I. Growth of Christian Organization:  Leo I

            1. Little organization at first:  Early Christians thought Jesus was coming right back to set up a New Heaven and New Earth.  So at first there is no distinction between laity and clergy.  But in order to survive the church needed to develop some organization to preserve and teach its doctrines in the midst of an empire originally committed in principle to its suppression.  By the 2nd c. AD a church organization began to form.  "Prophets, or teachers, appeared in the very first churches, the informal groups of Christians organized by the missionaries; soon elders, overseers, and presidents followed.    
  "More and more, an overseer (Greek episkopos) exercised authority over a compact administrative area, his see; this was the bishop, who became the key figure in church administration.  It was claimed that each see had been founded by one of the original apostles, and its bishop thus held office through apostolic succession.  Since it had been Jesus himself who had chosen the apostles, every bishop, in effect, became his direct spiritual heir.  Groups of bishoprics or episcopal sees were often gathered together into larger units under an archbishop, or head overseer (archiepiskopos).  Just as the bishop often had his headquarters in a Roman civitas (city-state unit) and exercised authority over the churches in the adjoining countryside, so the archbishop governed the civitates from a mother city, a metropolis, usually the capital of a Roman province, and his see was called a province.        
        "At  the top of the hierarchy stood the bishop of the imperial capital, Rome itself, the father of them all—papa, or "pope"—who claimed supreme authority.     "With the removal of imperial government from Rome, the popes gradually made themselves more and more responsible for the government of the great city.  And as the barbarians began to pour in and Rome itself came under attack, the pope became the surviving symbol of the old Roman sense of order and certainty--a rock indeed.  A succession of outstanding men became bishop of Rome, notably Leo the Great, also known as Pope Leo I (r.440-461).  A theologian, splendid administrator, and brave man, he helped save the city from the invading Hun, Attila" (Winks 111-112).
        By the time of Leo, the bishop of Rome began to be recognized as head of the Western church.  Leo would justify this with the "Petrine theory":  Peter was the leader of the Apostles; Peter was the first bishop of Rome; therefore, the bishop of Rome was the leader of the church.  "The bishops of the great cities of the eastern Mediterranean—Alexandria and Antioch—however, claimed to exercise a paternal rule equal in authority to that of the pope.  They called themselves patriarch (fatherly governor).  Still later, after Constantinople had been made the imperial capital (AD 330), its bishop, also a patriarch, would oppose papal claims to supremacy" (Winks 112).   
     "By the seventh century the broad lines of church government in both the East and the West had been established.  The organization was hierarchical--that is, there was a regular series of levels from subordinate to superior, from priest to pope or patriarch, somewhat as military lines of command run from lieutenant to general" (Winks 113).      

 II. Diversity to Unity of Doctrine:  Council of Nicea. 

It would take hundreds of years for Christians to figure out what the official view of the Jewish carpenter from Nazareth was. “A multitude of Christianities flourished in the second century:  Gnosticism, Montanism, the radical Paulism of Marcion, the communities that formed around such men as Irenaeus in Lyons or Tertullian in North Africa.  Each viewed the others as heretical and each authenticated its own views by an appeal to various criteria of legitimacy:  possession of the true interpretation of the Septuagint; or of the true Christian scriptures, once they had come into existence; or of the authentic oral tradition; or of the Holy Spirit, evinced variously through prophetic visions, true apostolic succession, the charismatic inspiration of gnosis (divine knowledge) and/or the ability to heal.  The church upon whose canon subsequent Christianity eventually depended, the ‘orthodox’ church, was the survivor of these early power struggles, emerging indisputably as victor only in the fourth century, when Constantine became its patron and suppressed its rivals” (Fredriksen From Jesus to Christ 7). 

1. "There had been constant disputes about Christian beliefs from the moment Christ died, and as the missionaries carried the message to the widely differing peoples within the empire, it was natural that new interpretations should arise.  Moreover, personal rivalries for supremacy among the leading bishops of the Church were often expressed in doctrinal quarrels, so that the victory of one doctrine over another often implied the victory of one bishop over his rivals.  It seemed necessary, however, after the recognition of the supremacy of Christianity in the fourth century, for a common doctrine to be worked out.  The elaboration of Christian doctrine took two forms--the writings of the Church Fathers and the doctrinal pronouncements of Church Councils.  “The Church Fathers were theologians whose writings were recognized by the Church as containing the official explanation of the Church's doctrines.  Most of the earlier Fathers lived in the eastern section of the empire and wrote in Greek.  But in the fourth and fifth centuries the Latin Fathers, who lived in the western section of the empire, were perhaps even more influential.  The most important of these were Saint Ambrose, bishop of Milan; Saint Jerome, born in Stridon, Yugoslavia; and Saint Augustine, bishop of Hippo in North Africa.  Although they wrote in Latin, all three sought to continue the work of harmonizing Greek philosophy, in which they were thoroughly trained, with Christianity.  Jerome translated the New Testament from its original Greek into Latin, and his translation, called the Vulgate, became the official version used by the Catholic Church" (Willis 117). 

