1 Peter
Who was Josephus?
Maps & Graphics
Greek Texts
Texts to note

War, Volume 1
War, Volume 2
War, Volume 3
War, Volume 4
War, Volume 5
War, Volume 6
War, Volume 7

Ant. Jud., Bk 1
Ant. Jud., Bk 2
Ant. Jud., Bk 3
Ant. Jud., Bk 4
Ant. Jud., Bk 5
Ant. Jud., Bk 6
Ant. Jud., Bk 7
Ant. Jud., Bk 8
Ant. Jud., Bk 9
Ant. Jud., Bk 10
Ant. Jud., Bk 11
Ant. Jud., Bk 12
Ant. Jud., Bk 13
Ant. Jud., Bk 14
Ant. Jud., Bk 15
Ant. Jud., Bk 16
Ant. Jud., Bk 17
Ant. Jud., Bk 18
Ant. Jud., Bk 19
Ant. Jud., Bk 20
Vs Apion, Bk 1
Vs Apion, Bk 2


Gospel of--
-- Nicodemus
-- Peter
-- Ps-Matthew
-- James (Protevangelium)
-- Thomas (Infancy)
-- Thomas (Gnostic)
-- Joseph of Arimathea
-- Joseph_Carpenter
Pilate's Letter
Pilate's End

Apocalypse of --
-- Ezra
-- Moses
-- Paul
-- Pseudo-John
-- Moses
-- Enoch

Clementine Homilies
Clementine Letters
Clementine Recognitions
Dormition of Mary
Book of Jubilees
Life of Adam and Eve
Odes of Solomon
Pistis Sophia
Secrets of Enoch
Veronica's Veil
Vision of Paul
Vision of Shadrach

Acts of
Andrew & Matthias
Andrew & Peter
Paul & Perpetua
Paul & Thecla
Peter & Paul
Andrew and Peter
Thomas in India

Whole Year

Lenten Sundays
Sundays of Easter
Ordinary Time (A)
Sundays, 1-34, Year A
Ord.Time (Year B)
Sundays, 1-34, Year B
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Sundays, 1-34, Year C

Ordinary Time
Weeks 1-11 (Year 1)
Weeks 1-11 (Year 2)
Wks 12-22 (Year 1)
Wks 12-22 (Year 2)
Wks 23-34 (Year 1)
Wks 23-34 (Year 2)



Clement of Rome

Ignatius of Antioch

Polycarp of Smyrna

Barnabas,(Epistle of)

Papias of Hierapolis

Justin, Martyr

The Didachë

Irenaeus of Lyons

Hermas (Pastor of)

Tatian of Syria

Theophilus of Antioch

Diognetus (letter)

Athenagoras of Alex.

Clement of Alexandria

Tertullian of Carthage

Origen of Alexandria

Tertullian of Carthage (1)

Apologia to Roman Rulers

On Idolatry

On Spectacles [Public Shows]

On the Laurel Crown

To Scapula - urging justice for Christians

Ad Nationes (Apologia for Christianity)

(this is file 1 of five; see file 2 : An Answer to the Jews. The Soul's Witness to God. On Heresy. . . file 3 : Adv Marcion. (5 vols). . . file 4 : Adv Gnostics. Trinity of God. Scorpion's Sting. Repentance. Baptism. . . file 5 : Prayer. Exhort.Martyrs. Perpetua/Felicity. Patience. Pallium. Apparel of women. Veiling of virgins. To his wife. Chastity. Modesty. Fasting. Fleeing persecution


Quintus Septimius Tertullianus (153-230)

QUINTUS Septimius Florens Tertullianus was born at Carthage c. 160, the son of a pagan Roman officer. He received a very good education, including especially, legal and rhetorical training (Eus., Hist. 2, 2). He was also thoroughly familiar with Greek. About 195 he returned as a Christian to his native town, from Rome, where he had been a lawyer, after living a dissolute life in the capital. He soon embarked on a lively literary career in the service of the Church. It is improbable that he was a priest, as Jerome asserts (Vir. ill. 53). By 207 at the latest, he had broken with the Church. His austere cast of mind which abhorred neutrality and compromise led him to the Montanist sect where he soon became the head of a party of his own, the Tertullianists. He died an old man at Carthage, after 220. He is one of the most original, and until Augustine the most individual of all Latin ecclesiastical authors. He combined Punic fervour with Roman practical sense. A religious enthusiast, he had a penetrating intelligence, passionate eloquence, ever-ready wit and was extraordinarily well-versed in all departments of knowledge. Moreover, he mastered Latin like no one else and freely moulded it into quite new forms. It is, however, an exaggeration to call him the author of Christian Latinity. Quasten describes him as an expert in law, with a fine reputation as an advocate in Rome. His idiosyncratic Latin almost defies translation, and must have posed the same difficulty to his legal brethren as later to his fellow Christians. The variety and uncertain dates of his works render their classification almost an equal difficulty. Yet this irascible African presbyter began the great work later built on by Cyprian and Augustine within the Carthaginian School of Christian thought by which Latin Theology was dominated for centuries.

Some hold that although Tertullian never actually refers to himself as a presbyter, his preponderant role as a teacher could hardly be explained had he remained a layman. Between the years 195-220 he carried on his literary activity. As Quasten writes, "The great number of writings he composed during this time have had a lasting influence on Christian theology. About 207 he openly went over to the Montanists and became the head of a special sect within them, the so-called Tertullianists, which lasted at Carthage up to the time of St. Augustine." (Patrology II, 247). A special debt of gratitude is owed to this man who coined so much of the language of Latin theology, and prepared the essential terms to express the later labours of Augustine and Jerome. In articulating their theology, and in producing the Vulgate, which finally placed the Western churches into a position of intellectual equality with the East, both Jerome and Augustine and through them the whole Western tradition, were debtors to Tertullian in a notable degree. It has been pointed out, however, that the view of north Africa as the unique cradle of ecclesiastical Latin, and of Tertullian as having single-handedly produced the ecclesiastical terminology of the West, is somewhat exaggerated, and that the influence of Rome has been underestimated. "More than fifty years before Tertullian composed his writings ... the process of transition from Greek to Latin had begun in the Christian community of Rome, as the Shepherd of Hermas indicates. Furthermore, Clement of Rome's Epistle to the Corinthians was translated into Latin in Rome, in the first half of the second century... The text of this version suggests that the translator used a Latin version of the Old Testament already in existence. For this reason it seems that ecclesiastical Latin had its beginnings in Rome, not in North Africa." (Quasten, Patrology, I, 22).

Tertullian's writings can be classified into: Apologetics: which which illustrate the Church's position toward the outside world, the Jews as well as the Gentiles; Dogmatics: those works which contend with internal differences and heresies; Ethical: those which reflect the morals and manners of Christians; and Heretical: the few tracts directed against the Church's orthodoxy.

The date of Tertullian's work against Marcion is the best authenticated – perhaps the only well authenticated – detail connected with the author's life. He himself mentions the fifteenth year of the reign of Severus as the time when he was writing the work: "Ad xv. Ann. Severi imperatoris." This year is assigned to the year of our Lord 207; but notwithstanding the certainty of this date, it is far from clear whether it describes more than the time of the publication of the first book.

Regarding Marcion himself, the most formidable heretic to oppose revealed truth from within the church, enough will be found in this treatise itself. Tertullian mentions Marcion as being, with Valentinus, in communion with the Church of Rome, "under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus." He charges them with "ever-restless curiosity, with which they infected even the brethren;" and says that they were more than once put out of communion – "Marcion, indeed, along with the 200 sesterces which he brought into the church", for he was a wealthy merchant. Marcion had come from Sinope in Pontus, and was highly esteemed at first, both for his orthodoxy and exemplary practice. He came to Rome soon after the death of Hyginus, probably about A.D. 141 or 142; but soon after his arrival adopted the heresy of Cerdon.

What edition of the Holy Scriptures did Tertullian use in his abundant quotations? He did not cite from the Hebrew, although some writers have claimed for him, among his varied learning, a knowledge of the sacred language. Tertullian's Scripture passages never resemble the Hebrew, but in nearly every instance the Septuagint, whenever, as is frequently the case, that version differs from the original. In the New Testament there is, as might be expected, a tolerably close conformity to the Greek. There is, however, such frequent variation from the letter of both the Greek Testaments as to suggest that Tertullian quoted from the old Latin version, whatever that might have been, which was current in the African church in the second and third centuries.

Apologia to Roman Rulers
(to the Ruling Class, on behalf of Christians)

Chapter 1. Seek the truth in regard to the charges against the Christians

Rulers of the Roman Empire, if, seated for the administration of justice on your lofty tribunal, under the gaze of every eye, and occupying there all but the highest position in the state, you may not openly enquire into and sift before the world the real truth in regard to the charges made against the Christians; if in this case alone you are afraid or ashamed to exercise your authority in making public enquiry with the carefulness which becomes justice; if, finally, the extreme severities inflicted on our people in recently private judgments, stand in the way of our being permitted to defend ourselves before you, you cannot surely forbid the Truth to reach your ears by the secret pathway of a noiseless book. She has no appeals to make to you in regard of her condition, for that does not excite her wonder. She knows that she is but a sojourner on the earth, and that among strangers she naturally finds foes; and more than this, that her origin, her dwelling-place, her hope, her recompense, her honours, are above. But there is one thing she earnestly asks of this world's rulers – not to be condemned unknown. What harm can it do to the laws, supreme in their domain, to give her a hearing? No, for that part of it, will not their absolute supremacy be more conspicuous in their condemning her, even after she has made her plea? But if, unheard, sentence is pronounced against her, besides the odium of an unjust deed, you will incur the merited suspicion of doing it with some idea that it is unjust, as not wishing to hear what you may not be able to hear and condemn. We lay this before you as the first ground on which we urge that your hatred to the name of Christian is unjust. And the very reason which seems to excuse this injustice (I mean ignorance) at once aggravates and convicts it. For what is there more unfair than to hate a thing of which you know nothing, even though it deserve to be hated? Hatred is only merited when it is known to be merited. But without that knowledge, how is its justice to be vindicated? for that is to be proved, not from the mere fact that an aversion exists, but from acquaintance with the subject. When men, then, give way to a dislike simply because they are entirely ignorant of the nature of the thing disliked, why may it not be precisely the very sort of thing they should not dislike? So we maintain that they are both ignorant while they hate us, and hate us unrighteously while they continue in ignorance, the one thing being the result of the other either way of it. The proof of their ignorance, at once condemning and excusing their injustice, is this, that those who once hated Christianity because they knew nothing about it, no sooner come to know it than all of them lay down at once their enmity. From being its haters they become its disciples. By simply getting acquainted with it, they begin now to hate what they had formerly been, and to profess what they had formerly hated; and their numbers are as great as are laid to our charge. The outcry is that the State is filled with Christians – that they are in the fields, in the citadels, in the islands: they make lamentation, as for some calamity, that both sexes, every age and condition, even high rank, are passing over to the profession of the Christian faith; and yet for all, their minds are not awakened to the thought of some good they have failed to notice in it. They must not allow any truer suspicions to cross their minds; they have no desire to make closer trial. Here alone the curiosity of human nature slumbers. They like to be ignorant, though to others the knowledge has been bliss. Anacharsis reproved the rude venturing to criticize the cultured; how much more this judging of those who know, by men who are entirely ignorant, might he have denounced 10 Because they already dislike, they want to know no more. So they prejudge that of which they are ignorant to be such, that, if they came to know it, it could no longer be the object of their aversion; since, if enquiry finds nothing worthy of dislike, it is certainly proper to cease from an unjust dislike, while if its bad character comes plainly out, instead of the detestation entertained for it being so diminished, a stronger reason for perseverance in that detestation is obtained, even under the authority of justice itself. But, says one, a thing is not good merely because multitudes go over to it; for how many have the bent of their nature towards whatever is bad! how many go astray into ways of error! It is undoubted. Yet a thing that is thoroughly evil, not even those whom it carries away venture to defend as good. Nature throws a veil either of fear or shame over all evil. For instance, you find that criminals are eager to conceal themselves, avoid appearing in public, are in trepidation when they are caught, deny their guilt, when they are accused; even when they are put to the rack, they do not easily or always confess; when there is no doubt about their condemnation, they grieve for what they have done. In their self-communings they admit their being impelled by sinful dispositions, but they lay the blame either on fate or on the stars. They are unwilling to acknowledge that the thing is theirs, because they own that it is wicked. But what is there like this in the Christian's case? The only shame or regret he feels, is at not having been a Christian earlier. If he is pointed out, he glories in it; if he is accused, he offers no defence; interrogated, he makes voluntary confession; condemned he renders thanks. What sort of evil thing is this, which wants all the ordinary peculiarities of evil – fear, shame, subterfuge, penitence, lamenting? What! is that a crime in which the criminal rejoices, to be accused of which is his ardent wish, to be punished for which is his happiness? You cannot call it madness, you who stand convicted of knowing nothing of the matter.

Chapter 2. Why treat us so differently from other criminals?

If, again, it is certain that we are the most wicked of men, why do you treat us so differently from our fellows, that is, from other criminals, it being only fair that the same crime should get the same treatment? When the charges made against us are made against others, they are permitted to make use both of their own lips and of hired pleaders to show their innocence. They have full opportunity of answer and debate; in fact, it is against the Law to condemn anybody undefended and unheard. Christians alone are forbidden to say anything in exculpation of themselves, in defence of the truth, to help the judge to a righteous decision; all that is cared about is having what the public hatred demands – the confession of the name, not examination of the charge: while in your ordinary judicial investigations, on a man's confession of the crime of murder, or sacrilege, or incest, or treason, to take the points of which we are accused, you are not content to proceed at once to sentence, – you do not take that step until you thoroughly examine the circumstances of the confession – what is the real character of the deed, how often, where, in what way, when he has done it, who were aware of it, and who actually took part with him in it. Nothing like this is done in our case, though the falsehoods disseminated about us ought to have the same sifting, that it might be found how many murdered children each of us had tasted; how many incests each of us had shrouded in darkness; what cooks, what dogs had been witness of our deeds. Oh, how great the glory of the ruler who should bring to light some Christian who had devoured a hundred infants! But, instead of that, we find that even enquiry in regard to our case is forbidden. For the younger Pliny, when he was ruler of a province, having condemned some Christians to death, and driven some from their steadfastness, being still annoyed by their great numbers, at last sought the advice of Trajan, the reigning emperor, as to what he was to do with the rest, explaining to his master that, except an obstinate disinclination to offer sacrifices, he found in the religious services nothing but meetings at early morning for singing hymns to Christ and God, and sealing home their way of life by a united pledge to be faithful to their religion, forbidding murder, adultery, dishonesty, and other crimes. Upon this Trajan wrote back that Christians were by no means to be sought after; but if they were brought before him, they should be punished. O miserable deliverance, – under the necessities of the case, a self-contradiction! It forbids them to be sought after as innocent, and it commands them to be punished as guilty. It is at once merciful and cruel; it, passes by, and it punishes. Why do you play a game of evasion on yourself, O Judgment? If you condemnest, why do you not also enquire. If you do not enquire, why do you not also absolve? Military stations are distributed through all the provinces for tracking robbers. Against traitors and public foes every man is a soldier; search is made even for their confederates and accessories. The Christian alone must not be sought, though he may be brought and accused before the judge; as if a search had any other end than that in view And so you condemn the man for whom nobody wished a search to be made when he is presented to you, and who even now does not deserve punishment, I suppose, because of his guilt, but because, though forbidden to be sought, he was found. And then, too, you do not in that case deal with us in the ordinary way of judicial proceedings against offenders; for, in the case of others denying, you apply the torture to make them confess – Christians alone you torture, to make them deny; whereas, if we were guilty of any crime, we should be sure to deny it, and you with your tortures would force us to confession. Nor indeed should you hold that our crimes require no such investigation merely on the ground that you are convinced by our confession of the name that the deeds were done, – you who are daily wont, though you know well enough what murder is, none the less to extract from the confessed murderer a full account of how the crime was perpetrated. So that with all the greater perversity you act, when, holding our crimes proved by our confession of the name of Christ, you drive us by torture to fall from our confession, that, repudiating the name, we may in the same way repudiate also the crimes with which, from that same confession, you had assumed that we were chargeable. I suppose, though you believe us to be the worst of mankind, you do not wish us to perish. For so, no doubt, you are in the habit of bidding the murderer deny, and of ordering the man guilty of sacrilege to the rack if he persevere in his acknowledgment! Is that the way of it? But if so you do not, deal with us as criminals, you declare us thereby innocent, when as innocent you are anxious that we do not persevere in a confession which you know will bring on us a condemnation of necessity, not of justice, at your hands. "I am a Christian," the man cries out. He tells you what he is; you wish to hear from him what he is not. Occupying your place of authority to extort the truth, you do your utmost to get lies from us. "I am," he says, "that which you ask me if I am. Why do you torture me to sin? I confess, and you put me to the rack. What would you do if I denied? Certainly you give no ready credence to others when they deny. When we deny, you believe at once. Let this perversity of yours lead you to suspect that there is some hidden power in the case under whose influence you act against the forms, against the nature of public justice, even against the very laws themselves. For, unless I am greatly mistaken, the laws require offenders to be searched out, and not to be hidden away. They lay it down that persons who own a crime are to be condemned, not acquitted. The decrees of the senate, the commands of your chiefs, lay this clearly down. The power of which you are servants is a civil, not a tyrannical domination. Among tyrants, indeed, torments used to be inflicted even as punishments: with you they are mitigated to a means of questioning alone. Keep to your law in these as necessary till confession is obtained; and if the torture is anticipated by confession, there will be no occasion for it: sentence should be passed; the criminal should be given over to the penalty which is his due, not released. Accordingly, no one is eager for the acquittal of the guilty; it is not right to desire that, and so no one is ever compelled to deny. Well, you think the Christian a person of every crime, an enemy of the gods, of the emperor, of the laws, of good morals, of all nature; yet you compel him to deny, that you may acquit him, which without him denial you could not do. You play fast and loose with the laws. You wish him to deny his guilt, that you may, even against his will, bring him out blameless and free from all guilt in reference to the past! From where comes this strange perversity on your part? How is it you do not reflect that a spontaneous confession is greatly more worthy of credit than a compelled denial; or consider whether, when compelled to deny, a man's denial may not be in good faith, and whether acquitted, he may not, then and there, as soon as the trial is over, laugh at your hostility, a Christian as much as ever? Seeing, then, that in everything you deal differently with us than with other criminals, bent on the one object of taking from us our name (indeed, it is ours no more if we do what Christians never do), it is made perfectly clear that there is no crime of any kind in the case, but merely a name which a certain system, ever working against the truth, pursues with its enmity, doing this chiefly with the object of securing that men may have no desire to know for certain what they know for certain they are entirely ignorant of. Hence, too, it is that they believe about us things of which they have no proof, and they are disinclined to have them looked into, for fear that the charges, they would rather take on trust, are all proved to have no foundation, that the name so hostile to that rival power – its crimes presumed, not proved – may be condemned simply on its own confession. So we are put to the torture if we confess, and we are punished if we persevere, and if we deny we are acquitted, because all the contention is about a name. Finally, why do you read out of your tablet-lists that such a person is a Christian? Why not also that he is a murderer? And if a Christian is a murderer, why not guilty, too, of incest, or any other vile thing you believe of us? In our case alone you are either ashamed or unwilling to mention the very names of our crimes-If to be called a "Christian" does not imply any crime, the name is surely very hateful, when that of itself is made a crime.

Chapter 3. They jibe, "A good man, only that he is a Christian."

What are we to think of it, that most people so blindly knock their heads against the hatred of the Christian name; that when they bear favourable testimony to anyone, they mingle with it abuse of the name he bears? "A good man," says one, "is Gaius Seius, only that he is a Christian." So another, "I am astonished that a wise man like Lucius should have suddenly become a Christian." Nobody thinks it needful to consider whether Gaius is not good and Lucius wise, on this very account that he is a Christian; or a Christian, for the reason that he is wise and good. They praise what they know, they abuse what they are ignorant of, and they inspire their knowledge with their ignorance; though in fairness you should rather judge of what is unknown from what is known, than what is known from what is unknown. Others, in the case of persons whom, before they took the name of Christian, they had known as loose, and vile, and wicked, put on them a brand from the very thing which they praise. In the blindness of their hatred, they fall foul of their own approving judgment! "What a woman she was! how wanton! how gay! What a youth he was! how profligate! how libidinous! – they have become Christians!" So the hated name is given to a reformation of character. Some even barter away their comforts for that hatred, content to bear injury, if they are kept free at home from the object of their bitter enmity. The wife, now chaste, the husband, now no longer jealous, casts out of his house; the son, now obedient, the father, who used to be so patient, disinherits; the servant, now faithful, the master, once so mild, commands away from his presence; it is a high offence for anyone to be reformed by the detested name. Goodness is of less value than hatred of Christians. Well now, if there is this dislike of the name, what blame can you attach to names? What accusation can you bring against mere designations, save that something in the word sounds either barbarous, or unlucky, or scurrilous, or unchaste? But Christian, so far as the meaning of the word is concerned, is derived from anointing. Yes, and even when it is wrongly pronounced by you "Chrestianus" (for you do not even know accurately the name you hate), it comes from sweetness and kindness. You hate, therefore, in the guiltless, even a guiltless name. But the special ground of dislike to the sect is, that it bears the name of its Founder. Is there anything new in a religious sect getting for its followers a designation from its master? Are not the philosophers called from the founders of their systems – Platonists, Epicureans, Pythagoreans? Are not the Stoics and Academics so called also from the places in which they assembled and stationed themselves? and are not physicians named from Erasistratus, grammarians from Aristarchus, cooks even from Apicius? And yet the bearing of the name, transmitted from the original institutor with whatever he has instituted, offends no one. No doubt, if it is proved that the sect is a bad one, and so its founder bad as well, that will prove that the name is bad and deserves our aversion, in respect of the character both of the sect and its author. Before, therefore, taking up a dislike to the name, it was fitting for you to consider the sect in the author, or the author in the sect. But now, without any sifting and knowledge of either, the mere name is made matter of accusation, the mere name is assailed, and a sound alone brings condemnation on a sect and its author both, while of both you are ignorant, because they have such and such a designation, not because they are convicted of anything wrong.

Chapter 4. I take my stand on the plea of our blamelessness

So, having made these remarks so to speak by way of preface, that I might show in its true colours the injustice of the public hatred against us, I shall now take my stand on the plea of our blamelessness; and I shall not only refute the things which are objected to us, but I shall also retort them on the objectors, that in this way all may know that Christians are free from the very crimes they are so well aware prevail among themselves, that they may at the same time be put to the blush for their accusations against us, – accusations I shall not say of the worst of men against the best, but now, as they will have it, against those who are only their fellows in sin. We shall reply to the accusation of all the various crimes we are said to be guilty of in secret, such as we find them committing in the light of day, and as being guilty of which we are held to be wicked, senseless, worthy of punishment, deserving of ridicule. But since, when our truth meets you successfully at all points, the authority of the laws as a last resort is set up against it, so that it is either said that their determinations are absolutely conclusive, or the necessity of obedience is, however unwillingly, preferred to the truth, I shall first, in this matter of the laws grapple with you as with their chosen protectors. Now first, when you sternly lay it down in your sentences, "It is not lawful for you to exist," and with unhesitating rigor you require this to be carried out, you exhibit the violence and unjust domination of mere tyranny, if you deny the thing to be lawful, simply on the ground that you wish it to be unlawful, not because it ought to be. But if you would have it unlawful because it ought not to be lawful, without doubt that should have no permission of law which does harm; and on this ground, in fact, it is already determined that whatever is beneficial is legitimate. Well, if I have found what your law prohibits to be good, as one who has arrived at such a previous opinion, has it not lost its power to debar me from it, though that very thing, if it were evil, it would justly forbid to me? If your law has gone wrong, it is of human origin, I think; it has not fallen from heaven. Is it wonderful that man should err in making a law, or come to his senses in rejecting it? Did not the Lacedaemonians amend the laws of Lycurgus himself, thereby inflicting such pain on their author that he shut himself up, and doomed himself to death by starvation? Are you not yourselves every day, in your efforts to illumine the darkness of antiquity, cutting and hewing with the new axes of imperial rescripts and edicts, that whole ancient and rugged forest of your laws? Has not Severus, that most resolute of rulers, but yesterday repealed the ridiculous Papian laws which compelled people to have children before the Julian laws allow matrimony to be contracted, and that though they have the authority of age on their side? There were laws, too, in old times, that parties against whom a decision had been given might be cut in pieces by their creditors; however, by common consent that cruelty was afterwards erased from the statutes, and the capital penalty turned into a brand of shame. By adopting the plan of confiscating a debtor's goods, it was sought rather to pour the blood in blushes over his face than to pour it out. How many laws lie hidden out of sight which still require to be reformed! For it is neither the number of their years nor the dignity of their maker that commends them, but simply that they are just; and therefore, when their injustice is recognised, they are deservedly condemned, even though they condemn. Why speak we of them as unjust? no, if they punish mere names, we may well call them irrational. But if they punish acts, why in our case do they punish acts solely on the ground of a name, while in others they must have them proved not from the name, but from the wrong done? I am a practiser of incest (so they say); why do they not enquire into it? I am an infant-killer; why do they not apply the torture to get from me the truth? I am guilty of crimes against the gods, against the Caesars; why am I, who am able to clear myself, not allowed to be heard on my own behalf? No law forbids the sifting of the crimes which it prohibits, for a judge never inflicts a righteous vengeance if he is not well assured that a crime has been committed; nor does a citizen render a true subjection to the law, if he does not know the nature of the thing on which the punishment is inflicted. It is not enough that a law is just, nor that the judge should be convinced of its justice; those from whom obedience is expected should have that conviction too. No, a law lies under strong suspicions which does not care to have itself tried and approved: it is a positively wicked law, if, unproved, it tyrannizes over men.

Chapter 5. Among you, divinity is granted by the will of a man

To say a word about the origin of laws of the kind to which we now refer, there was an old decree that no God should be consecrated by the emperor till first approved by the senate. Marcus Aemilius had experience of this in reference to his God Alburnus. And this, too, makes for our case, that among you divinity is allotted at the judgment of human beings. Unless gods give satisfaction to men, there will be no deification for them: the God will have to propitiate the man.

Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearly shown the truth of Christ's divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favour of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all accusers of the Christians. Consult your histories; you will there find that Nero was the first who assailed with the imperial sword the Christian sect, making profess then especially at Rome. But we glory in having our condemnation hallowed by the hostility of such a wretch. For anyone who knows him, can understand that not except as being of singular excellence did anything bring on it Nero's condemnation. Domitian, too, a man of Nero's type in cruelty, tried his hand at persecution; but as he had something of the human in him, he soon put an end to what he had begun, even restoring again those whom he had banished. Such as these have always been our persecutors, – men unjust, impious, base, of whom even you yourselves have no good to say, the sufferers under whose sentences you have been wont to restore. But among so many princes from that time to the present day, with anything of divine and human wisdom in them, point out a single persecutor of the Christian name. So far from that, we, on the contrary, bring before you one who was their protector, as you will see by examining the letters of Marcus Aurelius, that most grave of emperors, in which he bears his testimony that that Germanic drought was removed by the rains obtained through the prayers of the Christians who happened to be fighting under him. And as he did not by public law remove from Christians their legal disabilities, yet in another way he put them openly aside, even adding a sentence of condemnation, and that of greater severity, against their accusers. What sort of laws are these which the impious alone execute against us – and the unjust, the vile, the bloody, the senseless, the insane? Which Trajan to some extent diminished by forbidding Christians to be sought after; which neither a Hadrian, though fond of searching into all things strange and new, nor a Vespasian, though the subjugator of the Jews, nor a Pius, nor a Verus, ever enforced? It should surely be judged more natural for bad men to be eradicated by good princes as being their natural enemies, than by those of a spirit kindred with their own.

Chapter 6. What has become of the laws repressing ostentatious ways of living?

I would now have these most religious protectors and vindicators of the laws and institutions of their fathers, tell me, in regard to their own fidelity and the honour and submission they themselves show to ancestral institutions, if they have departed from nothing – if they have in nothing gone out of the old paths – if they have not put aside whatever is most useful and necessary as rules of a virtuous life. What has become of the laws repressing expensive and ostentatious ways of living? Which forbade more than a hundred asses to be expended on a supper, and more than one fowl to be set on the table at a time, and that not a fatted one; which expelled a patrician from the senate on the serious ground, as it was counted, of aspiring to be too great, because he had acquired ten pounds of silver; which put down the theatres as quickly as they arose to debauch the manners of the people; which did not permit the insignia of official dignities or of noble birth to be rashly or with impunity usurped? For I see the Centenarian suppers must now bear the name, not from the hundred asses, but from the hundred sestertia expended on them; and that mines of silver are made into dishes (it would belittle if this applied only to senators, and not to freedmen or even mere whip-spoilers). I see, too, that neither is a single theatre enough, nor are theatres unsheltered: no doubt it was that immodest pleasure might not be torpid in the wintertime, the Lacedaemonians invented their woolen cloaks for the plays. I see now no difference between the dress of matrons and prostitutes. In regard to women, indeed, those laws of your fathers, which used to be such an encouragement to modesty and sobriety, have also fallen into desuetude, when a woman had yet known no gold on her save on the finger, which, with the bridal ring, her husband had sacredly pledged to himself; when the abstinence of women from wine was carried so far, that a matron, for opening the compartments of a wine cellar, was starved to death by her friends, – while in the times of Romulus, for merely tasting wine, Mecenius killed his wife, and suffered nothing for the deed. With reference to this also, it was the custom of women to kiss their relatives, that they might be detected by their breath. Where is that happiness of married life, ever so desirable, which distinguished our earlier manners, and as the result of which for about 600 years there was not among us a single divorce? Now, women have every member of the body heavy laden with gold; wine-bibbing is so common among them, that the kiss is never offered with their will; and as for divorce, they long for it as though it would bethe natural consequence of marriage. The laws, too, your fathers in their wisdom had enacted concerning the very gods themselves, you their most loyal children have rescinded, The consuls, by the authority of the senate, banished Father Bacchus and his mysteries not merely from the city, but from the whole of Italy. The consuls Piso and Gabinius, no Christians surely, forbade Serapis, and Isis, and Arpocrates, with their dog headed friend, admission into the Capitol – in the act casting them out from the assembly of the gods – overthrow their altars, and expelled them from the country, being anxious to prevent the vices of their base and lascivious religion from spreading. These, you have restored, and conferred highest honours on them. What has come to your religion – of the veneration due by you to your ancestors? In your dress, in your food, in your style of life, in your opinions, and last of all in your very speech, you have renounced your progenitors. You are always praising antiquity, and yet every day you have novelties in your way of living. From your having failed to maintain what you should, you make it clear, that, while you abandon the good ways of your fathers, you retain and guard the things you ought not. Yet the very tradition of your fathers, which you still seem so faithfully to defend, and in which you find your principal matter of accusation against the Christians – I mean zeal in the worship of the gods, the point in which antiquity has mainly erred – although you have rebuilt the altars of Serapis, now a Roman deity, and to Bacchus, now become a God of Italy, you offer up your orgies, – I shall in its proper place show that you despise, neglect, and overthrow, casting entirely aside the authority of the men of old. I go on meantime to reply to that infamous charge of secret crimes, clearing my way to things of open day.

Chapter 7. Monstrous accusations are made against the Christians

Monsters of wickedness, we are accused of observing a holy rite in which we kill a little child and then eat it; in which, after the feast, we practice incest, the dogs – our pimps, indeed, overturning the lights and getting us the shamelessness of darkness for our impious lusts. This is what is constantly laid to our charge, and yet you take no pains to elicit the truth of what we have been so long accused. Either bring, then, the matter to the light of day if you believe it, or give it no credit as having never enquired into it. On the ground of your double dealing, we are entitled to lay it down to you that there is no reality in the thing which you dare not expiscate. You impose on the executioner, in the case of Christians, a duty the very opposite of expiscation: he is not to make them confess what they do, but to make them deny what they are. We date the origin of our religion, as we have mentioned before, from the reign of Tiberius. Truth and the hatred of truth come into our world together. As soon as truth appears, it is regarded as an enemy. It has as many foes as there are strangers to it: the Jews, as was to be looked for, from a spirit of rivalry; the soldiers, out of a desire to extort money; our very domestics, by their nature. We are daily beset by foes, we are daily betrayed; we are frequently surprised in our meetings and congregations. Whoever happened indeed, on an infant wailing, according to the common story? Whoever kept for the judge, just as he had found them, the gory mouths of Cyclops and Sirens? Whoever found any traces of uncleanness in their wives? Where is the man who, when he had discovered such atrocities, concealed them; or, in the act of dragging the culprits' before the judge, was bribed into silence? If we always keep our secrets, when were our proceedings made known to the world? No, by whom could they be made known? Not, surely, by the guilty parties themselves; even from the very idea of the thing, the fealty of silence being ever due to mysteries. The Samothracian and Eleusinian make no disclosures – how much more will silence be kept in regard to such as are sure, in their unveiling, to call forth punishment from man at once, while wrath divine is kept in store for the future? If, then, Christians are not themselves the publishers of their crime, it follows of course it must be strangers. And how have they their knowledge, when it is also a universal custom in religious initiations to keep the profane aloof, and to beware of witnesses, unless it be that those who are so wicked have less fear than their neighbours? Everyone knows what sort of thing rumor is. It is one of your own sayings, that "among all evils, none flies so fast as rumor." Why is rumor such an evil thing? Is it because it is fleet? Is it because it carries information? Or is it because it is in the highest degree mendacious? – a thing, not even when it brings some truth to us, without a taint of falsehood, either detracting, or adding, or changing from the simple fact? No more, it is the very law of its being to continue only while it lies, and to live but so long as there is no proof; for when the proof is given, it ceases to exist; and, as after doing its work of merely spreading a report, it delivers up a fact, and is from now on held to be a fact, and called a fact. And then no one says, for instance, "They say that it took place at Rome," or, "There is a rumor that he has obtained a province," but, "He has got a province," and, "It took place at Rome." Rumor, the very designation of uncertainty, has no place when a thing is certain. Does any but a fool put his trust in it? For a wise man never believes the dubious. Everybody knows, however zealously it is spread abroad, on whatever strength of asseveration it rests, that some time or other from some one fountain it has its origin. Thence it must creep into propagating tongues and ears; and a small seminal blemish so darkens all the rest of the story, that no one can determine whether the lips, from which it first came forth, planted the seed of falsehood, as often happens, from a spirit of opposition, or from a suspicious judgment, or from a confirmed, no, in the case of some, an inborn, delight in lying. It is well that time brings all to light, as your proverbs and sayings testify, by a provision of Nature, which has so appointed things that nothing long is hidden, even though rumor has not disseminated it. It is just then as it should be, that fame for so long a period has been alone aware of the crimes of Christians. This is the witness you bring against us – one who has never been able to prove the accusation it some time or other sent abroad, and at last by mere continuance made into a settled opinion in the world; so that I confidently appeal to Nature herself, ever true, against those who groundlessly hold that such things are to be credited.

