Darkening Age, 11

As the epigraph of ‘How to Destroy a Demon’, chapter eight of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey chose a passage from an hagiography of a so-called saint, The Life of Martin: ‘He completely demolished the temple belonging to the false religion and reduced all the altars and statues to dust’.
 

The pages of history might overlook this destruction, but stone is less forgetful. Go to Room 18 in the British Museum in London and you will find yourself in front of the Parthenon Marbles, taken from Greece by Lord Elgin in the nineteenth century.

The astonishingly lifelike statues are, today, in a sorry state: many are mutilated or missing limbs. This, it is often assumed, was the fault of Lord Elgin’s clumsy workmen or fighting during the Ottoman occupation. And indeed some of this was—but not all. Much was the work of zealous Christians who set about the temple with blunt instruments, attacking the ‘demonic’ gods, mutilating some of the finest statuary Greece had ever produced.

The East Pediment fared particularly badly. Hands, feet, even whole limbs have gone—almost certainly smashed off by Christians trying to incapacitate the demons within. The vast majority of the gods have been decapitated—again, almost certainly the work of Christians. The great central figures of the Pediment, that would have shown the birth of Athena, were the most sacred—and thus to the Christians the most demonic. They therefore suffered most: it is likely that they were pushed off the Pediment—and smashed on the ground below, their fragmented remains ground down and used for mortar for a Christian church.

The same tale is told by objects in museums and archaeological sites across the world. Near the Marbles in the same museum is a basalt bust of Germanicus. Two blows have hacked off his nose and a cross has been cut in his forehead. In Athens, a larger­than-life statue of Aphrodite has been disfigured by a crude cross carved on her brow; her eyes have been defaced and her nose is missing. In Cyrene, the eyes have been gouged out of a life-sized bust in a sanctuary of Demeter, and the nose removed; in Tuscany a slender statue of Bacchus has been decapitated.

In the Sparta Archaeological Museum, a colossal statue of the goddess Hera looks blindly out, her eyes disfigured by crosses. A beautiful statue of Apollo from Salamis has been castrated and then struck, hard, in the face, shearing off the god’s nose. Across his neck are scars indicating that Christians attempted to decapitate him but failed.

In Palmyra Museum there stood, at least until the city’s recent occupation by Islamic State, the mutilated and reconstructed figure of the once-great figure of Athena that had dominated a temple there. A huge dent in her once-handsome face was all that remained when her nose was smashed off. A recent book on the Christian destruction of statues focusing just on Egypt and the Near East runs to almost three hundred pages, dense with pictures of mutilation.

But while some evidence remains, much has gone entirely. The point of destruction is, after all, that it destroys. If effective, it more than merely defaces something. It obliterates all evidence that the object ever existed. We will never know quite how much was wiped out. Many statues were pulverized, shattered, scattered, burned and melted into absence. Tiny piles of charred ivory and gold are all that remain of some. Others were so well disposed of that they will probably not be found: they were thrown into rivers, sewers and wells, never to be seen again. The destruction of other sacred objects is, because of the nature of the object, all but impossible to detect.

The sacred groves of the old gods for example, those tranquil natural shrines like the one Pliny had so admired, were set about with axes and their ancient trees hacked down. Pictures, books, ribbons even, could be seen as the work of the devil and thus removed and destroyed. Certain sorts of musical instruments were censured and stopped: as one Christian preacher boasted; the Christians smashed the flutes of the ‘musicians of the demons’ to pieces. Some of the demolition, such as that of the temple of Serapis, was so terrible that several authors recorded it.

Other moments of vandalism were immortalized in glowing terms in Christian hagiographies. Though these are the exceptions. Far more violence was buried in silence.

