Racists read history backwards and assume that all ancient Greeks and Romans were Europeans, that they were as lily-White as they are in Hollywood films, that there were no Africans apart from the occasional slave.
Here is an incomplete list of people born in Africa in Greek and Roman times, listed by approximate year of birth:
-340: Euclid – wrote “The Elements”, the book on geometry.
-276: Eratosthenes – came up with the first good measurement of how big the Earth is. Born in Libya.
-247: Hannibal – one of the greatest military commanders ever. In -218 he brought his soldiers and elephants over the Alps in a surprise attack on Rome.
-190: Terence – Latin playwright, influenced Cicero, Horace, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Moliere. Quote: “I am a man, and reckon nothing human is alien to me.”
-120: Sosigenes – astronomer, advised Julius Caesar on reform of the Roman calendar, giving us the Julian calendar, not topped by Europeans till the 1500s.
-69: Cleopatra – queen of Egypt. Pictured above is a forensic reconstruction of a woman who was likely Arsinoe, her half-sister.
-25: Philo – philosopher, combined Judaism with Platonism.
+69: Suetonius – wrote “The Twelve Caesars” about Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors.
100: Ptolemy – his books on geography and astronomy were not topped by Europeans till the 1500s.
124: Apuleius – wrote “The Golden Ass”, the only complete Roman novel that we have.
145: Septimius Severus – Roman emperor from 193 to 211. His sons Caracalla and Geta also became emperors.
155: Pope St Victor I – Roman pope from 189 to 199, the first to write in Latin.
155: Tertullian – father of Latin Christianity.
165: Macrinus – Roman emperor from 217 to 218.
185: Origen – Christian theologian. Out of favour now, but was big for over a thousand years.
188: St Perpetua – Christian martyr.
205: Plotinus – founder of the Neoplatonist school of philosophy.
207: Aemilian – became Roman emperor in 253. Two months later his troops killed him in favour of Valerian.
210: St Cyprian – Christian writer, bishop and martyr. Quote: “Whatever a man prefers to God, that he makes a god to himself.”
250: Arius – founder of Arianism, a heresy that deeply divided the Christian world in the 300s.
251: St Antony of Egypt – the first Christian monk.
270: St Miltiades – Roman pope from 311 to 314. Presided over the Lateran Council.
297: St Athanasius – defender of the Church against Arianism. The first to list the books of the New Testament as most Christians now know them.
300: St Catherine of Alexandria – one of the saints who appeared to Joan of Arc.
331: St Monica – mother of St Augustine (see below) and namesake of Santa Monica, California. She was Berber.
350: Ivory Bangle Lady – a rich woman who lived in York in Britain, probably Christian. Her tomb was discovered in 1901. Forensic reconstruction pictured above.
350: Hypatia – philosopher and astronomer in Alexandria, pulled from her carriage by a Christian mob and killed.
354: St Augustine – one of the greatest Christian theologians ever. Many of the authors he read were also Africans: Apuleius, Plotinus, Victorinus, Terence, Origen, Tertullian, St Cyprian, Arnobius and Lactantius.
410: St Gelasius I – Roman pope from 492 to 496, the last (so far) to be born in Africa. First pope to be called the Vicar of Christ.
– Abagond, 2016.