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Other Natural Religions
1. BV, why delete all your posts instead of moving them into a new thread? I had no intention of censoring anyone. It's stuff you wouldn't have posted unless you thought it important, so it ought to be somewhere.

Not to worry, the web cache will still have your carefully collected, arranged and emphasised material. So you can restore all of it from cache into a new location. If you can't for some reason, I guess I'll have to consider doing the same for you. ('Consider' being the operative word. But have saved it from the web cache now.)

The first para of your post contains statements that require a longer response. Will answer your post in the Misc thread when I get round to it. But not today. I do want to get to it though, since I have example material that can illustrate what I mean, and I've already written up part of the response. And because it's on various matters of some serious concern to me.

Unfortunately, the write-up is very long already. And will probably become much longer still. Oh the dread.

2. Romani, the fact that you object to my request to not cover "neopaganism" in this thread implies that you consider what you brought up to be "neopaganism" rather than actual traditional religion. In which case: yes, IMO anything that answers to "neopaganism" (or even calls itself "paganism") doesn't belong in this thread. But you can always start another.

Alternatively, you can ask admin to intervene and tell me to stop bullying other members over this thread. I have no actual powers as you know. They merely indulge me.
Don't worry I have the links saved and will post them back later in another thread.
Time and time again, we extend our hands,out to the World, to only be chopped up off. Like the lizard's tail, our hands grow and yet again out reach towards humanity in a never ending cycle of creation and destruction of our efforts.

But the above says nothing from which one can learn about other Natural Traditions, so why this thread....?

And apparently there's no need to get all poetic (^^) in despairing tragidrama just yet, since some simple brute-force web search leads to:


Controversy strengthens resolve of Hindu Community

Wednesday, 5 May 2010, 12:05 pm

Going by the surname, the previous post's news article was presumably by a Chinese reporter, so I'd then guess it seems like the long arms of the PRC raining down on Hindus' parade. In any case, looks like they deliberately got the identity hence character of the invited Buddhist speaker amazingly wrong, and the nay-sayers interviewed look very convenient, especially the extremely hyper spokesperson they got for Sikhism (complete with high-tension fictional drama on how "Sikhs are the Jews to Hindus' nazism" or some such myth - someone is clearly wallowing in realms of fantasy). Interesting that the above link says the reporter of the earlier piece got the date wrong too: past the month of the actual event (why, so people miss it?)

As for the other person they found to interject something -

From what I understand: traditional Taoists aren't really organised - certainly not in all regions of the Asia-Pacific. They're also very private about their religion (more so Chinese Taoists because of persecution). Taoists have private family puja rooms, but their temples are back home. In their home regions too - including Singapore and Malaysia where Chinese people are settled - traditional Taoism tends to be relatively quiet: it's not a missionary religion. So, can't tell whether they are so organised as to have a representative at hand everywhere.

On the other hand, some 'Taoist-Buddhist' groups are organised. But these are actually Mahayana Buddhists who keep the Taoist title (follow Buddhist doctrine and use Buddhist identities for Daoist Gods, may occasionally name-drop the Dao-de-Ching and its author; in contrast, traditional Taoists don't identify their Daoist Gods and religion with Buddhism) in order to compete with established MBs as an independent identity. I'm told some such 'TB' groups are also extremely proselytising - even among MBs and Taoists back home - and are active in all of the Asia Pacific region (well, outside N Korea, China, volatile regions), where they open many prayer centres.

That makes it hard to work out what the religious affiliation of the "Taoist" vocalising in the report of the previous post is. That's assuming he is genuine and not hired to sound so exasperated.

Other items that turned up in the search, though they're not really about the article of the previous post:

- www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1003/S00253.htm

Hindu conference aims to strengthen bonds

Tuesday, 16 March 2010, 1:25 pm

- www.indianweekender.co.nz/Pages/ArticleDetails/7/1053/New-Zealand/Buddhist-monk-promotes-Hindu-conference

Buddhist monk promotes Hindu conference

- www.prlog.org/10662341-prominent-hindu-and-spiritual-leaders-to-gather-for-the-hinduism-summit-in-melbourne.html (This is in Australia, but it's also in May.)

Actually came to respond to BV, but I guess I'll have to do that Some Other Time again. Soon hopefully, so I can get it out of the way.
Quote:Georgius Gemistus (Greek: Γεώργιος Πλήθων Γεμιστός; ca. 1355–1452/1454) — later called Plethon or Pletho — was a Greek scholar of Neoplatonic philosophy. He was one of the chief pioneers of the revival of Greek learning in Western Europe. In the dying years of the Byzantine Empire, he advocated a return to the Olympian gods of the ancient world.[1]

Quote:Georgius Gemistus (Greek: Γεώργιος Πλήθων Γεμιστός; ca. 1355–1452/1454) — later called Plethon or Pletho — was a Greek scholar of Neoplatonic philosophy. He was one of the chief pioneers of the revival of Greek learning in Western Europe. In the dying years of the Byzantine Empire, he advocated a return to the Olympian gods of the ancient world.[1]

I read about him - I think it was him. It wasn't much, but I'll get you an official translation of the relevant bit. It has to be tomorrow or the day after.

Meanwhile, I wrote this in response to your post #59. It's on the topic of Why Certain Things Don't Go Here (I think I accidentally deleted what I'd written earlier when clearing stuff recently - clever me). It's so long and meanders terrifically - too bad, I can't be bothered shrinking it. At least I kept my promise/threat...


1. > In fact you had earlier posted a link to the derafsh-kaviyani site which is a modern monotheist influenced interpretation of Zoroastrianism as HH pointed out, no different than any neopagan site trying to rediscover some of their heritage.

Yes, I was wrong. (Though I thought Mazda Yasna has a single supreme God. Whether that always implies monotheist I don't know. The Amesha Spentas weren't Gods but Good Spirits I thought. IIRC, overseas/expatriat Indian Parsee sites say they have 1 God and Parsees aren't neopagan...)

I figured that Iranians leaving islamism in as large numbers as claimed at that site was a promising thing. Europe has been gradually dechristianising (at least externally and in some aspects), so for Europeans to begin to dabble in neopaganism is just unacceptable: they can do better. But I was of the view that people leaving *islam* in what remains a rigidly islamic society would be a good thing - disregarding their destination, as long as they weren't leaving it for related mindviruses.

Over time, I have changed my view: because made-up religion remains made-up religion and is ultimately self-deception and devoid of truth. The standards can't be one for Europe - for which I have had high expectations - and one for Iranians (for whom the situation is such that I have none). And any new ideology that they enter into - however new agey - is going to take another cycle for them to get out of and it further distances them from their original religion through the effects of time. (Besides, even Mazda Yasna isn't Iranians' original tradition; their original religion was replaced by Zoroastrianism.)

I now consider that what is called for is a return to people's original religion - or a nearby one that is intact: same expectation as for Europe.

I should warn that there may be other sites I link to on this thread that I might not wholly agree with, but the portions I excerpt - or any pages I recommend in entirety - are generally material I agree with, or at least find interesting enough. For instance, I haven't read all of the page let alone site from which I excerpted the text on Athena somewhere above. But the bit I *did* post looked to regurgitate what my sister used to tell me from her G/L related studies, so I was happy to C&P that. Also, I might not agree with all of the Julian-Society.org site, just the bits I posted here and there on IF - the linked pages. In this context, I could add that I wouldn't really recommend Vidal's "Julian", mainly because so much of the fundamental part of the novel is obviously fiction and very false to known history: his portrait of Julian's person is profoundly mistaken in many ways and equally wrong is his presentation of Hellenismos. But the lack of understanding and the extent of fictionalising to present his own view rather than the actual historical person's reasoning and the GR religion is understandable and expected, since Vidal was not a 'heathen': he was an avowed atheist. Though in his favour I would say he was of the rarer kind that publicly declared (the known) monotheisms as the greatest evil, ranked other religions higher - and atheism over them. In contrast, other atheists - even the more remarkable minds like McCabe, who is able to reason decently on other matters - declare it a given that monotheism was a natural evolution from "polytheism" and therefore preferable. But ultimately, neither kind ever understood - let alone knew - the traditional religions. They can't. For that one needs to be one. It requires a very different sort of person to accurately convey the 'heathen' - say traditional GrecoRoman - POV. The FAQ and other documents by the Hellenes at ysee.gr is a good example of what I mean.

Personally, "monopolytheism" is a troubling topic in general and only the christoconditioned pre-occupy themselves with it. Repeat: one can see how well the Hellenes at ysee.gr deal with it in their FAQ when they answer the typical christoquestion of "Are you polytheists". No traditional religion preoccupies itself with the number of their Gods which is numerous and undefined.

IIRC, they explain that the dichotomy itself - the dichotomous view of mono- and polytheism itself - is christian. *How* they answer this insidious christian (christianising) question is sheer brilliance. To the christianisms (islamism included), The Count is everything: it underpins doctrine. It is one of the few things the sheepish ummah can know definitely about their gawd, the gawd who is not even imaged and may not be. And the wrong count is assured of damnation.

To the traditionalists of the natural religions, count is irrelevant: they know of the indivisibility of Divinity - which says nothing about number - as well as the cohesion and individuality of their Gods. Christian-conditioned (which includes more than christians) would classify the NA native Americans' Grand Spirit as being evidence of their 'monotheism', due to it being singular. However, that Grand Spirit is the entire Kosmos - in fact, it is All There Is. (And just to indicate that those fond of counting need more than one finger: IIRC the Sun and Earth are also Gods as per the lore of some NA native American communities.)

2. > There are no Seneca's & Julians today to speak for themselves as there are Shintoists and Taoists which means that the only *contemporary* spokespersons left are the modern day neopagans or surviving and culturally related "heathens" known as Hindus.

For Hellenismos, why do we need contemporary spokespersons? (Of course, it is still good they exist today, but that is another matter.) Some words and even works of the ancient GrecoRomans *survive*, and enough literature on Hellenismos does too. Therefore, to learn somewhat of traditional Hellenismos, Hindus don't *need* modern practitioners of Hellenismos (the way one needs Shintos and Taoists since their stuff is not really for public viewing/learning): there are sufficient materials from the past that give us insights into the GR religion, first-hand accounts remaining that convey an idea of what it meant to and how it was understood by traditional followers. Enough for other traditionalists who are similar in their way of thinking about Gods to gain at least some understanding.

(It is the European traditions with less expansive literature/little remaining that were largely blacked out. Hellenismos is just fine and does not need reconstruction. It only required a revival which is what is happening.)

And as it so happens, there are very accurate followers of Hellenismos in the Mediterranean area/of Mediterranean origin today. There was (is?) good online content by a Portuguese man who had made his way back to his Hellenismos. And of course there is ysee.gr with very articulate and intelligent Hellenes - going by those who wrote ysee's FAQ and a more recent brilliant document. Also, ysee links directly to Sallust's Of the Gods and the Cosmos as an introduction to visitors and those interested (which they also quote in their FAQ). I take that as a recognition on their part that their religion is merely a continuation of the earlier Hellenismos.

Because of the materials that remain of GrecoRoman religion, one can tell when *neopagans* claiming to be Hellenes and making claims about the Olympic Gods/religion are in the wrong, versus when modern Hellenes following their ancestral Gods are in tune with the ancestral tradition. ysee.gr is specifically not neopaganism (and they identify neopaganism/'paganism' as inimical and have written *several* statements to the effect of finding it an insidious danger.)

3. Tangentially:

IMO, the online presentation of Religio Roma is too strained in trying to distance itself from the Greeks of Hellenismos in order to thereby create their own unique distinct identity. For instance, they refer to Numa Pompilius' institution of temple worship and how this did not involve worship in front of Vigrahas. Be that as it may, it had for a long time been the practise of Romans to worship Vigrahas of their Gods in the temples and in their private pooja rooms (where catholicism apparently stole the prayer alcove from). It was not merely something restricted to the Greek worshippers of the Olympic Gods. Julian was certainly not the only one nor the first Roman to worship in front of vigrahas: his Roman ancestors had been doing the same for a long time.

The Greek and Roman religion are intrinsically linked: GrecoRoman religion is ultimately one, even if the local expressions may vary. Their main Gods include the Gods of Olympus, even if the Romans also had additional local Gods in their Pantheon. Religio Roma also tries to delink the identification that the ancient (and traditional) GrecoRomans made between the Roman Pantheon and the Greek Gods of Olympus. It is a futile attempt, as the ancients of the region had already established this identification. Hindus should accept the view of the *traditionals* rather than the reconstructionists.

The fact remains that well before the late time of Julian, Romans considered themselves as part of the larger religio-culture that they shared with the Greeks: it was seen as part of one continuum. They therefore could easily call themselves Hellenes as their religion was Hellenismos. Their history was regarded as one with that of the Greeks: the Greek heroes and philosophers were the heroes and philosophers that the Romans would recognise as their own too. And with right.

And you can see the same going the other way: the traditional Greeks then (and still) do not merely admire Julian but claim him as one of their own. He was a Hellene. That connected him to them beyond any other ethnic and national considerations. He regarded his population as one for being Hellenes, for belonging to his Gods. Even today you can see the Hellenes of ysee.gr refer to Sallust's Of the Gods and the Cosmos - a work by IIRC a Roman (a work whose production, I imagine I remember reading, Julian encouraged for guiding his people). But Sallust was not just defined by his being Roman, he was a Hellene. This means he too belongs to traditional Romans as well as traditional Greeks. Again, this is because their religion (Gods) were the same and recognised as such. Nationally they may have admitted there was some distinction - though the empire eventually comprised Greek regions also - and ethnically there was a branching off from what they recognised was a shared/related ancestry, but the religion is what bound them.

4. Neopaganism is a headache. With their

- dabbling in everything (includes appropriation) as if it's all one religion;

- or trying to 'revive' "witchcraft": consider Stregaria (or something) movements in Italy/thereabouts etc, even while the same people still mystifyingly claim to be practising traditional Roman/Olympic Religion - though it's documented how the traditional Roman state and society was quite against stregaria ('black magic');

- or bad reconstructionism;

- and speaking of "Paganism" and at times - possibly worse - claiming to be "Hellenes" when they are *not* ... It's all just too much. Neopaganism comes in various shades and to various degrees.

There is a reason why IIRC the Hellenes at ysee.gr suspect (neo)"paganism" of being a subversion mechanism of the mindvirus ideologies.

About that masmaiorum website that was posted here before. Certain pages looked a little sensible - like their intention of considering their religion as their ancestors had done, not as christianism has been doing. But then the same website had a whole page mentioning "Paganism".

The term Pagan(ism) - the way they use it: in English, and as referring to the religions of all natural traditionalists - is itself *christianism*'s calculated projection onto Hellenismos, the religion of the Roman empire. The site Masmaiorum might make sensible points in instances, but surely one of the important aspects of any return to ancestral religions is to avoid the wrong terms - especially loaded words like 'Pagan' - and instead work to have the right words available, like the traditional Greeks have predictably started doing.

There is a problem with the terminology "paganism" (let alone "neopaganism"). I use it, as I use the more frequent "Hindoos", "heathen/ism" and "kaffir(iness)", when I'm being sarcastic or as a shortcut: since I know people here understand what I really mean (English affords so little vocabulary).

Of course, in my mind - instead of the inappropriate "paganism" - I tend to think rather of the True Religions and True Gods versus the Religion/Ideology Of Untruth and its False Gawd. (Christianism did a pre-emptive inversion with its 'true religion/gawd' language, knowing that the overly tolerant and universalist 'heathens' would never take such an initiative.)

