many saw these prophecies coming true

The catastrophes at Byzantium

So, I’m reading Karen Høilund Nielsen’s most excellent study Endzeiterwartung – expecting the End of the World from Neue Studien zur Sachsenforschung 5, 2015 when I’m struck by how shitty things were after the Romans turned their backs on their ancestral Gods and Spirits. 

Lactantius (c. 240 – 320) collected all the apocalyptic omens of the end of the world from sacred and profane literature (KÖTTING 1958, 134) in order to prove the fast approaching end. Wars, kin fighting kin, the decline of morals, famine, plague, cosmic episodes and natural catastrophes could be such omens (BRANDES 1990; 1997, 40–42;KÖTTING 1958, 135). During the decades around the turn of the century at AD 400 many saw these prophecies coming true. They saw various incidents of war and natural catastrophes as signs of the coming of the end of the world (BLECKMANN 2008,13). These catastrophes are listed in contemporary chronicles such as Marcellinus Comes’s Chronicon (quoted and translated from KÖTTING 1958, 137):

389: Two days of hail; comet visible to the North
390: Column of fire in the sky for thirty days
393: Darkness of the sun
394: From September to November earthquakes
396: Frequent earthquakes and fire symbol in the sky
402: Earthquake in Constantinople
404: Enormous fire in Constantinople
407: Enormous damages due to bad weather
408: Seven days of loud rumbling (mugitus terrae) in the Forum Pacis in Rome. Severe weather
409: Famine and revolt in Constantinople
417: Earthquake and darkness
419: Christ appeared on the Mount of Olives. He showed himself in a cloud. Many neighbouring tribes, who witnessed the incident, converted in fear and were baptised; with divine assent all the baptised wore the cross of the Redeemer on their clothes

On top of that came Alarich’s conquest of Rome in AD 410, which spread anxiety among Christians as well as pagans. And at least a further nine earthquakes were recorded for Constantinople and its surroundings by the end of the fifth century (DOWNEY 1955, 596–597)

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