Darkening Age, 10

In chapter seven of The Darkening Age: The Christian
Destruction of the Classical World
, Catherine Nixey wrote:

Constantine… demanded that the statues be taken from the temples. Christian officials, so it was said, travelled the empire, ordering the priests of the old religion to bring their statues out of the temples. From the 330s onwards some of the most sacred objects in the empire started to be removed. It is hard, today, to understand the enormity of Constantine’s order. If Michelangelo’s Pietà were taken from the Vatican and sold, it would be considered a terrible act of cultural vandalism—but it wouldn’t be sacrilege as the statue is not in itself sacred. Statues in Roman temples were. To remove them was a gross violation, and Constantine knew it…

The possibility that Jesus would triumph over all other gods would, at the time, have seemed almost preposterous. Constantine was faced with an intransigent population who insisted on worshipping idols at the expense of the risen Lord. He realized that conversion would be more ‘easily accomplished if he could get them to despise their temples and the images contained therein’. And what better way to teach wayward pagans the vanity of their gods than by cracking open their statues and showing that they were, quite literally, empty? Moreover, a religious system in which sacrifice was central would struggle to survive if there was nothing to sacrifice to. There was good biblical precedent for his actions. In Deuteronomy, God had commanded that His chosen people should overthrow altars, burn sacred groves and hew down the graven images of the gods. If Constantine attacked the temples then he was not being a vandal. He was doing God’s good work.

And so it began. The great Roman and Greek temples were— or so Eusebius said—broken open and their statues brought out, then mutilated…

Not all the temple statues were melted down. The ‘tyrant’ Constantine also had an eye for art and many objects were shipped back as prize baubles for the emperor’s new city, Constantinople (Constantine, like Alexander the Great, was not one for self-effacement). The Pythian Apollo was put up as ‘a contemptible spectacle’ in one square; the sacred tripods of Delphi turned up in Constantinople’s hippodrome, while the Muses of Helicon found themselves relocated to Constantine’s palace. The capital looked wonderful. The temples looked—were—desecrated. As his biographer wrote with satisfaction, Constantine ‘confuted the superstitious error of the heathen in all sorts of ways’.

And yet despite the horror of what Constantine was asking his subjects to do there was little resistance…

Christianity could have been tolerant: it was not pre­ordained that it would take this path. There were Christians who voiced hopes for tolerance, even ecumenicalism. But those hopes were dashed. For those who wish to be intolerant, monotheism provides very powerful weapons. There was ample biblical justification for the persecution of non-believers.

The Bible, as a generation of Christian authors declared, is very clear on the matter of idolatry. As the Christian author Firmicus Maternus reminded his rulers—perfectly correctly—there lay upon emperors an ‘imperative necessity to castigate and punish this evil’. Their ‘severity should be visited in every way on the crime’. And what precisely did God advise as a punishment for idolatry? Deuteronomy was clear: a person indulging in this should be stoned to death. And if an entire city fell into such sin? Again, the answer was clear: ‘destruction is decreed’.

The desecration continued for centuries. In the fifth century AD, the colossal statue of Athena, the sacred centrepiece of the Acropolis in Athens, and one of the most famous works of art in the empire, was torn down from where she had stood guard for almost a thousand years, and shipped off to Constantinople—a great coup for the Christian city and a great insult to the ‘pagans’…

Note of the Ed.: After the centuries, Europeans even forgot how the Greco-Roman sculptures that were destroyed looked like. My guess is that Constantine’s bishops were not Aryans. Destroying a representation of the beauty of the Aryan physique was part of the Semitic takeover of white society: Let’s destroy your self-image as a means to undermine your self-esteem. Something similar is happening today with the religion of Holocaustianity: Let’s undermine your self-image from a decent person to historic grievances so that you may accept masses of non-white immigrants.

History is written by the winners and the Christian victory was absolute. The Church dominated European thought for more than a millennium. Until 1871 the University of Oxford required that all students were members of the Church of England, while in most cases to be given a fellowship in an Oxford college one had to be ordained. Cambridge was a little freer—but not much.

This was not an atmosphere conducive to criticism of Christianity and indeed, in English histories, there was little. For centuries, the vast majority of historians unquestioningly took up the Christian cause and routinely and derogatorily referred to non-Christians as ‘pagans’, ‘heathens ‘ and ‘idolaters’. The practices and sufferings of these ‘pagans’ were routinely belittled, trivialized or—more often—entirely ignored. As one modern scholar has observed: ‘The story of early Christian history has been told almost wholly on the basis of Christian sources.’

Darkening Age, 9

Saint Apollonia destroys a Greco-Roman sculpture, Giovanni d’Alemagna, c. 1442-1445.

The saint calmly ascends to the ‘idol’, hammer in hand. Hagiographies frequently praised the flair with which saints smashed ancient temples and centuries-old statues.

