Latin

The Persecution of Christians in Eusebius

Posted on

Koenig wrote that “Religious tolerance is something we should all practice; however, there has been more persecution and atrocities committed in the name of religion and religious freedom than anything else.” This post will look at the persecution of Christians through Eusebius’ Historica Ecclesiastica and other primary and secondary sources.  

It is difficult to apportion blame for this persecution, or whether individuals can even be held responsible, for truly the greatest contributors to persecution are those who do nothing when they have power to make a difference.  Eusebius like Lactantius implies that blame lies with Galerius though his implication does not directly name him; instead addressing Galerius as the long accepted “prime mover in the calamitous persecution.”[1] Lactantius agrees with this claim announcing that, due to his mother’s conceived hatred against the Christians for not following her ways, she instigated Galerius to destroy them.[2]  Why would Eusebius make the suggestion that Galerius was responsible? Barnes asserts that Eusebius was a prime supporter of Constantine and wrote in his reign.[3] His support for Constantine suggests that he could not offend those related to the Emperor, such as Constantius who reigned during the same period as Galerius as he would be indirectly offending Constantine himself.  It is also possible that Eusebius had a personal vendetta against Galerius, blaming him for the persecution of his fellow Christians.

Eusebius’ account also suggests that divine judgement was responsible for the persecution of Christians.  Eusebius expresses that “increasing freedom transformed our character to arrogance and sloth.”[4] Eusebius goes on to explain that divine judgement, God himself, gradually began to order things and the persecution began with the Christians in the army.  This indicates that Eusebius thought the Christians brought the persecution upon themselves for ignoring sins and abusing their own freedom. Eusebius’ suggestion of divine judgement further indicates that he was attempting to put a positive spin on the circumstances, making it appear that persecution was part of God’s ultimate plans, God being infallible. Barnes asserts that the purpose for this suggestion was to strengthen the belief that “God intervenes in history to ensure that the Christian Church shall prosper.”[5] This indicates that Eusebius may have even been suggesting that the persecution had its benefits in the prosperity of Christianity by laying the blame of the persecution in divine hands.

The account by Eusebius and other scholars shows that the persecution affected different areas with varying intensities, some greater than others. For instance, Eusebius describes the persecution at Thebais where people were subject to wild animals and other horrendous tortures.[6]  An analysis of Eusebius’ account of Thebais, Antioch and Nicomedia among others gives us the impression that though the Christians suffered horribly, there was always a faith that could not be taken from them, that there was a “most wonderful eagerness…in those who had put their trust in Christ.”[7] This gives us the impression that many Christians saw the persecution as a chance to prove their loyalty to God.

 The place where the persecutions appear to be carried out with the greatest intensity according to Eusebius and Lactantius was not a location in the geographical sense.  Eusebius highlights that the army was a key target and starting point of the persecution.[8]  An assessment of the army being central to the persecution suggests that there was an aim to strengthen the loyalty of military powers.  Eusebius also asserts that Nicomedia was a focus point.[9]  From this account we gain the impression that the intensity in Nicomedia was to primarily strengthen imperial powers. 

Other areas where we see an intensity of persecution as told by Eusebius were Antioch and Tyre.  ‘Historica Ecclesiastica’ recounts the “ordeal of the Egyptians who championed the faith so gloriously at Tyre.”[10]  Eusebius also indicates the great intensity in Egypt and Syria, stating that “we should feel equal admiration for those of them [Egyptians] who were martyred in their own country.”[11]  This statement also suggests that the persecution was wide spread.

Religion is more apparent in history than any other reason for persecution.  The persecution of the Christians under Diocletian is one such example where the persecution had varying consequences to the population and church even with the introduction of an edict of toleration.[12] The edict of toleration would have provided the majority of the Christians with a sense of relief.   Though, the sheer number of volunteer martyrs mentioned by Eusebius and Lactantius implicate that for the few the edict removed their chance to show their devotion.  Momigliano asserts that one such response is that some Christians voiced resentment in light of those who “survived in fear”[13] through the persecution rather than in physical pain. An analysis of this suggests that there may have been some resentment for the minority who appeared to seek the persecution.[14]  

