Friday 31 January 2014

Some quotations from the Book of Enoch with some explanations

"And one of those four went to that white bull and instructed him in a secret, without his being terrified: he was born a bull and became a man, and built for himself a great vessel and dwelt thereon; and three bulls dwelt with him in that vessel and they were covered in. And again I raised mine eyes towards heaven and saw a lofty roof, with seven water torrents thereon, and those torrents flowed with much water into an enclosure. And I saw again, and behold fountains were opened on the surface of that great enclosure, and that water began to swell and rise upon the surface, and I saw that enclosure till all its surface was covered with water. And the water, the darkness, and mist increased upon it; and as I looked at the height of that water, that water had risen above the height of that enclosure, and was streaming over that enclosure, and it stood upon the earth. And all the cattle of that enclosure were gathered together until I saw how they sank and were swallowed up and perished in that water. But that vessel floated on the water, while all the oxen and elephants and camels and asses sank to the bottom with all the animals, so that I could no longer see them, and they were not able to escape, (but) perished and sank into the depths. And again I saw in the vision till those water torrents were removed from that high roof, and the chasms of the earth were levelled up and other abysses were opened. Then the water began to run down into these, till the earth became visible; but that vessel settled on the earth, and the darkness retired and light appeared. But that white bull which had become a man came out of that vessel, and the three bulls with him, and one of those three was white like that bull, and one of them was red as blood, and one black: and that white bull departed from them. And they began to bring forth beasts of the field and birds, so that there arose different genera: lions, tigers, wolves, dogs, hyenas, wild boars, foxes, squirrels, swine, falcons, vultures, kites, eagles, and ravens; and among them was born a white bull. And they began to bite one another; but that white bull which was born amongst them begat a wild ass and a white bull with it, and the wild asses multiplied. But that bull which was born from him begat a black wild boar and a white sheep; and the former begat many boars, but that sheep begat twelve sheep. And when those twelve sheep had grown, they gave up one of them to the asses, and those asses again gave up that sheep to the wolves, and that sheep grew up among the wolves. And the Lord brought the eleven sheep to live with it and to pasture with it among the wolves: and they multiplied and became many flocks of sheep. And the wolves began to fear them, and they oppressed them until they destroyed their little ones, and they cast their young into a river of much water: but those sheep began to cry aloud on account of their little ones, and to complain unto their Lord. And a sheep which had been saved from the wolves fled and escaped to the wild asses; and I saw the sheep how they lamented and cried, and besought their Lord with all their might, till that Lord of the sheep descended at the voice of the sheep from a lofty abode, and came to them and pastured them."

This actually gives a fairly nice detail of animal symbolism for the various nations.  In context, this forms part of a vision or dream sequence within the text.  Enoch is dreaming, and sees a white bull.  That white bull is Noah, who lived in the days of the deluge.  A great flood appears and destroys all life on earth with its waters.  From Noah come many nations, depicted here as animals.  The elephants, camels, and asses who drown in the flood are the giants, Nephilim, and Elioud who lived on the earth in Noah's day.  From the white bull/man (Noah) comes a white bull (Shem), a red bull (Ham), and a black bull (Japheth).  The various animals represent the various nations.  The lions are the Babylonians, the tigers/leopards are the Assyrians, the wolves are the Egyptians, the dogs are the Philistines, hyenas are Syrians, wild boars are Edomites and Amalekites, foxes are Ammonites and Moabites, eagles are Macedonians, falcons are Thracians, kites are Ptolemies, ravens are Seleukids, and wild asses are Midianites.

Friday 24 January 2014

'The Theogonies' of Damaskios

Contains some information recorded about various theogonies or creation myths from different cultures:

