How Theodosius The Great’s Fanaticism Collapsed The Roman Empire


Augustus Valens, senior emperor, got killed in the disastrous defeat of Adrianopolis. In spite of the admonition of the Frank Richomeres, who told Valens of the proximity of the large, experienced and recently victorious Occidental Roman Field Army, Valens tried to solve the problem all by himself. Valens seems to have been driven beyond reason by the jealous mood of the Bible god. [1] 

Valens’ brother, Valentinian I, had named him Augustus. Valentinian himself then made his teenage son Gratian co-emperor with him in Occident (the same sort of arrangement Marcus Aurelius had disastrously opted for, two centuries earlier, by elevating the teenage Commodus). According to Ammianus, “Valentinian I hated the well-dressed and educated and wealthy and well-born“. Valentinian was an anti-intellectual, and brought others of the same persuasion to power. Just when the empire needed maximum smarts, the opposite road was selected.

Nineteen (!) year old emperor Gratian, a fanatical Christian under the influence of expert manipulator Ambrose, bishop of Milan, agreed to let Theodosius replace Valens. Gratian had been co-Augustus in Occident, named that way by his father… A Christian who hated intellectuals. He father died during a fit of anger he directed at some German ambassadors.

Theodosius’ own father, Flavius Theodosius, had been a supreme commander, Comes Britanniarum (British top General, companion of the emperor). He had put down a “Great Conspiracy” in Britain, and one in Mauritania, the rebellion of Firmus. As a reward, he was then executed (!). Pluto-kratia; when evil (Pluto) is in power (kratia), knives fly in all directions. His son had served under him, and retired in Spain.  

Theodosius son of Theodosius had become a famous soldier in his own right. Dux Moesiae, he drove back Sarmatians who had invaded Moesia. So, shortly after the disaster of Adrianopolis, the 33 year old Theodosius, was called upon, came out of retirement and became emperor of the Orient.

Theodosius I; Very Roman In Appearance, Very Rotten Inside

Such were the Byzantine complexities of the Roman State at the time: something was going on, but we don’t know what it was… because Christian fanatics destroyed the history books written during the Late Empire (one of those comprised 22 volumes, all lost; presumably Christianism didn’t look good enough, even to the Christians). Theodosius the Son was a fanatical Christian of the Nicene creed. He found himself Augustus, and immediately enforced that creed, decreeing punishment against “heretics”… At the whim of the emperor (all the way up to torture to death).

***

All Too Christian Biased and Traditional Historiography Has Theodosius I Upside Down:

The usual description of Emperor Theodosius found in old history books celebrate him in terms similar to those reserved to Constantine. Typically Theodosius is described as a great Roman emperor because he made peace with the Goths, extirpated Paganism, and defeated the “usurper” Eugenius, unifying the empire under his steady hand. This is a first reading, a reading at a distance, superficially true, yet violently poisonous if swallowed: out of it came the reputation of the Catholicism Inquisition for humanism, charity, wisdom and goodness.

My interpretation is quite the opposite. Emperor Theodosius established the Inquisition and made himself its enforcer. Although the Franks discontinued that barbarity in the following century, and for the five centuries after that, it would reappear in 1026 CE (and thereafter fester for eight centuries…) In the late Middle Ages, when the feudal aristocrats encountered difficulties with a restive populace, religious terror, helped by the universities, came in handy to accuse anybody who was too smart for the comfort of the established order. The Catholic fascism exerted by Theodosius brought the massive systematic destruction of books and libraries, for example that of the world’s greatest library in Alexandria. Ths was not a detail. It was the systematic annihilation of the written word, and of all of culture and knowledge. If it was not of a Christian nature it had to die (so we know of non-Christians, mostly from the critique fanatical Christians made of them!)

De facto, after the execution of Gratian by Maximus, and especially after the death of the latter, Theodosius was sole emperor of the empire (until the “usurpation” of Eugenius).    