            2. Early in the fourth century, new trouble was caused by Arius, a priest in Alexandria, who argued that Christ could not be equal with God, since he had been created by God, nor could he be eternal like God, since there must have been a time when he did not exist....Arius's doctrine, known as Arianism, spread so rapidly that the Emperor Constantine, who had embraced Christianity as a unifying force in the empire, became alarmed.. He ordered Christian bishops to meet in the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 to establish one position. Led by Athanasius, the patriarch of Alexandria, the council condemned the teachings of Arius, and formulated the Nicene Creed, which remains the basic statement of belief of the Roman Catholic, the Greek Orthodox, and some Protestant churches:                                                                

                        We believe in one God the Father All-sovereign, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible:

                        And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten son of God, Begotten of the Father before all the ages, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father....

            Arianism remained an expansive force, however, and was carried by missionaries to several of the Germanic tribes that were penetrating the Roman empire.   The Arians felt the Nicenes were inventing doctrine and appealed to Scripture, quoting verses such as John 14:28: "the Father is greater than I".  In fact,

To see the strength of the Arian position and why Arianism proved so difficult to eradicate from the Christian tradition, we might begin with some excerpts from the Gospels.  Many passages suggest that Jesus himself saw God as somehow distinct from himself.  Take, for instance, Mark 10:18, where Jesus says, "Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone."  Again, in his agony at Gethsemene (Matthew 26:39), Jesus calls on God. "'My father,' he said, 'if it is possible, let this cup pass me by.  Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.'"  In John 17:3 Jesus prayed, "And eternal life is this:  to know you, the only True God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent"  (that is, knowledge of God is distinguished by the "and" from knowledge of Jesus Christ).  Similar passages are to be found in Paul's Epistles.  The last verse of the Epistle to the Romans reads:  "....it is all part of the wa the eternal God wants things to be.  He alone [sic] is wisdom; give glory therefore to him through [sic] Jesus Christ for ever and ever."  The author of Hebrews (5:8), writing some time before A.D. 70, states, "Although he was the Son he learned to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect [the implication being that at some stage he was less than perfect], he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation and was acclaimed by God with the title of the High Priest of Melchizedek" (Freeman 164).
    "...the Arians urged that Jesus was in some way distinct from and subordinate to God his Father, and perhaps essentially different in nature.  Arian writings repeatedly return to the scriptures, in particular the Synoptic Gospels, for support.
    "In this the Arians drew on earlier Christian tradition.  Many of the earlier Church Fathers, including Justin Martyr, Clement and Origen--the last two Alexandrians themselves--treated Jesus the Son as somehow derivative from the Father....As Richard Hanson has written:  "Indeed, until
Athanasius began writing every single theologian east and west, had postulated some form of Subordinationism...it could, about the year 300, have been described as a fixed part of catholic [the word being used here in the sense of universal] theology" (Freeman 165).
    "It seems that Constantine himself realized that his enforced creed did nothing to maintain the allegiance of the majority of the Greek-speaking Christian communities, who remained Arian.  His agenda required that consensus be maintained and that Christians should be brought so far as possible under the umbrella of the state.   Freed from the immediate pressures of the council, Constantine actually began to move towards reconciliation with the Arians....Arius himself was welcomed personally by the emperor and his views (probably modified from those previously held) now declared to be orthodox" (Freeman 170).  When Athanasius refused Constantine's order to reinstate Arius, "he exiled him to Gaul, about as far from Alexandria as he could be sent" (Freeman 170).
    "When Constantine himself was finally baptized it was at the hands of an Arian bishop...The Nicene Creed apeared to be dead--even, in terms of what Constantine had hoped to achieve, a failure.  If the issues had not been revived in the 350s, the council might have occupied no more than a footnote in history....Christians played very little part in Constantine's administration, and the army remained pagan" (Freeman 171). 
    When Constantine chose to make Byzantium his capital, "Pagan statues and monuments were brought from all over the empire to grace the public spaces, and the hippodrome, where the finest were grouped, appears to have been modelled on the Circus Maximus in Rome.  Jerome tells of whole cities being stripped of monuments--among those known to have been taken by Constantine were the column commemorating the Greek victory over the Persians in 479 B.C. from Delphi (the base survives today in Istanbul), statues of Apollo, one of them possible also from Delphi, and of the Muses from Mount Helicon in Boeotia....
    "In fact, Constantine recognized that Byzantium's protecting goddesses had to be respected.  The most ancient was Rhea, the mother of the Olympian gods.  Another important deity was Tyche, the personification of good fortune, who was believed to be able to protect and bring prosperity to cities.  Constantine honored them both with new temples" (Freeman 173-4).
    "Where did Christianity fit into all this?  In the original celebrations hardly at all.  Space was, however, reserved in the centre of the city for churches, but their titles--Hagia Sophia, Holy Wisdom, Hagia Eirene, Holy Peace, and Hagia Dynamis, Holy Power--suggest that COnstantine was once again deliberately using formulas that were as acceptable to the pagan world as to the Christians" (Freeman 174).
    "In April 357 Constantine realized he was dying.  Only then did he allow himself to be baptized....by bringing Christianity so firmly under the control of the state, even to the extent of attempting to formulate its doctrine at Nicaea, Constantine was severing the traditional church from its roots" (Freeman 175). 

