Pagan Societies were barbaric because Christian values were not around.

Aug 2010
14,642
Wessex
You forgot burning at the stake :) Fully supported by the Church, for centuries.

Just one small example; Hypatia of Alexandria; 5th century ce. A rare creature in the ancient world; a woman, who was a mathematician , neo Platonic Philosopher, and Pagan .She was murdered by the Christians of Alexandria with the knowledge and support of the Bishop of Alexandria, Cyril. These good Christians then flayed her body and paraded her skin through Alexandria. Also a vivid example of the corruption of the early Church; the Bishop held the power of life and death, something no clergy should never be allowed to hold, imo.

There's a LOT of stuff about her because there is a lot known about her life, teachings and death

There is also a pretty good movie about her; 'AGORA', wit Rachel Weiss as Hypatia.

Make no mistake, the reason people are no longe burned at the stake for heresy is because the churches are no longer permitted to kill people. Think I'm wrong? Listen to a few Televangelists, preachers and predators to the mentally deficient.

@johnincornwall; Christians did (and still do) evil things with the use of some mental sleight of hand; they held to their Christian beliefs, even practising
them between themselves. Pagans were damned, so not really human. Thee psychological explanation for such behaviour is called 'cognitive dissonance', something at which every devout christian I've ever met excels. (apologies to anyone familiar with cognitive dissonance )

I wrote this post because I enjoy hitting my head against a brick wall; it feels great when I, like now. :)
Agora is an appalling movie, grossly unhistorical, and you would plainly benefit from reading some of the scholarly literature about her, it would give you some idea of the complexities of the relgious situation of the time; but then it is so much easier to present it like a cowboy film in which the pagans are the good guys being persecuted by evil narrow-minded Christians.
 
Likes: dreuxeng
Oct 2018
293
Adelaide south Australia
Agora is an appalling movie, grossly unhistorical, and you would plainly benefit from reading some of the scholarly literature about her, it would give you some idea of the complexities of the relgious situation of the time; but then it is so much easier to present it like a cowboy film in which the pagans are the good guys being persecuted by evil narrow-minded Christians.

Well, I enjoyed the movie as a movie. Probably because I like Rachel Weiss. I didn't expect accurate historical information. However, I . thought the portrayal of Christian bigotry and animosity was about right . The details, not so much. Motivated me to look her up, and get more factual information. I still recommend the film.
 
Sep 2015
1,436
England
The following appears of particularly interest:

'While anthropologists have shown that throughout history the relationship between religion and politics has been complex, there is no doubt that religious institutions, including Christian ones, have been used coercively by governments, and that they have used coercion themselves. Augustine found that persuasion by argument was insufficient to the task of correcting heresy...'

This last perhaps a lesson rarely learned. Especially with respect to the tyranny of the majority - and its concomitant and necessary oppositions/opinions. Freedom and Liberty of the Enlightenment, and the inherent tolerance of civil society and democracy.
 
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Oct 2018
293
Adelaide south Australia
Every single Hypatia's student known to us was a Christian.
Fascinating. Perhaps they protected her for as long as they could. These students would have been higher class, in having the leisure to study.(?) Quite possibly not as bigoted as the Christians en masse..

I admit my knowledge about Hypatia is quite limited. However, Hypatia died in 405 ce. She lived right at the beginning of official Christian persecution of pagans. That persecution was permitted by the emperor Theodosius. (reigned 395-397)
 
Aug 2010
14,642
Wessex
Well, I enjoyed the movie as a movie. Probably because I like Rachel Weiss. I didn't expect accurate historical information. However, I . thought the portrayal of Christian bigotry and animosity was about right . The details, not so much. Motivated me to look her up, and get more factual information. I still recommend the film.
Weiss is certainly nice. The thing is that the bigotry/ religious animosity went both ways, and that Hypatia got caught up in the complicated civic politics of Alexandria, by supporting the imperial prefect Orestes (a Christian) against Cyril (who was a truly dreadful man); she wasn't attacked because she was a pagan or was anti-Christian, or was a scholar or whatever, it was like the fighting between different factions in Weimar Germany. She is a fascinating figure, but has become heavily mythologized, as have the events in Alexandria at that period.
 
Oct 2018
293
Adelaide south Australia
Weiss is certainly nice. The thing is that the bigotry/ religious animosity went both ways, and that Hypatia got caught up in the complicated civic politics of Alexandria, by supporting the imperial prefect Orestes (a Christian) against Cyril (who was a truly dreadful man); she wasn't attacked because she was a pagan or was anti-Christian, or was a scholar or whatever, it was like the fighting between different factions in Weimar Germany. She is a fascinating figure, but has become heavily mythologized, as have the events in Alexandria at that period.
Ah, thanks for that. I need to remember that such things are rarely as simple as they seem. Ok, my perception of why Hypatia was murdered was rather skewed.

A question; the movie showed her examining the notion of a heliocentric solar system, Would that have been the case? I'm aware that the idea had been around the Greeks since about the third century bce. How common was it to be taught?--going against Aristotle for example.
 
Aug 2010
14,642
Wessex
She edited one of the book of Ptolemy's Almagest and would presumably have taught astronomy by commenting on his works, which advocated the geocentric theory; there is no evidence to show that she ever gave any thought to the heliocentric system. Aristarchus of Samos advocated the heliocentric system in the latter part of the 3rd Century BC, but as far as I can remeber there are only a handful of references to it in ancient sources, so it doesn't seem to have been taken very seriously; Plutarch says somewhere that he developed the idea as a hypothesis and that a follower of his, Seleucus, tried to prove it. I think people probably would have viewed advocates of heliocentrism in much the same way as those who question Darwinian orthodoxies are viewed nowadays! On Hypatia, may I recommend Maria Dzielska's book, which is very short (under 200 pages) and very readable. The different ways in which she has been viewed at different times is one of the most interesting things about her.