This is the essay for the 15th week of the 9th Grade Tom Woods Homeschool. In this blog post, I will be answering two questions. The first one is, in what ways did Christianity represent a departure from the ideals and practices of ancient Greece and Rome, and what was the relationship between Rome and the Visigoths?
The ways that Christianity represents a departure from the ideals and practices of ancient Greece and Rome
The ideals and practices of Greece and Rome were a lot more unforgiving towards people in need, while Christianity was a lot kinder to these people. People in Greece and Rome still helped people, but they wanted something in return. Even then, there weren’t that many people helping other people in the first place and they did it off and on. Christianity institutionalized care for the people in need. No longer were there only a few people willing to accept those in need. Christianity also made it permanent. Now, these people would always be willing to accept people, no matter the time they arrived. The people accepting people wouldn’t ask for anything in return, all they needed was to know that now they were a better person spiritually. The Christians also supported that you should support anybody in need, even if they are your enemies. In Rome or Greece people would’ve found this a ludicrous idea. This change in care for the people in need came from the emphasis from God, to love each other. Because of this, the most charitable and helping place for those who were in need were monasteries. Monasteries were full of dedicated Christians willing to help anybody out.
Christians would also help people on any scale that they could. Some people would help one person, while others helped entire towns and cities. In Greece and Rome however, because of the lack of a need to become a better person spiritually and the love for each other, charitable works were much smaller in scale. Due to Christianity the first hospitals were established, to help those who are sick.
On the other hand, some of the beliefs and practices that were supported by Rome and Greece were not very friendly to those in need. They supported infanticide, where you kill babies if they are weak or abnormal. Some practiced suicide as a mastery of life, to be able to control when you die. The gladiatorial battles in Rome were nothing more than a glorified way to kill slaves. Most of this comes from stoicism, so not every Roman or Greek was a selfish person who didn’t care for anybody but themselves. Although they definitely didn’t have the same kind of giving mentality the Christians had.
The relationship between Rome and the Visigoths
In 375 the Huns invaded Europe and started conquering a bunch of barbarian tribes. The barbarians knew that if they didn’t want to be conquered, they would have to migrate. One of these migrating tribes were the Visigoths, which came from Dacia, which is modern-day Romania. They wanted to migrate to the Roman empire, the problem was that the Romans wouldn’t let them in. The Visigoths begged to be let in and eventually, the Roman emperor Valens let them in. This would’ve been the end of the story if they weren’t treated appallingly badly by the Romans. They were plundered by the Romans, their youths were taken away and were barely given enough food to survive. Eventually, the Visigoths had had enough of this horrible treatment, and they decided to fight back against the Romans.
The Visigoth leader Fritigern told his people to fight back against the Romans. Fritigern did this after being almost murdered by a Roman general for being suspected of possibly starting a Visigoth rebellion. Fritigern and the Visigoths rebelled against the Roman oppression, this caused them to fight the Roman emperor, Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. Surprisingly, they won the battle. After this the Visigoths were treated better and put into the army, giving them something to do. This peace didn’t last long though, because after the emperor Theodosius died in 395, they rebelled and pillaged the Roman empire for the second time. This time the leader of the Visigoths was Alaric. After several times of switching between peace and war Alaric and his men pillaged Rome itself, they also murdered many of the citizens. After pillaging Rome, the Visigoths went further west, conquering southern Gaul and Hispania. After this, they also kept a shaky relationship with the Roman empire, although they never went to war again with the Romans.