   In the rhapsodies which pass under the name of Orphic, the theology, if any, is that concerning the Intelligible; and the philosophers thus interpret it. They place Chronus (Time) for the one principle of all things, and for the two Ether and Chaos: and they regard the egg as representing Being simply, and this they look upon as the first triad. But to complete the second triad they imagine as the god a conceiving and conceive egg, or a white garment, or a cloud, because Phanes springs forth from these. But concerning this middle (subsistence) different philosophers have different opinions. Whatever it may be they look upon it as Mind; but for Father and Power some of them imagine other things which have no connexion with Orpheus. And in the third triad they substitute for it Metis, whilst they place Ericapaeus as Power, and Phanes as Father.
   But the middle triad is never to be placed according to the triformed god (Phanes) as absolutely conceived in the egg: for the middle subsistence always shadows out each of the extremes, as should this, which must partake at once both of the egg and of the triformed god. And you may perceive that the egg is the united (subsistence) or principle of union; and the triformed god, who is multiform about being, is the separated principle of the Intelligible; but the middle subsistence, being united as far as it relates to the egg, and already separated as far as it relates to the god, may be considered as existing altogether as in the act of separation: such is the common Orphic theology.
But the theology delivered by Hieronymus and Hellanikos is as follows:—He says that water was from the beginning, and Matter, from which the Earth was produced, so that he supposes that the two first principles were Water and Earth; the latter of which is of a nature liable to separation, but the former a substance serving to conglutinate and connect it: but he passes over as ineffable the one principle prior to these two, for its recondite nature is evinced, in that there is no manifestation appertaining to it. The third principle after these two, which is generated from them, that is from the Water and Earth, is a Dragon having the heads of a Bull and Lion naturally produced, and in the middle, between these, is the countenance of the God: he has, moreover, wings upon his shoulders, and is denominated incorruptible Chronus (Time) and Herakles. Fate also, which is the same as Nature, is connected with him, and Adrastia, which is incorporeally co-extensive with the universe, and connects its boundaries in harmony. I am of opinion that this third principle is regarded as subsisting according to essence, inasmuch as it is supposed to exist in the nature of male and female, as a type of the generating principle of all things.
   And in the rhapsodies I conceive that the (Orphic) theology, passing over the two first principles, together with the one preceding those two which is delivered in silence, establishes the third, which is properly posterior to the other two, as the first principle, inasmuch as it is the first which has something effable in its nature, and commensurate with human conversation. For the venerable and incorruptible Chronus (Time) was held in the former hypothesis to be the father of Ether and Chaos: but in this he is passed over, and a Serpent substituted: and the threefold Ether is called intellectual, and Chaos boundless, and the dark cloudy Erebus is added to them as a third. He delivers, therefore, this second triad as analogous to the first, this being potential as was that paternal. Wherefore the third subsistence of this triad is dark Erebus, and its paternal principle and summit Ether, subsisting not simply but intellectually, and the middle derived from it is boundless Chaos. But with these it is said Chronus generated the egg, for this relation makes it a procession of Chronus, and born of these, inasmuch as from these procceds the third Intelligible triad. What, then, is this triad? The egg, the duad of the natures of male and female contained in it, and the multitude of the all-various seeds in the middle of it; and the third subsistence in addition to these is the incorporeal god, with golden wings upon his shoulders, who has the heads of bulls springing forth from his internal parts, and upon his head an enormous serpent, invested with the varied forms of beasts. This, therefore, is to be taken as the Mind of the triad: but the middle processions, which are both the Many and the Two, must be regarded as Power, but the egg as the paternal principle of this third triad. But the third god of this third triad, the theology now under discussion celebrates as Protogonus (First-born), and calls him Dis, as the disposer of all things, and the whole world: upon that account he is also denominated Pan. Such are the hypotheses which this genealogy lays down concerning the Intelligible principles.
But the cosmogony which is delivered by the Peripatetic Eudemus as being the theology of Orpheus, passes the whole Intelligible order in silence, as altogether ineffable and unknown, and incapable of discussion or explanation. He commences from Night, which Homer also constitutes his first principle, if we would render his genealogy consistent. Therefore we must not put confidence in the assertion of Eudemus, that Homer makes it commence from Oceanus and Tethys; for it is manifest that he regards Night as the greatest divinity, which is implied in the following line, where he says that she is reverenced by Zeus himself—
He feared lest he should excite the displeasure of swift Night.
Homer, therefore, must be supposed to commence from Night.
But Hesiod, when he affirms that Chaos was the first produced, appears to me to regard Chaos as the incomprehensible and perfectly united nature of the Intelligible. From thence he deduces Earth as the first principle of all the generation of the gods, unless, perhaps, he may regard Chaos as the second subsistence of the two principles: in which case Earth and Tartaros, and Eros (Love), compose the three-fold Intelligible, Eros being put for the third subsistence, considered according to its convertive nature. Orpheus also in his rhapsodies has adopted a very similar disposition, for he places the Earth for the first, being the first that was conglomerated into a compact and essential substance, while he places Tartaros as the middle, as having already, in a manner, a tendency towards disunion.
But Acusilaus appears to me to regard Chaos as the first principle and altogether unknown, and after this one to place the duad, Erebos as the male and Night as the female, the latter being substituted for infinity, and the former for bound; and from a connexion between these were generated Ether and Eros (Love), and Metis (Counsel), these three being the Intelligible hypostases, of which he places Ether as the summit, Eros as the middle in compliance with the natural intervention of love, and Metis as the third, inasmuch as it is already highly-venerable Intellect. And from these, according to the relation of Eudemus, he deduces the vast multitude of the other gods.
Epimenides affirms that the two first principles are Air and Night: whence it is evident that he reverences in silence the one principle which is prior to the two: from which, I conceive, he holds that Tartaros is generated regarding it as a nature in a manner compounded of the two; for some, indeed, regard the principle which is derived from these two as a kind of Intelligible intermediate subsistence or mediety, properly so called, inasmuch as it extends, itself to both extremities, the summit and the boundary; for by their connexion with one another, an egg is generated which is properly the very Intelligible animal from which again proceeds another progeny.
But Pherekydes Syrius considers the three first principles to be an Ever-vital subsistence, Chronus, and an Earthly subsistence; placing, as I conceive, the One prior to the Two, and the Two posterior to the One: and that Chronus generated from himself Fire, and Spirit, and Water, representing, I presume, the threefold nature of the Intelligible: from which, when they became distributed into five recesses, were constituted a numerous race of gods, called the five-times animated order, equivalent to what he might call a five-fold world. But another opportunity may perhaps occur for the discussion of this part of the subject. Such and of a similar description are the hypotheses which are received by us relative to the Greek mythological fables, which are numerous and very various.
But the Babylonians, like the rest of the Barbarians, pass over in silence the One principle of the Universe, and they constitute Two, Tiamat and Apsu; making Apsu the husband of Tiamat, and denominating her the mother of the gods. And from these proceeds an only-begotten son, Mummu, which I conceive is no other than the Intelligible world proceeding from the two principles. From them, also, another progeny is derived, Lahmu and Lahamu; and, again, a third, Kishar and Anshar, from which last three others proceed Anu, and Ellil, and Ea. And of Ea and Damkina is born a son called Bel, who, they say, is the fabricator of the world, the Demiurge.
But of the Magi and all the Aryan race, according to the relation of Eudemus, some denominate the Intelligible Universe and the United, Place, while others call it Time (Zurvan): from whom separately proceed a Good Divinity and an Evil Demon; or, as some assert, prior to these, Light and Darkness. Both the one, therefore, and the other, after an undivided nature, hold the twofold co-ordination of the superior natures as separated and distinct, over one of which they place Ohrmazd as the ruler, and over the other Ahriman.
The Sidonians, according to the same writer, before all things place Ulom, and Hob, and Arapel, (Time, Love, and Cloudy Darkness). And by a connection between Hob and Arapel, as the Two principles are generated Baad and Ruach (Air and a Gentle Breeze), substituting Air for the summit of the Intelligible, and the Breeze arising from it for the vivifying prototype of the Intelligible. And from these two again is generated Utu (the Night Raven), representing, as I conceive, the Intelligible Mind.
But independent of the collections of Eudemus we find the mythology of the Canaanites thus delivered according to Mosheh. First was Ether and Air, which are the Two first principles; from these was produced Ulom, the Intelligible God, and, as I conceive, the summit of the Intelligible: from whom, by a connection with himself, was produced Kothar, the first expanding principle, and then the Egg: by the latter I imagine they mean the Intelligible Mind; but by Kothar, the Intelligible Power, being the first nature which separates an unseparate subsistence, unless, perhaps, after the two principles the summit may be the one Wind; but to the middle, the two winds South-West and South, for sometimes they place these prior to Ulom. In which case Ulom himself would be the Intelligible Mind, and the expanding Kothar the first order after the Intelligible, and the Egg Heaven: for it is said, that by the rupture of it into two parts heaven and earth were produced each from one of its two severed parts.
Of the Egyptian doctrines Eudemus gives us no accurate information. But the Egyptian philosophers, who are resident among us, have explained their occult truth, having obtained it from certain Egyptian discourses. According to them, then it appears to be this. The One principle of the Universe is celebrated as Unknown Darkness, and this three-times pronounced as such: and the Two principles are Water and Sand, according to Heraiskos; but according to Asklepiades, who is the more ancient of the two, Sand and Water, from whom, and next in succession after them, is generated the first Kamutef, and from this a second, and from this again a third, which, they affirm, completes the whole Intelligible distribution. Such is the system of Asklepiades. But the more modern Heraiskos says that the third, who is named Kamutef from his father and grandfather, is the Sun, equivalent in this case to the Intelligible Mind. But greater accuracy upon the subject can only be obtained from these authors themselves. It must be observed, however, with regard to the Egyptians, that they are often wont to distribute subsistences according to union, as when they divide the Intelligible into the individualities of a multitude of gods, as may be learnt from their own writings by those who will examine them: I refer particularly to the commentary of Heraiskos upon the Egyptian doctrine addressed to Proklos the philosopher alone, and to the concordance of the Egyptian writers, begun by Asklepiades and addressed to the other Theologists.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Fragments of 'The Babylonian History' of Bel-re'ushunu

