While studying the Classics, I was keenly interested in that moment when man renounced reason and aquiesced to the mysticism of the Christian religio. Of course, there was not a pivotal point when the transition occurred, no Mount Vesivus erupting and with it bringing the desemation of a Pompeii, it is never like that. No, it was a slow impercetible transformation until it was completed; a change from day to night, from light to darkness. Of course there were pagans even after the consolidation of Christianity as the de facto religion of the known world, but they were a dying breed.
Perhaps the final blow to paganism was the closure of the Akademeia in 529 AD by Emperor Justinian I — the one that married the barren circus slut (yeah, a whore). However, it would seem that paganism was already on a path of extinction, for the attempts by Justinian the Apostate — another one of those Romans possessed of the ancient Roman qualities, e.g., gravitas, whose nobility makes them seem out of place in a decadent and consumed Roman Empire — failed to revive the moribund religion. There was a sense of fatigue, a weariness that had arisen after centuries of Hellenic paganism. It had lost its hold on the human mind.
But Christianity did not live long to celebrate its triumph; through intestine and incessant warfare, the Church extirpated from her being the old Christian ethos. Throughout the history of the modern Church we encounter stories of heretics whose only crime was to advocate a return to the austerity and communal nature of the early Christians. But a Church with the vitiated tastes of a surfeited glutton, addicted to wealth and power (and other temporal things) would not have such nonsense; it’d rather renounce the heavenly rewards for those of this world. And it did.
But can we blame them? Man would rather will nothing than not will at all1 as Achilles testifies in his encounter with the crafty Odysseus in Hades:
“Do not speak soothingly to me of death, Odysseus. I should choose to serve as the hireling of another, rather than to be lord over the dead that have perished.”1
But whilst those in the upper echelons of the Church massacred the truth Christians in the name of the Holy Faith, just as the Bolsheviks proceeded to do the same with the Communists
1 Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, §. 28.
fn2. Homer, Odyssey 11.486.