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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

AT the solicitation of Theophilus bishop of Alexandria, the emperor issued an order at this time for the demolition of the heathen temples in that city; commanding also that it should be put in execution under the direction of Theophilus, which occasioned a great commotion. For thus authorised, Theophilus exerted himself to the utmost to expose the Pagan mysteries to contempt. Mithra’s adytum he caused to be cleared out, and exhibited to public view the tokens of its bloody mysteries. The temple of Serapis he destroyed: and to show how full of extravagance the superstitions connected with that idol and the other false gods were, he had the phalli of Priāpus carried through the midst of the forum. The Pagans of Alexandria, and especially the professors of philosophy, unable to repress their rage at this exposure, exceeded in revengeful ferocity their outrages on a former occasion: for with one accord, at a pre-concerted signal, they rushed impetuously upon the Christians, and murdered every one they could lay hands on; and as an attempt was made to resist the assailants, the mischief was the more augmented. This desperate affray was prolonged until both parties were exhausted, when it was discovered that very few of the heathens had been killed, but a great number of Christians; while the amount of wounded on each side was almost incredible. The Pagans thus sated with blood and slaughter absconded, being apprehensive of the emperor’s displeasure: some fled in one direction, some in another, and many quitting Alexandria, dispersed themselves in various cities. Among these were the two grammarians Helladius and Ammonius, whose pupil I was in my youth at Constantinople. The former was said to be the priest of Jupiter, the latter of Simius. After this disturbance had been thus terminated, the governor of Alexandria, and the commander-in-chief of the troops in Egypt, assisted Thcophilus in demolishing the heathen temples. These were therefore razed to the ground, and the images of their gods molten into pots and other convenient utensils for the use of the Alexandrian church; for the emperor had instructed Theophilus to so distribute them for the relief of the poor. All the images were accordingly broken to pieces, except one statue of the god before mentioned, which Theophilus preserved and set up in a public place; “Lest,” said he, “at a future time the heathens should deny that they had ever worshipped such gods.” This action gave great umbrage to Ammonius the grammarian in particular, who to my knowledge was accustomed to say, that the religion of the Gentiles was grossly abused and misrepresented by the reservation of this one image only, in order to render that religion ridiculous. Helladius however did not scruple to boast, that he had the satisfaction in that desperate onset of sacrificing nine victims with his own hand at the shrine of the insulted deities. Such were the doings in Alexandria at that time.








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