Chronicle 23. THE GENOCIDE OF THE HELLENES
Χρονικό 23. Η ΓΕΝΟΚΤΟΝΙΑ ΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΩΝ
“In the early Middle Ages, in the time of Valens, Valentinian and Theodosius, there was a veritable ‘Inquisition’ established in the East, whose atrocities, persecutions and massacres were in no way inferior to those of the Spanish Inquisitors, who just persecuted people for sinister faith, while the Orthodox ‘penalizers’ in the Orient intended to eliminate en masse anyone who was Hellenizing or philosophizing on the face of the earth.” (Emmanuel Rhoides)
NATURAL SELECTION, Charles Darwin’s revolutionary evolutionary theory – a cornerstone of biology – does not apply to man-made creations, which are instead “artificially selected” (censored), on the basis of ideological prejudice against all non-conformist ideas. Big Brother, it seems, has been omnipresent long before George Orwell’s 1984, burning not only books and libraries, but on many occasions the authors themselves, while “purifying” society and rewriting “history”… The motives of such crimes against humanity are very rarely outright politico-economical; as a rule, they are disguised behind a religious mask – especially when this religion is monotheistic, i.e. antagonistic to all the other creeds, authoritarian, and also power-hungry. Note that among the monotheistic religions, Christianism is the “unchallenged champion” of such crimes. Here is a short list of the first phase:
● 213–210 BCE. The “burning of books and burying of scholars” campaign during the Qin Dynasty of ancient China epitomizes the “war against freedom of thought and speech” that is still raging: all Chronicles, except those by the Qin historians, the Classics of Poetry and History, works of Confucius and several other schools, should be burned; and anyone discussing these books be executed. More than 460 scholars, or almost 1200, according to another count, were buried alive. The campaign soon led to revolts and war resulting to a further damage of texts of history: the capital was sacked and burned, in 207 BCE, destroying the officially sanctioned works in the imperial library, as well.
● Circa 160 CE. Epicurus’ book Established Beliefs was burned in a Paphlagonian market, by order of a charlatan prophet. It was just a first glimpse of what would follow, as soon as these charlatans climbed up the highest echelons of power…
● 170s CE. Describing the Bible as “utter trash”, “a Greek intellectual named Celsus launched a monumental… attack against the new religion”, writes Catherine Nixey in her well-documented study, The Darkening Age / The Christian Destruction of the Classical World – hence our many, lengthy quotations in the previous, present, and next Chronicle. “Celsus was more than disdainful; he was worried that this religion – which he considered stupid, pernicious and vulgar – might spread even further and… damage Rome. Over 1,500 years later, the 18th century English historian Edward Gibbon would draw similar conclusions, laying part of the blame for the fall of the Roman Empire firmly at the door of the Christians… The Church… promptly placed his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, its list of banned books.(a) Even in liberal England, the atmosphere became fiercely hostile to the historian”.(b)
● However, both Celsus and Gibbon were right: “What… if God and Caesar both laid claim to the same thing? Well, said the great thinkers of the first Christian century, in that case God took precedence. As Augustine put it, if God’s law diverged from Roman law, then the Heavenly City and its inhabitants were compelled ‘to dissent, and to become obnoxious to those who think differently’… At the highest level the Church was starting to challenge the power of the state. Roman observers had long noticed the Christian tendency to consider themselves above the law… ‘There is no crime’, declared Shenoute, ‘for those who have Christ’… Murder committed for the sake of God was not a crime but actually ‘a prayer’… As Christianity gained in power their acts of defiance gained in boldness. Courtrooms in the east of the empire were disrupted by sinister groups of dark-clad, psalm-chanting monks… Monks – anonymous, rootless, untraceable – were able to commit atrocities with near impunity… Even Theodosius, a wholeheartedly Christian emperor, mutedly observed that ‘the monks commit many crimes’.” Gibbon, on his part, comparing the monks with “a race of filthy animals”, wrote: “In almost every province of the Roman world, an army of fanatics, without authority and without discipline, invaded the peaceful inhabitants; and the ruin of the fairest structures of antiquity still displays the ravages of those barbarians”.
● Catherine Nixey begins her dramatic narrative in Palmyra in 385 CE. Exactly the same scenes, unfortunately, would unfold in the city of Zenobia, the “nymph of the desert”, even nowadays, committed by the terrorists of the Islamic State. But what’s happened now in a single region of Syria, or in one country, Afghanistan, by the Taliban, was then about to spread to an entire empire and last for many centuries:
“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… Great stone columns that had stood for centuries collapsed in an afternoon; statues… had their faces mutilated; temples… fell in a single day… In this atmosphere, Palmyra’s temple of Athena was an obvious target… The ‘triumph’ of Christianity had begun.”
● “Today”, says Nixey, “almost no one has heard of Celsus and fewer still have read his work… It simply disappeared… Almost all information about him has vanished, including any of his names except his last… The long and inglorious Christian practice of censorship was now beginning… Celsus accused Christians of actively targeting idiocy in their recruitment… Lack of education made listeners vulnerable to dogma, he argued. Christians ‘do not want to give or to receive a reason for what they believe, and use such expressions as «Do not ask questions; just believe», and «Thy faith will save thee»’… They declare that ‘Wisdom in this life is evil, but foolishness is good’ – an almost precise quotation from [Saul’s (Paul’s) Epistle to the] Corinthians… To men as educated as Celsus… this was unfathomable: in Greek philosophy, faith was the lowest form of cognition.”