The edict also created consequences in relation to ‘conscience’ and the unification of the church.  Chadwick assesses that there were many problems of conscience as a result of the persecution and that one such response was the rise of certain militant extremist groups such as the Donatists.[15]  The Donatists counted even the smallest of physical punishments as a worthy martyrdom and saw those who denied their faith, as traitors.  This suggests that militant ideas forced a widening division focusing on the legitimacy of certain clergy members. Chadwick assesses that these problems of ‘conscience’ in light of the persecution led to many adaptations of the law to meet particular cases. [16] 

Eusebius explains another ramification of the edict’s responses was that it set bishops against each other due to certain cleric’s militant ideologies.[17]  In achieving this, the church was further divided even though Constantine appears to be looking for a means of unification.  An evaluation of the responses to the edict suggest that it created a new though less severe bout of persecution, this time between the various factions of the Christian population.

The persecution of Christians under Diocletian is one example of the many religious conflicts throughout history.  Through primary and secondary sources we see where the blame of this persecution is aimed and that the persecution looked towards securing military and imperial power.  The persecution had several ramifications, showing us that even with an edict of toleration the church lay divided.  We do however see one continuing theme; that even in the face of extreme controversy and persecution, faith stood tall in the hearts of many even in the face of death.


[1]: Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiastica, Book 8 (Eusebius, The History of the Church, Penguin (London 1989), p.280 – Eusebius addresses Galerius as “the author of this edict” rather than by name.  Further reference to Galerius as the prime instigator of the persecution is found on p.281 as the man whom Eusebius wrote of on the previous page.

Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History was rewritten at least twice in light of the persecution, Eusebius wishing to leave a permanent account of the martyrs of his day

[2] Lactanius, De Mortibus Persecutorum,, 11-13 in Stevenson, J., A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church to AD337 (London 1987), p.271 – Lactantius recounts the nature of Galerius’ mother in regards to the Christian religion not agreeing with her own and how she made sure her hatred continued in her equally superstitious son.

[3] Barnes, T.D., Constantine and Eusebius (London 1981), p.150

[4] Eusebius, op.cit, p.257

[5] Barnes, op.cit., p.162

[6] Eusebius, op.cit., p.265

[7] Ibid., p.265

[8] Ibid., p. 260 – primary attack on the army as an example as well as a means to secure military power on the part of the Arian persecutors

Lactanius, De Mortibus Persecutorum, 31.1-52.5 (Creed, J.L. (trans.), (Oxford, 1984), p.49

[9] Eusebius, op.cit., p.261 – significant centre of imperial power in the period, by securing the power of the imperial forces you secure more significantly the population which they rule over

[10] Ibid., p.264

[11] Ibid., p.264

[12] Barnes op.cit., p.159

[13] Momigliano, A., The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 1963), p.80

[14] Cameron, A., The Later Roman Empire: AD 284-430 (Glasgow. 1993), p.66 – provided a link to the apostles

[15] Chadwick, H., Studies on Ancient Christianity (Hampshire, 1984), p.XX47

[16] Ibid., p.XX47

[17] Eusebius, Vita Constantini, 22.1-61.1, Cameron, A. & Hall, S.G. (trans.), Eusebius, Life of Constantine (Oxford, 1999), p.115, book II 61.2-62

Advertisements

Research Resources and Ideas for the Ancient History Enthusiast/Student

Posted on Updated on

This page provides resources concerning Ancient Texts, New Testament Studies, Inscription Resources, Papyri Resources, Dictionaries and Lexicons, and Modern Texts.

Ancient Texts

New Testament Studies

Inscription Resources

Papyri Resources

Dictionaries and Lexicons

Women and Gender

Archaeology

Modern Texts and ebooks

Philology: Introduction to the Significance of Language Analysis

Posted on Updated on

When you first enter an ancient history or archaeology degree you are introduced to several sets of material evidence. Notably, the archaeology, material evidence, and philological evidence. But the philological side is more often than not rarely mentioned again. This is quite a shame considering some of the most interesting and revealing information comes from the ancient written sources. People generally fall into the trap of ignoring the writing in favour of the archaeology and artefacts and frankly you can’t really blame them because humans are naturally attracted to pretty visual things. I see this every day with the likes and shares on my Facebook page. But philology is all important too and if students can learn even a little about ancient writing and textual criticism, a whole new side to history and analysis opens up to them as it should.