In ‘The Most Magnificent Building in the World’, chapter six of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:
 

At the end of the first century of Christian rule, the Colosseum still dominated Rome and the Parthenon towered above Athens. Yet when writers of this period discuss architecture, these aren’t the buildings that impress them. Instead, their admiration is drawn by another structure in Egypt. This building was so fabulous that writers in the ancient world struggled to find ways to convey its beauty. ‘Its splendour is such that mere words can only do it an injustice,’ wrote the historian Ammianus Marcellinus. It was, another writer thought, ‘one of the most unique and uncommon sights in the world. For nowhere else on earth can one find such a building.’ Its great halls, its columns, its astonishing statues and its art all made it, outside Rome, ‘the most magnificent building in the whole world’. Everyone had heard of it.

No one has heard of it now. While tourists still toil up to the Parthenon, or look in awe at the Colosseum, outside academia few people know of the temple of Serapis. That is because in AD 392 a bishop, supported by a band of fanatical Christians, reduced it to rubble.

It is easy to see why this temple would have attracted the Christians’ attention. Standing at the top of a hundred or more marble steps, it had once towered over the startling white marble streets below, an object to incite not only wonder but envy. While Christians of the time crammed into insufficient numbers of small, cramped churches, this was a vast—and vastly superior—monument to the old gods. It was one of the first buildings you noticed as you sailed towards Alexandria, its roof looming above the others, and one that you were unlikely to forget.

Walk on and, just behind the porticoes of the inner court, you would have found yourself in a vast library—the remnants of the Great Library of Alexandria itself. The library’s collection was now stored here, within the temple precinct, for safekeeping. This had been the world’s first public library; and its holdings had, at its height, been staggering, running into hundreds of thousands of volumes. Like the city itself, the collection had taken several knocks over the years, but extensive collections remained.

Like all statues of this size, Serapis was made of a wooden structure overlaid with precious materials: the god’s profile was made of glowing white ivory; his enormous limbs were draped in robes of metal—very probably gold. The statue was so huge that his great hands almost touched either side of the room…

To the new generation of Christian clerics, however, Serapis was not a wonder of art; or a much-loved local god. Serapis was a demon… Fierce words—but Christians had been fulminating in this way for decades and polytheists had been able to ignore them. But the world was changing. It was now eighty years since a Christian had first sat on the throne of Rome and in the intervening decades the religion of the Lamb had taken an increasingly bullish attitude to all those who refused it…

One day, early in AD 392, a large crowd of Christians started to mass outside the temple, with Theophilus at its head. And then, to the distress of watching Alexandrians, this crowd had surged up the steps, into the sacred precinct and burst into the most beautiful building in the world.

And then they began to destroy it.

Theophilus’s righteous followers began to tear at those famous artworks, the lifelike statues and the gold-plated walls. There was a moment’s hesitation when they came to the massive statue of the god: rumour had it that if Serapis was harmed then the sky would fall in. Theophilus ordered a soldier to take his axe and hit it. The soldier struck Serapis’s face with a double-headed axe. The god’s great ivory profile, blackened by centuries of smoke, shattered.

The watching Christians roared with delight and then, emboldened, surged round to complete the job. Serapis’s head was wrenched from its neck; the feet and hands were chopped off with axes, dragged apart with ropes, then, for good measure, burned.

As one delighted Christian chronicler put it, the ‘decrepit, dotard’ Serapis ‘was burned to ashes before the eyes of the Alexandria which had worshipped him’. The giant torso of the god was saved for a more public humiliation: it was taken into the amphitheatre and burned in front of a great crowd. ‘And that,’ as our chronicler notes with satisfaction, ‘was the end of the vain superstition and ancient error of Serapis.’

A little later, a church housing the relics of St John the Baptist was built on the temple’s ruins, a final insult to the god—and to architecture. It was, naturally, an inferior structure. According to later Christian chronicles, this was a victory. According to a non-Christian account, it was a tragedy…

Nothing was left. Christians took apart the temple’s very stones, toppling the immense marble columns, causing the walls themselves to collapse. The entire sanctuary was demolished with astonishing rapidity; the greatest building in the world was ‘scattered to the winds’. [1]

The tens of thousands of books, the remnants of the greatest library in the world, were all lost, never to reappear…

Far more than a temple had gone. As the news of the destruction spread across the empire, something of the spirit of the old culture died too. As one Greek professor wrote in despair: ‘The dead used to leave the city alive behind them, but we living now carry the city to her grave.’