● Christian leaders might have “actively targeted idiocy in their recruitment”, but were anything but… idiots themselves, choosing as their ideal target group “the vast majority of the empire – perhaps 80-90% of men, and a higher percentage of women – [that] was illiterate”. The Christians selected them because they were “hoi polloi” (the many), in order not to upgrade them (with “bread, education, freedom!”), but to downgrade the whole society to their level. Christianism has never been an ideology of liberation; quite the opposite:
“Many of those who set out for the hills” to become monks, Nixey points out, “were poor and illiterate. Some were even slaves – much to the irritation of their Christian superiors. Nietzsche and Engels would later equate Christianity and its values with slaves and slave morality – but if that was true, then no one had told the most powerful Christians in this period. They had no truck with such dangerously revolutionary ideas as the emancipation of slaves. Far from encouraging the escape of Christian slaves, senior clerics cracked down hard on any who attempted to escape their mortal bondage by disappearing into the desert for a more heavenly servitude. When one bishop advised slaves to desert their masters and become ascetics, the Church was appalled and promptly excommunicated him. ‘We shall never’, stated a Canon of the Holy Apostles, ‘allow such a thing, which brings sorrow to the masters to whom the slaves belong’… In the 4th century, St Theodore appeared: a saint whose speciality was finding missing slaves. Sleep on St Theodore’s tomb and… he would appear in your dream and show you where your recalcitrant slave was hiding.” (Then the Church will collect the reward!)
Seen from this perspective, the analogies between Christianism and fascism – apart from the same methodology – become more apparent. Both, though they are systemic, tempt and entrap the underprivileged. (More about Christianism and slavery, and how they are related, you can read in the next Chronicle).
“A few decades after Celsus wrote On the True Doctrine, a more monumental assault was made on the Christian faith by another Greek philosopher”, Nixey goes on. “Yet today this philosopher’s name, like Celsus’s, has been all but forgotten. He was, we know, called Porphyry and his attack was immense – at least 15 books [Against the Christians]… It targeted Old Testament history, and poured scorn on the blind faith of Christians… Porphyry’s works were deemed so powerful and frightening that they were completely eradicated. The first Christian emperor, Constantine… announced… they were destroyed. In the same letter Constantine also consigned the works of the heretic, Arius, to the flames and announced that anyone who was found hiding one of Arius’s books would be put to death. A century or so later, in AD 448, Porphyry’s books were burned again, this time on the orders of… Theodosius II and Valentinian III.”
● The Christian counter-attack to Celsus came some eighty-odd years later, and signed by Origen: thanks to his text, we now know what the True Doctrine was about. In the meantime, Clement of Alexandria formulated a Christian guide in his own manual, Paedagogus (Tutor; a most inappropriate title), which exposes alarmingly the psychopathology of Christian leaders, even before these fanatics climbed up to power. What Nixey says is most revealing and hair-raising:
“As Clement wrote, the Lord himself had said: ‘I will sharpen my sword… and I will render justice to mine enemies, and requite those who hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh from the blood of the wounded’.(c) Clement, in… authoritative paragraphs, peppered with frequent… threats from the scriptures, advised the faithful on every aspect of their day, from what they were allowed to eat and drink to what they could wear; from how they could style their hair to even what they were allowed to do in bed.(d) In… his guide he censured almost every human activity.”
Two centuries later, “John Chrysostom advised avoiding dinners altogether in favour of funerals. ‘It is better to go’, he thundered… ‘where there is weeping, lamentation, groans, and anguish, and so much sadness, than where there is the dance, the cymbals, and laughter, and luxury, and full eating and drinking’… [! In addition,] contact with women of all kinds was something to be feared and, if possible, avoided altogether… [! But he] jubilantly observed: ‘The tradition of the forefathers… the tyranny of joy, [!] the accursed festivals… have been obliterated’: Pagan festivals, with their exuberant merriment and dancing, were banned… In 407 [the year John died], the old merry ceremonies were forbidden… If anyone declared himself an official in charge of pagan festivals then, the law said, he would be executed.”(e)
“In literature of a newly sadistic strain, Christian writers outlined in graphic detail what awaited those who did not comply with the edicts… The punishments for sinners were atrocious… The Apocalypse of Peter reveled in verse after stomach-churning verse on what happened in Hell. In it, the reader is taken on an infernal safari in which the retributions for various misdeeds are pointed out with relish… Even children don’t escape.”
“Theatre was abhorred as a repository of blasphemous filth… What the Greeks considered civilized – even civilizing – Christian preachers reviled as ‘depravity’… a ‘disease’ and a ‘wanton madness’… Everything about the theatre was… from the Devil. The theatre… was a place of lust and drunkenness, a ‘citadel of all vile practices’. The ‘abominations’ that happened on stage were a ‘lawless corruption’ designed to pollute the ears and eyes of the audience… Tragedies were bloody, comedies were wanton… Actors were whores: Christians regularly substituted the words ‘actor’ and ‘dancer’ with the word ‘prostitute’; the theatre itself was ‘the temple of lust for prostitution’. Almost every kind of display was… stained with Satanism… As one preacher boasted, Christians smashed the flutes of the ‘musicians of the demons’ to pieces… The music that people danced to was considered perilous, for music can take away men’s senses, and mesmerize them, whipping them into a frenzy of lust.(f)
“As Tertullian joyfully explained, all of these miscreants would be consumed in the avenging fires of the Lord – and he and his fellow obedient Christians would be there, enjoying the sight. What need for the theatre or the hippodrome now?, he asked. Because for the Christian faithful there are ‘other spectacles to come – that day of the Last Judgement, when the hoary age of the world and all its generations will be consumed in one fire’.”