DSCN0428BB - Clay Tablets with Liner B Script
DSCN0428BB – Clay Tablets with Liner B Script (Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis))

Philology is derived from the Greek terms φίλος (love) and λόγος (word, reason) and literally means a ‘love of words’. It is the study of language in literary sources and is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics. Philology is generally associated with Greek and Classical Latin, in which it is termed philologia. The study of philology originated in European Renaissance Humanism in regards to Classical Philology but this has since been combined to include in its definition the study of both European and non-European languages. The idea of philology has been carried through the Greek and Latin literature into the English language around the sixteenth century through the French term philologie meaning also a ‘love of literature’ from the same word roots.

Generally philology has a focus on historical development. It helps establish the authenticity of literary texts and their original form and with this the determination of their meaning. It is a branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development and relationships of a language or languages. This makes it all the more significant to study as language is one of the main building blocks of civilisation.

There are several branches of philological studies that can also be undertaken:

Comparative philology is a branch of philology which analyses the relationship or correspondences between languages. For instance, the commonalities between Latin and Etruscan or further flung languages of Asian or African provinces. It uses pre-determined techniques to discover whether languages hold common ancestors or influences. It uses comparison of grammar and spelling which was first deemed useful in the 19th century and has developed ever since. The study of comparative philology was originally defined by Sir William Jones‘ discovery in 1786 that Sanskrit was related to Greek and German as well as Latin.

Cognitive philology studies written and oral texts in consideration of the human mental processes. It uses science to compare the results of research using psychological and artificial systems.

Reconstruction of the missing Greek text on th...
Reconstruction of the missing Greek text on the Rosetta Stone

Decipherment is another branch of philology which looks at resurrecting dead languages and previously unread texts such as done and achieved by Jean-Francois Champollion in the decipherment of Hieroglyphs with the use of the Rosetta Stone. And more recently by Michael Ventris in the decipherment of Linear B. Decipherment would be key to the understanding of still little understood languages such as Linear A. Decipherment uses known languages, grammatical tools and vocabulary to find and apply comparisons within an unread text. By doing so more of the text can be read gradually as similarities and grammatical forms become better understood. The remaining text can then be filled in through further comparison, analysis, and elimination of incorrect solutions.

Textual philology editing is yet another branch of philology with includes the study of texts and their history in a sense including textual criticism. This branch was created in relation to the long traditions of Biblical studies; in particular with the variations of manuscripts. It looks at the authorship, date and provenance of the text to place it in its historical context and to produce ‘critical editions’ of the texts.

Significant Examples:

The importance of philology is exhibited in its use and achievements. Without philology the bible translation would be even more wrong, trust me read it in the original Greek. We would not be able to translate hieroglyphs, Linear B, Linear A, Sanskrit, any ancient language. Our entire written past would be blank, we would not have the information we have now on mathematics, social structure, philosophy, science, medicine, civilisation, transport, engineering, marketing, accounting, well anything really, knowledge would not have been rediscovered or passed on without the ability to study texts and language. Understand the love of words.

Welcome to GraecoMuse!

Posted on Updated on

Athena_by_InertiaK

This site is aimed at similar people who are interested in archaeology, ancient history, philology and epigraphy. Interesting stories, archaeological tidbits and blogs will be put up as I partake in digs myself and come across things to share.

This page can also be followed on FACEBOOK and TWITTER for regular discussions and news updates. Enjoy and please comment and share.

Please SCROLL DOWN for the most recent posts. Previous posts can be searched through the search bar or browsed in the archives by month on the right hand side bar.

How to Teach yourself Ancient (and Modern) Languages

Posted on Updated on

One of my main loves in ancient history and archaeology is the learning of ancient languages. This post is in response to one of my followers who is currently trying to teach herself Mayan glyphs. But I know there are many of you out there who have struggled to teach yourself languages or would like to be able to in the future. So here are a number of tips and ideas for you to help you out on that journey.

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscrip...
46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscript of the Epistles written by Paul in the new testament.

These preliminary tips can be used for any language either ancient or modern and can be used in combination with the language resources I supply in the menu bar for certain languages. If you have looked at my ancient Greek resources as well you can use these techniques to help you remember them or languages you are learning at university or elsewhere already.

