The Wednesday Wish…


Summer is coming on strong. A green world here in the NorthWest. Beautiful weather, finally. (ah, the rain is beautiful as well!)

I started running and working out again. Some how, I have convinced Sophie the wonder dog to run with me in the morning. She is good for the first half, then I have to kinda coax (read drag her along) to get her back home. She really is a good sport. (Come on Sophie!)

I have found that running on my own is boring. I keep on getting the same replies to my questions. The discussions are all one sided. Sophie helps with this. She participates in conversations by being a most active listener. She also needs attending to from my side. Encouragement, praise and concern for her well being.

Some interesting finds. The meme of how the US has dealt with its native dwellers, The root of the Pharmacratic Inquisition laid out in a timeline… Poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins…

So far, so good. Off running in a few minutes so I will wind this up…

A Blessing on your day!



On The Menu:

The Links

On Native Grounds

The Roots of the Pharmacratic Inquisition, The First 300 Years of Christian suppression of Pagan Beliefs: “COVERING THE EARTH WITH DARKNESS”

The Poetry: Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Artist: Evelyn De Morgan

Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919) was an English Pre-Raphaelite painter. She was born Evelyn Pickering on 30 August 1855. Her parents were of upper middle class. Her father was Percival Pickering QC, the Recorder of Pontefract. Her mother was Anna Maria Wilhelmina Spencer Stanhope, the sister of the artist John Roddam Spencer Stanhope and a descendant of Coke of Norfolk who was an Earl of Leicester.

Evelyn was homeschooled and started drawing lessons when she was 15. On the morning of her seventeenth birthday, Evelyn recorded in her diary, “Art is eternal, but life is short…” “I will make up for it now, I have not a moment to lose.” She went on to persuade her parents to let her go to art school. At first they discouraged it, but in 1873 she was enrolled at the Slade School of Art. Her uncle, John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, was a great influence to her works. Evelyn often visited him in Florence where he lived. This also enabled her to study the great artists of the Renaissance; she was particularly fond of the works of Botticelli. This influenced her to move away from the classical subjects favoured by the Slade school and to make her own style. In 1887, she married the ceramicist William De Morgan. They lived together in London until he died in 1917. She died two years later on 2 May 1919 in London and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey. (Wikipedia)


The Links:

Halo 3 E3 Trailer

Johnny Cash on the Muppet Show

German ‘Robin Hoods’ give poor a taste of the high life

Thought Crime: Man who painted marijuana images on house may avoid jail

Alcohol is deadlier than ecstasy, says Government’s drugs adviser


On Native Grounds

According to the official mythology, the American Revolution was a struggle between plain, homespun-clad patriots and arrogant redcoats determined to keep them under the heel of George III. The reality was, of course, more complicated. There were well-to-do whites who supported independence and a surprising number of lower-class ones who did not. There were free blacks who fought in the Continental Army and slaves who were royalist nearly to the man (or woman), running away to British lines at the first opportunity. There were also the Indians, some of whom supported the Patriot cause but most of whom sided with the British in the belief that they were the only force capable of restraining the tidal wave of settlers engulfing Indian land.

Alan Taylor’s The Divided Ground is a comprehensive account of this last group from the Revolutionary period to the first years of the nineteenth century in what is now western New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario. The story is an unremittingly dreary one. During the war, the Indians were a valuable commodity, thanks to their superb fighting skills. Their faces painted red, blue and black, their heads completely shaven except for a central ridge of hair known as a scalp lock, they would creep silently through the forest only to erupt in terrifying screams at the moment of attack. British commanders considered 300 Indian warriors “in the Woods” to be worth 1,000 ordinary soldiers, which is why both sides bid so vigorously for their services.

Once the fighting was over, however, their presence became suddenly inconvenient for British colonial officers in Canada and American politicians alike. The Indians were frightening, and they were an impediment to economic progress. “I am confident that sooner or later…no men will be suffered to live by hunting on lands capable of improvement, and which would support more people under a state of cultivation,” a US general named Benjamin Lincoln remarked after visiting New York’s western frontier in 1792. The insufferable hunters in question were of course the Indians, who Lincoln said would “dwindle and moulder away…until the whole race shall become extinct” unless they changed their ways.

