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A Report by Andrew Collins
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Fragments of a Faith Forgotten

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Author Topic: Fragments of a Faith Forgotten  (Read 2268 times)
Peggie Welles
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Posts: 203

« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2009, 01:22:56 am »

The Populace.But the various styles of architecture and distinct characteristics of the various quarters can give but little idea of the mixed and heterogeneous populace assembled on the spot where Europe, Asia, and Africa meet together. First you have the better class Egyptians and Greeks, mostly extremely refined, haughty and effeminate; of Romans but a few--the magistrates and military, the legionaries of the guard who patrolled the city and quelled the frequent riots of religious disputants; for all of whom, Jew or Christian, Gnostic or Heathen, they had a bluff and impartial contempt.

In the more menial offices you see the lower-class

p. 101

mixed Egyptians, the descendants of the aboriginal populace, perchance, crowds of them. Thousands of Ethiopians and negroes also, in the brightest possible colours.

There, too, you see bands of monks from the Thebaid, many from the Nitrian Valley, two or three days’ journey south into the desert, beyond the great lake; they are easily distinguishable, with their tangled unkempt locks, and skins for sole clothing--for the most part at this time a violent, ignorant, and ungovernable set of fanatics. Mixed with them are people in black, ecclesiastics, deacons and officers of the Christian churches.

Down by the harbours, however, we shall come across many other types, difficult to distinguish for the most part because of the interblending and mixture. Thousands of them come and go on the small ships which crowd the harbours in fleets. Many are akin to the once great nation of the so-called "Hittites"; Phœnician and Carthaginian sailor-folk in numbers, and traders from far more distant ports.

Jews everywhere and those akin to Jews, in all the trading parts; some resembling Afghans; ascetics, too, from Syria, descended from the Essenes, perchance, or Therapeutæ, paying great attention to cleanliness. Also a few tall golden-haired people, Goths and Teutons perchance, extremely contemptuous of the rest, whom they regard as an effeminate crowd--big, tall, strong, rough fellows. A few Persians also, and more distant Orientals.

Perhaps, however, you are more interested in the

p. 102

[paragraph continues] Christian populace, a most mixed crowd without and within. The city ecclesiastics are busied more with politics than with religion; the rest of the faithful can be divided into two classes, offering widely different presentments of Christianity.

On the one hand, the lowest classes and many of the monks, bigoted and ignorant, contemptuous of all education, devoted to the cult of the martyrs, thirsting for the blood of the Jews, and wild to overthrow every statue and raze every temple to the ground. On the other hand, a set of refined disputants, philosophical theologians, arguing always, eager to enter the lists with the Pagan philosophers, spending their lives in public discussions, while the crowds who come to hear them are mostly indifferent to the right or wrong of the matter, and applaud every debating point with contemptuous impartiality, enjoying the wrangle from the point of view of a refined scepticism.

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