Finding sources

  • Use social media and friends to discover the best books and sources to use
  • It is worth while finding them to save you time and to teach you better
  • Research the texts and their reviews
  • Avoid generic internet programs – they generally use methods that are more in touch with teaching basics to children rather than adults. Remember that the adult brain learns differently to a child’s
  • The best sources are usually in book or cd form from reputable suppliers
  • It is a good idea to see what universities use to teach language  basics – this information can usually be found in course descriptions and handbooks which are generally available online

Using sources

  • You generally want to learn as quickly as possible and often get over enthusiastic
  • Try and avoid this and slow yourself down and don’t skip ahead
  • This way you will learn properly and take in more
  • Take to doing one lesson or hour a day
  • Stick with one source book so you are following a program

Remembering material

  • Before each lesson review the day before and any exercises the sources set
  • Without looking at the answers from the previous day’s exercises, do all or some of them again and some from previous lessons even further back so you keep them in mind
  • Run through the whole lesson for the day before you undertake new exercises so you have the complete context for what you have to do
  • Literally do it every day, if you miss a lesson then at least take 15 minutes to go over an exercise from a previous day

Tips for memorising information

  • Write out the stuff you find difficult and stick it around the house where you are going to see it regularly or at work, for example:
    • Behind the bathroom door
    • Above the sink
    • In the kitchen
    • On the ceiling above your bed
    • Beside your computer
  • Another little used technique which works ridiculously especially for grammatical concepts well is a walk about memory exercise:
    • Make a list of what you want to remember
    • Pick a room in your house
    • Start at one corner of the room and move around the room allocating an object in the room to each thing on your list
    • Then find a link between each object and each idea
    • Ie. A participle – a chair – a chair is used for sitting – sitting is a participle
    • No matter how abstract the connection is the memory of it will help you remember concepts through physical associations
  • For vocab literally stick labels on things in your house
  • Or make up songs or rhymes – it is amazing how your mind works

Tips for if you can’t find one particular source for a language

  • Look at sources for another language. Ie. Latin
  • Make a note of how the lessons are set out and how grammar is taught
  • Then use what sources you do have and apply the information into that format
  • Grammar is the basis for all language and stays the same in ideas throughout the majority
  • By applying an accepted and working format from another language you can help yourself learn another.
  • If lesson one is on the alphabet and then verbs, then look up the alphabet and common verbs in your array of sources for the language you want to learn, ie. Mayan glyphs.
  • Sometimes this will take longer because there are varying lengths of alphabet for instance but readjust the time you spend on it to suit.
  • If you have the sense and desire to teach yourself a language then you should be able to work it out

Remember to be patient with yourself and the material

These things are not learnt over night

Ancient Greek Learning Resources

Posted on Updated on

Athena_by_InertiaK

Currently I am back teaching Greek at my University so here are Greek resources for both students and those interested:

Important Rules to Remember When Learning Ancient Greek Part 1

Important Rules to Remember When Learning Ancient Greek Part 2

Important Rules to Remember When Learning Ancient Greek Part 3

Important Rules to Remember When Learning Ancient Greek Park 4

Additional information and resources can be found above under Language Resources.

Remember you can follow this website and fellow history and archaeology enthusiasts on facebook and twitter by clicking the tabs above the menu bar.

The Language of Trees: Ogham (Archaic Irish Script)

Posted on Updated on

One of the stranger ancient scripts one might come across, Ogham is also known as the ‘Celtic Tree Alphabet’. Estimated to have been used from the fourth to the tenth century AD it is believed to have been possibly named after the Irish god Ogma but this is debated widely. Ogham actually refers to the characters themselves, the script as a whole is more appropriately named Beith-luis-nin after the order of alphabet letters BLFSN.

Ogham and Pictish symbols on a stone from Brandsbutt in Aberdeenshire

Description

The script originally contained twenty letters grouped into four groups of five. Five more letters were later added creating a fifth group. Each of these groups was named after its first letter. There are some four to five hundred surviving ogham inscriptions throughout Britain and Ireland with the largest number appearing in Pembrokeshire. The rest of the inscriptions were located around south-eastern Ireland, Scotland, Orkney, the Isle of Man and around the border of Devon and Cornwall. Ogham was used to write in Archaic Irish, Old Welsh and Latin mostly on wood and stone and is based on a high medieval Briatharogam tradition of ascribing the name of trees to individual characters. The inscriptions containing Ogham are almost exclusively made up of personal names and marks of land ownership.

