I. THEODOSIUS

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Türkçe versiyonunu okumak için lütfen tıklayın: http://www.astroturkiye.com/i-theodosius/

 

[Greek. Flavius Theodosius] Eastern Roman Emperor. The last ruler of the whole Empire – even just for a couple of months-. He declared Christianity as the official state religion of the Roman Empire. He made some edicts against pagans and their religions. After his death, the Empire split in two. In his time, Istanbul made a great leap, and became the capital of Eastern Roman Empire until its dissolution. Eastern Rome also have entered into a new golden age.

Actually, it is known that in the early years of Theodosius’s reign, there were some Pagans as important officials and early on, he didn’t inhibit the activities of these people. In 13 July 389, he tried to conciliate with the Senate, which was pagan in majority, and also instated one of these people to the highest office of the Empire. But probably these were only political precautions, or Theodosius’ respect for some non-Christians may be in effect.

But in the later years of his reign, his attitude towards pagans started to harden. For example, The Battle of Frigidus, which was one of the bloodiest wars in the history of the Empire and one that Theodosius won against his Western enemies, was considered the last absolute victory of Christianity against the old roman religions. Theodosius was pious Christian. He rejected the highest title of the old Pagan-Old Roman religions, Pontifex Maximus. In 380, he declared the Nicene Christianity as the state religion. In 391/92, he banned all Pagan cults and activities. It would better to give some details here: Theodosius, in his edict published in 28 February 380, he declared that everyone should follow the faith represented by Roman bishop Damasus and Alexandrian Petrus. With 3 more edicts in 391 and 392, he banned all Pagan religions even in private and declared those who object will be punished severely. But, there is a tragicomic situation here; historian Ammianus Marcellinus, in his visit to Rome in 380, he said: “They reject gods, but they don’t even go out to eat or to have a bath without looking to the ephemeris.” But, in the other hand, the lack of efficient bans neither with Christian or Pagan writers, may show that this ban may not be the last hit. Because, Theodosius was not known for his harshness. He didn’t apply in practice with the same harshness, the edicts which he declared.

On the other hand, the known fact is that in 391, there were many bloody conflicts between Christians and Pagans, so in this sense, 391 is a very special year for the astrology history. Theodosius, even though he forgave the murders to lighten the subject, he ordered the destruction of the Temple of Seraphis. On the other hand, modern history researchers claim that Theodosius never gave an order for the destruction of temples. This, with the light of historical facts, may be right and I couldn’t reach an accurate information on this, but this does not justifies Theodosius. Also, I don’t accept an idea that “of course he will be found innocent, the research is being made by Christians”. Because the same Christians don’t justify which they don’t want to. But, Wikipedia gives an accurate info on this: The only thing which is absolutely true is that the act was done by local leaders which was strengthened by him. In any case, there is a situation where Theodosius is an accomplice or at least created the environment for it. While those temples were being destroyed, while all those hard earned knowledge is being vandalized, there is no evidence that Theodosius tried to stop it. Also, it is a clear fact that Christianity destroyed the Pagan traditions.

However, Theodosius may have crisis of conscience. Think of a man; there have been many Pagans in his life as teachers, mentors and friends which he supposedly greatly respected but on the other hand he was a devout Christian. Maybe this is why he hesitated. Of course I’m basing this evaluation on what I’ve read on Wikipedia; the fact is that the Pagan culture was facing horrible events in one way or another in that time and that was the time it began to crumble.  It was the time when the Pagan culture and the Antique Age astrology was coming to an end, however it was not over yet; Pagan cultures survived for another 200 years and it ended with the closing of the Temple of Zeus after 200 years of that epoch.