General Lincoln’s prediction proved all too accurate: The Indians did not change and so fell by the wayside. But this, too, is part of the official mythology, which holds that the demise of Indian society was the product of a cultural clash that nobody could prevent and, consequently, was nobody’s fault. But The Divided Ground takes apart this myth, showing in relentless detail how official bad faith and ill will helped undermine the Indians’ position and speed their demise. “It seems natural to Whites,” one Indian leader observed, “to look on lands in the possession of Indians with an aching heart, and never to rest ’till they have planned them out of them.” This was true of British officials in what was then known as Upper Canada, but even more so of New York Governor George Clinton and his cronies in Albany, who at one point pressured the Oneida Indians to part with more than 500 square miles of land that, over the next two years, they succeeded in reselling at a 1,000 percent markup. Land was the Oneidas’ one bankable asset, yet Taylor shows how by 1802 state politicians had managed to relieve them of two-thirds of their holdings from just seven years earlier, a massive expropriation–there is no other word for it–that sent them into a tailspin. The Oneidas tried to control their fate by leasing their land rather than selling it outright or by demanding a fair-market price. But they found themselves blocked or outmaneuvered at every turn. Like the rest of the Iroquois tribes, they didn’t just fall off a cliff–they were pushed.

Still, Lincoln’s point is not easily dismissed. There was simply no way the Indians could continue in their old ways without courting disaster. As Taylor shows, they were victims of what was most fundamentally a revolution in land-use policies. Where the Indians used the forest to hunt, fish and engage in small-scale tillage, the settlers laid siege to it, chopping down the trees and shooting the deer to make room for livestock, crops, towns and mills. However much latter-day Greens may romanticize the Indian way of life, there is no doubt as to which was the more productive. It took a lot of land to support a small number of Indians but comparatively little land to produce a swarm of whites. The invaders cut roads, dug canals and transformed the countryside to the point where Indians were soon reduced to harmless curiosities to be gaped at by tourists on their way to the Niagara Falls some 200 miles to the west. They were rendered literally homeless. By 1810 whites outnumbered Oneidas in their own territory by 60 to 1.

Differing land-use policies both reflected and reinforced differing political practices that were no less crippling. The Yankees flooding into the Mohawk Valley during this period were descendants of English Puritans who, a century or two earlier, had all but invented the concept of the modern businessman. They adhered to a written culture of deeds, treaties and contracts, one in which time was money and the purpose of a meeting was not to engage in empty palaver but to get to the point in as short order as possible. That of the Indian was the opposite: an oral culture based on eloquence, consensus and the constant reaffirmation of common values. Where one was restless and dynamic, the other was traditional. Where one group had leaders empowered to represent the larger community, the other was leery of the very idea of leadership and representation. Instead of deferring to the majority, dissidents in an Indian community always had the option of heading off into the forest vastness and forming another band of their own. Rather than confronting their opponents, they simply melted away. This made for a more harmonious communal existence, particularly in contrast to the settlers, who were always competing and arguing among themselves. But it also meant that there was no “there” there from a Euro-American perspective, no duly constituted leaders with whom they could wheel and deal and get down to brass tacks. Indeed, the lack of what whites would regard as a firm political structure meant that there were numerous factions–warriors, elders, women agriculturalists and so on–that they could play off against one another, which made their policy of divide and conquer all the easier.

Land-use differences also reflected different forms of technology. Indians had long since entered the Iron Age and were expert in the use of knives and guns. But they were nearly helpless before the dual threat of the sawmill and the tavern. One robbed them of their forests while the other robbed them of their wits. “Drink no strong water,” one Oneida advised his fellow tribesmen. “It makes you mice for white men, who are cats. Many a meal have they eaten of you.” But the Indians would not, or could not, resist, which is why state politicians were careful to bring along a barrel of rum when negotiating land sales. Land-use practices also shaped notions of law and justice. As a consensus society, Indians were less concerned with holding individuals to account than with smoothing over differences in the interests of social cohesion. If one Indian killed another, it was up to the victim’s family to exact revenge or the other side to make amends by offering gifts and “covering the grave.” Both processes were highly ritualized. One missionary, according to Taylor, recalled seeing “a confronted Iroquois murderer calmly sit down to sing his death song while the avenger smoked a pipe for twenty minutes before plunging a tomahawk into the singer’s skull.” This was strange, certainly, but white notions of justice were in some ways even stranger. In 1791 the Iroquois leader Joseph Brant complained, in reference to an earlier murder, that “if a white man kills an Indian, the Crime is passed by with impunity, but if an Indian kills a white man, he is to be instantly delivered up to Justice.” Federal Indian Commissioner Timothy Pickering noted that it was a maxim along the frontier “never to hang a white man for killing an Indian” and declared that the settlers were “far more savage & revengeful” than the so-called savages themselves. In western Pennsylvania, murders of Native Americans “became so frequent,” according to Taylor, “that, in 1796, the secretary of war established $200 as the standard price for an Indian life.”