Chapter 8. Can you even imagine yourself performing such actions?

See now, we set before you the reward of these enormities. They give promise of eternal life. Hold it for a moment as your own belief. I ask you, then, whether, so believing, you think it worth attaining, with a conscience such as you would have. Come, plunge your knife into the babe, enemy of none, accused by none, child of all; or if that is another's work, simply take your place beside a human being dying before he has really lived, await the departure of the recently given soul, receive the fresh young blood, saturate your bread with it, freely partake. The while as you recline at table, take note of the places which your mother and your sister occupy; mark them well, so that when the dog-made darkness has fallen on you, you may make no mistake, for you will be guilty of a crime – unless you perpetrate a deed of incest. Initiated and sealed into things like these, you have life everlasting! Tell me, I beg you, is eternity worth it? If it is not, then these things are not to be credited. Even although you had the belief, I deny the will; and even if you had the will, I deny the possibility. Why then can others do it, if you cannot? Why cannot you, if others can? I suppose we are of a different nature – are we Cynopae or Sciapodes? You are a man yourself as well as the Christian: if you cannot do it, you ought not to believe it of others, for a Christian is a person as well as you. But the ignorant, indeed, are deceived and imposed on. They were quite unaware of anything of the kind being imputed to Christians, or they would certainly have looked into it for themselves, and searched the matter out. Instead of that, it is the custom for persons wishing initiation into sacred rites, I think, to go first of all to the master of them, that he may explain what preparations are to be made. Then, in this case, no doubt he would say, "You must have a child still of tender age, that knows not what it is to die, and can smile under your knife; bread, too, to collect the gushing blood; in addition to these, candlesticks, and lamps, and dogs – with tid-bits to draw them on to the extinguishing of the lights: above all things, you will require to bring your mother and your sister with you." But what if mother and sister are unwilling? or if there be neither the one nor the other? What if there are Christians with no Christian relatives? He will not be counted, I suppose, a true follower of Christ, who has not a brother or a son. And what now, if these things are all in store for them without their knowledge? At least afterwards they come to know them; and they bear with them, and pardon them. They fear, it may be said, for fear that they have to pay for it if they let the secret out: no, but they will rather in that case have every claim to protection; they will even prefer, one might think, dying by their own hand, to living under the burden of such a dreadful knowledge. Admit that they have this fear; yet why do they still persevere? For it is plain enough that you will have no desire to continue what you would never have been, if you had had previous knowledge of it.

Chapter 9. Your own practices lead you to credit such things about us.

That I may refute more thoroughly these charges, I will show that in part openly, in part secretly, practices prevail among you which have led you perhaps to credit similar things about us. Children were openly sacrificed in Africa to Saturn as lately as the proconsulship of Tiberius, who exposed to public gaze the priests suspended on the sacred trees overshadowing their temple – so many crosses on which the punishment which justice craved overtook their crimes, as the soldiers of our country still can testify who did that very work for that proconsul. And even now that sacred crime still continues to be done in secret. It is not only Christians, you see, who despise you; for all that you do there is neither any crime thoroughly and abidingly eradicated, nor does any of your gods reform his ways. When Saturn did not spare his own children, he was not likely to spare the children of others; whom indeed the very parents themselves were in the habit of offering, gladly responding to the call which was made on them, and keeping the little ones pleased on the occasion, that they might not die in tears. At the same time, there is a vast difference between homicide and parricide. A more advanced age was sacrificed to Mercury in Gaul. I hand over the Tauric fables to their own theatres. Why, even in that most religious city of the pious descendants of Aeneas, there is a certain Jupiter whom in their games they lave with human blood. It is the blood of a beast-fighter, you say. Is it less, because of that, the blood of a man? Or is it viler blood because it is from the veins of a wicked man? At any rate it is shed in murder. O Jove, yourself a Christian, and in truth only son of your father in his cruelty! But in regard to child murder, as it does not matter whether it is committed for a sacred object, or merely at one's own self-impulse – although there is a great difference, as we have said, between parricide and homicide – I shall turn to the people generally. How many, do you think, of those crowding around and gaping for Christian blood, – how many even of your rulers, notable for their justice to you and for their severe measures against us, may I charge in their own consciences with the sin of putting their offspring to death? As to any difference in the kind of murder, it is certainly the more cruel way to kill by drowning, or by exposure to cold and hunger and dogs. A maturer age has always preferred death by the sword. In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one who is coming to the birth. That is a person which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed. As to meals of blood and such tragic dishes, read – I am not sure where it is told (it is in Herodotus, I think) – how blood taken from the arms, and tasted by both parties, has been the treaty bond among some nations. I am not sure what it was that was tasted in the time of Catiline. They say, too, that among some Scythian tribes the dead are eaten by their friends. But I am going far from home. At this day, among ourselves, blood consecrated to Bellona, blood drawn from a punctured thigh and then partaken of, seals initiation into the rites of that goddess. Those, too, who at the gladiator shows, for the cure of epilepsy, quaff with greedy thirst the blood of criminals slain in the arena, as it flows fresh from the wound, and then rush off – to whom do they belong, those, also, who make meals on the flesh of wild beasts at the place of combat – who have keen appetites for bear and stag? That bear in the struggle was bedewed with the blood of the man whom it lacerated: that stag rolled itself in the gladiator's gore. The entrails of the very bears, loaded with as yet undigested human viscera, are in great request. And you have men rifting up man-fed flesh? If you partake of food like this, how do your repasts differ from those you accuse us Christians of? And do those, who, with savage lust, seize on human bodies, do less because they devour the living? Have they less the pollution of human blood on them because they only lick up what is to turn into blood? They make meals, it is plain, not so much of infants, as of grown-up men. Blush for your vile ways before the Christians, who have not even the blood of animals at their meals of simple and natural food; who abstain from things strangled and that die a natural death, for no other reason than that they may not contract pollution, so much as from blood secreted in the viscera. To clench the matter with a single example, you tempt Christians with sausages of blood, just because you are perfectly aware that the thing by which you so try to get them to transgress they hold unlawful. And how unreasonable it is to believe that those, of whom you are convinced that they regard with horror the idea of tasting the blood of oxen, are eager after blood of men; unless, mayhap, you have tried it, and found it sweeter to the taste! No, in fact, there is here a test you should apply to discover Christians, as well as the fire-pan and the censer. They should be proved by their appetite for human blood, as well as by their refusal to offer sacrifice; just as otherwise they should be affirmed to be free of Christianity by their refusal to taste of blood, as by their sacrificing; and there would be no want of blood of men, amply supplied as that would be in the trial and condemnation of prisoners. Then who are more given to the crime of incest than those who have enjoyed the instruction of Jupiter himself? Ctesias tells us that the Persians have illicit intercourse with their mothers. The Macedonians, too, are suspected on this point; for on first hearing the tragedy of Oedipus they made mirth of the incest-doer's grief, exclaiming, "he goes to the mother.” Even now reflect what opportunity there is for mistakes leading to incestuous commingling – your promiscuous looseness supplying the materials. First of all you expose your children, that they may be taken up by any compassionate passer-by, to whom they are quite unknown; or you give them away, to be adopted by those who will do better to them the part of parents. Well, some time or other, all memory of the alienated progeny must be lost; and when once a mistake has been made, the transmission of incest thence will still go on – the race and the crime creeping on together.

Then, further, wherever you are – at home, abroad, over the seas – your lust is an attendant, whose general indulgence, or even its indulgence in the most limited scale, may easily and unwittingly anywhere beget children, so that in this way a progeny scattered about in the commerce of life may have intercourse with those who are their own kin, and have no notion that there is any incest in the case. A persevering and steadfast chastity has protected us from anything like this: keeping as we do from adulteries and all post-matrimonial unfaithfulness, we are not exposed to incestuous mishaps. Some of us, making matters still more secure, keep away from them entirely the power of sensual sin, by a virgin continence, still "boys" in this respect when they are old. If you would but take notice that such sins as I have mentioned prevail among you, that would lead you to see that they have no existence among Christians. The same eyes would tell you of both facts. But the two blindnesses are apt to go together; so that those who do not see what is there, think they see what is not there. I shall show it to be so in everything. But now let me speak of matters which are more important.

Chapter 10. Why the Christians must not worship the pagan gods

"You do not worship the gods," you say; "and you do not offer sacrifices for the emperors." Well, we do not offer sacrifice for others, for the same reason that we do not for ourselves, – namely, that your gods are not at all the objects of our worship. So we are accused of sacrilege and treason. This is the chief ground of charge against us – no, it is the sum-total of our offending; and it is worthy then of being enquired into, if neither prejudice nor injustice be the judge, the one of which has no idea of discovering the truth, and the other simply and at once rejects it. We do not worship your gods, because we know that there are no such beings. This, therefore, is what you should do: you should call on us to demonstrate their non-existence, and thereby prove that they have no claim to adoration; for only if your gods were truly so, would there be any obligation to render divine homage to them. And punishment even were due to Christians, if it were made plain that those to whom they refused all worship were indeed divine. But you say, They are gods. We protest and appeal from yourselves to your knowledge; let that judge us; let that condemn us, if it can deny that all these gods of yours were but men. If even it venture to deny that, it will be confuted by its own books of antiquities, from which it has got its information about them, bearing witness to this day, as they plainly do, both of the cities in which they were born, and the countries in which they have left traces of their exploits, as well as where also they are proved to have been buried. Shall I now, therefore, go over them one by one, so numerous and so various, new and old, barbarian, Grecian, Roman, foreign, captive and adopted, private and common, male and female, rural and urban, naval and military? It would beuseless even to hunt out all their names: so I may content myself with a compend; and this not for your information, but that you may have what you know brought to your recollection, for undoubtedly you act as if you had forgotten all about them. No one of your gods is earlier than Saturn: from him you trace all your deities, even those of higher rank and better known. What, then, can be proved of the first, will apply to those that follow. So far, then, as books give us information, neither the Greek Diodorus or Thallus, neither Cassius Severus or Cornelius Nepos, nor any writer on sacred antiquities, have ventured to say that Saturn was any but a man: so far as the question depends on facts, I find none more trustworthy than those – that in Italy itself we have the country in which, after many expeditions, and after having partaken of Attic hospitalities, Saturn settled, obtaining cordial welcome from Janus, or, as the Salii will have it, Janis. The mountain on which he dwelt was called Saturnius; the city he founded is called Saturnia to this day; last of all, the whole of Italy, after having borne the name of Oenotria, was called Saturnia from him. He first gave you the art of writing, and a stamped coinage, and thence it is he presides over the public treasury. But if Saturn were a man, he had undoubtedly a human origin; and having a human origin, he was not the offspring of heaven and earth. As his parents were unknown, it was not unnatural that he should be spoken of as the son of those elements from which we might all seem to spring. For who does not speak of heaven and earth as father and mother, in a sort of way of veneration and honour? or from the custom which prevails among us of saying that persons of whom we have no knowledge, or who make a sudden appearance, have fallen from the skies? In this way it came about that Saturn, everywhere a sudden and unlooked-for guest, got everywhere the name of the Heaven-born. Or even the common folk call persons whose stock is unknown, sons of earth. I say nothing of how men in these rude times were wont to act, when they were impressed by the look of any stranger happening to appear among them, as though it were divine, since even at this day men of culture make gods of those whom, a day or two before, they acknowledged to be dead men by their public mourning for them. Let these notices of Saturn, brief as they are, suffice. It will so also be proved that Jupiter is as certainly a man, as from a man he sprung; and that one after another the whole swarm is mortal like the primal stock.

Chapter 11. The absurdity of deifying human beings after death

Since, as you dare not deny that these deities of yours once were men, you have taken it on you to assert that they were made gods after their decease, let us consider what necessity there was for this. In the first place, you must concede the existence of one higher God – a certain wholesale dealer in divinity, who has made gods of men. For they could neither have assumed a divinity which was not theirs, nor could any but one himself possessing it have conferred it on them. If there was no one to make gods, it is vain to dream of gods being made when so you have no God-maker. Most certainly, if they could have deified themselves, with a higher state at their command, they never would have been men. If, then, there be one who is able to make gods, I turn back to an examination of any reason there may be for making gods at all; and I find no other reason than this, that the great God has need of their ministrations and aids in performing the offices of Deity. But first it is an unworthy idea that he should need the help of a man, and in fact a dead man, when, if he was to be in want of this assistance from the dead, he might more fittingly have created some one a God at the beginning. Nor do I see any place for his action. For this entire world-mass – whether self-existent and uncreated, as Pythagoras maintains, or brought into being by a Creator's hands, as Plato hold – was manifestly, once for all in its original construction, disposed, and furnished, and ordered, and supplied with a government of perfect wisdom. That cannot be imperfect which has made all perfect. There was nothing waiting on for Saturn and his race to do. Men will make fools of themselves if they refuse to believe that from the very first ram poured down from the sky, and stars gleamed, and light shone, and thunders roared, and Jove himself dreaded the lightnings you put in his hands; that in the same way before Bacchus, and Ceres, and Minerva, no before the first man, whoever that was, every kind of fruit burst forth plentifully from the bosom of the earth, for nothing provided for the support and sustenance of man could be introduced after his entrance on the stage of being. Accordingly, these necessaries of life are said to have been discovered, not created. But the thing you discover existed before; and that which had a pre-existence must be regarded as belonging not to him who discovered it, but to him who made it, for of course it had a being before it could be found. But if, on account of his being the discoverer of the vine, Bacchus is raised to godship, Lucullus, who first introduced the cherry from Pontus into Italy, has not been fairly dealt with; for as the discoverer of a new fruit, he has not, as though he were its Creator, been awarded divine honours. Therefore, if the universe existed from the beginning, thoroughly furnished with its system working under certain laws for the performance of its functions, there is, in this respect, an entire absence of all reason for electing humanity to divinity; for the positions and powers which you have assigned to your deities have been from the beginning precisely what they would have been, although you had never deified them. But you turn to another reason, telling us that the conferring of deity was a way of rewarding worth. And hence you grant, I conclude, that the God-making God is of transcendent righteousness, – one who will neither rashly, improperly; nor needlessly bestow a reward so great. I would have you then consider whether the merits of your deities are of a kind to have raised them to the heavens, and not rather to have sunk them down into lowest depths of Tartarus, – the place which you regard, with many, as the prison-house of infernal punishments. For into this dread place tend to be cast all who offend against filial piety, and such as are guilty of incest with sisters, and seducers of wives, and ravishers of virgins, and boy-polluters, and men of furious tempers, and murderers, and thieves, and deceivers; all, in short, who tread in the footsteps of your gods, not one of whom you can prove free from crime or vice, save by denying that they had ever a human existence. But as you cannot deny that, you have those foul blots also as an added reason for not believing that they were made gods afterwards. For if you rule for the very purpose of punishing such deeds; if every virtuous man among you rejects all correspondence, converse, and intimacy with the wicked and base, while, on the other hand, the high God has taken up their mates to a share of his majesty, on what ground is it that you so condemn those whose fellow-actors you adore? Your goodness is an affront in the heavens. Deify your vilest criminals, if you would please your gods. You honour them by giving divine honours to their fellows. But to say no more about a way of acting so unworthy, there have been men virtuous, and pure, and good. Yet how many of these nobler men you have left in the regions of doom! as Socrates, so renowned for his wisdom, Aristides for his justice, Themistocles for his warlike genius, Alexander for his sublimity of soul, Polycrates for his good fortune, Croesus for his wealth, Demosthenes for his eloquence. Which of these gods of yours is more remarkable for gravity and wisdom than Cato, more just and warlike than Scipio? Which of them more magnanimous than Pompey, more prosperous than Sylla, of greater wealth than Crassus, more eloquent than Tullius? How much better it would have been for the God Supreme to have waited that he might have taken such men as these to be his heavenly associates, prescient as he must have surely been of their worthier character! he was in a hurry, I suppose, and immediately shut heaven's gates; and now he must surely feel ashamed at these worthies murmuring over their lot in the regions below.

Chapter 12. The false gods are mere artefacts. Why punish us for not worshipping them?

But I pass from these remarks, for I know and I am going to show what your gods are not, by showing what they are. In reference, then, to these, I see only names of dead men of ancient times; I hear fabulous stories; I recognise sacred rites funded on mere myths. As to the actual images, I regard them as simply pieces of matter akin to the vessels and utensils in common use among is, or even undergoing in their consecration a hapless change from these useful articles at the hands of reckless art, which in the transforming process treats them with utter contempt, no, in the very act commits sacrilege; so that it might be no slight solace to us in all our punishments, suffering as we do because of these same gods, that in their making they suffer as we do themselves. You put Christians on crosses and stakes: what image is not formed from the clay in the first instance, set on cross and stake? The body of your God is first consecrated on the gibbet. You tear the sides of Christians with your claws; but in the case of your own gods, axes, and planes, and rasps are put to work more vigorously on every member of the body. We lay our heads on the block; before the lead, and the glue, and the nails are put in requisition, your deities are headless. We are cast to the wild beasts, while you attach them to Bacchus, and Cybele, and Caelestis. We are burned in the flames; so, too, are they in their original lump. We are condemned to the mines; from these your gods originate. We are banished to islands; in islands it is a common thing for your gods to have their birth or die. If it is in this way a deity is made, it will follow that as many as are punished are deified, and tortures will have to be declared divinities. But plain it is these objects of your worship have no sense of the injuries and disgraces of their consecrating, as they are equally unconscious of the honours paid to them. O impious words! O blasphemous reproaches! Gnash your teeth on us – foam with maddened rage against us – you are the persons, no doubt, who censured a certain Seneca speaking of your superstition at much greater length and far more sharply! In a word, if we refuse our homage to statues and frigid images, the very counterpart of their dead originals, with which hawks, and mice, and spiders are so well acquainted, does it not merit praise instead of penalty, that we have rejected what we have come to see is error? We cannot surely be made out to injure those who we are certain are nonentities. What does not exist, is in its nonexistence secure from suffering.

Chapter 13. You cannot favour one god without slighting another

"But they are gods to us," you say. And how is it, then, that in utter inconsistency with this, you are convicted of impious, sacrilegious, and irreligious conduct to them, neglecting those you imagine to exist, destroying those who are the objects of your fear, making mock of those whose honour you avenge? See now if I go beyond the truth. First, indeed, seeing some of you worship one God, and some another, of course you give offence to those you do not worship. You cannot continue to give preference to one without slighting another, for selection implies rejection. You despise, therefore, those whom you so reject; for in your rejection of them, it is plain you have no dread of giving them offence. For, as we have already shown, every God depended on the decision of the senate for his godhead. No God was he whom man in his own counsels did not wish to be so, and thereby condemned. The family deities you call Lares, you exercise a domestic authority over, pledging them, selling them, changing them – making sometimes a cooking-pot of a Saturn, a firepan of a Minerva, as one or other happens to be worn done, or broken in its long sacred use, or as the family head feels the pressure of some more sacred home necessity. In the same way, by public law you disgrace your state gods, putting them in the auction-catalogue, and making them a source of revenue. Men seek to get the Capitol, as they seek to get the herb market, under the voice of the crier, under the auction spear, under the registration of the quaestor. Deity is struck off and farmed out to the highest bidder. But indeed lands burdened with tribute are of less value; men under the assessment of a poll-tax are less noble; for these things are the marks of servitude. In the case of the gods, on the other hand, the sacredness is great in proportion to the tribute which they yield; no, the more sacred is a God, the larger is the tax he pays. Majesty is made a source of gain. Religion goes about the taverns begging. You demand a price for the privilege of standing on temple ground, for access to the sacred services; there is no gratuitous knowledge of your divinities permitted – you must buy their favours with a price. What honours in any way do you render to those who you do not render to the dead? You have temples in the one case just as in the other; you have altars in the one case as in the other. Their statues have the same dress, the same insignia. As the dead man had his age, his art, his occupation, so it is with the deity. In what respect does the funeral feast differ from the feast of Jupiter? or the bowl of the gods from the ladle of the manes? or the undertaker from the soothsayer, as in fact this latter personage also attends on the dead? With perfect propriety you give divine honours to your departed emperors, as you worship them in life. The gods will count themselves indebted to you; no, it will be matter of high rejoicing among those who their masters are made their equals. But when you adore Larentina, a public prostitute – I could have wished that it might at least have been Lais or Phryne – among your Junos, and Cereses, and Dianas; when you install in your Pantheon Simon Magus, giving him a statue and the title of Holy God; when you make an infamous court page a God of the sacred synod, although your ancient deities are in reality no better, they will still think themselves affronted by you, that the privilege antiquity conferred on them alone, has been allowed to others.

Chapter 14. Your sacred rites are unworthy of gods (as Socrates showed)

I wish now to review your sacred rites; and I pass no censure on your sacrificing, when you offer the worn-out, the scabbed, the corrupting; when you cut off from the fat and the sound the useless parts, such as the head and the hoofs, which in your house you would have assigned to the slaves or the dogs; when of the tithe of Hercules you do not lay a third on his altar (I am disposed rather to praise your wisdom in rescuing something from being lost); but turning to your books, from which you get your training in wisdom and the nobler duties of life, what utterly ridiculous things I find! – that for Trojans and Greeks the gods fought among themselves like pairs of gladiators; that Venus was wounded by a man, because she would rescue her son Aeneas when he was in peril of his life from the same Diomede; that Mars was almost wasted away by a thirteen months' imprisonment; that Jupiter was saved by a monster's aid from suffering the same violence at the hands of the other gods; that he now laments the fate of Sarpedon, now wickedly makes love to his own sister, recounting (to her) former mistresses, now for a long time past not so dear as she. After this, what poet is not found copying the example of his chief, to be a disgracer of the gods? One gives Apollo to king Admetus to tend his sheep; another hires out the building labours of Neptune to Laomedon. A well-known lyric poet, too – Pindar, I mean – sings of Aesculapius deservedly stricken with lightning for his greed in practicing wrongfully his art. A wicked deed it was of Jupiter – if he hurled the bolt – unnatural to his grandson, and exhibiting envious feeling to the Physician. Things like these should not be made public if they are true; and if false, they should not be fabricated among people professing a great respect for religion. Nor indeed do either tragic or comic writers shrink from setting forth the gods as the origin of all family calamities and sins. I do not dwell on the philosophers, contenting myself with a reference to Socrates, who, in contempt of the gods, was in the habit of swearing by an oak, and a goat, and a dog. In fact, for this very thing Socrates was condemned to death, that he overthrew the worship of the gods. Plainly, at one time as well as another, that is, always truth is disliked. However, when ruing their judgment, the Athenians inflicted punishment on his accusers, and set up a golden image of him in a temple, the condemnation was in the very act rescinded, and his witness was restored to its former value. Diogenes, too, makes utter mock of Hercules and the Roman cynic Varro brings forward three hundred Joves, or Jupiters they should be called, all headless.

Chapter 15. The contempt for the pagan gods in literature and the theatre

Others of your writers, in their wantonness, even minister to your pleasures by vilifying the gods. Examine those charming farces of your Lentuli and Hostilii, whether in the jokes and tricks it is the buffoons or the deities which afford you merriment; such farces I mean as Anubis the Adulterer, and Luna of the masculine gender, and Diana under the lash, reading the will of Jupiter deceased, and the three famishing Hercules' held up to ridicule. Your dramatic literature, too, depicts all the vileness of your gods. The Sun mourns his offspring cast down from heaven, and you are full of glee; Cybele sighs after the scornful swain, and you do not blush; you allow the stage recital of Jupiter's misdeeds, and the shepherd judging Juno, Venus, and Minerva. Then, again, when the likeness of a God is put on the head of an ignominious and infamous wretch, when one impure and trained up for the art in all effeminacy, represents a Minerva or a Hercules, is not the majesty of your gods insulted, and their deity dishonoured? Yet you not merely look on, but applaud.

You are, I suppose, more devout in the arena, where after the same fashion your deities dance on human blood, on the pollutions caused by inflicted punishments, as they act their themes and stories, doing their turn for the wretched criminals, except that these, too, often put on divinity and actually play the very gods. We have seen in our day a representation of the mutilation of Attis, that famous God of Pessinus, and a man burnt alive as Hercules. We have made merry amid the ludicrous cruelties of the noonday exhibition, at Mercury examining the bodies of the dead with his hot iron; we have witnessed Jove's brother, mallet in hand, dragging out the corpses of the gladiators. But who can go into everything of this sort? If by such things as these the honour of deity is assailed, if they go to blot out every trace of its majesty, we must explain them by the contempt in which the gods are held, alike by those who actually do them, and by those for whose enjoyment they are done. This it will be said, however, is all in sport. But if I add – it is what all know and will admit as readily to be the fact – that in the temples adulteries are arranged, that at the altars pimping is practiced, that often in the houses of the temple-keepers and priests, under the sacrificial fillets, and the sacred hats, and the purple robes, amid the fumes of incense, deeds of licentiousness are done, I am not sure but your gods have more reason to complain of you than of Christians. It is certainly among the votaries of your religion that the perpetrators of sacrilege are always found, for Christians do not enter your temples even in the day-time. Perhaps they too would be spoilers of them, if they worshipped in them. What then do they worship, since their objects of worship are different from yours? Already indeed it is implied, as the corollary from their rejection of the lie, that they render homage to the truth; nor continue longer in an error which they have given up in the very fact of recognising it to be an error. Take this in first of all, and when we have offered a preliminary refutation of some false opinions, go on to derive from it our entire religious system.

Chapter 16. Tacitus' slander, that our God is worshipped as an ass's head

For, like some others, you are under the delusion that our God is an ass's head. Cornelius Tacitus first put this notion into people's minds. In the fifth book of his histories, beginning the Jewish war with an account of the origin of the nation; and theorizing at his pleasure about the origin, as well as the name and the religion of the Jews, he states that having been delivered, or in his opinion, expelled from Egypt, in crossing the vast plains of Arabia, where water is so scanty, they were in extremity from thirst; but taking the guidance of the wild asses, which it was thought might seek water after feeding, they discovered a fountain, and thereupon in their gratitude they consecrated a head of this species of animal. And as Christianity is nearly allied to Judaism, from this, I suppose, it was taken for granted that we too are devoted to the worship of the same image. But the said Cornelius Tacitus (the very opposite of tacit in telling lies) informs us in the work already mentioned, that when Cneius Pompeius captured Jerusalem, he entered the temple to see the arcana of the Jewish religion, but found no image there. Yet surely if worship was rendered to any visible object, the very place for its exhibition would be the shrine; and that all the more that the worship, however unreasonable, had no need there to fear outside beholders. For entrance to the holy place was permitted to the priests alone, while all vision was forbidden to others by an outspread curtain. You will not, however, deny that all beasts of burden, and not parts of them, but the animals entire, are with their goddess Epona objects of worship with you. It is this, perhaps, which displeases you in us, that while your worship here is universal, we do homage only to the ass. Then, if any of you think we render superstitious adoration to the cross, in that adoration he is sharer with us. If you offer homage to a piece of wood at all, it matters little what it is like when the substance is the same: it is of no consequence the form, if you have the very body of the God. And yet how far does the Athenian Pallas differ from the stock of the cross, or the Pharian Ceres as she is put up uncarved to sale, a mere rough stake and piece of shapeless wood? Every stake fixed in an upright position is a portion of the cross; we render our adoration, if you will have it so, to a God entire and complete. We have shown before that your deities are derived from shapes modelled from the cross. But you also worship victories, for in your trophies the cross is the heart of the trophy. The camp religion of the Romans is all through a worship of the standards, a setting the standards above all gods. Well, as those images decking out the standards are ornaments of crosses. All those hangings of your standards and banners are robes of crosses. I praise your zeal: you would not consecrate crosses unclothed and unadorned. Others, again, certainly with more information and greater verisimilitude, believe that the sun is our God. We shall be counted Persians perhaps, though we do not worship the orb of day painted on a piece of linen cloth, having himself everywhere in his own disk. The idea no doubt has originated from our being known to turn to the east in prayer. But you, many of you, also under pretense sometimes of worshipping the heavenly bodies, move your lips in the direction of the sunrise. In the same way, if we devote Sun-day to rejoicing, from a far different reason than Sun-worship, we have some resemblance to those of you who devote the day of Saturn to ease and luxury, though they too go far away from Jewish ways, of which indeed they are ignorant. But lately a new edition of our God has been given to the world in that great city: it originated with a certain vile man who used to hire himself out to cheat the wild beasts, and who exhibited a picture with this inscription: The God of the Christians, born of an ass. He had the ears of an ass, was hoofed in one foot, carried a book, and wore a toga. Both the name and the figure gave us amusement. But our opponents ought immediately to have done homage to this biformed divinity, for they have acknowledged gods that are dog-headed and lion-headed, with horn of buck and ram, with goat-like loins, with serpent legs, with wings sprouting from back or foot. These things we have abundantly discussed, that we might not seem willingly to pass by any rumor against us unrefuted. Having thoroughly cleared ourselves, we turn now to an exhibition of what our religion really is.

Chapter 17. Describing what our religion really is.

The object of our worship is the one God, who by his commanding word, his arranging wisdom, his mighty power, brought forth from nothing this entire mass of our world, with all its array of elements, bodies, spirits, for the glory of his majesty; so also the Greeks have bestowed on it the name of Kosmos. The eye cannot see him, though he is (spiritually) visible. He is incomprehensible, though in grace he is manifested. He is beyond our utmost thought, though our human faculties conceive of him. He is therefore equally real and great. But that which, in the ordinary sense, can be seen and handled and conceived, is inferior to the eyes by which it is taken in, and the hands by which it is touched, and the faculties by which it is discovered; but that which is infinite is known only to itself. This it is which gives some notion of God, while yet beyond all our conceptions – our very incapacity of fully grasping him affords us the idea of what he really is. He is presented to our minds in his transcendent greatness, as at once known and unknown. And this is the crowning guilt of men, that they will not recognise One, of whom they cannot possibly be ignorant. Would you have the proof from the works of his hands, so numerous and so great, which both contain you and sustain you, which minister at once to your enjoyment, and strike you with awe; or would you rather have it from the testimony of the soul itself? Though under the oppressive bondage of the body, though led astray by depraving customs, though enervated by lusts and passions, though in slavery to false gods; yet, whenever the soul comes to itself, as out of a surfeit, or a sleep, or a sickness, and attains something of its natural soundness, it speaks of God; using no other word, because this is the peculiar name of the true God. "God is great and good" – "which may God give," are the words on every lip. It bears witness, too, that God is judge, exclaiming, "God sees," and, "I commend myself to God," and, "God will repay me." O noble testimony of the soul by nature Christian! Then, too, in using such words as these, it looks not to the Capitol, but to the heavens. It knows that there is the throne of the living God, as from him and from thence itself came down.

Chapter 18. God gave a written revelation for the sake of those who seek Him

But, that we might attain an ampler and more authoritative knowledge at once of himself, and of his counsels and will, God has added a written revelation for the sake of everyone whose heart is set on seeking him, that seeking he may find, and finding believe, and believing obey. For from the first he sent messengers into the world, – men whose stainless righteousness made them worthy to know the Most High, and to reveal him, – men abundantly endowed with the Holy Spirit, that they might proclaim that there is one God only who made all things, who formed man from the dust of the ground (for he is the true Prometheus who gave order to the world by arranging the seasons and their course), – these have further set before us the proofs he has given of his majesty in H judgments by floods and fires, the rules appointed by him for securing his favour, as well as the retribution in store for the ignoring, forsaking and keeping them, as being about at the end of all to adjudge his worshippers to everlasting life, and the wicked to the doom of fire at once without ending and without break, raising up again all the dead from the beginning, reforming and renewing them with the object of awarding either recompense. Once these things were with us, too, the theme of ridicule. We are of your stock and nature: men are made, not born, Christians. The preachers of whom we have spoken are called prophets, from the office which belongs to them of predicting the future. Their words, as well as the miracles which they worked, that men might have faith in their divine authority, we have still in the literary treasures they have left, and which are open to all. Ptolemy, surnamed Philadelphus, the most learned of his race, a person of vast acquaintance with all literature, emulating, I imagine, the book enthusiasm of Pisistratus, among other remains of the past which either their antiquity or something of peculiar interest made famous, at the suggestion of Demetrius Phalereus, who was renowned above all grammarians of his time, and to whom he had committed the management of these things, applied to the Jews for their writings – I mean the writings peculiar to them and in their tongue, which they alone possessed, for from themselves, as a people dear to God for their fathers' sake, their prophets had ever sprung, and to them they had ever spoken. Now in ancient times the people we call Jews bare the name of Hebrews, and so both their writings and their speech were Hebrew. But that the understanding of their books might not be wanting, this also the Jews supplied to Ptolemy; for they gave him seventy-two interpreters-men whom the philosopher Menedemus, the well-known asserter of a Providence, regarded with respect as sharing in his views. The same account is given by Aristaeus. So the king left these works unlocked to all, in the Greek language. To this day, at the temple of Serapis, the libraries of Ptolemy are to be seen, with the identical Hebrew originals in them. The Jews, too, read them publicly. Under a tribute-liberty, they are in the habit of going to hear them every Sabbath. Whoever gives ear will find God in them; whoever takes pains to understand, will be compelled to believe.