_________

[1] Note of the Ed.: See the remains today of the Serapeum of Alexandria: here.

Darkening Age, 7

Yesterday I said that in the third volume of the series Christianity’s Criminal History, ‘The Ancient Church: Forgery, Brainwashing, Exploitation, Annihilation’, Deschner argues that the tales of Christian martyrs in early Christianity were grossly exaggerated, and that I planned in the future to translate some passages of it. But the impatient English reader can go to his nearest library and read chapter four of Catherine Nixey’s recently published The Darkening Age, ‘On the Small Number of Martyrs’.

Within that chapter are included the images in colour that illustrate the book. Above, you can see the surviving figures of the Parthenon in Athens. Nixey says that these figures ‘were almost certainly mutilated by Christians who believed them to be “demonic”. The central figures of the group are missing, probably levered off the ground into rubble to build a Christian church’ (image facing page 57).

Published in: on July 14, 2018 at 12:01 am  Comments Off on Darkening Age, 7  
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Isenheim Altarpiece

Hagenauer & Grünewald
Isenheim Altarpiece
~ 1512-1516
Unterlinden Museum at Colmar

Published in: on June 20, 2018 at 11:24 am  Comments (8)  
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Darkening Age, 1

PROLOGUE

Palmyra, c. AD 385

‘There is no crime for those who have Christ.’

—St. Shenoute

The destroyers came from out of the desert. Palmyra must have been expecting them: for years, marauding bands of bearded, black-robed zealots, armed with little more than stones, iron bars and an iron sense of righteousness had been terrorizing the east of the Roman Empire.

Their attacks were primitive, thuggish, and very effective. These men moved in packs— later in swarms of as many as five hundred—and when they descended utter destruction followed. Their targets were the temples and the attacks could be astonishingly swift. Great stone columns that had stood for centuries collapsed in an afternoon; statues that had stood for half a millennium had their faces mutilated in a moment; temples that had seen the rise of the Roman Empire fell in a single day.

This was violent work, but it was by no means solemn. The zealots roared with laughter as they smashed the ‘evil’, ‘idolatrous’ statues; the faithful jeered as they tore down temples, stripped roofs and defaced tombs. Chants appeared, immortalizing these glorious moments. ‘Those shameful things,’ sang pilgrims, proudly; the ‘demons and idols… our good Saviour trampled down all together.’ Zealotry rarely makes for good poetry.

In this atmosphere, Palmyra’s temple of Athena was an obvious target. The handsome building was an unapologetic celebration of all the believers loathed: a monumental rebuke to monotheism. Go through its great doors and it would have taken your eyes a moment, after the brightness of a Syrian sun, to adjust to the cool gloom within. As they did, you might have noticed that the air was heavy with the smoky tang of incense, or perhaps that what little light there was came from a scatter of lamps left by the faithful. Look up and, in their flickering glow, you would have seen the great figure of Athena herself.

The handsome, haughty profile of this statue might be far from Athena’s native Athens, but it was instantly recognizable, with its straight Grecian nose, its translucent marble skin and the plump, slightly sulky mouth. The statue’s size—it was far taller than any man—might also have impressed. Though perhaps even more admirable than the physical scale was the scale of the imperial infrastructure and ambition that had brought this object here. The statue echoed others that stood on the Athenian Acropolis, well over a thousand miles away; this particular version had been made in a workshop hundreds of miles from Palmyra, then transported here at considerable difficulty and expense to create a little island of Greco-Roman culture by the sands of the Syrian desert.

Did they notice this, the destroyers, as they entered? Were they, even fleetingly, impressed by the sophistication of an empire that could quarry, sculpt then transport marble over such vast distances? Did they, even for a moment, admire the skill that could make a kissably soft-looking mouth out of hard marble? Did they, even for a second, wonder at its beauty?

It seems not. Because when the men entered the temple they took a weapon and smashed the back of Athena’s head with a single blow so hard that it decapitated the goddess. The head fell to the floor, slicing off that nose, crushing the once­ smooth cheeks. Athena’s eyes, untouched, looked out over a now-disfigured face.

Mere decapitation wasn’t enough. More blows fell, scalping Athena, striking the helmet from the goddess’s head, smashing it into pieces. Further blows followed. The statue fell from its pedestal, then the arms and shoulders were chopped off. The body was left on its front in the dirt; the nearby altar was sliced off just above its base.