A textbook explained the meaning of "paganus" rather well and I will present what I imagined I understood of it.

Originally and traditionally, to the Romans, "paganus" meant "offspring of the Roman soil". I.e. indigenous, of the particular Roman locale (with which the original regions of the empire were meant: the western populations of the Mediterranean). Though it also means "peasant" - and you can see how the meanings could be related - Roman aristocrats were also recognised as pagani for their being indigenous. Indigenous automatically meant of the indigenous (Roman traditional) religion. The differentiation became more explicit when christianism appeared, which for long remained visibly the religion of aliens/foreigners (Syrians, Armenians, etc.): non-Romans, hence non-pagani. (Although Hellenismos and Hellene were used by Romans for their larger religious identity.)

Fast-forward to when christianism gained power. As usual, it perverted and subverted the traditional meaning when it officially instituted "pagan" as a term of abuse to mark all traditionalists of the empire - native Roman or no, whether self-designated as such or no. Not only did the traditional Romans not use it as a term of abuse, nor use it all that frequently or even universally as the sole way to designate their religion, but now christianism stuck the word on *Greeks* too, for example. Knowing full-well that traditional Greeks called themselves Hellenes (which again has a double meaning: native of the Greek soil, of Hellas, which naturally also came to denote their religious affiliation - its overriding meaning).

Fast-forward again: christianism, through English and other modern European languages, stuck "pagan" - i.e. the christian, biblical meaning of "polytheistic idolator" that it had earlier foisted on the Roman empire - onto all non-christians. (Most especially "polytheistic idolators", since that is the box which Greeks and Romans - who had been among the first to be hit with the newly-institutionalised christian label - fit in the christian categorisation scheme).

Outside of historical works concerned with Rome in antiquity, in English, the meaning of "pagan" and "paganism" remains biblical: it is the term for the #1 enemy of christianism's non-existent gawd. Like infidel (~kaffir) means "unfaithful to non-existent islamic allah" - whereas ummah means The Faithful, with IIRC mohammed labelled as "Commander of the Faithful" in translations of the islamic text - and no sane natural traditionalist person would seriously refer to themselves as "kaffir", "pagan" in English also defines a meaning in relation to the *christian* gawd. It means the person thus designated is worshipping "false Gods" - and to make matters worse, worshipping these through (graven) images - and thus defying (two major commandments of) his Non-Existence, the christian gawd.

Note that those innocently using "pagan" in English do not intend to use it in the vanilla-ised "peasant" sense, let alone to mean the indigenous Roman (traditionalist). Oblivious to its inextricable christian connotations, they wish to use it in the universal sense that they think English affords them - in the same universalist sense that christianism has been imposing it on the globe's populations: "polytheistic idolators = those who are a thorn in the sight of the terrorist gawd".

Hindus (like Greeks and all other non-Roman traditionalists) are not "pagan" in any sense of the word: they are not Roman (indigenous to the Italic countryside), not Roman traditionalists, not Roman peasantry. That's if you use the Latin word paganus/pagana/pagani - i.e. in its original sense.

And the English term is even more inappropriate: the traditionalist peoples certainly have nothing to do with the christian biblically-imposed worldview of the "christians and pagans" - "the faithful and infidels", "dar-ul-islams and dar-ul-harbs", "heaven/pardees and hell/jahannah" (and monopolytheism ultimately fits in this continuum since it derives from enforced views). Natural Traditionalists are not part of the christian world (incl. its views of humanity's place in it, etc.), they don't believe in jeebusjehovallah, don't subscribe to the bible, don't end up in hell (or christoislamic heaven - same thing) no matter how hard the christoislamics believe.

That's not to say that these vituperative terms are not referring to actually existing groups: the terms were designed to. The point is, these populations have names for themselves - legitimate names, self-references they identify with. Ones that explain to ourselves who we are - views that exist entirely independent of the bible, its judgements/commandments, or its non-existent demonic character jeebusjehovallah. (The way "AD and BC" are not anyone's dating system but christists'.)

The matter of "pagan" is as with the term "idolatry". In the original Greek sense the latter was harmless and reasonable in meaning (worship of images of Gods); in English and later European languages it literally means "the worship of images of *false* Gods" which is a *biblical* definition and connotation.

Something to remember: the connotation is inescapable. And also: any self-address must bear this in mind. No one writing seriously (outside of relevant - localised historical - context) would use it. That is why the traditional Greeks at ysee.gr reject the term. (They also avoid those religious movements who use the term, and moreso when "paganism" is prefixed with "neo-").

There are some *individuals* who use "Pagan" and who mean well - usually those who seem to have a genuine interest in Hellenismos - and who are merely latching on to the only term christianism has allowed them (made visible to them). Still, their application of the term remains regrettable, even if I may approve of them and their endeavour.

But the modern organised religious movements who use "pagan" to designate self (and others) are a different matter. IMO, it gives cause for caution at least.
2/2 Again: really long.

The above post covered 1) some questionable decisions in modern reconstructionism (e.g. Religio Roma) - which make it unrepresentative of the past and 2) the dubious nature of "neopaganism".

This post is about the P/IE reconstructionism (including "Vedic reconstructionism") going on in the west and how it's attached to various European reconstructionisms.

I'm picking a simple, blatant and therefore self-evident example to illustrate the (sole) recurring pattern I've noticed in such reconstructionism. The pattern is something that's immensely troubling IMO. There exist more complex/advanced (and serious) examples on the web and they are *very* disturbing.

1. odinicriteofaustralia.wordpress.com/how-europe-was-overrun-by-christians/

A timeline.

It contains the familiar reference to the native American chief Hatuey's steadfast rejection of christianism even when he was about to be brutally murderded by christians.

Looks harmless enough. Even positive. A supposed NW European religion reconstructionist page shows respect to native American tradition. Friend of all traditionalists? Wait.

2. odinicriteofaustralia.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/odinistimage.jpg [color="#0000FF"]<- Go look[/color]

The above is from the page


The image is self-explanatory. And yet I'm still typing, just to make doubly sure no one misses the various obvious things:

Skipping the hilarious opening section titled "our *ancient* faith" on how the "mythology" of the ancestors of Europeans - 'the Cromagnons' (I suppose they are now identified as the proto-Aryans, ja?) - whose "religious beliefs can be inferred from these paintings" [line refers back to their statement "unsurpassed artwork on cave walls in N Europe"*] was spread over the world: "ME, northern Africa, India, Asia and perhaps even beyond, as suggested by recent discoveries in America." (Usual Oryanist claims to all civilisation again.)

[* the "unsurpassed artwork on cave walls in N Europe": reminiscent of those news articles with the images of the hyper voluptueuze females (otherwise not much detail) which the eager researchers dubbed were indicators/proof of early imagination in humanity [corollary: therefore imagination was born only in the Urheimat, I mean Europe]. This sort of thinking is the origin of such conclusions.]

[color="#0000FF"]Note the following items in the diagram:[/color]

=> FINNISH?????? In an "IE Religions" diagram? Very funny.

=> Indian -> "Rig Veda, etc." -> "Modern Vedic purism"

"Modern vedic purism" because IE reconstructionism always entails Vedic reconstructionism, of course.


Iranian -> "contemporary Yazdanism, Alevism, Yezidism, and Kafiri beliefs".

So, while contemporary Iranian and "Kafiri" (Kafiristan?) beliefs are mentioned, Hindus' religion is totally dismissed since it's not what any IE reconstructionists I've come across on the web consider "vedic purism". Only christoconditioned west (post-christianism though it be) will determine what is "vedic purism", and it gives its stamp of approval to "modern vedic purism" which is Da Only 'existing' Indian religion worth approving by the modern self-declared polytheisticals (<- but they are christoconditioned all the same. So it isn't "polytheism" that is the proof of true heathenism, free from the influence of the mindvirus. The difference is merely authentic 'heathenism'. I.e. real natural traditions rather than imaginary/invented/constructed ones.)

And if you were to look further into what they mean by "vedic purism", you will find that their opinion is that this "vedic purism" is practised by ... who did you think? The Vedic Reconstructionist movements of course. In the west (goes without saying). Carried out by christoconditioned post-christian western dabblers dabbling in what they should *NEVER* be messing with, but which they insist is *theirs* (by Oryan right) and which they are convinced does not belong to miscegenated Hindus. Or at least, not to the same degree (unless said Hindoos recognise that it belongs to the oryanists and moreso if said Hindoos were to *train* the oryanists in Vedic rituals. Like good natives teaching their betters.)

^ By the way, the miscegenation thing is actually the implied subtitle to the impure vs pure statement: it is always there in the back of most P/IE reconstructionists' minds if not in the forefront. Not only are Hindus "miscegenated", their religion is to have had a similar 'fall from grace'.

3. odinicriteofaustralia.wordpress.com/introduction-to-odinism/

Quote:What does Odinism involve?

Odinism is the key to both the past and the future. It is one of the few living traditions that still honour the religious and philosophical traditions of ancient Indo-European spirituality.

Modern Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism have perverted that tradition, but the eternal truths of Odinism have been preserved, both in texts and in practice.

Leaving aside the issue of the other Dharmic religions of Buddhism and Jainism (and Sikhism) in the following paras, since they are unrelated to the Vedas and Hindu epics and fortunately can't really be beaten with the IE stick/backhand except to be always dismissed by reconstructionists for being 'unVedic' (yeah, well that's because they *are* specifically non-Vedic, duh). But then, the oryan reconstructionists always declare Buddhism etc to be "impure" IE religion precisely for the "Unforgivable Flaw" of being thus unVedic and hence 'non-IE'. <- Since IE reconstructed religion is The True religion (and for example, Hindu religion is specifically Not True), you see - and you thought it was only christianism that makes the claim.

And the above (and bold bits below) is exactly why modern "European religion" reconstructionists in the west think they have a right to the Hindu Vedas: they de-legitimise Hindus from Hindus' own sacred texts by declaring Hindus' understanding and practise of Hindus' *own* religion wrong/corrupted/impure, and also instead insist that *they* (the P/IE and/or Vedic reconstructionists) are the rightful owners of the same (claims from IE/PIE, aka argumentum ad IE) and the proper/pure practitioners.


Quote:The majority of Odinists around the world are of Anglo-Saxon origin. Our spirituality is therefore certainly not confined to texts that have survived from Scandinavian sources. Our religion doesn’t lay claim to an historical founder. Nor is it defined by a single holy book. All sincere affirmations of our faith may be considered holy as long as they are sanctioned by the following sources of tradition:

* Historical information that has been handed down from relatively early times – such as Tacitus’ observations on the continental Angles, Bede’s disclosures on the faith of his ancestors, and so on.

* Archaeological evidence bearing on our ancestral beliefs and religious customs, such as the excavations at Yeavering and Sutton Hoo.

* Aspects of our religion that have been transmitted in non-literary ways, such as folk-customs, music and art.

* Incorporations of our beliefs into partially or even predominantly Christian texts and activities, such as Beowulf, Caedmon’s Hymn, and the Yule and Easter festivals.

* Primary religious texts in non-English languages that may have been written in Britain, such as Eiriksmal.

* Surviving texts and traditions from the related pre-Christian faiths of Europe and Scandinavia (uh, Scandinavia was in Europe last I checked), as well as the broader Indo-European tradition.
These people are not friends.

Hindus will learn nothing true about the traditional European religions from such reconstructionisms of European religion. They are not practising the actual religion of the northwest of Europe. They are not looking for that. They are reconstructing as per their idea of what it ought to be, 'would probably be, based on thus-and-so'.

There are many reconstructionists of European religions (except Hellenismos and of course European religions not regarded as IE) who do PIE reconstructionism and who ally with 'Vedic reconstructionists' (=Europeans).

They all speak of the Hindu religion as different from the 'original true' religion that is centred on the Vedas. They have the same monotheistic tendency seen throughout: delegitimisation and take over, at which point they start speaking as the "true legitimate" voices for that which they've appropriated. (Rather like the Brahmo Samaj: they declare 'polytheistic idolatrous' Hindus are "wrong" and that they know the *real* Vedic/Hindu religion. Same .... monopolytheistic tendency.)

That is, christianism declares itself the True Religion. Whereas all the visible P/IE-influenced reconstructionisms always declare themselves to be the True Inheritors, the True Owners, the True Practitioners and the True Followers of the True Version of the (IE) religion. In "Vedic Reconstructionism" this always reduces to "the True Vedic religion" (vs the false "Hindoo" religion).

This dichotomy - Vedic vs Hindu (a splitting process whereby Hindus are automatically disinherited from their Vedas) - is another sign of christoconditioning. Note that reconstructionists are always polytheists - they will swear by it and denounce "monotheism" and "soft polytheists" - and they behave exactly like their still-internally christian self.

It bears to always remember: Hindus are the true heathens here.

Not these 'reconstructionists' - nor the dedicated PIE (let alone Vedic) reconstructionists that deny Hindus. They have no legitimacy. They merely claim it vocally. By invalidating Hindus. They are still fundamentally christian - as in, christoconditioned: in behaviour and thinking patterns, even if no longer in conscious, (self-)admitted religious adherence.

Truly, Taoists and Shintos are very fortunate for not being beaten with the PIE/IE stick. At least no one is interested in pulling the rug from under them. (Well, Taoists are witnessing the beginnings of appropriation on the edges from IE quarters, but if they remain invisible/play dead long enough maybe the predator will get bored and they'll slip past the radar. Please the Gods, they may be spared.)

Hindus should make a distinction between those following their ancestral religions (the ones known to history) - like the Hellenes writing the main articles at ysee.gr seem to be doing - and those who are looking for something entirely different and hence constructing what they *want* rather than what was. The latter are not really interested in their ancestors' Gods. They're interested in an idea of what they want their people to have been and what they want to be(come).

They have recognised christianism destroyed who they were. They know what they lost is religion and that *that* is what they want back because it is their identity*. But in their search for rediscovery 'reconstruction' they are haughty and arrogant and - like christianism - will appropriate and run down others who are still practising true heathenism (a.o.t. falsely and opportunistically 'reconstructed' religion).

[* And it truly is a Self-driven enterprise on their part: they're not so much - not truly - interested in their ancestral Gods, as in 'regaining' *their* identity (what they imagine their lost identity was like). The Gods are seen as constituting an intrinsic part of that - but a *part* nevertheless: the Gods are not the end in themselves in this pursuit to "get" religion.]

Many modern reconstructionist movements - purporting to reconstruct *historical* religions - sadly end up dabbling. And some even associate with P/IE reconstructionism, despite the fact that no *known* heathen religion (i.e. as documented by practising traditionalists of our or earlier times) worshipped the reconstructed PIE Gods or worked with reconstructed PIE rituals from reconstructed PIE texts in reconstructed PIE language, making the matter as irrelevant to the religion of the Asen as it would be to the *known* Hellenes ancient and present. The NW traditionalists - including the later Vikingen - were Nordic and Germanic populations, just like how Hellenes were Mediterraneans. They were not the Proto-IE people - whoever these are supposed to be - they did not practise the PIE religion. (If one were to - for now, for the sake of argument - take it as a given that these existed.) The GRs practised their GR Olympic religion and the Germanic/Nordic populations practised the G/N religion of the Vanen en Asen en de kabouters enz. (I am guessing ysee.gr wouldn't mention IE/aryan/PIE - or rather, it doesn't *seem* to me like the sort of thing that would remotely interest them. They are reviving, moving on from where they had left off, not reconstructing from - assumed - first principles.) Just as the still-extant Hindus - who are Indians in Bharatam, not PIEs of the unknown urheimat - do not practise the variously-reconstructed PIE religion or worship the PIE Gods. They continue to worship the Gods well-known to their Hindu ancestors (and extant relatives).