Bel-re'ushunu was a Babylonian priest of Marduk and historian.  He came from a priestly family and had access to the temple records and king-lists of the Esagila temple.  He was born in Babylon during Hellenistic times, and grew up to be Marduk's priest.  He wrote a history of the Babylonians in Greek based on his access to the temple records, and dedicated it to the current reigning monarch, King Antiochus I Soter.  In later years he moved to the island of Kos and there set up a school of astrology.

Here I have collected fragments of this book from various authors, though substituted the Greek corruptions of the Babylonian names with their Babylonian or Sumerian originals:

Bel-re'ushunu, in the first book of his history of Babylonia, informs us that he lived in the age of Alexander the son of Philip. And he mentions that there were written accounts, preserved at Babylon with the greatest care, comprehending a period of above fifteen myriads of years: and that these writings contained histories of the heaven and of the sea; of the birth of mankind; and of the kings, and of the memorable actions which they had achieved.
   And in the first place he describes Babylonia as a country situated between the Idiqlat and the Purattu: that it abounded with wheat, and barley, and ocrus, and sesame; and that in the lakes were produced the roots called gongre, which are fit for food, and in respect to nutriment similar to barley. That there were also palm trees and apples, and a variety of fruits; fish also and birds, both those which are merely of flight, and those which frequent the lakes. He adds, that those parts of the country which bordered upon Arabia, were without water, and barren; but that the parts which lay on the other side were both hilly and fertile.
   At Babylon there was (in these times) a great resort of people of various nations, who inhabited Chaldea, and lived in a lawless manner like the beasts of the field. In the first year there appeared, from that part of the Erythrean Sea which borders upon Babylonia, an animal destitute of reason, by name Uanna, whose whole body was that of a fish; that under the fish's head he had another head, with feet also below, similar to those of a man, subjoined to the fish's tail. His voice too, and language, was articulate and human; and a representation of him is preserved even to this day.
   This Being was accustomed to pass the day among men; but took no food at that season; and he gave them an insight into letters and sciences, and arts of every kind. He taught them to construct cities, to found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the earth, and shewed them how to collect the fruits; in short, he instructed them in every thing which could tend to soften manners and humanize their lives. From that time, nothing material has been added by way of improvement to his instructions. And when the sun had set, this Being Uanna, retired again into the sea, and passed the night in the deep; for he was amphibious. After this there appeared other animals like Uanna, of which Bel-re'ushunu proposes to give an account when he comes to the history of the kings. Moreover Uanna wrote concerning the generation of mankind; and of their civil polity; and the following is the purport of what he said:
   "There was a time in which there existed nothing but darkness and an abyss of waters, wherein resided most hideous beings, which were produced of a two-fold principle. There appeared men, some of whom were furnished with two wings, others with four, and with two faces. They had one body but two heads: the one that of a man, the other of a woman: and likewise in their several organs both male and female. Other human figures were to be seen with the legs and horns of goats: some had horses' feet: while others united the hind quarters of a horse with the body of a man, resembling in shape the hippocentaurs. Bulls likewise were bred there with the heads of men; and dogs with fourfold bodies, terminated in their extremities with the tails of fishes: horses also with the heads of dogs: men too and other animals, with the heads and bodies of horses and the tails of fishes. In short, there were creatures in which were combined the limbs of every species of animals. In addition to these, fishes, reptiles, serpents, with other monstrous animals, which assumed each other's shape and countenance. Of all which were preserved delineations in the temple of Bel at Babylon.
   The person, who presided over them, was a woman named Tiamat, the sea; but which might equally be interpreted the Moon. All things being in this situation, Bel came, and cut the woman asunder: and of one half of her he formed the earth, and of the other half the heavens; and at the same time destroyed the animals within her. All this (he says) was an allegorical description of nature. For, the whole universe consisting of moisture, and animals being continually generated therein, the deity above-mentioned took off his own head: upon which the other gods mixed the blood, as it gushed out, with the earth; and from thence were formed men. On this account it is that they are rational, and partake of divine knowledge. This Bel, by whom they signify Zeus, divided the darkness, and separated the Heavens from the Earth, and reduced universe to order. But the animals, not being able to bear the prevalence of light, died. Bel upon this, seeing a vast space unoccupied, though by nature fruitful, commanded one of the gods to take off his head, and to mix the blood with the earth; and from thence to form other men and animals, which should be capable of bearing the air. Bel formed also the stars, and the sun, and the moon, and the five planets. (From the account of Bel-re'ushunu's first book.)