Chapter 19. How the authority of these writings is established

Their high antiquity, first of all, claims authority for these writings. With you, too, it is a kind of religion to demand belief on this very ground. Well, all the substances, all the materials, the origins, classes, contents of your most ancient writings, even most nations and cities illustrious in the records of the past and noted for their antiquity in books of annals, – the very forms of your letters, those revealers and custodians of events, no (I think I speak still within the mark), your very gods themselves, your very temples and oracles, and sacred rites, are less ancient than the work of a single prophet, in whom you have the thesaurus of the entire Jewish religion, and therefore too of ours. If you happen to have heard of a certain Moses, I speak first of him: he is as far back as the Argive Inachus; by nearly four hundred years – only seven less – he precedes Danaus, your most ancient name; while he antedates by a millennium the death of Priam. I might affirm, too, that he is five hundred years earlier than Homer, and have supporters of that view. The other prophets also, though of later date, are, even the most recent of them, as far back as the first of your philosophers, and legislators, and historians. It is not so much the difficulty of the subject, as its vastness, that stands in the way of a statement of the grounds on which these statements rest; the matter is not so arduous as it would be tedious. It would require the anxious study of many books, and the fingers busy reckoning. The histories of the most ancient nations, such as the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the Phoenicians, would need to be ransacked; the men of these various nations who have information to give, would have to be called in as witnesses. Manetho the Egyptian, and Berosus the Chaldean, and Hieromus the Phoenician king of Tyre; their successors too, Ptolemy the Mendesian, and Demetrius Phalereus, and King Juba, and Apion, and Thallus, and their critic the Jew Josephus, the native vindicator of the ancient history of his people, who either authenticates or refutes the others. Also the Greek censors' lists must be compared, and the dates of events ascertained, that the chronological connections may be opened up, and so the reckonings of the various annals be made to give forth light. We must go abroad into the histories and literature of all nations. And, in fact, we have already brought the proof in part before you, in giving those hints as to how it is to be effected. But it seems better to delay the full discussion of this, for fear that in our haste we do not sufficiently carry it out, or for fear that in its thorough handling we make too lengthened a digression.

Chapter 20. The majesty of our Scriptures

To make up for our delay in this, we bring under your notice something of even greater importance; we point to the majesty of our Scriptures, if not to their antiquity. If you doubt that they are as ancient as we say, we offer proof that they are divine. And you may convince yourselves of this at once, and without going very far. Your instructors, the world, and the age, and the event, are all be fore you. All that is taking place around you I was fore-announced; all that you now see with your eye was previously heard by the ear. The swallowing up of cities by the earth; the theft of islands by the sea; wars, bringing external and internal convulsions; the collision of kingdoms with kingdoms; famines and pestilences, and local massacres, and widespread desolating mortalities; the exaltation of the lowly, and the humbling of the proud; the decay of righteousness, the growth of sin, the slackening interest in all good ways; the very seasons and elements going out of their ordinary course, monsters and portents taking the place of nature's forms – it was all foreseen and predicted before it happened. While we suffer the calamities, we read of them in the Scriptures; as we examine, they are proved. Well, the truth of a prophecy, I thinks is the demonstration of its being from above. Hence there is among us an assured faith in regard to coming events as things already proved to us, for they were predicted along with what we have day by day fulfilled. They are uttered by the same voices, they are written in the same books – the same Spirit inspires them. All time is one to prophecy foretelling the future. Among men, it may be, a distinction of times is made while the fulfillment is going on: from being future we think of it as presents and then from being present we count it as belonging to the past. How are we to blame, I ask you, that we believe in things to come as though they already were, with the grounds we have for our faith in these two steps?

Chapter 21. In defence of Christ's divinity

But having asserted that our religion is supported by the writings of the Jews, the oldest which exist, though it is generally known, and we fully admit that it dates from a comparatively recent period – no further back indeed than the reign of Tiberius – a question may perhaps be raised on this ground about its standing, as if it were hiding something of its presumption under shadow of an illustrious religion, one which has at any rate undoubted allowance of the law, or because, apart from the question of age, we neither accord with the Jews in their peculiarities in regard to food, nor in their sacred days, nor even in their well-known bodily sign, nor in the possession of a common name, which surely ought to be the case if we did homage to the same God as they. Then, too, the common people have now some knowledge of Christ, and think of him as but a man, one indeed such as the Jews condemned, so that some may naturally enough have taken up the idea that we are worshippers of a mere human being. But we are neither ashamed of Christ – for we rejoice to be counted his disciples, and in his name to suffer – nor do we differ from the Jews concerning God. We must make, therefore, a remark or two as to Christ's divinity.

In former times the Jews enjoyed much of God's favour, when the fathers of their race were noted for their righteousness and faith. So it was that as a people they flourished greatly, and their kingdom attained to a lofty eminence; and so highly blessed were they, that for their instruction God spoke to them in special revelations, pointing out to them beforehand how they should merit his favour and avoid his displeasure. But how deeply they have sinned, puffed up to their fall with a false trust in their noble ancestors, turning from God's way into a way of sheer impiety, though they themselves should refuse to admit it, their present national ruin would afford sufficient proof. Scattered abroad, a race of wanderers, exiles from their own land and clime, they roam over the whole world without either a human or a heavenly king, not possessing even the stranger's right to set so much as a simple footstep in their native country.

The sacred writers indeed, in giving previous warning of these things, all with equal clearness ever declared that, in the last days of the world, God would, out of every nation, and people, and country, choose for himself more faithful worshippers, on whom he would bestow his grace, and that indeed in ampler measure, in keeping with the enlarged capacities of a nobler dispensation. Accordingly, he appeared among us, whose coming to renew and illuminate man's nature was pre-announced by God – I mean Christ, that Son of God. And so the supreme Head and Master of this grace and discipline, the Enlightener and Trainer of the human race, God's own Son, was announced among us, born – but not so born as to make him ashamed of the name of Son or of his paternal origin. It was not his lot to have as his father, by incest with a sister, or by violation of a daughter or another's wife, a God in the shape of serpent, or ox, or bird, or lover, for his vile ends transmuting himself into the gold of Danaus. They are your divinities on whom these base deeds of Jupiter were done.

But the Son of God has no mother in any sense which involves impurity; she, whom men suppose to be his mother in the ordinary way, had never entered into the marriage bond. But, first, I shall discuss his essential nature, and so the nature of his birth will be understood. We have already asserted that God made the world, and all which it contains, by his Word, and Reason, and Power. It is abundantly plain that your philosophers, too, regard the Logos – that is, the Word and Reason – as the Creator of the universe. For Zeno lays it down that he is the Creator, having made all things according to a determinate plan; that his name is Fate, and God, and the soul of Jupiter, and the necessity of all things. Cleanthes ascribes all this to spirit, which he maintains pervades the universe. And we, in the same way, hold that the Word, and Reason, and Power, by which we have said God made all, have spirit as their proper and essential substratum, in which the Word has inbeing to give forth utterances, and reason abides to dispose and arrange, and power is over all to execute. We have been taught that he proceeds forth from God, and in that procession he is generated; so that he is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God.

For God, too, is a Spirit. Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still part of the parent mass; the sun will still be in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun – there is no division of substance, but merely an extension. So Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled. The material matrix remains entire and unimpaired, though you derive from it any number of shoots possessed of its qualities; so, too, that which has come out out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as he is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, he is made a second in way of existence – in position, not in nature; and he did not withdraw from the original source, but went forth. This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in his birth God and man united. The flesh formed by the Spirit is nourished, grows up to manhood, speaks, teaches, works, and is the Christ. Receive meanwhile this fable, if you choose to call it so – it is like some of your own – while we go on to show how Christ's claims are proved, and who the parties are with you by whom such fables have been set agoing to overthrow the truth, which they resemble.

The Jews, too, were well aware that Christ was coming, as those to whom the prophets spoke. No, even now his advent is expected by them; nor is there any other contention between them and us, than that they believe the advent has not yet occurred. For two comings of Christ having been revealed to us: a first, which has been fulfilled in the lowliness of a human lot; a second, which impends over the world, now near its close, in all the majesty of Deity unveiled; and, by misunderstanding the first, they have concluded that the second – which, as matter of more manifest prediction, they set their hopes on – is the only one. It was the merited punishment of their sin not to understand the Lord's first advent: for if they had, they would have believed; and if they had believed, they would have obtained salvation. They themselves read how it is written of those who they are deprived of wisdom and understanding – of the use of eyes and ears. As, then, under the force of their pre-judgment, they had convinced themselves from his lowly guise that Christ was no more than man, it followed from that, as a necessary consequence, that they should hold him a magician from the powers which he displayed, – expelling devils from men by a word, restoring vision to the blind, cleansing the leprous, reinvigorating the paralytic, summoning the dead to life again, making the very elements of nature obey him, stilling the storms and walking on the sea; proving that he was the Logos of God, that primordial first-begotten Word, accompanied by power and reason, and based on Spirit, – that he who was now doing all things by his word, and he who had done that of old, were one and the same.

But the Jews were so exasperated by his teaching, by which their rulers and chiefs were convicted of the truth, chiefly because so many turned aside to him, that at last they brought him before Pontius Pilate, at that time Roman governor of Syria; and, by the violence of their outcries against him, extorted a sentence giving him up to them to be crucified. He himself had predicted this; which, however, would have signified little had not the prophets of old done it as well. And yet, nailed on the cross, he exhibited many notable signs, by which his death was distinguished from all others. At his own free-will, he with a word dismissed from him his spirit, anticipating the executioner's work. In the same hour, too, the light of day was withdrawn, when the sun at the very time was in his meridian blaze.

Those who were not aware that this had been predicted about Christ, no doubt thought it an eclipse. You yourselves have the account of the world-portent still in your archives. Then, when his body was taken down from the cross and placed in a sepulcher, the Jews in their eager watchfulness surrounded it with a large military guard, for fear that, as he had predicted his resurrection from the dead on the third day, his disciples might remove by stealth his body, and deceive even the incredulous. But, see, on the third day there a was a sudden shock of earthquake, and the stone which sealed the sepulcher was rolled away, and the guard fled off in terror: without a single disciple near, the grave was found empty of all but the clothes of the buried One. But nevertheless, the leaders of the Jews, whom it nearly concerned both to spread abroad a lie, and keep back a people tributary and submissive to them from the faith, gave it out that the body of Christ had been stolen by his followers. For the Lord, you see, did not go forth into the public gaze, for fear that the wicked should be delivered from their error; that faith also, destined to a great reward, might hold its ground in difficulty. But he spent forty days with some of his disciples down in Galilee, a region of Judaea, instructing them in the doctrines they were to teach to others. Thereafter, having given them commission to preach the gospel through the world, he was surrounded with a cloud and taken up to heaven, – a fact more certain far than the assertions of your Proculi concerning Romulus.

All these things Pilate did to Christ; and now in fact a Christian in his own convictions, he sent word of him to the reigning Caesar, who was at the time Tiberius. Yes, and the Caesars too would have believed on Christ, if either the Caesars had not been necessary for the world, or if Christians could have been Caesars. His disciples also, spreading over the world, did as their Divine Master bade them; and after suffering greatly themselves from the persecutions of the Jews, and with no unwilling heart, as having faith undoubting in the truth, at last by Nero's cruel sword sowed the seed of Christian blood at Rome. Yes, and we shall prove that even your own gods are effective witnesses for Christ. It is a great matter if, to give you faith in Christians, I can bring forward the authority of the very beings on account of whom you refuse them credit.

So far we have carried out the plan we laid down. We have set forth this origin of our sect and name, with this account of the Founder of Christianity. Let no one from now on charge us with infamous wickedness; let no one think that it is otherwise than we have represented, for none may give a false account of his religion. For in the very fact that he he says worships another God than he really does, he is guilty of denying the object of his worship, and transferring his worship and homage to another; and, in the transference, he ceases to worship the God he has repudiated. We say, and before all men we say, and torn and bleeding under your tortures, we cry out, "We worship God through Christ." Count Christ a man, if you please; by him and in him God would be known and be adored. If the Jews object, we answer that Moses, who was but a man, taught them their religion; against the Greeks we urge that Orpheus at Pieria, Musaeus at Athens, Melampus at Argos, Trophonius in Boeotia, imposed religious rites; turning to yourselves, who exercise sway over the nations, it was the man Numa Pompilius who laid on the Romans a heavy load of costly superstitions.

Surely Christ, then, had a right to reveal Deity, which was in fact his own essential possession, not with the object of bringing boors and savages by the dread of multitudinous gods, whose favour must be won into some civilization, as was the case with Numa; but as one who aimed to enlighten men already civilized, and under illusions from their very culture, that they might come to the knowledge of the truth. Search, then, and see if that divinity of Christ be true. If it be of such a nature that the acceptance of it transforms a man, and makes him truly good, there is implied in that the duty of renouncing what is opposed to it as false; especially and on every ground that which, hiding itself under the names and images of dead, the labours to convince men of its divinity by certain signs, and miracles, and oracles.

Chapter 22. We also recognise the existence of demons

We affirm indeed the existence of certain spiritual essences; nor is their name unfamiliar. The philosophers acknowledge there are demons; Socrates himself waiting on a demon's will. Why not? since it is said an evil spirit attached itself specially to him even from his childhood – turning his mind no doubt from what was good. The poets are all acquainted with demons too; even the ignorant common people make frequent use of them in cursing. In fact, they call on Satan, the demon-chief, in their execrations, as though from some instinctive soul-knowledge of him. Plato also admits the existence of angels. The dealers in magic, no less, come forward as witnesses to the existence of both kinds of spirits. We are instructed, moreover, by our sacred books how from certain angels, who fell of their own flee-will, there sprang a more wicked demon-brood, condemned of God along with the authors of their race, and that chief we have referred to. It will for the present be enough, however, that some account is given of their work. Their great business is the ruin of mankind. So, from the very first, spiritual wickedness sought our destruction. They inflict, accordingly, on our bodies diseases and other grievous calamities, while by violent assaults they hurry the soul into sudden and extraordinary excesses. Their marvellous subtleness and tenuity give them access to both parts of our nature. As spiritual, they can do no harm; for, invisible and intangible, we are not cognizant of their action save by its effects, as when some inexplicable, unseen poison in the breeze blights the apples and the grain while in the flower, or kills them in the bud, or destroys them when they have reached maturity; as though by the tainted atmosphere in some unknown way spreading abroad its pestilential exhalations. So, too, by an influence equally obscure, demons and angels breathe into the soul, and rouse up its corruptions with furious passions and vile excesses; or with cruel lusts accompanied by various errors, of which the worst is that by which these deities are commended to the favour of deceived and deluded human beings, that they may get their proper food of flesh-fumes and blood when that is offered up to idol-images. What is daintier food to the spirit of evil, than turning men's minds away from the true God by the illusions of a false divination? And here I explain how these illusions are managed. Every spirit is possessed of wings. This is a common property of both angels and demons. So they are everywhere in a single moment; the whole world is as one place to them; all that is done over the whole extent of it, it is as easy for them to know as to report. Their swiftness of motion is taken for divinity, because their nature is unknown. So they would have themselves thought sometimes the authors of the things which they announce; and sometimes, no doubt, the bad things are their doing, never the good. The purposes of God, too, they took up of old from the lips of the prophets, even as they spoke them; and they gather them still from their works, when they hear them read aloud. So getting, too, from this source some intimations of the future, they set themselves up as rivals of the true God, while they steal his divinations. But the skill with which their responses are shaped to meet events, your Croesi and Pyrrhi know too well. On the other hand, it was in that way we have explained, the Pythian was able to declare that they were cooking a tortoise with the flesh of a lamb; in a moment he had been to Lydia. From dwelling in the air, and their nearness to the stars, and their commerce with the clouds, they have means of knowing the preparatory processes going on in these upper regions, and so can give promise of the rains which they already feel. Very kind too, no doubt, they are in regard to the healing of diseases. For, first of all, they make you ill; then, to get a miracle out of it, they command the application of remedies either altogether new, or contrary to those in use, and immediately withdrawing hurtful influence, they are supposed to have performed a cure. What need, then, to speak of their other artifices, or yet further of the deceptive power which they have as spirits: of these Castor apparitions, of water carried by a sieve, and a ship drawn along by a girdle, and a beard reddened by a touch, all done with the one object of showing that men should believe in the deity of stones, and not seek after the only true God?

Chapter 23. Additional proofs of the divinity of the Christian God

Moreover, if sorcerers call forth ghosts, and even make what seem the souls of the dead to appear; if they put boys to death, in order to get a response from the oracle; if, with their juggling illusions, they make a pretense of doing various miracles; if they put dreams into people's minds by the power of the angels and demons whose aid they have invited, by whose influence, too, goats and tables are made to divine, – how much more likely is this power of evil to be zealous in doing with all its might, of its own inclination, and for its own objects, what it does to serve the ends of others! Or if both angels and demons do just what your gods do, where in that case is the pre-eminence of deity, which we must surely think to be above all in might? Will it not then be more reasonable to hold that these spirits make themselves gods, giving as they do the very proofs which raise your gods to godhead, than that the gods are the equals of angels and demons? You make a distinction of places, I suppose, regarding as gods in their temple those whose divinity you do not recognise elsewhere; counting the madness which leads one man to leap from the sacred houses, to be something different from that which leads another to leap from an adjoining house; looking on one who cuts his arms and secret parts with a different fury from another who cuts his throat.

The result of the frenzy is the same, and the way of instigation is one. But so far we have been dealing only in words: we now proceed to a proof of facts, in which we shall show that under different names you have real identity. Let a person be brought before your tribunals, who is plainly under demoniacal possession. The wicked spirit, told to speak by a follower of Christ, will as readily make the truthful confession that he is a demon, as elsewhere he has falsely asserted that he is a God. Or, if you will, let there be produced one of the God-possessed, as they are supposed, who, inhaling at the altar, conceive divinity from the fumes, who are delivered of it by retching, who vent it forth in agonies of gasping.

Let that same Virgin Caelestis herself the rain-promiser, let Aesculapius discoverer of medicines, ready to prolong the life of Socordius, and Tenatius, and Asclepiodotus, now in the last extremity, if they would not confess, in their fear of lying to a Christian, that they were demons, then and there shed the blood of that most impudent follower of Christ. What clearer than a work like that? What more trustworthy than such a proof? The simplicity of truth is so set forth; its own worth sustains it; no ground remains for the least suspicion. Do you say that it is done by magic, or some trick of that sort? You will not say anything of the sort, if you have been allowed the use of your ears and eyes. For what argument can you bring against a thing that is exhibited to the eye in its naked reality? If, on the one hand, they are really gods, why do they pretend to be demons? Is it from fear of us? In that case your divinity is put in subjection to Christians; and you surely can never ascribe deity to that which is under authority of man, no (if it adds anything to the disgrace)of its very enemies. If, on the other hand, they are demons or angels, why, inconsistently with this, do they presume to set themselves forth as acting the pan of gods? For as beings who put themselves out as gods would never willingly call themselves demons, if they were gods indeed, that they might not thereby in fact abdicate their dignity; so those whom you know to be no more than demons, would not dare to act as gods, if those whose names they take and use were really divine. For they would not dare to treat with disrespect the higher majesty of beings, whose displeasure they would feel was to be dreaded. So this divinity of yours is no divinity; for if it were, it would not be pretended to by demons, and it would not be denied by gods.

But since on both sides there is a concurrent acknowledgment that they are not gods, gather from this that there is but a single race – I mean the race of demons, the real race in both cases. Let your search, then, now be after gods; for those whom you had imagined to be so you find to be spirits of evil. The truth is, as we have so not only shown from our own gods that neither themselves nor any others have claims to deity, you may see at once who is really God, and whether that is he and he alone whom we Christians own; as also whether you are to believe in him, and worship him, after the way of our Christian faith and discipline. But at once they will say, who is this Christ with his fables? is he an ordinary man? is he a sorcerer? Was his body stolen by his disciples from its tomb? is he now in the realms below? or is he not rather up in the heavens, thence about to come again, making the whole world shake, filling the earth with dread alarms, making all but Christians wail – as the Power of God, and the Spirit of God, as the Word, the Reason, the Wisdom, and the Son of God? Mock as you like, but get the demons if you can to join you in your mocking; let them deny that Christ is coming to judge every human soul which has existed from the world's beginning, clothing it again with the body it laid aside at death; let them declare it, say, before your tribunal, that this work has been allotted to Minos and Rhadamanthus, as Plato and the poets agree; let them put away from them at least the mark of ignominy and condemnation.

They disclaim being unclean spirits, which yet we must hold as indubitably proved by their relish for the blood and fumes and fetid carcasses of sacrificial animals, and even by the vile language of their ministers. Let them deny that, for their wickedness condemned already, they are kept for that very judgment-day, with all their worshippers and their works. Why, all the authority and power we have over them is from our naming the name of Christ, and recalling to their memory the woes with which God threatens them at the hands of Christ as Judge, and which they expect one day to overtake them. Fearing Christ in God, and God in Christ, they become subject to the servants of God and Christ. So at our touch and breathing, overwhelmed by the thought and realization of those judgment fires, they leave at our command the bodies they have entered, unwilling, and distressed, and before your very eyes put to an open shame. You believe them when they lie; give credit to them, then, when they speak the truth about themselves. No one plays the liar to bring disgrace on his own head, but for the sake of honour rather. You give a readier confidence to people making confessions against themselves, than denials in their own behalf. It has not been an unusual thing, accordingly, for those testimonies of your deities to convert men to Christianity; for in giving full belief to them, we are led to believe in Christ. Yes, your very gods kindle up faith in our Scriptures, they build up the confidence of our hope. You do homage, as I know, to them also with the blood of Christians. On no account, then, would they lose those who are so useful and dutiful to them, anxious even to hold you fast, for fear that some day or other as Christians you might put them to the rout, – if under the power of a follower of Christ, who desires to prove to you the Truth, it would beat all possible for them to lie.

Chapter 24. If the gods have no existence, there is no religion in the case.

This whole confession of these beings, in which they declare that they are not gods, and in which they tell you that there is no God but one, the God whom we adore, is quite sufficient to clear us from the crime of treason, chiefly against the Roman religion. For if it is certain the gods have no existence, there is no religion in the case. If there is no religion, because there are no gods, we are assuredly not guilty of any offence against religion. Instead of that, the charge recoils on your own head: worshipping a lie, you are really guilty of the crime you charge on us, not merely by refusing the true religion of the true God, but by going the further length of persecuting it. But now, granting that these objects of your worship are really gods, is it not generally held that there is one higher and more potent, so to speak the world's chief ruler, endowed with absolute power and majesty? For the common way is to apportion deity, giving an imperial and supreme domination to one, while its offices are put into the hands of many, as Plato describes great Jupiter in the heavens, surrounded by an array at once of deities and demons. It behooves us, therefore, to show equal respect to the procurators, prefects, and governors of the divine empire. And yet how great a crime does he commit, who, with the object of gaining higher favour with the Caesar, transfers his endeavours and his hopes to another, and does not confess that the appellation of God as of emperor belongs only to the Supreme Head, when it is held a capital offence among us to call, or hear called, by the highest title any other than Caesar himself! Let one man worship God, another Jupiter; let one lift suppliant hands to the heavens, another to the altar of Fides; let one – if you choose to take this view of it – count in prayer the clouds, and another the ceiling panels; let one consecrate his own life to his God, and another that of a goat. For see that you do not give a further ground for the charge of irreligion, by taking away religious liberty, and forbidding free choice of deity, so that I may no longer worship according to my inclination, but am compelled to worship against it. Not even a human being would care to have unwilling homage rendered him; and so the very Egyptians have been permitted the legal use of their ridiculous superstition, liberty to make gods of birds and beasts, no, to condemn to death anyone who kills a God of their sort. Every province even, and every city, has its God. Syria has Astarte, Arabia has Dusares, the Norici have Belenus, Africa has its Caelestis, Mauritania has its own princes. I have spoken, I think, of Roman provinces, and yet I have not said their gods are Roman; for they are not worshipped at Rome any more than others who are ranked as deities over Italy itself by municipal consecration, such as Delventinus of Casinum, Visidianus of Narnia, Ancharia of Asculum, Nortia of Volsinii, Valentia of Ocriculum, Hostia of Satrium, Father Curls of Falisci, in honour of whom, too, Juno got her surname. In, fact, we alone are prevented having a religion of our own. We give offence to the Romans, we are excluded from the rights and privileges of Romans, because we do not worship the gods of Rome. It is well that there is a God of all, whose we all are, whether we will or no. But with you liberty is given to worship any God but the true God, as though he were not rather the God all should worship, to whom all belong.

Chapter 25. Just because Rome is powerful, does not prove the truth of her gods

I think I have offered sufficient proof on the question of false and true divinity, having shown that the proof rests not merely on debate and argument, but on the witness of the very beings whom you believe are gods, so that the point needs no further handling. However, having been led so naturally to speak of the Romans, I shall not avoid the controversy which is invited by the groundless assertion of those who claim that, as a reward of their singular homage to religion, the Romans have been raised to such heights of power as to have become masters of the world; and that so certainly divine are the beings they worship, that those prosper beyond all others, who beyond all others honour them. This, indeed, is the wages the gods have paid the Romans for their devotion. The progress of the empire is to be ascribed to Sterculus, the Mutunus, and Larentina! For I can hardly think that foreign gods would have been disposed to show more favour to an alien race than to their own, and given their own fatherland, in which they had their birth, grew up to manhood, became illustrious, and at last were buried, over to invaders from another shore! As for Cybele, if she set her affections on the city of Rome as sprung of the Trojan stock saved from the arms of Greece, she herself indeed being of the same race, – if she foresaw her transference to the avenging people by whom Greece the conqueror of Phrygia was to be subdued, let her look to it (in regard of her native country's conquest by Greece). Why, too, even in these days the Mater Magna has given a notable proof of her greatness which she has conferred as a boon on the city; when, after the loss to the State of Marcus Aurelius at Sirmium, on the sixteenth before the Kalends of April, that most sacred high priest of hers was offering, a week after, impure libations of blood drawn from his own arms, and issuing his commands that the ordinary prayers should be made for the safety of the emperor already dead. O tardy messengers! O sleepy despatches! through whose fault Cybele had not an earlier knowledge of the imperial decease, that the Christians might have no occasion to ridicule a goddess so unworthy. Jupiter, again, would surely never have permitted his own Crete to fall at once before the Roman Fasces, forgetful of that Idean cave and the Corybantian cymbals, and the sweet odour of her who nursed him there. Would he not have exalted his own tomb above the entire Capitol, that the land which covered the ashes of Jove might rather be the mistress of the world? Would Juno have desired the destruction of the Punic city, beloved even to the neglect of Samos, and that by a nation of Aeneadae? As to that I know, "Here were her arms, here was her chariot, this kingdom, if the Fates permit, the goddess tends and cherishes to be mistress of the nations." Jove's hapless wife and sister had no power to prevail against the Fates! "Jupiter himself is sustained by fate." And yet the Romans have never done such homage to the Fates, which gave them Carthage against the purpose and the will of Juno, as to the abandoned harlot Larentina. It is undoubted that not a few of your gods have reigned on earth as kings. If, then, they now possess the power of bestowing empire, when they were kings themselves, from where had they received their kingly honours? Whom did Jupiter and Saturn worship? A Sterculus, I suppose. But did the Romans, along with the native-born inhabitants, afterwards adore also some who were never kings? In that case, however, they were under the reign of others, who did not yet bow down to them, as not yet raised to godhead. It belongs to others, then, to make gift of kingdoms, since there were kings before these gods had their names on the roll of divinities. But how utterly foolish it is to attribute the greatness of the Roman name to religious merits, since it was after Rome became an empire, or call it still a kingdom, that the religion she professes made its chief progress! Is it the case now? Has its religion been the source of the prosperity of Rome? Though Numa set agoing an eagerness after superstitious observances, yet religion among the Romans was not yet a matter of images or temples. It was frugal in its ways, its rites were simple, and there were no capitols struggling to the heavens; but the altars were offhand ones of turf, and the sacred vessels were yet of Samian earthen-ware, and from these the odors rose, and no likeness of God was to be seen. For at that time the skill of the Greeks and Tuscans in image-making had not yet overrun the city with the products of their art. The Romans, therefore, were not distinguished for their devotion to the gods before they attained to greatness; and so their greatness was not the result of their religion. Indeed, how could religion make a people great who have owed their greatness to their irreligion? For, if I am not mistaken, kingdoms and empires are acquired by wars, and are extended by victories. More than that, you cannot have wars and victories without the taking, and often the destruction, of cities. That is a thing in which the gods have their share of calamity. Houses and temples suffer alike; there is indiscriminate slaughter of priests and citizens; the hand of rapine is laid equally on sacred and on common treasure. So the sacrileges of the Romans are as numerous as their trophies. They boast as many triumphs over the gods as over the nations; as many spoils of battle they have still, as there remain images of captive deities. And the poor gods submit to be adored by their enemies, and they ordain illimitable empire to those whose injuries rather than their simulated homage should have had retribution at their hands. But divinities unconscious are with impunity dishonoured, just as in vain they are adored. You certainly never can believe that devotion to religion has evidently advanced to greatness a people who, as we have put it, have either grown by injuring religion, or have injured religion by their growth. Those, too, whose kingdoms have become part of the one great whole of the Roman empire, were not without religion when their kingdoms were taken from them.

Chapter 26. God ordains the changes of dynasties and their duration

Examine then, and see if he be not the dispenser of kingdoms, who is Lord at once of the world which is ruled, and of man himself who rules; if he have not ordained the changes of dynasties, with their appointed seasons, who was before all time, and made the world a body of times; if the rise and the fall of states are not the work of him, under whose sovereignty the human race once existed without states at all. How do you allow yourselves to fall into such error? Why, the Rome of rural simplicity is older than some of her gods; she reigned before her proud, vast Capitol was built. The Babylonians exercised dominion, too, before the days of the Pontiffs; and the Medes before the Quindecemvirs; and the Egyptians before the Salii; and the Assyrians before the Luperci; and the Amazons before the Vestal Virgins. And to add another point: if the religions of Rome give empire, ancient Judaea would never have been a kingdom, despising as it did one and all these idol deities; Judaea, whose God you Romans once honoured with victims, and its temple with gifts, and its people with treaties; and which would never have been beneath your sceptre but for that last and crowning offence against God, in rejecting and crucifying Christ

Chapter 27. Our refusal to worship pagan gods shows truthfulness, not treason

Enough has been said in these remarks to confute the charge of treason against your religion; for we cannot be held to do harm to that which has no existence. When we are called therefore to sacrifice, we resolutely refuse, relying on the knowledge we possess, by which we are well assured of the real objects to whom these services are offered, under profaning of images and the deification of human names. Some, indeed, think it a piece of insanity that, when it is in our power to offer sacrifice at once, and go away unharmed, holding as ever our convictions we prefer an obstinate persistence in our confession to our safety. You advise us, indeed, to take unjust advantage of you; but we know from where such suggestions come, who is at the bottom of it all, and how every effort is made, now by cunning suasion, and now by merciless persecution, to overthrow our constancy. No other than that spirit, half devil and half angel, who, hating us because of his own separation from God, and stirred with envy for the favour God has shown us, turns your minds against us by an occult influence, moulding and instigating them to all that perversity in judgment, and that unrighteous cruelty, which we have mentioned at the beginning of our work, when entering on this discussion. For, though the whole power of demons and kindred spirits is subject to us, yet still, as ill-disposed slaves sometimes conjoin contumacy with fear, and delight to injure those of whom they at the same time stand in awe, so is it here. For fear also inspires hatred. Besides, in their desperate condition, as already under condemnation, it gives them some comfort, while punishment delays, to have the usufruct of their malignant dispositions. And yet, when hands are laid on them, they are subdued at once, and submit to their lot; and those whom at a distance they oppose, in close quarters they supplicate for mercy. So when, like insurrectionary workhouses, or prisons, or mines, or any such penal slaveries, they break forth against us their masters, they know all the while that they are not a match for us, and just on that account, indeed, rush the more recklessly to destruction. We resist them, unwillingly, as though they were equals, and contend against them by persevering in that which they assail; and our triumph over them is never more complete than when we are condemned for resolute adherence to our faith.

Chapter 28. Free people should never have been compelled to sacrifice to Caesar

But as it was easily seen to be unjust to compel freemen against their will to offer sacrifice (for even in other acts of religious service a willing mind is required), it should be counted quite absurd for one man to compel another to do honour to the gods, when he ought ever voluntarily, and in the sense of his own need, to seek their favour, for fear that in the liberty which is his right he should be ready to say, "I want none of Jupiter's favours; pray who are you? Let Janus meet me with angry looks, with whichever of his faces he likes; what have you to do with me?" you have been led, no doubt, by these same evil spirits to compel us to offer sacrifice for the well-being of the emperor; and you are under a necessity of using force, just as we are under an obligation to face the dangers of it. This brings us, then, to the second ground of accusation, that we are guilty of treason against a majesty more august; for you do homage with a greater dread and an intenser reverence to Caesar, than Olympian Jove himself. And if you knew it, on sufficient grounds. For is not any living man better than a dead one, whoever he be? But this is not done by you on any other ground than regard to a power whose presence you vividly realize; so that also in this you are convicted of impiety to your gods, inasmuch as you show a greater reverence to a human sovereignty than you do to them. Then, too, among you, people far more readily swear a false oath in the name of all the gods, than in the name of the single genius of Caesar.