Origin Theories

There are four popular theories discussing the origin of Ogham. The differing theories are unsurprising considering that the script has similarities to ciphers in Germanic runes, Latin, elder futhark and the Greek alphabet.

The first theory is based on the work of scholars such as Carney and MacNeill who suggest that Ogham was first created as a cryptic alphabet designed by the Irish. They assert that the Irish designed it in response to political, military and/or religious reasons so that those with knowledge of just Latin could not read it.

The second theory is held by McManus who argues that Ogham was invented by the first Christians in early Ireland in a quest for uniqueness. The argument maintains that the sounds of the primitive Irish language were too difficult to transcribe into Latin.

Page of the Book of Ballymote

The third theory states that the Ogham script from invented in West Wales in the fourth century BC to intertwine the Latin alphabet with the Irish language in response to the intermarriage between the Romans and the Romanized Britons. This would account for the fact that some of the Ogham inscriptions are bilingual; spelling out Irish and Brythonic-Latin.

The fourth theory is supported by MacAlister and used to be popular before other theories began to overtake it. It states that Ogham was invented in Cisalpine Gaul around 600 BC by Gaulish Druids who created it as a hand signal and oral language. MacAliser suggests that it was transmitted orally until it was finally put into writing in early Christian Ireland. He argues that the lines incorporated into Ogham represent the hand by being based on four groups of five letters with a sequence of strokes from one to five. However, there is no evidence for MacAlisters theory that Ogham’s language and system originated in Gaul.

Mythical theories for the origin of Ogham also appear in texts from the eleventh to fifteenth centuries. The eleventh century Lebor Gabala Erenn tells that Ogham was invented soon after the fall of the tower of Babel, as does the fifteenth century Auraicept na n-eces text. The Book of Babymote also includes ninty-two recorded secret modes of writing Ogham written in 1390-91.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)”]
Ogham alphabet [non-IPA]
Ogham Consonants

The Characters

  • Right side/downward strokesB beith [b] (*betwias)
    • luis [l]
    • fearn [w] (*wernā)
    • saille [s] (*salis)
    • nuin [n]
  • Left side/upward strokes
    • úath [j]?
    • duir [d] (*daris)
    • tinne [t]
    • coll [k] (*coslas)
    • ceirt [kʷ] (*kʷertā)
  • Across/pendicular strokes
    • muin [m]
    • gort [ɡ] (*gortas)
    • NG gétal [ɡʷ] (*gʷēddlan)
    • straif [sw] or [ts]?
    • ruis [r]Ogham alphabet (non-IPA)
      Vowels and Additional Characters
  • notches (vowels)
    • ailm [a]
    • onn [o] (*osen)
    • úr [u]
    • edad [e]
    • idad [i]
Examples of Ogham Texts
Irish Language in Ogham
Transliteration
LIE LUGNAEDON MACCI MENUEH
Translation
The stone of Lugnaedon son of Limenueh

 

Latin in Ogham Script
Transliteration
Numus honoratur sine. Numo nullus amatur.
Translation
Money is honoured, without money nobody is loved
From: The Annals of Inisfallen of 1193

Additional Reading

Carney, James. The Invention of the Ogam Cipher ‘Ériu’ 22, 1975, pp 62 –3, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy
Macalister, Robert A.S. The Secret Languages of Ireland, pp27 – 36, Cambridge University Press, 1937
Macalister, Robert A.S. Corpus inscriptionum insularum celticarum. First edition. Dublin: Stationery Office, 1945-1949.
McManus, Damian. Ogam: Archaizing, Orthography and the Authenticity of the Manuscript Key to the Alphabet, Ériu 37, 1988, 1-31. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy.
McManus, Damian. A Guide to Ogam, Maynooth 1991.
MacNeill, Eoin. Archaisms in the Ogham Inscriptions, ‘Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy’ 39, pp 33–53, Dublin

Note that this website can be followed by pressing the ‘Follow by Email’ option on the right hand side of the screen :)