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The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction…
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The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World (original 2017; edition 2019)

by Catherine Nixey (Author)

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4631541,235 (3.75)14
A New York Times Notable Book of 2018 "Searingly passionate...Nixey writes up a storm. Each sentence is rich, textured, evocative, felt...[A] ballista-bolt of a book." --New York Times Book Review   In Harran, the locals refused to convert. They were dismembered, their limbs hung along the town's main street. In Alexandria, zealots pulled the elderly philosopher-mathematician Hypatia from her chariot and flayed her to death with shards of broken pottery. Not long before, their fellow Christians had invaded the city's greatest temple and razed it--smashing its world-famous statues and destroying all that was left of Alexandria's Great Library.   Today, we refer to Christianity's conquest of the West as a "triumph." But this victory entailed an orgy of destruction in which Jesus's followers attacked and suppressed classical culture, helping to pitch Western civilization into a thousand-year-long decline. Just one percent of Latin literature would survive the pur≥ countless antiquities, artworks, and ancient traditions were lost forever.     As Catherine Nixey reveals, evidence of early Christians' campaign of terror has been hiding in plain sight: in the palimpsests and shattered statues proudly displayed in churches and museums the world over. In The Darkening Age, Nixey resurrects this lost history, offering a wrenching account of the rise of Christianity and its terrible cost.… (more)
Member:DanParson
Title:The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World
Authors:Catherine Nixey (Author)
Info:Mariner Books (2019), Edition: Reprint, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World by Catherine Nixey (2017)

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The author details the destruction of the classical world by the Christians, who sought to both control and also form the world to their prejudices. The book details how the Christians destroyed all but one percent of Latin literature, along with art, ancient traditions, other beliefs and philosophies. In their madness, they destroyed, for all time, riches that belong to all of us.

Indeed, the level of destruction is so vast that reading the book can become repetitive. The reader knows that with each chapter something of value is going to be destroyed, that society was going to be more diminished. Unsurprisingly, the positions of the wealthy were going to be protected (ie. the defence of owning slaves) while intellectuals were to be silenced. Who didn't also see coming the repression of sexual literature and activities.
The main tenant of Christian thought for the poor and oppressed is that current life, with its suffering and injustices, is to be endured and unchallenged. Reward is to be received in the next life. Woe unto the downtrodden masses who ask for heaven on earth now - they are to be punished for such impatience.

As the author Anita Anand mentions in her review of the book, "Nixey reveals a level of intolerance and anti-intellectualism which echoes today's headlines, but is centuries old." ( )
  G_Hunter | Aug 1, 2021 |
Ahhhh. How to review this book? Nixey does her best to get her point across on how the human interpretation of Christianity stomped out the classical world. She does a pretty good job and makes a believable case. She does not hesitate to point the finger at both sides. This is a dark book and slightly depressing, but it is also a book on history and that can be expected. The problem is that she appears to get a little too angry and that diminishes her sincerity. She has good references for further research. She proves that she is literate and able to tackle the subject. Some of the events are horrific and saddening. The hypocrisy of the church is well documented. The chapter on the Circumcellions is quite gritty. ( )
  Joe73 | Jun 10, 2021 |
An interesting but frustrating story about the end of the pre-christian Roman intellectual world, about 100AD to 500AD, as what was at that time an authoritarian monotheistic religion enforced its beliefs. Described by Peter Frankopan on the cover of my edition as “provocative and troubling”, I am unsure if he is commenting upon the subject matter or the presentation of this book.
I suppose that I am disappointed that a book that is potentially so interesting is written so stridently, in such an unbalanced way. It feels as if the author is protesting too much, whereas a more considered survey and comparison of the christian and non-christian sources regarding early martyrs for example, would be much more persuasive. The doubts don’t arise over the arguments she makes so much as the way in which she makes her arguments.
The book has a scholarly apparatus in having fifty pages of bibliography and notes to the text, but polemical in its delivery.
The arguments made would also benefit from an analysis of why non-christians in generality had to accept the destruction of their temples, although the author notes occasional violence of non-christians upon christians after Constantine made christianity the official Roman religion. It would also be interesting to learn why, although a few subsequent Roman emperors were non-christian, most were christian and enacted legislation to persecute non-christians.
As Nixey puts it at the end of chapter fifteen, “The intellectual foundations for a thousand years of theocratic oppression were being laid”. But the author does not explain why society accepted this change, just that in particular cases, violent christians threatened civil authorities, claiming that religious authority was superior. I understand coercion on an individual basis, but not what weakened Roman civil authorities so that they could not take action against the christian bishops and monks when they broke civil laws.
Of course that changes once the Roman emperors become christians and introduce successively more authoritarian laws, but there is little or no discussion of how and why this happened.
Although very readable, Nixey is not a professional historian, and she advises that this book was originally envisaged as partly a travel book. I will have to find a book that provides a better analysis, because it is an interesting subject. ( )
  CarltonC | Nov 23, 2020 |
Very thorough explanation of the period and early Christians. I think it explains so much of how and why fanatical Christians are just as horrible today. ( )
  John_Danenbarger | Sep 2, 2019 |
A fascinating, compelling book. It depicts the events of unfamiliar periods vividly and with accessible, scholarly but heartfelt language. Reading this filled me with displeasure at how little of this history I'd encountered before, and regularly with anger at the cultural annihilation repeatedly enacted on humanity over the millennia at the hands of zealots of all stripes. It seems odd to call it "enjoyable" but it was a very worthwhile read and I plan to seek out more of hers immediately. ( )
  Shimmin | Aug 3, 2019 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
“To T.,
for deciphering my handwriting.”
First words
Prologue
Palmyra, c. AD 385
'There is no crime for those who have Christ.'
St Shenoute