                       "In the fifth century, Nestorius, the patriarch of Constantinople, taught that Christ had both a divine and a human nature.  God was the father of his divine nature and the Virgin Mary the mother of his human nature.  The Virgin Mary was thus not the mother of God, but only of Christ's human part.  This doctrine infuriated Cyril, the patriarch of Alexandria, whose followers condemned Nestorianism at the Council of Ephesus in 431.  Nestorius himself was banned to Egypt, where, unrepentant, he helped found a large number of Nestorian Christian churches.   
"Shortly after, the priests of Alexandria produced yet another theory, Monophysitism, in which they argued that Christ's divine nature included his human nature.  This theory was condemned as a heresy at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.  But the doctrine of Monophysitism spread rapidly among the disaffected provinces in Egypt and Syria.  Persecution of the followers of Nestorianism and Monophysitism thus helped prepare Egypt and Syria to accept the Muslim Arab invaders in the seventh century as a welcome alternative to the rule of Byzantium. 
"Seven Church Councils were recognized by the churches of the eastern section of the empire, that is, by those churches that were to become the Greek Orthodox Church, as having defined the true doctrines of Christianity.  Recognition of those doctrines and rejection of the claims of supremacy of the pope in Rome became the essential foundation of the Greek Orthodox Church" (Willis 119-120).  The final break between the GOC and RCC is 1054, according to the RCC but 1204, according to the GOC.  

NOTE:  "Recent research, however, is emphasizing another Constantine.  Outside Eusebius' Life [of Constantine], there is virtually no evidence that suggests that Constantine knew anything much about Christ or even of the requirements for Christian living" (Freeman The Closing of the Western Mind 155 ).  For example, "His early allegiances were entirely conventional.  When in 307 he married, as a second wife, Fausta, the daughter of Maximinian, who had abdicated as Augustus in 305, he adopted Maximinian's favoured protecting god, Hercules.  By 310, when he asserted his descent from Claudius Gothicus, he clamed that Apollo had apeared to him in a vision (clearly Constantine's favoured method of receiving divine messages), offering him a laurel wreath and promising that he would rule for thirty years.  About the same time he became intrigued by the cult of Sol Invictus, the cult of 'the unconquerable sun'" (Freeman 156).  Later, after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in which he defeated Maxentius for control in the West, Constantine claimed he had a vision from the Christian God and started an enormous building program of churches as well as giving tax exemptions to Christian clergy.  To maintain stability in the empire, though, Constantine "did not break with the pagan cults that still claimed the allegiance of most of his subjects" (Freeman 158).  In fact, a triumphal arch he built three years after his victory at the Milvian Bridge has imagery with reliefs of Mars, Jupiter and Hercules, all traditional pagan gods of war.  In fact, "Constantine was still issuing coins bearing the images of Sol Invictus as late as 320" (Freeman 160).