● 313. The Edict of Milan on Freedom of religion, which Constantine the “Great” and “Saint” adopted, was meant to protect the Christians, but as it turned out, it seems it concerned only them. Following Galerius’ initiative, who had adopted a similar measure in 311, the emperor aimed at consolidating peace (Pax Romana) in the empire, something that had not been achieved through the persecution of Christians. But he was a… mama’s boy (as his mother, Helena, was a fanatical Christian). Therefore, instead of imposing the strict implementation of religious freedom, he was anything but impartial: the ancient gods on his coinage were replaced by Christian symbols, especially the “XP” monogram, which he had also on his labarum. Hence it was obvious the persecutions would go on; there was just a change of roles: the formerly persecuted were now the persecutors. It was also obvious that the new persecutions would be much more brutal and bloody, widespread and long-lasting (in perpetuum), for the very simple reason that the Christian leaders, who found themselves in a dominant position, confronted the vast majority of the empire’s subjects, who remained faithful to their traditional gods.(g) Besides, it was even ironic that the persecutions were further multiplied because, as soon as the Christian priesthood was legalized, infighting broke out! As early as 313, the year of the edict, until 317, bishops threw brickbats against bishops in Carthage, until they asked for Constantine’s arbitration. There were three ecclesiastical councils and two trials before one faction (that of Donatus) was judged schismatic, with the result that its property was confiscated and the clergy banished.
“The emperor Constantine proclaimed himself a follower of Christ”, recounts Nixey. “Under his auspices, the Church was soon exempted from taxes and its hierarchy started to be richly rewarded. Bishops were paid five times as much as professors, six times as much as doctors – as much even as a local governor. Eternal delight in the next life, bureaucratic preferment in this. What more could one wish for?”
● 325-326. Emperor Constantine ordered a temple of Aphrodite in Jerusalem to be demolished for the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre there. In the meantime, all the Hellenic sanctuaries on Athos were destroyed, while in the following years even more ancient temples were burned and torn down, and Christian churches erected on the ruins. Soon, this “operation” became “legal”, ordered by the king – who made sure that there were no pagan temples built in his new capital.
“The great Roman and Greek temples were – or so Eusebius said – broken open and their statues brought out, then mutilated”, writes Nixey. “Officials ‘scraped off the material which seemed to be usable, purifying it by smelting with fire’, then poured the precious metal into the public purse… Constantine, as his nephew the ‘apostate’ emperor, Julian,(h) would scornfully say, was a ‘tyrant with the mind of a banker’… A market of plundered art developed and Christians… took to levering out and selling statues that were particularly valuable… The Greek poet Palladas archly observed, as he looked at a fine array of gods in the house of one wealthy Christian, that ‘the inhabitants of Olympus, having become Christians, live here undisturbed: for here, at least, they will escape the cauldron that melts them down for petty change’.”
But early Christians were neither “bankers”, nor wealthy merchants; they were ignorant people and idiots – including some emperors:
“As Julian acerbically observed, while Constantine robbed the temples, his sons overthrew them.” Nixey describes vividly how, “in a spasm of destruction never seen before… the Christian Church demolished, vandalized and melted down a simply staggering quantity of art… In Athens, a larger-than-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.(i) 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 Sparta, 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 Egypt, countless chisel blows neatly defaced… the images of the gods in the Dendera temple complex on the left bank of the Nile. Divine figures were attacked with tiny hack marks – usually several hundred for each figure… Eberhard Sauer, a specialist in the archaeology of religious hatred, has observed that the closeness of these cuts… hints at blows made with almost frantic rapidity.”
“We will never know quite how much was wiped out. Statues were pulverized, shattered, scattered, burned and melted into absence… 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 sacred groves of the old gods… were set about with axes and their ancient trees hacked down… Moments of vandalism were immortalized in glowing terms in Christian hagiographies… Far more violence was buried by silence… While it might take months of effort, years of training and centuries of accumulated knowledge to build a Greek temple, it took little more than zeal and patience to destroy one… People built themselves houses from the stones of demolished temples… One law announced that the stones from these temples should be used to repair roads, bridges and aqueducts. In Constantinople, a former temple of Aphrodite was used to store a bureaucrat’s chariots… The desecration continued for centuries.”
● Let’s pick up the thread again. The king ordered the execution of the eunuch priests in Egypt, because they… “offended” his “morals”. The same fate awaited dozens of gentiles, pagans, who were considered as “sorcerers of the evil”, and responsible for the poor harvesting in 335. Among them was the philosopher Sopater of Apamea, a disciple of the Neoplatonist Iamblichus, despite the favour and personal friendship of Constantine he enjoyed. According to the Hellene historian and sophist Eunapius, the king was convinced by some adviser that, by magical arts, the pagan philosopher had… obstructed the arrival of a fleet laden with grain! Constantine’s son, Constantius II, a zealous Arian, also persecuted the seers, prophets, magicians, astrologers, and other diviners, for he feared he would be deprived of his throne by “spells”! The serpent of Judeo-Christian obscurantism had been hatched…(j)
● A Hellene, for the early Christian Church, was a gentile, a pagan; the word retained that meaning until the end of the millennium. The Greeks distinguished themselves from others according to cultural standards; the Jews did so according to religious standards. It is more than obvious what each people’s contribution to civilization and what their ideals have been. In his Epistles, Paul almost always juxtaposes Hellenes to Hebrews, in disregard of all other ethnicities (Romans, Syrians, Egyptians, etc.) living in the area at the time. It is more than obvious who he considered an enemy! Another “softer” interpretation is that a Hellene for him was a polytheist, while a Hebrew was a monotheist. Nota bene, a gentile is, first of all, a non-Jew (and not a non-Christian). The word Hellene meaning pagan has persisted into modern times. Many advocates of a revival of the Olympian gods’ worship call themselves Hellenic Polytheists, while the religion is called Hellenism. Such persons outside of Greece are careful not to imply that they consider themselves Greek nationals.