***

Theodosius Having Opened The Empire To Goths And Huns, then Destroyed The Occidental Roman Army:

Far from pacifying the Barbarians, Theodosius, not content with making the Goths into co-leaders of the empire, also allied himself with the Huns, introducing them as military muscle inside the empire as early as 384 CE 9he did it again, eight years later, and this time the Huns didn’t leave, nor could they be caught). Theodosius also promoted to the highest command of the empire the Visigoth Alaric and the half Vandal Stilicho. Alaric and Stilicho dominated the politics and military operations of the Occidental empire in the 400-410 CE period (Stilicho was executed in 408 and Alaric seized Rome in 410 CE).

Valentinian II was suicided, some say, possibly by agents of the chief of the occidental Roman army, the very experienced Frank Arbogast (nephew of Flavius Richomeres). Under the Arbogast-Eugenius leadership, the ancestral religious rites were once again performed openly and the Altar of Victory was restored.

The very young Occidental emperor seemed to have had committed suicide. So it’s not clear that Eugenius was illegitimate. However, pushed by the mother of the defunct, Theodosius decided to pretend, after many months, that the young emperor had been suicided… And thus that Eugenius was illegitimate (as most historians have been paid to love monarchs and the established order, and tend to concur with Theodosius). 

The battle of Frigidus was the last stand of the old, proven ways and secularism against fanatical, scorched earth Catholicism. Emperor-usurper Eugenius fronting for Arbogast, the Frank heading the Occidental Roman army, fought Theodosius and his barbaric allies. Theodosius’ army was composed nearly half of Goths. They paid a heavy price on the first day (10,000 Goths killed). On the second day, Theodosius’ Goths won, thanks to the sort of peculiar hurricane  wind  which often ravages that particular valley. The wind blew in the face of the Occidental Roman army, defeating its artillery, and helping that of their adversaries. Thus, although the 55,000 soldiers of Arbogast more numerous and more experienced army should have won, they were defeated. The hurricane could only be interpreted as a sign that Bible God was stronger than Hercules (under the banner of whom the Occidental Roman army was fighting).

That catastrophic battle is generally not mentioned… Obviously because historians steeped in Christianism view it as a great victory against the forces of the past… The obverse of my point of view, which is that Pagans and Atheists were much more tolerant. But, basically, at Frigidus, two thirds of the really experienced Roman field army was annihilated.

Although the Roman army in 378 CE, just before Adrianopolis had comprised 500,000 men most were garrison soldiers manning the Limes. They were useless: invaders blitzkrieged around them, and cut them from the back. The total Roman field army was less than 100,000, and the only superlative force. Maybe 30% of the total field army had been killed at Adrianopolis. Then 55% were defeated by that hurricane at Frigidus. So basically there was no more Roman Field Army by 395CE!   

The situation didn’t escape potential invaders. Frigidus was immediately followed by German invasions targeting Illyricum (present day Western Balkans). Stilicho, a half Vandal, then regent installed by Theodosius, used the army present at Frigidus to try to repel the invaders: there was nothing else. And as I said that army, which got very lucky at Frigidus, was half composed of green, inexperienced troops. The only experienced troops were Alaric’s Goths (and that’s why they conquered Rome, 16 years later). 

One often encounters historians baffled by the fall of the Roman Occident to the Germans. Those dense gentlemen are so alien to military matters that they fail to realize that, once your empire has no army, if there are barbarians at the gates, the empire falls. Indeed the massive invasions started immediately after Frigidus. The mass crossing of the frozen Rhine on December 31, 406 CE, by many German nations, occurred only 12 years and three months after Frigidus.

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Christian Terror Expanded:

Constantine had been prudent, Valentinian had delayed. But the ideology of Bible God condoned the greatest excesses of fascist oligarchism unchained. However the ambitious Ambrose, bishop of Milan, once governor of a Province, exerted great influence on the teenage emperor, Gratian. 

Vicious principles of religious jurisprudence were established, to punish who still adhered to the ceremonies of their Roman ancestors: that the tolerant magistrate was, in some measure, guilty of the crimes which he neglected to strike, prohibit or punish; and that the idolatrous worship of fabulous deities and real daemons was the most abominable crime against the State.

