Author: Quillette Magazine

A Christmas Message from Quillette

In 390 AD, residents of Thessalonica rose up against the Gothic militia guarding the Greek city under the authority of Roman emperor Theodosius. The provocation that sparked the unrest—the arrest of a popular charioteer for homosexual conduct (which the Goths reviled, but ordinary Thessalonians shrugged off)—was trivial. But the berserk mob took the opportunity to vent accumulated grievances by butchering the Gothic constabulary. When Theodosius heard the news, he flew into his own rage, and dispatched a larger force to exact retribution. These soldiers surrounded the city’s horse track and butchered 7,000 innocent spectators to death. Even by the standards of the era, this was seen as a truly wicked act. Theodosius himself, an observant Christian, was wracked with guilt. In Christian history, Thessalonica is better known for the epistles that Paul the Apostle wrote to members of the city’s community, and which became part of the New Testament. Certainly, this ancient war crime is rarely a story that gets told through carols and holiday television specials. But aside from being a time for family …