15 September 2019

Our true Western heritage

An index post for links to all my posts on this topic, since it's an important one.

Yes, it really was Christianity that destroyed Greco-Roman civilization and precipitated the Dark Ages.  It's an ugly and bloody story.

The greatness of that civilization, and the even more glorious world that should have been ours today.

My review of Agora, a film set during the final collapse.

The Persian Empire founded by Cyrus the Great was the world's first true superpower, and was an essential part of the rise of Classical civilization.

A short video on the Hellenistic scientist Eratosthenes, who correctly calculated both the circumference of the Earth and the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

My obituary for Hypatia of Alexandria.

The Abrahamic religions have divided what remains of our civilization against itself.

10 Comments:

Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

A modern parallel has been drawn by Susan Jacoby especially in her work, The Age of American Unreason.

15 September, 2019 07:14  
Anonymous Holt the Dolt said...

Can I ask a stupid question?

Back in the late 900s, Vladimir, who was looking at religions for Kievan Rus, sent people to evaluate Rome, Constantinople, and Baghdad, the centers of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Islam, respectively. He decided on Orthodox Christianity because Constantinople was the most impressive of the three cities - almost heaven on earth, as his investigators said.

Anyhow, here's the stupid question. After the 395 split, both the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire were Christian. The Western half plunged into the Dark Ages, while the Eastern half continued to shine, and Byzantium lasted for over one thousand years. If Christianity caused the Dark Ages, how come it did so in only half the Empire? Since only the Western half crashed, shouldn't the cause of the crash be something that applied only to the West?

15 September, 2019 09:09  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Grung: Thanks, I'll take a look at that.

15 September, 2019 13:27  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Holt: If you read the post, you'd see that I was talking about the end of the Greco-Roman civilization, not the political collapse of the western Roman state (which came several decades later). The Byzantine Empire preserved a coherent state and large cities longer than the West, probably because the eastern empire had always been more developed than the western. But it didn't continue the scientific and technological advances of the Greco-Roman period, or the culture. It was just a stagnating shell of what had been. In any case, it's quite clear from the evidence Nixey assembles that Christianity was indeed at fault.

15 September, 2019 13:28  
Anonymous Professor Taboo said...

Hello Infidel!

Sincere apologies that it has been so long, far too long since I've popped over read, perused, and commented. Suffice to say your blog, among several others, I always enjoy for its depth and substance --- when online I do NOT wish to piss away my valuable time, energy, and brain-activity on trivial riff-raff or empty useless social-media sites, e.g. Facebook, Instagram, et al. Therefore, when I DO have the tiny window of time to visit my favorite blogs, like yours, that golden time sneaks away too quickly after 1-3 blogs. Grrrrrr, I'm sure you know and understand.

Nonetheless, this Index is delightful! You've introduced to me a favorite genre of mine in film: Agora! Loved your review. I am definitely watching it! Thank you Sir. I am about to go through your 3 other re-links about the lost Classical Era to the last two Abrahamic cults/religions. These are FABULOUS subjects and material! Looking forward to them.

16 September, 2019 12:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Professor: Thanks! That means a lot coming from you.

This post will be something of a "going concern" -- I'll be adding new links to it as I either write more posts on the topic or remember earlier ones which are relevant. I'll be interested to know what you think of Agora if you do watch it.

16 September, 2019 13:20  
Anonymous Professor Taboo said...

Back at Infidel:

"I'll be interested to know what you think of Agora if you do watch it."

Oh, I'm watching it in about 15-mins! I am very much in the mood for this sort of film about one of my most favorite Epochs in ancient history... for the exact same reasons you have indexed here! I'll be glad to share my thoughts with you tomorrow or Wednesday.

Have thoroughly enjoyed your other links here too. Great stuff!

16 September, 2019 17:29  
Blogger Rational Nation USA said...

Thank you for this post Infidel. It brought back to memory things I have forgotten over the past 50 years. As well as rekindled my interest in the Greco-Roman period.

I do find myself thinking how likely it could be civilization will find itself in a New Dark Age someday. Put another way, are humans capable of not repeating its errors of the past?

Thanks again.

16 September, 2019 19:14  
Anonymous Professor Taboo said...

Infidel,

Regarding my thoughts on the excellent 2009 film Agora, first I give it a solid 4.5 stars out of five. I wanted to give it 5-stars for its social-psychology value of Mob-Herd mentality and how malleable individual Homo sapien brains (and emotions) are to belong and not be outcast. But I realize the film is trying to retell about 60+ years of critical history, volatile history at that, in a matter of 2-hours and 21-mins. HAH! Is that even possible about Hypatia of Alexandria, the pagan decline of the Roman Empire, and the rise of Imperial Christianity? That's a very rhetorical question.

Therefore, what I liked the most about Agora was its portrayal of psychological Herd-Mob mentality that will always exist in Homo sapiens. Many of us, not all, want stability, control, routine, unquestionable ORTHODOXY in order to FEEL less vulnerable and imperfect or stupid. Enter religion or superstitions to sooth, ease our anxiety of aloneness or being ostracized from, or tortured, executed by society's CURRENT majority/convention. Most of the time those fears and restricting Monisms do not reflect nor are they based upon actual reality, truths, or the operations of the Cosmos or our planet. No, indeed reality and its mechanics are anything BUT singular, Monistic, or even binary! It is INCREDIBLY diverse, plural, and ever changing like Heraclitus proclaimed in the 4th- or 3rd-century BCE...

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man."

Both explicitly and implicitly this truth teaches us that not only is EVERYTHING constantly evolving, changing, but it logically leads us to the fact that our existence, intrinsically and externally on this planet and within this Universe, is truly diverse and pluralistic. Period! Hence, CUMULATIVE scrutinized wisdom is the best form of pseudo-absolute truths against tyranny and all its bastards/bitches like monotheism or any ideology that proclaims Monism or Binary-ism as factual. Everything within us and around us says the exact opposite!

So... for that aspect Infidel, I LOVED Agora's (Hypatia and her father Theon's) portrayal of evil forces that plunged Western humanity into 10-centuries of the Dark Ages. Thanks again for mentioning it and blogging on it!

17 September, 2019 19:51  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Rational: I don't think backsliding into a new Dark Age is possible at this point, unless there's some kind of world-wide disaster that completely wrecks civilization (a giant meteor impact, for example), and maybe not even then. The relationship between technology and power is too clear now for sane leaders to abandon science. Even if one or two countries did reject science (say, the US if the fundamentalists completely won out, which I don't believe will happen), those countries would just sink into irrelevance while other countries continued to progress.

Professor: Thanks for your impressions. The actors and the film in general did an excellent job. Again, I'd emphasize that what you're seeing there was not the "fall of the Roman Empire" as a state, which still lay decades in the future when Hypatia died. The Empire continued, for a while (and for much longer in the east). But it was a kind of meaningless zombie existence. The civilization that had animated it was dead.

18 September, 2019 02:44  

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