So if people in the future wanted to "reconstruct" the Hindu religion as it was known to their Hindu ancestors, one would think/hope they would look at the information that the known Hindus of by-then history would have left behind about how the old Hindus viewed the Hindu Gods and religion, rather than using PIE and reconstructions to "recreate" the "Hindu religion". I don't know how far the last would get them, frankly. Just like it seems an impossible distance from [a] PIE-ism to [b] the religion of Seneca/Sallust/Julian/etc/known traditional GrecoRoman population such as their Hellenistic ancestors (of which they were the natural product). Can the latter [b] be retrieved from reconstructing the former [a]? Can, in future, a lost Hindu religion be retrieved from PIE. Or can it be retrieved from the then presumably extinct Hindus' own view (words) concerning their religion.

And there lies the distinction between what goes in this thread and what may go elsewhere: natural traditions as are *known* to exist and to have existed, based on what the traditional practitioners of those religions themselves tell us of their view of their religion (Gods). Their view=their religion. E.g. Julian speaks of Asclepius, Zeus, Pan - his Father Helios of course - his Mother who shared in the throne of his Father Jupiter (i.e. Juno; [similarly, the Attis reference implies that the Mother is Rhea/Roman Magna Mater]), etc. He worshipped in Temples and performed rites as other Hellenes of the empire did - as his Hellenistic ancestors did too - which were derived from what his highly-regarded forbear Numa Pompilius had taught in conjunction with the teachings of Greeks and other Roman traditionalists on this matter. He loved the Greek epics and its heroes (which Romans regarded as their own) - his view on these is that of his Hellenistic ancestors. He made it his business to regain his religion (his Gods).

Reconstructionisms of European religions - including especially the P/IE-based kind - go in another thread. So too neo/paganism.

Quote:In the very first post of this thred one of the reasons you listed for starting this thread was to better understand the true traditions of other peoples. There was nothing said about using only their own words from ancient times which at any rate is hard these days as much of their literature has been destroyed by the Xtian cult.
[quote name='Husky' date='15 May 2010 - 06:44 PM' timestamp='1273928802' post='106378']

1. > In fact you had earlier posted a link to the derafsh-kaviyani site which is a modern monotheist influenced interpretation of Zoroastrianism as HH pointed out, no different than any neopagan site trying to rediscover some of their heritage.

Yes, I was wrong. (Though I thought Mazda Yasna has a single supreme God. Whether that always implies monotheist I don't know. The Amesha Spentas weren't Gods but Good Spirits I thought. IIRC, overseas/expatriat Indian Parsee sites say they have 1 God and Parsees aren't neopagan...)[/quote]

Here. Zoroastrians of Australia (non-converting type, i.e. from memory ZAWA is specifically Parsee):



Under orders from God AHURA MAZDA Zarathushtra made his way towards the court of King Vistaspa of Bactria. In his inaugural sermon, Zarathushtra tried to induce his countrymen to forsake the worship of multiple [color="#FF0000"]g[/color]ods and bow only before Ahura Mazda. At Vistaspa's court, he had to fight for a foothold and contend with the intrigues and plotting of the so called "wise men" and courtiers around the king. In the end Zarathushtra came out victorious and Vistaspa was the first person to embrace the Zoroastrian religion.




Quote:However, it is important to note that in Zoroastrianism, there is no eternal Hell. Hell is only a temporary abode for the wicked soul. At the time of the Final Judgement, all souls will pass through a river of molten metal and become cleansed and purified.

[color="#800080"](^ Where christianism stole stuff from without understanding)[/color]

Even a cursory look at Zoroastrian theology would not be complete without a mention of the 7 Amesha Spentas or the Bounteous Immortals. These are the attributes of Ahura Mazda, aspects of His nature. At the physical level, the Amesha Spentas are represented as protectors of God's creations, e.g., the Amesha Spenta Asha Vahishta looks after Fire and the Amesha Spenta Spenta Armaiti looks after the Earth. However, at the abstract or metaphysical level, the Amesha Spentas form the "ethical infrastructure" whereby man can attain immortality.

Bad move:

Quote:In the 6th century A.C., the Sasanian monarch, Hormazd IV decreed that Christians and other groups should not be persecuted. He is believed to have said, "Even as our royal throne cannot stand upon its two front legs without the back ones, so also our government cannot stand and be secure, if we incense the Christians and the adherents of other religions who are not of our faith." (Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices" by Dr. Mary Boyce, London, 1979)
That christians were bothering them is known. But I didn't know Zoroastrian rule "incensed" people of other religions, esp. at that date? But from the translation above, it seems almost the sort of generalisation that is added to make things sound less specific: like "...must not antagonise christians (or people of other religions for that matter)..."
BV's #65:

Quote: Bharatvarsh2

Posted 13 May 2010 - 06:03 AM


Georgius Gemistus (Greek: Γεώργιος Πλήθων Γεμιστός; ca. 1355–1452/1454) — later called Plethon or Pletho — was a Greek scholar of Neoplatonic philosophy. He was one of the chief pioneers of the revival of Greek learning in Western Europe. In the dying years of the Byzantine Empire, he advocated a return to the Olympian gods of the ancient world.[1]


Official translation (my inserts in purple):

Quote:[color="#0000FF"]<"pogroms, bloody spectacles of executions".>[/color]

[color="#800080"](I.e. christianism systematically genocided the remnants of 'pagans' of the erstwhile empire. Achieved by concerted efforts of both the eager faithful christian local mobs and christian rule. No different from islam. Same terrorist ideology.)[/color]

Evidently there were other pockets of paganism and armed missionaries from Byzantium ventured out into some of them very late. The Laconians, isolated on the arid rocky peninsula of Mani, but protected by that very geography and prosperous because of their excellent olives, were not converted until the reign of Basil I in the ninth century. It is explicitly said by our source that these were not Slavs, as was so often the case in the Peloponnesus at the time, but descendants of the ancient population of the region.38 We probably will never know the nature of their religion.[color="#800080"]**[/color] With them, in this impoverished center of Greece, my chronicle of dogged rural paganism ends.

38. Constantine Porph., De administr. imperio, 50.

[color="#800080"](** Hellenismos.



The Gentile Hellenes of Laconia, Greece, resist successfully the attempt of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, to convert them to Christianity.

950 to 988

Violent conversion of the last Gentile Hellenes of Laconia by the Armenian "Saint" Nikon.")[/color]


And yet, the tracks of the last pagans are not completely lost in the sands of folklore, nor do they entirely disappear behind the screen of Islam. Rather, they resurface at the end of the fifteenth century, three hundred years after the school of Harran [place which had "unrepentant pagans" earlier] had been swept away. A talented young Greek, who had become suspect to the church authorities of his country--by then reduced to one city, Constantinople--left to study for a time among the people across the way, the Ottoman Turks. He did not have far to go: whether to Edirne or to Bursa, it was at most a journey of a few days that brought him to a refined and multilingual court. There he made the acquaintance ofa Jew, Elissaios,

Quote:attached to Averroes and to other Persian and Arab commentators of Aristotle whom the Jews had translated into their own language. As for Moses and what the Jews believe and practice through his intermediary, that did not concern him at all. It was that man who taught him the doctrines of Zoroaster and others. Through this man, a Jew in appearance but more accurately a pagan, whom he not only long regarded as his teacher, but whom he served as needed and who supported him, for this man, Elissaios by name, was one of the most powerful people at the court of those barbarians, through this man, then, he succeeded in becoming who he was.1

Who was the young Greek? The philosopher Georgius Gemistus, called Plethon. He later returned to Constantinople, but his method of explicating Aristotle displeased the religious authorities, and so he settled in Mistra, in the southern part of the Peloponnesus, near Mani, which was then the capital of a Byzantine principality. He died there in 1452, one year before Mehmet II conquered Constantinople.

Plethon traveled only once to the West, accompanying the Greek delegation to the Council of Florence (1438-1439). The group desperately sought unification with Rome in the vain hope that the termination of the schism would protect the last Byzantines from the crushing superiority of the Turks. But Plethon's ideas traveled throughout Renaissance Europe--thanks to his illustrious disciples, the Greek John Bessarion, who ended up as a cardinal of the Roman church, and the Florentine Marsilio Ficino--and had an extraordinary effect.2

By whatever means, the torch was passed during the three centuries that separated the closing of the school of Harran and Plethon's apprenticeship with Elissaios. The philosophical paganism of Late Antiquity made its contribution to the birth of the world in which we still live.

1. I am merely following here some of Michel Tardieu's remarkable conclusions in two articles, "Pletho Arabicus, identification et contenu du manuscrit arabe d'Istanbul, Topkapi Serai, Ahmet III 1896," Jour. As. (1980); 35-57 (with J.Nicolet), and "Plethon lecteur des oracles," Metis 2 (1987): 141-164.

2. E. Wind, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance (London, 1958), a masterly book on the subject.

About the final line: "The philosophical paganism of Late Antiquity made its contribution to the birth of the world in which we still live."

As BV's post 65 showed, it was not any Hellenistic philosophy devoid of the religion it is inextricably tied to: Gemistus/Plethon advocated (the religion of) the Gods.

Even the Renaissance and rediscovery of GrecoRoman materials is not owing to secularism - let alone christianism - but Hellenismos itself.
That was on Plethon.

More extracts.

Can see - in broad and extremely PC strokes - how GR Hellenes (and even other traditionalists the empire was in contact with) were extincted by christianism over centuries: first the Hellenes lost political power and were hounded by increasingly anti-heathen christolaws. Then the remaining GR traditionalists were driven out because of this persecution or they had to hide their Hellenismos and even fake some christianism on the outside. Then the last remaining outposts of Hellenismos - both outside (on the edges) and hidden inside the empire (undercover) - were hunted, found out, and thereafter the discovered inconvertible traditionalists exterminated: genocide.

1. First:

Quote:When freedom of conscience disappeared under Justinian, pagans chose either a dangerous but exciting* clandestine existence that promised the manifestation of supernatural powers or else a withdrawal to hinterlands as far removed as possible from the eyes of imperial authority. Justinian's ruling of 529 that prohibited pagans from teaching shuttered the last window that enabled us to see them clearly. From then on their existence can be glimpsed only during periods of forced conversion. The single exception is a Platonic school, at Harran in Upper Mesopotamia, which survived after the Arab conquest until the arrival of the Seljuk Turks in the eleventh century, as has recently been shown by Michel Tardieu. Islam, by redrawing the political map and permanently destroying the system of the polis, which was replaced by another form of urban civilization, erased nearly all vestiges of the paganism of classical Antiquity. **

[color="#800080"](* "Exciting?" It was not of their choosing to go into hiding, I'm sure.

** So in the empire's former lands which were eventually occupied by islam, whatever remained of Hellenismos after christianism was through with it got done in by islam.)[/color]

The history that follows is therefore a kind of parallel history which cannot possibly convey in all their amplitude the great political events and theological disputes of this tumultuous period. Some of these events are mentioned incidentally, without relation to their true significance (such as the draining struggle with the Persians, because it makes all the more regrettable the destruction of a temple-citadel on the frontier), others not at all. 8 During this period pagans were not the only ones persecuted for their faith, nor was theirs the most brutal persecution; Gnostics, Manichaeans, Jews, and of course Christian heretics came in for their share as well. But only the pagans had always been intimately associated with the power and culture that dominated the Greco-Roman world. Their decline, beyond the human dramas that it engendered, was a political, intellectual, and religious revolution.

[color="#800080"]("Revolution?" Oh what a quaint word to couch Total Genocide of an entire civilisation in. Hellenismos was a religio-cultural civilisation: the GrecoRomans attributed the well-spring of it all to (the benediction of) their Gods.)[/color]

To help understand this revolution, we have at our disposal documents whose abundance and variety are unique in all of Antiquity: accounts by historians or participants in the events seen from various sides; official acts, legal texts, inscriptions, correspondence, autobiographies, and biographies. To this can be added, on the one hand, the anti pagan polemics of Christian apologists and, on the other, the pagans' own expression of their beliefs, such as hymns to the gods by the philosopher Proclus, or Orphic fragments and, though little seen from that angle, the Dionysiaca by the poet Nonnus of Panopolis, and the Argonautica in which an anonymous writer makes Orpheus the narrator. There is even a request for divorce from Horapollo, a famous pagan of the fifth century!


2. The following I found to be an interesting section for several reasons, including for how eventually a few Hellenes of the christianised empire apparently sought out Persia (GR's traditional enemy) and why:

Quote:Athens was a small town where teaching had always been a distinguished career and a source of pride. It was unlike Alexandria or Beirut, having neither their power of Christian religious authority nor their host of believers. The Academy, outstanding under Proclus or Isidorus, declined under Hegias, but regained its prestige under Damascius, who was the director when Justinian closed it in 529. At the time it was abolished, it was neither in decline nor in crisis.


The Academy's endowment was confiscated by the emperor toward the end of 531 or the beginning of 532.16 The philosophers of Athens then sought refuge in Mesopotamia among the Persians. This is surely one of the most fabulous episodes of the period: the worshipers of the Sun marching East, taking with them the treasures of Hellenic wisdom. According to Agathias, they were [b]seven, like the planets they worshiped and the sages of ancient Greece. (IIRC elsewhere, the book mentioned an image of Socrates teaching the Seven Sages [of Greece]...) These facile symbols would not, by themselves, make the episode any less historical.[/b] Chosroes, the young sovereign on the throne of the Sassanid empire, invited them to his court; he wanted scholars around him. When he failed to hold the philosophers, he succeeded in retaining an Aristotelian doctor, Uranius, about whom the historian Agathias, born in 532, paints the unflattering portrait of a charlatan, a great speechmaker when drunk, carrying on discussions with the Zoroastrian priests of Persia, the magi, about the eternity of the world.17 The mediocrity of Uranius highlights the talent of those who preceded him--the flower of contemporary Greek philosophy.

What could they have been seeking in the court of Chosroes? They might have been prompted by intellectual curiosity, by the desire to find an alternative to Christianity. We may suppose that this impulse was analogous to the one that led the last pagans to foreign gods. However, although Zoroastrianism does not exclude polytheism**, Chosroes was not really a pagan. According to Agathias, the philosophers imagined the Persians as honest and sincere, in short, virtuous. This idealized and rather naive image apparently was inspired by the works of Herodotus and Xenophon, written a thousand years earlier. They would have sung a different tune very quickly, when confronted by a harsher, more hierarchical, and less hellenized society than the one they expected to find. And they would have shrunk from the task of teaching their beloved doctrines to Persian courtiers, little inclined to asceticism, through the raucous sounds and inevitable inexactitude of Pahlavi interpreters.

(** Do they rather mean any other traditional Iranian religions still extant in Persia at that time? (Mithraism and Zoroastrianism might not have been the only ones to exist in Persia then.) Because Zoroastrianism seems to repeatedly refer to the religion having one God - going by translations of various bits from Gathas - and that the worship of the other Iranian Gods were abolished due to Zarathushtra's teachings?)

