Dark Side
4th Cent. (301-400 A.D.)

Last Update: Sept 3, 2007




Immediately after its full legalization, the Christian Church in the Council of Ancyra denounces the worship of Artemis.


The emperor Constantine declares Christianity as the only official religion of the Roman Empire. In Dydima, Minor Asia, he sacks the Oracle of the god Apollo and tortures the pagan priests to death. He also evicts all non-Christian peoples from Mount Athos and destroys all the local Hellenic temples.


Nicene Council.


Constantine, following the instructions of his mother Helen, destroys the temple of the god Asclepius in Aigeai Cilicia and many temples of the goddess Aphrodite in Jerusalem, Aphaca, Mambre, Phoenicia, Baalbek.


Constantine confiscates the treasures and statues of the pagan temples of Greece to decorate Constantinople, the new capital of his Empire.


Constantine sacks many pagan temples in Asia Minor and Palestine and orders the execution by crucifixion of "all magicians and soothsayers." The neoplatonist philosopher Sopatrus is killed.


Constantius II (Flavius Julius Constantius) persecutes "all the soothsayers and the Hellenists." Many gentile Hellenes are imprisoned and some are executed.


New large scale persecutions against non-Christians in Constantinople. Banishment of the famous orator Libanius accused as a "magician".


An edict of Constantius orders the death penalty for all kind of worship involving sacrifice to "idols".


A new edict orders the closing of all the pagan temples. Some of them are profaned and turned into brothels or gambling houses.

Execution of pagan priests begins.

A new edict of Constantius orders the destruction of the pagan temples and the the death penalty for "idolaters".

Burning of libraries in various places in the empire.

The first lime factories are organized next to the closed pagan temples. Some of the stonework of the pagans are recycled for lime (a building material).


Constantius outlaws all magical methods of divination (including astrology).


In Skythopolis, Syria, the Emperor organizes prison (slave labour?) camps for the torture and execution of those arrested from all over the empire.


Religious tolerance and restoration of the pagan cults is briefly declared in Constantinople (11th December 361) by the pagan emperor Julian the Apostate (Flavius Claudius Julianus).


Julian is killed in battle (26th June).


Emperor Jovian orders the burning of the Great Library at Antioch.

An Imperial edict (11th Sept) orders the death penalty for all who worship ancestral gods or practice divination ("sileat omnibus perpetuo divinandi curiositas").

Three different edicts (4th Feb, 9th Sept, 23rd Dec) order the confiscation of all property of the pagan temples, and the death penalty for practice of pagan rituals, even private ones.

Jewish Persecutions:
The Church Council of Laodicea (Phrygia - western Asia Minor) orders that religious observances are to be conducted on Sunday and not on Saturday. Sunday becomes the new Sabbath. The practice of staying at home and resting on Saturday declared sinful and anathema to Christ.


An imperial edict (Nov 17th) of Emperor Valens, a zealous Arian, forbids pagan army officers to command Christian soldiers.


Emperor Valens orders a tremendous persecution of non-Christian peoples in the Eastern Empire. In Antioch, along with many other non-Christians (non-Arians?), the ex-governor Fidustius and the priests Hilarius and Patricius are executed.

The philosopher Simonides is burned alive and the philosopher Maximus is decapitated. All the associates of Julian the Apostate are persecuted (Orebasius, Sallustius, Pegasius etc.).

Many books are burnt in the squares of cities in the Eastern Empire.


Valens orders the governor of Minor Asia to exterminate all the Hellenes and all their 'wisdom' documents (philosophy).


Another prohibition of all divination methods is issued. The derogatory term "pagan" (pagani, villagers, i.e., "peasants") is coined by the authorities.


The temple of Asclepius in Epidaurus, Greece, is closed down by the Christians.


On Feb. 27th Christianity becomes the exclusive religion of the Roman Empire by edict of the Emperor Theodosius, requiring that:

"All the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation should continue in the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter."

The non-Christians are called "loathsome, heretics, stupid and blind".

In another edict, Theodosius calls "insane" those that do not believe in the Christian God and outlaws disagreement with the Church dogmas (heresy).

Bishop Ambrosius of Milan, begins the destruction of local pagan temples. The Christian priests lead a mob against the temple of goddess Demeter in Eleusis and try to lynch the hierophants Nestorius and Priskus. The 95 year old hierophant Nestorius ends the Eleusian Mysteries and announces "the predominance of mental darkness over the human race."