● “The word ‘pagan’,” according to Nixey, “was a pejorative and insulting word… It was also a Christian innovation: before Christianity’s ascendancy few people would have thought to describe themselves by their religion at all. After Christianity, the world became split, forevermore, along religious boundaries; and words appeared to demarcate these divisions. One of the most common was ‘pagan’. Initially this word had been used to refer to a civilian rather than a soldier. Later, Christian writers concocted false, unflattering etymologies for it: they said it was related to the word pagus, to the ‘peasants’… It was not; but such slurs stuck and ‘paganism’ acquired an unappealing whiff of the rustic and the backward – a taint it carries to this day.”
Besides, the English writer thinks it is better to “avoid ascribing modern nationalities to ancient characters and instead describe them by the language they chiefly wrote in. Thus the orator Libanius, though he was born and lived in Syria, is described not as a ‘Syrian’ but as a Greek. This was a cosmopolitan world where anyone… might consider himself to be a ‘Hellene’ – a Greek”, she adds.
● Constantius was the emperor who initiated the anti-paganistic legislation that in time would become the basis of the Inquisition. He escalated persecutions, as well, setting up a concentration camp in Scythopolis, Palestine, where Hellenes, other gentiles and all those who were considered to be “enemies of the empire”, singled out by vile royal counselors, were tortured and killed. Relevant evidence is given by Ammianus Marcellinus – “a former officer and Hellene”, as he used to describe himself, even in those hard times, born perhaps in Antioch. The idea for the construction of the camp was attributed to to George of Cappadocia, bishop of Alexandria, whose end would be as bad as his life was, once Julian ascended the throne.
● 356. “It became illegal – on pain of death – to worship images”, observes Nixey. “‘Pagans’ began to be described as ‘madmen’ whose beliefs must be ‘completely eradicated’, while sacrifice was a ‘sin’ and anyone who performed such an evil would be ‘struck with the avenging sword’.” Christianism’s Orwellian Brave New World was in need of a surveillance network. “Roman emperors had always used informers – ‘delatores’. Now, they were put to the service of the Church. Men of all ranks were required to become informers… If they refused or failed in their duties, then they themselves would be held accountable. Among those whom the clergy were tasked with reporting on were actors, actresses and, as one revealing little law added, prostitutes ‘who wore monastic habits’. The punishments could be terrible… [e.g.] by having molten lead poured down [one’s] throat. Correction was paramount.” (!)
● February 4, 362. Julian promulgated an edict to guarantee freedom of religion, proclaiming that all religions were equal in front of the Law, and that the Roman Empire had to return to its former religious eclecticism, according to which it did not impose any religion. As a student of philosophy in Athens, the last emperor who consciously rejected Christianism, was initiated to the Eleusinian Mysteries, which he later tried to restore, and became acquainted with two future bishops and “saints”: Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil of Caesarea.
Julian (361–363) was a complex personality: “military commander, philosopher, theosophist, social reformer, and man of letters”, who wrote in Greek. Of course, several of his works have been “lost”; one of the most important of such “lost works” was his Against the Galileans (Christians). He was half-Hellene from his mother. His parents were Christians; he was given a Christian education. Yet, he converted from Christianism to Hellenism when he was 20. The emperor’s role did not suit him, as he disliked absolute autocracy. He considered the ideal ruler as being primus inter pares (“first among equals”), and equal before the law to his subjects. Julian often frequented in the Senate, participating in debates as a member, not as a king. His habit of talking to his subjects on an equal footing, dressing casually, and leading an ascetic lifestyle, were all misunderstood by “hoi polloi”, who thought that he should behave like an all-powerful Emperor.
He continually sought to reduce the burdensome and corrupt bureaucracy, and dismissed the surplus staff, either civic officials, or secret agents. He promoted decentralization for the same reason, transferring authorities to the cities from the capital. Of course, he repealed the stipends that Constantine had awarded to bishops, and removed the privileges of the Church, as well. He envisioned the institution of a philanthropic system, as the Christian charities were open to all, including pagans, and criticized the priests of the old religion: “These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their agapae,(k) they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes.”
After five months in Constantinople, he spent the next nine months in Antioch, preparing a campaign to Persia. He was disappointed a lot there, when he saw wealthy merchants hoarding food and selling it at high prices, with the situation heading for a famine. Despite his interventions, the curia and the city’s leading citizens did nothing. Finally, he fixed prices, and imported grain from Egypt; at the same time, he forced the landholders to sell. Then he tried to resurrect the ancient oracular spring of Castalia at a nearby temple of Apollo, where, however, a bishop had been buried. His order for the bones to be removed resulted to a massive Christian procession; shortly after, the temple was destroyed by fire. In 363, he ordered Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt: again, fires broke out and the works stopped. No need to say that in both cases, these fires were acts of sabotage by Christians, which could be described as “acts of terror”.
Julian was mortally wounded under mysterious circumstances during the Persian campaign, before he could implement his vision (“an act of God!”, the Christians would blissfully say, praising the “Lord”). But was it, indeed, “an act of God”? In 364, Libanius said that Julian was assassinated by a Christian soldier of his own army; but 14 years later, he… corrected himself, claiming that Julian was killed by a Saracen – though this turnaround happened in a period when the Christians were back in power. According to John Malalas, Basil of Caesarea commanded the assassination. Later Christian historians propagated the idea that Julian was killed by “saint” Mercurius. Considered apocryphal (Christian fantasy) is a report that his dying words were “νενίκηκάς με, Γαλιλαῖε!” (“You have won, Galilean!”). Julian would certainly speak in the plural: “You have won, Galileans!” (compare his work Against the Galileans): there’s a big difference.