Saint. Ambrose (tom. ii. de Obit. Theodos. p. 1208 [ed. Bened.]) expressly praises and recommends the zeal of Josiah in the destruction of idolatry. The language of Senator Julius Firmicus Maternus had argued earlier (348 CE) in “De errore profanarum religionum” p. 467, edit. Gronov. [Rotterod. 1743]) is piously inhuman. It was altruistic to forcefully convert Pagans. They will thank the Emperor for forcing them to embrace Christianity, one should guide them by the sword: “Nec filio jubet (the Mosaic Law) parci, nec fratri, et per amatam conjugem gladium vindicem ducit, etc.”

Until the reign of the teenager Gratian, the Romans preserved the several colleges of the sacerdotal order. Fifteen PONTIFFs exercised their supreme jurisdiction over the service of the gods; various questions were submitted to the judgment of their holy tribunal. Fifteen  AUGURS observed the face of the heavens, and prescribed heroic actions, supposedly, from the flight of birds. According to Cicero, the auctoritas of ius augurum included the right to adjourn and overturn the process of law: Consular election could be – and was – rendered invalid by inaugural error. For Cicero, this made the augur the most powerful authority in the Republic, as augurs overruled democracy. Cicero frankly (ad Atticum, l. ii. Epist. 5) or indirectly (ad Familiar. 1. xv. Epist 4) confesses that the Augurate is the supreme object of his wishes. Pliny is proud to tread in the footsteps of Cicero (1. iv. Epist. 8)

Cicero was co-opted into the college only late in his career… but that didn’t spare him, not anymore than Caesar, who was dressed with the robes of the Pontifex Maximus when he was assassinated. The title was used by the emperors, before Gratian, and is still used for the Pope. Fifteen keepers of the mysterious Sibylline books guided Rome and her aura, since times immemorial (their name of QUINDECEMVIRS was derived from their number). The Quindecemvirs occasionally consulted the history of future, and, of contingent events. Six VESTALS devoted their virginity to the guard of the sacred fire and of the unknown pledges of the duration of Rome, which no mortal had been suffered to behold with impunity.(4) Seven EPULOS prepared the table of the gods, conducted the solemn procession, and regulated the ceremonies of the annual festival.

All this was thrown overboard in the late Fourth Century. Nobody dared to claim the destruction of the Sibylline books. According to my chronology, Rome collapsed immediately after that. 

***

Kill Them All, So Christ Can Be: 

Christianization was enforced by murderers. In 386, scholar Libanius appealed without success to emperor Theodosius so-called “The Great”, to prevent the destruction of a temple in Edessa, and pleaded for toleration and the preservation of the temples against the ongoing attacks of Christian monks, who he claimed:

hasten to attack the temples with sticks and stones and bars of iron, and in some cases, disdaining these, with hands and feet. Then utter desolation follows, with the stripping of roofs, demolition of walls, the tearing down of statues and the overthrow of altars, and the priests must either keep quiet or die

After demolishing one, they scurry to another, and to a third, and trophy is piled on trophy, in contravention of the law. Such outrages occur even in the cities, but they are most common in the countryside. Many are the foes who perpetrate the separate attacks, but after their countless crimes this scattered rabble congregates and they are in disgrace unless they have committed the foulest outrage…Temples, Sire, are the soul of the countryside: they mark the beginning of its settlement, and have been passed down through many generations to the men of today. In them the farming communities rest their hopes for husbands, wives, children, for their oxen and the soil they sow and plant. 

An estate that has suffered so has lost the inspiration of the peasantry together with their hopes, for they believe that their labour will be in vain once they are robbed of the gods who direct their labours to their due end. And if the land no longer enjoys the same care, neither can the yield match what it was before, and, if this be the case, the peasant is the poorer, and the revenue jeopardized.

***

Symmanchus, plutocrat, Senator, Proconsul, Augur and prefect of Rome, spoke in the name of Rome, by then more than eleven centuries old, and addressed the Senate: “Most excellent princes, fathers of your country! pity and respect my age, which has hitherto flowed in an uninterrupted course of piety. Since I do not repent, permit me to continue in the practice of my ancient rites. Since I am born free, allow me to enjoy my domestic institutions. This religion has reduced the world under my laws. These rites have repelled Hannibal from the city, and the Gauls from the Capitol. Were my grey hairs reserved for such intolerable disgrace? I am ignorant of the new system that I am required to adopt; but I am well assured that the correction of old age is always an ungrateful and ignominious office.”

