The pages of history go silent. But the stones of Athens provide a small coda to the story of the seven philosophers. It is clear, from the archaeological evidence, that the grand villa on the slopes of the Acropolis was confiscated not long after the philosophers left. It is also clear that it was given to a new Christian owner. Whoever this Christian was, they had little time for the ancient art that filled the house. The beautiful pool was turned into a baptistery. The statues above it were evidently considered intolerable: the finely wrought images of Zeus, Apollo and Pan were hacked away. Mutilated stumps are now all that remain of the faces of the gods; ugly and incongruous above the still-delicate bodies. The statues were tossed into the well. The mosaic on the floor of the dining room fared little better. Its great central panel, which had contained another pagan scene, was roughly removed. A crude cross pattern, of vastly inferior workmanship, was laid in its place. The lovely statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, suffered as badly as the statue of Athena in Palmyra had. Not only was she beheaded she was then, a final humiliation, placed face down in the corner of a courtyard to be used as a step. Over the coming years, her back would be worn away as the goddess of wisdom was ground down by generations of Christian feet. The ‘triumph’ of Christianity was complete.
Catherine Nixey The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World