● As regards bishop George, according to Julian himself, Ammianus, as well as Christian historians, such as Sozomenus, Theodoret, or Socrates Scholasticus:
… “he manifested his anti-pagan zeal in excess with arbitrary acts and insulting speeches, exacting onerous taxes, procuring the banishment of Zeno, a prominent pagan physician,(l) preventing the pagans from offering sacrifices and celebrating their gentile feasts, and bringing Artemius, duke of Egypt, whom the Alexandrians dreaded, for he was much given to the destruction of idols: he invaded with an armed force into the superb temple of Serapis [Serapeum], which was forthwith stripped of images, votive offerings, and ornaments… The news of Julian’s accession arrived at Alexandria on November 30, 361. George was at the height of his pride and power: he had persecuted and mocked the pagans, who now… felt that the gods could, at last, be avenged”… He was thrown into prison with two others who had overthrown a pagan altar; but “in the morning of December 24, the pagan mob again assembled, dragged them forth with horrible shouts of triumph, and kicked them to death.” Then they led the bodies through every part of the city and “eventually burned the remains on the shore, casting the ashes into the sea.” Alexandria, the glorious centre of Hellenistic civilization, was gradually sinking into the abyss…
● But who was that “duke of Egypt” (dux Aegypti), Artemius? For the Christians, he was none other than the “martyr” and “saint” Artemius of Antioch, where he was tried and beheaded in 362 for abuse of power and maladministration of his province, having demolished temples and broken down their idols – on his own will, or instigated by George. The Church apparently felt that his work was “God-blessed”! However, there’s a chance that in Julian’s years, we have not only one, but two “martyrs”: Artemius and George. The English historian Edward Gibbon e.g. identifies George of Cappadocia, the bishop, with… George of Lydda, the “saint”! The former was an Arian (i.e. a heretic), therefore, a “black sheep”. But the latter was the hero of a legend that, in several variations, fascinated even the Muslims. So, he should be preserved. The disinformation operation was thus put into motion (keep in mind that what information we have has passed through… a thousand censoring “sieves”)! George the “saint” was supposedly martyred in 303, during the Diocletian persecution. The technology of the era, however, did not allow a non-existent person to acquire flesh and bone. That’s why we know nothing about the “saint”, nor is there any proof that he ever existed. Whatever we know is according to… tradition. The oldest text referring to the legend, but without naming George, is Eusebius’ Church History in the 4th century (about his credibility, see Chronicle 19). The oldest text preserving fragments of the legend is in a Greek hagiography, a 5th-century palimpsest. But its compiler, just like Gibbon, also identifies the martyr with his namesake bishop.
● “As the early Christian author Origen admitted”, comments Nixey, “the numbers of martyrs were few enough to be easily countable; the Christians had died for their faith ‘occasionally’… Several saints appear never to have existed at all. It is now thought that fewer than ten martyrdom tales… can be considered reliable… There were few persecutions of those years: the Decian; the Valerian, seven years later, and ‘the Great [Diocletian] Persecution’ fifty-odd years after that in AD 303. And not all of these ‘persecutions’ were intended to explicitly target Christians… The Romans did not seek to wipe Christianity out. If they had, they would almost certainly have succeeded… The martyr stories… show what the scholar G. E. M. de Ste. Croix called ‘an increasing contempt for historicity’… The brief and sporadic Roman persecutions of Christians would pale in comparison to what the Christians inflicted on others – not to mention on their own heretics.”
● 363. When Julian was dead, the “purple” (the “crown”, as they used to say of later kings) was given, due to a “misunderstanding”, to Jovian, who established Christianism again as the official religion. Being under the influence of “saint” Athanasius of Alexandria, he moved “as if by magic” from tolerance to bigotry, subjecting those who worshipped ancestral gods to death and also ordering the Library of Antioch to be burned down.(m) However, he was unable to complete his “mission”: he died (or… they made him die) half a year later. Very soon this task would be undertaken by Theodosius I.
● The “witch-hunt”, in the meantime, continued with even greater intensity, after Julian’s short reign: Hellenic philosophical and scientific treatises were burned in public, and hundreds of Greeks or other pagans, accused of sorcery, were being pilloried, imprisoned, tortured, executed, and their properties were confiscated. Among them was another philosopher, Simonides. Such accusations arose from the practice of theurgy, performed by Neoplatonic philosophers. It was “man’s conscious participation in the divine work,” which was accomplished by rituals, invoking god, or gods, with the goal of achieving henosis (union with the divine) and perfecting oneself. It is what the mystics, such as the Sufis, are after until now, with rituals using music and poetry, singing and dancing – and what the people of the Church detest until now.
● 364. Maximus, Julian’s instructor in philosophy and theurgy, was accused of causing a lengthy illness in the new emperors, Valentinian and Valens, but was acquitted due to lack of evidence. In 365-366, however, he was again arrested for illegitimate enrichment. A heavy fine was imposed and he was tortured since he was not able to pay. Around 370, his name was implicated in some rumours about an oracle on who the next emperor would be. Valens reacted hysterically, unleashing a massacre, and as a result, he was loathed by his subjects. Maximus was tortured and beheaded in 372, although, according to Eunapius, he had no involvement in this plot.
