the closing of the fifth and last book of the Pentateuch significantly recalls ‘the acts of horror that Moses committed before the eyes of all Israel’. Every character always enters the history thanks to his terrifying feats, and this is so regardless if he lived or not really. But whatever the case may be with Moses, the investigation is divided.

The only thing that is clear today, as Spinoza saw it, is that the five books of Moses, which directly attribute to him the infallible word of God, do not come from him. This is the coincidental conclusion of the researchers.

Naturally, there are still enough people like Alois Stiefvater and enough little treatises such as Schlag-Wörter-Buch für katholische Christen types (Schlag Words Book for Catholic Christians) who continue to deceive the mass of believers by making them believe in the five books of Moses, that ‘although not all have been directly written by him, they are due to him’. How many, and which ones Moses wrote directly, Stiefvater and his accomplices do not dare to say. What remains true is that the Laws that were considered as written by the hand of Moses or even attributed to the ‘finger of God’ are also fabrications. (On the other hand, although God himself writes the Law on two tablets of stone, Moses had so little respect for them that in his anger against the golden calf he destroyed them.)

It is also clear that the writing of these five books was preceded by an oral transmission of many centuries, with constant changes. And then there were the editors, the authors, the biblical compilers who participated throughout many generations in the writing of the books by ‘Moses’, which is reflected in the different styles. It looks like a collection of different materials, such as the entire fourth book.

Thus arose a very diffuse collection lacking any systematic organisation, overflowing with motifs of widely spread legends, etiological and folkloristic myths, contradictions and duplications (which by themselves alone exclude the writing by a single author). Added to all this is a multitude of heterogeneous opinions that have been developed in a gradual way, even in the most important issues. Thus the idea of the resurrection arises very little by little in the Old Testament, and in the books Ecclesiasticus, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs any testimony of beliefs in the resurrection is missing. In addition, the scribes and compilers have constantly modified, corrected and falsified the texts, which acquired new secondary extensions every time. And these processes went on for entire epochs.

The Decalogue or Ten Commandments, which Luther considered the supreme incarnation of the Old Testament, proceeds in its earliest form perhaps from the beginning of the age of kings. Many parts of the Pentateuch that must have been written by the man who lived, if he lived, in the 14th or 13th centuries BC—no less than sixty chapters of the second, third and fourth books—were not produced or collected by Jewish priests until the 5th century BC. Thus, the final redaction of the books awarded to Moses—I quote the Jesuit Norbert Lohfink—’took place some seven hundred years later’. And the composition of all the books of the Old Testament—I quote the Catholic Otto Stegmüller—was prolonged ‘for a period of approximately 1,200 years’.

Complete set of scrolls constituting the Hebrew Bible.

Research on the Old Testament has reached enormous dimensions and we cannot contemplate it here—saving the reader from the labyrinthic methodology: the ancient documentary hypotheses of the 18th century, the assumptions of fragments, complements, crystallisation and the important differentiation of a first Elohist, a second Elohist, a Jahwist or Yahwist (H. Hupfeld, 1835), the formal historical method (H. Gunkel, 1901), the various theories about the sources, the theory of two, three, four sources, the written sources of the ‘Jahwist’ (J), of the ‘Elohist’ (E), of the ‘writing of the priests’ (P), of ‘Deuteronomy’ (D), of the combined writing… We cannot get lost in all the threads of the story, the traditions, the plethora of additions, complements, inclusions, annexes, proliferations, textual modifications, the problem of the variants, the parallel versions, the duplications—in short, the enormous ‘secondary’ enlargement, and the history and the scrutiny of the texts. We cannot discuss either the reasons for the extension of the Pentateuch into a Hexateuch, Heptateuch or even Octateuch, or its limitation to a Tetrateuch however interesting these hypotheses may be within the context of our subject.

A simple overview of the critical comments, such as Martin Noth’s explanations of the Mosaic books, will show the reader its editors, redactors, compilers; of additions, extensions, later contributions, combinations of different states of incorporation, modifications, etc.: an old piece, an older one, a fairly recent one that is often called secondary, perhaps secondary, probably secondary, surely secondary. The word ‘secondary’ appears here in all conceivable associations. It seems to be a keyword, and even I would like to affirm without having made an exact analysis of its frequency: there is no other word that appears with greater assiduity in all these investigations of Noth and his work.

Recently Hans-Joachim Kraus has written Geschichte der historisch-kritischen Erforschung des Alten Testaments (The story of the historical-critical exploration of the Old Testament). Innovative and advanced for the 19th century was W.M.L. de Wette (died 1849) who perceived the many stories and traditions of these books and considered ‘David’, ‘Moses’ and ‘Solomon’ not as authors but as nominal symbols, such as collective names.