Greeks were shocked by Zoroastrian religious customs, such as leaving the dead in special places for dogs and vultures to pick the bones clean, so as to prevent the earth from coming into contact with corpses. Agathias quotes an epigram, placed in the mouth of a Zoroastrian ghost whose corpse the philosophers tried to bury: "Do not bury one who should not be buried, leave him as prey for dogs; the Earth, universal mother, does not receive a man who soils his mother."

These lines underscore the Zoroastrians' obsession with preventing the earth from being sullied, and on the endogamous tendencies of Persian society that even sanctioned the marriage of mother and son-what could be more Oedipal! The epigram, which seems to have been written ("revealed in a dream") by a member of the expedition on their return trip, undoubtedly expresses their overall disenchantment. But it lacks originality, and any idiosyncratic particular: the classical tradition had long been scandalized by the matrimonial customs of the Persians.18 The general imprecision and purely rhetorical character of the expedition's account in Agathias has led Michel Tardieu to deny all historicity to the story, which would have been forged to strengthen the claims of Simplicius and his followers to live in Carrhae. According to Agathias' narrative, Chosroes' guests left after spending a few months at his court, but without having quarreled. The fiction lent credence to the pretense that the peace concluded in 532 between the Persian king and Justinian guaranteed the safety of their persons and their eventual return home to live "as they chose."19 Damascius apparently retired to his native province of Syria (he was from Damascus). In Emesa [Homs, 105 miles north of Damascus] an epitaph for a female slave has been found dated 538; it is also recorded in The Palatine Anthology where it is attributed to Damascius:

I, Zosimus, who until now was a slave only in body,

Now have I obtained freedom for my body as well.20

Damascius' disciples, especially Simplicius, did not return to Athens, although they continued to write. Tardieu has shown that Simplicius settled in Carrhae (Harran), within Roman territory but beyond the Euphrates, near the Persian border, and there established a Neoplatonist school. It remained active for nearly five centuries in a milieu that was and continued to be hospitable. As a matter of fact, although Carrhae--Abraham's stopover on his way to Canaan, and the land of Laban where Jacob met Rachel near the famous well--attracted Christian pilgrims and monks, the population had remained pagan. In the spring of 384, Lady Egeria, who had come from Galicia, made a long detour on her way to Jerusalem in order to stop in Harran. She chanced to arrive during the feast day of a local saint, Helpidius, and was able to meet with the monks of Mesopotamia, "but when night fell they returned to the desert, each to his own hermitage. In the city, outside of a small number of priests and the holy monks who lived there, I did not find a single Christian, but there were pagans everywhere."21

After the campaign of 540, during which Chosroes invaded Syria, sacking, depopulating, and partially destroying Antioch, the conqueror exempted Carrhae from paying a tribute because "a majority" of its population was faithful "to the ancient religion."22 Manichaeans had also taken refuge there. During the truces between Romans and Sassanians, if a clause granted some freedom of conscience, it was not to benefit a handful of vagrant philosophers. It was to guarantee border inhabitants that they would not suffer too much at the hands of their temporary master.

In the ninth century Tabit ben Qurra, the Harranian founder of the School of Baghdad, declared that his birthplace had "never been sullied by the error of Nazareth."23 Shortly before 946, the Arab traveler al Masudi, when visiting Harran, saw "on the door knocker of the meeting place of the Sabians, an inscription in Syriac characters, taken from Plato. It was explained to me by Malik ben Uqbun and other people of the same sect: 'He who knows his nature becomes god.'"

Tardieu recognized this as a quotation from the First Alcibiades (133 c), which Platonists considered the very gateway to their master's doctrine.24 The fundamental affirmation at the core of the teaching of these "Sabians"--there is "a cause in the world that has never ceased: a monad, not a multiple, which is affected by none of the attributes whatever of the things caused"--reflects the theories of Proclus and extends the metaphysics of the Parmenides on the subject of the One and the many, the holy of holies of late Platonism.25 Throughout the centuries the Aramaicized heirs of Plato, Plotinus, Porphyry, and Proclus kept their rituals, prayers, fasts, sacrifices (especially of cocks, the solar animal, an offering made by Socrates as his final sacrifice), and, within the school, use of the old Attic calendar which was both solar and lunar.26 They claimed the name of pagans, but their meeting place was separate from the pagan temples of the city, only one of which was still functioning in the tenth century. It was through the intermediary of the school of Harran that Greek philosophy reached Baghdad, whence it returned to the West, translated into Arabic, via Muslim Andalusia. As for the school of Harran, it disappeared in the eleventh century during the unrest caused by the arrival of the Seljuk Turks in Iraq.27

Justinian's closure of the school at Athens [...]

3. It's good to at this point revisit the following to refresh the memory a little, even if one has already seen it. Especially the 2nd half of the page (marked mid 5th century CE onwards):


Christian Persecutions against the Hellenes

4. And then, in that context, comes the following slightly more fleshed-out detail of some of the events mentioned in the timeline above:

Quote:The Last Refuges of Paganism

On occasion, an archaeological find discloses a halt in the general retreat of paganism. In 515 at Zoara, an Arabian locality just south of the Dead Sea, Theandrites, a god venerated by Proclus and Isidorus, was replaced by Saint George. Stones bearing ex-votos to the fallen god were used again in

the new masonry, and an inscription dated March 22, 515, lyrically evokes the transformation of the temple into a church: "God has his dwelling where there was once a hostel of demons; redeeming light now shines where once darkness spread its veil; where once sacrifices were made to idols, angels now dance."30

Occasionally we also see a kind of coexistence between the two cults, as when Christians were in a small minority or when the pagan god was protected by the worship of powerful neighbors outside imperial authority. We have the example of the bishop of Harran, who must have felt somewhat lonely in his city. In Baalbek a church had been standing in the courtyard of the colossal temple of Jupiter Heliopolitan ever since the reign of Theodosius I, at the end of the fourth century. Nonetheless, "no one had been able to discredit" the ancient Baal of the Bekaa Valley by 555, the year lightning severely damaged the pagan ruins. "This temple, above all because of its splendor, kept the pagans in their error," Bishop John of Ephesus acknowledged at the time.31

(I.e. only when christians are a minority - or there are powerful heathen neighbours holding an important stake in local Temples - is there any co-existence. Readers can work out why such situations saw 'co-existence' and who was driving it: the majority traditionalists or the minority christians.)

On the island of Philae in Egypt the presence of Christian churches did not prevent the temple of Isis from remaining in use. Between 449 and 468, the wall that protected the island was restored by the military governor of the Theban border with the bishop's help in collecting and distributing funds. As Etienne Bernand, the last editor of the inscription that disclosed this construction, remarked, "Bishop Daniel was concerned with fortifying the island, not with exorcising the temple of Isis." Also found were a number of dedications dating from the same years, made by a priestly family that served the temple, perhaps on behalf of the fearsome Blemyes. Under a peace treaty concluded with the Romans in 451-452 , this tribe came every year from the Sudan to fetch the statue of Isis. They carried it to their territory where she made prophecies for them, and then returned it to her temple, until the following year. In 537 Narses, duke of the Thebaid, a Persian-Armenian general won over to Rome, permanently closed the temple. The statues (Isis, Osiris, and "Priapus," which is probably Min) were sent to Byzantium and the priests were jailed.32

("Under a peace treaty concluded with the Romans in 451-452 , this tribe came every year from the Sudan to fetch the statue of Isis." <- Assuredly a reference to the 'powerful [heathen] neighbours'?)

Augila (Awjidah) in Cyrenaica, far to the west of Siwa, seems to have maintained a sanctuary to "Ammon and Alexander the Great" under Justinian, who prided himself on suppressing the cult, building a church in its stead and installing a bishop in that remote oasis. We may well wonder today what gods those Saharan Berbers worshiped, 400 kilometers south of Cyrene, a four days' march from Boreion, a small Jewish settlement on the shore of the Syrte, that the evangelical emperor also Christianized during the same campaign. Did Alexander the Great really inspire their adoration? Justinian's act established him as a [color="#FF0000"]missionary[/color] whose successes went all the way to the ends of the inhabited earth, the oikoumene; his prestige only stood to gain from his encounter with the shade of the great conqueror.33

(Wherever the heathens are, they are to be found and converted-or-killed for jeebusjehovallah. Wherever. "To the ends of the inhabited earth". AKA Evangelism - forcing the 'good news' of the arch-terrorist non-existent jeebus on everyone.)

John the Inquisitor

On the basis of this evidence, we might get the impression that under Justinian paganism was finally eradicated. It does not seem to have survived even in the desert outposts to which it was ultimately relegated. It was pushed to the edge of the Empire and the fringe of society with the Platonists of Harran. And yet, the episodes that are vividly related in enormous detail by John of Ephesus, a monk then bishop, bring us back to the heart of the Empire and within close range of the emperor. In 542 John of Ephesus became [color="#FF0000"]the charge d'affaires for pagans[/color], super paganos, in Asia (meaning the western part of Asia Minor): Caria, Phrygia, and Lydia. Shortly thereafter, in 545-546, he [color="#FF0000"]evangelized[/color] the mountainous area around Tralles in Asia Minor, in the lower valley of the Meander, in the region of Ephesus, near the Aegean coast. Tralles was at that time a flourishing city, according to Agathias. Christodorus of Coptus wrote a poem about its traditions, and it was the birthplace of Anthemius, one of the architects of Hagia Sophia. 34

John [color="#FF0000"]cleansed[/color] the countryside around a large city, a region where the mountains stand in striking contrast to the flatness of the surrounding landscape. The mountains and plain are completely different-in topography, resources, climate, and even population. An ethnographic study made by Altan Gokalp in the region of Aydm (the Turkish name for Tralles) has shown how, in a predominantly Sunni population, these mountains have provided a refuge for a solitary group of Shiite "Red Hats" resettled in hilltop villages where approaching strangers can be seen from a great distance.35

The inquisitor himself described his campaign. He built twenty-four churches and four monasteries and destroyed "a house of idols" where the pagans held annual celebrations with their priests. John became bishop of Ephesus in 558 and in 562 unleashed new persecutions.36 Even though his fidelity to Monophysitism had previously forced him into secrecy and imprisonment, he had the support not only of the empress Theodora (who died in 548), herself a cobeliever, but

also of Justinian, who paid for the expenses and robes of the baptisms John administered and contributed one-third of gold coin (aureus) given-to each of the new Christians. They then helped to destroy the temples, overturn the idols, break the altars, and "cut down the many trees they used to worship."

The great persecution, for us the final episode (there must have been numerous lesser ones that did not find their John of Ephesus to chronicle them), took place during the second year of the reign of Justinian's successor, Tiberius (from 580 on). Tiberius, having sent a general to repress an uprising of Jews and Samaritans, ordered him to take care of the pagans in Heliopolis (Baalbek) along the way. The Bekaa Valley was subjected to a reign of terror: "He arrested many of them. . . humiliated them, crucified them, and killed them." Under torture, his victims denounced their coreligionists, who were "in most of the cities of the East and particularly in Antioch."

They included Anatolius, the governor of the province, who was planning to take part in a secret ceremony to honor Zeus at the home of a pagan priest in Edessa. When the police surrounded the house, the priest committed suicide with a razor. The faithful, seeing the police arrive, stayed away, but their names were revealed by the priests' servants, an old invalid and his aged wife, who were arrested beside their master's body and cult objects. Anatolius, hoping to establish an alibi, rode off in travel clothes to the bishop's house in the middle of the night, pretending that he wanted to discuss a question of Scripture with him. He was arrested as he left the bishopric.

The case was immediately heard by the judges of Antioch. Denunciations followed in torrents. The patriarch of Antioch and a monk who had since become the bishop of Alexandria were implicated in a case of human sacrifice in Daphne.** Following this, the informer, who was Anatolius' secretary, was found dead in his prison cell, presumably killed to prevent him from revealing any more information. "For the honor of Christianity" the authorities decided to stop harassing the bishops. On the other side, during a house search, Anatolius fell victim to what seemed to be a divine judgment: an icon of Christ that he had hung in his house to testify to his faith turned its face toward the wall three times. After careful examination, it was discovered that the icon concealed an image of Apollo in such a way as to prevent detection. That was the end of Anatolius, who was taken to Constantinople with the other defendants. The trial took place behind closed doors.

(** More christofiction: like the christolibel against the Jews or like how in the later Inquisition christian heretics would be framed with false charges and made to either sign a confession-and-die-by-suffocation or else Burn, these Hellenists were framed on absurd charges of 'human sacrifice'. The only human sacrifice - and it is provable - is that of christians murdering out all these Hellenes.)

But those closed doors aroused suspicion among the people. Were the judges corruptible? Would they be tolerant toward paganism? The city had been in an uproar ever since the events in Antioch. This time riots took place all along the city's central artery (the Mese, presently Divan yoiu), with their concomitant looting and fires. The rioters threatened the bishop and invaded the courtroom. Their furor was at its peak when they broke open the cabinet containing the bail warrants: it was filled with gold. Two unfortunate defendants, a man and a woman, who probably had been the only ones not to pay bail, were caught, dragged to the port, and put aboard a boat. The mob told the executioner to burn them alive. When he refused, the rioters threw him on the boat with the two suspected pagans and set fire to it. The executioner managed to save himself; the other two perished by fire and by water.

(Note the christian mob of christian laity. They were acting for christianism, for jeebus.

The usual apologetics about the many many many persecutions of Hellenes is that "christians were actually innocent", that it was only "(some) christian emperors" who were bad, who "made" the innocent everyday christians commit massacres and brutal murders of heathens like of Hypatia etc. <- You know, the familiar (christo)Nazi Excuse: 'just acting on orders'.

But in this instance, you can clearly see - in case you didn't in other cases - that the christian mob were not "made to do it by the christian rulers": they wanted to dispense *jeebus*' own biblically-ordained justice when they felt cheated by the christians in charge - felt cheated for not being given the public lynching of these last remaining 'polytheistic idolators'.

They were made to do it by that jesus christ, who never existed.)

The mob then continued on to the prisons. "The pagans were let go, why should Christians be held?" So the prisons were emptied of some good Christians, albeit felons. The prefect of the Praetorium managed to save his palace from being looted by convincing the rioters that he was on their side. He was obliged to accompany them to the emperor, leaving behind his insignia of office. At the imperial palace words were exchanged "that could not be put in writing." Tiberius placated the rioters by promising to give them what they wanted. He quickly organized games, meanwhile preparing to have troops massacre his subjects in case the uprising started again, which it did not. The inquest was resumed under the direction of a more zealous prefect. Since culprits were needed for the previous uprisings, a few well-placed tortures revealed that the true criminals were-rather surprisingly for us, if not to a Byzantine mind-the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Montanists. They crucified some, whipped others, and still others were sent into a variety of exiles. As for those Christians whose part was investigated, their punishment was a charade: lash marks were simulated on their backs with leeches and red paint, and they were paraded around the city on muleback. Then "the Christians were pardoned. But the Jews who were found were arrested and brought to trial."

After such preliminaries the sentences of those accused during the great trial could be nothing but severe. Anatolius was not only condemned to death, he was tortured, clawed by wild animals, and finally crucified. The cadavers of the condemned were "treated like donkey carcasses," dragged through the streets and thrown outside the walls on public trash heaps. The inquisitions continued after the death of Tiberius (582), under his successor, Maurice, the victims thrown to wild beasts and then burned. Unhappy they who observed a few rituals from the ancient religion after they were baptized! All of this seems to herald the torments inflicted, much later and with greater perseverance, on the Marranos of Catholic Spain. "And that is why every day more are denounced and they receive the just desserts of their actions, in this world and in the next," John of Ephesus complacently concludes.37 His extraordinary account was written while the witch hunt was still going on.