While professing Christianity, settlers thus flouted the Golden Rule. As shocking as this was, Taylor notes, Indians would not have liked the criminal justice system any better had it been a model of evenhandedness. Whereas whites believed in a system that was formal and adversarial, Indians preferred one that was up close and personal. Harmony, social reinforcement and traditionalism were the goals, not justice in the modern sense of the word. But however attractive it may now seem, traditionalism had its dark side. Devastated by land losses and alcoholism, Indians in western New York increasingly returned to traditional religious practices after 1800 in an effort to restore a semblance of the old social balance. An Indian prophet named Handsome Lake gained a following by blaming witchcraft for many of the Indians’ woes, and in 1804 an Indian council convicted two local women of dealing in poisonous potions and magic fetishes. The local chief promptly dispatched both by tomahawk. Taylor does not say what happened to the executioner, but it is difficult to know whether prosecuting him would have made things better or worse. Obviously, local officials could not stand by while a self-proclaimed prophet imposed a reign of terror. But preventing him meant interfering with the few remaining structures propping up Indian society. In the name of justice, the result would have been to plunge Indians all the more deeply into alcoholism, superstition and despair.

But there was a way out of this predicament via the construction of a sovereign authority over both settlers and Indians, an authority capable of holding the first group back while easing the second along the path to modernity. The task would not be easy. White racism was ferocious, while the Indians, especially the young males, were hostile to the slightest suggestion of change. They saw agriculture as women’s work and viewed hiring themselves out to work for wages on neighboring farms as the deepest humiliation. Not unlike the European warrior class, they were aristocrats who viewed labor with disdain and believed that hunting and fighting were the only fit occupations for men of their ilk. Attitudes like these may have worked when the Indians had the forest all to themselves, but now that this was no longer the case, they were leading to catastrophe.

The new federal government set out to establish such an authority following ratification of the Constitution in 1788. Pickering, a rock-ribbed Federalist from Massachusetts, was Washington’s choice to head up negotiations with the Iroquois. Among Pickering’s first acts was to prohibit land sales without federal approval. Secretary of War Henry Knox, the prime mover behind the new Indian policy–and who once summed up his attitude toward rapacious state politicians with the words “Smite them, smite them, in the name of God and the people”–moved to place Indians under federal jurisdiction. In 1790 a Federalist-controlled Congress invalidated land purchases without federal approval. In 1793 it passed another law, imposing criminal penalties of $1,000 in fines or a year’s imprisonment for violations.

As impressive as such initiatives were, Federalist policies eventually petered out. In 1795 the Washington Administration backed away from a showdown with New York over land purchases, which were somehow still continuing. The Administration had hoped for greater state cooperation when Federalist John Jay replaced George Clinton as governor in 1795, but Jay deferred to the land grabbers in the state legislature. While a supporter of the new federal government, Jay was also “the proud author,” in Taylor’s words, of New York’s new state Constitution, which provided no authority for blocking an act of the state legislature once it had survived a veto by a special “Council of Revision.” The coup de grâce came when Jefferson and his fellow “Republicans” (soon to be known as Democrats) swept the Federalists from office in the election of 1800. Although historian Sean Wilentz lauds Jefferson’s triumph as a “democratic revolution” in his massive new study The Rise of American Democracy, it was something very different: a victory for states’ rights advocates, Southern slaveholders and their racist-populist allies in the North and West. Taylor notes that the Federalists, despite their faults, were at least “willing (in the short term) to treat Indian sovereignty with some respect.” The Jeffersonians, by contrast, “were eager, wherever possible, to dissolve diplomatic relations and to subject natives to the laws of particular states.” The new President made his views known in 1803: “We presume that our strength and their weakness is now so visible, that they must see we have only to shut our hand to crush them.” The message to his ally Clinton, back in the governorship after a brief Federalist interregnum, was unmistakable: New York could proceed with its expropriatory land policy with federal blessings.

The Divided Ground nicely complements Taylor’s 1995 study William Cooper’s Town, which received both a Pulitzer Prize and a Bancroft. Whereas the first exhaustively examined settler politics and society in frontier New York from the Revolutionary period on, the second turns its gaze on the Indians, whose demise allowed the settlers to flourish. William Cooper’s Town was successful because it was structured as a portrait of Cooper and his family, including his son, James Fenimore Cooper, whose novels helped create the myth of the noble but doomed Indian. The Divided Ground, perhaps because it lacks an equally dramatic focus, seems excessively microcosmic. While presenting us with a wealth of data about Indian land sales, it tells us less of what we would like to know about policy debates at the federal level or of Indian-settler relations elsewhere in the new republic or, indeed, elsewhere in the world. After all, this was not the only spot in which Europeans and aboriginal peoples were encountering one another. The eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries would see many such collisions, in Central and South America, in Australia and the Pacific islands, in Siberia under both the czars and the Soviets, and so on. It would be nice to know if the experience in western New York was exceptionally bad or more or less the rule, but Taylor offers little in the way of context or comparison.