III. Monasticism 

1.      In the mid-3rd century in North Africa, Egypt and Palestine men and women began to drop out of Roman society and devote themselves to prayer and fasting.  The earliest Christian ascetics (those attempting to please God by self-denial) were hermits who withdrew from the world to live in seclusion in the wilderness or desert.  Many were fanatics; for example, Simeon Stylites sat forty years on top of a 50-foot column; others went to excess by; dressing in skins and living in filth.  There may have been earlier models (Essenes in Jerusalem; certain kinds of Neoplatonism and Pythagorean brotherhoods).  Many were uneducated, ordinary people that may have represented a counter culture against the late Roman society (cf. Athanasius in his Life of Anthony says "And all were free from the tax collector."  [Peter Brown, a scholar of this period, says asceticism was a way to escape biological determinism, i.e., societal demands on men and women.  This was the first life of a saint written in Christianity—immensely popular; authoritative in the Middle Ages and Renaissance;  iconographical in art:  Antony became a symbol of the contemplative life, and is depicted fighting demons right down to today—Salvador Dali, Cezanne; Augustine was more for communal life than eremitical, but saw Antony as living for God and resisting self).                                                           

NOTE:  By 4th c. pilgrimage:  peace of Constantine imposed on empire allowed people to travel to see sites of holy people.    

            2. Benedict of Nursia (480-547?)   The monastic life originally appealed to believers who sought new forms of dedication once the official recognition of Christianity had ended the heroic period of sacrifice and martyrdom.  People from Palestine and Egypt brought these ascetic values to Europe:      

                       "Saint Pachomius in Egypt, however, in the early fourth century, hit upon the idea of organizing the hermits of Upper Egypt into small groups cooperating in agricultural work, and these communities soon spread across the Mediterranean into Europe.  The Person Responsible for disciplining these groups and for making the institution of monasticism a permanent part of Christianity [in the West] was Saint Benedict of Nursia" (Willis 121).


            Benedict became a monk in Subiaco outside Rome and lived by himself with a small group; they flee to Monte Casino (between Rome & Naples) where he starts a monastery on the ruins of a pagan settlement, that eventually had the greatest impact on European monasticism (his rule will flourish when Charlemagne imposes it on all Frankish monasteries).  Benedicts rule is one of organizational genius:  there are still monks living there!  “Benedict had himself experienced extreme asceticism by living for three years at the bottom of a pit, but he decided that hard work rather than excessive contemplation was a sign of true humility before God” (Willis 121).   

NOTE:  “His emphasis on the importance of physical toil contrasts strikingly with the philosophy of classical Greek thinkers such as Aristotle, who were convinced that such labor inhibited the life of contemplation” (Greaves 167).  Benedict wanted to steer a path between the austere, crazy asceticism of the East and the moral laxity he saw around him.  Therefore, he insisted on a life of moderation of prayer, communal worship and labor [monastery intended to be self-sufficient] by insisting on three important elements in his rule:  1) ora et labora (prayer and work); 2) lectio (reading and absorbing the scriptures); 3) stability of place:  the worst kind of monk is the Irish who moves around.  He made all monks take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. 

3. Influence: Monasticism will be the most dynamic civilizing force in W. Europe from the 6th to the 12th centuries AD!

1)preserved writings of Latin antiquity (copied ancient MSS);

2)wrote most of books

3)maintained the majority of the schools & libraries & hospitals that existed in MA    

         “The influence of the monasteries was thus enormous.  They opened up new lands by felling forests and draining marshes.  Their great libraries were centers of study of the ancient Latin manuscripts and refuges for the intellectuals of the age.  They provided schools not only for future Church people but also for lay nobles.  In their workshops the arts of the Roman Empire in architecture, sculpture, and metalwork were preserved, while many advances were made in the techniques of weaving, glasswork, brewing, and wine making.  The popes themselves became the greatest protectors of the monasteries, especially when the monks' sense of superiority as "regular" clergy (i.e., observers of a rule [regula]) over the "secular" clergy (i.e., the priests [bishops, archbishops] working in the world [saeculum]) led to rivalry between the two groups within the church" (Willis 122). 

 IV. Cultural and Spiritual Changes during the Empire

1.      Unrest among conquered peoples (esp. Egypt, Gaul & Judea) were often revolts for retention of their own culture and against exploitation.

2.      Economic problems:  The middle and upper classes were living the high life while unemployment and poverty plagued masses.  Emperors would later debase coinage to support military.  Roads were too narrow for large carts (built for legions); unrest was disrupting the flow of goods; the upper classes were not investing in industry.