Chapter 29. What power have those pagan gods, to save their suppliants?

Let it be made clear, then, first of all, if those to whom sacrifice is offered are really able to protect either emperor or anybody else, and so adjudge us guilty of treason, if angels and demons, spirits of most wicked nature, do any good, if the lost save, if the condemned give liberty, if the dead (I refer to what you know well enough) defend the living. For surely the first thing they would look to would be the protection of their statues, and images, and temples, which rather owe their safety, I think, to the watch kept by Caesar's guards. No, I think the very materials of which these are made come from Caesar's mines, and there is not a temple but depends on Caesar's will. Yes, and many gods have felt the displeasure of the Caesar. It makes for my argument if they are also partakers of his favour, when he bestows on them some gift or privilege. How shall they who are so in Caesar's power, who belong entirely to him, have Caesar's protection in their hands, so that you can imagine them able to give to Caesar what they more readily get from him? This, then, is the ground on which we are charged with treason against the imperial majesty, to wit, that we do not put

The emperors under their own possessions; that we do not offer a mere mock service on their behalf, as not believing their safety rests in leaden hands. But you are impious in a high degree who look for it where it is not, who seek it from those who have it not to give, passing by him who has it entirely in his power. Besides this, you persecute those who know where to seek for it, and who, knowing where to seek for it, are able as well to secure it.

Chapter 30. We pray for the health and safety of our rulers

For we offer prayer for the safety of our princes to the eternal, the true, the living God, whose favour, beyond all others, they must themselves desire. They know from whom they have obtained their power; they know, as they are men, from whom they have received life itself; they are convinced that he is God alone, on whose power alone they are entirely dependent, to whom they are second, after whom they occupy the highest places, before and above all the gods. Why not, since they are above all living men, and the living, as living, are superior to the dead? They reflect on the extent of their power, and so they come to understand the highest; they acknowledge that they have all their might from him against whom their might is nothing. Let the emperor make war on heaven; let him lead heaven captive in his triumph; let him put guards on heaven; let him impose taxes on heaven! he cannot. Just because he is less than heaven, he is great. For he himself is his to whom heaven and every creature appertains. He gets his sceptre where he first got his humanity; his power where he got the breath of life. There we lift our eyes, with hands outstretched, because free from sin; with head uncovered, for we have nothing of which to be ashamed; finally, without a monitor, because it is from the heart we supplicate. Without ceasing, for all our emperors we offer prayer. We pray for life prolonged; for security to the empire; for protection to the imperial house; for brave armies, a faithful senate, a virtuous people, the world at rest, whatever, as man or Caesar, an emperor would wish. These things I cannot ask from any but the God from whom I know I shall obtain them, both because he alone bestows them and because I have claims on him for their gift, as being a servant of his, rendering homage to him alone, persecuted for his doctrine, offering to him, at his own requirement, that costly and noble sacrifice of prayer despatched from the chaste body, an unstained soul, a sanctified spirit, not the few grains of incense a farthing buys – tears of an Arabian tree, – not a few drops of wine, – not the blood of some worthless ox to which death is a relief, and, in addition to other offensive things, a polluted conscience, so that one wonders, when your victims are examined by these vile priests, why the examination is not rather of the sacrificers than the sacrifices. With our hands so stretched out and up to God, rend us with your iron claws, hang us up on crosses, wrap us in flames, take our heads from us with the sword, let loose the wild beasts on us, – the very attitude of a Christian praying is one of preparation for all punishment. Let this, good rulers, be your work: wring from us the soul, beseeching God on the emperor's behalf. Upon the truth of God, and devotion to his name, put the brand of crime.

Chapter 31. This is our sincere wish, and no mere flattery

But we merely, you say, flatter the emperor, and feign these prayers of ours to escape persecution. Thank you for your mistake, for you give us the opportunity of proving our allegations. Do you, then, who think that we care nothing for the welfare of Caesar, look into God's revelations, examine our sacred books, which we do not keep in hiding, and which many accidents put into the hands of those who are not of us. Learn from those who a large benevolence is enjoined on us, even so far as to supplicate God for our enemies, and to beseech blessings on our persecutors. Who, then, are greater enemies and persecutors of Christians, than the very parties with treason against whom we are charged? No, even in terms, and most clearly, the Scripture says, "Pray for kings, and rulers, and powers, that all may be peace with you." For when there is disturbance in the empire, if the commotion is felt by its other members, surely we too, though we are not thought to be given to disorder, are to be found in some place or other which the calamity affects.

Chapter 32. We see the empire's survival as of value to us also.

There is also another and a greater necessity for our offering prayer on behalf of the emperors, no, for the complete stability of the empire, and for Roman interests in general. For we know that a mighty shock impending over the whole earth – in fact, the very end of all things threatening dreadful woes – is only retarded by the continued existence of the Roman empire. We have no desire, then, to be overtaken by these dire events; and in praying that their coming may be delayed, we are lending our aid to Rome's duration. More than this, though we decline to swear by the genii of the Caesars, we swear by their safety, which is worth far more than all your genii, Are you ignorant that these genii are called "Daemones," and thence the diminutive name "Daemonia" is applied to them? We respect in the emperors the ordinance of God, who has set them over the nations. We know that there is something in them which God has willed; and to what God has willed we desire all safety, and we count an oath by it a great oath. But as for demons, that is, your genii, we have been in the habit of exorcising them, not of swearing by them, and thereby conferring on them divine honour.

Chapter 33. Even Caesar is appointed by Christ

But why dwell longer on the reverence and sacred respect of Christians to the emperor, whom we cannot but look up to as called by our Lord to his office? So that on valid grounds I might say Caesar is more ours than yours, for our God has appointed him. Therefore, as having this propriety in him, I do more than you for his welfare, not merely because I ask it of him who can give it, or because I ask it as one who deserves to get it, but also because, in keeping the majesty of Caesar within due limits, and putting it under the Most High, and making it less than divine, I commend him the more to the favour of Deity, to whom I make him alone inferior. But I place him in subjection to one I regard as more glorious than himself. Never will I call the emperor God, and that either because it is not in me to be guilty of falsehood; or that I dare not turn him into ridicule; or that not even himself will desire to have that high name applied to him. If he is but a man, it is his interest as man to give God his higher place. Let him think it enough to bear the name of emperor. That, too, is a great name of God's giving. To call him God, is to rob him of his title. If he is not a man, emperor he cannot be. Even when, amid the honours of a triumph, he sits on that lofty chariot, he a is reminded that he is only human. A voice at his back keeps whispering in his ear, n "Look behind you; remember you are but u a man." And it only adds to his exultation, that he shines with a glory so surpassing as to require an admonitory reference to his condition. It adds to his greatness that he needs such a reminiscence, for fear that he should think himself divine.

Chapter 34. We accept the term "Augustus", so long as it does not imply "divine"

Augustus, the founder of the empire, would not even have the title Lord; for that, too, is a name of Deity. For my part, I am willing to give the emperor this designation, but in the common acceptation of the word, and when I am not forced to call him Lord as in God's place. But my relation to him is one of freedom; for I have but one true Lord, the God omnipotent and eternal, who is Lord of the emperor as well. How can he, who is truly father of his country, be its Lord? The name of piety is more grateful than the name of power; so the heads of families are called fathers rather than lords. Far less should the emperor have the name of God. We can only profess our belief that he is that by the most unworthy, no, a fatal flattery; it is just as if, having an emperor, you call another by the name, in which case will you not give great and unappeasable offence to him who actually reigns? – an offence he, too, needs to fear on whom you have bestowed the title. Give all reverence to God, if you wish him to be propitious to the emperor. Give up all worship of, and belief in, any other being as divine. Cease also to give the sacred name to him who has need of God himself. If such adulation is not ashamed of its lie, in addressing a man as divine, let it have some dread at least of the evil omen which it bears. It is the invocation of a curse, to give Caesar the name of God before his apotheosis.

Chapter 35. Why is it wrong to refuse to pay foolish honours to the emperor?

This is the reason, then, why Christians are counted public enemies: that they pay no vain, nor false, nor foolish honours to the emperor; that, as men believing in the true religion, they prefer to celebrate their festal days with a good conscience, instead of with the common wantonness. It is, indeed, a notable homage to bring fires and couches out before the public, to have feasting from street to street, to turn the city into one great tavern, to make mud with wine, to run in troops to acts of violence, to deeds of shamelessness to lust allurements! What! is public joy manifested by public disgrace? Do things improper at other times adorn the festal days of princes? Do they who observe the rules of virtue out of reverence for Caesar, for his sake turn aside from them? Shall piety be a license to immoral deeds, and shall religion be regarded as affording the occasion for all riotous extravagance? Poor we, worthy of all condemnation! For why do we keep the votive days and high rejoicings in honour of the Caesars with chastity, sobriety, and virtue? Why, on the day of gladness, do we neither cover our door-posts with laurels, nor intrude on the day with lamps? It is a proper thing, at the call of a public festivity, to dress your house up like some new brothel. However, in the matter of this homage to a lesser majesty, in reference to which we are accused of a lower sacrilege, because we do not celebrate along with you the holidays of the Caesars in a manner forbidden alike by modesty, decency, and purity, – in truth they have been established rather as affording opportunities for licentiousness than from any worthy motive; – in this matter I am anxious to point out how faithful and true you are, for fear that perhaps here also those who will not have us counted Romans, but enemies of Rome's chief rulers, be found themselves worse than we wicked Christians! I appeal to the inhabitants of Rome themselves, to the native population of the seven hills: does that Roman vernacular of theirs ever spare a Caesar? The Tiber and the wild beasts' schools bear witness. Say now if nature had covered our hearts with a transparent substance through which the light could pass, whose hearts, all graven over, would not betray the scene of another and another Caesar presiding at the distribution of a largess? And this at the very time they are shouting, "May Jupiter take years from us, and with them lengthen like you," – words as foreign to the lips of a Christian as it is out of keeping with his character to desire a change of emperor. But this is the rabble, you say; yet, as the rabble, they still are Romans, and none more frequently than they demand the death of Christians. Of course, then, the other classes, as befits their higher rank, are religiously faithful. No breath of treason is there ever in the senate, in the equestrian order, in the camp, in the palace. How, then, came a Cassius, a Niger, an Albinus? From where they who beset the Caesar between the two laurel groves? From where they who practiced wrestling, that they might acquire skill to strangle him? From where they who in full armor broke into the palace, more audacious than all your Tigerii and Parthenii. If I mistake not, they were Romans; that is, they were not Christians. Yet all of them, on the very eve of their traitorous outbreak, offered sacrifices for the safety of the emperor, and swore by his genius, one thing in profession, and another in the heart; and no doubt they were in the habit of calling Christians enemies of the state. Yes, and persons who are now daily brought to light as confederates or approvers of these crimes and treasons, the still remnant gleanings after a vintage of traitors, with what verdant and branching laurels they clad their door-posts, with what lofty and brilliant lamps they smoked their porches, with what most exquisite and gaudy couches they divided the Forum among themselves; not that they might celebrate public rejoicings, but that they might get a foretaste of their own votive seasons in partaking of the festivities of another, and inaugurate the model and image of their hope, changing in their minds the emperor's name. The same homage is paid, dutifully too, by those who consult astrologers, and soothsayers, and augurs, and magicians, about the life of the Caesars, – arts which, as made known by the angels who sinned, and forbidden by God, Christians do not even make use of in their own affairs. But who has any occasion to enquire about the life of the emperor, if he have not some wish or thought against it, or some hopes and expectations after it? For consultations of this sort have not the same motive in the case of friends as in the case of sovereigns. The anxiety of a kinsman is something very different from that of a subject.

Chapter 36. We are the same to emperors as to our ordinary neighbours.

If it is the fact that men bearing the name of Romans are found to be enemies of Rome, why are we, on the ground that we are regarded as enemies, denied the name of Romans? We may be at once Romans and foes of Rome, when men passing for Romans are discovered to be enemies of their country. So the affection, and fealty, and reverence, due to the emperors do not consist in such tokens of homage as these, which even hostility may be zealous in performing, chiefly as a cloak to its purposes; but in those ways which Deity as cerainly enjoins on us, as they are held to be necessary in the case of all men as well as emperors. Deeds of true heart-goodness are not due by us to emperors alone. We never do good with respect of persons; for in our own interest we conduct ourselves as those who take no payment either of praise or premium from man, but from God, who both requires and remunerates an impartial benevolence. We are the same to emperors as to our ordinary neighbours. For we are equally forbidden to wish ill, to do ill, to speak ill, to think ill of all men. The thing we must not do to an emperor, we must not do to anyone else: what we would not do to anybody, a fortiori, perhaps we should not do to him whom God has been pleased so highly to exalt.

Chapter 37. The Christians are not your enemies, but your loyal citizens

If we are enjoined, then, to love our enemies, as I have remarked above, whom have we to hate? If injured, we are forbidden to retaliate, for fear that we become as bad ourselves: who can suffer injury at our hands? In regard to this, recall your own experiences. How often you inflict gross cruelties on Christians, partly because it is your own inclination, and partly in obedience to the laws! How often, too, the hostile mob, paying no regard to you, takes the Law into its own hand, and assails us with stones and flames! With the very frenzy of the Bacchanals, they do not even spare the Christian dead, but tear them, now sadly changed, no longer entire, from the rest of the tomb, from the asylum we might say of death, cutting them in pieces, rending them asunder.

Yet, banded together as we are, ever so ready to sacrifice our lives, what single case of revenge for injury are you able to point to, though, if it were held right among us to repay evil by evil, a single night with a torch or two could achieve an ample vengeance? But away with the idea of a sect divine avenging itself by human fires, or shrinking from the sufferings in which it is tried. If we desired, indeed, to act the part of open enemies, not merely of secret avengers, would there be any lacking in strength, whether of numbers or resources? The Moors, the Marcomanni, the parthians themselves, or any single people, however great, inhabiting a distinct territory, and confined within its own boundaries, surpasses, indeed, in numbers, one spread over all the world! We are but of yesterday, and we have filled every place among you – cities, islands, fortresses, towns, market-places, the very camp, tribes, companies, palace, senate, forum, – we have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods. For what wars should we not be fit, not eager, even with unequal forces, we who so willingly yield ourselves to the sword, if in our religion it were not counted better to be slain than to slay?

Without arms even, and raising no insurrectionary banner, but simply in enmity to you, we could carry on the contest with you by an ill-willed severance alone. For if such multitudes of men were to break away from you, and betake themselves to some remote corner of the world, why, the very loss of so many citizens, whatever sort they were, would cover the empire with shame; no, in the very forsaking, vengeance would be inflicted. Why, you would be horror-struck at the solitude in which you would find yourselves, at such an all-prevailing silence, and that stupor as of a dead world. You would have to seek subjects to govern. You would have more enemies than citizens remaining. For now it is the immense number of Christians which makes your enemies so few, – almost all the inhabitants of your various cities being followers of Christ.

Yet you choose to call us enemies of the human race, rather than of human error. No, who would deliver you from those secret foes, ever busy both destroying your souls and ruining your health? Who would save you, I mean, from the attacks of those spirits of evil, which without reward or hire we exorcise? This alone would be revenge enough for us, that you were from now on left free to the possession of unclean spirits. But instead of taking into account what is due to us for the important protection we afford you, and though we are not merely no trouble to you, but in fact necessary to your well-being, you prefer to hold us enemies, as indeed we are, yet not of man, but rather of his error.

Chapter 38. Ought not Christians to have a place as a law-tolerated society?

Ought not Christians, therefore, to receive not merely a somewhat milder treatment, but to have a place among the law-tolerated societies, seeing they are not chargeable with any such crimes as are commonly dreaded from societies of the illicit class? For, unless I mistake the matter, the prevention of such associations is based on a prudential regard to public order, that the state may not be divided into parties, which would naturally lead to disturbance in the electoral assemblies, the councils, the curiae, the special conventions, even in the public shows by the hostile collisions of rival parties; especially when now, in pursuit of gain, men have begun to consider their violence an article to be bought and sold. But as those in whom all ardour in the pursuit of glory and honour is dead, we have no pressing inducement to take part in your public meetings; nor is there anything more entirely foreign to us than affairs of state. We acknowledge one all-embracing commonwealth – the world. We renounce all your spectacles, as strongly as we renounce the matters originating them, which we know were conceived of superstition, when we give up the very things which are the basis of their representations. Among us nothing is ever said, or seen, or heard, which has anything in common with the madness of the circus, the immodesty of the theatre, the atrocities of the arena, the useless exercises of the wrestling-ground. Why do you take offence at us because we differ from you in regard to your pleasures? If we will not partake of your enjoyments, the loss is ours, if there be loss in the case, not yours. We reject what pleases you. You, on the other hand, have no taste for what is our delight. The Epicureans were allowed by you to decide for themselves one true source of pleasure – I mean equanimity the Christian, on his part, has many such enjoyments – what harm in that?

Chapter 39. The positive good brought by Christianity

I shall at once go on, then, to exhibit the peculiarities of the Christian society, that, as I have refuted the evil charged against it, I may point out its positive good. We are a body knit together as such by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as with united force, we may wrestle with him in our supplications. This violence God delights in. We pray, too, for the emperors, for their ministers and for all in authority, for the welfare of the world, for the prevalence of peace, for the delay of the final consummation. We assemble to read our sacred writings, if any peculiarity of the times makes either forewarning or reminiscence needful. However it be in that respect, with the sacred words we nourish our faith, we animate our hope, we make our confidence more steadfast; and no less by inculcations of God's precepts we confirm good habits. In the same place also exhortations are made, rebukes and sacred censures are administered. For with a great gravity is the work of judging carried on among us, as befits those who feel assured that they are in the sight of God; and you have the most notable example of judgment to come when anyone has sinned so grievously as to require his severance from us in prayer, in the congregation and in all sacred intercourse. The tried men of our elders preside over us, obtaining that honour not by purchase, but by established character. There is no buying and selling of any sort in the things of God. Though we have our treasure-chest, it is not made up of purchase-money, as of a religion that has its price. On the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a small donation; but only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able: for there is no compulsion; all is voluntary. These gifts are, so to speak, piety's deposit fund. For they are not taken thence and spent on feasts, and drinking-bouts, and eating-houses, but to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to the house; such, too, as have suffered shipwreck; and if there happen to be any in the mines, or banished to the islands, or shut up in the prisons, for nothing but their fidelity to the cause of God's Church, they become the nurslings of their confession. But it is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand on us. See, they say, how they love one another, for themselves are animated by mutual hatred; how they are ready even to die for one another, for they themselves will sooner put to death. And they are angry with us, too, because we call each other brethren; for no other reason, as I think, than because among themselves names of consanguinity are assumed in mere pretense of affection. But we are your brethren as well, by the Law of I our common mother nature, though you are hardly men, because brothers so unkind. At the same time, how much more fittingly they are called and counted brothers who have been led to the knowledge of God as their common Father, who have drunk in one spirit of holiness, who from the same womb of a common ignorance have agonized into the same light of truth! But on this very account, perhaps, we are regarded as having less claim to be held true brothers, that no tragedy makes a noise about our brotherhood, or that the family possessions, which generally destroy brotherhood among you, create fraternal bonds among us. One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives. We give up our community where it is practiced alone by others, who not only take possession of the wives of their friends, but most tolerantly also accommodate their friends with theirs, following the example, I believe, of those wise men of ancient times, the Greek Socrates and the Roman Cato, who shared with their friends the wives whom they had married, it seems for the sake of progeny both to themselves and to others; whether in this acting against their partners' wishes, I am not able to say. Why should they have any care over their chastity, when their husbands so readily bestowed it away? O noble example of Attic wisdom, of Roman gravity – the philosopher and the censor playing pimps! What wonder if that great love of Christians towards one another is desecrated by you! For you abuse also our humble feasts, on the ground that they are extravagant as well as infamously wicked. To us, it seems, applies the saying of Diogenes: "The people of Megara feast as though they were going to die on the morrow; they build as though they were never to die!" But one sees more readily the mote in another's eye than the beam in his own. Why, the very air is soured with the eructations of so many tribes, and curiae, and decuriae. The Salii cannot have their feast without going into debt; you must get the accountants to tell you what the tenths of Hercules and the sacrificial banquets cost; the choicest cook is appointed for the Apaturia, the Dionysia, the Attic mysteries; the smoke from the banquet of Serapis will call out the firemen. Yet about the modest supper-room of the Christians alone a great ado is made. Our feast explains itself by its name The Greeks call it agaph, that is, affection. Whatever it costs, our outlay in the name of piety is gain, since with the good things of the feast we benefit the needy; not as it is with you, do parasites aspire to the glory of satisfying their licentious propensities, selling themselves for a belly-feast to all disgraceful treatment, – but as it is with God himself, a peculiar respect is shown to the lowly. If the object of our feast be good, in the light of that consider its further regulations. As it is an act of religious service, it permits no vileness or immodesty. The participants, before reclining, taste first of prayer to God. As much is eaten as satisfies the cravings of hunger; as much is drunk as befits the chaste. They say it is enough, as those who remember that even during the night they have to worship God; they talk as those who know that the Lord is one of their auditors. After manual ablution, and the bringing in of lights, each is asked to stand forth and sing, as he can, a hymn to God, either one from the holy Scriptures or one of his own composing, – a proof of the measure of our drinking. As the feast began with prayer, so with prayer it is closed. We go from it, not like troops of mischief-doers, nor bands of vagabonds, nor to break out into licentious acts, but to have as much care of our modesty and chastity as if we had been at a school of virtue rather than a banquet. Give the congregation of the Christians its due, and hold it unlawful, if it is like assemblies of the illicit sort: by all means let it be condemned, if any complaint can be validly laid against it, such as lies against secret factions. But who has ever suffered harm from our assemblies? We are in our congregations just what we are when separated from each other; we are as a community what we are individuals; we injure nobody, we trouble nobody. When the upright, when the virtuous meet together, when the pious, when the pure assemble in congregation, you ought not to call that a faction, but a curia – (that is, the court of God.)

Chapter 40. It is trouble-makers who stir things up against us

On the contrary, they deserve the name of faction who conspire to bring odium on good men and virtuous, who cry out against innocent blood, offering as the justification of their enmity the baseless plea, that they think the Christians the cause of every public disaster, of every affliction with which the people are visited. If the Tiber rises as high as the city walls, if the Nile does not send its waters up over the fields, if the heavens give no rain, if there is an earthquake, if there is famine or pestilence, immediately the cry is, "Away with the Christians to the lion!" What! shall you give such multitudes to a single beast? Pray, tell me how many calamities befell the world and particular cities before Tiberius reigned – before the coming, that is, of Christ? We read of the islands of Hiera, and Anaphe, and Delos, and Rhodes, and Cos, with many thousands of human beings, having been swallowed up. Plato informs us that a region larger than Asia or Africa was seized by the Atlantic Ocean. An earthquake, too, drank up the Corinthian sea; and the force of the waves cut off a part of Lucania, from which it obtained the name of Sicily. These things surely could not have taken place without the inhabitants suffering by them. But where – I do not say were Christians, those despisers of your gods – but where were your gods themselves in those days, when the flood poured its destroying waters over all the world, or, as Plato thought, merely the level portion of it? For that they are of later date than that calamity, the very cities in which they were born and died, no, which they found, bear ample testimony; for the cities could have no existence at this day unless as belonging to postdiluvian times. Palestine had not yet received from Egypt its Jewish swarm (of emigrants), nor had the race from which Christians sprung yet settled down there, when its neighbours Sodom and Gomorra were consumed by fire from heaven. The country yet smells of that conflagration; and if there are apples there on the trees, it is only a promise to the eye they give – you but touch them, and they turn to ashes. Nor had Tuscia and Campania to complain of Christians in the days when fire from heaven overwhelmed Vulsinii, and Pompeii was destroyed by fire from its own mountain. No one yet worshipped the true God at Rome, when Hannibal at Cannae counted the Roman slain by the pecks of Roman rings. Your gods were all objects of adoration, universally acknowledged, when the Senones closely besieged the very Capitol. And it is in keeping with all this, that if adversity has at any time befallen cities, the temples and the walls have equally shared in the disaster, so that it is clear to demonstration the thing was not the doing of the gods, seeing it also overtook themselves. The truth is, the human race has always deserved ill at God's hand. First of all, as undutiful to him, because when it knew him in part, it not only did not seek after him, but even invented other gods of its own to worship; and further, because, as the result of their willing ignorance of the Teacher of righteousness, the Judge and Avenger of sin, all vices and crimes grew and flourished. But had men sought, they would have come to know the glorious object of their seeking; and knowledge would have produced obedience, and obedience would have found a gracious instead of an angry God. They ought then to see that the very same God is angry with them now as in ancient times, before Christians were so much as spoken of. It was his blessings they enjoyed – created before they made any of their deities: and why can they not take it in, that their evils come from the Being whose goodness they have failed to recognise? They suffer at the hands of him to whom they have been ungrateful. And, for all that is said, if we compare the calamities of former times, they fall on us more lightly now, since God gave Christians to the world; for from that time virtue put some restraint on the world's wickedness, and men began to pray for the averting of God's wrath. In a word, when the summer clouds give no rain, and the season is matter of anxiety, you indeed – full of feasting day by day, and ever eager for the banquet, baths and taverns and brothels always busy – offer up to Jupiter your rain-sacrifices; you require on the people barefoot processions; you seek heaven at the Capitol; you look up to the temple-ceilings for the longed-for clouds – God and heaven not in all your thoughts. We, dried up with fastings, and our passions bound tightly up, holding back as long as possible from all the ordinary enjoyments of life, rolling in sackcloth and ashes, assail heaven with our importunities – touch God's heart – and when we have extorted divine compassion, why, Jupiter gets all the honour!

Chapter 41. Much of God's justice is postponed until final judgment

You, therefore, are the sources of trouble in human affairs; on you lies the blame of public adversities, since you are ever attracting them – you by whom God is despised and images are worshipped. It should surely seem the more natural thing to believe that it is the neglected One who is angry, and not they to whom all homage is paid; or most unjustly they act, if, on account of the Christians, they send trouble on their own devotees, whom they are bound to keep clear of the punishments of Christians. But this, you say, hits your God as well, since he permits his worshippers to suffer on account of those who dishonour him. But admit first of all his providential arrangings, and you will not make this retort. For he who once for all appointed an eternal judgment at the world's close, does not precipitate the separation, which is essential to judgment, before the end. Meanwhile he deals with all sorts of men alike, so that all together share his favours and reproofs. His will is, that outcasts and elect should have adversities and prosperities in common, that we should have all the same experience of his goodness and severity. Having learned these things from his own lips, we love his goodness, we fear his wrath, while both by you are treated with contempt; and hence the sufferings of life, so far as it is our lot to be overtaken by them, are in our case gracious admonitions, while in yours they are divine punishments. We indeed are not the least put about: for, first, only one thing in this life greatly concerns us, and that is, to get quickly out of it; and next, if any adversity befalls us, it is laid to the door of your transgressions. No, though we are likewise involved in troubles because of our close connection with you, we are rather glad of it, because we recognise in it divine foretellings, which, in fact, go to confirm the confidence and faith of our hope. But if all the evils you endure are inflicted on you by the gods you worship out of spite to us, why do you continue to pay homage to beings so ungrateful, and unjust; who, instead of being angry with you, should rather have been aiding and abetting you by persecuting Christians – keeping you clear of their sufferings?

Chapter 42. In what sense are we useless? By being absent from your temples?

But we are called to account as harm-doers on another ground, and are accused of being useless in the affairs of life. How in all the world can that be the case with people who are living among you, eating the same food wearing the same attire, having the same habits, under the same necessities of existence? We are not Indian Brahmins or Gymnosophists, who dwell in woods and exile themselves from ordinary human life. We do not forget the debt of gratitude we owe to God, our Lord and Creator; we reject no creature of his hands, though certainly we exercise restraint on ourselves, for fear that of any gift of his we make an immoderate or sinful use. So we sojourn with you in the world, abjuring neither forum, nor shambles, nor bath, nor booth, nor workshop, nor inn, nor weekly market, nor any other places of commerce. We sail with you, and fight with you, and till the ground with you; and in the same way we unite with you in your traffickings – even in the various arts we make public property of our works for your benefit. How it is we seem useless in your ordinary business, living with you and by you as we do, I am not able to understand. But if I do not frequent your religious ceremonies, I am still on the sacred day a man. I do not at the Saturnalia bathe myself at dawn, that I may not lose both day and night; yet I bathe at a decent and healthful hour, which preserves me both in heat and blood. I can be rigid and pallid like you after ablution when I am dead. I do not recline in public at the feast of Bacchus, after the way of the beast-fighters at their final banquet. Yet of your resources I partake, wherever I may chance to eat. I do not buy a crown for my head. What matters it to you how I use them, if nevertheless the flowers are purchased? I think it more agreeable to have them free and loose, waving all about. Even if they are woven into a crown, we smell the crown with our nostrils: let those look to it who scent the perfume with their hair. We do not go to your spectacles; yet the articles that are sold there, if I need them, I will obtain more readily at their proper places. We certainly buy no frankincense. If the Arabias complain of this, let the Sabaeans be well assured that their more precious and costly merchandise is expended as largely in the burying of Christians as in the fumigating of the gods. At any rate, you say, the temple revenues are every day falling off: how few now throw in a contribution! In truth, we are not able to give alms both to your human and your heavenly mendicants; nor do we think that we are required to give any but to those who ask for it. Let Jupiter then hold out his hand and get, for our compassion spends more in the streets than yours does in the temples. But your other taxes will acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Christians; for in the faithfulness which keeps us from fraud on a brother, we make conscience of paying all their dues: so that, by ascertaining how much is lost by fraud and falsehood in the census declarations – the calculation may easily be made – it would be seen that the ground of complaint in one department of revenue is compensated by the advantage which others derive.

Chapter 43. We bring no profit to those who pander to vice

I will confess, however, without hesitation, that there are some who in a sense may complain of Christians that they are a sterile race: as, for instance, pimps, and panders, and bath-suppliers; assassins, and poisoners, and sorcerers; soothsayers, too, diviners, and astrologers. But it is a noble fruit of Christians, that they have no fruits for such as these. And yet, whatever loss your interests suffer from the religion we profess, the protection you have from us makes amply up for it. What value do you set on persons, I do not here urge who deliver you from demons, I do not urge who for your sakes present prayers before the throne of the true God, for perhaps you have no belief in that – but from whom you can have nothing to fear?

Chapter 44. By executing virtuous people, the State is harming itself

Yes, and no one considers what the loss is to the common weal, – a loss as great as it is real, no one estimates the injury entailed on the state, when, men of virtue as we are, we are put to death in such numbers; when so many of the truly good suffer the last penalty. And here we call your own acts to witness, you who are daily presiding at the trials of prisoners, and passing sentence on crimes. Well, in your long lists of those accused of many and various atrocities, has any assassin, any cutpurse, any man guilty of sacrilege, or seduction, or stealing bathers' clothes, his name entered as being a Christian too? Or when Christians are brought before you on the mere ground of their name, is there ever found among them an ill-doer of the sort? It is always with your folk the prison is steaming, the mines are sighing, the wild beasts are fed: it is from you the exhibitors of gladiatorial shows always get their herds of criminals to feed up for the occasion. You find no Christian there, except simply as being such; or if one is there as something else, a Christian he is no longer.

Chapter 45. We are the least criminal of groups, being taught by Jesus to be mild and forgiving

We, then, alone are without crime. Is there ought wonderful in that, if it be a very necessity with us? For a necessity indeed it is. Taught of God himself what goodness is, we have both a perfect knowledge of it as revealed to us by a perfect Master; and faithfully we do his will, as enjoined on us by a Judge we dare not despise. But your ideas of virtue you have got from mere human opinion; on human authority, too, its obligation rests: hence your system of practical morality is deficient, both in the fullness and authority required to produce a life of real virtue. Man's wisdom to point out what is good, is no greater than his authority to exact the keeping of it; the one is as easily deceived as the other is despised. And so, which is the ampler rule, to say, "You shall not kill," or to teach, "Be not even angry?" Which is more perfect, to forbid adultery, or to restrain from even a single lustful look? Which indicates the higher intelligence, interdicting evil-doing, or evil-speaking? Which is more thorough, not allowing an injury, or not even suffering an injury done to you to be repaid? Though indeed, you know that these very laws also of yours, which seem to lead to virtue, have been borrowed from the Law of God as the ancient model. Of the age of Moses we have already spoken. But what is the real authority of human laws, when it is in man's power both to evade them, by generally managing to hide himself out of sight in his crimes, and to despise them sometimes, if inclination or necessity leads him to offend? Think of these things, too, in the light of the brevity of any punishment you can inflict – never to last longer than till death. On this ground Epicurus makes light of all suffering and pain, maintaining that if it is small, it is contemptible; and if it is great, it is not long-continued. No doubt about it, we, who receive our awards under the judgment of an all-seeing God, and who look forward to eternal punishment from him for sin, – we alone make real effort to attain a blameless life, under the influence of our ampler knowledge, the impossibility of concealment, and the greatness of the threatened torment, not merely long-enduring but everlasting, fearing him, whom he too should fear who the fearing judges, – even God, I mean, and not the proconsul.