Still, what he does tell us is damning enough. Following their victory over France in the Seven Years’ War (known in these parts as the French and Indian War of 1754-63), the British found themselves masters of what Taylor describes as a “composite” empire in North America consisting of British colonists along the Atlantic seaboard, French settlers along the St. Lawrence, Africans in southern coastal areas and various Indian tribes deeper in the interior. London regarded all of them as so many pawns to be moved about the imperial chessboard. In order to soothe ruffled feathers in Quebec, for instance, the British awarded it control over the entire Ohio Valley in 1774 with little thought as to the effect on neighboring New England. New Englanders were aghast. They coveted the territory themselves and were now astonished to see it in the hands of French Papists. In moving to the New World, they, like other English colonists, had assumed that they retained all the rights of freeborn Englishmen back home. But even though they had been on the winning side of the Seven Years’ War, they now found themselves being treated in the same way as the losers, or even a bit worse.

We are required to recalibrate our view of the revolution that erupted a short time later as a consequence. Rather than a revolt against imperialism, it was a revolt against being denied the full fruits of imperialist victory. Rather than a struggle for equality, it was a struggle by British North Americans for primacy among the various New World elements contending for control. Thus, the Continental Congress maintained immediately after the war that the Indians, having for the most part sided with the British, would have to bow to the dictates of their American conquerors and accept their fate as a defeated people. Siding with the Patriots was no guarantee of fair treatment, as the Oneidas were to discover. The Anglos were in control, which meant that all others would be reduced to drawers of water, hewers of wood. The Federalists strove for something a bit more equitable and civilized, but following Jefferson’s “Revolution of 1800,” the old “conquest theory,” as Taylor calls it, was back in force. Although Taylor does not follow the story line beyond the 1810s, the conquest theory continued right up to the Civil War and, one way or another, has been with us ever since (the war in Iraq being merely the latest example of its externalization). Not only did the Indians pay a terrible price as a result, but so did blacks and other minorities. It is a legacy that no one wants to talk about, at least none of the oligarchs currently in control of the attenuated American Republic, which is why the old myths about freedom-loving patriots continue to hold sway.




Three centuries of persecution of the pagans

(Original Source: Vlasis Rassias, Demolish Them! … Published in Greek, Athens 1994)

314 Immediately after its full legalisation, the Christian Church attacks non-Christians. The Council of Ancyra denounces the worship of Goddess Artemis.

324 The emperor Constantine declares Christianity as the only official religion of the Roman Empire. In Dydima, Minor Asia, he sacks the Oracle of the god Apollo and tortures the pagan priests to death. He also evicts all non-Christian peoples from Mount Athos and destroys all the local Hellenic temples.

325 Nicene Council. The godman gets a promotion: ‘Christ is Divine’

326 Constantine, following the instructions of his mother Helen, destroys the temple of the god Asclepius in Aigeai Cilicia and many temples of the goddess Aphrodite in Jerusalem, Aphaca, Mambre, Phoenicia, Baalbek, etc.

330 Constantine steals the treasures and statues of the pagan temples of Greece to decorate Constantinople, the new capital of his Empire.

335 Constantine sacks many pagan temples in Asia Minor and Palestine and orders the execution by crucifixion of “all magicians and soothsayers.” Martyrdom of the neoplatonist philosopher Sopatrus.

341 Constantius II (Flavius Julius Constantius) persecutes “all the soothsayers and the Hellenists.” Many gentile Hellenes are either imprisoned or executed.

346 New large scale persecutions against non-Christian peoples in Constantinople. Banishment of the famous orator Libanius accused as a “magician”.

353 An edict of Constantius orders the death penalty for all kind of worship through sacrifice and “idols”.

354 A new edict orders the closing of all the pagan temples. Some of them are profaned and turned into brothels or gambling rooms.

Execution of pagan priests begins.

A new edict of Constantius orders the destruction of the pagan temples and the execution of all “idolaters”.

First burning of libraries in various cities of the empire.

The first lime factories are organised next to the closed pagan temples. A major part of the holy architecture of the pagans is turned into lime.

357 Constantius outlaws all methods of divination (astrology not excluded).

359 In Skythopolis, Syria, the Christians organise the first death camps for the torture and executions of the arrested non-Christians from all around the empire.

361 to 363 Religious tolerance and restoration of the pagan cults is declared in Constantinople (11th December 361) by the pagan emperor Julian (Flavius Claudius Julianus).