● 4th century, 3rd quarter. “One of the most infamous assaults on thinkers and books took place in Antioch… Ammianus Marcellinus… one of the finest historians of the era, happened to be there. An accusation of treasonous divination led to a full-scale purge that targeted the city’s intellectuals… A noble of ‘remarkable literary attainments’ was one of the first to be arrested and tortured; he was followed by a clutch of philosophers who were variously tortured, burned alive and beheaded. ‘Innumerable books and whole heaps of documents, which had been routed out from various houses, were piled up and burnt under the eyes of the judges. They were treated as forbidden texts to allay the indignation caused by the executions, though most of them were treatises on various liberal arts and on jurisprudence… Throughout the eastern provinces whole libraries were burnt by their owners for fear of a similar fate; such was the terror which seized all hearts’… As John Chrysostom crowed, the writings ‘of the Greeks have all perished and are obliterated’.” Nixey sums up with a most tragic conclusion: “It has been estimated that less than 10% of all classical literature has survived into the modern era.”
● 390. Another “miraculous” metamorphosis was witnessed on Theodosius (379–395). His policy of tolerance in the beginning of his reign gave way to bigotry. The bloody turning point came with his order to his Gothic troops to commit the abominable massacre of Thessalonica in the Hippodrome in 390, when the citizens rebelled against his Germanic mercenary garrison (see Chronicle 18). The people had been invited to watch chariot races; but the Goths closed the gates and slaughtered everyone. The result: 7,000-15,000 Thessalonians killed. Ambrose, the archbishop of Milan, was quick to capitalize on this golden opportunity: he excommunicated Theodosius, and thereby turned him into his obedient instrument.(n) The king submitted himself completely to the Church, and agreed to do public penance, adopting a new role as the champion of the Christian faith. The result was the so-called “Theodosian decrees”, breaking up pagan institutions and destroying their temples. The first act of his “penance” was perhaps the ruination of the temple of Apollo and most of the statues and works of art in Delphi, in the name of Christianism, in the same year (390).(o) The sacred site was totally destroyed by Christian zealots in an attempt to obliterate all traces of Hellenism, which was already proscribed, a “religio illicit”: gentiles would be sought out by Christian informers, brought to court and in many cases executed. This “war on the infidels” was transferred to Alexandria the next year.
● 391. “Theodosius passed a formidable law. ‘No person shall be granted the right to perform sacrifices; no person shall go around the temples; no person shall revere the shrines’. Nor could anyone… venerate his household gods, or burn lights, put up wreaths, or burn incense to them. Then… a new and more terrible law came. ‘If there should be any temples in the country districts, they shall be torn down’… A bishop named Marcellus became ‘the first… to put the edict in force and destroy the shrines’… As the laws against pagans were building to an aggressive crescendo, [he also] destroyed the vast and still hugely popular temple of Zeus at Apamea… It fell with a crash that was loud enough to bring all the townspeople running… Marcellus [at last] was seized and burned alive by outraged polytheists… Today he is worshipped as a saint in the Orthodox Church.” No one could ever imagine what building would be the Christians’ next target. Catherine Nixey’s narrative builds up to a climax:
● “At the end of the first century of Christian rule, the Colosseum 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 [despite destruction inflicted by Artemius]. Its great halls, its columns, its astonishing statues and its art all made it… ‘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.(p) That is because… a bishop, supported by a band of fanatical Christians, reduced it to rubble.”
● In 391, the enormous Serapeum, together with what was left out of the great Library of Alexandria, were looted, burned and razed to the ground by Christian fanatics and troops, at the decrees of Theodosius and archbishop Theophilus, whom Edward Gibbon describes in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as “the perpetual enemy of peace and virtue, a bold, bad man, whose hands were alternately polluted with gold and with blood.” The archbishop had discovered an underground Mithraeum,(q) and together with his followers, mockingly displayed the worshippers’ sacred artifacts offending them enough to provoke an attack on Christians. The latter counterattacked, forcing the Mithraists to retreat to the Serapeum. Theodosius had given Theophilus the go-ahead to destroy, and just asked him to avoid another massacre. As the Christian historiographer, Socrates Scholasticus says in his Ecclesiastical History, Theophilus “caused the Mithraeum to be cleaned out… Then he destroyed the Serapeum… The heathen temples were therefore razed to the ground, and the images of their gods molten into pots and other convenient utensils for the use of the Alexandrian Church.” The temples that were demolished could be declared “abandoned”, as Theophilus immediately noted in applying for permission to convert them into Christian churches – an act that must have received general sanction, for cave-like mithraea turned into crypts, and temples forming the foundations of churches, appear throughout the Roman Empire in the 5th century.
● Standing triumphantly in the ruins, Theophilus looked around in search of his next victim and, after he razed to the ground numerous shrines all over Egypt, turned against the followers of Origen, embarking on a paranoid campaign that killed 10,000 monks: the massacre was unavoidable after all… Nevertheless, the slaughterer is considered a “saint” by the Copts!
“According to later Christian chronicles”, notes Nixey, Serapeum’s devastation “was a victory. According to a non-Christian account, it was a tragedy – and a farce. The Greek writer Eunapius felt the destruction was done less from reverence for the Lord than out of pure greed. In his account the Christians weren’t virtuous warriors: they were hoodlums and thieves. The only thing that they did not steal, he observed acidly, was the floor – and that was left ‘simply because of the weight of the stones which were not easy to move’… The tens of thousands of books, the remnants of the greatest library in the world,(r) were all lost, never to reappear. Perhaps they were burned. As the modern scholar, Luciano Canfora, observed: ‘the burning of books was part of the advent and imposition of Christianity’.”
