Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christian Wahhabis...

... in 4th/5th century Syria:

"Decades before the laws of the land permitted them to, zealous Christians began to indulge in acts of violent vandalism against their 'pagan' neighbours. The destruction in Syria was particularly savage. Syrian monks - fearless, rootless, fanatical - became infamous both for their intensity and for the violence with which they attacked temples, statues and monuments - and even, it was said, any priests who opposed them. Libanius, the Greek orator from Antioch, was revolted by the destruction that he witnessed. 'These people,' he wrote, '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... So they sweep across the countryside like rivers in spate.' Libanius spoke elegiacally of a huge temple on the frontier with Persia, a magnificent building with a beautiful ceiling, in whose cool shadows had stood numerous statues. Now, he said, 'it is vanished and gone, to the grief of those who had seen it' - and the grief of those who now never would. This temple had been so striking, he said, that there were even those who argued that it was as great as the temple of Serapis - which, he added with an irony not lost on later historians, 'I pray may never suffer the same fate.'*

"Not only were the monks vulgar, stinking, ill-educated and violent they were also, said their critics, phoneys. They pretended to adopt lives of austere self-denial but actually they were no better than drunken thugs, a black-robed tribe 'who eat more than elephants and, by the quantities of drink they consume, weary those that accompany their drinking with the singing of hymns.' After going on their rampage these men would then, he said, 'hide these excesses under an artificially contrived pallor and pretend to be holy, self-denying monks once again.' Drunks they might have been but, as Libanius saw, they were ferociously effective. 'After demolishing one [temple], they scurry to another, and to a third, and trophy is piled on trophy' - and all this 'in contravention of the law'." (The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey, 2017, pp 107-08)

I'm now reading Catherine Nixey's ground-breaking, Christians-behaving-badly, history, and, guess what: plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose. Who'd have thought? The ideal Christmas gift!

[Destroyed by a Christian mob led by Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, in AD 392.]


Anonymous said...

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

It's an oldie but a goodie.

What is the matter with the human condition that allows these things to repeat?

Keep up your good work MERC. It's great to be informed on the reality of the horrors in the Middle East and the behind the scenes machinations in the so called 'civilised' and 'rules based' western countries that allow these horrors to continue.

Free Palestine, It's ultimate freedom for us all.

MERC said...

"What is the matter with the human condition... " Where do we begin?