  Bel-re'ushunu, in the first book of his Babylonian History, says that in the eleventh month, called Arah Dumuzu, is celebrated in Babylon the feast of Zagmuk for five days, in which it is the custom that the masters should obey their slaves, one of whom is led round the house, clothed in a royal garment, and him they call Zagmuku.
(In the second book was contained the history of the ten kings of the Chaldeans, and the periods of the continuance of each reign, which consisted collectively of an hundred and twenty sari, or four hundred and thirty-two thousand years; reaching to the time of the Deluge.)
  He tells us that the first king was Alulim of Babylon, a Chaldean: he reigned ten sari: and afterwards Alalgar, and Ameluanna from Bad-tibira: then En sipazianna the Chaldean, in whose time appeared the abomination Uanna the Repulsive from the Erythrean Sea. Then succeeded Dumuzi from the city of Bad-tibira; and he reigned eighteen sari: and after him Ebneduranki the shepherd from Bad-tibira reigned ten sari; in his time (he says) appeared again from the Erythræan Sea a fourth Repulsive One, having the same form with those above, the shape of a fish blended with that of a man. Then reigned Ubartutu from Bad-tibira, for the term of eighteen sari; in his days there appeared another personage from the Erythrean Sea like the former, having the same complicated form between a fish and a man, whose name was Uanduga. Then reigned Enmenduranna, a Chaldean from Larsa: and he being the eighth in order reigned ten sari. Then reigned Shuruppak, a Chaldean, from Larsa; and he reigned eight sari. And upon the death of Shuruppak, his son Ziusudra reigned eighteen sari: in his time happened the great deluge. So that the sum of all the kings is ten; and the term which they collectively reigned an hundred and twenty sari.
   In his time happened a great Deluge; the history of which is thus described. The deity, Ea, appeared to him in a vision, and warned him that upon the fifteenth day of the month Arah Simanu there would be a flood, by which mankind would be destroyed. He therefore enjoined him to write a history of the beginning, procedure, and conclusion of all things; and to bury it in the city of the Sun at Sippar; and to build a vessel, and take with him into it his friends and relations; and to convey on board every thing necessary to sustain life, together with all the different animals; both birds and quadrupeds, and trust himself fearlessly to the deep. Having asked the deity, whither he was to sail? he was answered, "To the gods:" upon which he offered up a prayer for the good of mankind. He then obeyed the divine admonition: and built an ark five stadia in length, and two in breadth. Into this he put every thing which he had prepared; and last of all conveyed into it his wife, his children, and his friends.
   After the flood had been upon the earth, and was in time abated, Ziusudra sent out birds from the ark; which, not finding any food, nor any place whereupon they might rest their feet, returned to him again. After an interval of some days, he sent them forth a second time; and they now returned with their feet tinged with mud. He made a trial a third time with these birds; but they returned to him no more: from whence he judged that the surface of the earth had appeared above the waters. He therefore made an opening in the vessel, and upon looking out found that it was stranded upon the side of some mountain; upon which he immediately quitted it with his wife, his daughter, and the pilot. Ziusudra then paid his adoration to the earth: and having constructed an altar, offered sacrifices to the gods, and, with those who had come out of the vessel with him, disappeared.
   They, who remained within, finding that their companions did not return, quitted the vessel with many lamentations, and called continually on the name of Ziusudra. Him they saw no more; but they could distinguish his voice in the air, and could hear him admonish them to pay due regard to religion; and likewise informed them that it was upon account of his piety that he was translated to live with the gods; that his wife and daughter, and the pilot, had obtained the same honour. To this he added, that they should return to Babylonia; and, as it was ordained, search for the writings at Sippar, which they were to make known to all mankind: moreover that the place, wherein they then were, was the land of Armenia. The rest having heard these words, offered sacrifices to the gods; and taking a circuit, journeyed towards Babylonia.
   The vessel being thus stranded in Armenia, some part of it yet remains in the Ararat mountains of Armenia; and the people scrape off the bitumen, with which it had been outwardly coated, and make use of it by way of an alexipharmic and amulet. And when they returned to Babylon, and had found the writings at Sippar, they built cities, and erected temples: and Babylon was thus inhabited again.

They say that the first inhabitants of the earth, glorying in their own strength and size, and despising the gods, undertook to raise a tower whose top should reach the sky, in the place in which Babylon now stands: but when it approached the heaven, the winds assisted the gods, and overthrew the work upon its contrivers: and its ruins are said to be still at Babylon: and the gods introduced a diversity of tongues among men, who till that time had all spoken the same language: and a war arose between Ea and the giants. The place in which they built the tower is now called Babylon, on account of the confusion of the tongues; for confusion is by the Hebrews called Babel.

 After the deluge, in the tenth generation, was a certain man among the Chaldeans renowned for his justice and great exploits, and for his skill in the celestial sciences.

  From the reign of Nabu-nasir only are the Chaldeans (from whom the Greek mathematicians copy) accurately acquainted with the heavenly motions: for Nabu-nasir collected all the mementos of the kings prior to himself, and destroyed them, that the enumeration of the Chaldean kings might commence with him.

When Nabu-apal-usur, Nabu-kudurri-usur's father, heard that the governor, whom he had set over Egypt, and the provinces of Canaan, had revolted, he was determined to punish his delinquencies, and for that purpose entrusted part of his army to his son Nabu-kudurri-usur, who was then of mature age, and sent him forth against the rebel: and Nabu-kudurri-usur engaged and overcame him, and reduced the country again under his dominion. And it came to pass that his father, Nabu-apal-usur, was seized with a disorder which proved fatal, and he died in the city of Babylon, after he had reigned nine and twenty years.  Nabu-kudurri-usur, as soon as he had received intelligence of his father's death, set in order the affairs of Egypt and the other countries, and committed to some of his faithful officers the captives he had taken from the Judahites, and Canaanites, and Syrians, and the nations belonging to Egypt, that they might conduct them with that part of the forces which had heavy armour, together with the rest of his baggage, to Babylonia: in the mean time with a few attendants he hastily crossed the desert to Babylon. When he arrived there he found that his affairs had been faithfully conducted by the Chaldeans, and that the principal person among them had preserved the kingdom for him: and he accordingly obtained possession of all his father's dominions. And he distributed the captives in colonies in the most proper places of Babylonia: and adorned the temple of Bel, and the other temples, in a sumptuous and pious manner, out of the spoils which he had taken in this war. He also rebuilt the old city, and added another to it on the outside, and so far completed Babylon, that none, who might besiege it afterwards, should have it in their power to divert the river, so as to facilitate an entrance into it: and he effected this by building three walls about the inner city, and three about the outer. Some of these walls he built of burnt brick and bitumen, and some of brick only. When he had thus admirably fortified the city, and had magnificently adorned the gates, he added also a new palace to those in which his forefathers had dwelt, adjoining them, but exceeding them in height and splendor. Any attempt to describe it would be tedious: yet notwithstanding its prodigious size and magnificence it was finished within fifteen days. In this palace he erected very high walks, supported by stone pillars; and by planting what was called a pensile paradise, and replenishing it with all sorts of trees, he rendered the prospect an exact resemblance of a mountainous country. This he did to gratify his queen, because she had been brought up in Media, and was fond of a mountainous situation.