(Note how John of Ephesus is like various later inquisitors and christian saints rolled into one, such as the 13th century santa Thomas Aquinas famous for his "Unbelievers deserve not only to be separated from the Church, but also... to be exterminated from the World by death." )

Post 69 continues a bit further on from where the above left off.

5. And one more time: look over the following (esp. the 2nd half of the page again) to put the above in perspective:


Christian Persecutions against the Hellenes

So christianism behaved like this in the 4th, 5th, 6th to 10th centuries (post 69) towards Hellenismos. Thereafter the disease destroyed all of Europe. Down to the 17th century (was it?) christians were still seen beheading Irish traditionalists. The Inquisition of inconvertibles was going on elsewhere even after that. And to this day faithful christians are christoterrorising traditional (which esp. includes Uncontacted and hence in christoterms: 'Unreached/UnEvangelised') South American communities by exterminating them, forcibly kidnapping their children under false and propagandistic charges of infanticide, putting the inconvertibles in concentration camps (like the christos did to the Hellenes of yore). You know, what's known as evangelism: spreading the good news of non-existent jeebus' "love". And the faithful christians are likewise still terrorising Hindus too: murdering swamis, Hindu heroes and Hindu laity, destroying temples both openly and through the christist government's 'secular' laws, landgrabbing, taking over entire regions of Indian states, cryptochristianism, implementing laws favourable both to them and to their partners in the calculated genocide (islamism), and implementing laws that discourage Hindu Dharma as much as christianism can at the present stage.

It's not "Some Christians" or "The Church" or "White Christians/The White Church" <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':blink:' /> or "Missionaries/Evangelicals/NGOs" or whatever excuses secular/dhimmi apologetics keeps coming up with.

It's christianism=The Jeebus Lie.


The aims of the Totality of the Ethnikoi Hellenes are the FULL REINSTATEMENT OF THE HELLENIC ETHNIC AND CULTURAL IDENTITY as well as the INSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION OF THE ETHNIC RELIGION OF THE HELLENES AND ITS RESTORATION through achieving THE STATUS OF A RELIGIOUS BODY as has been discussed in the YSEE Memorandum 7.5.2006 addressed to the political and civil authorities of Greece. At present, the attainment of the status of a religious body is not possible as current Greek Law does not make provision for such recognition.

At whatever time in the future that these aims are realised, an International Congress of the legal organisations of the Totality at that period in time will be convened. The purpose of this Congress will be the election of THE LEGAL religious leadership of the GENUINE HELLENISMOS.


The genuine Hellenismos demands nobility of the soul and zeal for personal excellence.

The genuine Hellenismos consists of an UNBROKEN CULTURAL UNITY of language, paideia (knowledge and training), way of thinking, collective organisation, lifestyle, ethical standpoint (Arete) and specific religious views.

Hope Hellenismos (the genuine kind is the only kind) retakes the Mediterranean. And all formerly Hellenised lands in the ME, N Africa.
My best post ever.

That's 'cause it's not even my stuff.

But I do agree with 99.999% of the writer's view in the following. Est-ce que c'est possible? <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/ohmy.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':o' /> (Well, it's *accurate*. Impossible *not* to agree...)

Worth re-reading many times over - for many reasons, but especially because a lot is said.

To be read in full or not at all. The ending could be deja-vued, but it's always worth it.

Have inserted a comment - it's in purple - and have made a few items bold. Would have done far more, but fortunately stopped myself at that point. The interference can only mar.

Italics are as in original.

Obviously from a source entirely different to that of #69 and #70 -


The criticisms made of Christians in the Against the Galilaeans, and the tone in which they are made, owe an evident debt to conventions of polemic. That does not mean they did not go deep. But polemic deals in extremes; it is impatient of distinctions between the wholly and the partly bad in what it attacks. To appraise Julian's criticisms properly, we need to measure what he said about Christianity against what he did about it. The debate on this score has tended to centre on two related issues: Did the underlying motivation behind his policy towards Christians change significantly in the course of his reign? And do the measures taken in the later part of it amount to persecution?

The notion that the policy underwent a significant shift assumes that when Julian first became Emperor he supposed that it would be possible to restore the fortunes of paganism in the cities of the Empire without recourse to actively repressive measures against the Christians. That was the view of Bidez. In support, he pointed first to edicts issued by Julian very shortly after his arrival at Constantinople in December 361, or perhaps even earlier.111 They declared religious toleration throughout the Empire, and an amnesty for all Christians exiled by the former regime. On this view, Julian started out in the belief that, provided the cults were free to compete with Christianity without hindrance, a pagan restoration would follow, and continued to work on that basis for several months. For Bidez, the education law of 17 June 362 marked a fundamental shift from that assumption:112 Julian now acted on the basis that the disseminators of a Christianized Hellenism were working serious harm and must be checked, that Christian youth was sick and could only be cured by true paideia. 113 His later experiences at Antioch, the argument runs - not least the destruction by fire of the temple at Daphne - gave his dislike of Christians an increasingly sharp edge: 114 there were churches summarily shut, their property confiscated;115 soldiers bribed to sacrifice, sometimes even compelled on pain of death;116 Christians excluded from public office,117 forbidden even to bury their dead by day;118 orders that they should be henceforth called Galilaeans';119 anti-Christian pogroms left unpunished. 120 In short, Julian's policy became more and more repressive and pettily vindictive, and seemed to imply that outright persecution was not far off by the time he set out against Persia in spring 363.

For the moment, I set aside the matter of Julian's credentials as a 'persecutor', and focus on the larger argument that his policy involved a turn-about from a tolerant stance to a conviction that Christianity must be actively repressed. This widely accepted interpretation of the policy was crisply rejected by Bowersock: in his view, Julian's view of Christians was utterly intolerant from the first and he never contemplated any other solution to the problem they posed than their total elimination.121 That claim is very strong and needs to be qualified, but in my view Bowersock was right to reject the basic notion of a slide from toleration to persecution in the reign: as a general interpretation, it is highly misleading. In the first place, there is an elementary distinction to be made between ends and means. Even if we suppose that Julian did not intend at first to pursue the Christians actively, that does not mean that his underlying purpose was to change in any way. At the heart of Against the Galilaeans there lay a compelling sense that Christianity was damaging the fabric of civilized life. Julian did not arrive at that conviction at Antioch, however. It is plain to see in two works composed in close proximity122 in the early spring of 363. The Helios myth in the Against Heraclius casts Constantine and his sons as the sowers of monstrous discord: 'there was a general slaughter ... and everything was thrown into confusion. The sons demolished the ancestral temples which their father had dishonoured ... and the laws of the gods and men alike were profaned.'123 The Fates foretold that if nothing were done, 'this wicked zeal for impious deeds will prevail universally.'124 The criticism elsewhere in the same work of men who 'subvert the common customs' we have discussed much earlier. Ostensibly, it was a description of Heraclius and his friends, but I have argued that they hardly merited the title and that Julian was well aware of the fact. For the sake of an argument and a vivid image, Julian had likened the Cynics to subversive 'pirates': his audience, I suggested, will have known how to take that remark, but to help them he went on to deride Heraclius as 'very like a monk': the men who 'subvert[ed] the common customs' for real were not the hairy Cynics who hung about the imperial court but the Christians in the cities of the Empire.125 The prayer which closed the hymn to the Mother pointed the same way: 'Grant all men knowledge of the gods, and grant to the community of the Roman people that they may cleanse themselves of the stain of godlessness.'126

That prayer and the warning of the Fates in the Helios myth give reason to suspect that Julian intended from an early point to take steps to render Christianity impotent as a social and political force. That need not entail a general persecution. 'I swear by the gods', a letter runs, 'that I do not wish Galilaeans either put to death or unjustly beaten'. 127 But the sentence that follows reveals the author's principal assumption: 'None the less·, I insist that those who revere the gods should be given absolute preference to them; for by their folly almost everything has been destroyed.' In any case, persecution had not succeeded in the past: the Tetrarchic persecution sixty years before had for the most part failed to excite the mass of pagans in the cities, and the opportunity it had given the Church to add to the roll of glorious martyrs was arguably better avoided.

The possibility may be allowed that Julian came to feel in the course of 362 that an initial 'tolerant' stance had proved inadequate for his needs and that a change of tack was needed. But it is not necessary to think as much. There is a political factor to consider. In his early days as Emperor, he had to proceed with caution. Above all, he needed to win and retain the loyalty of the Constantinian legions and the generals who commanded them. There is no cause to think that either the generals or the rank and file will have been much upset by the mere fact of Julian's paganism,128 but the commanders in question had been active supporters of Constantius. 129 Julian's ground for manreuvre was accordingly restricted: he could not safely launch an immediate frontal attack on the memory of his hateful uncle and the Christian system that he had worked to promote.

Julian's hatred of Constantius is a fact that must be kept firmly in mind if we are to catch the mood of his policy in the early months of 362. The Christianity he set himself against was not an abstraction. It was intimately linked in his mind to members of his own family, to 'a bad dream of two generations of impious rule by a Christian dynasty': barely fifty years had passed since Constantine had converted, less than forty since he had eliminated his pagan colleague Licinius - and the most vehement anti-pagan measures undertaken by the dynasty were still more recent, post-dating Constantius' elimination of the usurper Magnentius (350-3); in Julian's mind, the problem was perhaps reducible to manageable proportions, and he need not be supposed to have been trying anything so desperate as to 'put the clock back' to the age of Marcus Aurelius. 130 And in some ways at least, he approached the task shrewdly. Men who came to the purple were expected to act according to a pattern: one purpose of the edicts proclaiming religious toleration and an amnesty for Christians who had fallen foul of Constantius was to give a symbolic show of civilitas and praotês at the start of the reign. That Julian's first step towards a restoration of paganism was taken in this fashion tells a good deal about his political nous. It does little, however, to show that he was really willing to let the Christians alone at the start. If Ammianus is believed, the amnesty for Christian exiles was proposed with an ulterior purpose: to foment discord between Christian sects, above all between the Arians and the supporters of the Nicene creed. 131

Bidez allowed that Julian's motives here were less than pure, but he minimized the import of Ammianus' comment. He looked for support to the honorific inscriptions set up by cities far and wide throughout the Empire - 'même dans les cités les plus christianisées'.132 It will hardly surprise that the new Emperor was formally congratulated by Christian as well as pagan communities: to do that much was only politic. But Bidez gave less weight than was due to the striking titles of Julian in some of the pagan inscriptions he adduced. 'To the Restorer of the Cults'; 'To the Lord Julian, Born for the Good of the State ... on Account of the Wiping Away of the Ills of the Former Time'; 'Restorer of Liberty and the Roman Religion'.133 A hundred years before, the persecutor Decius had been hailed as 'Restorer of the Cults'; now, Julian was 'Restorer of the Temples'.134 Titles of this sort respond to more than a mere declaration of religious toleration ensuring that paganism should no longer be hamstrung in competing for men's sympathies. They anticipate, or recognize, a concrete plan to weigh the balance decisively in its favour.

The most effective way for Julian to further his cause was to do all he could to ensure that the worship of the gods was firmly linked to the material prosperity of the Empire in the minds of his subjects. That, above all, was what Constantine had done for the Church. Behind the success of his reforms had stood the brute force of money.135 Vast sums were spent on the building of basilicas, and there were grand endowments of land to the Church. That land, moreover, was to be exempt from tax. Clerics were excused the burden of costly public offices, even personally subsidized. There were food allowances for Christian widows and nuns. To pay for it all, Constantine looked to a source of funds accumulated over centuries: the huge treasure house of precious metals lying to hand in the ancestral temples. Pagans, it has been nicely said, had financed their own destruction. 136 Julian's most pressing task in this connection was to do the same in reverse, to restore the temples as the perceived focus of public beneficia at the expense of the Church.137

A clear step in this direction came as early as 4 February 362. An edict decreed that temples of the gods that had been put to improper use should be rededicated, and that those which had been destroyed by the Christians should be rebuilt at the Church's expense.138

Owners of land which had formerly belonged to the temples were to give it back, and a special tax was levied on those who had used the fabric of sacred buildings in the construction of new ones. The importance Julian attached to the issue is clear from a further edict of 29 June: the rebuilding of temples was to take priority over all other building projects in the provinces. 139 In parallel, in March, the clergy's tax exemptions were revoked, and their judicial power and exemption from service as decurions withdrawn.140

Whatever practical difficulties, confusions and objections the edict of 4 February raised in its local application - and the sources show that these were considerable -, it is very revealing of Julian's basic intentions. If the restoration programme and the withdrawal of the clergy's privileges need to be seen in the light of his general aim to increase the sources of revenue available to the cities, they also highlight the integral part he envisaged for cult in civic life. I have discussed earlier the importance he attached to the virtue of philanthrôpia, and the strong appeal such a stance could hold for the upper classes in the East. In political terms it demanded a respect for the legal processes and privileges of the cities, and generous public spending; and it linked these with a traditional cultural ideal - in short, with paideia. 141 In this connection, cult piety could certainly find a place. Temples had been a medium of pagan euergetism and munificence, 'a common resort for people in need,'142 and a centre for banquet and spectacle. Julian repaired the finances of the cults with this in mind. The priests of the cults 'must exercise philanthrôpia before all else, for from it come many other blessings, the greatest of all the goodwill of the gods.'143 In making that demand, Julian had a keen eye to the popularity the Church had won through the charitable provision which bishops had been able to make for local communities in the wake of Constantine's reforms.[color="#800080"]*[/color] 'The impious Galilaeans discerned that the poor were neglected by the priests and applied themselves to philanthrôpia, and the result is that they have led many into atheism.'144[color="#800080"]**[/color] To counter which, priests were to establish hostels and were allocated corn and wine to be distributed to the needy: this too was 'reverence to the gods'.145 Needless to say, the Church's grain allowance was to be revoked. 146

(* Reforms like those mentioned three paragraphs earlier and emphasised in bold. Where have Hindus seen all this...

** "Atheism", "impiety" etc.: oft-used GrecoRoman terms for specifically christianism - the denial of the True Gods is what the GrecoRomans were referring to.)

Philanthrôpia was a virtue central to Julian's imperial vision, and closely bound up with his ideal of paideia. In his view, the Christians had seized upon it in one of its aspects and used it to their own ends; and in that respect their practice of it found a parallel in his eyes in the use they made of Greek education. By a notorious edict of 17 June 362, Christian teachers in the schools were forbidden to teach literature, rhetoric or philosophy. The measure was distasteful even to Ammianus, 147 and its promulgation was the point at which Bidez discerned a major change in the thinking behind the policy. For him, it began a 'bloodless persecution' and a move towards a principle of pagan theocratic rule. 148 On a similar assumption, it has been held to mark Julian's coming more heavily under the influence of his theurgic mentors. 149 On either judgement, the implication is that the measure was quirky, that it is to be explained as the act of a ruler whose personal enthusiasm for culture or theurgic theory was coming to infect his political judgement in ways which were likely to put him increasingly at odds with the social and political realities of the time: as if Julian had begun to sense that, despite all his efforts, the pagan restoration was badly faltering, and now reacted in frustration with an ill-directed measure whose autocratic overtones were quite incompatible with the ideals of philanthrôpia and civilitas that he had lauded earlier in the reign.