● The destruction of the Serapeum was seen by many authors as representative of the “triumph of Christianity” over other religions – or the victory of a Hebrew god over Hellenic, Roman, Egyptian, Persian, etc., deities – hence other cultures; while that of the Alexandrian Library symbolized “knowledge and culture ruined”. The library held almost 700,000 scrolls from Hellas, Egypt, Assyria, Persia, India, and several other countries, being part of a grand research institute, an ancient university, called the Musaeum (House of the Muses), where many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world studied and worked, such as: Archimedes, antiquity’s greatest scientist; Ctesibius, the father of pneumatics and inventor of the hydraulis (water organ, or today’s pipe organ; see Chronicle 11); Euclid, the father of geometry; Eratosthenes, who argued for a spherical earth, calculated its circumference, and the tilt of its axis, to near-accuracy; Hero, the father of mechanics, inventor of the first steam engine (aeolipile), a follower of the Atomists; Hipparchus, the father of astronomy and founder of trigonometry; Aristarchus, who proposed the first heliocentric system of the universe; his case is an excellent example: his only extant work, On Sizes and Distances of the Sun and the Moon, is based on the geocentric model; the other book that proposed the alternative hypothesis of heliocentrism is known only through citations by other scientists, such as Archimedes. Is this just a coincidence? Absolutely not!
● In 392, Theodosius banned the mysteries of Aphrodite in Cyprus, while “saint” Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, Christianized gentiles en masse with the threat of slaughter and fire, destroying all sanctuaries. The next year, the king extended the ban to all Pan-Hellenic artistic and athletic festivals and games, such as the Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian, and also the Roman Actia. Given the opportunity, the sanctuaries in Olympia were plundered. In 395, Christian atrocities spread all over Greece, including symbolic sites – not only Olympia, but also Dion, Delphi (again), and Eleusis, where the ancient sanctuary was set to fire and all priests were killed because they had tried to revive the Eleusinian Mysteries.
● Violence reigned supreme during the late 4th century, with ancient temples destroyed and turned into Christian churches, their statues, altars, sanctuaries, carried around and mocked in public before they were shattered, gentile priests killed, and libraries burned. Surviving texts describe this widespread catastrophe in the Orient and Occident, referring among others to: the devastation of holy sites that extended rapidly throughout Egypt; the leveling of all temples in Gaza; the destruction of temples and idols in Syria and around Carthage; the attacks of Martin of Tours on holy sites in Gaul; and the list goes on…
“In France”, writes Nixey, “St Martin, or so the Life of Martin proudly records, ‘set fire to a most ancient and famous shrine’ before moving on to a different village where he ‘completely demolished the temple… and reduced all the altars and statues to dust’. Hagiography records such attacks not as dismal… acts of vandalism but proof of a saint’s virtue. Some of the most famous saints in Christianity kicked off their careers… demolishing shrines. Benedict of Nursia… was celebrated as a destroyer of antiquities. Upon arriving in Monte Cassino, just outside Rome, he smashed an ancient statue of Apollo and destroyed the shrine’s altar. He toured the area ‘pulling down the idols and destroying the groves on the mountain… and gave himself no rest until he had uprooted the last remnant of heathenism’… John Chrysostom, hearing that Phoenicia was still ‘suffering from the madness of the demons’ rites’, sent violent bands of monks, funded by the faithful women of his congregation, to destroy the shrines in the area… In AD 401, Augustine told Christians in Carthage to smash pagan objects because that was what God wanted and commanded… His congregation, eager to sack the temples, started reciting Psalm 83. ‘Let them be humiliated and downcast forever. Let them perish in disgrace’… It has been said that 60 died in riots inflamed by this burst of oratorical fire.” It was an undeclared war.(s)
“The orator Libanius… and other worshippers of the old gods saw… their temples ‘in ruins, their ritual banned, their altars overturned, their sacrifices suppressed, their priests sent packing and their property divided up between a crew of rascals’… The vicious and thuggish attacks on the temples weren’t done out of piety, said Libanius [echoing Eunapius]. They committed them out of pure greed… ‘These attacks are a source of income’ because after raiding not only shrines but also peasant homes, ‘the invaders depart with the loot from the places they have stormed’.”
● A fundamentalist mob, led by “Chrysostom”, destroyed completely the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of antiquity, ca 402, ten years after its closure. Its ruins were used to decorate the Hagia Sophia (columns), the Senate (bronze gates), the palace, and other buildings of Constantinople. A first verbal attack on the temple by Saul-Paul caused a violent riot. Destructions by the Christians started at the end of the 1st century. The “baton” was later taken by the Christian Goths who plundered Artemision in 262 CE. Archaeologists had been searching for six years before they located its traces in 1869.
● The impression one gets on this first “Christian century” is that Julian’s failure to restore freedom of religion was a turning point: the Christians realized what they had achieved and what they were in danger of losing. Their attacks would then reach proportions of an annihilation of all non-Christians, a true genocide – to a paroxysmal point.
Sacrilege of Alexander’s Sōma
IN THIS ATMOSPHERE OF CHAOS AND POLARIZATION, utmost decay and moral degradation, proclaimed as “the triumph of Christianity over idolatry”, the symbolism of a “Victorious Jesus” could not be overwhelming without the “defeat” and “conquest” of the invincible conqueror, Alexander the Great. The king died (probably poisoned) in Babylon in 323 BCE. His body was en route to Macedonia, when it was hijacked by Ptolemy Soter for the prestige of having Alexander’s tomb in Egypt. The deceased, who had been declared as “the son of Amun” by the god’s oracle at Siwa oasis, asked shortly before his death to be buried there, in the temple of Zeus Amun, rather than alongside his biological father, Philip, at Aegae. Ptolemy Philopator built a magnificent mausoleum in Alexandria, inside a huge precinct, known as Sōma (Body), which became one of the most famous and sacred sanctuaries of the ancient world, for Alexander was worshipped as a god in the Macedonian and the Roman Empires – especially in the city he had founded, where he was like a patron. A large number of rulers and politicians, officers and officials, both Hellenes and Romans, paid respects to Alexander visiting the mausoleum. Julius Caesar was the first Roman leader to go to the Sōma, as a pilgrimage to the grave of his hero. Many others followed, from Augustus to Severus. However, there were some sacrilegious villains, like Caligula, who removed the breastplate, and Caracalla, who took the tunic, ring, and belt, while his troops were looting Alexandria for several days, slaughtering over 20,000 citizens, mainly young people, in 215, because of a satire produced in the city mocking his claims that he had killed his brother, co-emperor Geta, in self-defense.