   Nabu-kudurri-usur, whilst he was engaged in building the above-mentioned wall, fell sick, and died after he had reigned forty-three years; whereupon his son Amel-Marduk succeeded him in his kingdom. His government however was conducted in an illegal and improper manner, and he fell a victim to a conspiracy which was formed against his life by Nergal-shar-usur, his sister's husband, after he had reigned about two years.
   Upon his death Nergal-shar-usur, the chief of the conspirators, obtained possession of the kingdom, and reigned four years.
   He was succeeded by his son Labashi-Marduk who was but a child, reigned nine months; for his misconduct he was seized by conspirators, and put to death by torture.
   After his death, the conspirators assembled, and by common consent placed the crown upon the head of Nabu-na'id, a man of Babylon, and one of the leaders of the insurrection. It was in his reign that the walls of the city of Babylon which defend the banks of the river were curiously built with burnt brick and bitumen.
   In the seventeenth year of the reign of Nabu-na'id, Kurush came out of Persia with a great army, and having conquered all the rest of the east, advanced hastily into the country of Babylonia. As soon as Nabu-na'id perceived he was advancing to attack him, he assembled his forces and opposed him, but was defeated, and fled with a few of his adherents, and was shut up in the city of Borsippa. Upon this Kurush took Babylon, and gave orders that the outer walls should be demolished, because the city appeared of such strength as to render a siege almost impracticable. From thence he marched to Borsippa, to besiege Nabu-na'id: but Nabu-na'id delivered himself into his hands without holding out the place: he was therefore kindly treated by Kurush, who provided him with an establishment in Karmana, but sent him out of Babylonia. Nabu-na'id accordingly spent the remainder of his life in that country, where he died.

What fragments we have of the history conclude here, but it obviously went on through the Persian kings who ruled Babylon, and then ended with the conquests of Alexander and his triumphant entry into the city.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Another example of bad history

Another misconception among many pagans involves the Library of Alexandria.  This was a great library which was founded in Egypt in the city of Alexandria by Alexander himself.  After conquering Egypt and Assyria, Alexander planned to build his own library in Egypt which was inspired by the Library of Nineveh (built by King Ashurbanipal).  In time, this library grew to become famous in the ancient world.  Many books and works were housed here.  These included works of astronomy, physics, natural history, history, and theological works.  Among the authors were probably the likes of Platon, Aristoteles, Aristarchus, Bel-re'ushunu, Ma'at-ni-Tehauti, Philon, etc.

It was famed throughout the ancient world, and especially among the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman intellectuals who lived in Alexandria itself. 

The problem comes in when the following 'facts' are often assumed about the library:

- That the library was destroyed by a Christian mob
- That this supposed event was somehow 'linked' in some way to the death of Hypatia, and it was all to do with the fact that the Christians of the time feared knowledge and learning, associating it with witchcraft
- That most knowledge was destroyed with the destruction of the library
- That said destruction of knowledge led to the beginning of the 'Dark Ages' and set science and development back many years

To begin with, how was the library destroyed?  Most likely by the Romans during Julius Caesar's invasion of Egypt in the days of Cleopatra.  This is probably true because there is no mention of a library anymore after this time.  At the time when Hypatia was living, exactly no contemporary historians ever so much as hints at destruction of a library.  Also, budget cuts might have played an important part.  The Library was only a part of the Museum, which had been funded by the Ptolemaic kings, and after that probably by the Roman governors who were sent to rule that province by the Emperor.  It's fairly certain that the library was not as big as it's often made out to be- even by Caesar's time.  Some ancient historians venture that the number of scrolls contained in the library was about 700,000.  Archaeology has shown that the library simply wasn't large enough to hold that many scrolls.  Plutarch, Ammianus Marcellinus, and Seneca all clearly talk about the library in the past tense (implying that it no longer exists) and all of them describe it as being destroyed by Caesar.  Seneca even confirms that many scrolls perished.  Ammianus Marcellinus writes of Alexandria that "in it have been valuable libraries", obviously not talking of the library in the present tense. The reason that no earlier historians mentioned it was because while Julius Caesar's family occupied the throne it would have been dangerous for anyone to write anything bad about him. 

Since we can discount the stories of the library being destroyed by a Christian mob, we can also throw away the idea that Hypatia's murder had anything to do with it at all.  It certainly can't be seen as one united campaign against all forms of knowledge given that the library wasn't destroyed by Christians and Hypatia's murder must have happened for completely different reasons.

The next part deals with the idea that the destruction of the library somehow set back scientific and technological advancement by years, and brought in the 'Dark Ages'.  Firstly, it's important to realize that it wasn't as if all knowledge only existed inside the Library of Alexandria and nowhere else.  In late antiquity there were many important cities which had schools for learning, aside from Alexandria.  There was also Athens, Ephesus, Tarza, Babylon, Seleukeia, and of course Rome itself.  In fact, most of older historical research could probably be found elsewhere.  Let's examine the Babylonian History of Bel-re'ushunu.  Surely his works would have been in the domain of the Babylonian priesthood, and not solely found in Alexandria?  It's true that while there's no evidence of Bel-re'ushunu ever writing on cuneiform tablets (his work was written in Greek and dedicated as an official history to the reigning monarch of the time, King Antiochus I Soter), he certainly drew upon the archives of cuneiform of king-lists from his temple of Esagila.  These would be stored in the temple archives of Babylon and not in a foreign land (Egypt).  Other writers, many of them Greeks, worked in Athens as well as Alexandria.  Indeed, we have many of the works of Greek writers today with us still.  Ma'at-ni-Tehauti was an Egyptian priest of the sun god Ra, but he came from Tjebnutjer and not from Alexandria.  Still, we know that his work was dedicated to his king- either King Ptolemaios I Soter of King Ptolemaios II Philadelphus.  So her certainly had ties to Alexandria.  It was also he who presided over identifying the protector of the royal household as Osir-Api (after a dream in which the king saw his god coming to Alexandria), and who helped establish his cult in this relatively new city.  But his own work is largely based on Egyptian myth and king-lists which are found on the temple walls written in hieroglyphics. 

