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Chapter XX.—Of the destruction of the temples all over the Empire.

Now the right faithful emperor diverted his energies to resisting paganism, and published edicts in which he ordered the shrines of the idols to be destroyed. Constantine the Great, most worthy of all eulogy, was indeed the first to grace his empire with true religion; and when he saw the world still given over to foolishness he issued a general prohibition against the offering of sacrifices to the idols. He had not, however, destroyed the temples, though he ordered them to be kept shut. His sons followed in their father’s footsteps. Julian restored the false faith and rekindled the flame of the ancient fraud. On the accession of Jovian he once more placed an interdict on the worship of idols, and Valentinian the Great governed Europe with like laws. Valens, however, allowed every one else to worship any way they would and to honour their various objects of adoration. Against the champions of the Apostolic decrees alone he persisted in waging war. Accordingly during the whole period of his reign the altar fire was lit, libations and sacrifices were offered to idols, public feasts were celebrated in the forum, and votaries initiated in the orgies of Dionysus ran about in goat-skins, mangling hounds in Bacchic frenzy, and generally behaving in such a way as to show the iniquity of their master. When the right faithful Theodosius found all these evils he pulled them up by the roots, and consigned them to oblivion.889889    “Extat oratio Libanii ad imperatorem Theodosium pro templis in qua docet quomodo se gesserint imperatores Christiani erga paganos. Et Constantinum quidem Magnum ait duntaxat spoliasse templa, Constantium vero ejus filium prohibuisse Sacrificia: ejusque legem a secutis imperatoribus et ab ipsomet Theodosio esse observatam; reliqua vera permissa fuisse paganis, id est turificationem et publicas epulas.” Valesius.


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