Another view can be offered, however. The edict unquestionably marks a significant development in Julian's policy, but not necessarily any deep shift in intention. If we attach due weight to the financial measures directed against the Christians earlier in the year, it will not indicate the point at which Julian first turned to active pursuit. Attention has focused on the measure most of all because of the explicitly ideological terms in which Julian justified it; but there is a sense in which that may mislead. The edict as issued on 17 June says nothing about the gods or the classical authors and the need to respect them: it states briefly that those who teach should be of good character and proven competence, that with this in mind their appointments should be confirmed by civic decrees in the cities and that the decrees should be referred to the Emperor for approval. 150 A great deal is left unsaid, and we can assume that requests were sent to Julian for guidance on points of practical application. The document in which he expands on the ideological basis of the edict 151 looks to be a rescript written in reply to one such request and given general circulation: in a formal sense, the statement was elicited. The rescript is undeniably striking for the stress it puts on ideological statement, but the ideological content of other Julianic edicts is no less significant for the fact that it is not spelt out: measures directed in the same month of June to strengthen the finances and councils of the cities were equally 'ideological' in their implicit appeal to the virtue of philanthrôpia: the difference is one of emphasis.

Nor is it clear that Julian's close concern with the running of the schools discloses a man whose political priorities had been rendered markedly eccentric by the company of theurgists: the historians of late antiquity who now study its 'rhetoric of Empire' as a pointer to a 'discourse' in a 'web of power' will take another view. 152 Hand-outs to the needy notwithstanding, the principal aim of the philanthropic measures which Julian demanded was to ensure that the activities of the dominant classes of the cities should be intimately linked with the bedrock of pagan cult, and should be clearly seen to be so linked. The education edict was exclusively concerned with the same classes and looked to the same end. It hardly touched the mass of Christians; it furthered Julian's plan to reverse the progress of Christianity as a social and cultural force in the upper levels of society. 153 It was well directed to a sensitive point, and precisely for that reason it bulked large in the complaints of educated Christians.

To understand the full intention behind it, we need to dwell on the close of the rescript, where it is made clear that Christian students are free to attend the schools if they please: they are sick rather than wicked.154 Bidez regarded this as an empty gesture, assuming that compromise on the question would not be tolerated by the Christian community at large. On that reading, the aim of the edict was to cut off Christians from education tout court. But on one view,155 Julian may not have intended that. A man without the benefit of the enkyklios paideia would find himself virtually debarred from a public career in his city, and generally diminished in status in a milieu in which the claims of paideia clearly continued to count.156 Well-todo Christians faced a stark choice: to put their sons at a severe social disadvantage in their prospects, or to let them be taught by pagans. Julian's own experience, it may be guessed, will have given him no small faith in the transforming power of such an education. Whether he misjudged the numbers of Christian students who would be willing, or allowed, to attend the schools is another matter.

Despite the provision it made on this score, the edict can plainly count as an emblem of a 'totalizing discourse'; for Ammianus at least, and perhaps for many cultured pagans, the remedy it proposed was much too drastic. Julian can hardly have failed to see that it would lead to bitter controversy. But that just serves to show how convinced he was that Christianity must be rooted out from the upper levels of society, and how far he was prepared to go to secure that result. A long-sighted view was needed: in Julian's view paideia without the gods was nothing and worse than nothing, and professors who did not sacrifice were no true professors.

The measures taken against Christians in the months following the education edict need to be judged in the light of Julian's stay at Antioch. He arrived there in July 362 prepared 'to make the city greater and more powerful';157 when he left it in March 363, he declared he would transfer his headquarters to Tarsus, and appointed as its governor a man whom he knew to be vicious. 158 Several factors contributed to the change of mood, but not least was the fact that the city was predominantly Christian. Julian became markedly unpopular there, and came to look on the place as a city of ingrates. 159 It is reasonable to think that this will have made him impatient for clear signs that elsewhere the pagan revival was faring better, and there are hints in his Antiochene letters of unease on that score: 'Hellenism does not yet prosper as I intend.' He demanded more strenuous efforts from those he relied upon to promote it,160 and his dealings with Christians took on a harsher note. Whole cities were penalized for their Christian affiliations. Palestinian Constantia was stripped of its civic status and merged with pagan Gaza.161 When the Caesareans destroyed the last functioning temple in their city, there was not only a fine, but civic demotion, with higher taxes to boot.162

A letter to the Edessenes gave a menacing slant to a cherished concept: in response to internal bickering between Christian sects, Julian confiscated the entire wealth of the community - it was easier for the poor, he said, to enter the kingdom of heaven - and warned them to desist from riot 'lest you provoke my philanthrôpia against yourselves and pay the price for upset of the common good by being sentenced to the sword and exile and fire'.163 More disturbing still, he seemed to condone violent pagan riots at Emesa and elsewhere.164 In the last months of his reign, there were apparently laws barring Christians from certain public and military posts, and a declaration that much more was to come on his return from Persia. 165 A change in mood is obvious. But how deep a change in policy and intention need it imply? It deserves to be said that the actions taken against Caesarea and Edessa were responses to particular events that had come to Julian's notice; and that in the case of Constantia, he merely revoked a privileged status granted by the hated Constantine.166 It is perhaps too easy to proceed to a generalizing explanation on the strength of Julian's exasperation with the Antiochenes. As early as 1 August 362, he was prepared to connive against a bishop in at least one city; 167 as early as January 362, he had all but condoned the murder of George of Cappadocia.168 Financial measures were being directed against the Christian authorities from the start of the year. As the year proceeded, the policy was intensified; in cases where notable resistance by a Christian community came to Julian's attention, particular actions were taken in response. From the beginning, though, he envisaged the eradication of Christianity as a social force in the Empire, and worked steadily to that end.

Specific measures taken by Julian are not the whole story, however. The leading pagans in a number of cities were quick to sense the Emperor's hardening mood and took advantage of the situation. Gaza, for instance, apparently petitioned Julian to condemn the celebrated monk Hilarion as an outlaw.169 The initiative behind the pagan riots that occurred there - and likewise, the initiative behind such episodes of mob-violence as the murders of Bishop Mark at Arethusa and of the holy virgins at Heliopolis 170 - came from the local pagans, not from the imperial authorities. 171 Against this background, Julian's status as a persecutor is reduced to a question of definition. If persecution is to entail the authorization of mob violence, then Julian will be found 'not guilty': he was a cultured man with a genuine regard for civic order, and he had no wish to shed the blood of Roman citizens. But that leaves a lot unsaid. Julian sought the obliteration of Christianity as a social and cultural force, not the physical destruction of Christians. If he eschewed violent measures of repression, it was partly because he thought that there were other means to hand, more likely to be effective in the longer run. That left room enough for vindictiveness; on the terms the Apostate set, the fight against the Church was a fight to the finish.

Specific measures against Christians were one side of a larger design. 'Restorer of the Cults', the dedication is likely to have read:172 the one implied the other. And if the long-term fight was to win men's minds, the weapon was very concrete. 'Prayers divorced from sacrifice,' wrote Julian's friend Salutius, 'are only words; prayers with sacrifices are animated words.'173 My account of Julian's anti-Christian politics conforms with my reading of his anti-Christian critique: its core lay in the restoration of the temples and of public worship at them as the inescapable corner-stones of civic life. In the streets of the cities there were to be many gods. On New Year's Day in 363, to celebrate the start of Julian's fourth consulship, Libanius delivered a public speech commissioned by the Emperor. 'The gods,' he said, 'were bound to be your friends, Sire, for you have neglected none of their altars on your journey here .... This is the bulwark you have made for the Roman Empire.' A later speech picks up the theme:

Quote:This city ... has given many gods to be your allies. You have sacrificed and made invocation to them, you have soldiered with them: Hermes, Pan, Demeter, Ares, Calliope [Patroness of Antioch], Apollo, the Zeus of the Mountain and the Zeus in the City in whose presence you entered into your consulship ...174

No adequate account of Julian's stay at Antioch can ignore his high profile worship at local shrines or his determination to repair major temples and oracular centres throughout the East. That is the setting against which we must place the Emperor's abortive plan to restore the Temple at Jerusalem. Three centuries earlier a catastrophe had razed the Temple to the ground, but the Jews of the Roman State had once offered sacrifices to an ancestral God on High, and prayers for the safety of the Roman Emperor. Julian planned to repair the Temple and make it possible for the Jews to honour their god with sacrifice again. If that dismayed the Christians and falsified a cherished prophecy of the Gospels, so much the better in Julian's eyes. Constantine had built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to proclaim Jerusalem a Christian city, the centre of Christian pilgrimage: now the Jews would worship in Jerusalem once more. In policy, as in debate, they could serve as a weapon against the enemy.175

It is reasonable to think that the polemical tone of Against the Galilaeans is all the sharper for its having been composed in a city which had showed itself indifferent to Julian's vision of cult. That does not entitle us to view it as the pathological product of a deeply alienated and isolated man.176 In its central complaints against Christians - their refusal to worship the ancestral gods, their perversion of social values and their travesty of true paideia - it expresses in specious argument the convictions on which Julian proceeded from his first days as Emperor. It expresses also the strength of the polytheist sensibilities of the private man; and whatever that may tell or fail to tell about Julian's 'conversion' in his twentieth year, it certainly tells a lot about the religion of Julian ten years on. A recent study of his Against the Galilaeans closed with a statement of 'the differences between Christian and Hellenic Wisdom': the Julianic godhead, it concluded, was 'a quasi-impersonal source of reality, too far removed to be concerned with human beings'; by contrast the God of his opponents was 'personal, immanent, and actively engaged in human affairs'.177 About Julian, at least, that judgement is utterly wrong. On the second count, too, it claims a lot: in fourth-century Egypt, at any rate, the monks told a different story. A pagan priest was interested to ask one Abba Olympius if he still received visions from his God since taking to the cells. 'No', he was told. 'What?' said the priest: 'When we sacrifice to our god, he hides nothing from us, but discloses all his Mysteries.' 178 Julian would have assuredly applauded that. His world was full of ever-present helpers, 'manifest gods',179 and they lived in the cities' temples as much as in the caverns of the theurgists. They had been neglected, and Augustan verse had warned long ago that neglect had its consequences. 'Guiltless you may be, O Roman, yet still shall you expiate your fathers' crimes until you have rebuilt the ruined shrines and temples of the gods.' Julian looked on Constantius' reign as proof enough of that. Temples had closed and oracles had failed: to restore them was his duty to the Empire and the gods. For himself, an oracle promised that a chariot would bear him to Olympus and 'the halls of heavenly light',180 and the private man could look to a gentler mood in the poet: 'Bits of me, many bits, will dodge all funeral ...'


The care of the temples of the gods was never Julian's sole concern as Emperor. His reputation had been founded on military success, and when he went to Antioch in the summer of 362 he went to prepare for a war against the Persians. In the event, the expedition which left Antioch the following March turned out to be a débâcle. On 26 June 363 Julian was fatally wounded in a mêlée, and died during the night. His body was embalmed and borne back to Roman territory for burial at Tarsus, close by the grave of Maximin Daia.1 There his Christian successor Jovian honoured him with a fine tomb on which was inscribed (so Zosimus tells) a soldierly epitaph that echoed Homer:

Quote:Julian lies here, back from fast-flowing Tigris:

At once a noble king and a strong spearman.2

Others remembered him from different perspectives. Within a few years of his death, idealizing memoirs by Libanius were circulating in pagan cliques.3 They dwelt on his love and promotion of learning and literature, the restoration of the temples of the cities.4 In some of those temples, there is reason to think, the dead Emperor was prayed to as a god for favour and protection.5 For their part, the Neoplatonists long cherished the memory of one whose soul had attained 'his father's halls of heavenly light';6 in the late fifth century, the head of the Alexandrian school would recall his opinion on a knotty problem in logic,7 and readers of Marinus' Life of Proclus would learn that the philosopher had died 'in the 124th year after the rule of Julian'.8 Nor were Christians disposed to forget. The invectives composed Against Julian by Gregory Nazianzen (probably within a year of Julian's death)9 enjoyed wide currency and formed the basis of colourful popular legends which told of a tyrant who ordered the slaughter of Christians en masse, a black magician who drew embryos from the womb in occult rites. 10

In modern scholarship, too, assessments of Julian and his reign remain at odds. His latest biographers are agreed in ascribing to him a totalitarian political programme which came to nothing and made of him, in his last months, a deeply alienated figure; but they differ sharply in their judgements of the ideological basis of the policy and in their views of the man himself. One offers us the 'Puritanical Pagan' who tried to found a pagan Church - an ascetic revolutionary at odds not only with Christians but with the majority of his pagan subjects too, a bigot whose Neoplatonist interests are informative of little but the eccentric emotional development of an enfant nerveux.11 Another presents those same interests as an important key to the understanding of Julian's public policy. He is credited with a systematic theory of paideia, a dogmatic syncretism by which Neoplatonic and Mithraic doctrines were linked and given political expression in a theocratic ideology of kingship - an ideology by which Julian sought to impose a pagan monotheism as the religion of the Empire.12 On a warier variant of that view, it is better not to talk of 'monotheism' in Julian's case, but rather of a 'universalism' rooted in a henotheist and Mithraicizing theology which stressed the link between the earthly and the heavenly monarchies.13 On this view, the failure of Julian's cultural programme was uniquely harmful to the pagan cause, because his universalized theory of paganism at last presented the Christians with just the thing they had lacked till then - an all-embracing version of paganism on which they could focus their attack.