Anti-astrology laws actually existed in the early years of the Roman Empire also but  this was to stop astrologers or charlatans which irritate the people. During these times, many of the Emperors themselves were astrologers. However, in the 4th century, the astrology discipline began to get chastised. While Christianity was getting the upper hand slowly, all Pagan disciplines including the astrology came to an end; “astrology was now an error”.  This epoch also was not a time when astrology was able to adapt itself to the teachings of Christianity, so it can be easily considered as the war phase during the transition period.  However, this great, creative and living history and also the age of philosophers was faded because of Christianity. When thought in this way, Paganism was not disappeared on its own, but was bloodily suppressed by the Christian Rome. For example, one of the most important sources of the period, Ammianus Marcellinus, writes that cultured people who got forbidden books were followed and killed.  These writings were burned publicly and in great numbers. These books were allegedly magical texts, however Ammianus indicates these were actually studies on artes liberals [7 liberal arts; grammar, rhetoric, dialectic (and logic), arithmetic, geometry, music and astrology].  Ammianus says, “ As a result, in the eastern regions, fearing that the same fate may find them, burned down their libraries themselves.” Since 400, great libraries in Rome were closed or completely emptied. In 415, a Christian mentor, Orosius, tells that he saw with his own eyes the empty bookshelves in some temples in his visit to Alexandria, and confirms that these were looted by his own people (Christians).

And lastly, I’m citing the “works” of Theodosius chronologically from a website:

AD 380: With an edict in 27 February, Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. Non-Christians were defined as “ disgusting, heretic, stupid and blind”. Bishop of Milan, Ambrosius started to demolish every temple in his region. Interpreter of holy mysteries, Nestorius, said that the dominion of spiritual darkness on mankind has begun.

AD 381: In 2 May, took all the rights of Christian peoples who converted back to their Pagan religion. In the whole eastern part of the Empire, temples and libraries were looted or burned down. In 21 December, Theodosius declared that even a simple visit to a Hellenic temple was punishable.

AD 384: Theodosius gave the order for the destruction of all temples in Greece and Asia Minor in cooperation with the local bishop to Maternus Cynegius. [While modern researches claim that Theodosius did not gave the order for the “destruction” of the temples, I wrote above that he gave the order for them to be closed and not visited. So, while he may not had been directly gave the order, his other edicts must had surely encouraged other Christians.]

AD 385-388: Maternus Cynegius destroyed hundreds of Hellenic temples, shrines and mausoleums.  Thousands of Pagans were sent into detention camps and killed.

AD 386: In June 16, maintenance and repair of the closed Pagan temples became forbidden.

AD 388: Public talks on religious subjects were also became punishable. Elder speaker Libanius sent a letter to Theodosius and pleaded to him for the remaining Hellenic temples to be left in peace and protected.

AD 389 -390: Fanatical settler arriving from the shores, poured into the cities of Middle East and Egypt and destroyed statues, shrines, libraries and temples and lynched the Pagans. Patriarch of Alexandria, Theophilos, began a campaign of terror against the Pagans. Temple of Dynosos became a Christian church. Its Pagan priest were humiliated before being stoned to death.

AD 391: With a new edict in February 24, not just visiting Pagan temples but just looking at them was also became forbidden. Seraphis temple was looted and its famous library was burned down.

AD 392: In November 8, Theodosius, outlawed all non- Christian rituals  and labeled them as “pagan superstitions”. Almost all the temples in Cyprus was destroyed and thousands of Pagans were slaughtered. The edict of Theodosius was clear: “Nobody who does not bow down to Father Epiphanius has a right to live on this island.” In many cities of the Middle East, Pagan uprisings began.

By the way, do we remember this statue vandalism from somewhere else?

 

 

© Devrim Yılmazer

2011, İzmir

 

Translate from Turkish: Mehmet Günüşen

 

About Devrim Yılmazer

Devrim Yilmazer was born in 24 February 1975 in Ankara. He has a masters degree from the University of Wien in Journalism and Communication Science. He graduated by delivering his thesis in 01.07.2009 under the title “Astrology, Fate and Free Will in Ancient Greek Literature”. In 2006, for the Philosophy Department which he took as a side study, he gave his article “Astrology and Science”.

Other than these, he wrote various articles on the XI. House magazine. Yilmazer, who was interested in astrology since 1989, is one of the directors of the Astrology Turkey website and the Astrology group, director of the DataBank and AstroDaily and one of the partners of the Zodiac Astrology Publishing. Also, he is a lecturer of astrology in the Istanbul Aydin University.

He brought the Tetrabiblos, which was translated for countless times globally, to Turkey after 500 years. He has various active book projects. Among these, there is the book series called the Astrologica, which he’s planning to write by expanding his thesis in the University of Wien and another of his works, which is a mundane one called İl İl Astrolojik Türkiye, to other ages, by not keeping them limited to Ancient Greek.

 

 

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