3.      Values of classical humanism (esp. rule of reason) being challenged by passions and feelings involved in mythic-religious movements (non-rational ritual, mystery, magic and ecstasy in:  occult, magic, alchemy, astrology and mystery religions among masses and new philosophies among the elite emphasizing union with God rather than rational examination of nature and life.  “The Roman Empire had imposed peace and stability, but it could not alleviate the feelings of loneliness, anxiety, impotence, alienation, and boredom, which had been gaining ground in the Mediterranean world since the fourth century BC” (Perry 141).    

  V. Augustine and the sack of Rome

            Augustine (354-430)    was born in Tageste on Nov. 13, 354 AD.  His mother, Monica, was a Christian while his father, Patrick, was a minor official in the Roman government (maybe a Hasidic black).  He studied grammar and classical literature in Mandaura and then rhetoric in Carthage.  He had a concubine (common law wife) during his student days, and in 372 (or 373) she bore him a son, Adeodatus.  Monica sends her away, and Augustine opens a grammar school in Tageste (373-4) and then teaches rhetoric in Carthage from 375-383.  During this time, despite his mother's Christian influence, for 10 years he becomes a member of the Manichaean sect ["Named after its founder Mani, a Persian of the third century AD, Manichaeanism was an offshoot of Zoroastrianism that saw existence as a continuing war between good and evil" (Greaves 169); spirit=good, physical=bad].  In 384 Augustine goes to Rome to better himself financially (& disappointed with his students), but he was not a successful teacher in Rome because of his frame of mind.  Finally, he acquires a public teaching post in Milan and becomes a professor of rhetoric.  He was very successful and relatives came from everywhere.  Here he hears the priest Ambrose and is impressed that such an intelligent man could take the Bible seriously.  He is also influenced by the Neoplatonists in Milan.

 Then in 386, at 32 years of age, he is converted (see Confessions for the tolle lege, tolle lege scene).  He then becomes a priest until in 395 he becomes the bishop of Hippo [the old bishop is too infirm to serve; Augustine walks in and someone says, "Let him do it!"]

In 397 Augustine writes Confessions, his autobiography of which the importance is his self-reflection: "I would know myself that I might know Thee."  It is very difficult to speak of an autobiography before Augustine in Greek or Latin culture after or until 14th c. and the self-consciousness of the Renaissance (cf. Petrarch's Letters to Posterity).  Memoirs had related a life in terms of social, political or military affairs, but Augustine's intimate self-scrutiny of the significance of life is new:  his confessions of failing, his profession of faith in God (much of it is prayer to God), his confession of praise.

Augustine wrote his City of God [Charlemagne's favorite book; had it read to him at meals] in 412 when in his 50's.  He wrote this book as an answer to those wanting to blame Christians for the sack of Rome in 410 by the Visigoths [i.e., for refusing to worship Roman gods and refusing to serve in the army; Christianity had been official religion of Rome since 392!].  Augustine said that Christians should not worry about the City of Man on earth but the City of God; God's heavenly city is what is important.  Furthermore, he explained that history was moving toward the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth; i.e., history is linear, not cyclical:  history is moving toward a goal.  ON THE ONE HAND, THIS IS THE FIRST ATTEMPT IN THE WEST TO FORMULATE A COHERENT, ALL-EMBRACING PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY.  
       Yet, on the other, Augustine represents the death of reason in the West.  Though in his earliest writings Augustine seems to accept the importance of reason in finding truth, he eventually departs from that position.  The main use of reason becomes merely to understand what one already believes.  Could it be because he always had difficulty accepting the Scriptures literally (he could only come to belief through the allegorical interpretation) and understood the irrational nature of Christian doctrine to the extent that he admitted:  "I would not have believed the Gospels except on the authority of the Catholic Church."  He would even disallow the very impetus for scientific discovery, curiosity:  "There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger.  This is the disease of curiosity...It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn."  This is the opposite attitude of the Greeks.  For instance, Aristotle thought it was in the very nature of human beings to be curious.  In fact, Athens would be the home for a number of philosophers who would affect the thinking of intellectuals in that culture, including the great historians Herodotus and Thucydides as well as the poet Euripides who said:  "Blessed is he who learns how to engage in inquiry, with no impulse to harm his countrymen or to pursue wrongful actions, but perceives the order of immortal and ageless nature, how it is structured."