Due to the immense work of scholars in the course of the 19th century and the eventual debunking of biblical sacred history, Pope Leo XIII attempted to obstruct the freedom of research through his 1893 Encyclical Providentissimus Deus (The most provident God). A counteroffensive was opened also under his successor, Pius X, in a decree. From De Mosaica authentia Pentateuchi (Authentic Mosaic Pentateuch), June 27, 1906, Moses was considered an inspired author. Although on January 16, 1948 the secretary of the papal biblical commission declared in an official reply to Cardinal Suhard that the decisions of the commission ‘do not contradict with a later scientific analysis of these questions’, in Roman Catholicism ‘true’ always means: in the sense of Roman Catholicism. The final exhortation should be understood along the same lines: ‘That is why we invite Catholic scholars to study these problems from an impartial point of view, in the light of sound criticism’. But ‘from an impartial point of view’ means: from a partial point of view for the interests of the papacy. And with ‘sound criticism’ it is not meant to say anything other than a critique in favour of Rome.

The historical-scientific analysis of the writings of the Old Testament certainly did not provide a sure verdict about when the texts arose, although in some parts, as for example in the prophetic literature, the certainly about their antiquity is greater than, say, the religious lyrics. When it comes to the age of the Laws, there is less certainty. But historical-religious research with respect to the Tetrateuch (Moses 1-4) and the Deuteronomic historical work (Moses 5, Joshua, Judges, books of Samuel and the Kings) speaks of ‘epic works’, ‘mythological tales’, ‘legends’ and ‘myths’ (Nielsen).

The confusion that reigns in scholarship is manifest in the abundance of the repetitions: a double account of Creation, a double genealogy of Adam, a universal double flood (in one version the flood subsides after 150 days; according to other it lasts one year and ten days; and according to another, after raining forty days there are added another three weeks), in which Noah—then 600-years-old according to Genesis 7:6—took in the Ark seven pairs of pure animals and one of impure ones and, according to Genesis 6, 19 and 7, 16, there were a pair of pure and impure animals. But we would be very busy telling all the contradictions, inaccuracies, deviations with respect to a book inspired by God, in which there are a total of 250,000 textual variants.

In addition, the five books of Moses know a double Decalogue; a repeating legislation on slaves, the Passah, a loan, a double on the Sabbath, twice the entry of Noah into the Ark, twice the expulsion of Hagar by Abraham, twice the miracle of the manna and the quails, the election of Moses; three times the sins against the body and life, five times the catalogue of festivals, and are at least five legislations about the tenths, etc.

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Kriminalgeschichte, 31

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

Christian family life and rigours of criminal practices

The first Christian emperor, in addition to revealing himself as a great military leader, was consistent in the application of capital punishment, also emulated in this by Catholic theologians of all times, not excepting ours. In the year 310, the son of St. Helena [Constantine], is still assured by Christian historians of the second half of the 20th century that ‘few of his successors reached his political and human greatness’ (Baus) and that ‘in his private life he did no secret of his Christian convictions, leading an exemplary Christian family life’ (Franzen).

He had his father-in-law, Emperor Maximian, hanged in Massilia (Marseille) after which all the statues and images that represented him were destroyed.

He ordered to strangle his brothers-in-law Licinius and Basian, husbands of his sisters Constantia and Anastasia; in 336, he enslaved Prince Licianus, son of Licinius, who was then flogged and murdered at Carthage in 326.

He made Crispus, his son (from his spouse Minervina shortly before marrying Fausta) be poisoned along with ‘numerous friends of his’ (Eutropius); incidentally, a few months after the Council of Nicaea in which the symbol of faith was promulgated.

And finally, this paragon of human greatness accused of adultery with Crispus his own wife Fausta, mother of three children and two daughters, who was shortly before recognised on coins as spes reipublicae(hope of the State); although nothing was demonstrated. She was drowned in a bath and all her properties of the old Lateran district adjudged definitively to the Pope.

‘Exemplary Christian life’, indeed (Franzen above)!

The Byzantine historian Zosimus, a diehard pagan whose well-documented history of the emperors is, together with Rerum gestarum libri XXXI of Ammianus, our main source of information on the events of the 4th century, claims that after the liquidation of his son and his wife the unpopularity of Constantine in Rome had become so great, that he preferred to change residence.

The decline of the Law became more acute during these 4th and 5th centuries of our era. The classical mentality of the pagan era was displaced by the vulgar right of the late Roman era and the legislation fell ‘to a level of unscientific primitivism’ (Kaser), which justifies the assertion of Jerome, doctor of the Church, ‘aliae sunt leges Caesaru Christi…

During the republican period, the death penalty, although not formally abolished, was severely limited in its application. Under the Caesars, the tolerance was even greater. The emperor sanctioned, with the death penalty instead of the traditional exile, the publication of anonymous libels, and ordered that the tongue be ripped off from the slanderers, ‘the greatest plague of human life’ before executing them.

Constantine criminalised the kidnapping, until then a private crime. So that he not only condemned to death the abductor, and in a horrible way, but also the bride if she had consented; and also those who had acted as mediators, casting molten lead in the mouths of the slave owners and burning the slaves alive.

A modern depiction of Constantine

Shelley wrote: ‘The punishments promulgated by that monster, the first Christian emperor, against the pleasures of forbidden love were so unutterably grave that no modern legislator would even consider them against the worst crimes’. Constantine also authorised the interrogation through torture during the trials, ‘the methods envisaged were of extraordinary cruelty’ (Grant).