Bishop Ambrose turned philosophical in reply, as it was most convenient to do so: one shouldn’t have to introduce an imaginary and invisible power, he said, as the cause of Roman victories, which were sufficiently explained by the valour and discipline of the legions. He derided the absurd reverence for antiquity, which discourages progress. He pronounced that Christianity alone is the doctrine of truth and salvation, and that every mode of Polytheism is an abyss of eternal perdition. Ambrose carried the mood of the times… It was all too easy: another teenage emperor, Valentinian II, even younger, had succeeded Gratian. 

***

One Crazy Catholic Emperor Succeeds Another, And The Ancient Roman Ways, Some Secular, Are Gone: 

Revolt was brewing. After a few victories against the Germans (probably due to the senior Frankish commander Richomeres) emperor Gratian became increasingly delirious and deleterious to the empire. Often dressed like a Scythian (a Hun, basically), Gratian and his Christian fanaticism had become insufferable to the army. He was defeated in battle by Maximus, the top commander in Britain, west of Paris, fled, but was executed, next to Lyon.

After defeating Maximus, thanks greatly to his Frankish commanders Richomeres and his nephew Arbogast, Theodosius put in power the 16 year old Valentinian II. The latter, egged on by Ambrose, a province governor turned bishop of Milan, refused to restore the ancient ways that Gratian had destroyed. The Anician, Bassi, the Paullini, the Gracchi Senatorial families, prestigious all, embraced the Christian religion.

The lesser plutocrats had finally understood it was in their best interest to embrace the Christian hoax, as the top plutocrats, the emperors, had long done. Now all could rule in the name of god, per the grace of god, a much better foundation for privilege:  

As Prudentius put it:

the luminaries of the world, the venerable assembly of Catos, were impatient to strip themselves of their pontifical garment — to cast the skin of the old serpent — to assume the snowy robes of baptismal innocence — and to humble the pride of the consular fasces before the tombs of the martyrs.

The pretense of God-given purity had replaced the fasces of the People united around the axe of justice. 

Senatorial plutocracy converted to showy baptismal innocence, to better keep its grip on power and slaves.

The decrees of the senate proscribed the worship of idols. The Capitol and the temples were abandoned to ruin and contempt. Rome submitted to the Gospels. 

After defeating Maximus, Theodosius ordered Cynegius, the Praetorian prefect of the East, and then Comes (top generals) Jovius and Gaudentius, two officers of the West, to shut the temples, to seize or destroy the instruments of idolatry, to abolish the privileges of the priests, and to confiscate the consecrated property for the benefit of the emperor, the Christian church, and the army.

***

Destruction Of All Books, Including the World’s Largest Library:

Magnificent temples, which could have been turned into churches, army barracks  or manufacturing centers, were destroyed by Christian mobs excited by Christian leaders, who were anxious to destroy the past, including its art. Imagine the Islamist State, on a much grander scale, and all over. Those Christian “Men in Black” were the original. Islam is a pale copy. 

In Alexandria, the Serapeum was one of the wonders of the world. it nominally celebrated a deity of Pontus (next to Byzantium). Its stately halls and exquisite statues displayed the triumph of the arts; and the treasures of ancient learning were preserved in the famous Alexandrian library therein. in 389 CE, Saint Theophilus, a bold, bad man, whose hands perpetually polluted with gold and with blood, besieged the philosopher Olympius and his followers entrenched in the fortress of the Serapis. Then a decree of Theodosius ordered the Serapis and the world’s greatest library, destroyed. So great was the authority of the emperor that the Pagans, Agnostics and intellectuals submitted. 

That the collections of the world’s greatest library had found refuge in the giant, fortress-like Serapeum is telling. It tells that Paganism was allied to erudition, and was tolerant of variegated knowledge. Serapis was itself a Greco-Egyptian deity.