Chapter 46. Christianity is more than just another philosophy

We have sufficiently met, I think, the accusation of the various crimes on the ground of which these fierce demands are made for Christian blood. We have made a full showing of our case; and we have shown you how we are able to prove that our statement is correct, from the trustworthiness and antiquity of our sacred writings, and from the confession likewise of the powers of spiritual wickedness themselves. Who will venture to undertake our refutation; not with skill of words, but, as we have managed our demonstration, on the basis of reality? But while the truth we hold is made clear to all, unbelief meanwhile, at the very time it is convinced of the worth of Christianity, which has now become well known for its benefits as well as from the intercourse of life, takes up the notion that it is not really a thing divine, but rather a kind of philosophy. These are the very things, it says, the philosophers counsel and profess – innocence, justice, patience, sobriety, chastity. Why, then, are we not permitted an equal liberty and impunity for our doctrines as they have, with whom, in respect of what we teach, we are compared? or why are not they, as so like us, not pressed to the same offices, for declining which our lives are imperiled? For who compels a philosopher to sacrifice or take an oath, or put out useless lamps at midday? No, they openly overthrow your gods, and in their writings they attack your superstitions; and you applaud them for it. Many of them even, with your countenance, bark out against your rulers, and are rewarded with statues and salaries, instead of being given to the wild beasts. And very right it should be so. For they are called philosophers, not Christians. This name of philosopher has no power to put demons to the rout. Why are they not able to do that too? since philosophers count demons inferior to gods. Socrates used to say, "If the demon grant permission." Yet he, too, though in denying the existence of your divinities he had a glimpse of the truth, at his dying ordered a cock to be sacrificed to Aesculapius, I believe in honour of his father, for Apollo pronounced Socrates the wisest of men. Thoughtless Apollo! testifying to the wisdom of the man who denied the existence of his race. In proportion to the enmity the truth awakens, you give offence by faithfully standing by it; but the man who corrupts and makes a mere pretense of it precisely on this ground gains favour with its persecutors. The truth which philosophers, these mockers and corrupters of it, with hostile ends merely affect to hold, and in doing so deprave, caring for nothing but glory, Christians both intensely and intimately long for and maintain in its integrity, as those who have a real concern about their salvation. So that we are like each other neither in our knowledge nor our ways, as you imagine. For what certain information did Thales, the first of natural philosophers, give in reply to the enquiry of Croesus regarding Deity, the delay for further thought so often proving in vain? There is not a Christian workman but finds out God, and manifests him, and hence assigns to him all those attributes which go to constitute a divine being, though Plato affirms that it is far from easy to discover the Maker of the universe; and when he is found, it is difficult to make him known to all. But if we challenge you to comparison in the virtue of chastity, I turn to a part of the sentence passed by the Athenians against Socrates, who was pronounced a corrupter of youth. The Christian confines himself to the female sex. I have read also how the harlot Phryne kindled in Diogenes the fires of lust, and how a certain Speusippus, of Plato's school, perished in the adulterous act. The Christian husband has nothing to do with any but his own wife. Democritus, in putting out his eyes, because he could not look on women without lusting after them, and was pained if his passion was not satisfied, owns plainly, by the punishment he inflicts, his incontinence. But a Christian with grace-healed eyes is sightless in this matter; he is mentally blind against the assaults of passion. If I maintain our superior modesty of behaviour, there at once occurs to me Diogenes with filth-covered feet trampling on the proud couches of Plato, under the influence of another pride: the Christian does not even play the proud man to the pauper. If sobriety of spirit be the virtue in debate, why, there are Pythagoras at Thurii, and Zeno at Priene, ambitious of the supreme power: the Christian does not aspire to the aedileship. If equanimity be the contention, you have Lycurgus choosing death by self-starvation, because the Lacons had made some emendation of his laws: the Christian, even when he is condemned, gives thanks. If the comparison be made in regard to trustworthiness, Anaxagoras denied the deposit of his enemies: the Christian is noted for his fidelity even among those who are not of his religion. If the matter of sincerity is to be brought to trial, Aristotle basely thrust his friend Hermias from his place: the Christian does no harm even to his foe. With equal baseness does Aristotle play the sycophant to Alexander, instead of exercising to keep him in the right way, and Plato allows himself to be bought by Dionysius for his belly's sake. Aristippus in the purple, with all his great show of gravity, gives way to extravagance; and Hippias is put to death laying plots against the state: no Christian ever attempted such a thing on behalf of his brethren, even when persecution was scattering them abroad with every atrocity. But it will be said that some of us, too, depart from the rules of our discipline. In that case, however, we count them no longer Christians; but the philosophers who do such things retain still the name and the honour of wisdom. So, then, where is there any likeness between the Christian and the philosopher? between the disciple of Greece and of heaven? between the man whose object is fame, and whose object is life? between the talker and he doer? between the man who builds up and the man who pulls down? between the friend and the foe of error? between one who corrupts the truth, and one who restores and teaches it? between its chief and its custodian?

Chapter 47. People keep on distorting the truth, to suit their preferences

Unless I am utterly mistaken, there is nothing so old as the truth; and the already proved antiquity of the divine writings is so far of use to me, that it leads men more easily to take it in that they are the treasure-source from which all later wisdom has been taken. And if it were not necessary to keep my work to a moderate size, I might launch forth also into the proof of this. What poet or sophist has not drunk at the fountain of the prophets? Thence, accordingly, the philosophers watered their arid minds, so that it is the things they have from us which bring us into comparison with them. For this reason, I imagine, philosophy was banished by certain states – I mean by the Thebans, by the Spartans also, and the Argives – its disciples sought to imitate our doctrines; and ambitious, as I have said, of glory and eloquence alone, if they fell on anything in the collection of sacred Scriptures which displeased them, in their own peculiar style of research, they perverted it to serve their purpose: for they had no adequate faith in their divinity to keep them from changing them, nor had they any sufficient understanding of them, either, as being still at the time under veil – even obscure to the Jews themselves, whose peculiar possession they seemed to be.

For so, too, if the truth was distinguished by its simplicity, the more on that account the fastidiousness of man, too proud to believe, set to altering it; so that even what they found certain they made uncertain by their admixtures. Finding a simple revelation of God, they proceeded to dispute about him, not as he had revealed to them, but turned aside to debate about his properties, his nature, his abode. Some assert him to be incorporeal; others maintain he has a body, – the Platonists teaching the one doctrine, and the Stoics the other. Some think that he is composed of atoms, others of numbers: such are the different views of Epicurus and Pythagoras. One thinks he is made of fire; so it appeared to Heraclitus. The Platonists, again, hold that he administers the affairs of the world; the Epicureans, on the contrary, that he is idle and inactive, and, so to speak, a nobody in human things. Then the Stoics represent him as placed outside the world, and whirling round this huge mass from without like a potter; while the Platonists place him within the world, as a pilot is in the ship he steers. So, in the same way, they differ in their views about the world itself, whether it is created or uncreated, whether it is destined to pass away or to remain for ever. So again it is debated concerning the nature of the soul, which some contend is divine and eternal, while others hold that it is dissoluble. According to each one's fancy, he has introduced either something new, or refashioned the old. Nor need we wonder if the speculations of philosophers have perverted the older Scriptures. Some of their brood, with their opinions, have even adulterated our new-given Christian revelation, and corrupted it into a system of philosophic doctrines, and from the one path have struck off many and inexplicable by-roads. And I have alluded to this, for fear that anyone becoming acquainted with the variety of parties among us, this might seem to him to put us on a level with the philosophers, and he might condemn the truth from the different ways in which it is defended. But we at once put in a plea in bar against these tainters of our purity, asserting that this is the rule of truth which comes down from Christ by transmission through his companions, to whom we shall prove that those devisors of different doctrines are all posterior. Everything opposed to the truth has been got up from the truth itself, the spirits of error carrying on this system of opposition. By them all corruptions of wholesome discipline have been secretly instigated; by them, too, certain fables have been introduced, that, by their resemblance to the truth, they might impair its credibility, or vindicate their own higher claims to faith; so that people might think Christians unworthy of credit because the poets or philosophers are so, or might regard the poets and philosophers as worthier of confidence from their not being followers of Christ. Accordingly, we get ourselves laughed at for proclaiming that God will one day judge the world. For, like us, the poets and philosophers set up a judgment-seat in the realms below. And if we threaten Gehenna, which is a reservoir of secret fire under the earth for purposes of punishment, we have in the same way derision heaped on us. For so, too, they have their Pyriphlegethon, a river of flame in the regions of the dead. And if we speak of Paradise, the place of heavenly bliss appointed to receive the spirits of the saints, severed from the knowledge of this world by that fiery zone as by a sort of enclosure, the Elysian plains have taken possession of their faith. From where comes it, I ask, you have all this, so like us, in the poets and philosophers? The reason simply is, that they have been taken from our religion. But if they are taken from our sacred things, as being of earlier date, then ours are the truer, and have higher claims on belief, since even their imitations find faith among you. If they maintain their sacred mysteries to have sprung from their own minds, in that case ours will be reflections of what are later than themselves, which by the nature of things is impossible, for never does the shadow precede the body which casts it, or the image the reality.

Chapter 48. Our belief in resurrection is saner than those who hold for transmigration of souls

Come now, if some philosopher affirms, as Laberius holds, following an opinion of Pythagoras, that a person may have his origin from a mule, a serpent from a woman, and with skill of speech twists every argument to prove his view, will he not gain acceptance for and work in some the conviction that, on account of this, they should even abstain from eating animal food? May anyone have the persuasion that he should so abstain, for fear that by chance in his beef he eats of some ancestor of his? But if a Christian promises the return of a man from a man, and the very actual Gaius from Gaius, the cry of the people will be to have him stoned; they will not even so much as grant him a hearing. If there is any ground for the moving to and fro of human souls into different bodies, why may they not return into the very substance they have left, seeing this is to be restored, to be that which had been? They are no longer the very things they had been; for they could not be what they were not, without first ceasing to be what they had been. If we were inclined to give all rein on this point, discussing into what various beasts one and another might probably be changed, we would need at our leisure to take up many points. But this we would do chiefly in our own defence, as setting forth what is greatly worthier of belief, that a man will come back from a man – any given person from any given person, still retaining his humanity; so that the soul, with its qualities unchanged, may be restored to the same condition, thought not to the same outward framework. Assuredly, as the reason why restoration takes place at all is the appointed judgment, every man must come out the very same who had once existed, that he may receive at God's hands a judgment, whether of good desert or the opposite. And therefore the body too will appear; for the soul is not capable of suffering without the solid substance (that is, the flesh; and for this reason, also) that it is not right that souls should have all the wrath of God to bear: they did not sin without the body, within which all was done by them. But how, you say, can a substance which has been dissolved be made to reappear again? Consider yourself, O man, and you will believe in it! Reflect on what you were before you came into existence. Nothing. For if you had been anything, you would have remembered it. You, then, who were nothing before you existed, reduced to nothing also when you cease to be, why may you not come into being again out of nothing, at the will of the same Creator whose will created you out of nothing at the first? Will it be anything new in your case? You who were not, were made; when you cease to be again, you shall be made. Explain, if you can, your original creation, and then demand to know how you shall be re-created. Indeed, it will be still easier surely to make you what you were once, when the very same creative power made you without difficulty what you never were before. There will be doubts, perhaps, as to the power of God, of him who hung in its place this huge body of our world, made out of what had never existed, as from a death of emptiness and inanity, animated by the Spirit who enlivens all living things, its very self the unmistakable type of the resurrection, that it might be to you a witness – no, the exact image of the resurrection. Light, every day extinguished, shines out again; and, with like alternation, darkness succeeds light's outgoing. The defunct stars re-live; the seasons, as soon as they are finished, renew their course; the fruits are brought to maturity, and then are reproduced. The seeds do not spring up with abundant produce, save as they rot and dissolve away; – all things are preserved by perishing, all things are refashioned out of death. You, man of nature so exalted, if you understand yourself, taught even by the Pythian words, Lord of all these things that die and rise, – shall you die to perish evermore? Wherever your dissolution shall have taken place, whatever material agent has destroyed you, or swallowed you up, or swept you away, or reduced you to nothingness, it shall again restore you. Even nothingness is his who is Lord of all. You ask, shall we then be always dying, and rising up from death? If so the Lord of all things had appointed, you would have to submit, though unwillingly, to the Law of your creation. But, in fact, he has no other purpose than that of which he has informed us. The Reason which made the universe out of different elements, so that all things might be composed of opposite substances in unity – of void and solid, of animate and inanimate, of comprehensible and incomprehensible, of light and darkness, of life itself and death – has also disposed time into order, by fixing and distinguishing its mode, according to which this first portion of it, which we inhabit from the beginning of the world, flows down by a temporal course to a close; but the portion which succeeds, and to which we look forward continues forever. When, therefore, the boundary and limit, that millennial interspace, has been passed, when even the outward fashion of the world itself – which has been spread like a veil over the eternal economy, equally a thing of time – passes away, then the whole human race shall be raised again, to have its dues meted out according as it has merited in the period of good or evil, and thereafter to have these paid out through the immeasurable ages of eternity. Therefore after this there is neither death nor repeated resurrections, but we shall be the same that we are now, and still unchanged – the servants of God, ever with God, clothed on with the proper substance of eternity; but the profane, and all who are not true worshippers of God, in the same way shall be consigned to the punishment of everlasting fire – that fire which, from its very nature indeed, directly ministers to their incorruptibility. The philosophers are familiar as well as we with the distinction between a common and a secret fire. So that which is in common use is far different from that which we see in divine judgments, whether striking as thunderbolts from heaven, or bursting up out of the earth through mountain-tops; for it does not consume what it scorches, but while it burns it repairs. So the mountains continue ever burning; and a person struck by lighting is even now kept safe from any destroying flame. A notable proof this of the fire eternal! a notable example of the endless judgment which still supplies punishment with fuel! The mountains burn, and last. How will it be with the wicked and the enemies of God?

Chapter 49. Ideas of poets and philosophers are honoured, while ours are outcast

These are what are called presumptuous speculations in our case alone; in the philosophers and poets they are regarded as sublime speculations and illustrious discoveries. They are men of wisdom, we are fools. They are worthy of all honour, we are folk to have the finger pointed at; no, besides that, we are even to have punishments inflicted on us. But let things which are the defence of virtue, if you will, have no foundation, and give them duly the name of fancies, yet still they are necessary; let them be absurd if you will, yet they are of use: they make all who believe them better men and women, under the fear of never-ending punishment and the hope of never-ending bliss. It is not, then, wise to brand as false, nor to regard as absurd, things the truth of which it is expedient to presume. On no ground is it right positively to condemn as bad what beyond all doubt is profitable. So, in fact, you are guilty of the very presumption of which you accuse us, in condemning what is useful. It is equally out of the question to regard them as nonsensical; at any rate, if they are false and foolish, they hurt nobody. For they are just (in that case) like many other things on which you inflict no penalties – foolish and fabulous things, I mean, which, as quite innocuous, are never charged as crimes or punished. But in a thing of the kind, if this be so indeed, we should be adjudged to ridicule, not to swords, and flames, and crosses, and wild beasts, in which iniquitous cruelty not only the blinded populace exults and insults over us, but in which some of you too glory, not scrupling to gain the popular favour by your injustice. As though all you can do to us did not depend on our pleasure. It is assuredly a matter of my own inclination, being a Christian. Your condemnation, then, will only reach me in that case, if I wish to be condemned; but when all you can do to me, you can do only at my will, all you can do is dependent on my will, and is not in your power. The joy of the people in our trouble is therefore utterly reasonless. For it is our joy they appropriate to themselves, since we would far rather be condemned than apostatize from God; on the contrary, our haters should be sorry rather than rejoice, as we have obtained the very thing of our own choice.

Chapter 50. No one suffers willingly, though we may reap glory from it

In that case, you say, why do you complain of our persecutions? You ought rather to be grateful to us for giving you the sufferings you want. Well, it is quite true that it is our desire to suffer, but it is in the way that the soldier longs for war. No one indeed suffers willingly, since suffering necessarily implies fear and danger. Yet the man who objected to the conflict, both fights with all his strength, and when victorious, he rejoices in the battle, because he reaps from it glory and spoil. It is our battle to be summoned to your tribunals that there, under fear of execution, we may battle for the truth. But the day is won when the object of the struggle is gained. This victory of ours gives us the glory of pleasing God, and the spoil of life eternal. But we are overcome. Yes, when we have obtained our wishes. Therefore we conquer in dying; we go forth victorious at the very time we are subdued. Call us, if you like, sarmenticii and Semaxii, because, bound to a half-axle stake, we are burned in a circle-heap of faggots. This is the attitude in which we conquer, it is our victory-robe, it is for us a sort of triumphal car.

Naturally enough, we do not please the vanquished; on account of this, indeed, we are counted a desperate, reckless race. But the very desperation and recklessness that you object to in us, among yourselves you exalt as a standard of virtue in the cause of glory and of fame. Mucius of his own will left his right hand on the altar: what sublimity of mind! Empedocles gave his whole body at Catania to the fires of Aetna: what mental resolution! A certain foundress of Carthage gave herself away in second marriage to the funeral pyre: what a noble witness of her chastity! Regulus, wishing that his one life should count for the lives of many enemies, endured these crosses over all his frame: how brave a person – even in captivity a conqueror! Anaxarchus, when he was being beaten to death by a barley-pounder, cried out, "Beat on, beat on at the covering of Anaxarchus; no stroke falls on Anaxarchus himself." O magnanimity of the philosopher, who even in such an end had jokes on his lips! I omit all reference to those who with their own sword, or with any other milder form of death, have made their bid for glory. No, see how even torture contests are crowned by you. The Athenian courtesan, having wearied out her executioner, at last bit off her tongue and spat it in the face of the raging tyrant, that she might at the same time spit away her power of speech, nor be longer able to confess her fellow-conspirators, in case, being overcome, she might want to do so. Zeno the Eleatic, when he was asked by Dionysius what good philosophy did, on answering that it gave contempt of death, was all unquailing, given over to the tyrant's scourge, and sealed his opinion even by his death. We all know how the Spartan lash, applied with the utmost cruelty under the very eyes of friends encouraging, confers on those who bear it honour proportionate to the blood which the young men shed.

O glory legitimate, because it is human, for whose sake it is counted neither reckless foolhardiness, nor desperate obstinacy, to despise death itself and all sorts of savage treatment; for whose sake you may for your native place, for the empire, for friendship, endure all you are forbidden to do for God! And you cast statues in honour of persons such as these, and you put inscriptions on images, and cut out epitaphs on tombs, that their names may never perish. Insofar as you can by your monuments, you yourselves afford a sort of resurrection to the dead. Yet he who expects the true resurrection from God, is insane, if for God he suffers! But go zealously on, good presidents, you will stand higher with the people if you sacrifice the Christians at their wish, kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust; your injustice is the proof that we are innocent. Therefore God suffers that we so suffer; for but very lately, in condemning a Christian woman to the leno (brothel) rather than to the leo (lion) you admitted that a taint on our purity is considered among us something more terrible than any punishment and any death.

Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, avail you; it is rather a temptation to us. The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is a seed. Many of your writers exhort to the courageous bearing of pain and death, as Cicero in the Tusculans, as Seneca in his Chances, as Diogenes, Pyrrhus, Callinicus; and yet their words do not find so many disciples as Christians do, teachers not by words, but by their deeds. That very obstinacy you rail against is the preceptress. For who that contemplates it, is not excited to enquire what lies behind it? Who, after enquiry, does not embrace our doctrines? and when he has embraced them, desires not to suffer that he may become partaker of the fullness of God's grace, that he may obtain from God complete forgiveness, by giving in exchange his blood? For that secures the remission of all offences. On this account it is that we return thanks on the very spot for your sentences. As the divine and human are ever opposed to each other, when we are condemned by you, we are acquitted by the Highest.

On Idolatry

(24 chapters)

Chapter 1. All kinds of sins attributed to idolatry

The principal crime of the human race, the highest guilt charged on the world, the whole procuring cause of judgment, is idolatry. For, although each single fault retains its own proper feature, although it is destined to judgment under its own proper name also, yet it is marked off under the general account of idolatry. Set aside names, examine works, the idolater is likewise a murderer. Do you enquire whom he has slain? If it contributes ought to the aggravation of the indictment, no stranger nor personal enemy, but his own self. By what snares? Those of his error. By what weapon? The offence done to God. By how many blows? As many as are his idolatries. He who affirms that the idolater perishes not, will affirm that the idolater has not committed murder. Further, you may recognise in the same crime adultery and fornication; for he who serves false gods is doubtless an adulterer of truth, because all falsehood is adultery. So, too, he is sunk in fornication. For who that is a fellow-worker with unclean spirits, does not stalk in general pollution and fornication? And so it is that the Holy Scriptures use the designation of fornication in their rebuking of idolatry. The essence of fraud, I take it, is, that any should seize what is another's, or refuse to another his due; and, of course, fraud done toward man is a name of greatest crime. Well, but idolatry does fraud to God, by refusing to him, and conferring on others, his honours; so that to fraud it also conjoins contumely. But if fraud, just as much as fornication and adultery, entails death, then, in these cases, equally with the former, idolatry stands unacquitted of the impeachment of murder. After such crimes, so pernicious, so devouring of salvation, all other crimes also, after some manner, and separately disposed in order, find their own essence represented in idolatry. In it also are the concupiscences of the world. For what solemnity of idolatry is without the circumstance of dress and ornament? In it are lasciviousnesses and drunkennesses; since it is, for the most part, for the sake of food, and stomach, and appetite, that these solemnities are frequented. In it is unrighteousness. For what more unrighteous than it, which knows not the Father of righteousness? In it also is vanity, since its whole system is vain. In it is mendacity, for its whole substance is false. So it happens that in idolatry all crimes are detected, and in all crimes idolatry. Even otherwise, since all faults savour of opposition to God, and there is nothing which savours of opposition to God which is not assigned to demons and unclean spirits, whose property idols are; doubtless, whoever commits a fault is chargeable with idolatry, for he does that which pertains to the proprietors of idols.

Chapter 2. Idolatry, a crime that sends out many branches

But let the universal names of crimes withdraw to the specialties of their own works; let idolatry remain in that which it is itself. Sufficient to itself is a name so inimical to God, a substance of crime so abundant, which reaches forth so many branches, diffuses so many veins, that from this name, for the greatest part, is drawn the material of all the modes in which the expansiveness of idolatry has to be foreguarded against by us, since in manifold wise it subverts the servants of God; and this not only when unperceived, but also when cloaked over. Most men simply regard idolatry as to be interpreted in these senses alone, that is: if one burn incense, or immolate a victim, or give a sacrificial banquet, or be bound to some sacred functions or priesthoods; just as if one were to regard adultery as to be accounted in kisses, and in embraces, and in actual fleshly contact; or murder as to be reckoned only in the shedding forth of blood, and in the actual taking away of life. But how far wider an extent the Lord assigns to those crimes we are sure: when he defines adultery to consist even in concupiscence, "if one shall have cast an eye lustfully on," and stirred his soul with immodest commotion; when he judges murder to consist even in a word of curse or of reproach, and in every impulse of anger, and in the neglect of charity toward a brother just as John teaches, that he who hates his brother is a murderer. Otherwise, both the devil's ingenuity in malice, and God the Lord's in the Discipline by which he fortifies us against the devil's depths, would have but limited scope, if we were judged only in such faults as even the heathen nations have decreed punishable. How will our "righteousness abound above that of the Scribes and Pharisees," as the Lord has prescribed, unless we shall have seen through the abundance of that adversary quality, that is, of un righteousness? But if the head of unrighteousness is idolatry, the first point is, that we be fore-fortified against the abundance of idolatry, while we recognise it not only in its tangible manifestations.

Chapter 3. The origins of idolatry in ancient times: Every "formling" (from "eidos”) is an idol.

Idol in ancient times there was none. Before the artificers of this monstrosity had bubbled into being, temples stood solitary and shrines empty, just as to the present day in some places traces of the ancient practice remain permanently. Yet idolatry used to be practiced, not under that name, but in that function; for even at this day it can be practiced outside a temple, and without an idol. But when the devil introduced into the world artificers of statues and of images, and of every kind of likenesses, that former rude business of human disaster attained from idols both a name and a development. Thenceforward every are which in any way produces an idol instantly became a fount of idolatry. For it makes no difference whether a moulder cast, or a carver grave, or an embroiderer weave the idol; because neither is it a question of material, whether an idol be formed of gypsum, or of colours, or of stone, or of bronze, or of silver, or of thread. For since even without an idol idolatry is committed, when the idol is there it makes no difference of what kind it be, of what material, or what shape; for fear that any should think that only to be held an idol which is consecrated in human shape. To establish this point, the interpretation of the word is required. Eidos, in Greek, signifies form; eidolon, derived diminutively from that, by an equivalent process in our language, makes formling. Every form or formling, therefore, claims to be called an idol. Hence idolatry is "all attendance and service about every idol." Hence also, every artificer of an idol is guilty of one and the same crime, unless, the People which consecrated for itself the likeness of a calf, and not of a man, fell short of incurring the guilt of idolatry.

Chapter 4. Idols should not even be made, much less worshipped

God prohibits an idol as much to be made as to be worshipped. In so far as the making what may be worshipped is the prior act, so far is the prohibition to make (if the worship is unlawful) the prior prohibition. For this reason – the eradicating, namely, of the material of idolatry – the divine law proclaims, "You shall make no idol;" and by conjoining, "Nor a similitude of the things which are in the heaven, and which are in the earth, and which are in the sea," has interdicted the servants of God from acts of that kind all the universe over. Enoch had preceded, predicting that "the demons, and the spirits of the angelic apostates, would turn into idolatry all the elements, all the garniture of the universe, all things contained in the heaven, in the sea, in the earth, that they might be consecrated as God, in opposition to God." All things, therefore, does human error worship, except the Founder of all himself. The images of those things are idols; the consecration of the images is idolatry. Whatever guilt idolatry incurs, must necessarily be imputed to every artificer of every idol. In short, the same Enoch fore-condemns in general menace both idol-worshippers and idol-makers together. And again: "I swear to you, sinners, that against the day of perdition of blood repentance is being prepared. You who serve stones, and you who make images of gold, and silver, and wood, and stones and clay, and serve phantoms, and demons, and spirits in fanes, and all errors not according to knowledge, shall find no help from them." But Isaiah says, "You are witnesses whether there is a God except me." "And they who mould and carve out at that time were not: all vain! who do that which likes them, which shall not profit them!" And that whole ensuing discourse sets a ban as well on the artificers as the worshippers: the close of which is, "Learn that their heart is ashes and earth, and that none can free his own soul." In which sentence David equally includes the makers too. "Such," he says, "let them become who make them." And why should I, a person of limited memory, suggest anything further? Why recall anything more from the Scriptures? As if either the voice of the Holy Spirit were not sufficient; or else any further deliberation were needful, whether the Lord cursed and condemned by priority the artificers of those things, of which he curses and condemns the worshippers !

Chapter 5. Answering the idol-carvers' excuse (“it's our livelihood”)

We will certainly take more pains in answering the excuses of artificers of this kind, who ought never to be admitted into the house of God, if any have a knowledge of that Discipline. To begin with, that speech, customarily cast in our teeth, "I have nothing else whereby to live," may be more severely retorted, "You have, then, whereby to live? If by your own laws, what have you to do with God?" Then, as to the argument they have the hardihood to bring even from the Scriptures, that the apostle has said, "As each has been found, so let him persevere. ' We may all, therefore, persevere in sins, as the result of that interpretation! for there is not anyone of us who has not been found as a sinner, since no other cause was the source of Christ's descent than that of setting sinners free. Again, they say the same apostle has left a precept, according to his own example, "That each one work with his own hands for a living." If this precept is maintained in respect to all hands, I believe even the bath-thieves live by their hands, and robbers themselves gain the means to live by their hands; forgers, again, execute their evil handwritings, not of course with their feet, but hands; actors, however, achieve a livelihood not with hands alone, but with their entire limbs. Let the Church, therefore, stand open to all who are supported by their hands and by their own work; if there is no exception of arts which the Discipline of God receives not. But some one says, in opposition to our proposition of "similitude being interdicted," "Why, then, did Moses in the desert make a likeness of a serpent out of bronze?" The figures, which used to be laid as a groundwork for some secret future dispensation, not with a view to the repeal of the law, but as a type of their own final cause, stand in a class by themselves. Otherwise, if we should interpret these things as the adversaries of the Law do, do we, too, as the Marcionites do, ascribe inconsistency to the Almighty, whom they in this manner destroy as being mutable, while in one place he forbids, in another commands? But if any feigns ignorance of the fact that that effigy of the serpent of bronze, after the way of one uphung, denoted the shape of the Lord's cross," which was to free us from serpents – that is, from the devil's angels – while, through itself, it hanged up the devil slain; or whatever other exposition of that figure has been revealed to worthier men no matter, provided we remember the apostle affirms that all things happened at that time to the People figuratively. It is enough that the same God, as by law he forbade the making of similitude, did, by the extraordinary precept in the case of the serpent, interdict similitude. If you reverence the same God, you have his law, "You shall make no similitude." If you look back, too, to the precept commanding the subsequently made similitude, do you, too, imitate Moses: make not any likeness in opposition to the law, unless to you, too, God have instructed it.

Chapter 6. To make an idol is, in fact, to worship it

If no law of God had prohibited idols to be made by us; if no voice of the Holy Spirit uttered general menace no less against the makers than the worshippers of idols; from our sacrament itself we would draw our interpretation that arts of that kind are opposed to the faith. For how have we renounced the devil and his angels, if we make them? What divorce have we declared from them, I do not say with whom, but dependent on whom, we live? What discord have we entered into with those to whom we are under obligation for the sake of our maintenance? Can you have denied with the tongue what with the hand you confess? unmake by word what by deed you make? preach one God, you who make so many? preach the true God, you who make false ones? "I make," says one, "but I worship not;" as if there were some cause for which he dare not worship, besides that for which he ought not also to make, – the offence done to God, namely, in either case. No, you who make, that they may be able to be worshipped, do worship; and you worship, not with the spirit of some worthless perfume, but with your own; nor at the expense of a beast's soul, but of your own. To them you immolate your ingenuity; to them you make your sweat a libation; to them you kindle the torch of your forethought. More are you to them than a priest, since it is by your means they have a priest; your diligence is their divinity. Do you affirm that you worship not what you make? Ah! but they affirm not so, to whom you slay this fatter, more precious and greater victim, your salvation.

Chapter 7. Grief of the faithful at the admission of idol makers into the ministry

A whole day the zeal of faith will direct its pleadings to this quarter: bewailing that a Christian should come from idols into the Church; should come from an adversary workshop into the house of God; should raise to God the Father hands which are the mothers of idols; should pray to God with the hands which, out of doors, are prayed to in opposition to God; should apply to the Lord's body those hands which confer bodies on demons. Nor is this sufficient. Grant that it be a small matter, if from other hands they receive what they contaminate; but even those very hands deliver to others what they have contaminated. Idol-artificers are chosen even into the ecclesiastical order. Oh wickedness! Once did the Jews lay brands on Christ; these mangle his body daily. Oh hands to be cut off! Now let the saying, "If your hand make you do evil, amputate it," see to it whether it were uttered by way of similitude merely. What hands more to be amputated than those in which scandal is done to the Lord's body?

Chapter 8. Lawful means of gaining a livelihood, without recourse to idolatry

There are also other species of very many arts which, although they extend not to the making of idols, yet, with the same criminality, furnish the adjuncts without which idols have no power. For it matters not whether you erect or equip: if you have embellished his temple, altar, or niche; if you have pressed out gold-leaf, or have worked his insignia, or even his house: work of that kind, which confers not shape, but authority, is more important. If the necessity of maintenance is urged so much, the arts have other species indeed, to afford means of livelihood, without outstepping the path of discipline, that is, without the confiction of an idol. The plasterer knows both how to mend roofs, and lay on stuccoes, and polish a cistern, and trace ogives, and draw in relief on party-walls many other ornaments beside likenesses. The painter, too, the marble mason, the bronze-worker, and every graver whatever, knows expansions of his own art, of course much easier of execution. For how much more easily does he who delineates a statue overlay a sideboard! How much sooner does he who carves a Mars out of a lime-tree, fasten together a chest! No are but is either mother or kinswoman of some neighbour art: nothing is independent of its neighbour. The veins of the arts are many as are the concupiscences of men. "But there is difference in wages and the rewards of handicraft;" therefore there is difference, too, in the labour required. Smaller wages are compensated by more frequent earning. How many are the party-walls which require statues? How many the temples and shrines which are built for idols? But houses, and official residences, and baths, and tenements, how many are they? Shoe and slipper-gilding is daily work not so the gilding of Mercury and Serapis. Let that suffice for the gain of handicrafts. Luxury and ostentation have more votaries than all superstition. Ostentation will require dishes and cups more easily than superstition. Luxury deals in wreaths, also, more than ceremony. When, therefore, we urge men generally to such kinds of handicrafts as do not come in contact with an idol indeed and with the things which are appropriate to an idol; since, moreover, the things which are common to idols are often common to men too; of this also we ought to beware that nothing be, with our knowledge, demanded by any person from our idols' service. For if we shall have made that concession, and shall not have had recourse to the remedies so often used, I think we are not free of the contagion of idolatry, we whose (not unwitting) hands are found busied in the tendency, or in the honour and service, of demons.

