Thursday, January 6, 2011
Flight of the Sorceress Q&A, Installment 3, What ever became of the library in Alexandria?
Q. In The Flight of the Sorceress, you say the Roman Catholic Church, or a mob of its monks destroyed the library in Alexandria. Aren’t there other explanations that are equally as credible?
A. There are basically five theories of how the library at Alexandria got destroyed. The first is that Julius Caesar did it accidentally while burning up the Egyptian navy. The second involves a claim that Roman Emperor Aurelion did it putting down a rebellion around 300 A.D. The third is that it was destroyed by a tsunami in 361 A.D. The fourth is that it was done by Christians in either 391 A.D. or 410 A.D. The fifth is that it happened during the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 641 A. D. The first dates of around 48 BCE and 300 A.D. are flawed because there is a mountain of evidence that the library existed after that. The Romans may have caused damage but the library carried on. The third date is equally suspect. The tsunami killed a lot of people who wandered out into the Mediterranean fascinated by how the sea retreated and were swept up in the ensuing flood. But we know that most of the city survived. The libraries (there were two large ones) were very sturdy buildings. Besides that, the city was full of scholars at the time, yet no record remains of either library being damaged, much less their total destruction. We know that Hypatia’s father Theon was the librarian there during his lifetime and he lived long after the tsunami. History records that Hypatia was the last librarian of the library. And though she was a renowned scholar, none of her work survived her. How come? The Muslims are an unlikely perpetrator, given that at that time they were the creators of great libraries and we have them to thank for the preservation of much of what we know about classical knowledge. Beyond that, there is no claim by any of the early Catholic historians that the Muslims did it. I think that the absence of a historical record that might dispense with many of these theories points the finger squarely at the guys who wrote the surviving history at the time, and coincidentally they were the most likely culprit because they had a modus operandi for the destruction of pagan knowledge. They were the top book burners well into the Nineteen Century. Even after that, they had something called an Index of banned books. The Roman Catholic Church has a pretty blatant record of skewing history. (They played a lot with the ancient texts when they put together the Vulgate Bible.) On top of that, they had the big three: motive, means and opportunity. None of the other suspects come close.
Q. Can you give us an example of what you mean by the record of the Roman Catholic Church skewing history?
A. Sure. I have give example in the Flight of the Sorceress. In Augustine’s City of God, he claims that the Visigoth barbarians were in such awe of Christianity when the sacked Rome that they left the Christian churches alone, respected the sanctuaries. He ignores the fact that the Visigoths thought of themselves as Christians. They were of a sect called Arians who believed that Christ was human, because he suffered and died. They saw him as holy and a son of God, but not an immortal one, rather a corporeal manifestation of God. To Augustine, they were not Christians, but that they were some sort of heathen who suddenly found respect for God is simply not a valid explanation for why they honored sanctuaries. In the next breath, he claims that pagans were hypocrites for professing Christianity in order to avail themselves of the sanctuaries. It apparently never occurs to him that having some sort of religious test to save a life is even more un-Christian and hypocritical. Read the Chronicles of Bishop John of Nikiu to see what I mean about skewing history.
And speaking of sanctuaries, it bears consideration that Christian monks had what is known as the "benefit of clergy" which means they were immune from prosecution by civil authorities. Being a monk was a safe haven for thugs and scoundrels, plus you got absolved of your sins just by saying "I'm sorry, God." It should be no wonder that they were employed to terrorize the population into converting to Christianity. And when you did convert, rather than get harassed or worse, you paid a tithe. As a protection racket, it makes the Mafia look minor league.
Posted by The Flight of the Sorceress at 3:47 PM