In 390 CE, Theodosius decreed that: “It is our will and pleasure, that none of our subjects, whether magistrates or private citizens, however exalted or however humble may be their rank and condition, shall presume in any city or in any place to worship an inanimate idol by the sacrifice of a guiltless victim.

***

As librairies, books and temples burned all over at the hands of “Men In Black”, rebellion brewed. 

Theodosius II shortly before his death, ordered that the books of philosopher Porphyry, whose dangerous  treatise “Against the Christians” had hocked the Emperor or some of his advisers, to be burned.

The unity of the Catholic faith in matters of dogma was considered of supreme importance. “Truth, which is simple and one,” wrote Pope Leo I, “does not admit of variety.” (varietatem veritas, quae est simplex atque una, non recipit ).

Manichaeism was a mixture of Zoroastrian, Christian, Buddhist ideas, with the time-honored and excellent Zoroastrian principles prevalent. This religion was founded by Mani in Persia in the Third Century (Mani was born in 216 CE). Jesus was proclaimed to be purely divine (and a predecessor to Mani). At its height between the Third and Fourth centuries, Manichaeism was one of the most wide-spread religions in the world. Manichaean churches and scriptures existed as far east as China.

 

Theodosius made a habit to proffer frequent and  drastic laws against the Manicheans. The heresy was insidious, because the heretics were difficult to discover; they often took part in Christian ceremonies and passed for universal (katholikos) and orthodox, and they disguised their views. Theodosius deprived them of civil rights and banished them from towns. Those who sheltered themselves under harmless names were liable to the penalty of death. Theodosius ordered the Praetorian Prefect of the East to institute “inquisitors” for the purpose of discovering Manicheans. They were banned from towns. Under emperor Theodosius II and  Nestorius, a vigorous effort to sweep the heresy was conducted. The Manichaeans were stigmatised as men who had “descended to the lowest depths of wickedness“. By the early Fifth Century, Manicheans were systematically executed. 

 

So when did the empire fall? When a regime has become a predecessor of the Third Reich, where followers of an innocuous religion/superstition are systematically executed because everybody is supposed to scrupulously follow the regime’s own superstition (Catholicism) should not one consider that this regime has already failed? 

 

Here is another example. “Circumcellions” regarded martyrdom as the true Christian virtue. As the early Church Father Tertullian said, “a martyr’s death day was actually his birthday“. Analogies with Islamist martyrs are not coincidental, we are talking of their cultural ancestors here. Circumcellions focused on bringing about their own martyrdom(their name comes from their hungry circumvolutions around cellars).

The early medieval author known as Pseudo-Jerome wrote of Christian extremists: “Because they love the name martyr and because they desire human praise more than divine charity, they kill themselves.” 

Because it is written in the Gospel of John that Jesus had told Peter to put down his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:11), the Circumcellions avoided bladed weapons and used clubs, which they called “Israelites“. Using their “Israelites“, the Circumcellions would attack Roman legionaries  or random travelers on the road, while shouting “Laudate Deum!” (“Praise God!” in Latin). The object of these random beatings was to provoke the victim to kill them, thereby becoming “martyrs”. They were intertwined with their allies the Donatists who came to dominate Africa by the end of the reign of Theodosius.

At the beginning of the sixth century a Pagan historian, Zosimus, writes of the “so‑called monks“. Zosimus had been an official of the treasury; but he testifies to the growing popularity, wealth, and power of monastic institutions: “They renounce legal marriages and fill their populous institutions in cities and villages with celibate people, useless either for war or for any service to the State; but gradually growing from the time of Arcadius to the present day they have appropriated the greater part of the earth, and on the pretext of sharing all with the poor they have, so to speak, reduced all to poverty.” 

[Zosimus, (Greek Ζώσιμος), New History 5.23; Early Byzantine, pagan author of a history of the Roman Empire, published in the first quarter of the sixth century CE.]

 

And so it went. Christianism, soon named Catholicism, after assassinating all the eunuchs priests of Egypt, under Constantine, went on, similarly to the Islaist State, to kill and appropriate to itself the world. In such an approach, the collapse of the Roman State was an ally, not an impediment. Both Christians and their adversaries were incessantly talking about the second coming of another Julian, to put an end of the Catholic wasting of civilization. This urged the Catholic authorities to destroy institutions, books and buildings faster. 