At the Council of Constantinople the 'Holy Spirit' is declared 'Divine' (completing the Trinity doctrine). On 2nd May, Theodosius deprives of all their rights any Christians who return to paganism. Throughout the Eastern Empire the pagan temples and libraries are looted or burned down. On Dec. 21st Theodosius outlaws visiting Hellenic temples.

In Constantinople, the Temple of Aphrodite is turned into a brothel and the temples of the Sun and Artemis to stables.


"Hallelujah" ("Glory to Yahweh") is imposed in the Christian mass.


Theodosius orders the Praetorian Prefect Maternus Cynegius, a dedicated Christian, to cooperate with local bishops and destroy the pagan temples in Northern Greece and Minor Asia.


Prefect Maternus Cynegius, encouraged by his fanatic wife, and bishop 'Saint' Marcellus with his gangs, scours the countryside sacking and destroying Hellenic temples, shrines and altars. This includes the temple of Edessa, the Cabeireion of Imbros, the temple of Zeus in Apamea, the temple of Apollo in Dydima and the temples of Palmyra.

Thousands of pagans from all over the empire die in the notorious death camps of Skythopolis.


Theodosius outlaws the restoration of the sacked pagan temples.


Public talks on religious subjects are outlawed by Theodosius. The old orator Libanius sends his famous epistle "Pro Templis" to Theodosius with the hope that the few remaining Hellenic temples will be respected and spared.


All non-Christian calendars and dating-methods are outlawed. Hordes of fanatic hermits from the deserts flood the cities of the Middle East and Egypt and destroy statues, altars, libraries and pagan temples, and rout the pagans.

Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, starts heavy persecutions against pagan peoples, turning the temple of Dionysius into a Christian church, burning down the Mithraeum of the city, destroying the temple of Zeus and parading the pagan priests before they are killed by stoning. The Christians profane the cult idols.


On Feb 24th a new edict of Theodosius prohibits not only visits to pagan temples but also looking at the vandalized statues. New persecutions occur all around the empire.

In Alexandria, Egypt, pagans, led by the philosopher Olympius, revolt and after some street fights they lock themselves inside the fortified temple of the god Serapis (the Serapeion). After a violent siege, the Christians take over the building, demolish it, burn its famous library and profane the idols.


On 8th November, Theodosius outlaws all non-Christian rituals and names them "superstitions of the gentiles" (gentilicia superstitio). New full scale persecutions are ordered against pagans. The Mysteries of Samothrace are ended and the priests killed.

In Cyprus the local bishop "Saint" Epiphanius and "Saint" Tychon destroy almost all the temples of the island and exterminate thousands of non-Christians. The local Mysteries of goddess Aphrodite are ended. Theodosius's edict declares:

"The ones that won't obey pater Epiphanius have no right to keep living in that island."

The pagans revolt against the Emperor and the Church in Petra, Aeropolis, Rafia, Gaza, Baalbek and other cities of the Middle East.


The Pythian Games, the Aktia Games and the Olympic Games are outlawed as part of the Hellenic "idolatry". The Christians sack the temples of Olympia.


Two new edicts (July 22nd & Aug 7th) cause new pagan persecutions.

Rufinus the eunuch, Prime Minister of Emperor Flavius Arcadius directs the hordes of baptized Goths (led by Alaric) to the country of the Hellenes. Encouraged by Christian monks the barbarians sack and burn many cities (Dion, Delphi, Megara, Corinth, Pheneos, Argos, Nemea, Lycosoura, Sparta, Messene, Phigaleia, Olympia, etc.), kill or enslave countless gentile Hellenes and burn down all the temples. Among others, they burn down the Eleusinian Sanctuary and burn alive all its priests (including Hilarius the hierophant of Mithras).


On Dec 7th a new edict by Arcadius orders that paganism be treated as high treason. The few remaining pagan priests and hierophants are imprisoned.


"Demolish them!" Flavius Arcadius orders that any pagan temples still standing be demolished.


The 4th Council of Carthage prohibits everyone, even bishops, from studying pagan books. Bishop Porphyrius of Gaza demolishes most of the pagan temples of his city (except 9 that apparently remain active).


With a new edict (13th July) Flavius Arcadius orders immediate destruction of all remaining pagan temples, mainly in the countryside.


Bishop Nicetas destroys the Oracle of Dionysus in Vesai and baptizes all the non-Christians in the area.