Only then does it seem that these men—these Christians—felt satisfied that their work was done. They-melted out once again into the desert. Behind them the temple fell silent. The votive lamps, no longer tended, went out. On the floor, the head of Athena slowly started to be covered by the sands of the Syrian desert.

The ‘triumph’ of Christianity had begun.

Why Europeans must reject Christianity, 13

by Ferdinand Bardamu

 
Christianity: bringer of violence and bloodshed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Europeans must reject Christianity, 7

by Ferdinand Bardamu

 
Christianity: bringer of darkness

Section I: The Christian destruction of Europe’s artistic heritage

Theodosius was the first Christian emperor to systematically legislate paganism out of existence. He began by enacting a series of draconian measures, soon after his declaration that Nicene Christianity was the official state religion in 380 AD. Towards the end of his reign, legislation proscribing Hellenistic religion—the so-called Theodosian decrees—became increasingly harsh. This imperial program of cultural genocide descended into an orgy of violence and destruction in the final decades of the 4th century.

The coming storm was foreshadowed by the Christian fanatic Maternus Cynegius, appointed by Theodosius as praetorian prefect in 384. Under imperial orders to suppress pagan sacrifice and divination, he launched his own personal crusade against the Hellenistic religion. With the help of bishops, priests and an army of rampaging monks, Cynegius demolished some of the holiest sites in the Greek east. Many of these buildings housed antiquity’s greatest artistic treasures.

Archeological evidence, gathered from eastern Mediterranean sites, reveals significant temple destruction and desecration. This can be dated to the period of Cynegius’ activity in the east. Contemporary hagiographical sources, like the Vita Porphyrii, bear witness to the spectacular religious violence directed against the pagan shrines and temples of the Levant.

In 386, the pagan orator Libanius, an outspoken critic of Christian iconoclasm, begged Theodosius to preserve the temples and shrines of the empire. He spoke of armies of “black-robed monks,” gluttons and drunkards, who would

hasten to attack the temples with sticks and stones and bars of iron, and in some cases, disdaining these, with hands and feet. Then utter desolation follows, with the stripping of roofs, demolition of walls, the tearing down of statues and the overthrow of altars, and the priests must either keep quiet or die. After demolishing one, they scurry to another, and to a third, and trophy is piled on trophy, in contravention of the law. Such outrages occur even in the cities, but they are most common in the countryside. Many are the foes who perpetrate the separate attacks, but after their countless crimes this scattered rabble congregates and they are in disgrace unless they have committed the foulest outrage…

Christians not only vandalized temples, they also mutilated pagan statuary and defaced inscriptions. Violent destruction of pagan religious artifacts is archeologically well-attested in the Levant and Africa, where Christian iconoclasts were at their most active.

This pattern of destruction was empire-wide and can be seen in places as far away as North-western Gaul and Britain. Far more destructive than the temple destruction carried out by Christian zealots was the imperial anti-pagan legislation ending all subsidies to the once thriving polytheistic cults of the empire. Without subsidies from the imperial treasury, pagans were unable to maintain and repair their religious monuments. This was reinforced by additional legislation ordering the closure of all shrines and temples, threatening pagans with death if they continued to practice haruspicy and animal sacrifice. This condemned the empire’s major structures and artistic monuments to permanent disrepair and eventual ruin.

The widespread Christian vandalism of late antiquity was the largest campaign in world history to destroy an entire civilization’s artistic and architectural heritage. This campaign to erase the great monuments of antiquity from memory was significantly more destructive than the barbarian invasions of the 5th century. The Christians of the late empire were the ISIS or the Taliban of their day, although this may be an understatement as Christians were many times more destructive. Without this added ingredient of ritualized violence, Christianity would never have become the dominant religion of the ancient world.

Faith of the Future, 3

by Matt Koehl

 

III. The Decline of Christianity

The imposition of Christianity on the Aryan peoples of Northern Europe had one lasting effect. It resulted in an inner tension, a disquiet—an angst—which has been a protruding feature of Western culture from its inception. Throughout the history of the West, there has always existed a soul struggle keenly felt by the more perceptive spirits of the race, occasioned by the contradiction between the inverted values and tenets of an Oriental/Semitic belief system on the one hand and the natural religious feeling of Nordic/Aryan man on the other.

