Theodosius I (Theodosius the Great)

Birth 346
Death 395

The last emperor of a unified Roman Empire. He didn’t become ‘great’ on the battlefield (far from beating the hell out the barbarians, he let them live in Rome), nor did he become ‘great’ in building up the empire (it collapsed in two after his death). He was called ‘great’ by grateful Christians, for whose sake he made the government biased against different religious confessions and hammered the final nail in the coffin of the great empire’s cultural legacy:

  • He cancelled all religious celebrations and festivals, except, of course, Christian ones;

  • He persecuted Christian ‘heretics’ even more severely than pagans;

  • He encouraged people to loot and destroy pagan temples, including masterpieces like the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and the cultural centre of Alexandria, the Serapeum;

  • He forbid people from teaching mathematics, equating it with black magic;

  • He banned the Olympic Games, which only returned to us at the end of the 19th Century;

  • He disbanded the order of the Vestal Virgins, who were a symbol of Rome, having existed for 1100 years. It would seem one virgin was enough for the Christian conquerors – the Virgin Mary.

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