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The History of Censorship

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Table of Contents Origin and Definition of Censorship Page 1 Ancient Greece and Rome Page 1 Early Christianity Page 2 Eastern Religion Page 3 Abstract The origin of censorship can be traced all the way back to 443 BC Rome. The first documented case of censorship took place when a Roman soldier began regulating morals while conducting a census. Herein lays the origin of and the first historically acknowledged case of the word censorship. Throughout the course of history censorship has been expanded to cover many aspects of life, and has been adapted over time by particular circumstances, governments and ruling bodies. Since then censorship has expanded rapidly and become much more focused. The censorship of religious opinions in societies could be seen in the case of prosecutions of individuals refusing to acknowledge and or accept the gods of the particular city. The kind of original type of censorship that was evident in Rome and Greece was practically paralleled in ancient Israel and other societies. However resistance to censorship was becoming much more apparent. The Roman Catholic Church and its Index Librorum Prohibitorum displayed the most drastic form of restriction and creed in the Christian religion in the development of censorship. ...read more.


However the validity of this source may be put into question because there are hardly any specific examples of the censorship occurring due to the lack of remaining records from the time period. The one staggering specific example of censorship during this era takes place in Athens. While Athens did have a reputation for being a very liberal city, it ironically became well known for fostering one of the most severe acts of censorship in any of the Greek communities of antiquity. The event that occurred was the trial, conviction, and execution of Socrates in 399 BC on charges that he corrupted the youth and that he did not acknowledge the gods that the city did but other new divinities of his own (Edward DeGrazia). The reasons for and the events surrounding his execution have been very well documented and are widely considered to be valid. This again concretely shows the theme of individuals being censored because of differing ideals and thoughts. Socrates challenged classic thoughts and beliefs about religion and socially accepted customs and thus, his views were put down in order to prevent controversy. The kind of censorship that was evident in Rome and Greece is practically paralleled in ancient Israel. ...read more.


The Enlightenment, beginning in the 17th century, attempted to purge Europe of the censorship that found political despotism allied with religious traditionalism. During the Enlightenment, many great minds were censored for challenging long standing beliefs, the perfect example being Galileo. Galileo was employed in Florence by the Medici grand dukes of Tuscany, and his work eventually aroused the suspicion of several theologians. The issues was presented to Pope Urban VIII in 1624, who permitted Galileo to write about different possible systems of the world as long as he did not presume to judge which one actually existed. After the publication in Italian of his widely read Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World in 1632, which openly contradicted the traditional views of Aristotle and Ptolemy and defended those of the scorned Copernicus, Galileo was tried for heresy by the Papal Inquisition. After being imprisoned and threatened with torture Galileo recanted and renounced and cursed his Copernican errors. This trial was the perfect example and symbol of the inherent conflict between religious belief and scientific knowledge. It is hard to say whether this censorship was political or religious because it served two purposes, and because the church and state were so closely linked in medieval times. ...read more.

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