If the former furnished the ideological matrix of the culture, it was the latter which provided the creative inspiration, the divine spark. Indeed, the greatest moments of Western culture as a manifestation of Aryan genius—whether expressed in a specifically Christian or extra-Christian form—occurred despite the stricture of Church dogma, rather than because of it. Dante, Chaucer, [Edmund] Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Goethe, Schiller, Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Dürer and Rembrandt all testify to this, no less than do Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and Bruckner.

As we have seen, the external character of Christianity was greatly modified in its metamorphosis from a small Jewish cult into the mighty religion of the West. The medieval institution known as chivalry, in fact, with its refined honor code—which save for its Christian trappings more properly reflected the outlook and mores of a pre-Christian time—resulted from this very process, and provided a modus vivendi for opposing spiritual interests during the Middle Ages.

Thus, through a mutual accommodation of sorts was the underlying contradiction largely contained. And yet despite any institutional adjustment, the unease deriving from an alien idea remained latent within the fabric of the culture. The social and intellectual response to this inner tension varied. For their part, the kings, emperors and other secular rulers tended to treat the matter with cynical detachment, accommodating and offering resistance as political requirements dictated.

Among scholars and thinkers, on the other hand, there were those who, like Giordano Bruno, rose in open revolt against Church dogma. More often, however, the stirrings of disquiet were manifested in subtle attempts to orient Christian doctrine toward innate Aryan religiosity. This was particularly true of the mystics of the Middle Ages, like Scotus Erigena, Amalric of Bena and Meister Eckhart, who—going beyond the theology of the Church—looked inward into their own souls and to Nature itself to discover the kingdom of God.

It was with the Renaissance, however, that there appeared the most significant movement to challenge Church doctrine—a movement which would, in fact, set in motion an irreversible chain of events leading ultimately to the discrediting of that very doctrine as the core idea of a culture.

Now, for the first time, was the Promethean impulse able to break out of the clerical mold. Art came to express, not merely a sterile Semitic outlook, but the feelings of a Northern racial soul—a most notable development, which announced that creative vitality had stepped beyond the mythic prescriptions of the culture. The entire Judeo-Christian cosmology was called into question by new discoveries in the natural and physical sciences. Exploration across unknown seas commenced. Perhaps the most revolutionary single development of this time, however, was the discovery of movable type by Johannes Gutenberg, which enabled a much wider circulation of knowledge—knowledge other than that bearing an ecclesiastical imprimatur, knowledge transcending the basic ideology of the culture.

* * *

The most important consequence of the Gutenberg invention is to be seen in the Protestant Reformation, to which it was a contributing factor and whose development it greatly influenced. Up until the time of Martin Luther, the focus of Christian authority was the Papacy, whose word was unquestioned in matters of faith and dogma. Now, with the great schism in Christendom, a direct challenge was presented to ecclesiastical authority. It certainly was not, of course, die intent of Luther and the other dissenters to undermine or eliminate the Christian faith; rather the opposite. They merely wished to reform it. And yet, by challenging the one unifying institution of Christendom and causing a split in Christian ranks, they inadvertently opened the door to disbelief in the Christian mythos itself.

To replace papal authority in matters religious, Luther proposed to substitute the authority of the Book; and so, with the prospect of employing the Gutenberg invention, he undertook the prodigious task of translating obscure Hebrew scriptures into the German language—to the everlasting misfortune of Christianity.

It is ironic that in his quest for spiritual freedom, the Great Reformer should have rejected the despotism of the Papacy only to embrace the tyranny of the Torah and the ancient Jewish prophets. The arcane texts which had remained on musty shelves behind cloistered walls and accessible only to priests and theologians now became universal property. And now, instead of one single authority in matters of Christian exegesis, everyone—and no one—became an authority. Out of this there could be but one result: contradiction and confusion.

The effect on intelligent minds, of course, was devastating. For here it was now possible—in the best Talmudic fashion—to prove mutually exclusive points of view by reference to the same Semitic texts. Not only that, but critical examination of biblical literature gave rise to serious doubt concerning the veracity and validity of the subject matter itself, not to mention the peculiar mentality of its various authors. For the first time, perceptive minds could observe the obvious contradiction between empirical reality and what was claimed as holy writ.

