Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Monks on the rampage

Libanius was a Classical orator who lived before, during and after the reign of Emperor, the last Pagan Emperor of Late Antiquity. In his Oration XXX, For The Temples, he writes to Emperor Theodosius regarding bands of monks who coursed through the countryside “like rivers in spate.” Their destruction was not only of the physical temples and shrines that dotted the countryside, but also of the people's relationship with the land.

“…by ravaging the temples, they ravage the estates, for wherever they tear out a temple from an estate, that estate is blinded and lies murdered.”

The kinds of practices we see in peoples who have maintained their contacts with the gods of their land are sustainable. I can only imagine that the kind of terror Libanius describes was the start of the Western way of dealing with the environment.

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