363 Assassination of Julian (26th June).

364 Emperor Jovian orders the burning of the Library of Antioch.

An Imperial edict (11th September) orders the death penalty for all those that worship their ancestral gods or practice divination (“sileat omnibus perpetuo divinandi curiositas”).

Three different edicts (4th February, 9th September, 23rd December) order the confiscation of all properties of the pagan temples and the death penalty for participation in pagan rituals, even private ones.

The Church Council of Laodicea (Phrygia – western Asia Minor) orders that religious observances are to be conducted on Sunday and not on Saturday. Sunday becomes the new Sabbath. The practice of staying at home and resting on Saturday declared sinful and anathema to Christ.

365 An imperial edict from Emperor Valens, a zealous Arian Christian (17th November), forbids pagan officers of the army to command Christian soldiers.

370 Valens orders a tremendous persecution of non-Christian peoples in all the Eastern Empire. In Antioch, among many other non-Christians, the ex-governor Fidustius and the priests Hilarius and Patricius are executed. The philosopher Simonides is burned alive and the philosopher Maximus is decapitated. All the friends of Julian are persecuted (Orebasius, Sallustius, Pegasius etc.).

Tons of books are burnt in the squares of the cities of the Eastern Empire.

372 Valens orders the governor of Minor Asia to exterminate all the Hellenes and all documents of their wisdom.

373 New prohibition of all divination methods is issued. The term “pagan” (pagani, villagers, equivalent to the modern insult, “peasants”) is introduced by the Christians to demean non-believers.

375 The temple of Asclepius in Epidaurus, Greece, is closed down by the Christians.

380 On 27th February Christianity becomes the exclusive religion of the Roman Empire by an edict of the Emperor Flavius Theodosius, requiring that:

“All the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation should continue in the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter.”

The non-Christians are called “loathsome, heretics, stupid and blind”.

In another edict, Theodosius calls “insane” those that do not believe to the Christian God and outlaws all disagreement with the Church dogmas.

Ambrosius, bishop of Milan, begins the destruction of pagan temples of his area. The Christian priests lead the hungry mob against the temple of goddess Demeter in Eleusis and try to lynch the hierophants Nestorius and Priskus. The 95 year old hierophant Nestorius ends the Eleusinian Mysteries and announces “the predominance of mental darkness over the human race.”

381 At the Council of Constantinople the ‘Holy Spirit’ is declared ‘Divine’ (thus sanctioning a triune god). On 2nd May, Theodosius deprives of all their rights any Christians who return to the pagan religion. Throughout the Eastern Empire the pagan temples and libraries are looted or burned down. On 21st December, Theodosius outlaws visits to Hellenic temples.

In Constantinople, the Temple of Aphrodite is turned into a brothel and the temples of the Sun and Artemis to stables.

382 “Hellelujah” (“Glory to Yahweh”) is imposed in the Christian mass.

384 Theodosius orders the Praetorian Prefect Maternus Cynegius, a dedicated Christian, to cooperate with local bishops and destroy the temples of the pagans in Northern Greece and Minor Asia.

385 to 388 Prefect Maternus Cynegius, encouraged by his fanatic wife, and bishop ‘Saint’ Marcellus with his gangs, scour the countryside and sack and destroy hundreds of Hellenic temples, shrines and altars. Among others they destroy the temple of Edessa, the Cabeireion of Imbros, the temple of Zeus in Apamea, the temple of Apollo in Dydima and all the temples of Palmyra.

Thousands of innocent pagans from all sides of the empire suffer martyrdom in the notorious death camps of Skythopolis.

386 Theodosius outlaws the care of the sacked pagan temples.

388 Public talks on religious subjects are outlawed by Theodosius. The old orator Libanius sends his famous epistle “Pro Templis” to Theodosius with the hope that the few remaining Hellenic temples will be respected and spared.

389 to 390 All non-Christian calendars and dating-methods are outlawed. Hordes of fanatic hermits from the desert flood the cities of the Middle East and Egypt and destroy statues, altars, libraries and pagan temples, and lynch the pagans. Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, starts heavy persecutions against non-Christian peoples, turning the temple of Dionysius into a Christian church, burning down the Mithraeum of the city, destroying the temple of Zeus and burlesques the pagan priests before they are killed by stoning. The Christian mob profanes the cult images.

391 On 24th February, a new edict of Theodosius prohibits not only visits to pagan temples but also looking at the vandalised statues. New heavy persecutions occur all around the empire. In Alexandria, Egypt, pagans, led by the philosopher Olympius, revolt and after some street fights they lock themselves inside the fortified temple of the god Serapis (the Serapeion). After a violent siege, the Christians take over the building, demolish it, burn its famous library and profane the cult images.