Gradually there grew the inner realization that the faith itself was flawed, and creative genius began to look beyond the ideology of the Church for inspiration and direction. Even in those instances where Christian motifs continued to provide the external form for artistic expression—such as in the works of Bach, Corelli and Rubens, for example—the vital daemon which spoke was clearly extra-Christian and of a religious order transcending Church dogma.

And so even the Counter-Reformation, and the stylistic mode it inspired, succumbed to widening skepsis. A lessening of traditional belief had set in, and Aryan creativity now began to look increasingly in other directions for the divine. At the intellectual level, philosophy—which had long separated itself from theology—pursued its own independent quest for truth, while at the artistic level a succession of stylistic periods—impelled by irrepressible inner tension—sought ever newer forms of expression. Thus, the Baroque, having exploited all of its possibilities, gave way to the Rococo and the Classical, which in turn yielded to the Romantic of the last century and to the Impressionist, which has now been succeeded by the Modem era—which concludes the historical experience of the West.

* * *

Today, Christianity has reached its final stage. From both a spiritual and a scientific standpoint, its fundamental beliefs have become untenable. The advances of Aryan science have forever shattered the old Jewish myths. The cumulative impact of such figures as Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton and Darwin could not be eternally suppressed by ecclesiastical edict. When Church dogma, for example, insisted that the earth was the center of the universe and scientific investigation demonstrated otherwise, Aryan man was compelled by his innate regard for the truth to accept the latter at the expense of the former. In so doing, he came to question all other aspects of a once-sacrosanct belief system.

For the modem Church, this poses an impossible dilemma. The more it adheres to its fundamental doctrines, the more preposterous they must appear and the quicker will be its demise. On the other hand, once it attempts to reconcile itself with the findings of science by reinterpreting and redefining its basic tenets, it automatically concedes its moral position and its very reason for existence as an arbiter of truth.

The fact is that Christianity, as the dominant ideology of the West, has failed. It has exhausted all of its historical possibilities. No longer does it carry the emotional, mythic, polarizing force necessary to direct the spiritual life of a culture. Indeed, it is a spent cultural force no longer capable of adapting successfully to new organic realities.

All of this can be readily seen in the emptiness and sterility of modem cultural expression—reflecting the absence of any real spiritual values—as well as in the secularization of the Christian idea itself into liberal democracy and Marxism. Especially is this to be noted in the self-devaluation process of ecumenism and interfaith/inter-ideological dialogue, which constitutes the clearest concession by Christianity that it has failed and no longer has anything vital to offer. For once the Church admits that its doctrines are coequal with those of the nonbeliever, then what reason is there to be a believer?

It is not without significance that while the influence of Christianity is waning in the West, it is—through the sheer force of demographic pressure—gaining souls and expanding among nonwhites. Not only is this particularly true in Latin America, but also in Africa and—to a lesser extent—in Asia as well.

This development has, of course, not escaped the notice of the Church, which—with obsequious interracial posturing and attempts to divorce itself from its historical Western setting—has chosen to redirect the Christian appeal toward the colored world as the primary area of its interest and concern. In abandoning its Western role, however, Christianity has announced its conclusion as a cultural force. And so, whatever it may have traditionally represented for past generations of Europeans and North Americans no longer obtains.

Accordingly, it would be a mistake to assume that the Judeo-Christian idea has anything to offer the white peoples in their contemporary struggle for survival—that it might in any way be capable of addressing the vital needs and concerns of endangered Aryan life on this planet.

What now exists in the name of Christianity—apart from certain nostalgic, retrograde attempts to revive a historical corpse in a world of uncertainty and personal insecurity—is nothing more than fossil formalism and sterile nominalism without genuine vitality or substance, reflecting the marginal relevance of this particular ideology in today’s society. For in the face of modem realities, the Christian worldview simply has nothing more to say. It has fulfilled its historic role; it is now moribund. At best, it is irrelevant. At worst, it is an avowed enemy, a deadly menace to the Aryan race and its survival.

It may well be argued that the worst consequences of such ideological and spiritual error were far less conspicuous before the Second World War. Does the same hold true today, however, when the final effects of that error can be plainly seen? For well over a millennium now, Christianity has held a monopoly as the self-proclaimed custodian of the spiritual and moral well-being of an entire cultural order—for which one must reasonably assume that it has accepted concomitant responsibility.