We also need to examine how biased accounts of the setback of knowledge are on western history.  India and China continued to flourish.  And yet they are often ignored.  In ancient India there were heliocentric models of the cosmos being posited after the library was destroyed (by Aryabhata for example), but they're often ignored by people who argue that destruction of the library prevented science from advancing.  Another thing that people often forget is that in real life, science and technology don't advance like a tech tree in a strategy game (for example Total War or Civilization games), in which you can fund research into scientific advancement which leads to upgraded weapons and technology for your armies and kingdoms.  In the ancient world, science and technology worked somewhat differently than the way they do today.  Technology was in the domain of the artisans, carpenters, craftsmen, blacksmiths etc. who built things.  While natural sciences were the domains of the philosophers and intellectuals who sat around in academies writing books about the universe but not putting it to practical use.  This meant that their findings often went untested.  They relied on pure rationalism but not on the modern scientific method, which is probably why ideas like heliocentricism never caught on properly among the masses, even while Christianity had not yet been born.  It was not until later that people began to combine them together, and that modern science was born.  The roots of science and technology could be found in those days, but we can't make assumptions like "If the Library of Alexandria had never been destroyed, we would have colonies on Mars by 500 AD".  There's little evidence that the people of late antiquity were close to landing rocket ships on Mars and planting thriving colonies there. 

There's not much else to point out, other than that most ideas about knowledge going back over after the library's destruction hinges on a misunderstanding of the so-called 'Dark Ages'.  The most persistent misconception is that knowledge of the spherical earth was destroyed in the library, and so people after that time believed that the earth was flat.  This can easily be disproved (search 'the flat earth myth' on the Internet if you want to look).

Friday 17 January 2014

What is theurgy, what role does it have in Canaanite religion, and what relevance can it have in our lives today?

To address these three questions, we need to look at context and examine what we know about ancient Near Eastern history.

The Divine Science (i.e what we currently know as 'theurgy') was practiced in mystery schools throughout history.  It was known in the mystery schools of Sidon, Tyre, and Gebal.  It was practiced among the Egyptians, among the Assyrians and Chaldeans, and in the Persian and Median mysteries of Zarathushtra and Mithra.  The mystery schools of Phrygia and Thraki knew of these teachings.  It was the Canaanites who formed the doctrines of numbers and atomism, and the Assyrians who first discovered the triune nature of the soul (divided into physical, mental, and spiritual or contemplative). These doctrines form a powerful part of the religious systems practiced in those lands since early times, and form the basis of what we now call 'theurgy'.

Fast forward in time until very late antiquity in the days of the Roman Empire and we begin to see a division between the Near East and the powerful Greek philosophy.  For the Greeks, understanding of God was accomplished through mental contemplation alone.  This is close to what in India is called Raja Yoga. While in the systems of the Near East, something closer to true Bhakti Yoga was emphasized.  This was through acts of true devotion to God through rituals involving a number of different sacred forms and symbols.  This ritualism united the devotee with God through ecstatic union.  For the Greeks, this was nothing short of superstitious nonsense.  To make matters worse, the Greeks were thoroughly repulsed by what they saw going on in Egypt, in which priests would threaten to devour the gods in hymns.  The Egyptians, in the eyes of the Greeks, were driven by superstition and hubris rather than true piety. 

This is when Ya-milku comes in.  This philosopher was a Syrian, a Canaanite from Qinnashrin, and he belonged to the Neoplatonist school.  He studied in this school under another Canaanite philosopher called Melek (known by the nickname 'Porphyrios') in the city of Rome.  At the time, Rome was the most important city in the western world.  But his master, while acknowledging the ancient mysteries of the Canaanites, Egyptians, Ludians, Hebrews, Assyrians, and Chaldeans, seemed to gravitate more towards the Greek mode of thought as he became more learned.  In his earlier works he had defended theurgy, no doubt accustomed to it from his youth in Tyre.  But later he would denounce it.  It was nothing more than irrational superstition, and more than that, it was actually disrespectful to the gods.  How, he asked, could a truly great priest worship the great god Osir by threatening to scatter his body all across Egypt like Set had done?  Mental contemplation alone would lead to the realization of the glories of God. 

Ya-milku of all his pupils disagreed, and due to being of similar age they quickly fell apart in disagreement.  Ya-milku returned to Syria and here set about to perform an impressive task.  Firstly, could he harmonize Greek philosophy (that of Pythagoras, Platon, Aristoteles etc.) with the mystery theologies of the Near East?  And could he, as a philosopher, ever hope to rationally justify the practices found in these mystery schools which were commonly dismissed in his day as superstitions?

Two of his works, both written in Koine Greek, answer these questions.  One of them is the 'Life of Pythagoras', which tells of Pythagoras' teachings and his life.  In it, we learn that Pythagoras was initiated into the mystery schools of Tyre, Egypt, Babylon, and Persia.  It was from these that he learned his philosophy.  Therefore, the wisdom of the Greeks and the wisdom of the people of the Near East is not in conflict, but in fact has the same divine origin.

It was from this that Ya-milku derived his teaching curriculum for his own pupils in his school, which would study the teachings of Pythagoras, Platon, and Aristoteles, along with those of Orpheus and Zarathushtra and the Egyptians and others.

His other major work was entitled 'On the Mysteries'.  In it, he details the practices of the mystery schools and their Divine Science, which he calls 'theurgy'.  In the book he answers questions from his former teacher Melek against theurgy, in the guise of an Egyptian high priest called 'Abammon'.  Answering the criticisms of wise and powerful philosophers was no easy task, but Ya-milku eventually succeeded, because most of the Neoplatonic philosophers who followed him continued to follow the practices of theurgy.  No more was this concept attacked.  It formed the basis of Qabalah and the other mystical traditions.  We see philosophy shifting from the pure intellectual to the practical and the ritualistic. 

One objection raised is that theurgy is disrespectful to the gods because it is commanding and controlling them.  However, this is not so.  Instead, it is the gods acting through human beings performing the ritual.  The Egyptian priests reciting the cannibal hymns is one example, and another is the Canaanite priests throwing Gardens of Adon into the sea after his yearly death.  The Christian example would be the Eucharist and sacrament, in honor of Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples and which reflects something in comparison to eating the body and drinking the blood of the Lord to remember his sacrifice for humanity.  All of this is basic theurgy, but under no circumstances can it truly be said to be commanding or controlling the gods.  Indeed, any rational person would declare this impossible.

Ya-milku also argues that if mental contemplation alone would lead to union with God, when why don't all philosophers reach it?  Practical action, ritual, and offerings to the gods played an important part in his school and philosophy.