● Nevertheless, even in such a bloodbath and plunder, with the sole exception of those “pickpockets” wearing the imperial purple, there was no real threat to Alexander’s Sōma until the next century. Ammianus Marcellinus described how bishop George, passing by the Sōma, in 361, wondered intentionally aloud in front of the people of Alexandria about the great and magnificent temple of the city’s genius: “How long will this tomb stand?”, he asked. By “genius”, Ammianus meant the tutelary deity of the city, Alexander. After a while, as we have seen, “George was killed for repeated acts of pointed outrage, insult, and pillage of the most sacred treasures of the city.” Besides, he was hated by all, pagans and Christians alike. But George was not alone. Theodosius, in 391, declared illegal the veneration of Alexander, together with all other pagan gods, and afterwards, says Alexandre Grandazzi in his Historia, “a violent Christian and anti-pagan riot exploded leading to the destruction of the great temple of Serapis, and possibly reached… the Sōma: an allusion… in a speech by the orator Libanius indicates that the body was removed from the tomb to be exposed publicly for the last time.” It seems that the body was hijacked again, and buried in a Christian manner since, according to the new dogma, it should be interred, while the preceding practice of entombment was thought to be idolatrous. Everything referring to Hellenism was destroyed, while the burial of important, illustrious persons was no longer done in mausoleums, but in Christian basilicas and underground. It is the time when Alexander’s remains “mysteriously” vanish. Already at the turn of the 4th and 5th centuries, John “Chrysostom” boasted in a sermon that the Macedonian king’s tomb was “unknown to his own people”, i.e. to the Alexandrian polytheists. Some decades later, Alexander was included by Theodoret in his list of famous personages whose graves had been “lost”.
● There are a couple of references to a mosque or tomb of Alexander in Arabic texts dating from the 9th and 10th centuries. They probably allude to a mosque that was reconstructed from ancient architectural elements in the 11th century. Alexander’s empty sarcophagus was found there by Napoleon’s forces in 1798. Leo Africanus, who visited Alexandria around 1517, wrote:
“In the midst of the ruins of Alexandria, there still remains a small edifice, built like a chapel, worthy of notice on account of a remarkable tomb held in high honour by the Mohammedans; in which sepulchre, they assert, is preserved the body of Alexander the Great… An immense crowd of strangers come thither, even from distant countries, for the sake of worshipping and doing homage to the tomb, on which they likewise frequently bestow considerable donations.”
George Sandys, visiting Alexandria in 1611, was also shown a sepulchre venerated as Alexander’s resting place. Whatever the fate of the tomb that was “mysteriously lost” again, these testimonies constitute a double defeat over Christianism: a) Alexander’s veneration continued either with or even without his body, despite the sacrilege; b) a comparison between the two monotheistic religions here ends up overwhelmingly against Christianism.
● According to 21st century historians, such as Andrew Chugg, author of four books on Alexander, one entitled Alexander the Great, the Lost Tomb, there’s a chance that the embalmed body of the great Macedonian king might be preserved in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, where it has been mistakenly venerated as the body of Mark the Evangelist! The latter had gone to Alexandria in 49, and founded the Church there, becoming its first bishop. However, there were Alexandrian pagans who resented his efforts to turn them away from the worship of their traditional gods. So, in 68, they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he died (the mobs, you see, were not a Christian invention: they have been an essential and indispensable “tool” of every ideology and doctrine).
Two Venetian merchants brought the mummy from Muslim Alexandria to Venice in the 9th century, and the doge ordered the so-called Chiesa d’Oro (Church of Gold) to be built next to his palace. The possession of an important relic would have serious political consequences. With a supposed evangelist on its territory, Venice acquired a status almost equal to that of Rome. During the construction of a new basilica in 1063, the relics “mysteriously” disappeared. According to a tradition, “Mark” himself revealed the location of his remains in 1094 by extending his arm from a pillar to the doge of the time. Since 1811, the mummy rests in a crypt under the church’s altar, inside a marble sarcophagus on which there are also several Macedonian symbols. On the contrary, the Copts believe that Mark’s head remains in a church named after him in Alexandria, parts of his relics are in St. Mark’s Cairo Cathedral, and the rest are in Venice.
Nevertheless, there’s just one “little detail”: early Christian writers, such as Dorotheus, Eutychius, and also the author of the Chronicón Paschale, say that Mark’s body was burned by the pagans! How could it be possibly embalmed?
A scientific study on the remains would reveal the secret of their origin. Radiocarbon dating would establish if the body is old enough to match to that of Alexander. And, it would be possible to reconstruct his facial features from the skull (wherever it is), and inspect the bones for signs of multiple injuries, particularly the one inflicted on Alexander’s chest when an arrow penetrated into his sternum…
Do you sincerely think there will be any Church officials who would ever allow such a study, putting at risk the Church’s history for History’s sake?
Next Chronicle 24. THE TRIUMPH OF CRETINISM ● The Genocide of the Hellenes (Β) ● Hypatia’s Assassination ● Colonialism and Slave Trade ● American and African Genocides