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Old November 8th, 2016, 09:58 AM   #1

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Does Marcus Aurelius's killing of Christians tarnish his legacy?


I don't think it should. Christianity was seen as suspect, and which ruler wouldn't want to sustain his culture from outside or internal threats? He wasn't the first Emperor to murder Christians, and it's not contrary to his philosophy which was about being hardened to life realities, and not empathy or kindness.
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Old November 8th, 2016, 01:02 PM   #2

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What evidence is there for him ordering the persecution of Christians? From what I can tell he mostly left it up to local administrators, who's attitudes towards it varied.
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Old November 8th, 2016, 05:25 PM   #3
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Well- it might- if the christians did not have such a long record, themselves, of persecutions just as vile and far more corpses to show for it.


Aurelius was trying to stem a belief system that he saw as antithetical to Roman values and a direct threat to the power and authority of the State.

By placing their duty to christ above their duty to the emperor and to Rome, Aurelius saw christians as essentially eroding the very fabric of civilization. As a Stoic, he believed that Jesus was a figure of external moral condemnation... and the idea that redemption had to be sought from some exterior 'god' or savior as being destructive of the true moral nobility of man, because Stoics believed that your moral compass was internal and that the true path to self improvement and deeper compassion was thru introspection into one's own inner nature and animal weaknesses.

From that perspective, I think he was right. He saw the early church as a Con game that was convincing its followers that only the Church could 'sell' them the precious commodity of forgiveness for sins.
To a Stoic- the concept of SIN was disgusting- it was an abrogation of your own self reliance and self realization and convincing people they were inherently sinful- that they were not 'good', Aurelius saw as being cruel, manipulative and coercive.

So he was all in favor of trying to eradicate this ridiculous belief before it caught on.

It is questionable how much of the actual violence of the persecution Aurelius had any knowledge of. But he certainly let it be known that he would rather christianity went away.

This some areas- most notably areas well away from his direct observation, did get a little zealous in their persecutions... but we don't know that Aurelius endorsed that approach.

I mean- he was the same guy who cut gladiatorial games and dialed back the level of violence in the gladiatorial games he allowed. So we know he was not keen on orchestrated violence per se.


His persecution of what he saw as a destructive and manipulative cult does not tarnish his image in my eyes-... because I judge him by the lights of his own culture and his own beliefs.

We are talking about a culture that made entertainment of violence and killing... that they put christians to death as public spectacle was in keeping with their traditions.


In 1493- what rationale did the christian church have for burning jews at the stake all over Spain? Where does jesus say that's cool?
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Old November 8th, 2016, 06:34 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Space Shark View Post
What evidence is there for him ordering the persecution of Christians? From what I can tell he mostly left it up to local administrators, who's attitudes towards it varied.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-C...s_the_Thracian
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Old November 8th, 2016, 11:54 PM   #5

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In 1493- what rationale did the christian church have for burning jews at the stake all over Spain? Where does jesus say that's cool?
Really? The Inquisition could not target jews, only 'lapsed' conversos. They mostly converted or left. The rationale is complicated but goes back to mass persecutions of jews during the troubles of 1390-1415. Radical jewish preachers were trying to 'reconvert' conversos. Not saying it's right, but that is the rationale behind Ferdinand and Isobel's anti-jewish legislations. Nothing more than the Visigoths did, except that the Catholic monarchs had the control and power to do so, whereas the Visigoths lacked state control.

Marcus Aurelius seems to me to get a very good press. Yet it was during his reign that 'fires broke out' all over the Empire. Probably bad luck but even so.......
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Old November 9th, 2016, 06:17 AM   #6

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Originally Posted by sculptingman View Post
Aurelius was trying to stem a belief system that he saw as antithetical to Roman values and a direct threat to the power and authority of the State.

By placing their duty to christ above their duty to the emperor and to Rome, Aurelius saw christians as essentially eroding the very fabric of civilization. As a Stoic, he believed that Jesus was a figure of external moral condemnation... and the idea that redemption had to be sought from some exterior 'god' or savior as being destructive of the true moral nobility of man, because Stoics believed that your moral compass was internal and that the true path to self improvement and deeper compassion was thru introspection into one's own inner nature and animal weaknesses.
Where did he write or say this?

Quote:
From that perspective, I think he was right. He saw the early church as a Con game that was convincing its followers that only the Church could 'sell' them the precious commodity of forgiveness for sins.
To a Stoic- the concept of SIN was disgusting- it was an abrogation of your own self reliance and self realization and convincing people they were inherently sinful- that they were not 'good', Aurelius saw as being cruel, manipulative and coercive.

So he was all in favor of trying to eradicate this ridiculous belief before it caught on.

It is questionable how much of the actual violence of the persecution Aurelius had any knowledge of. But he certainly let it be known that he would rather christianity went away.
I was unaware so much was known about Aurelius's attitude toward the christians. He refers to them only once in his Meditations--negatively but very briefly. To my knowledge, the above may accurately describe the general Roman attitude in the second century. Not sure about Aurelius specifically though.

Quote:
I mean- he was the same guy who cut gladiatorial games and dialed back the level of violence in the gladiatorial games he allowed. So we know he was not keen on orchestrated violence per se.
I think that may have reflected the loss of manpower and revenue in an age of crises. He had less money to pay for gladiators and needed them as soldiers.


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His persecution of what he saw as a destructive and manipulative cult does not tarnish his image in my eyes
Persecuting christians doesn't tarnish anybody's image in my eyes.
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Old November 9th, 2016, 09:26 PM   #7

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Persecuting christians doesn't tarnish anybody's image in my eyes.
Well that's a fairly disturbing thing to say.
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Old November 10th, 2016, 03:57 AM   #8

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... Persecuting christians doesn't tarnish anybody's image in my eyes.
Do you mean ancient persecutions only? Or do you include modern persecutions as well?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians

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Old November 10th, 2016, 06:04 AM   #9

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Well that's a fairly disturbing thing to say.
They can be perceived as a detriment in any period. See the works of the renowned scientist Dawkins. But there's evidence the religion is waning on its own and will continue to do so, ergo, no need for violence.
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Old November 10th, 2016, 06:11 AM   #10

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... so, ergo, no need for violence.
So, no need to exterminate the Agnostics too then?
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