392 On 8th November, Theodosius outlaws all the non-Christian rituals and names them “superstitions of the gentiles” (gentilicia superstitio). New full scale persecutions are ordered against pagans. The Mysteries of Samothrace are ended and the priests slaughtered. In Cyprus the local bishop “Saint” Epiphanius and “Saint” Tychon destroy almost all the temples of the island and exterminate thousands of non-Christians. The local Mysteries of goddess Aphrodite are ended. Theodosius’s edict declares:

“The ones that won’t obey pater Epiphanius have no right to keep living in that island.”

The pagans revolt against the Emperor and the Church in Petra, Aeropolis, Rafia, Gaza, Baalbek and other cities of the Middle East.

393 The Pythian Games, the Aktia Games and the Olympic Games are outlawed as part of the Hellenic “idolatry”. The Christians sack the temples of Olympia.

395 Two new edicts (22nd July and 7th August) cause new persecutions against pagans. Rufinus, the eunuch Prime Minister of Emperor Flavius Arcadius directs the hordes of baptised Goths (led by Alaric) to the country of the Hellenes. Encouraged by Christian monks the barbarians sack and burn many cities (Dion, Delphi, Megara, Corinth, Pheneos, Argos, Nemea, Lycosoura, Sparta, Messene, Phigaleia, Olympia, etc.), slaughter or enslave innumerable gentile Hellenes and burn down all the temples. Among others, they burn down the Eleusinian Sanctuary and burn alive all its priests (including the hierophant of Mithras Hilarius).

396 On 7th December, a new edict by Arcadius orders that paganism be treated as high Treason. Imprisonment of the few remaining pagan priests and hierophants.

397 “Demolish them!” Flavius Arcadius orders that all the still standing pagan temples be demolished.

398 The 4th Church Council of Carthage prohibits everybody, including Christian bishops, from studying pagan books. Porphyrius, bishop of Gaza, demolishes almost all the pagan temples of his city (except nine of them that remain active).

399 With a new edict (13th July) Flavius Arcadius orders all remaining pagan temples, mainly in the countryside, be immediately demolished.

400 Bishop Nicetas destroys the Oracle of Dionysus in Vesai and baptises all the non-Christians of this area.

401 The Christian mob of Carthage lynches non-Christians and destroys temples and “idols”. In Gaza too, the local bishop “Saint” Porphyrius sends his followers to lynch pagans and to demolish the remaining nine still active temples of the city.

The 15th Council of Chalcedon orders all the Christians that still keep good relations with their non-Christian relatives to be excommunicated (even after their death).

405 John Chrysostom sends hordes of grey-dressed monks armed with clubs and iron bars to destroy the “idols” in all the cities of Palestine.

406 John Chrysostom collects funds from rich Christian women to financially support the demolition of the Hellenic temples. In Ephesus he orders the destruction of the famous temple of Artemis. In Salamis, Cyprus, “Saints” Epiphanius and Eutychius continue the persecutions of the pagans and the total destruction of their temples and sanctuaries.

407 A new edict outlaws once more all the non-Christian acts of worship.

408 The emperor of the Western Empire, Honorius, and the emperor of the Eastern Empire, Arcadius, order all the sculptures of the pagan temples to be either destroyed or to be taken away. Private ownership of pagan sculpture is also outlawed. The local bishops lead new heavy persecutions against the pagans and new book burning. The judges that have pity for the pagans are also persecuted. “Saint” Augustine massacres hundreds of protesting pagans in Calama, Algeria.

409 Another edict orders all methods of divination including astrology to be punished by death.

415 In Alexandria, the Christian mob, urged by the bishop Cyril, attacks a few days before the Judeo-Christian Pascha (Easter) and cuts to pieces the famous and beautiful philosopher Hypatia. The pieces of her body, carried around by the Christian mob through the streets of Alexandria, are finally burned together with her books in a place called Cynaron.

On 30th August, new persecutions start against all the pagan priests of North Africa who end their lives either crucified or burned alive. Emperor Theodosius II expels the Jews from Alexandria.

416 The inquisitor Hypatius, alias “The Sword of God”, exterminates the last pagans of Bithynia. In Constantinople (7th December) all non-Christian army officers, public employees and judges are dismissed.

423 Emperor Theodosius II declares (8th June) that the religion of the pagans is nothing more than “demon worship” and orders all those who persist in practicing it to be punished by imprisonment and torture.

429 The temple of goddess Athena (Parthenon) on the Acropolis of Athens is sacked. The Athenian pagans are persecuted.

431 Council of Ephesus (“Robber Synod”). Promotion for the godman – “Christ is complete God and complete man.”

435 On 14th November, a new edict by Theodosius II orders the death penalty for all “heretics” and pagans of the empire. Only Judaism is considered a legal non-Christian religion.