Many, too, have seen the key to Julian's paganism in the very religion he set himself against:

Pénétré d'influences chrétiennes malgré son idolâtrie, [il] ressemble à un Augustin platonisant au moins autant qu'aux répresentants de la philosophie archaïsante dont il se croyait un disciple ... l'âme inquiéte et tourmentée de Julien est à beaucoup d'égards animée par l'esprit des temps nouveaux. 14

The very intolerance that he showed towards the Christians has been taken to mark his inability to cut free from the habits of mind forged by a Christian education. 15

These are views I do not share. To my mind, characterizations of Julian as an innovative Neoplatonist ideologue or as a bigot hostile to forms of pagan practice and thinking other than his own are the two sides of a false coin. Philosophy had a central place in Julian's paideia, certainly, but it did not constitute the whole: rhetoric too was crucial in his education, and always remained integral to his conception of culture and to his cultural practice. In this connection, the influence of the 'divine' lamblichus may be judged peripheral: even his devoted admirers readily granted that his works were devoid of literary merit.16 And even where Julian's philosophy is the issue, it is possible to make too much of the debt. Iamblichus was prized above all for his theurgic writings on the divine hierarchy and the Chaldaean Oracles; and while Julian's deep attraction to theurgy is not in any doubt, he conceived of it as only a part of philosophy. In the round, the philosophic ideal to which he subscribed was shared by many cultured pagans in his day: we have met the Plutarchs and Scylaciuses who wrote their poems to Zeus and Pan, and who in their turn were graciously praised for their sophia and beneficia as governors in the poems which like-minded men in the cities of the East composed to honour them.17

The concept of civilitas was central to Julian's philosophic ideal, and it is given much less than its due if we ascribe to him a cosmocratic theory of kingship more evocative of Byzantium than of imperial Rome. There is a distinction, subtle but essential, to be drawn in this connection, and a modern study of the ceremonial modes of fourth-century accessio has drawn it lucidly. Julian certainly believed that the will of the gods had made him Emperor, but he differed markedly from his immediate predecessors and successors in regarding himself as the bearer of divine inspiration not qua Emperor, but in his own person: against the precepts of a Eusebius or a Themistius, he considered that 'the Emperor's nature was not related specifically to the nature of the gods'; an Emperor could indeed be divinely inspired, but in his view 'this was as true of any human being.'18

So too, it seems to me, the religion of Julian is not finally to be explained in terms of his philosophy. That his philosophic interests were deeply felt is not in question, and in this case they strike us all the more forcefully for the fact that they belonged to a Roman Emperor. It was a rare conjunction, and it evoked a beguiling Platonic ideal: the image of Julian as a philosopher-king was to engage historians from Ammianus onwards. For the author of a 'philosophic history' the notion had a special edge, and when Gibbon wrote on Julian he gave close attention to the justice of the Emperor's reputation on this score. Gibbon's verdict, though, was studiedly ambiguous, and when he wished to convey the heart of the man he looked elsewhere: 'A devout and sincere attachment for the gods of Athens and Rome constituted the ruling passion of Julian.'19 In my view, that judgement deserves to stand. As an Iamblichan Neoplatonist, Julian could subscribe to the doctrine of a transcendental First Principle as the sole true source of the real, 'known to the blessed theurgists' alone; but alongside his philosophic monism we find in his writings the traces of an irreducibly polytheist sensibility, with firm roots in ancestral patterns of pagan belief that were far from moribund.20 The key fact of Julian's devotional life is his assumption that a multiplicity of gods was constantly being manifested in the world of men, and that they must be honoured and rendered propitious by acts of cult performed in accordance with established custom. In his case, it is true, we must allow for a special factor: a pagan who had converted away from a Christian upbringing was no doubt likely to stay inclined to systematized expressions of belief. None the less, the assumptions Julian made about the gods and the forms of worship due to them were not the assumptions of one irreversibly permeated, despite his best endeavours, by a Christian education: rather, they mark the gulf which came to separate the mature Julian from the faith into which he had been born. Nor did they make for an innovatory attempt to transform the paganism of his subjects into a 'monotheistic universal faith'. Julian's promotion of paganism was first and foremost what the inscriptions declared: a restoration of the temples and cults of the ancestral gods whose worship his predecessors had sought to check by edict and law.21 And this in turn implies that the ascription to him of a totalitarian religious ideology is subject to a major proviso. His anti-Christian programme was indeed an attempt to consign Christianity to cultural oblivion: but he was not out to impose a uniform pattern on pagan thought and practice; 'He did not feast some [gods] and ignore others,' recalled Libanius, 'but made libation to all the gods whom the poets have passed down, ancestral parents and their offspring, gods and goddesses, ruling and ruled ... worshipping the different gods at different times'.22

Julian's intolerance of Christianity stemmed from a sense of outrage at those who denied the existence of the many gods and did their best to obliterate the worship of them. His determination to strip the Christian movement of the power and influence it had gained in the wake of Constantine's conversion led him to discriminate actively, in some fields anyway, against those who professed the faith. The education edict evoked a protest even from an Ammianus, and we may suppose that many other pagans may have shared his reservations. Conceivably, Ammianus' complaint was emblematic of a deeper disquiet at the degree to which religion had impinged on Julian's public policy, a sense that the rift between pagan and Christian had been exacerbated unnecessarily.23 But if the complaint went deep, it bore upon an aspect of Julian's religious programme, not the whole of it. It need not imply any lack of sympathy with his basic wish to restore the cults to their places of honour, and it gives no cause to suppose that the attempted restoration was a freakish episode which 'perplexed rather than inspired the majority of surviving pagans'.24

Whether or not the attempt had any real chance of making a lasting political impact is quite another matter, and it is not the subject of this book. In the logic of counterfactuals and the state of the evidence, the question can yield no certain answer. We are presented with the brute facts that the early fourth century saw the coming to power of a Roman Emperor determined to promote the Christian and to harm the pagan cause, and that a century later the number of those who professed Christianity had grown remarkably - from five to thirty million, on a recent guess.25 On one celebrated view, 'Constantine's revolution was perhaps the most audacious act ever committed by an autocrat in disregard and defiance of the vast majority of his subjects.'26 There is a sense in which that statement is deeply misleading, but it can still serve to warn us against any easy assumption that 'paganism' was already doomed by the time Julian reigned. If we cannot quantify the relative importance of the factors that led to its demise, there is no ignoring the fact that thirty years after Julian's death, one of them consisted in the coercion of pagans by force, the smashing of temples and their altars and statues, and on occasion the torture and killing of those who held fast to them.27 It may be inferred, at least, from the content and tone of numerous inscriptions set up in Julian's honour - and from the outbursts of pagan violence in several cities in his reign - that his pagan activism struck a deep chord in the minds of some of his subjects. The times were not gentle.

Sixty years earlier, Apollo had spoken through his oracle at Didyma to demand a general persecution of the Christians who hindered his prophecies: in the aftermath, his shrine and his priests had suffered for it.28 With the coming to power of Julian, he could look for better things. The Emperor became his prophêtês,29 and the Milesians were pleased to declare on a dedication in his honour that they tended the Apollo of Didyma.30 At Delphi, too, it is possible, someone who loved the god was willing to let the Emperor know his need:

Quote:Go tell the king: Apollo's lovely hall

Is fallen to the ground. No longer has the god

His house, his bay-leaf oracle, his singing stream.

The waters that spoke are stilled.

There is no knowing whether the author of those lines wrote in hope or resignation,31 but the poem bears eloquent witness to the bond that linked the Muses and pagan piety, and to the depth of feeling that the mixture could inspire. It spoke of things that Julian held dear and resolved to preserve.

If the above doesn't move deeply:

check your pulse, I think you might be dead.
Above is simply great! where is this from Husky? Would have the footnotes which are indexed in the text?
It is from R.Smith book "Julian's Gods" which you can access at this site:


Here is the direct link to the passage which starts on page 207:


Here is a google books link to the book:

[url="http://books.google.ca/books?id=RhHDl-0EYUYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=rowland+smith+julian's&hl=en&ei=XKz0S8nDPMG78gbY1qzACg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false"]My link[/url]
Somehow left out the bit that preceded the previous extract. Meant to include it.

My comment in purple. (Uhhh, and the smiley face is my insert too...)

Quote:Nor am I inclined to find in Against the Galilaeans any well-articulated Neoplatonist theory of the universality of Roman rule.99 The account of the world's creation in the Timaeus and the Platonic conception of the divine as eternal, self-sufficient, and free from change and passion were the common stuff of pagan theological discourse. 100 It would be astonishing if a professed Neoplatonist had no recourse to them in a critique of Christianity. But that does not mark Against the Galilaeans out as above all else a philosophic critique rooted in the contrast between Platonist reason and Christian faith. In tone at least, it has been observed, Against the Galilaeans stands closer to Celsus' True Word than to Porphyry.101 If that contrast cannot be pressed too hard, it is only because of the very restricted number of fragments that can confidently be said to survive from Porphyry's Against the Christians.102 Certainly, there is nothing in Julian or Celsus that can compare with Porphyry's painstaking and coolly expressed critique of biblical texts on philological and historical grounds.

The tone of what survives of Porphyry's work may deceive, of course: for one thing, some would argue that his critique was written around the time of the Diocletianic persecution, perhaps even at imperial request;103 for another, there are hints elsewhere in Porphyry's works that he too regarded Christians as 'deserters of tradition' 104 and that he did not entirely neglect the defence of traditional worship. 105 The brute fact remains, though, that the defence of polytheist practice to be found in Celsus and Julian finds no close parallel in what survives of Porphyry's work. Porphyry, indeed, while rejecting the notion that the Christian religion constituted a 'universal way of salvation', was prepared (at least at one stage in his career) to speak of Christ himself as a 'pious, just and wise man who has access to the heavens', akin to a Greek hero and worthy to be praised as such. 106 ( The usual/typically heathen self-delusion: the fault stems from heathens not studying the inimical ideologies and their ideological cores - i.e. jeebus in christianism's case. Julian fortunately was in a position to do that: he knew *both* religions very well. Which is also the reason why his position on christianism was so adamant, resolute. He knew only too well what it foreboded and that more evil was to come - as was indeed the case - and would stop it.) There is emphatically nothing of the sort to be found in Julian, and the contrasting tone of Against the Galilaeans remains significant: in this text, the style is the man. It is telling, too, that the defence of polytheist cult in Julian is notably energetic and forthright even in comparison with that of Celsus, which is often judged lukewarm and rather uneasy.107

It was only the ostensible purpose of Against the Galilaeans to prove 'in a court of law' that the 'so-called dogmas' of the Christians were false (41e). The true impulse behind the work was more basic: it was written out of deep hatred for Christian thought and practice, and the social effects they had had throughout the Empire. To Julian, these were most palpable in the indifference of Christians to the cult worship of the ancestral gods, and in their assumption that they could participate in the Greek republic of letters and yet deny what he saw as its religious core: 108 a multiplicity of gods manifesting themselves in helpful epiphanies in return for the honours paid to them by mortals. A modern writer has borrowed a lucid metaphor from Julian's own lips to capture the horror he felt: 'He saw, with a clarity bred of hatred, one blatant feature of his age - Christianity rising like a damp-stain on the wall of his beloved Hellenic culture.'109 Julian was not so self-deceiving as to think that the damp-stain could be checked by one more polemic against Christians. But he could do more than that: the gods had made him Emperor.110 <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Smile' /> Reflection on the public measures directed by the Emperor against his Christian subjects will lend further support to my argument.
The rest of the text that follows on from the above is in #72.

1. Bears remembering ever: Julian knew christianism - intimately, expertly, first-hand, first-person.

And his fight was against christianism itself. It remains uncanny how well he knew the meme.

2. Julian's Contra Galilaeos has a lot more to say. Bishop Cyril of Alexandria, the christian apologist who attempted its 'refutation', explained that he didn't even bother trying to apply his christian apologetics on the more powerful arguments in Julian's work. And the bits of the Contra Galilaeos that do survive at all are precisely from what Cyril dared to extract of it for his apologetics. Moreover, apparently there were many more than 3 volumes to the work, according to some ancient Hieronymus or somebody (mentioned at christianism.com I think).

Quote:161. "His [Julian 331 - 363 C.E.] chief work, Kata Christianon, is lost [common euphemism for Burned]. "


162.[Julian 331 - 363 C.E. (Emperor)] "V. Lost Works. The most important is...[Greek, for "Kata Christianon"], a refutation of the Christian religion, in seven books, according to Hieronymus, although Cyrill only speaks of three. These three books were directed against the dogmatical part of the Christian religion as contained in the Gospels".


[quote name='Bharatvarsh2' date='20 May 2010 - 09:07 AM' timestamp='1274326154' post='106467']Smith's book[/quote]It was originally this British lecturer of Ancient History's PhD thesis, from when he was a student at Oxford. He obviously chose the subject matter. I love him dearly for conveying it accurately (especially for the concluding portion of it - pasted in my previous post - which is so obviously the driving core of it, as all the arguments developed earlier meet there) and in perfect language:

it was much needed. The only good and honest textbook material I've read on the whole topic: not just Julian - though he sorely needed an honest presentation, everything else out there is incredibly bad if not down-right psy-ops (Bowersock anyone?) - but also, through him, the wider topic of both the time and the religion, Hellenismos.

Of course, the book is much more than that.

Plus the author's English is just beautiful - it's his own style: not for imitation because it's his originality - and when it is employed in presenting this subject, it just puts a stupid smile on one's face...

For a proper defence of heathenism in English*, apparently heathens need to turn to a British historian and the English-speaking Hellenes at ysee: as a side-effect of explicating Hellenismos and accurately presenting history, they are actually defending all heathenism.

(* None available from the quarter of angelsk-speaking Indian 'intellectualism'. At best they make bad imitators. Confusedhudders in fear: At worst - and most frequent - they 'intellectualise' the Hindoo religion away: they sell the Hindu religion and Gods down the river at first opportunity. Not to forget the never-ending apologetics for christianism.) Never mind. What's out there - like Julian's refutation of christianism and defence of his Hellenismos - must suffice. And I'm not remotely ungrateful for it.

Quote:which you can access at
That just stole the thunder away from my Best Post Ever <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/ohmy.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':o' /> Redirecting potential readers away from my Awesome post... How wrong. Tsss.

I just want to make it clear to any readers out there that *I* have long had my own copy of the (physical) book - all above board - and didn't get the material from any of the links above.
Quote:everything else out there is incredibly bad if not down-right psy-ops (Bowersock anyone?)

Check Polymnia Athanassiadi's "Julian: An Intellectual Biography", it is a good scholarly book that was recommended by HH.
But Athanassiadi is wrong: e.g. she would make Julian into a pagan monotheist <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':blink:' /> (She co-wrote a book on "pagan monotheism". After sampling it for a bit - the only work of hers available to me here - I was entirely disinterested in any further writing of hers involving/subverting Hellenismos.)

Smith's work takes the trouble precisely to correct the false views of Julian doing the rounds: views that are actually contrary to what becomes so obvious to any objective reader of Julian's own words and actions.

Throughout the work the writer presents prevailing views and then discusses the more correct reading.

For example, the following section from Smith (repeat from earlier excerpt) is to correct the entirely erroneous takes on Julian in circulation today: footnote 11 must be Bowersock, footnote 12 must be Athanassiadi, and from memory Fowden is footnote 13, and 14 would be Bidez. (And Smith has worked through the rest of his thesis to get the reader here: to properly understand Julian and his motivations, versus accepting currently visible hence 'popular' interpretations that are actually at variance with the historical person):

Quote:In modern scholarship, too, assessments of Julian and his reign remain at odds. His latest biographers are agreed in ascribing to him a totalitarian political programme which came to nothing and made of him, in his last months, a deeply alienated figure; but they differ sharply in their judgements of the ideological basis of the policy and in their views of the man himself. One offers us the 'Puritanical Pagan' who tried to found a pagan Church - an ascetic revolutionary at odds not only with Christians but with the majority of his pagan subjects too, a bigot whose Neoplatonist interests are informative of little but the eccentric emotional development of an enfant nerveux.11 [color="#800080"](<- Bowersock's opinion)[/color]

Another presents those same interests as an important key to the understanding of Julian's public policy. He is credited with a systematic theory of paideia, a dogmatic syncretism by which Neoplatonic and Mithraic doctrines were linked and given political expression in a theocratic ideology of kingship - an ideology by which Julian sought to impose a pagan monotheism as the religion of the Empire.12 [color="#800080"](<- Athanassiadi's opinion)[/color]

On a warier variant of that view, it is better not to talk of 'monotheism' in Julian's case, but rather of a 'universalism' rooted in a henotheist and Mithraicizing theology which stressed the link between the earthly and the heavenly monarchies.13 On this view, the failure of Julian's cultural programme was uniquely harmful to the pagan cause, because his universalized theory of paganism at last presented the Christians with just the thing they had lacked till then - an all-embracing version of paganism on which they could focus their attack. [color="#800080"](<- Someone else's opinion - Fowden?)[/color]

Many, too, have seen the key to Julian's paganism in the very religion he set himself against:

Pénétré d'influences chrétiennes malgré son idolâtrie, [il] ressemble à un Augustin platonisant au moins autant qu'aux répresentants de la philosophie archaïsante dont il se croyait un disciple ... l'âme inquiéte et tourmentée de Julien est à beaucoup d'égards animée par l'esprit des temps nouveaux. 14

The very intolerance that he showed towards the Christians has been taken to mark his inability to cut free from the habits of mind forged by a Christian education. 15 [color="#800080"](^ Bidez's and some other opinion)[/color]

These are views I do not share. To my mind, characterizations of Julian as an innovative Neoplatonist ideologue or as a bigot hostile to forms of pagan practice and thinking other than his own are the two sides of a false coin. [...]