The destroyers came from out of the desert.
Introduction
Athens, AC 532
'We see the same stars, the sky is shared by all, the same world surrounds us. What does it matter what wisdom a person uses to seek for the truth?'
The 'pagan' author Symmachus

'That all superstition of pagans and heathens should be annihilated is what God wants. God commands, God proclaims!'
St Augustine

They must have been a melancholy party.
Chapter One
The Invisible Army
'Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.'
Luke 10:19

Satan knew how to tempt St Antony.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A New York Times Notable Book of 2018 "Searingly passionate...Nixey writes up a storm. Each sentence is rich, textured, evocative, felt...[A] ballista-bolt of a book." --New York Times Book Review   In Harran, the locals refused to convert. They were dismembered, their limbs hung along the town's main street. In Alexandria, zealots pulled the elderly philosopher-mathematician Hypatia from her chariot and flayed her to death with shards of broken pottery. Not long before, their fellow Christians had invaded the city's greatest temple and razed it--smashing its world-famous statues and destroying all that was left of Alexandria's Great Library.   Today, we refer to Christianity's conquest of the West as a "triumph." But this victory entailed an orgy of destruction in which Jesus's followers attacked and suppressed classical culture, helping to pitch Western civilization into a thousand-year-long decline. Just one percent of Latin literature would survive the pur≥ countless antiquities, artworks, and ancient traditions were lost forever.     As Catherine Nixey reveals, evidence of early Christians' campaign of terror has been hiding in plain sight: in the palimpsests and shattered statues proudly displayed in churches and museums the world over. In The Darkening Age, Nixey resurrects this lost history, offering a wrenching account of the rise of Christianity and its terrible cost.

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Despite the long-held notion that the early Christians were meek and mild, going to their martyr's deaths singing hymns of love and praise, the truth, as Catherine Nixey reveals, is very different. Far from being meek and mild, they were violent, ruthless and fundamentally intolerant. Unlike the polytheistic world, in which the addition of one new religion made no fundamental difference to the old ones, this new ideology stated not only that it was the way, the truth and the light but that, by extension, every single other way was wrong and had to be destroyed. From the 1st century to the 6th, those who didn't fall into step with its beliefs were pursued in every possible way: social, legal, financial and physical. Their altars were upturned and their temples demolished, their statues hacked to pieces and their priests killed. It was an annihilation. Authoritative, vividly written and utterly compelling, this is a remarkable debut from a brilliant young historian.
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