438 Theodosius II issues an new edict (31st January) against the pagans, incriminating their “idolatry” as the reason of a recent plague!

440 to 450 The Christians demolish all the monuments, altars and temples of Athens, Olympia, and other Greek cities.

book burning

448 Theodosius II orders all non-Christian books to be burned.

450 All the temples of Aphrodisias (the City of the Goddess Aphrodite) are demolished and all its libraries burned down. The city is renamed Stavroupolis (City of the Cross).

451 Council of Chalcedon. New edict by Theodosius II (4th November) emphasises that “idolatry” is punished by death. Assertion of orthodox doctrine over the ‘Monophysites’ – ‘JC has single, divine nature.’

457 to 491 Sporadic persecutions against the pagans of the Eastern Empire. Among others, the physician Jacobus and the philosopher Gessius are executed. Severianus, Herestios, Zosimus, Isidorus and others are tortured and imprisoned. The proselytiser Conon and his followers exterminate the last non-Christians of Imbros Island, Northeast Aegean Sea. The last worshippers of Lavranius Zeus are exterminated in Cyprus.

482 to 488 The majority of the pagans of Minor Asia are exterminated after a desperate revolt against the emperor and the Church.

486 More “underground” pagan priests are discovered, arrested, burlesqued, tortured and executed in Alexandria, Egypt.

full body baptism

515 Baptism becomes obligatory even for those that already say they are Christians.

The emperor of Constantinople, Anastasius, orders the massacre of the pagans in the Arabian city Zoara and the demolition of the temple of local god Theandrites.

523 Emperor Justin I outlaws the Arian heresy and campaigns to suppress Arianism everywhere.

528 Emperor Justinian outlaws the “alternative” Olympian Games of Antioch. He also orders the execution—by fire, crucifixion, tearing to pieces by wild beasts or cutting to pieces by iron nails—of all who practice “sorcery, divination, magic or idolatry” and prohibits all teachings by the pagans (“the ones suffering from the blasphemous insanity of the Hellenes”).

529 Justinian outlaws the Athenian Philosophical Academy and has its property confiscated.

532 The inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus, a fanatical monk, leads a crusade against the pagans of Minor Asia.

542 Justinian allows the inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus to forcibly convert the pagans of Phrygia, Caria and Lydia in Asia Minor. Within 35 years of this crusade, 99 churches and 12 monasteries are built on the sites of demolished pagan temples.

546 Hundreds of pagans are put to death in Constantinople by the inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus.

556 Justinian orders the notorious inquisitor Amantius to go to Antioch, to find, arrest, torture and exterminate the last non-Christians of the city and burn all the private libraries down.

562 Mass arrests, burlesquing, tortures, imprisonments and executions of gentile Hellenes in Athens, Antioch, Palmyra and Constantinople.

578 to 582 The Christians torture and crucify Hellenes all around the Eastern Empire, and exterminate the last non-Christians of Heliopolis (Baalbek).

580 The Christian inquisitors attack a secret temple of Zeus in Antioch. The priest commits suicide, but the rest of the pagans are arrested. All the prisoners, the Vice Governor Anatolius included, are tortured and sent to Constantinople to face trial. Sentenced to death they are thrown to the lions. The wild animals being unwilling to tear them to pieces, they end up crucified. Their dead bodies are dragged in the streets by the Christian mob and afterwards thrown unburied in the dump.

583 New persecutions against the gentile Hellenes by Emperor Maurice.

590 In all the Eastern Empire the Christian accusers “discover” pagan conspiracies. New storm of torture and executions.



Poetry: Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89).


Now Time’s Andromeda on this rock rude,

With not her either beauty’s equal or

Her injury’s, looks off by both horns of shore,

Her flower, her piece of being, doomed dragon’s food.

Time past she has been attempted and pursued

By many blows and banes; but now hears roar

A wilder beast from West than all were, more

Rife in her wrongs, more lawless, and more lewd.

Her Perseus linger and leave her tó her extremes?—

Pillowy air he treads a time and hangs

His thoughts on her, forsaken that she seems,

All while her patience, morselled into pangs,

Mounts; then to alight disarming, no one dreams,

With Gorgon’s gear and barebill, thongs and fangs.


Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things—

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;

And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.


Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves

EARNEST, earthless, equal, attuneable, ‘ vaulty, voluminous, … stupendous

Evening strains to be tíme’s vást, ‘ womb-of-all, home-of-all, hearse-of-all night.