An icon of Hakham Ya-milku
The role that theurgy plays in our lives is to help us realize the divine.  It also provides a reasonable justification for our offerings to the gods.

We need theurgy and the philosophies of Ya-milku today just as it was needed in his day.  For not a lot has changed.  When Ya-milku was alive he witnessed a descent into ignorance and a growing emphasis on materialism over spirituality.  There were wars and destruction.  People questioned why.  As a youth, Ya-milku's town of Qinnashrin was stormed by the powerful Persian Empire.  There was much destruction.  There was a lot of religious upheaval at the time.  The marketplaces and streets of the main cities would be filled with pagans, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and others- all of them in argument.  There were people who began to question religion after seeing so many different faiths and ideas being presented as truth while all disagreeing.  The great philosophers turned away from priests and temples and sacrifices, preferring instead mental contemplation and pure rationalism rather than religious experience.  Leading thinkers denounced religion in general as an embarrassing relic of the past.  Your average person payed little heed to philosophers and intellectuals, preferring to go about their daily lives and not trouble themselves with something that they didn't understand.  As such they might celebrate major festivals like the winter solstice or spring equinox, but forget about gods and religion for the rest of the year.  There were hardly any true prophets left.  The gods were silent and no longer seemed to be active in the lives of mortals.

For Ya-milku, all of this was unacceptable.  He needed to bridge the gaps between the philosophers and the commoners, the priests and the laypeople.  He needed to provide a reasonable defense for religion in face of an onslaught of militant materialism and 'rationalism'.  All of this is needed in our lives today.  Ya-milku was not interested in simple idle thoughts, but in daily practice and experience.  Trying theurgy will allow you to feel the divine within your life as a daily part of it like anything else you experience on a regular basis.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Advice for people with self-esteem and confidence issues

This is from Mara bar Serapion.  It was a help for me and hopefully will be for you too:

"When, moreover, anything untoward befalls you, do not lay the blame on man, nor be angry against God, nor fulminate against the time you live in.

If you shall continue in this mind, your gift is not small which you have received from God, which has no need of riches, and is never reduced to poverty. For without fear shall you pass thy life, and with rejoicing. For fear and apologies for one's nature belong not to the wise, but to such as walk contrary to law. For no man has even been deprived of his wisdom, as of his property."

The meaning of this passage is to remember your god-given gifts and talents in life, for they can never be taken away from you. And do not be ashamed of them, because being ashamed of oneself is not what the wise do, but what criminals and vagabonds do.

Saturday 11 January 2014

Some wise words on death and mortality/immortality by Aramaean philosopher Mara bar Serapion

"Let a man, therefore, rejoice in his empire, like Darayaush; or in his good fortune, like Polycrates; or in his bravery, like Achilles; or in his wife, like Agamemnon; or in his offspring, like Pariya-muwa; or in his skill, like Archimedes; or in his wisdom, like Socrates; or in his learning, like Pythagoras; or in his ingenuity, like Palamedes;-the life of men, my son, departs from the world, but their praises and their virtues abide for ever."

Thursday 9 January 2014

Pseudohistorical nonsense found on the Internet- Part 2

I'm not done yet- I have a few more:

The Chart:

'The Chart' refers to a chart which has been shared around many pagan, atheist, and science pages.  It proposes to map out scientific progress made in the history of civilization.  It starts with the Egyptians, then the Greeks, then the Romans (each time progressing steadily upward), and then reaches the 'Christian Dark Ages' and drops drastically.

For those of you who haven't seen it, here it is:

There are a few things wrong with this.  Firstly, how can you even measure 'scientific advancement'?  What unit of measurement do you use for that?  If you want to respond with "It's only a meme- the point still stands", it might be helpful to know that even here it's still inaccurate.  The so-called 'Dark Ages' were a period of advancement like any other.  The Renaissance scientists found their sources in the scientists of the Middle Ages.  Most misconceptions that people have about this time- that people burned people at the stake for claiming that the earth is a sphere, that science was associated with witchcraft, that people halted medical science because they believed it was a punishment from God- all of these and more are simply false.  Medieval monasteries houses vast libraries of Classical knowledge and these works were copied down by the monks.  Even the Muslim scholars of the time got their books originally from the Byzantines, and from here they passed back into the hands of the Christians after being translated from Arabic into Latin by the Catholic monks.

God creating the heavens and the earth- note the spherical earth

'Hannibal and the Moorish World Conquest':

I will admit that when I first saw the cover for this DVD I was slightly confused as to what exactly was the source for the history being purported in it.  After looking around the Internet I found some clips with 'Aseer the Duke of Tiers' talking about it.  Essentially, he claims that Hannibal was black and that the Romans were also.  Anything otherwise is simply historical revisionism.  He asks why is it that ancient Greek buildings look so old and yet statues of so-called 'Caucasian Greeks' look new, and concludes that they were put there in the 20th century.

Among other outlandish claims that he makes are that the Romans "were called Romans because they Roamed from one city-state to another".  That the Romans were originally called Etruscans, and then Minoans, then Greeks, and finally Romans.  Apparently also the Romans changed the original god of the 'Grecian cosmology' from 'Aethops' to 'Zeus', because Aethops meant black.

The comments were even more silly, with someone claiming that it was possible to transport large armies and elephants into Italy through teleportation via magical portals, and that 'Ethiopian nomad tribes' and 'Voodoo practitioners' can still do this today.

Friday 3 January 2014

Pseudohistorical nonsense found on the Internet

In my browsing of many 'pagan' blogs, pages, groups, websites, and videos, I have to deal with a lot of historical misinformation being branded about.  Some of the more entertaining ones I've decided to list here:

- 'Genocide of the Mother Goddess worshipers'

Ancient people apparently were peaceful worshipers of a Mother Goddess, until they were destroyed by violent followers of male gods.  Only trouble is that there is no evidence of this, and Mother Goddess worship continues to be an important part of many religions which have male gods.  Most common source for this myth seems to be fictional fantasy novels dealing with King Arthur's Celtic Britain in some variation.  Also, to simply brand the male gods as being violent warriors or 'sky tyrants' as they're often described is also a gross oversimplification.  Certainly El, Anu, Brahma, Hermes, and a few others wouldn't fit this description at all.  Proponents of this theory also like to deal with pseudofeminism and sexism a lot.

