“The [christian] monks are spreading out like torrents across the countryside; and in ruining the temples, they are also ruining the countryside itself at one and the same time. For to snatch from a region the temple which protects it is like tearing out its eye, killing it, annihilating it. The temples are the very life of the countryside; around them are built houses and villages, in their shadow a succession of generations have been born up until the present day. It is in those temples that farmers have placed their hopes for themselves and their wives and children, for their oxen and for the ground they have sown or planted. A country region whose temple has been destroyed in this manner is lost, because the despairing villagers no longer have the will to work. It would be pointless to exert themselves, they think, because they have been deprived of the Gods who made their labors prosper.”
Despite Libanius’s plea it was too late. The countryside had already been “blinded and the Gods were being driven from the land”. For non-Christians, the loss of these shrines marked the end of a way of life. The followers of the Absolute True God were about to start their domination.
Libanius, Pro templis 30.8; quoted by H. D. Saffrey, “The Piety and Prayers of Ordinary Men and Women in Late Antiquity,” in Classical Mediterranean Spirituality, ed. A. H. Armstrong (New York: Crossroad, 1986), 200.