What, then, are the fruits of its spiritual regime? We see them all around us. They are the symptoms of a diseased civilization: decadence, degeneracy, depravity, corruption, pollution, egoism, hedonism, materialism, Marxism and ultimately atheism. Yes, atheism. By destroying whatever natural religious feeling once existed in the hearts of our people and substituting alien myths and superstitions, it must now bear full responsibility for the diminished capacity for spiritual belief among our folk.

It will perhaps be objected that the Church itself is opposed to all of the above indesiderata. I am sorry: the responsibility for what has been claimed as a divine charge cannot be so easily evaded. Words aside, these happen to be the actual results of its earthly reign.

The Promethean spirit of Aryan man, for its part, must now look in other directions.

Apocalypse for whites • XXXV

by Evropa Soberana

The destruction of the Greco-Roman World – 3

(Fifth century)

401
A crowd of Christians lynched the Hellenists in Carthage, destroying temples and idols. In Gaza, the Hellenists are lynched at the request of Bishop Porphyry, who also orders the destruction of the nine temples still standing in the city. That same year, the 15th Council of Chalcedon commands the excommunication—even after their deaths!—of Christians who keep good relationships with their Hellenist relatives.

St. John Chrysostom, ‘Holy and Father of the Church’, raises funds with the help of rich, boring, idle and resentful Christian women against the patriarchal Roman worship of perfection and war (such women are fascinated by the sickly Christian sadomasochism). Thus financed, he carries out a work of demolition of Greek temples. Thanks to John Chrysostom, the ancient temple of Artemis in Ephesus is demolished.

The immense temple of Artemis in Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and had been built in the 6th century BCE over an area considered sacred since, at least, the Bronze Age. Its construction took 120 years and it could be said that it was perfectly comparable to a cathedral. The Christians end the existence of this
almost millennial building.

406-407
Emperor Arcadius returns to launch a decree in which he prohibits all non-Christian cults, which means that at this point so-called ‘paganism’ persists. A group of foederati tribes (federated to Rome, residents within its borders and faithful defenders of the empire), the Vandals, the Swabians and the Alans (the latter of Iranian origin, not Germanic) invaded France, destined for Spain.

408
Emperor Honorius of the Western Empire and Emperor Arcadius of the Eastern Empire ordered together that all Greco-Roman sculptures be destroyed. There are again destructions of temples, massacres and fires of their writings. Around this time, the famous African St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, ‘Saint, Father and Doctor of the Church’ massacred hundreds of adepts of the old ways in Calama, Algeria. (It will not be long before he died at the hands of the Vandals, a Germanic people that doesn’t walk around nonsense.) Augustine also established the persecution of judges who show mercy to the ‘idolaters’.

This same year of 408 the emperor Arcadius dies, being succeeded by the Emperor Theodosius II. To get an idea of the fanaticism, dementia and moral quality of this abortive subhuman, suffice it to say that he ordered children to be executed for playing with pieces of destroyed Greco-Roman statues. According to the same Christian historians, Theodosius II ‘meticulously followed the Christian teachings’.

Emperor Theodosius II. Judging by the quality of the portrait, the
empire was not in good shape under his reign, or perhaps
it is that the old sculptors had been killed.

While all this takes place, this same year of 408 a Roman chief of Germanic origin who had courageously defended the borders of the empire, Stilicho the vandal, is executed by a party of decadent Romans envious of his triumphs. After his unjust death, this party gives a sort of coup d’état and the women and children—we are talking about a minimum of 60,000 people—of the German foederati are massacred throughout Italy by the Christians. After this cowardly act the fathers and husbands of these families (30,000 men who had been faithful soldiers of Rome) went over the ranks of the Visigothic king Alaric, devastated with rage and calling for revenge against the murderers.

409
The Roman Empire collapses in irremissibly crisis, in filthy corruption and overwhelmed by the Germans. But the powerful Christians are in a hurry to eradicate the Greco-Roman legacy before the Germans discover it—lest the Germanised empire becomes Greece-Rome II! That same year, Swabians, Vandals and Alans cross the Pyrenees and invade Spain.

410
An army of Visigoths and other German allies loot Rome itself, continuing later in the south of France, Spain and Africa. From there, they try to dominate the Mediterranean.