Chapter 9. Other professions (Astrology in particular) allied to idolatry

We observe among the arts also some professions liable to the charge of idolatry. Of astrologers there should be no speaking even; but since one in these days has challenged us, defending on his own behalf perseverance in that profession, I will use a few words. I allege not that he honours idols, whose names he has inscribed on the heaven, to whom he has attributed all God's power; because men, presuming that we are disposed of by the immutable arbitrament of the stars, think on that account that God is not to be sought after. One proposition I lay down: that those angels, the deserters from God, the lovers of women, were likewise the discoverers of this curious art, on that account also condemned by God. Oh divine sentence, reaching even to the earth in its vigour, to which the unwitting render testimony! The astrologers are expelled just like their angels. The city and Italy are interdicted to the astrologers, just as heaven to their angels. There is the same penalty of exclusion for disciples and masters. "But Magi and astrologers came from the east." We know the mutual alliance of magic and astrology. The interpreters of the stars, then, were the first to announce Christ's birth the first to present him "gifts." By this bond, (must) I imagine, they put Christ under obligation to themselves? What then? Shall therefore the religion of those Magi act as patron now also to astrologers? Astrology now-a-days, indeed, treats of Christ – is the science of the stars of Christ; not of Saturn, or Mars, and whomsoever else out of the same class of the dead it pays observance to and preaches? But, however, that science has been allowed until the Gospel, in order that after Christ's birth no one should thenceforward interpret anyone's nativity by the heaven. For they therefore offered to the then infant Lord that frankincense and myrrh and gold, to be, so to speak, the close of worldly sacrifice and glory, which Christ was about to do away. What, then? The dream – sent, doubtless, of the will of God – suggested to the same Magi, namely, that they should go home, but by another way, not that by which they came. It means this: that they should not walk in their ancient path. Not that Herod should not pursue them, who in fact did not pursue them; unwitting even that they had departed by another way, since be was indeed, unwitting by what way they came. Just so we ought to understand by it the right Way and Discipline. And so the precept was rather, that thenceforward they should walk otherwise. So, too, that other species of magic which operates by miracles, emulous even in opposition to Moses, tried God's patience until the Gospel. For thenceforward Simon Magus, just turned believer, (since he was still thinking somewhat of his juggling sect; to wit, that among the miracles of his profession he might buy even the gift of the Holy Spirit through imposition of hands) was cursed by the apostles, and ejected from the faith. Both he and that other magician, who was with Sergius Paulus, (since he began opposing himself to the same apostles) was mulcted with loss of eyes. The same fate, I believe, would astrologers, too, have met, if any had fallen in the way of the apostles. But yet, when magic is punished, of which astrology is a species, of course the species is condemned in the genus. After the Gospel, you will nowhere find either sophists, Chaldeans, enchanters, diviners, or magicians, except as clearly punished. "Where is the wise, where the grammarian, where the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this age?" you know nothing, astrologer, if you do not know that you should be a Christian. If you did know it, you ought to have known this also, that you should have nothing more to do with that profession of yours which, of itself, fore-chants the climacterics of others, and might instruct you of its own danger. There is no part nor lot for you in that system of yours. He cannot hope for the kingdom of the heavens, whose finger or wand abuses the heaven.

Chapter 10. Schoolmasters and their special difficulties

Moreover, we must enquire likewise concerning schoolmasters; nor only of them, but also all other professors of literature. No, on the contrary, we must not doubt that they are in affinity with manifold idolatry: first, in that it is necessary for them to preach the gods of the nations, to express their names, genealogies, honourable distinctions, all and singular; and further, to observe the solemnities and festivals of the same, as of them by whose means they compute their revenues. What schoolmaster, without a table of the seven idols, will yet frequent the Quinquatria? The very first payment of every pupil he consecrates both to the honour and to the name of Minerva; so that, even though he be not said "to eat of that which is sacrificed to idols" nominally (not being dedicated to any particular idol), he is shunned as an idolater. What less of defilement does he recur on that ground, than a business brings which, both nominally and virtually, is consecrated publicly to an idol? The Minervalia are as much Minerva's, as the Saturnalia Saturn's; Saturn's, which must necessarily be celebrated even by little slaves at the time of the Saturnalia. New-year's gifts likewise must be caught at, and the Septimontium kept; and all the presents of Midwinter and the feast of Dear Kinsmanship must be exacted; the schools must be wreathed with flowers; the flamens' wives and the aediles sacrifice; the school is honoured on the appointed holy-days. The same thing takes place on an idol's birthday; every pomp of the devil is frequented. Who will think that these things are befitting to a Christian master, unless it be he who shall think them suitable likewise to one who is not a master? We know it may be said, "If teaching literature is not lawful to God's servants, neither will learning be likewise;" and, "How could one be trained to ordinary human intelligence, or to any sense or action whatever, since literature is the means of training for all life? How do we repudiate secular studies, without which divine studies cannot be pursued?" Let us see, then, the necessity of literary erudition; let us reflect that partly it cannot be admitted, partly cannot be avoided. Learning literature is allowable for believers, rather than teaching; for the principle of learning and of teaching is different. If a believer teach literature, while he is teaching doubtless he commends, while he delivers he affirms, while he recalls he bears testimony to, the praises of idols interspersed there. He seals the gods themselves with this name; whereas the Law , as we have said, prohibits "the names of gods to be pronounced," and this names to be conferred on vanity. Hence the devil gets men's early faith built up from the beginnings of their erudition. Enquire whether he who catechizes about idols commit idolatry. But when a believer learns these things, if he is already capable of understanding what idolatry is, he neither receives nor allows them; much more if he is not yet capable. Or, when he begins to understand, it behooves him first to understand what he has previously learned, that is, concerning God and the faith. Therefore he will reject those things, and will not receive them; and will be as safe as one who from one who knows it not, knowingly accepts poison, but does not drink it. To him necessity is attributed as an excuse, because he has no other way to learn. Moreover, the not teaching literature is as much easier than the not learning, as it is easier, too, for the pupil not to attend, than for the master not to frequent, the rest of the defilements incident to the schools from public and scholastic solemnities.

Chapter 11. The connection between covetousness and idolatry

If we think over the rest of faults, tracing them from their generations, let us begin with covetousness, "a root of all evils," wherewith, indeed, some having been ensnared, "have suffered shipwreck about faith." Albeit covetousness is by the same apostle called idolatry. In the next place proceeding to mendacity, the minister of covetousness (of false swearing I am silent, since even swearing is not lawful) – is trade adapted for a servant of God? But, covetousness apart, what is the motive for acquiring? When the motive for acquiring ceases, there will be no necessity for trading. Grant now that there be some righteousness in business, secure from the duty of watchfulness against covetousness and mendacity; I take it that that trade which pertains to the very soul and spirit of idols, which pampers every demon, falls under the charge of idolatry. Rather, is not that the principal idolatry? If the selfsame merchandises – frankincense, I mean, and all other foreign productions – used as sacrifice to idols, are of use likewise to men for medicinal ointments, to us Christians also, over and above, for solaces of sepulture, let them see to it. At all events, while the pomps, while the priesthoods, while the sacrifices of idols, are furnished by dangers, by losses, by inconveniences, by cogitations, by runnings to and fro, or trades, what else are you demonstrated to be but an idols' agent? Let none contend that, in this way, exception may be taken to all trades. All graver faults extend the sphere for diligence in watchfulness proportionally to the magnitude of the danger; in order that we may withdraw not only from the faults, but from the means through which they have being. For although the fault be done by others, it makes no difference if it be by my means. In no case ought I to be necessary to another, while he is doing what to me is unlawful. Hence I ought to understand that care must be taken by me, for fear that what I am forbidden to do be done by my means. In short, in another cause of no lighter guilt I observe that fore-judgment. In that I am interdicted from fornication, I furnish nothing of help or connivance to others for that purpose; in that I have separated my own flesh itself from stews, I acknowledge that I cannot exercise the trade of pandering, or keep that kind of places for my neighbour's sake. So, too, the interdiction of murder shows me that a trainer of gladiators also is excluded from the Church; nor will anyone fail to be the means of doing what he subministers to another to do. Behold, here is a more kindred fore-judgment: if a purveyor of the public victims come over to the faith, will you permit him to remain permanently in that trade? or if one who is already a believer shall have undertaken that business, will you think that he is to be retained in the Church? No, I take it; unless anyone will dissemble in the case of a frankincense-seller too. In sooth, the agency of blood pertains to some, that of odors to others. If, before idols were in the world, idolatry, hereto shapeless, used to be transacted by these wares; if, even now, the work of idolatry is perpetrated, for the most part, without the idol, by burnings of odors; the frankincense-seller is a something even more serviceable even toward demons, for idolatry is more easily carried on without the idol, than without the ware of the frankincense-seller. Let us interrogate thoroughly the conscience of the faith itself. With what mouth will a Christian frankincense-seller, if he shall pass through temples, with what mouth will he spit down on and blow out the smoking altars, for which himself has made provision? With what consistency will he exorcise his own foster-children, to whom he affords his own house as store-room? Indeed, if he shall have ejected a demon, let him not congratulate himself on his faith, for he has not ejected an enemy; he ought to have had his prayer easily granted by one whom he is daily feeding. No art, then, no profession, no trade, which administers either to equipping or forming idols, can be free from the title of idolatry; unless we interpret idolatry to be altogether something else than the service of idol-tendency.

Chapter 12. Further answers to the plea, "How am I to live?"

In vain do we flatter ourselves as to the necessities of human maintenance, if – after faith sealed – we say, "I have no means to live?" For here I will now answer more fully that abrupt proposition. It is advanced too late. For after the similitude of that most prudent builder, who first computes the costs of the work, together with his own means, for fear that, when he has begun, he afterwards blush to find himself spent, deliberation should have been made before. But even now you have the Lord's sayings, as examples taking away from you all excuse. For what is it you say? "I shall be in need." But the Lord calls the needy" happy." "I shall have no food." But "think not," he says, "about food;" and as an example of clothing we have the lilies. "my work was my subsistence." No, but "all things are to be sold, and divided to the needy." "But provision must be made for children and posterity." "None, putting his hand on the plough, and looking back, is fit "for work. "But I was under contract." "None can serve two lords." If you wish to be the Lord's disciple, it is necessary you "take your cross, and follow the Lord:" your cross; that is, your own straits and tortures, or your body only, which is in the shape of a cross. Parents, wives, children, will have to be left behind, for God's sake. Do you hesitate about arts, and trades, and about professions likewise, for the sake of children and parents? Even there was it demonstrated to us, that both "dear pledges," and handicrafts, and trades, are to be quite left behind for the Lord's sake; while James and John, called by the Lord, do leave quite behind both father and ship; while Matthew is roused up from the toll-booth; while even burying a father was too tardy a business for faith. None of them whom the Lord chose to him said, "I have no means to live." Faith fears not famine. It knows, likewise, that hunger is no less to be despised by it for God's sake, than every kind of death. It has learnt not to respect life; how much more food? (You ask) "How many have fulfilled these conditions?" But what with men is difficult, with God is easy. Let us, however, comfort ourselves about the gentleness and clemency of God in such wise, as not to indulge our "necessities" up to the point of affinities with idolatry, but to avoid even from afar every breath of it, as of a pestilence. (And this) not merely in the cases aforementioned, but in the universal series of human superstition; whether appropriated to its gods, or to the defunct, or to kings, as pertaining to the selfsame unclean spirits, sometimes through sacrifices and priesthoods, sometimes through spectacles and the like, sometimes through holy-days.

Chapter 13. The observance of days connected with idolatry

But why speak of sacrifices and priesthoods? Of spectacles, moreover, and pleasures of that kind, we have already filled a volume of their own. In this place must be handled the subject of holidays and other extraordinary solemnities, which we accord sometimes to our wantonness, sometimes to our timidity, in opposition to the common faith and Discipline. The first point, indeed, on which I shall join issue is this: whether a servant of God ought to share with the very nations themselves in matters of his kind either in dress, or in food, or in any other kind of their gladness. "To rejoice with the rejoicing, and grieve with the grieving," is said about brethren by the apostle when exhorting to unanimity. But, for these purposes, "There is no communion between light and darkness," between life and death or else we rescind what is written, "The world shall rejoice, but you shall grieve." If we rejoice with the world, there is reason to fear that with the world we shall grieve too. But when the world rejoices, let us grieve; and when the world afterward grieves, we shall rejoice. So, too, Eleazar in Hades, (attaining refreshment in Abraham's bosom) and the rich man, (on the other hand, set in the torment of fire) compensate, by an answerable retribution, their alternate vicissitudes of evil and good. There are certain gift-days, which with some adjust the claim of honour, with others the debt of wages. "Now, then," you say, "I shall receive back what is mine, or pay back what is another's." If men have consecrated for themselves this custom from superstition, why do you, estranged as you are from all their vanity, participate in solemnities consecrated to idols; as if for you also there were some prescript about a day, short of the observance of a particular day, to prevent your paying or receiving what you owe a man, or what is owed you by a man? Give me the form after which you wish to be dealt with. For why should you skulk indeed,, when you contaminate your own conscience by your neighbour's ignorance? If you are not unknown to be a Christian, you are tempted, and you act as if you were not a Christian against your neighbour's conscience; if, however, you shall be disguised indeed,, you are the slave of the temptation. At all events, whether in the latter or the former way, you are guilty of being" ashamed of God." But "whosoever shall be ashamed of me in the presence of men, of him will I too be ashamed," he says, "in the presence of my Father who is in the heavens."

Chapter 14. Blasphemy, according to a saying of St. Paul

But, however, the majority (of Christians) have by this time induced the belief in their mind that it is pardonable if at any time they do what the heathen do, for fear "the Name be blasphemed." Now the blasphemy which must quite be shunned by us in every way is, I take it, this: If any of us lead a heathen into blasphemy with good cause, either by fraud, or by injury, or by contumely, or any other matter of worthy complaint, in which "the Name" is deservedly impugned, so that the Lord, too, be deservedly angry. Otherwise, if of all blasphemy it has been said, "By your means my Name is blasphemed," we all perish at once; since the whole circus, with no desert of ours, assails "the Name" with wicked suffrages. Let us cease (to be Christians) and it will not be blasphemed! On the contrary, while we are, let it be blasphemed: in the observance, not the overstepping, of discipline; while we are being approved, not while we are being reprobated. Oh blasphemy, bordering on martyrdom, which now at tests me to be a Christian, while for that very account it de tests me! The cursing of well-maintained Discipline is a blessing of the Name. "If," he says, "I wished to please men, I should not be Christ's servant." But the same apostle elsewhere bids us take care to please all: "As I," he says, "please all by all means." No doubt he used to please them by celebrating the Saturnalia and New-year's day! (Was it so) or was it by moderation and patience? by gravity, by kindness, by integrity? In the same way, when he is saying, "I have become all things to all, that I may gain all," does he mean "to idolaters an idolater? "to heathens a heathen?" "to the worldly worldly?" But albeit he does not prohibit us from having our conversation with idolaters and adulterers, and the other criminals, saying, "Otherwise you would go out from the world," of course he does not so slacken those reins of conversation that, since it is necessary for us both to live and to mingle with sinners, we may be able to sin with them too. Where there is the intercourse of life, which the apostle concedes, there is sinning, which no one permits. To live with heathens is lawful, to die with them is not. Let us live with all; let us be glad with them, out of community of nature, not of superstition. We are peers in soul, not in discipline; fellow-possessors of the world, not of error. But if we have no right of communion in matters of this kind with strangers, how far more wicked to celebrate them among brethren! Who can maintain or defend this? The Holy Spirit rebukes the Jews with their holy-days. "Your Sabbaths, and new moons, and ceremonies," he says, "my soul hates." By us, to whom Sabbaths are strange, and the new moons and festivals formerly beloved by God, the Saturnalia and New-year's and Midwinter's festivals and Matronalia are frequented – presents come and go – New-year's gifts – games join their noise – banquets join their din! Oh better fidelity of the nations to their own sect, which claims no solemnity of the Christians for itself! Not the Lord's day, not Pentecost, even it they had known them, would they have shared with us; for they would fear for fear that they should seem to be Christians. We are not apprehensive for fear that we seem to be heathens! If any indulgence is to be granted to the flesh, you have it. I will not say your own days, but more too; for to the heathens each festive day occurs but once annually: you have a festive day every eighth day. Call out the individual solemnities of the nations, and set them out into a row, they will not be able to make up a Pentecost.

Chapter 15. Festivals in honour of emperors. Heroism of the three children and Daniel

But "let your works shine," he says; but now all our shops and gates shine! you will nowadays find more doors of heathens without lamps and laurel-wreaths than of Christians. What does the case seem to be with regard to that species (of ceremony) also? If it is an idol's honour, without doubt an idol's honour is idolatry. If it is for a man's sake, let us again consider that all idolatry is for man's sake; let us again consider that all idolatry is a worship done to men, since it is generally agreed even among their worshippers that previously the gods themselves of the nations were men; and so it makes no difference whether that superstitious homage be rendered to men of a former age or of this. Idolatry is condemned, not on account of the persons which are set up for worship, but on account of those its observances, which pertain to demons. "The things which are Caesar's should be rendered to Caesar." It is enough that he set in apposition to it, "and to God the things which are God's." What things, then, are Caesar's? Those, to wit, about which the consultation was then held, whether the poll-tax should be furnished to Caesar or no. Therefore, too, the Lord demanded that the money should be shown him, and enquired about the image, whose it was; and when he had heard it was Caesar's, said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and what are God's to God;" that is, the image of Caesar, which is on the coin, to Caesar, and the image of God, which is on man, to God; so as to render to Caesar indeed money, to God yourself. Otherwise, what will be God's, if all things are Caesar's? "Then," do you say, "the lamps before my doors, and the laurels on my posts are an honour to God?" They are there of course, not because they are an honour to God, but to him who is honour in God's stead by ceremonial observances of that kind, so far as is manifest, saving the religious performance, which is in secret appertaining to demons. For we ought to be sure if there are any whose notice it escapes through ignorance of this world's literature, that there are among the Romans even gods of entrances; Cardea (Hinge-goddess), called after hinges, and Forculus (Door-God) after doors, and Limentinus (Threshold-God) after the threshold, and Janus himself (Gate-God) after the gate: and of course we know that, though names be empty and reigned, yet, when they are drawn down into superstition, demons and every unclean spirit seize them for themselves, through the bond of consecration. Otherwise demons have no name individually, but they there find a name where they find also a token. Among the Greeks likewise we read of Apollo Thyraeus, i.e. of the door, and the Antelii, or Anthelii, demons, as presiders over entrances. These things, therefore, the Holy Spirit foreseeing from the beginning, fore-chanted, through the most ancient prophet Enoch, that even entrances would come into superstitious use. For we see too that other entrances are adored in the baths. But if there are beings which are adored in entrances, it is to those who both the lamps and the laurels will pertain. To an idol you will have done whatever you shall have done to an entrance. In this place I call a witness on the authority also of God; because it is not safe to suppress whatever may have been shown to one, of course for the sake of all. I know that a brother was severely chastised, the same night, through a vision, because on the sudden announcement of public rejoicings his servants had wreathed his gates. And yet himself had not wreathed, or commanded them to be wreathed; for he had gone forth from home before, and on his return had reprehended the deed. So strictly are we appraised with God in matters of this kind, even with regard to the discipline of our family. Therefore, as to what relates to the honours due to kings or emperors, we have a prescript sufficient, that we ought to be in all obedience, according to the apostle's precept, "subject to magistrates, and princes, and powers;" but within the limits of discipline, so long as we keep ourselves separate from idolatry. For it is for this reason, too, that that example of the three brethren has forerun us, who, in other respects obedient toward king Nebuchodonosor rejected with all constancy the honour to his image, proving that whatever is extolled beyond the measure of human honour, to the resemblance of divine sublimity, is idolatry. So too, Daniel, in all other points submissive to Darius, remained in his duty so long as it was free from danger to his religion; for, to avoid undergoing that danger, he feared the royal lions no more than they the royal fires. Let, therefore, them who have no light, light their lamps daily; let them over whom the fires of hell are imminent, affix to their posts, laurels doomed presently to burn: to them the testimonies of darkness and the omens of their penalties are suitable. You are a light of the world, and a tree ever green. If you have renounced temples, make not your own gate a temple. I have said too little. If you have renounced stews, do not clothe your own house with the appearance of a new brothel.

Chapter 16. How to behave at private festivals

Regarding the ceremonies, however, of private and social solemnities – as those of the white toga, of espousals, of nuptials, of name-givings – I should think no danger need be guarded against from the breath of the idolatry which is mixed up with them. For the causes are to be considered to which the ceremony is due. Those above-named I take to be clean in themselves, because neither manly garb, nor the marital ring or union, descends from honours done to any idol. In short, I find no dress cursed by God, except a woman's dress on a man: for "cursed," he says, "is every man who clothes himself in woman's attire." The toga, however, is a dress of manly name as well as of manly use. God no more prohibits nuptials to be celebrated than a name to be given. "But there are sacrifices appropriated to these occasions." Let me be invited, and let not the title of the ceremony be "assistance at a sacrifice," and the discharge of my good offices is at the service of my friends. I wish that it were "at their service" indeed, and that we could escape seeing what is unlawful for us to do. But since the evil one has so surrounded the world with idolatry, it will be lawful for us to be present at some ceremonies which see us doing service to a man, not to an idol. Clearly, if invited to priestly function and sacrifice, I will not go, for that is service peculiar to an idol; but neither will I furnish advice, or expense, or any other good office in a matter of that kind. If it is on account of the sacrifice that I be invited, and stand by, I shall be partaker of idolatry; if any other cause conjoins me to the sacrificer, I shall be merely a spectator of the sacrifice.

Chapter 17. What offices a Christian man may properly hold

But what shall believing servants or children do? officials likewise, when attending on their lords, or patrons, or superiors, when sacrificing? Well, if anyone shall have handed the wine to a sacrificer, no, if by any single word necessary or belonging to a sacrifice he shall have aided him, he will be held to be a minister of idolatry. Mindful of this rule, we can render service even "to magistrates and powers," after the example of the patriarchs and the other forefathers, who obeyed idolatrous kings up to the confine of idolatry. Hence arose, very lately, a dispute whether a servant of God should take the administration of any dignity or power, if he be able, whether by some special grace, or by adroitness, to keep himself intact from every species of idolatry; after the example that both Joseph and Daniel, clean from idolatry, administered both dignity and power in the livery and purple of the prefecture of entire Egypt or Babylonia. And so let us grant that it is possible for anyone to succeed in moving, in whatever office, under the mere name of the office, neither sacrificing nor lending his authority to sacrifices; not farming out victims; not assigning to others the care of temples; not looking after their tributes; not giving spectacles at his own or the public charge, or presiding over the giving them; making proclamation or edict for no solemnity; not even taking oaths: moreover (what comes under the head of power), neither sitting in judgment on anyone's life or character, for you might bear with his judging about money; neither condemning nor fore-condemning; binding no one, imprisoning or torturing no one – if it is credible that all this is possible.

Chapter 18. Forms of dress connected with idolatry

But we must now treat of the garb only and apparatus of office. There is a dress proper to everyone, as well for daily use as for office and dignity. That famous purple, therefore, and the gold as an ornament of the neck, were, among the Egyptians and Babylonians, ensigns of dignity, in the same way as bordered, or striped, or palm-embroidered togas, and the golden wreaths of provincial priests, are now; but not on the same terms. For they used only to be conferred, under the name of honour, on such as deserved the familiar friendship of kings (so, too, such used to be called the "purpled-men" of kings, just as among us, some, from their white toga, are called "candidates”); but not on the understanding that that garb should be tied to priesthoods also, or to any idol-ceremonies. For if that were the case, of course men of such holiness and constancy would instantly have refused the defiled dresses; and it would instantly have appeared that Daniel had been no zealous slave to idols, nor worshipped Bel, nor the dragon, which long after did appear. That purple, therefore, was simple, and used not at that time to be a mark of dignity among the barbarians, but of nobility. For as both Joseph, who had been a slave, and Daniel, who through captivity had changed his state, attained the freedom of the states of Babylon and Egypt through the dress of barbaric nobility; so among us believers also, if need so be, the bordered toga will be proper to be conceded to boys, and the stole to girls, as ensigns of birth, not of power; of race, not of office; of rank, not of superstition. But the purple, or the other ensigns of dignities and powers, dedicated from the beginning to idolatry engrafted on the dignity and the powers, carry the spot of their own profanation; since, moreover, bordered and striped togas, and broad-barred ones, are put even on idols themselves; and fasces also, and rods, are borne before them; and deservedly, for demons are the magistrates of this world: they bear the fasces and the purples, the ensigns of one college. What end, then, will you advance if you use the garb indeed, but administer not the functions of it? In things unclean, none can appear clean. If you put on a tunic defiled in itself, it perhaps may not be defiled through you; but you, through it, will be unable to be clean. Now by this time, you who argue about "Joseph" and "Daniel," know that things old and new, rude and polished, begun and developed, slavish and free, are not always comparable. For they, even by their circumstances, were slaves; but you, the slave of none, in so far as you are the slave of Christ alone, who has freed you likewise from the captivity of the world, will incur the duty of acting after your Lord's pattern. That Lord walked in humility and obscurity, with no definite home: for "the Son of man," said He, "has not where to lay his head;" unadorned in dress, for else he had not said, "Behold, they who are clad in soft clothing are in kings' houses:" in short, inglorious in countenance and aspect, just as Isaiah indeed, had fore-announced. If, also, he exercised no right of power even over his own followers, to whom he discharged menial ministry; if, in short, though conscious of his own kingdom, he shrank back from being made a king, he in the fullest manner gave his own an example for turning coldly from all the pride and garb, as well of dignity as of power. For if they were to be used, who would rather have used them than the Son of God? What kind and what number of fasces would escort him? What kind of purple would bloom from his shoulders? What kind of gold would beam from his head, had he not judged the glory of the world to be alien both to himself and to his? Therefore what he was unwilling to accept, he has rejected; what he rejected, he has condemned; what he condemned, he has counted as part of the devil's pomp. For he would not have condemned things, except those who were not his; but things which are not God's, can be no other's but the devil's. If you have renounced "the devil's pomp," know that whatever there you touch is idolatry. Let even this fact help to remind you that all the powers and dignities of this world are not only alien to, but enemies of, God; that through them punishments have been determined against God's servants; through them, too, penalties prepared for the impious are ignored. But "both your birth and your substance are troublesome to you in resisting idolatry." For avoiding it, remedies cannot be lacking; since, even if they be lacking, there remains that one by which you will be made a happier magistrate, not in the earth, but in the heavens.

Chapter 19. Christians and military service

In that last section, decision may seem to have been given likewise concerning military service, which is between dignity and power. But now enquiry is made about this point, whether a believer may turn himself to military service, and whether the military may be admitted to the faith, even the rank and file, or each inferior grade, to whom there is no necessity for taking part in sacrifices or capital punishments. There is no agreement between the divine and the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot be due to two masters – God and Caesar. And yet Moses carried a rod, and Aaron wore a buckle, and John (Baptist) is girt with leather and Joshua the son of Nun leads a line of march; and the People warred: if it pleases you to sport with the subject. But how will a Christian man war, no, how will he serve even in peace, without a sword, which the Lord has taken away? For albeit soldiers had come to John, and had received the formula of their rule; albeit, likewise, a centurion had believed; still the Lord afterward, in disarming Peter, unbe**ed every soldier. No dress is lawful among us, if assigned to any unlawful action.

Chapter 20. How idolatry may be committed in word

But, however, since the conduct according to the divine rule is imperiled, not merely by deeds, but likewise by words, (for, just as it is written, "Behold the man and his deeds;" so, "Out of your own mouth shall you be justified”), we ought to remember that, even in words, also the inroad of idolatry must be foreguarded against, either from the defect of custom or of timidity. The Law prohibits the gods of the nations from being named, not of course that we are not to pronounce their names, the speaking of which common intercourse extorts from us: for this must very frequently be said, "You find him in the temple of Aesculapius;" and, "I live in Isis Street;" and, "He has been made priest of Jupiter;" and much else after this manner, since even on men names of this kind are bestowed. I do not honour Saturnus if I call a man so, by his own name. I honour him no more than I do Marcus, if I call a man Marcus. But it says, "Make not mention of the name of other gods, neither be it heard from your mouth." The precept it gives is this, that we do not call them gods. For in the first part of the law, too, "You shall not," he says, "use the name of the Lord your God in a vain thing," that is, in an idol. Whoever, therefore, honours an idol with the name of God, has fallen into idolatry. But if I speak of them as gods, something must be added to make it appear that I do not call them gods. For even the Scripture names "gods," but adds "their," that is "of the nations:" just as David does when he had named "gods," where he says, "But the gods of the nations are demons." But this has been laid by me rather as a foundation for ensuing observations. However, it is a defect of custom to say, "By Hercules, "So help me the God of faith;" while to the custom is added the ignorance of some, who are ignorant that it is an oath by Hercules. Further, what will an oath be, in the name of gods whom you have renounced, but a collusion of faith with idolatry? For who does not honour them in whose name he swears?

Chapter 21. Guilt by silent acquiescence in heathen formularies

But it is a mark of timidity, when some other man binds you in the name of his gods, by the making of an oath, or by some other form of attestation, and you, for fear of discovery, remain quiet. For you equally, by remaining quiet, affirm their majesty, by reason of which majesty you will seem to be bound. What matters it, whether you affirm the gods of the nations by calling them gods, or by hearing them so called? Whether you swear by idols, or, when adjured by another, acquiesce? Why should we not recognise the subtleties of Satan, who makes it his aim that, what he cannot effect by our mouth, he may effect by the mouth of his servants, introducing idolatry into us through our ears? At all events, whoever the adjurer is, he binds you to himself either in friendly or unfriendly conjunction. If in unfriendly, you are now challenged to battle, and know that you must fight. If in friendly, with how far greater security will you transfer your engagement to the Lord, that you may dissolve the obligation of him through whose means the Evil One was seeking to annex you to the honour of idols, that is, to idolatry! All sufferance of that kind is idolatry. You honour those to whom, when imposed as authorities, you have rendered respect. I know that one (whom the Lord pardon!), when it had been said to him in public during a law-suit, "Jupiter be angry with you," answered, "On the contrary, with you." What else would a heathen have done who believed Jupiter to be a God? For even had he not retorted the malediction by Jupiter (or other such like), yet, by merely returning a curse, he would have confirmed the divinity of Jove, showing himself irritated by a malediction in Jove's name. For what is there to be indignant at, (if cursed) in the name of one whom you know to be nothing? For if you rave, you immediately affirm his existence, and the profession of your fear will be an act of idolatry. How much more, while you are returning the malediction in the name of Jupiter himself, are you doing honour to Jupiter in the same way as he who provoked you! But a believer ought to laugh in such cases, not to rave; no, according to the precept, not to return a curse in the name of God even, but clearly to bless in the name of God, that you may both demolish idols and preach God, and fulfill discipline.

Chapter 22. Wrong to accept a blessing in the name of idols

Equally, one who has been initiated into Christ will not endure to be blessed in the name of the gods of the nations, so as not always to reject the unclean benediction, and to cleanse it out for himself by converting it Godward. To be blessed in the name of the gods of the nations is to be cursed in the name of God. If I have given an alms, or shown any other kindness, and the recipient pray that his gods, or the Genius of the colony, may be propitious to me, my oblation or act will immediately be an honour to idols, in whose name he returns me the favour of blessing. But why should he not know that I have done it for God's sake; that God may rather be glorified, and demons may not be honoured in that which I have done for the sake of God? If God sees that I have done it for his sake, he equally sees that I have been unwilling to show that I did it for his sake, and have in a manner made his precept a sacrifice to idols. Many say, "No one ought to divulge himself;" but I think neither ought he to deny himself. For whoever dissembles in any cause whatever, by being held as a heathen, does deny; and, of course, all denial is idolatry, just as all idolatry is denial, whether in deeds or in words.

Chapter 23. Written contracts in the name of idols, involve tacit consent

But there is a certain species of that class, doubly sharpened in deed and word, and mischievous on either side, although it flatter you, as if it were free of danger in each; while it does not seem to be a deed, because it is not laid hold of as a word. In borrowing money from heathens under pledged securities, Christians give a guarantee under oath, and deny themselves to have done so. Of course, the time of the prosecution, and the place of the judgment seat, and the person of the presiding judge, decide that they knew themselves to have so done. Christ prescribes that there is to be no swearing. "I wrote," says the debtor, "but I said nothing. It is the tongue, not the written letter, which kills." Here I call Nature and Conscience as my witnesses: Nature, because even if the tongue in dictating remains motionless and quiet, the hand can write nothing which the soul has not dictated; albeit even to the tongue itself the soul may have dictated either something conceived by itself, or else something delivered by another. Now, for fear that it be said, "Another dictated," I here appeal to Conscience whether, what another dictated, the soul entertains, and transmits to the hand, whether with the concomitance or the inaction of the tongue. Enough, that the Lord has said faults are committed in the mind and the conscience. If concupiscence or malice have ascended into a man's heart, he says it is held as a deed. You therefore have given a guarantee; which clearly has "ascended into your heart," which you can neither contend you were ignorant of nor unwilling; for when you gave the guarantee, you knew that you did it; when you knew, of course you were willing: you did it as well in act as in thought; nor can you by the lighter charge exclude the heavier, so as to say that it is clearly rendered false, by giving a guarantee I for what you do not actually perform. "Yet I have not denied, because I have not sworn." But you have sworn, since, even if you had done no such thing, you would still be said to swear, if you have even consented to so doing. Silence of voice is an unavailing plea in a case of writing; and muteness of sound in a case of letters. For Zacharias, when punished with a temporary privation of voice, holds colloquy with his mind, and, passing by his bootless tongue, with the help of his hands dictates from his heart, and without his mouth pronounces the name of his son. So, in his pen there speaks a hand clearer than every sound, in his waxen tablet there is heard a letter more vocal that every mouth. Enquire whether a person have spoken who is understood to have spoken. Pray we the Lord that no necessity for that kind of contract may ever encompass us; and if it should so fall out, may he give our brethren the means of helping us, or give us constancy to break off all such necessity, for fear that those denying letters, the substitutes for our mouth, be brought forward against us in the day of judgment, sealed with the seals, not now of witnesses, but of angels!

