Vallianatos’ book addresses a crime of the past that still affects us today, and whose rectification could facilitate a more humanistic future. He reveals the censored history of the conflict between Christianity and ancient Greek culture (“Jerusalem versus Athens”) in late antiquity.Though the “conversion” of the Greeks is traditionally presented as peaceful and pious, in fact, it was a bloody and brutal conquest, where Christian monks (and even Goths) were funded by Christian Roman emperors in an attempt at forced assimilation of the Greeks into a Judaeacized Latin Empire.
Vallianatos contrasts Hellenic values with Christian values, art and government. The Greeks valued democracy, freedom, piety, and the struggle for the good, the brave, and the beautiful. In sum, they had an appreciation of and enthusiasm for life. Zeus is a good god. The Christians valued austerity, harshness, conformity, dogma, despotism, sin and hell, the exploitation of guilt and fear, intolerance, a hatred for Greek literature, philosophy, and art; a cult of death, with life only “after death.” The Jewish/Christian god is a jealous god.
Vallianatos describes how the Greeks resisted Christianity for centuries. In the war against the Greeks, the Christians branded the Greeks as “pagans” and, in the guise of “fighting paganism,” defaced or destroyed their temples, academies, sculptures and art, in sum, their culture. Vallianatos makes a convincing case that the “conversion” of the Greeks was, in fact, a conquest and despoliation no less than the later Turkish conquest.
A lively, informative, passionate book covering long sweeps of crucial history.