- '"The Church says the Earth is flat, but I have seen enough fake and falsely attributed quotes on the Internet to know that this is one of them"-- Magellan'

This 100% legitimate quote ("The Church says that the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round. For I have seen the shadow of the earth on the moon and I have more faith in the Shadow than in the Church") was famously said by Magellan, who doubted the Church's dogmatic teaching that the Earth was flat.  This happened during the Dark Ages, when the evil Christians suppressed all scientific learning that the pagans had discovered.  Magellan, like all educated people, saw Christianity for the lie that it really is.  Except that he didn't.

It comes as something of a shock to many people to note that no major Christian sect has *ever* taught that the Earth was flat, even in the so-called 'Dark Ages'.  So Magellan certainly never said this quote at all.  In fact, the whole thing was literally made up on the spot.  Note that when I pointed out this error in a page where I saw it posted, I was promptly told to "shut up" because I was apparently "missing the point".

Magellan's truthful quote, which was really said by him- a bastion of reason in an age of superstition
- 'The Normans who invaded England were Indian Hindus, and Westminster Abbey was a Shiva temple'

This theory was put forward by prominent historians of Vedic civilization who have asserted that the Sri Shiva Nataraja Temple (otherwise known as Westminster Abbey) in London, which was famously in the hands of England's Norman kings, was a shining bastion of ancient Vedic civilization and the Hindu religion in Medieval England.  The Normans, like the Romans before them, were indeed Indian Hindus.  Apparently.

King William I of England, a great Shaivite Maharaja in Christendom

Related to this theory is the theory that the Ka'aba in Makkah was a Shiva temple owing to Arabia being a part of the Indus Valley.  Erm... Arabia being a different culture to that of the Vedic Indians.  While I don't deny the similarities, to state that Makkah is located in the Indus Valley is a gross misrepresentation of geography.  These theories are based on ethnocentrism and cultural chauvinism.  And while we're on the subject...

- 'Phoenicia was a Mycenaean Greek colony, as was Egypt'

Apparently, Phoenicia and Egypt were both 'colonies' of the Mycenaean Greeks from the Aegean in the Bronze Age.  How do we know this?  Well, because 'Aigyptos is a masculine Hellenic name' of course.  I don't think that this one requires too much explaining to anyone with even a basic knowledge of history.

- Jesus- the fictional sun god, invented by the Romans to control the Jews

This theory is based largely around the 'documentary' movie Zeitgeist which tends to circulate the Internet around the time of year just gone by (the Christmas period).  Nor is this one limited to 'pagans' either, for I could tell you of the atheists who have told me to watch this amazing 'documentary' with an open mind, because it 'disproves God's existence' and you'd have to be 'an idiot' to doubt its claims. 

The evidence itself, as collected by prominent historians- all of whom know the truth which Christianity has tried to keep suppressed for so long
Gaze upon the chart above, and see for yourself the damning proof that God is not real, that Jesus never walked the earth, and that Christianity itself is a lie invented to control the gullible masses by the Roman government, based on the myth of several older gods.  Nor is this limited to Horus either.  Indeed, let us take a brief look at all of the following religious figures: Buddha, Krishna, Osiris/Serapis, Gilgamesh, Adonis, Zoroaster, Mithras, Baal, Dionysos, Orpheus...  What do all of them have in common?  All of them were born on December 25th, visited by three kings, preached in the temple, were baptized in a river, had 12 disciples, were crucified, ascended from the dead after three days, were called 'the Lamb of God' and 'the Christ' by their followers, and had the crucifix as their holy symbol. 

Really now?  It's our own mythology.  I can affirm that most of this simply isn't true.  On top of that, things like December 25th and the three kings aren't even in the Gospels!  This is especially true of the supposed Hindu/Buddhist parallels.  What version of Hinduism or Buddhism have these people been reading up on?  There are hardly any parallels between the Gospels and the myths or stories of any of these gods or prophets, aside from extremely superficial ones such as a triumph of good over evil.  I for one can't seem to recall the scene in one of the Gospels where Jesus is killed by Satan and has his body scattered all over Judah and thrown into the River Jordan.  Now, that's not to say of course that Jesus may have become syncretized with some of these gods at certain points in time.  But I think we pagans understand very well that syncretism does not equate to one god 'ripping off' another.

So was Jesus a real person?  According to most historians, yes.  And I agree with them.  Where is the evidence?  Well, Jesus is talked about by many Christian historians, but also pagan and Jewish ones as well.  Many of them were opponents of Christianity, but none of them questions Jesus' existence.  Celsus, Melek Porphyrios, Emperor Julian the Blessed... all of these considered Jesus to be a real person.  Not one of them claims that he was a 'rip-off of Horus' created by the Romans to control the Jews through fear and guilt- despite being pagans themselves.

And this is not even counting the mention of Jesus by Tacitus: "Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christ, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judah, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind".  And again by Josephus: "And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judah, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus... Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned".  In addition to this we have the fact that Paul also records speaking to Peter, who was one of Jesus' most trusted disciples. 

The fact remains that the conspiracy theories simply have no reason to be believed.  Why should we believe that Jesus was made up by the government to control people based on myths of other gods, aside from our biases against Christianity?

- 'Hypatia, a martyr of reason'

We often hear that Hypatia, a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher of the Academy of Alexandria in Egypt, was killed by 'the Christians' because they feared knowledge and learning, and so labelled her a witch. 

Contrary to this, however, we have no evidence of any contemporary Christians associating knowledge or education with witchcraft.  Rather, Hypatia was caught up in a bitter political struggle between two powerful figures: Governor Orestes and Bishop Cyril. 

Here we have the events described by a Christian writer, Socrates Scholasticus:

"There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions.
On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in coming to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more. Yet even she fell a victim to the political jealousy which at that time prevailed. For as she had frequent interviews with Orestes, it was calumniously reported among the Christian populace, that it was she who prevented Orestes from being reconciled to the bishop. Some of them therefore, hurried away by a fierce and bigoted zeal, whose ringleader was a reader named Peter, waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her with tiles. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them. This affair brought not the least opprobrium, not only upon Cyril, but also upon the whole Alexandrian church. And surely nothing can be farther from the spirit of Christianity than the allowance of massacres, fights, and transactions of that sort. This happened in the month of March during Lent, in the fourth year of Cyril's episcopate, under the tenth consulate of Honorius, and the sixth of Theodosius."