Christianity and Hellenism
Henry, Martin (2005) Christianity and Hellenism. Irish Theological Quarterly, 70 (4). p. 366.
Horaceâs celebrated remark, âGrecia capta ferum victorem cepitâ (âGreece, once captured, took her barbarous captor captiveâ), was made in relation to the influence of Greek culture (especially poetry) on the civilization of Rome. Rome had come to dominate Greece militarily in the second century BC and had absorbed the country into its own political sphere of influence, making it a Roman province. But culturally Greeceâs influence on Rome was vast, especially in the fields of philosophy and literature. Hence Horaceâs famous dictum. But a surely weightier historical irony occurred in the centuries after Horace (65-8 BC) when, in the shape of Christianity, a small Jewish sect infiltrated the Greco-Roman world and eventually came to dominate it. This is acknowledged even by those, like Gibbon (who saw the Christian conquest of the Roman Empire as âthe triumph of barbarism and religionâ) and Nietzsche (âChristianity robbed us of the harvest of the ancient worldâ [The Anti-Christ]), who, in different measures, abhorred this triumph as one of the great disasters to befall humanity.
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