Her fond yellow hornlight wound to the west, ‘ her wild hollow hoarlight hung to the height

Waste; her earliest stars, earl-stars, ‘ stárs principal, overbend us,

Fíre-féaturing heaven. For earth ‘ her being has unbound, her dapple is at an end, as-

tray or aswarm, all throughther, in throngs; ‘ self ín self steedèd and páshed—qúite

Disremembering, dísmémbering ‘ áll now. Heart, you round me right

With: Óur évening is over us; óur night ‘ whélms, whélms, ánd will end us.

Only the beak-leaved boughs dragonish ‘ damask the tool-smooth bleak light; black,

Ever so black on it. Óur tale, O óur oracle! ‘ Lét life, wáned, ah lét life wind

Off hér once skéined stained véined variety ‘ upon, áll on twó spools; párt, pen, páck

Now her áll in twó flocks, twó folds—black, white; ‘ right, wrong; reckon but, reck but, mind

But thése two; wáre of a wórld where bút these ‘ twó tell, each off the óther; of a rack

Where, selfwrung, selfstrung, sheathe- and shelterless, ‘ thóughts agaínst thoughts ín groans grínd.



I awoke in the Midsummer not to call night, ‘ in the white and the walk of the morning:

The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe ‘ of a finger-nail held to the candle,

Or paring of paradisaïcal fruit, ‘ lovely in waning but lustreless,

Stepped from the stool, drew back from the barrow, ‘ of dark Maenefa the mountain;

A cusp still clasped him, a fluke yet fanged him, ‘ entangled him, not quit utterly.

This was the prized, the desirable sight, ‘ unsought, presented so easily,

Parted me leaf and leaf, divided me, ‘ eyelid and eyelid of slumber.



This darksome burn, horseback brown,

His rollrock highroad roaring down,

In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam

Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth

Turns and twindles over the broth

Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,

It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew

Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,

Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,

And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,

O let them be left, wildness and wet;

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.


Hopkins was born in Stratford, Essex. He was the eldest of nine children, the son of Catherine and Manley Hopkins, an insurance agent and consul-general for Hawaii based in London. He was educated at Highgate School and then Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied classics. It was at Oxford that he forged the friendship with Robert Bridges which would be of importance in his development as a poet, and posthumous acclaim. He began his time at Oxford as a keen socialiser and prolific poet but he seems to have alarmed himself with this change in his behaviour and became more studious and recorded his sins in his diary. He became a follower of Edward Pusey and a member of the Oxford Movement and in 1866, following the example of John Henry Newman, he converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism. After his graduation in 1867 Newman found him a teaching post but the following year he decided to enter the priesthood, pausing only to visit Switzerland.

Influenced by his father who also wrote poetry, Hopkins wrote poetry while young, winning a prize for his poetry while at grammar school. His decision to become a Jesuit led him to burn much of his early poetry as he felt it incompatible with his vocation. Writing would remain something of a concern for him as he felt that his interest in poetry prevented him from wholly devoting himself to his religion. He continued to write a detailed journal until 1874. Unable to suppress his desire to describe the natural world, he also wrote music, sketched, and for church occasions he wrote some “verses,” as he called them. He would later write sermons and other religious pieces. In 1875 he was moved, once more, to write a lengthy poem, The Wreck of the Deutschland. This work was inspired by the Deutschland, a naval disaster in which 157 people died including five Franciscan nuns who had been leaving Germany due to harsh anti-Catholic laws. The work displays both the religious concerns and some of the unusual meter and rhythms of his subsequent poetry not present in his few remaining early works. It not only depicts the dramatic events and heroic deeds but also tells of the poet’s reconciling the terrible events with God’s higher purpose. The poem was accepted but not printed by a Jesuit publication, and this rejection fueled his ambivalence about his poetry.

Hopkins chose the austere and restrictive life of a Jesuit and was at times gloomy. The brilliant student who had left Oxford with a first class honours degree failed his final theology exam. This failure meant that, although ordained in 1877, Hopkins would not likely progress in the order. Though rigorous and sometimes unpleasant, his life during Jesuit training had at least some stability; the uncertain and varied work after ordination was even harder on his sensibilities. He served in various parishes in England and Scotland and taught at Mount St Mary’s College, Sheffield, and Stonyhurst College, Lancashire. In 1884 he became professor of Greek literature at University College Dublin. His Englishness and his disagreement with the Irish politics of the time, as well as his own small stature (5’2″), unprepossessing nature and own personal oddities meant that he was not a particularly effective teacher. This as well as his isolation in Ireland deepened his gloom and his poems of the time, such as I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark, reflected this. They came to be known as the “terrible sonnets,” not because of their quality but because according to Hopkins’ friend Canon Dixon, they reached the “terrible crystal,” meaning that they crystallized feeling.

After suffering ill health for several years and bouts of diarrhoea, Hopkins died of typhoid fever in 1889 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. (Wikipedia)

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