***

Fortunately, to the north-west, the Franks already had power: they were fighting among each other… but they didn’t feel civilization, let alone freedom, was their enemy, quite the opposite. The franks were not the establishment. Arbogast could have been elected Augustus by the Occidental Roman army. But he was just a Frank. His uncle had become Consul, but it was too early to become emperor, de jure (besides that would not have changed anything about the hurricane wind). 

In the late Fifth Century, the mood changed, and Frankish power was recognized as fully endowed by the Roman state: Childeric, Clovis’ father, was buried in the full dress of a Roman imperator. Consular powers were given to Clovis by Constantinople. Emperor Justinian would reconquer most of the Mediterranean shore, all the way to Spain… But recognized the imperium of the Franks. The collaboration between Constantinople and the Franks would last all the way until 1204 CE, when a rogue Frankish army seized Constantinople, and established a “Latin” empire there. 

Books became harder to write after the Muslim blockade closed the Imperium Francorum from Egypt (Papyrus!) and the silk roads, and the economy got stunted from the blockade (Pirenne thesis)… but progress became the solution ever more, to better reject theocratic fascism. 

What is missing in Pirenne thesis is that it is the Catholic fanatics which destroyed all the books. Not, as far as we know, the invading Germans. And that destruction of books and intellectuals happened nearly two centuries before the birth of Muhammad. If anything, the anti-intellectualism of Theodosius was the forerunner of the anti-intellectualism of the Four Righteous Caliphs (especially Omar, Ali).

Patrice Ayme 

***

***

[1] Richomeres succeeded to extricate himself from the catastrophe, and would fight on to become Consul; head of the Oriental Roman cavalry, he died just before the Frigidus battle against his own nephew!

 

[Essay will be reinforced later, to emphasize the importance of the battle Of Frigidus, the proximal cause of the empire’s destruction.]

 

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6 Responses to “How Theodosius The Great’s Fanaticism Collapsed The Roman Empire”

  1. Gloucon X Says:

    Thanks for producing this suppressed knowledge about the Christian-caused disaster that befell Europe. I have come to realize how deeply radical and debilitating Christianity is. By rejecting reality for a non-existent supernatural world full of demons and angels, it fosters delusional mental habits. Christian belief is the very definition of madness. A lifetime of experience with Americans has confirmed to me that the madness of Christianity has produced mental moods that have left them without the ability to think coherently. From the beginning of the crisis, I adamantly stated my belief that the US response to Covid-19 would be the disaster that is has become. I expect we will see the death of about 5% of the population within a few years.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Gloucon X, and thanks for the support!
      Yes, I believe Christianism (I call it that way because it’s the analogy to Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islamism… Besides that’s how it’s done in french, the mother language of… English…) is the main reason we don’t have more DIRECT DEMOCRACY right now…

      The essay is part of a book I am trying to write… But I got seriously bogged down by lack of translation and my very poor Latin (I studied it only six years)… I have been trying to translate the Theodosius code of law with books after books against “Pagani”, “Heretici”, etc… But it’s a hopeless task… Really curious that so much of the written documents we have from the period were not translated… nor even published: most of the frankish docs are not…. But they constitute the root of today’s civilization….

      For COVID, I believe knowledge and therapeutics are being developed. And vaccines are coming (from what can be read)… It’s high time to focus on building a real economy. NASA can’t organize a mission to find about Europa’s ocean, and possible life there… Because subcontractors can’t find enough QUALIFIED workers…

      Like

    • pshakkottai Says:

      Delusional mental habits are all too common and have led to a lot of misery. Mohammad invented a whole religion based on jihad, Joan of Arc led to a hundred years of war. Hearing voices should not be celebrated.

      Like

  2. Gmax Says:

    Can’t wait for that book. Most people don’t know Roman Christianity was that bad. But you said more in some essays on that guy, Theodosius, check your notes. Maybe consolidate?

    Like

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