 VI. Fall of Rome

            In 378 the Visigoths (who had been driven westward by the Huns) defeat the Romans in the Battle of Adrianople [one of history's decisive battles] and destroy the legend of the invincibility of the Roman legions, leading to a century and a half of chaos.  By 410 Alaric and the Visigoths sack Rome.  The Vandals sack Rome in 455.  Finally Romulus Augustus is forced to abdicate as the last western Roman emperor in Italy in 476 [the traditional date of the FALL OF ROME] and the Germans rule Italy, first under Odoacer (476-493) with the support of the Roman Senate, and then after the invasion of the Ostrogoths in 489, Theodoric (493-526), who killed Odoacer.

                        Many  theories have arisen to explain the fall of Rome.  The best are as follows:

1)      the growing power and changing character of the army:  The empire had grown so big that Rome had to recruit soldiers from the provinces (Germans, Illyrians, etc.), the very people they were supposed to hold in check!  In fact, by the end of the 4th c. AD the Roman army and its generals in the West were almost completely German!  The army had increased in power until it became responsible for non-Roman emperors in the 3rd and 4th c.

2)      barbarian invasions:  These invasions caused high taxes for a stronger army and aggravated other problems.

3)      economic decline:  Taxes increased while the value of money declined; political instability (invasions & civil wars) made trade impossible; the army was eating up funds; all were exacerbated by population decline (15 yrs of plague during M. Aurelius' reign and other plagues with constant warfare).

4)      spiritual malaise:  The urban upper class neglected responsibilities to public life with the aristocrats secluding themselves in huge country estates.  The poor majority no longer had loyalty to the state either.


By the 6th century, there are now three elements that would combine in the Middle Ages to produce a unique Western civilization:  1) classical Greek & Roman culture, 2) Christianity, 3) Germanic culture. 

VII. Christianity vs. Classical Humanism

            "During the 2nd century AD Greco-Roman civilization lost its creative energies, and the values of Classical humanism were challenged by mythic-religious movements" (Perry 140-1), yet both classical humanism and Christianity are parts of who or what Western people are: 


1. individual worth: based on God's love for humanity and a person's response to that love. 

2. purpose of life:  to attain salvation in a heavenly city (by accepting God & his revelation). 

3. ethical values:  derived from God's will (therefore spiritual insight & belief in God, not reason, are the sources of values). 

4. God: a living, loving, compassionate Being.

NOTE: Augustine's influence in all this.


1. individual worth:  man's capacity to reason & to rule his life by reason. 

2. purpose of life:  arete "excellence" (full development of one's talents). 

3. ethical values:  arrived at through reason (=laws of nature discernible by reason)

4. God:  a logical abstraction (a principle of order, the highest truth, i.e., impersonal, unfeeling, uninvolved with human concerns:  (cf. Aristotle Magna Moralia "It is foolish to love Zeus.").

[Schools at Athens: 1) Plato's Academy, 2) Aristotle's Lyceum, 3) Epicurus' garden, 4) Zeno's open-air stoa.]

NOTE:  It must be noted that Christianity will inevitably be Hellenized.  The Hellenization of Christianity includes very great influences of two important philosophies of the Greek world:

1. Stoicism:  a designer of the universe explains the order and regularity of nature and natural law; universal brotherhood of man (all are united in Christ-Logos vs. all a spark of Divine Logos).  Early Christians are going to like many of the ideas of Stoicism and incorporate them into their view of human beings and the universe. 

2. Platonism:  the world of the senses is opposed by a higher order open to intellect Augustine's City of Man vs. City of God dichotomy reflects this as well as the heaven vs. hell preached in Christianity from the beginning. 

VII.  The Importance of Rome

The foundation of the Roman accomplishments is no doubt their genius at absorbing and assimilating influences from outside and going on to create from them something typically Roman.  At the risk of leaving out some very important contributions of the Romans to the West, the following list is offered:

1. law

2. government (republican form of government; idea of one world state)

3. engineering (roads, aqueducts, sewers, etc.)

4. religion (Christianity spread rapidly in the 4th AD when emperors made it official religion of Roman Empire)

5. art & literature (Greek art and literature came down through Romans)

6. calendar (division of year into 12 months of unequal length introduced by Julius Caesar in     45 BC)

7. architecture (Romans achieved a style that is one of the most impressive of all our legacies from the ancient world).

8. alphabet & language:  our alphabet came from the Romans and about 80% of English is now Latin rooted.




Send comments and questions to Dr. Richard Baldwin, Gulf Coast State College.
This page last updated 3/17/12