The Roman Empire was collapsing. Many historians claim that that collapse was also the time of the final victory of Christianity over paganism. Expressing a different viewpoint, Anglican bishop E. W. Barnes wrote: “As classical civilization collapsed, Christianity ceased to be the noble faith of Jesus the Christ: it became a religion useful as the social cement of a world in dissolution.”—The Rise of Christianity.
Before that collapse, during the second, third, and fourth centuries C.E., history records that in many ways those who claimed to follow Jesus kept themselves separate from the Roman world. But it also reveals the development of apostasy, eventually compromises came to be made with the Greco-Roman world, and some who claimed to be Christian adopted the world’s paganism, its philosophy, and its administrative organization. It was this corrupted version of Christianity that attracted the pagan masses and became a force that the Roman emperors first tried to stamp out but later came to terms with and endeavored to use to their own ends.
In the early fourth century, Roman emperor Constantine tried to use the “Christian” religion of his day to cement his disintegrating empire. To this end, he granted professed Christians religious freedom and transferred some of the privileges of the pagan priesthood to their clergy class. The New Encyclopædia Britannica states: “Constantine brought the church out of its withdrawal from the world to accept social responsibility and helped pagan society to be won for the church.” Emperor Theodosius I banned paganism and imposed Trinitarian “Christianity” as the State religion of the Roman Empire. With adroit precision, French historian Henri Marrou wrote: “By the end of the reign of Theodosius, Christianity, or to be more precise, orthodox Catholicism, became the official religion of the entire Roman world.”
In 395 C.E., when Theodosius I died, the Roman Empire was officially divided in two. The Eastern, or Byzantine, Empire had its capital at Constantinople (formerly Byzantium, now Istanbul). The church in the Eastern Empire followed the theory of Eusebius of Caesarea (a contemporary of Constantine the Great). Ignoring the Christian principle of separateness from the world, Eusebius reasoned that if the emperor and the empire became Christian, Church and State would become a single Christian society, with the emperor acting as God’s representative on earth.
The above is my own research and not connected with “The Flight of the Sorceress” in any way except to show my own familiarity with the subject matter.
Synopsis: The Roman Empire is crumbling. The Catholic Church moves to fill the power vacuum. Soon, books are being burned. Pagans are persecuted. Pogroms begin against Jews. Women are restricted from traditional occupations. The Dark Ages loom. But two women resist. Glenys, a Celtic herbalist/healer, is branded a sorceress. Hypatia, teacher, philosopher, mathematician and the last librarian of the great library at Alexandria is condemned as an idolater. Yet they fight on. Their struggle culminates in the cataclysmic events of Lenten week in 415 A.D.
Can anything be preserved?
This was an interesting book. As I mentioned above, I do have some knowledge of the time period due to my religious studies, I won’t go into that anymore. It tells the story of two women, at a time when the oppression of women was beginning to be believed to be approved of by God. Signified by the fact that Glenys was considered a sorceress for using herbs to treat her patients and yet men were allowed to ‘practice medicine’ even with no medical knowledge or training. Hypatia is no longer allowed to teach, that is something for men alone. The book follows their trials and how they manage to survive, their eventual meeting and …. no spoilers, to find out what happens to them you will have to read the book.
The character development was good, I developed feeling, good and bad for the people in this story. As far as I could tell it was historically accurate, the details I was not familiar with fit in with the rest of the account. I would recommend this book.
Available from Wild Child Publishing