And if Diocletian forbade parents to sell their children as slaves, Constantine allowed it in cases of grave necessity and provided that it was made under a repurchase agreement. If a slave took liberty on his own and took refuge among the barbarians, once captured, they cut off his foot and sent him to forced labour in the mines, which almost always amounted to a death penalty.

Kriminalgeschichte, 24

Editor’s note: According to Ramzpaul’s most recent video, about 70-80 percent of white nationalists are Christians. If true that explains why my donations have dramatically dropped in the last months. But even as an alienated priest of the 14 words I’ll continue to translate passages from Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

Why I do this? Just pay extra attention to the quoted words of Revilo Oliver in my recent ‘Darwin’s exterminationism’: ‘how suddenly the terminal symptoms of Christianity appeared, like the symptoms of the tertiary stage of syphilis, and destroyed our race’s mentality and vital instincts…’ (for due context, see also ‘The Red Giant’).

In previous instalments of Deschner’s first volume the subject was the ethos of the Christians before they reached control of the Roman Empire. Let’s now see how they behaved after controlling it. White nationalists may know the tamed form of Christianity that founded the US but ignore that, in Old World history, in any country over which Christianity held sway it murdered and tortured to the exact extent of its power.

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Chapter 5 – St. Constantine: The First Christian Emperor, ‘Symbol of Seventeen Centuries of Ecclesiastical History’

‘In all the wars he undertook and captained he achieved brilliant victories’. —St. Augustine, Father of the Church

‘Of all the Roman emperors, he alone honoured God, the Most High, with extraordinary devotion; he alone boldly announced the doctrine of Christ; he alone exalted his Church like no other since there is human memory; he alone put an end to the errors of polytheism and abolished all kinds of worship of idols’. —Eusebius of Caesarea, Bishop

‘Constantine was a Christian. He who works this way, and above all in a world that was still largely pagan, must be a Christian at heart and not only according to external demonstrations’. —Kurt Aland, theologian

‘Christendom always had before its eyes, as a luminous example, the figure of Constantine the Great’. —Peter Stockmeier, theologian

‘His spiritual postures were also those of a true believer’. —Karl Baus, theologian

‘That monster Constantine… This hypocritical and cold executioner who slaughtered his son, strangled his wife, murdered his father and his brother-in-law, and kept in his court a bunch of bloodthirsty and untamed priests…’ —Percy Bysshe Shelley

The terror of the Rhine

On July 25, 306, when Constantius I Chlorus died in Eboracum, present-day York (England) after a victory over the Picts, the troops appointed the young Constantine without delay. But Galerius, who tactically and formally remained as the first Augustus within the system of the Tetrarchy, only wanted to recognise Constantine as caesar.[1] That proclamation [Augustus status] had been an illegal act that broke the order of the second Tetrarchy.

The restoration of the holy religion was the first of his decrees. Once he became the owner of Britain and Gaul, in 310 he undertook the sacking of Spain, presumably to deprive Rome from the supply of Iberian cereals, and to expose Maxentius to a hungry population. But what Constantine most cultivated were the border wars, which made him the terror of all the Rhine.

His foreign policy ‘was characterized from the outset by its aggressiveness, as he lead his campaigns in counter-attacks and deep penetrations in enemy territory’ (Stallknecht). In 306 and 310 he decimated the Bructeri, stole their cattle, burned their villages and threw the prisoners into the circus to be pasture for wild beasts.

‘Of the prisoners, those who were not worth soldiers for not being reliable, nor for slaves for being too fierce, he threw all to the circus and were so many, that fatigued even the wild beasts’. The young emperor drowned in blood any attempt of rebellion; in 311 and 313 he crushed the Alemanni who had been greatly punished by his father, as well as the Franks, whose kings Ascaric and Merogaisus were destroyed by hungry bears, for general edification. The idolatrous Franks respected the life of the prisoners of war. But Constantine, after casting his victims (of the 71 well-known amphitheatres of antiquity, the Trier was tenth in importance, with 20,000 seats) and seeing the acceptance of the spectacle, decided to make it a permanent institution.

While the young ruler thus made life easier for the inhabitants of Trier, there were in the Roman Empire three other emperors: Maxentius in the West, who had authority over Italy and Africa; Maximinus Daia in the East, whose territory included the non-European part of the empire (all the provinces south of the Taurus mountain range and also Egypt), as well as Licinius, owner of the Danubian regions.

The fact that there were so many emperors seemed intolerable to Constantine, and he proposed to dismantle the system of the Tetrarchy instituted by Diocletian to consolidate that gigantic empire. So it began the destruction of the established ‘order’ by one warlike campaign after another, successively eliminating his rivals and establishing an ever-stronger bond between the empire and the Christian Church. Such a Constantinian ‘revolution’ was certainly a turning point in the history of Christianity, and it also brought about the rise of a new ruling class, the Christian clergy, while maintaining the old relations based on war and exploitation. It has been called ‘the beginning of the world metaphysical age’ (Thiess).


[1] Note of the Ed.: I am writing ‘caesar’ with small c to differentiate the title from ‘Augustus’. The difference between the caesars and the all-powerful Augustus will be explained in future instalments of the novel Julian.

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