Chapter 24. Conclusion: Amid these reefs of idolatry, Faith must navigate

Amid these reefs and inlets, amid these shallows and straits of idolatry, Faith, her sails filled by the Spirit of God, navigates; safe if cautious, secure if intently watchful. But to such as are washed overboard is a deep place, from which is no swimming out; to such as are run aground is inextricable shipwreck; to such as are engulfed is a whirlpool, where there is no breathing – even in idolatry. All its waves suffocate; its every eddy sucks down to Hades. Let no one say, "Who will so safely foreguard himself? We shall have to go out of the world!" As if it were not as well worth while to go out, as to stand in the world as an idolater! Nothing can be easier than caution against idolatry, if the fear of it be our leading fear; any "necessity" whatever is too trifling compared to such a peril. The reason why the Holy Spirit did, when the apostles at that time were consulting, relax the bond and yoke for us, was that we might be free to devote ourselves to the shunning of idolatry. This shall be our Law, the more fully to be administered the more ready it is to hand; (a Law) peculiar to Christians, by means of which we are recognised and examined by heathens. This Law must be set before such as approach to the Faith, and inculcated on such as are entering it; that, in approaching, they may deliberate; observing it, may persevere; not observing it, may renounce their name. We will see to it, if, after the type of the Ark, there shall be in the Church raven, kite, dog, and serpent. At all events, an idolater is not found in the type of the Ark: no animal has been fashioned to represent an idolater. Let not that be in the Church which was not in the Ark.

On Public Shows (De Spectaculis)

Chapter 1. Pleasure seduces the heart; Reasons for the rules of Christian Discipline

Learn,you servants of God who are just now entering on his service, and you who have already solemnly sworn allegiance to him recall what principle of faith, what reason inherent in truth, what rule in our way of life forbid, along with the other errors of the world, also the pleasures of the spectacles, for fear that by ignorance or self-deception anyone fall into sin.

You Servants of God, about to draw near to God, that you may make solemn consecration of yourselves to him, seek well to understand the condition of faith, the reasons of the Truth, the laws of Christian Discipline, which forbid among other sins of the world, the pleasures of the public shows. You who have testified and confessed that you have done so already, review the subject, that there may be no sinning whether through real or willful ignorance.

For such is the power of earthly pleasures, that, to keep people open to still partaking in them, it contrives to prolong a wilful ignorance, and bribes knowledge into playing a dishonest part. To both, perhaps, some among you are allured by the views of the heathens who in this matter tend to press us with arguments such as these: That the exquisite enjoyments of ear and eye we have in things external are not in the least opposed to religion in the mind and conscience; and that surely no offence is offered to God in any human enjoyment, by any of our pleasures, which it is not sinful to partake of in its own time and place, when all due honour and reverence are given to Him. But this is precisely what we are ready to prove: That these things are not consistent with true religion and true obedience to the true God.

There are some who imagine that Christians, a sort of people ever ready to die, are trained into the abstinence they practice, with no other object than to make it easier to despise life, its fastenings being severed, so to speak. They regard this abstinence as a way of quenching all desire for that which, so far as they are concerned, they have emptied of all that is desirable; and so it is regarded rather as a thing of human planning and foresight, than something clearly laid down by divine command. It would indeed be a grievous burden for Christians, while continuing in the enjoyment of such pleasures, to [have to] die for God!

It is not as they say; though, if it were, even Christian obstinacy might well give all submission to a plan so suitable, to a rule so excellent.

Chapter 2. Against the argument that "All is given for man's use, and so must be good"

Then, again, everyone is ready with the argument that all things, as we teach, were created by God, and given to man for his use, and that they must be good, as coming all from so good a source; and that among them are found the various constituent elements of the public shows, such as the horse, the lion, bodily strength, and musical voice. It cannot, then, be thought that what exists by God's creative will is either foreign or hostile to him; and if it is not opposed to him, it cannot be regarded as injurious to his worshippers, as certainly it is not foreign to them.

Beyond all doubt, too, the very buildings connected with the places of public amusement, composed as they are of rocks, stones, marbles and pillars, are things of God, who has given these various things for the earth's embellishment; no, the very scenes are enacted under God's own heaven. How skillful a pleader seems human wisdom to herself, especially if she has the fear of losing any of her delights, any of the sweet enjoyments of worldly existence!

In fact, you will find not a few whom the imperiling of their pleasures rather than their life holds back from us. For even the weakling has no strong dread of death as a debt he knows is due by him; while the wise man does not look with contempt on pleasure, regarding it as a precious gift – in fact, the one blessedness of life, whether to philosopher or fool.

Now nobody denies what nobody is ignorant of, since Nature herself is teacher of it, that God is the Maker of the universe, and that it is good, and that it is man's by free gift of its Maker. But having no intimate acquaintance with the Highest, knowing him only by natural revelation, and not as his "friends", being far off, and not as those who have been brought near to him, men cannot but be in ignorance alike of what he enjoins and what he forbids in regard to the administration of his world.

They must be ignorant, too, of the hostile power which works against him, and perverts to wrong uses the things his hand has formed; for you cannot know either the will or the adversary of a God you do not know. We must not, then, consider merely by whom all things were made, but by whom they have been perverted. We shall find out for what use they were made at first, when we find for what they were not. There is a vast difference between the corrupted state and that of primal purity, just because there is a vast difference between the Creator and the corrupter. Why, all sorts of evils, which as indubitably evils even the heathens prohibit, and against which they guard themselves, come from the works of God. Take, for instance, murder, whether committed by iron, by poison, or by magical enchantments. Iron and herbs and demons are all equally creatures of God. Has the Creator, indeed,, provided these things for man's destruction? No, he puts his interdict on every sort of man-killing by that one summary precept, "You shall not kill."

Moreover, who but God, the Maker of the world, put in its gold, brass, silver, ivory, wood, and all the other materials used in the manufacture of idols? Yet has he done this that men may set up a worship in opposition to himself? On the contrary idolatry in his eyes is the crowning sin. What is there offensive to God which is not God's? But in offending him, it ceases to be his; and in ceasing to be his, it is in his eyes an offending thing. Man himself, guilty as he is of every iniquity, is not only a work of God – he is his image, and yet both in soul and body he has severed himself from his Maker. For we did not get eyes to minister to lust, and the tongue for speaking evil with, and ears to be the receptacle of evil speech, and the throat to serve the vice of gluttony, and the belly to be gluttony's ally, and the genitals for unchaste excesses, and hands for deeds of violence, and the feet for an erring life; or was the soul placed in the body that it might become a thought-manufactory of snares, and fraud, and injustice? I think not; for if God, as the righteous ex-actor of innocence, hates everything like malignity – if he hates utterly such plotting of evil, it is clear beyond a doubt, that, of all things that have come from his hand, he has made none to lead to works which he condemns, even though these same works may be carried on by things of his making; for, in fact, it is the one ground of condemnation, that the creature misuses the creation.

We, therefore, who in our knowledge of the Lord have obtained some knowledge also of his foe, and who, in our discovery of the Creator, have at the same time laid hands on the great corrupter, ought neither to wonder nor to doubt that, as the prowess of the corrupting and God-opposing angel overthrew in the beginning the virtue of man, the work and image of God, the possessor of the world, so he has entirely changed man's nature, (created, like his own, for perfect sinlessness), into his own state of wicked enmity against his Maker, that in the very thing whose gift to man, but not to him, had grieved him, he might make man guilty in God's eyes, and set up his own supremacy.

Chapter 3. "Blessed are they who have not gone into the assembly of the wicked"

Fortified by this knowledge against heathen views, let us rather turn to the unworthy reasonings of our own people; for the faith of some, either too simple or too scrupulous, demands direct authority from Scripture for giving up the shows, and holds out that the matter is a doubtful one, because such abstinence is not clearly and in words imposed on God's servants. Well, we never find it expressed with the same precision, "You shall not enter circus or theatre, you shall not look on combat or show;" as it is plainly laid down, "You shall not kill; you shall not worship an idol; you shall not commit adultery or fraud."

But we find that that first word of David bears an this very sort of thing: "Blessed," he says, "is the man who has not gone into the assembly of the impious, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of scorners." Though he seems to have predicted beforehand of that just man, that he took no part in the meetings and deliberations of the Jews, taking counsel about the slaying of our Lord, yet divine Scripture has ever far-reaching applications: after the immediate sense has been exhausted, in all directions it fortifies the practice of the religious life, so that here also you have an utterance which is not far from a plain interdicting of the shows. If he called those few Jews an assembly of the wicked, how much more will he so designate so vast a gathering of heathens!

Are the heathens less impious, less sinners, less enemies of Christ, than the Jews were then? And see, too, how other things agree. For at the shows they also stand in the way. For they call the spaces between the seats going round the amphitheatre, and the passages which separate the people running down, ways. The place in the curve where the matrons sit is called a chair. Therefore, on the contrary, it holds, unblessed is he who has entered any council of wicked men, and has stood in any way of sinners, and has sat in any chair of scorners. We may understand a thing as spoken generally, even when it requires a certain special interpretation to be given to it. For some things spoken with a special reference contain in them general truth. When God admonishes the Israelites of their duty, or sharply reproves them, he has surely a reference to all men; when he threatens destruction to Egypt and Ethiopia, he surely pre-condemns every sinning nation, whatever. If, reasoning from species to genus, every nation that sins against them is an Egypt and Ethiopia; so also, reasoning from genus to species, with reference to the origin of shows, every show is an assembly of the wicked.

Chapter 4. In baptism, you have renounced every unclean and wicked spirit.

For fear that anyone think that we are dealing in mere argumentative subtleties, I shall turn to that highest authority of our "seal" itself. When entering the water, we make profession of the Christian faith in the words of its rule; we bear public testimony that we have renounced the devil, his pomp, and his angels. Well, is it not in connection with idolatry, above all, that you have the devil with his pomp and his angels? from which, to speak. Briefly – for I do not wish to dilate – you have every unclean and wicked spirit. If, therefore, it shall be made plain that the entire apparatus of the shows is based on idolatry, beyond all doubt that will carry with it the conclusion that our renunciatory testimony in the font of baptism has reference to the shows, which, through their idolatry, have been given over to the devil, and his pomp, and his angels. We shall set forth, then, their several origins, in what nursing-places they have grown to manhood; next the titles of some of them, by what names they are called; then their apparatus, with what superstitions they are observed; (then their places, to what patrons they are dedicated;) then the arts which minister to them, to what authors they are traced. If any of these shall be found to have had no connection with an idol-God, it will be held as free at once from the taint of idolatry, and as not coming within the range of our baptismal abjuration.

Chapter 5. Foreign Origins of the games, the Liberalia and the Ludi

In the matter of their origins, as these are somewhat obscure and but little known to many among us, our investigations must go back to a remote antiquity, and our authorities be none other than books of heathen literature. Various authors are extant who have published works on the subject. The origin of the games as given by them is this. Timaeus tells us that immigrants from Asia, under the leadership of Tyrrhenus, who, in a contest about his native kingdom, had succumbed to his brother, settled down in Etruria. Well, among other superstitious observances under the name of religion, they set up in their new home public shows.

The Romans, at their own request, obtain from them skilled performers – the proper seasons – the name too, for it is said they are called Ludi, from Lydi. And though Varro derives the name of Ludi from Ludus, that is, from play, as they called the Luperci also Ludii, because they ran about making sport; still that sporting of young men belongs, in his view, to festal days and temples, and objects of religious veneration. However, it is of little consequence the origin of the name, when it is certain that the thing springs from idolatry.

The Liberalia, under the general designation of Ludi, clearly declared the glory of Father Bacchus; for to Bacchus these festivities were first consecrated by grateful peasants, in return for the boon he conferred on them, as they say, making known the pleasures of wine. Then the Consualia were called Ludi, and at first were in honour of Neptune, for Neptune has the name of Consus also. Thereafter Romulus dedicated the Equiria to Mars, though they claim the Consualia too for Romulus, on the ground that he consecrated them to Consus, the God, as they will have it, of counsel; of the counsel, indeed, in which he planned the rape of the Sabine virgins for wives to his soldiers. An excellent counsel truly; and still I suppose reckoned just and righteous by the Romans themselves, I may not say by God. This goes also to taint the origin: you cannot surely hold that to be good which has sprung from sin, from shamelessness, from violence, from hatred, from a fratricidal founder, from a son of Mars.

Even now, at the first turning-post in the circus, there is a subterranean altar to this same Consus, with an inscription to this effect: "Consus, great in counsel, Mars, in battle mighty tutelar deities." The priests of the state sacrifice at it on the nones of July; the priest of Romulus and the Vestals on the twelfth before the Kalends of September. In addition to this, Romulus instituted games in honour of Jupiter Feretrius on the Tarpeian Hill, according to the statement Piso has handed down to us, called both Tarpeian and Capitoline. After him Numa Pompilius instituted games to Mars and Robigo (for they have also invented a goddess of rust); then Tullus Hostilius; then Ancus Martius; and various others in succession did the like. As to the idols in whose honour these games were established, ample information is to be fount in the pages of Suetonius Tranquillus. But we need say no more to prove the accusation of idolatrous origin.

Chapter 6. Festivals to the great Mother, Apollo, Ceres, Neptune, and Jupiter

To the testimony of antiquity is added that of later games instituted in their turn, and betraying their origin from the titles which they bear even at the present day, in which it is imprinted as on their very face, for what idol and for what religious object games, whether of the one kind or the other, were designed. You have festivals bearing the name of the great Mother and Apollo of Ceres too, and Neptune, and Jupiter Latiaris, and Flora, all celebrated for a common end; the others have their religious origin in the birthdays and solemnities of kings, in public successes in municipal holidays. There are also testamentary exhibitions, in which funeral honours are rendered to the memories of private persons; and this according to an institution of ancient times. For from the first the "Ludi" were regarded as of two sons, sacred and funereal, that is in honour of the heathen deities and of the dead. But in the matter of idolatry, it makes no difference with us under what name or title it is practiced, while it has to do with the wicked spirits whom we abjure. If it is lawful to offer homage to the dead, it will be just as lawful to offer it to their gods: you have the same origin in both cases; there is the same idolatry; there is on our part the same solemn renunciation of all idolatry.

Chapter 7. The opening procession of the circus is a mock religious affair

The two kinds of public games, then, have one origin; and they have common names, as owning the same parentage. So, too, as they are equally tainted with the sin of idolatry, their foundress, they must be like each other in their pomp. But the more ambitious preliminary display of the circus games to which the name procession specially belongs, is in itself the proof to whom the whole thing appertains, in the many images the long line of statues, the chariots of all sorts, the thrones, the crowns, the dresses. What high religious rites besides, what sacrifices precede, come between, and follow. How many guilds, how many priesthoods, how many offices are set astir, is known to the inhabitants of the great city in which the demon convention has its headquarters. If these things are done in humbler style in the provinces, in accordance with their inferior means, still all circus games must be counted as belonging to that from which they are derived; the fountain from which they spring defiles them. The tiny streamlet from its very spring-head, the little twig from its very budding, contains in it the essential nature of its origin. It may be grand or mean, no matter, any circus procession whatever is offensive to God. Though there be few images to grace it, there is idolatry in one; though there be no more than a single sacred car, it is a chariot of Jupiter: anything of idolatry whatever, whether meanly arrayed or modestly rich and gorgeous, taints it in its origin.

Chapter 8. Every ornament of the circus is a temple by itself

To follow out my plan in regard to places: the circus is chiefly consecrated to the Sun, whose temple stands in the middle of it, and whose image shines forth from its temple summit; for they have not thought it proper to pay sacred honours underneath a roof to an object they have itself in open space. Those who assert that the first spectacle was exhibited by Circe, and in honour of the Sun her father, as they will have it, maintain also the name of circus was derived from her. Plainly, then, the enchantress did this in the name of the parties whose priestess she was – I mean the demons and spirits of evil. What an aggregation of idolatries you see, accordingly, in the decoration of the place!

Every ornament of the circus is a temple by itself. The eggs are regarded as sacred to the Castors, by men who are not ashamed to profess faith in their production from the egg of a swan, which was no other than Jupiter himself. The Dolphins vomit forth in honour of Neptune. Images of Sessia, so called as the goddess of sowing; of Messia, so called as the goddess of reaping; of Tutulina, so called as the fruit-protecting deity – load the pillars. In front of these you have three altars to these three gods – Great, Mighty, Victorious. They reckon these of Samo-Thrace.

The huge Obelisk, as Hermeteles affirms, is set up in public to the Sun; its inscription, like its origin, belongs to Egyptian superstition. Cheerless were the demon-gathering without their Mater Magna; and so she presides there over the Euripus. Consus, as we have mentioned, lies hidden under ground at the Murcian Goals. These two sprang from an idol. For they will have it that Murcia is the goddess of love; and to her, at that spot, they have consecrated a temple. See, Christian, how many impure names have taken possession of the circus! you have nothing to do with a sacred place which is tenanted by such multitudes of diabolic spirits. And speaking of places, this is the suitable occasion for some remarks in anticipation of a point that some will raise. What, then, you say; shall I be in danger of pollution if I go to the circus when the games are not being celebrated? There is no law forbidding the mere places to us. For not only the places for show-gatherings, but even the temples, may be entered without any peril of his religion by the servant of God, if he has only some honest reason for it, unconnected with their proper business and official duties. Why, even the streets and the market-place, and the baths, and the taverns, and our very dwelling-places, are not altogether free from idols. Satan and his angels have filled the whole world. It is not by merely being in the world, however, that we lapse from God, but by touching and tainting ourselves with the world's sins. I shall break with my Maker, that is, by going to the Capitol or the temple of Serapis to sacrifice or adore, as I shall also do by going as a spectator to the circus and the theatre. The places in themselves do not contaminate, but what is done in them; from this even the places themselves, we maintain, become defiled. The polluted things pollute us. It is on this account that we set before you to whom places of the kind are dedicated, that we may prove the things which are done in them to belong to the idol-patrons to whom the very places are sacred.

Chapter 9. From early on, theatres and hippodromes were associated with gods and goddesses

Now as to the kind of performances peculiar to the circus exhibitions. In former days equestrianism was practiced in a simple way on horseback, and certainly its ordinary use had nothing sinful in it; but when it was dragged into the games, it passed from the service of God into the employment of demons. Accordingly this kind of circus performances is regarded as sacred to Castor and Pollux, to whom, Stesichorus tells us, horses were given by Mercury. And Neptune, too, is an equestrian deity, by the Greeks called Hippius. In regard to the team, they have consecrated the chariot and four to the sun; the chariot and pair to the moon. But, as the poet has it, "Erichthonius first dared to yoke four horses to the chariot, and to ride on its wheels with victorious swiftness." Erichthonius, the son of Vulcan and Minerva, fruit of unworthy passion on earth, is a demon-monster, no, the devil himself, and no mere snake.

If Trochilus the Argive is maker of the first chariot, he dedicated that work of his to Juno. If Romulus first exhibited the four-horse chariot at Rome, he too, I think, has a place given him among idols, at least if he and Quirinus are the same. But as chariots had such inventors, the charioteers were naturally dressed, too, in the colours of idolatry; for at first these were only two, namely white and red, – the former sacred to the winter with its glistening snows, the latter sacred to the summer with its ruddy sun: but afterwards, in the progress of luxury as well as of superstition, red was dedicated by some to Mars, and white by others to the Zephyrs, while green was given to Mother Earth, or spring, and azure to the sky and sea, or autumn.

But as idolatry of every kind is condemned by God, that form of it surely shares the condemnation which is offered to the elements of nature.

Chapter 10

At first the theatres were temples of Venus and Bacchus (and shamelessness)

Let us pass on now to theatrical exhibitions, which we have already shown have a common origin with the circus, and bear like idolatrous designations – even as from the first they have borne the name of "Ludi," and equally minister to idols. They resemble each other also in their pomp, having the same procession to the scene of their display from temples and altars, and that mournful profusion of incense and blood, with music of pipes and trumpets, all under the direction of the soothsayer and the undertaker, those two foul masters of funeral rites and sacrifices. So as we went on from the origin of the "Ludi" to the circus games, we shall now direct our course thence to those of the theatre, beginning with the place of exhibition. At first the theatre was properly a temple of Venus; and, to speak briefly, it was owing to this that stage performances were allowed to escape censure, and got a footing in the world. For oftens the censors, in the interests of morality, put down above all the rising theatres, foreseeing, as they did, that there was great danger of their leading to a general profligacy; so that already, from this accordance of their own people with us, there is a witness to the heathen, and in the anticipatory judgment of human knowledge even a confirmation of our views.

Accordingly Pompey the Great, less only than his theatre, when he had erected that citadel of all impurities, fearing some time or other the censor's condemnation of his memory, superposed on it a temple of Venus; and summoning by public proclamation the people to its consecration, he called it not a theatre, but a temple, "under which," said he, "we have placed tiers of seats for viewing the shows." So he threw a veil over a structure on which condemnation had been often passed, and which is ever to be held in reprobation, by pretending that it was a sacred place; and by means of superstition he blinded the eyes of a virtuous discipline. But Venus and Bacchus are close allies. These two evil spirits are in sworn confederacy with each other, as the patrons of drunkenness and lust. So the theatre of Venus is as well the house of Bacchus: for they properly gave the name of Liberalia also to other theatrical amusements – which besides being consecrated to Bacchus (as were the Dionysia of the Greeks), were instituted by him; and, without doubt, the performances of the theatre have the common patronage of these two deities.

That immodesty of gesture and attire which so specially and peculiarly characterizes the stage are consecrated to them – the one deity wanton by her sex, the other by his drapery; while its services of voice, and song, and lute, and pipe, belong to Apollos, and Muses, and Minervas, and Mercuries. You will hate, O Christian, the things whose authors must be the objects of your utter detestation. So we would now make a remark about the arts of the theatre, about the things also whose authors in the names we execrate. We know that the names of the dead are nothing, as are their images; but we know well enough, too, who, when images are set up, under these names carry on their wicked work, and exult in the homage rendered to them, and pretend to be divine – none other than spirits accursed, than devils.

We see, therefore, that the arts also are consecrated to the service of the beings who dwell in the names of their founders; and that things cannot be held free from the taint of idolatry whose inventors have got a place among the gods for their discoveries. No, as regards the arts, we ought to have gone further back, and barred all further argument by the position that the demons, predetermining in their own interests from the first, among other evils of idolatry, the pollutions of the public shows, with the object of drawing man away from his Lord and binding him to their own service, carried out their purpose by bestowing on him the artistic gifts which the shows require. For none but themselves would have made provision and preparation for the objects they had in view; nor would they have given the arts to the world by any but those in whose names, and images, and histories they set up for their own ends the artifice of consecration.

Chapter 11. Idolatry pollutes the combat-parade with profane crowns

In fulfillment of our plan, let us now go on to consider the combats. Their origin is akin to that of the games (ludi). Hence they are kept as either sacred or funereal, as they have been instituted in honour of the idol-gods of the nations or of the dead. So, too, they are called Olympian in honour of Jupiter, known at Rome as the Capitoline; Nemean, in honour of Hercules; Isthmian, in honour of Neptune; the rest mortuarii, as belonging to the dead. What wonder, then, if idolatry pollutes the combat-parade with profane crowns, with sacerdotal chiefs, with attendants belonging to the various colleges, last of all with the blood of its sacrifices? To add a completing word about the "place" – in the common place for the college of the arts sacred to the Muses, and Apollo, and Minerva, and also for that of the arts dedicated to Mars, they with contest and sound of trumpet emulate the circus in the arena, which is a real temple – I mean of the God whose festivals it celebrates. The gymnastic arts also originated with their Castors, and Herculeses, and Mercuries.

Chapter 12. Games originated as Services for the Dead, accompanied by pagan sacrifices

It remains for us to examine the "spectacle" most noted of all, and in highest favour. It is called a dutiful service (munus), from its being an office, for it bears the name of officium As well as munus. The ancients thought that in this solemnity they rendered offices to the dead; at a later period, with a cruelty more refined, they somewhat modified its character. For formerly, in the belief that the souls of the departed were appeased by human blood, they were in the habit of buying captives or slaves of wicked disposition, and immolating them in their funeral obsequies. Afterwards they thought good to throw the veil of pleasure over their iniquity. Those, therefore, whom they had provided for the combat, and then trained in arms as best they could, only that they might learn to die, they, on the funeral day, killed at the places of sepulture. They alleviated death by murders. Such is the origin of the "Munus." But by degrees their refinement came up to their cruelty; for these human wild beasts could not find pleasure exquisite enough, save in the spectacle of men torn to pieces by wild beasts. Offerings to propitiate the dead then were regarded as belonging to the class of funeral sacrifices; and these are idolatry: for idolatry, in fact, is a sort of homage to the departed; the one as well as the other is a service to dead men. Moreover, demons have abode in the images of the dead. To refer also to the matter of names, though this sort of exhibition has passed from honours of the dead to honours of the living, I mean, to quaestorships and magistracies – to priestly offices of different kinds; yet, since idolatry still cleaves to the dignity's name, whatever is done in its name partakes of its impurity. The same remark will apply to the procession of the "Munus," as we look at that in the pomp which is connected with these honours themselves; for the purple robes, the fasces, the fillets the crowns, the proclamations too, and edicts, the sacred feasts of the day before, are not without the pomp of the devil, without invitation of demons. What need, then, of dwelling on the place of horrors, which is too much even for the tongue of the perjurer? For the amphitheatre is consecrated to names more numerous and more dire than is the Capitol itself, temple of all demons as it is. There are as many unclean spirits there as it holds men. To conclude with a single remark about the arts which have a place in it, we know that its two sorts of amusement have for their patrons Mars and Diana.

Chapter 13. If we keep throat and belly free from defilement, so also our ears and eyes

We have, I think, faithfully carried out our plan of showing in how many different ways the sin of idolatry clings to the shows, in respect of their origins, their titles, their equipments, their places of celebration, their arts; and we may hold it as a thing beyond all doubt, that for us who have twice renounced all idols, they are utterly unsuitable. "Not that an idol is anything," as the apostle says, but that the homage they render is to demons, who are the real occupants of these consecrated images, whether of dead men or (as they think) of gods. On this account, therefore, because they have a common source – for their dead and their deities are one – we abstain from both idolatries. Nor do we dislike the temples less than the monuments: we have nothing to do with either altar, we adore neither image; we do not offer sacrifices to the gods, and we make no funeral oblations to the departed; no, we do not partake of what is offered either in the one case or the other, for we cannot partake of God's feast and the feast of devils. If, then, we keep throat and belly free from such defilements, how much more do we withhold our nobler parts, our ears and eyes, from the idolatrous and funereal enjoyments, which are not passed through the body, but are digested in the very spirit and soul, whose purity, much more than that of our bodily organs, God has a right to claim from us.

Chapter 14. People attend these shows from the lust of pleasure

Having sufficiently established the charge of idolatry, which alone ought to be reason enough for our giving up the shows, let us now ex abundanti look at the subject in another way, for the sake of those especially who keep themselves comfortable in the thought that the abstinence we urge is not in so many words enjoined, as if in the condemnation of the lusts of the world there was not involved a sufficient declaration against all these amusements. For as there is a lust of money, or rank, or eating, or impure enjoyment, or glory, so there is also a lust of pleasure. But the show is just a sort of pleasure. I think, then, that under the general designation of lusts, pleasures are included; in the same way, under the general idea of pleasures, you have as a specific class the "shows." But we have spoken already of how it is with the places of exhibition, that they are not polluting in themselves, but owing to the things that are done in them from which they imbibe impurity, and then spirt it again on others.

Chapter 15. There is in them all the taint sinful excitement

After doing enough, then, as we have said, in regard to that principal argument, that there is in them all the taint of idolatry – having sufficiently dealt with that, let us now contrast the other characteristics of the show with the things of God. God has enjoined us to deal calmly, gently, quietly, and peacefully with the Holy Spirit, because these things are alone in keeping with the goodness of his nature, with his tenderness and sensitiveness, and not to vex him with rage, ill-nature, anger, or grief. Well, how shall this be made to accord with the shows? For the show always leads to spiritual agitation, since where there is pleasure, there is keenness of feeling giving pleasure its zest; and where there is keenness of feeling, there is rivalry giving in turn its zest to that. Then, too, where you have rivalry, you have rage, bitterness, wrath and grief, with all bad things which flow from them – the whole entirely out of keeping with the religion of Christ. For even suppose one should enjoy the shows in a moderate way, as befits his rank, age or nature, still he is not undisturbed in mind, without some unuttered movings of the inner man. No one partakes of pleasures such as these without their strong excitements; no one comes under their excitements without their natural lapses. These lapses, again, create passionate desire. If there is no desire, there is no pleasure, and he is chargeable with trifling who goes where nothing is gotten; in my view, even that is foreign to us. Moreover, a man pronounces his own condemnation in the very act of taking his place among those with whom, by his disinclination to be like them, he confesses he has no sympathy. It is not enough that we do no such things ourselves, unless we break all connection also with those who do. "If you sawest a thief," says the Scripture, "you consented with him." I wish that we did not even inhabit the same world with these wicked men! But though that wish cannot be realized, yet even now we are separate from them in what is of the world; for the world is God's, but the worldly is the devil's.

Chapter 16. Barred from every kind of spectacle, and especially from the circus

Since, then, all passionate excitement is forbidden us, we are debarred from every kind of spectacle, and especially from the circus, where such excitement presides as in its proper element. See the people coming to it already under strong emotion, already tumultuous, already passion-blind, already agitated about their bets. The praetor is too slow for them: their eyes are ever rolling as though along with the lots in his urn; then they hang all eager on the signal; there is the united shout of a common madness. Observe how "out of themselves" they are by their foolish speeches. "He has thrown it!" they exclaim; and they announce each one to his neighbour what all have seen. I have clearest evidence of their blindness; they do not see what is really thrown. They think it a "signal cloth," but it is the likeness of the devil cast headlong from on high. And the result accordingly is, that they fly into rages, and passions, and discords, and all that they who are consecrated to peace ought never to indulge in. Then there are curses and reproaches, with no cause of hatred; there are cries of applause, with nothing to merit them. What are the partakers in all this – not their own masters – to obtain of it for themselves? unless, it may be, that which makes them not their own: they are saddened by another's sorrow, they are gladdened by another's joy. Whatever they desire on the one hand, or detest on the other, is entirely foreign to themselves. So love with them is a useless thing, and hatred is unjust. Or is a causeless love perhaps more legitimate than a causeless hatred? God certainly forbids us to hate even with a reason for our hating; for he commands us to love our enemies. God forbids us to curse, though there be some ground for doing so, in commanding that those who curse us we are to bless. But what is more merciless than the circus, where people do not spare even their rulers and fellow-citizens? If any of its madnesses are becoming elsewhere in the saints of God, they will be proper in the circus too; but if they are nowhere right, so neither are they there.

Chapter 17. For modesty's sake, we ought not to hear what we should not speak

Are we not, in the same way, enjoined to put away from us all immodesty? On this ground, again, we are excluded from the theatre, which is immodesty's own peculiar abode, where nothing is in repute but what elsewhere is disreputable. So the best path to the highest favour of its God is the vileness which the Atellan gesticulates, which the buffoon in woman's clothes exhibits, destroying all natural modesty, so that they blush more readily at home than at the play, which finally is done from his childhood on the person of the pantomime, that he may become an actor. The very harlots, too, victims of the public lust, are brought on the stage, their misery increased as being there in the presence of their own sex, from whom alone they tend to hide themselves: they are paraded publicly before every age and every rank – their abode, their gains, their praises, are set forth, and that even in the hearing of those who should not hear such things. I say nothing about other matters, which it would be good to hide away in their own darkness and their own gloomy caves, for fear that they should stain the light of day.

Let the Senate, let all ranks, blush for very shame! Why, even these miserable women, who by their own gestures destroy their modesty, dreading the light of day, and the people's gaze, know something of shame at least once a year. But if we ought to abominate all that is immodest, on what ground is it right to hear what we must not speak? For all licentiousness of speech, no, every idle word, is condemned by God. Why, in the same way, is it right to look on what it is disgraceful to do? How is it that the things which defile a man in going out of his mouth, are not regarded as doing so when they go in at his eyes and ears – when eyes and ears are the immediate attendants on the spirit – and that can never be pure whose servants-in-waiting are impure? You have the theatre forbidden, then, in the forbidding of immodesty. If, again, we despise the teaching of secular literature as being foolishness in God's eyes, our duty is plain enough in regard to those spectacles, which from this source derive the tragic or comic play. If tragedies and comedies are the bloody and wanton, the impious and licentious inventors of crimes and lusts, it is not good even that there should be any calling to memory the atrocious or the vile. What you reject in deed, you are not to bid welcome to in word.

Chapter 18. Disfiguring the human form, in the Games

But if you argue that the racecourse is mentioned in Scripture, I grant it at once. But you will not refuse to admit that the things which are done there are not for you to look on: the blows, and kicks, and cuffs, and all the recklessness of hand, and everything like that disfiguration of the human countenance, which is nothing less than the disfiguration of God's own image. You will never give your approval to those foolish racing and throwing feats, and yet more foolish leapings; you will never find pleasure in injurious or useless exhibitions of strength; certainly you will not regard with approval those efforts after an artificial body which aim at surpassing the Creator's work; and you will have the very opposite of complacency in the athletes that Greece, in the inactivity of peace, feeds up. And the wrestler's art is a devil's thing. The devil wrestled with, and crushed to death, the first human beings. Its very attitude has power in it of the serpent kind, firm to hold – tortures to clasp – slippery to glide away. You have no need of crowns; why do you strive to get pleasures from crowns?

Chapter 19. Gladiatorial "sport" – taking pleasure in others' sufferings!