[color="#800080"](And at this point Smith then proceeds to explain his own educated position on Julian again, which *is* accurate.)[/color]
One can see that at the end of this, Smith is explaining - with reference to the two extremes of Bowersock and Athanassiadi (the others fall in that range) - that they're 'two sides of the *same* false coin'. Essentially both are fictionalising about a Julian they invent for their purpose, whereas the real one's writings and statements about self (including his friends' views of him) is ignored or brushed aside or taken apart and inverted/subverted.


- Bowersock barely conceals his severe dislike for Julian (hates him in a very christian manner, btw) and expressly misrepresents him the way the christowest misrepresents Hindu Dharma. It is entirely subversive psy-ops. Infuriating reading. Of course I gave up soon.

- As I said, Athanassiadi projects her own wishes and ideals onto Hellenismos and its voices. Including Julian. She ends up being subversionist, whatever she may have intended. And also: interpreting wildly/misrepresenting history and Hellenismos is not scholarship.

Smith on the other hand just presents Julian's own words, actions and stated intentions (stated to friends as well as the public) and thereby gives an honest presentation of Julian. There's no invention. So the writer spends time explaining why the others who have been interpreting away are wrong - using Julian's own words which contradict them. Smith just wants Julian to be properly presented (something the historian no doubt thought spoke for itself until, I'm guessing, he realised how others got it all so amazingly wrong by their contorting it out of recognition). And to do that he has to discuss the takes of others (the overriding views in recent times, ever since for instance Gibbon went off the eye-catch scene) to show why they are wrong.

Julian is straightforward (his fundamental *motivations* are). Smith can therefore present him straightforward.

I had been looking for the *right* book (my kind of book) - like I said, there are so many bad books out there on Hellenismos and Julian. And it was certainly a hard lesson to learn: that not all books that involve/insinuate Julian into their title/topic need be remotely accurate.

But one knows a good book simply had to be out there: what were the odds that everything could be junk? Finding/reading Smith's work was a pleasure, not least because it cohered so thoroughly with my own views on the matter. And this sense of vindication is not at all that of a flattered ego - I may be guilty of that in a thousand other instances, but not here - but rather that anyone who genuinely cares about the subject matter wants the view set right. (I fancy Smith was provoked to write the book upon finding a dearth of modern literature doing the subject justice.)

Because it must be the *correct* view of Julian that is presented, so that people can understand him as he actually was and his motivations. It matters, the truth matters.

Julian's words are there for any heathen to understand: in many respects (qua driving force certainly) he is transparent. One merely wants a historian - and I do mean a real scholar - to coherently explain them in direct language. Then one can use these expert words to thus have said what one wants stated/known about Julian.

He existed. And he existed as Smith has explained - and through use of references to Julian's own words.

"How hard can it be to understand Julian," one would think. But things become murky for the undecided masses when there's a lot of calculated psy-ops and subversion afoot regarding Hellenismos in the west. It's very scary. What's scarier is that people actually *believe* it (fall for it), despite the fact that they can read Julian's words for themselves and easily *know* better.

With this book, Smith was setting the general view - which had been hijacked by faulty opinion - right. (It's why I said it's a much needed book.) And in doing so, he accurately conveys who Julian was and his reasoning, and at the same time gives meaningful glimpses into the religion of the Emperor (as well as that of the empire's Hellenes). It really is the only good English language textbook on Julian out there (as far as I know, but it's not like I haven't looked...) - minus presumably Gibbon.

Bowersock would paint Julian a persecutor who intended to exterminate *christians* from the first. But notice:

Quote:For the moment, I set aside the matter of Julian's credentials as a 'persecutor', and focus on the larger argument that his policy involved a turn-about from a tolerant stance to a conviction that Christianity must be actively repressed. This widely accepted interpretation of the policy was crisply rejected by Bowersock: in his view, Julian's view of Christians was utterly intolerant from the first and he never contemplated any other solution to the problem they posed than their total elimination.121 That claim is very strong and needs to be qualified, but in my view Bowersock was right to reject the basic notion of a slide from toleration to persecution in the reign: as a general interpretation, it is highly misleading. In the first place, there is an elementary distinction to be made between ends and means.
Note that Smith clearly explains that he only *superficially* agrees with Bowersock: that is, the agreement is only with respect to the *evenness* of Julian's intention (that he didn't have a change of heart and at some later stage decide that christianism must go permanently and completely), but explains that from the start Julian was determined to end *christianism*, and moreover did not intend personal harm to *christians*, but rather intended to revert the empire. (<- He was correctly convinced that all the GrecoRomans, the empire belonged to his Gods.)

So Smith explains that, to Julian, it was ultimately 'a battle for men's minds' and that Julian was determined that 'his fight with christianism (referred to alternatingly as church + christianism as a 'socio-cultural force') was 'a fight to the finish'. Of course Julian hated christianism: he knew what it spelled to his religion and people/country, and the world at large (FCJ in his CG: ~"I think it expedient to set forth to all mankind the reasons by which I was convinced that <jeebus never existed/christianism is an *evil* sham>").

And so Smith does not brush over Julian's consideration of christianism, nor pretend it was anything else/anything less. But the motivation matters and that is what needed to be set right, rather than let vituperative Bowersocks do a psy-ops on Julian.

The GR Gods motivated Julian, the thought of them was behind his every intention and act. In his Oration to the Mother of the Gods, Julian explains what he wants for all of Rome and its people, *and* what he wants for himself. His Gods matter most to him, and so, everything he did was for his Gods - and hence for those who belonged to his Gods (i.e the Gods' offspring who make up his country) - alone. That makes him like a Hellenistic equivalent of Hindoos (e.g. as seen in their "maata cha parvati devi pitaa devo maheshwaraH | bandhavaah shiva bhaktaashcha swadesho bhuvanatrayam". <- And similar, for all my Fathers and all my Mothers).

Here. Explains what is wrong with Bowersock/Athanassiadi/etc. And why heathens would actually want Smith's work instead. Explained by someone articulate - yay.

I suspect this reviewer is a heathen himself - a Hellene at heart. (Must be a heathen for him to accurately understand. Also, he is interested in Julian - for the right reasons and has the right views about him. Great taste.)

1. Review of Athanassiadi & co.'s "pagan monotheism".

Quote:1.0 out of 5 stars lies, damned lies, and pagan monotheism, January 13, 2008 By Curtis Steinmetz

"Alien Anthropologist" (just outside the beltway) - See all my reviews


The various authors of this book do not produce one single Pagan source who proclaims "I have renounced the belief in many Gods". Going back to at least Homer (8th century BC or earlier) Pagans had been able to conceive of a "Supreme" God (ie, Zeus) - without in any way abandoning all the other Goddesses and Gods.

The authors of this book want us to believe that the more well educated, and especially the philosophically inclined, Pagans of late antiquity had completely abandoned polytheism. But no Pagan is more representative of this group than the 5th century Athenian philosopher Proclus. Proclus' biographer (his student Marinus) goes out of his way to list the various Goddesses and Gods that were most revered by Proclus: Pan, Cybele, Asclepius, and Hermes - among others. Another figure representative of late antique Paganism is, of course, Julian ("the Apostate") - whose biographer (Libanius) tells us that Julian was loved by the Gods - especially Zeus, Athena, Hermes, the Muses, Artemis and Ares.

There is no there there. There were no "pagan monotheists". No one can name even one person who fits that label among all the Pagans from late antiquity. [color="#0000FF"]It is really too bad for all those who have jumped on this faddish bandwagon that Pagans wrote extensively about their beliefs concerning religion. No amount of hand waving can explain away the explicitly polytheistic nature of Paganism - including most emphatically the philosophically inclined Paganism of late antiquity.

The most perverse thing about this book is that it puts forward the Orwellian argument that the philosophical Paganism of people like Julian and Proclus provides a "missing link" in the transition from Paganism to Christianity. In fact, and as all students of this period know full well, Julian and Proclus (etc) were the most determined opponents that Christianity faced![/color]

2. Their review of Smith's book

Quote:5.0 out of 5 stars THE book on Julian!!!, December 7, 2007 By Curtis Steinmetz "Alien Anthropologist" (just outside the beltway) - See all my reviews


This is the only recent book (in the last several decades!) in the English language on Julian that is accurate and reliable. It is extremely well written - Smith has a very clear and engaging style. At the same time it is a very scholarly book that makes the kinds of demands on the reader that any book with lots of footnotes makes.

Even more importantly - Rowland Smith has produced the single most important scholarly work on late antique Paganism available in the English language. Seriously. More important than Sarah Iles Johnston's "Hekate Soteira", more important than Pierre Chuvin's "Chronicle of the Last Pagans", more important than the work of Ramsay MacMullen and Robin Lane Fox, etc.

"Julian's Gods" presents the story of the last Pagan emperor of Rome. The author deals in great depth with the spiritual dimension of its subject - which is the main reason why people are interested in Julian in the first place. This is a difficult subject, because Julian's Paganism is both a complex issue on it's own - and also a very contentious issue among modern day scholars - and also among modern day Pagans.

Rowland Smith takes great pains to calmly and cooly rebut the distortions found in G.W. Bowersock's psychotic rant "Julian the Apostate". Smith also clears up much of the confusion caused by Polymnia Athanassiadi's loopy "Julian and Hellenism: An Intellectual Biography". Both Bowersock and Athanassiadi fail to understand the seamless continuity between Platonic philosophy and traditional Hellenistic Paganism.

The thing that distinguishes Smith's treatment of Julian (and his Gods) is that he eschews the rigid, anachronistic approach of so many modern scholars who study late antique Paganism. That faulty approach is epitomized by R.T. Wallis' horrid little book "Neoplatonism" - one of those books that, like watching FOX News, actually has the ability to suck knowledge out of one's brain the more one is exposed to it. Smith allows ancient sources, as much as possible, to speak for themselves. Smith steps lightly with his interpretations of those sources - and his interpretations are thus consistent with what ancient sources say about themselves and about each other. There is no magic (or time travel) involved in such an approach - simply a meticulous and respectful treatment of the rich bounty of primary sources that we have at our disposal. The result is that where Bowersock psychoanalyzes Julian, and Athanassiadi romanticizes him, Rowland Smith succeeds in understanding Julian - and achieves an understanding that would be comprehensible to Julian himself and to his contemporaries.

Smith not only understands Julian (and late antique Paganism generally) - he also succeeds in articulating and motivating that understanding for a wide audience.
This is solid scholarship combined with excellent writing.
Oh bravo. Very well put (minus the confusing use of "Pagan" when he's referring to Hellenismos).

Smith's beautiful book. These couple of reviews by a lay heathen-ey (Hellenistic?) sort of person. The material of Hellenes at YSEE. A Portuguese Hellene. A Fries site.

My list of (sole) preferred visible voices is growing. Soon they will drown out all the vocalists I don't want to hear. Maybe I don't need to rule the world in order to have my way after all. Hehehehehe.
Thanks for the info.

I have not come across her book on Pagan "Monotheism" only read the book on Julian which was ok but not as good as Rowland Smith's work.

Interesting that AFAIK no movies have been made on the interesting character of Julian who could have changed the course of human history had he succeeded, one can see which forces would falter if the truth ever came out in the form of a popular mass product like a movie and I would not be surprised if they are blocking any such movie ideas.

On a side note, have you seen Agora about the life of Hypatia and if so what did you think of it, good/bad?
[quote name='Bharatvarsh2' date='21 May 2010 - 07:38 PM' timestamp='1274450418' post='106487']On a side note, have you seen Agora about the life of Hypatia and if so what did you think of it, good/bad?[/quote]I've not seen it.

But can't say that watching a film where the beautiful Neoplatonist mathematician ends up cut to death by a christian mob wielding shards is my sort of movie... It's sad enough to think about. But on the other hand, one wants to encourage films that present such suppressed parts of history - even if it is only to an exclusively (already) interested audience. I might keep an eye out for the DVD or look for it in rental.

[quote name='Bharatvarsh2' date='21 May 2010 - 07:38 PM' timestamp='1274450418' post='106487']

Interesting that AFAIK no movies have been made on the interesting character of Julian who could have changed the course of human history had he succeeded, one can see which forces would falter if the truth ever came out in the form of a popular mass product like a movie and I would not be surprised if they are blocking any such movie ideas.[/quote]They don't intend for it to ever happen.

Even Thomas Paine remains unknown - even to literate people from his country of origin... <- To publicise him would require having to explain how the church kept thwarting his anti-slavery writings, his Rights of Man, his support for women and his standing up for animal rights etc all in the face of christian opposition. Not to mention his works refuting christianism.

Anyone can - and will - draw their own conclusions as to who is on the side of right (Paine) and what isn't (christianism). Also christianism can no longer take credit for 'abolishing' slavery when it becomes clear it was what instituted it and was determined to keep it going.

Julian is a matter many orders of magnitude more serious.

The church is freakishly scared of him even now. It's affected by him to the same degree that he has the opposite effect - also, even now - on others:

Some 1700 years since, and his voice - his writings - and the memory of his person still inspires amazing loyalty and understanding. Discovery of him even causes some proper reversions, it seems. (Which explains the books of psy-ops to convey a false and unlikeable image, so contrary to reality.) It's not just the people a few centuries after his passing. His influence apparently continues. Learning about him inspired Gibbon to realise he is the Hero in the history of the fall of Rome - and hence ever since. (We're all stuck in "christian history"(-writing) after all).

Apparently Gibbon's accuracy in conveying Julian captured the sympathy/interest/mind of others, including the kind who would similarly be motivated to expend energy on righting the public/educated view of a person - and perhaps more importantly, *that* which motivated that person - long after he went off to Elysium or Olympus or wherever the Great Heroes of his Gods go.

No one - but the most determined christist (the Lying For Gawd kind) - who is made aware of the facts will remain impartial. And their sympathies can also be predicted.

That's next to how Julian existed for a while in a period of history about which any accurate history-telling would expose christianism. Including how it didn't "preserve" GrecoRoman 'culture' but destroyed GR Hellenismos (=religioculture).

Those are the reasons why

1. there's practically no general knowledge about him

2. there's moreover false info being produced about him, his times and Hellenismos for those who finally get interested to learn about him/his religion or study the history of the period

And apparently the fear-struck church does not want to be reminded of him at all. He remains a very real and very vivid nightmare to them. Great achievement to have christianism spooked so - and so permanently.

A film, though, might not be the best medium for presenting who he was and what he means. (However, if anyone does attempt an honest one, it would be heathens alone). His life is not film-material, even if his character deserves it: it's a tragedy and there's no sense of resolution, there's no romance, the action (battles) and intrigues are actually a side-plot to the main point, the main points are not really filmable: his intentions, motivations, etc.

One could show some of the latter through dialogues. But they'll have to be orchestrated and that would make it fake.

Actually Vidal wrote a more filmic version. The drawback is that it's not accurate.
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