We shall now see how the Scriptures condemn the amphitheatre. If we can maintain that it is right to indulge in the cruel, and the impious, and the fierce, let us go there. If we are what we are said to be, let us regale ourselves there with human blood. It is good, no doubt, to have the guilty punished. Who but the criminal himself will deny that? And yet the innocent can find no pleasure in another's sufferings: he rather mourns that a brother has sinned so heinously as to need a punishment so dreadful. But who is my guarantee that it is always the guilty who are adjudged to the wild beasts, or to some other doom, and that the guiltless never suffer from the revenge of the judge, or the weakness of the defence, or the pressure of the rack? How much better, then, is it for me to remain ignorant of the punishment inflicted on the wicked, for fear that I am obliged to know also of the good coming to untimely ends – if I may speak of goodness in the case at all! At any rate, gladiators not chargeable with crime are offered in sale for the games, that they may become the victims of the public pleasure. Even in the case of those who are judicially condemned to the amphitheatre, what a monstrous thing it is, that, in undergoing their punishment, they, from some less serious delinquency, advance to the criminality of manslayers! But I mean these remarks for heathen. As to Christians, I shall not insult them by adding another word as to the aversion with which they should regard this sort of exhibition; though no one is more able than myself to set forth fully the whole subject, unless it be one who is still in the habit of going to the shows. I would rather indeed, be incomplete than set memory a-working.

Chapter 20. Even if not explicitly forbidden in Scripture, these games are wrong. "God sees!"

How vain, then – no, how desperate – is the reasoning of persons, who, just because they decline to miss out on a pleasure, hold that we cannot point to the specific words or the very place where this abstinence is mentioned, and where the servants of God are directly forbidden to have anything to do with such assemblies! I heard lately a novel defence of himself by a certain play-lover. "The sun," said he, "no, God himself, looks down from heaven on the show, and no pollution is contracted." Yes, and the sun, too, pours down his rays into the common sewer without being defiled. As for God, if only all crimes were hidden from his eye, that we might all escape judgment! But he looks on robberies too; he looks on falsehoods, adulteries, frauds, idolatries, and these same shows; and precisely on that account we will not look on them, for fear that the All-seeing see us. You are putting on the same level, O man, the criminal and the judge; the criminal who is a criminal because he is seen, and the Judge who is a Judge because he sees. Are we set, then, on playing the madman outside the circus boundaries? Outside the gates of the theatre are we bent on lewdness, outside the course on arrogance, and outside the amphitheatre on cruelty, because outside the porticoes, the tiers and the curtains, too, God has eyes? Never and nowhere is that free from blame which God ever condemns; never and nowhere is it right to do what you may not do at all times and in all places. It is the freedom of the truth from change of opinion and varying judgments which constitutes its perfection, and gives it its claims to full mastery, unchanging reverence, and faithful obedience. That which is really good or really evil cannot be anything else. But in all things the truth of God is immutable.

Chapter 21. Never let your daughters near the stage!

The heathen, who have not a full revelation of the truth, for they are not taught of God, hold a thing evil and good as it suits self-will and passion, making that which is good in one place evil in another, and that which is evil in one place in another good. So it strangely happens, that the same man who can scarcely in public lift up his tunic, even when necessity of nature presses him, takes it off in the circus, as if bent on exposing himself before everybody; the father who carefully protects and guards his virgin daughter's ears from every polluting word, takes her to the theatre himself, exposing her to all its vile words and attitudes; he, again, who in the streets lays hands on or covers with reproaches the brawling pugilist, in the arena gives all encouragement to combats of a much more serious kind; and he who looks with horror on the corpse of one who has died under the common law of nature, in the amphitheatre gazes down with most patient eyes on bodies all mangled and torn and smeared with their own blood; no, the very man who comes to the show, because he thinks murderers ought to suffer for their crime, drives the unwilling gladiator to the murderous deed with rods and scourges; and one who demands the lion for every manslayer of deeper dye, will have the staff for the savage swordsman, and rewards him with the cap of liberty. Yes and he must have the poor victim back again, that he may get a sight of his face – with zest inspecting near at hand the man whom he wished torn in pieces at safe distance from him: so much the more cruel he if that was not his wish.

Chapter 22. Gladiators, to whom men prostitute their souls, and women their bodies

What wonder is there in it? Such inconsistencies as these are just such as we might expect from men, who confuse and change the nature of good and evil in their inconstancy of feeling and fickleness in judgment. Why, the authors and managers of the spectacles, in that very respect with reference to which they highly laud the charioteers, and actors, and wrestlers, and those most loving gladiators, to whom men prostitute their souls, women too their bodies, slight and trample on them, though for their sakes they are guilty of the deeds they reprobate; no, they doom them to ignominy and the loss of their rights as citizens, excluding them from the Curia, and the rostra, from senatorial and equestrian rank, and from all other honours as well as certain distinctions. What perversity! They have pleasure in those whom yet they punish; they put all slights on those to whom, at the same time, they award their approbation; they magnify the art and brand the artist. What an outrageous thing it is, to blacken a man on account of the very things which make him meritorious in their eyes! No, what a confession that the things are evil, when their authors, even in highest favour, are not without a mark of disgrace on them!

Chapter 23. "The Author of truth hates all the false;” an attack on actors

Seeing, then, man's own reflections, even in spite of the sweetness of pleasure, lead him to think that people such as these should be condemned to a hapless lot of infamy, losing all the advantages connected with the possession of the dignities of life, how much more does the divine righteousness inflict punishment on those who give themselves to these arts! Will God have any pleasure in the charioteer who disquiets so many souls, rouses up so many furious passions, and creates so many various moods, either crowned like a priest or wearing the colours of a pimp, decked out by the devil that he may be whirled away in his chariot, as though with the object of taking off Elijah? Will he be pleased with him who applies the razor to himself, and completely changes his features; who, with no respect for his face, is not content with making it as like as possible to Saturn and Isis and Bacchus, but gives it quietly over to contumelious blows, as if in mockery of our Lord? The devil, indeed, makes it part, too, of his teaching, that the cheek is to be meekly offered to the smiter. In the same way, with their high shoes, he has made the tragic actors taller, because "none can add a cubit to his stature." His desire is to make Christ a liar. And in regard to the wearing of masks, I ask is that according to the mind of God, who forbids the making of every likeness, and especially then the likeness of man who is his own image? The Author of truth hates all the false; he regards as adultery all that is unreal. Condemning, therefore, as he does hypocrisy in every form, he never will approve any putting on of voice, or sex, or age; he never will approve pretended loves, and wraths, and groans, and tears. Then, too, as in his law it is declared that the man is cursed who attires himself in female garments, what must be his judgment of the pantomime, who is even brought up to play the woman! And will the boxer go unpunished? I suppose he received these caestus-scars, and the thick skin of his fists, and these growths on his ears, at his creation! God, too, gave him eyes for no other end than that they might be knocked out in fighting! I say nothing of him who, to save himself, thrusts another in the lion's way, that he may not be too little of a murderer when he puts to death that very same man on the arena.

Chapter 24. Rejection of these amusements is the sign of a serious Christian

In how many other ways shall we yet further show that nothing which is peculiar to the shows has God's approval, or without that approval is becoming in God's servants? If we have succeeded in making it plain that they were instituted entirely for the devil's sake, and have been got up entirely with the devil's things (for all that is not God's, or is not pleasing in his eyes, belongs to his wicked rival), this simply means that in them you have that pomp of the devil which in the "seal" of our faith we abjure. We should have no connection with the things which we abjure, whether in deed or word, whether by looking on them or looking forward to them; but do we not abjure and rescind that baptismal pledge, when we cease to bear its testimony? Does it then remain for us to apply to the heathen themselves. Let them tell us, then, whether it is right in Christians to frequent the show. Why, the rejection of these amusements is the chief sign to those who a man has adopted the Christian faith. If anyone, then, puts away the faith's distinctive badge, he is plainly guilty of denying it. What hope can you possibly retain in regard to a man who does that? When you go over to the enemy's camp, you throw down your arms, desert the standards and the oath of allegiance to your chief: you cast in your lot for life or death with your new friends.

Chapter 25. During a play, will one be giving thought to the word of God?

Seated where there is nothing of God, will one be thinking of his Maker? Will there be peace in his soul when there is eager strife there for a charioteer? Worked up into a frenzied excitement, will he learn to be modest? No, in the whole thing he will meet with no greater temptation than that gay attiring of the men and women. The very intermingling of emotions, the very agreements and disagreements with each other in the bestowment of their favours, where you have such close communion, blow up the sparks of passion. And then there is scarce any other object in going to the show, but to see and to be seen. When a tragic actor is declaiming, will one be giving thought to prophetic appeals? Amid the measures of the effeminate player, will he call up to himself a psalm? And when the athletes are hard at struggle, will he be ready to proclaim that there must be no striking again? And with his eye fixed on the bites of bears, and the sponge-nets of the net-fighters, can he be moved by compassion? May God avert from his people any such passionate eagerness after a cruel enjoyment! For how monstrous it is to go from God's church to the devil's – from the sky to the stye, as they say; to raise your hands to God, and then to weary them in the applause of an actor; out of the mouth, from which you uttered Amen over the Holy Thing, to give witness in a gladiator's favour; to cry "forever" to anyone else but God and Christ!

Chapter 26. The woman who went to the theatre, and came back possessed.

Why may not those who go into the temptations of the show become accessible also to evil spirits? We have the case of the woman – the Lord himself is witness – who went to the theatre, and came back possessed. In the outcasting, accordingly, when the unclean creature was rebuked with having dared to attack a believer, he firmly replied, "And in truth I did it most righteously, for I found her in my domain." Another case, too, is well known, in which a woman had been hearing a tragedian, and on the very night she saw in her sleep a linen cloth – the actor's name being mentioned at the same time with strong disapproval – and five days after that woman was no more. How many other undoubted proofs we have had in the case of persons who, by keeping company with the devil in the shows, have fallen from the Lord! For no one can serve two masters. What fellowship has light with darkness, life with death?

Chapter 27. We ought to detest the heathen theatrical assemblies

We ought to detest these heathen meetings and assemblies, if on no other account than that there God's name is blasphemed – that there the cry "To the lions!" is daily raised against us – that from thence persecuting decrees tend to emanate, and temptations are sent forth. What will you do if you are caught in that heaving tide of impious judgments? Not that there any harm is likely to come to you from men: nobody knows that you are a Christian; but think how it fares with you in heaven. For at the very time the devil is working havoc in the church, do you doubt that the angels are looking down from above, and marking every man, who speaks and who listens to the blaspheming word, who lends his tongue and who lends his ears to the service of Satan against God? Shall you not then shun those tiers where the enemies of Christ assemble, that seat of all that is pestilential, and the very super incumbent atmosphere all impure with wicked cries? Grant that you have there things that are pleasant, things both agreeable and innocent in themselves; even some things that are excellent. Nobody dilutes poison with gall and hellebore: the accursed thing is put into condiments well seasoned and of sweetest taste. So, too, the devil puts into the deadly draught which he prepares, things of God most pleasant and most acceptable. Everything there, then, that is either brave, noble, loud-sounding, melodious, or exquisite in taste, hold it but as the honey drop of a poisoned cake; nor make so much of your taste for its pleasures, as of the danger you run from its attractions.

Chapter 28. Our banquets, our nuptial joys, are yet to come.

With such dainties as these let the devil's guests be feasted. The places and the times, the inviter too, are theirs. Our banquets, our nuptial joys, are yet to come. We cannot sit down in fellowship with them, as neither can they with us. Things in this matter go by their turns. Now they have gladness and we are troubled. "The world," says Jesus, "shall rejoice; you shall be sorrowful." Let us mourn, then, while the heathen are merry, that in the day of their sorrow we may rejoice; for fear that, sharing now in their gladness, we share then also in their grief. You are too dainty, Christian, if you would have pleasure in this life as well as in the next; no, a fool you are, if you think this life's pleasures to be really pleasures. The philosophers, for instance, give the name of pleasure to quietness and repose; in that they have their bliss; in that they find entertainment: they even glory in it. You long for the goal, and the stage, and the dust, and the place of combat! I would have you answer me this question: Can we not live without pleasure, who cannot but with pleasure die? For what is our wish but the apostle's, to leave the world, and be taken up into the fellowship of our Lord? You have your joys where you have your longings.

Chapter 29. These are the pleasures and spectacles that befit Christian

Even as things are, if your thought is to spend this period of existence in enjoyments, how are you so ungrateful as to reckon insufficient, as not thankfully to recognise the many and exquisite pleasures God has bestowed on you? For what more delightful than to have God the Father and our Lord at peace with us, than revelation of the truth than confession of our errors, than pardon of the innumerable sins of our past life? What greater pleasure than distaste of pleasure itself, contempt of all that the world can give, true liberty, a pure conscience, a contented life, and freedom from all fear of death? What nobler than to tread under foot the gods of the nations – to exorcise evil spirits – to perform cures – to seek divine revealings – to live to God? These are the pleasures, these the spectacles that befit Christian men – holy, everlasting, free. Count of these as your circus games, fix your eyes on the courses of the world, the gliding seasons, reckon up the periods of time, long for the goal of the final consummation, defend the societies of the churches, be startled at God's signal, be roused up at the angel's trump, glory in the palms of martyrdom. If the literature of the stage delight you, we have literature in abundance of our own – plenty of verses, sentences, songs, proverbs; and these not fabulous, but true; not tricks of art, but plain realities. Would you have also fightings and wrestlings? Well, of these there is no lacking, and they are not of slight account. Behold unchastity overcome by chastity, perfidy slain by faithfulness, cruelty stricken by compassion, impudence thrown into the shade by modesty: these are the contests we have among us, and in these we win our crowns. Would you have something of blood too? You have Christ's.

Chapter 30. What a spectacle is that fast-approaching advent of our Lord

But what a spectacle is that fast-approaching advent of our Lord, now owned by all, now highly exalted, now a triumphant One! What that exultation of the angelic hosts! What the glory of the rising saints! What the kingdom of the just thereafter! What the city New Jerusalem! Yes, and there are other sights: that last day of judgment, with its everlasting issues; that day unlooked for by the nations, the theme of their derision, when the world hoary with age, and all its many products, shall be consumed in one great flame! How vast a spectacle then bursts on the eye! What there excites my admiration? What my derision? Which sight gives me joy? Which rouses me to exultation? – as I see so many illustrious monarchs, whose reception into the heavens was publicly announced, groaning now in the lowest darkness with great Jove himself, and those, too, who bore witness of their exultation; governors of provinces, too, who persecuted the Christian name, in fires more fierce than those with which in the days of their pride they raged against the followers of Christ. What world' wise men besides, the very philosophers, in fact, who taught their followers that God had no concern in ought that is sublunary, and were wont to assure those who either they had no souls, or that they would never return to the bodies which at death they had left, now covered with shame before the poor deluded ones, as one fire consumes them! Poets also, trembling not before the judgment-seat of Rhadamanthus or Minos, but of the unexpected Christ! I shall have a better opportunity then of hearing the tragedians, louder-voiced in their own calamity; of viewing the play-actors, much more "dissolute" in the dissolving flame; of looking on the charioteer, all glowing in his chariot of fire; of seeing the wrestlers, not in their gymnasia, but tossing in the fiery billows; unless even then I shall not care to attend to such ministers of sin, in my eager wish rather to fix a gaze insatiable on those whose fury vented itself against the Lord. "This," I shall say, "this is that carpenter's or hireling's son, that Sabbath-breaker, that Samaritan and devil-possessed! This is he whom you purchased from Judas! This is he whom you struck with reed and fist, whom you contemptuously spat on, to whom you gave gall and vinegar to drink! This is he whom his disciples secretly stole away, that it might be said he had risen again, or the gardener abstracted, that his letuces might come to no harm from the crowds of visitants!" What quaestor or priest in his munificence will bestow on you the favour of seeing and exulting in such things as these? And yet even now we in a measure have them by faith in the picturings of imagination. But what are the things which eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and which have not so much as dimly dawned on the human heart? Whatever they are, they are nobler, I believe, than circus, and both theatres, and every race-course

On the Laurel Crown

(as a non-Christian usage)

Chapter 1. The Christian soldier who refused to wear his laurel-crown

Very lately it happened so: while the bounty of our most excellent emperors was dispensed in the camp, the soldiers, laurel-crowned, were approaching. One of them, more a soldier of God, more steadfast than the rest of his brethren, who had imagined that they could serve two masters, his head alone uncovered, the useless crown in his hand – already even by that peculiarity known to everyone as a Christian – was nobly conspicuous. Accordingly, all began to mark him out, jeering him at a distance, gnashing on him near at hand. The murmur is wafted to the tribune, when the person had just left the ranks. The tribune at once puts the question to him, why are you so different in your attire? He declared that he had no liberty to wear the crown with the rest. Being urgently asked for his reasons, he answered, "I am a Christian." O soldier! boasting yourself in God. Then the case was considered and voted on; the matter was remitted to a higher tribunal; the offender was conducted to the prefects.

At once he put away the heavy cloak, his disburdening began; he loosed from his foot the military shoe, beginning to stand on holy ground; a he gave up the sword, which was not necessary either for the protection of our Lord; from his hand likewise dropped the laurel crown; and now, purple-clad with the hope of his own blood, shod with the preparation of the gospel, girt with the sharper word of God, completely equipped in the apostles' armor, and crowned more worthily with the white crown of martyrdom, he awaits in prison the largess of Christ. Thereafter adverse judgments began to be passed on his conduct – whether on the part of Christians I do not know, for those of the heathen are not different – as if he were headstrong and rash, and too eager to die, because, in being taken to task about a mere matter of dress, he brought trouble on the bearers of the Name, – he, indeed, alone brave among so many soldier-brethren, he alone a Christian. It is plain that as they have rejected the prophecies of the Holy Spirit, they are also purposing the refusal of martyrdom. So they murmur that a peace so good and long is endangered for them. Nor do I doubt that some are already turning their back on the Scriptures, are making ready their luggage, are equipped for flight from city to city; for that is all of the gospel they care to remember. I know, too, their pastors are lions in peace, deer in the fight. As to the questions asked for extorting confessions from us, we shall teach elsewhere. Now, as they forth also the objection – But where are we forbidden to be crowned? – I shall take this point up, as more suitable to be treated of here, being the essence, in fact, of the present contention. So that, on the one hand, the enquirers who are ignorant, but anxious, may be instructed; and on the other, those may be refuted who try to vindicate the sin, especially the laurel-crowned Christians themselves, to whom it is merely a question of debate, as if it might be regarded as either no trespass at all, or at least a doubtful one, because it may be made the subject of investigation. That it is neither sinless nor doubtful, I shall now, however, show.

Chapter 2. Our Faithful have only worn a crown, when under trial

I affirm that not one of the Faithful has ever a crown on his head, except at a time of trial. That is the case with all, from catechumens to confessors and martyrs, or (as the case may be) deniers. Consider, then, from where the custom about which we are now chiefly enquiring got its authority. But when the question is raised why it is observed, it is meanwhile evident that it is observed. Therefore that can neither be regarded as no offence, or an uncertain one, which is perpetrated against a practice which is capable of defence, on the ground even of its repute, and is sufficiently ratified by the support of general acceptance. It is undoubted, so that we ought to enquire into the reason of the thing; but without prejudice to the practice, not for the purpose of overthrowing it, but rather of building it up, that you may all the more carefully observe it, when you are also satisfied as to its reason. But what sort of procedure is it, for one to be bringing into debate a practice, when he has fallen from it, and to be seeking the explanation of his having ever had it, when he has left it off? Since, although he may wish to seem on this account eager to investigate it, that he may show that he has not done wrong in giving it up, it is evident that he nevertheless transgressed previously in its presumptuous observance. If he has done no wrong today in accepting the crown he offended before in refusing it. This treatise, therefore, will not be for those who not in a proper condition for enquiry, but for those who, with the real desire of getting instruction, bring forward, not a question for debate, but a request for advice. For it is from this desire that a true enquiry always proceeds; and I praise the faith which has believed in the duty of complying with the rule, before it has learned the reason of it. An easy thing it is at once to demand where it is written that we should not be crowned. But is it written that we should be crowned? Indeed, in urgently demanding the warrant of Scripture in a different side from their own, men prejudge that the support of Scripture ought no less to appear on their part. For if it shall be said that it is lawful to be crowned on this ground, that Scripture does not forbid it, it will as validly be retorted that just on this ground is the crown unlawful, because the Scripture does not require it. What shall discipline do? Shall it accept both things, as if neither were forbidden? Or shall it refuse both, as if neither were commanded? But "the thing which is not forbidden is freely permitted." I should rather say that what has not been freely allowed is forbidden.

Chapter 3. Whether Tradition has authority, even when not written down

How long shall we draw the saw to and fro through this line, when we have an ancient practice, which by anticipation has made for us the state, that is, of the question? If no passage of Scripture has prescribed it, assuredly custom, which without doubt flowed from tradition, has confirmed it. For how can anything come into use, if it has not first been handed down? Even in pleading tradition, written authority, you say, must be demanded. Let us enquire, therefore, whether tradition, unless it be written, should not be admitted. Certainly we shall say that it ought not to be admitted, if no cases of other practices which, without any written instrument, we maintain on the ground of tradition alone, and the countenance thereafter of custom, affords us any precedent. To deal with this matter briefly, I shall begin with baptism. When we are going to enter the water, but a little before, in the presence of the congregation and under the hand of the president, we solemnly profess that we disown the devil, and his pomp, and his angels. Hereupon we are thrice immersed, making a somewhat ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed in the Gospel. Then when we are taken up (as new-born children), we taste first of all a mixture of milk and honey, and from that day we refrain from the daily bath for a whole week. We take also, in congregations before daybreak, and from the hand of none but the presidents, the sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord both commanded to be eaten at meal-times, and enjoined to be taken by all alike. As often as the anniversary comes round, we make offerings for the dead as birthday honours. We count fasting or kneeling in worship on the Lord's day to be unlawful. We rejoice in the same privilege also from Easter to Whitsunday. We feel pained should any wine or bread, even though our own, be cast on the ground. At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace on the forehead the sign.

Chapter 4. If there is no clear Scriptural proof, then I appeal to Tradition

If, for these and other such rules, you insist on having positive Scripture injunction, you will find none. Tradition will be held forth to you as the originator of them, custom as their strengthener, and faith as their observer. That reason will support tradition, and custom, and faith, you will either yourself perceive, or learn from some one who has. Meanwhile you will believe that there is some reason to which submission is due. I add still one case more, as it will be proper to show you how it was among the ancients also. Among the Jews, so usual is it for their women to have the head veiled, that they may thereby be recognised. I ask in this instance for the law. I put the apostle aside. If Rebecca at once drew down her veil, when in the distance she saw her betrothed, this modesty of a mere private individual could not have made a law, or it will have made it only for those who have the reason which she had. Let virgins alone be veiled, and this when they are coming to be married, and not until they have recognised their destined husband. If Susanna also, who was subjected to unveiling on her trial, furnishes an argument for the veiling of women, I can say here also, the veil was a voluntary thing. She had come accused, ashamed of the disgrace she had brought on herself, properly concealing her beauty, even because now she feared to please. But I should not suppose that, when it was her aim to please, she took walks with a veil on in her husband's avenue. Grant, now, that she was always veiled. In this particular case, too, or, in fact, in that of any other, I demand the dress-law. If I nowhere find a law, it follows that tradition has given the fashion in question to custom, to find subsequently (its authorization in) the apostle's sanction, from the true interpretation of reason. This instances, therefore, will make it sufficiently plain that you can vindicate the keeping of even unwritten tradition established by custom; the proper witness for tradition when demonstrated by long-continued observance. But even in civil matters custom is accepted as law, when positive legal enactment is wanting; and it is the same thing whether it depends on writing or on reason, since reason is, in fact, the basis of law. But, (you say), if reason is the ground of law, all will now from now on have to be counted law, whoever brings it forward, which shall have reason as its ground. Or do you think that every believer is entitled to originate and establish a law, if only it be such as is agreeable to God, as is helpful to discipline, as promotes salvation, when the Lord says, "But why do you not even of your own selves judge what is right?" And not merely in regard to a judicial sentence, but in regard to every decision in matters we are called on to consider, the apostle also says, "If of anything you are ignorant, God shall reveal it to you;" he himself, too, being accustomed to afford counsel though he had not the command of the Lord, and to dictate of himself as possessing the Spirit of God who guides into all truth. Therefore his advice has, by the warrant of divine reason, become equivalent to nothing less than a divine command. Earnestly now enquire of this teacher, keeping intact your regard for tradition, from whomsoever it originally sprang; nor have regard to the author, but to the authority, and especially that of custom itself, which on this very account we should revere, that we may not want an interpreter; so that if reason too is God's gift, you may then learn, not whether custom has to be followed by you, but why.

Chapter 5. Nature herself supports the Christia practice

The argument for Christian practices becomes all the stronger, when also nature, which is the first rule of all, supports them. Well, she is the first who lays it down that a crown does not become the head. But I think ours is the God of nature, who fashioned man; and, that he might desire, (appreciate, become partaker of) the pleasures afforded by his creatures, endowed him with certain senses, (acting) through members, which, so to speak, are their peculiar instruments. The sense of hearing he has planted in the ears; that of sight, lighted up in the eyes; that of taste, shut up in the mouth; that of smell, wafted into the nose; that of touch, fixed in the tips of the fingers. By means of these organs of the outer man doing duty to the inner man, the enjoyments of the divine gifts are conveyed by the senses to the soul. What, then, in flowers affords you enjoyment? For it is the flowers of the field which are the peculiar, at least the chief, material of crowns. Either smell, you say, or colour, or both together. What will be the senses of cocolour and smell? Those of seeing and smelling, I suppose. What members have had these senses allotted to them? The eyes and the nose, if I am not mistaken. With sight and smell, then, make use of flowers, for these are the senses by which they are meant to be enjoyed; use them by means of the eyes and nose, which are the members to which these senses belong. You have got the thing from God, the mode of it from the world; but an extraordinary mode does not prevent the use of the thing in the common way. Let flowers, then, both when fastened into each other and tied together in thread and rush, be what they are when free, when loose – things to be looked at and smelt. You count it a crown, let us say, when you have a bunch of them bound together in a series, that you may carry many at one time that you may enjoy them all at once. Well, lay them in your bosom if they are so singularly pure, and strew them on your couch if they are so exquisitely soft, and consign them to your cup if they are so perfectly harmless. Have the pleasure of them in as many ways as they appeal to your senses. But what taste for a flower, what sense for anything belonging to a crown but its band, have you in the head, which is able neither to distinguish colour, nor to inhale sweet perfumes, nor to appreciate softness? It is as much against nature to long after a flower with the head, as it is to crave food with the ear, or sound with the nostril. But everything which is against nature deserves to be branded as monstrous among all men; but with us it is to be condemned also as sacrilege against God, the Lord and Creator of nature.

Chapter 6. The natural law, according to St. Paul

Demanding then a law of God, you have that common one prevailing all over the world, engraven on the natural tables to which the apostle too can often appeal, as when in respect of the woman's veil he says, "Does not even Nature teach you?" – as when to the Romans, affirming that the heathen do by nature those things which the Law requires, he suggests both natural law and a law-revealing nature. Yes, and also in the first part of the epistle he authenticates nature, when he asserts that males and females changed among themselves the natural use of the creature into that which is unnatural, by way of penal retribution for their error. We first of all indeed know God himself by the teaching of Nature, calling him God of gods, taking for granted that he is good, and invoking him as Judge. Is it a question with you whether for the enjoyment of his creatures, Nature should be our guide, that we may not be carried away in the direction in which the rival of God has corrupted, along with man himself, the entire creation which had been made over to our race for certain uses, so the apostle says that it too unwillingly became subject to vanity, completely bereft of its original character, first by vain, then by base, unrighteous, and wicked uses? It is so, accordingly, in the pleasures of the shows, that the creature is dishonoured by those who by nature indeed perceive that all the materials of which shows are got up belong to God, but lack the knowledge to perceive as well that they have all been changed by the devil. But with this topic we have, for the sake of our own play-lovers, sufficiently dealt, and that, too, in a work in Greek.

Chapter 7. Why we maintain the peculiarity of our Christian discipline

Let these dealers in crowns then recognise in the meantime the authority of Nature, on the ground of a common sense as human beings, and the certifications of their peculiar religion, as, according to the last Part, worshippers of the God of nature; and, so to speak, so over and above what is required, let them consider those other reasons too which forbid us wearing crowns, especially on the head, and indeed crowns of every sort. For we are obliged to turn from the rule of Nature, which we share with mankind in general, that we may maintain the whole peculiarity of our Christian discipline, in relation also to other kinds of crowns which seem to have been provided for different uses, as being composed of different substances, for fear that, because they do not consist of flowers, the use of which nature has indicated (as it does in the case of this military laurel one itself), they may be thought not to come Under the prohibition of our sect, since they have escaped any objections of nature. I see, then, that we must go into the matter both with more research, and more fully, from its beginnings on through its successive stages Of growth to its more erratic developments. For this we need to turn to heathen literature, for things belonging to the heathen must be proved from their own documents. The little of this I have acquired, will, I believe, be enough. If there really was a Pandora, whom Hesiod mentions as the first of women, hers was the first head the graces crowned, for she received gifts from all the gods so she got her name Pandora. But Moses, a prophet, not a poet-shepherd, shows us the first woman Eve having her loins more naturally girt about with leaves than her temples with flowers. Pandora, then, is a myth. And so we have to blush for the origin of the crown, even on the ground of the falsehood connected with it; and, as will soon appear, on the ground no less of its realities. For it is an undoubted fact that certain persons either originated the thing, or shed distinction on it. Pherecydes relates that Saturn was the first who wore a crown; Diodorus, that Jupiter, after conquering the Titans, was honoured with this gift by the rest of the gods. To Priapus also the same author assigns fillets; and to Ariadne a garland of gold and of Indian gems, the gift of Vulcan, afterwards of Bacchus, and subsequently turned into a constellation. Callimachus has put a vine crown on Juno. So too at Argos, her statue, vine-wreathed, with a lion's skin placed beneath her feet, exhibits the stepmother exulting over the spoils of her two step-sons. Hercules displays on his head sometimes poplar, sometimes wild-olive, sometimes parsley. You have the tragedy of Cerberus; you have Pindar; and besides Callimachus, who mentions that Apollo, too when he had killed the Delphic serpent, as a suppliant, put on a laurel garland; for among the ancients suppliants were customarily crowned. Harpocration argues that Bacchus the same as Osiris among the Egyptians, was designedly crowned with ivy, because it is the nature of ivy to protect the brain against drowsiness. But that in another way also Bacchus was the originator of the laurel crown (the crown) in which he celebrated his triumph over the Indians, even the rabble acknowledge, when they call the days dedicated to him the "great crown." If you open, again, the writings of the Egyptian Leo, you learn that Isis was the first who discovered and wore ears of corn on her head – a thing more suited to the belly. Those who want additional information will find an ample exposition of the subject in Claudius Saturninus, a writer of distinguished talent who treats this question also, for he has a book on crowns, so explaining their beginnings as well as causes, and kinds, and rites, that you find all that is charming in the flower, all that is beautiful in the leafy branch, and every sod or vine-shoot has been dedicated to some head or other; making it abundantly clear how foreign to us we should judge the custom of the crowned head, introduced as it was by, and thereafter constantly managed for the honour of, those whom the world has believed to be gods. If the devil, a liar from the beginning, is even in this matter working for his false system of godhead (idolatry), he had himself also without doubt provided for his God-lie being carried out. What sort of thing, then, must that be counted among the people of the true God, which was brought in by the nations in honour of the devil's candidates, and was set apart from the beginning to no other than these; and which even then received its consecration to idolatry by idols and in idols yet alive? Not as if an idol were anything, but since the things which others offer up to idols belong to demons. But if the things which others offer to them belong to demons how much more what idols offered to themselves, when they were in life! The demons themselves, doubtless, had made provision for themselves by means of those whom they had possessed, while in a state of desire and craving, before provision had been actually made.

Chapter 8. Only useful and necessary things were what Christ used

Hold fast in the meantime this persuasion, while I examine a question which comes in our way. For I already hear it said, that many other things as well as crowns have been invented by those whom the world believes to be gods, and yet they are in our present usages and in those of early saints, and in the service of God, and in Christ himself, who did his work as man by no other than these ordinary instrumentalities of human life. Well, let it be so; nor shall I enquire any further back into the origin of this things. Let Mercury have been the first who taught the knowledge of letters; I will own that they are required both for the business and commerce of life, and for performing our devotion to God. No, if he also first strung the chord to give forth melody, I will not deny, when listening to David, that this invention has been in use with the saints, and has ministered to God. Let Aesculapius have been the first who sought and discovered cures: Isaiah mentions that he ordered Hezekiah medicine when he was sick. Paul, too, knows that a little wine does the stomach good. Let Minerva have been the first who built a ship: I shall see Jonah and the apostles sailing. No, there is more than this: for even Christ, we shall find, has ordinary clothing; Paul, too, has his cloak. If at once, of every article of furniture and each household vessel, you name some God of the world as the originator, well, I must recognise Christ, both as he reclines on a couch, and when he presents a basin for the feet of his disciples, and when he pours water into it from a ewer, and when he is girt about with a linen towel – a garment specially sacred to Osiris. It is so in general I reply on the point, admitting indeed that we use along with others these articles, but challenging that this be judged in the light of the distinction between things agreeable and things opposed to reason, because the promiscuous employment of them is deceptive, concealing the corruption of the creature, by which it has been made subject to vanity. For we affirm that those things only are proper to be used, whether by ourselves or by those who lived before us, and alone befit the service of God and Christ himself, which to meet the necessities of human life supply what is simply; useful and affords real assistance and honourable comfort, so that they may be well believed to have come from God's own inspiration, who first of all no doubt provided for and taught and ministered to the enjoyment, I should suppose, of his own man. As for the things which are out of this class, they are not fit to be used among us, especially those which on that account indeed are not to be found either with the world, or in the ways of Christ.

Chapter 9. What apostle, or bishop, do you ever find the wearer of a crown?

In short, what patriarch, what prophet, what Levite, or priest, or ruler, or at a later period what apostle, or preacher of the gospel, or bishop, do you ever find the wearer of a crown? I think not even the temple of God itself was crowned; as neither was the ark of the testament, nor the tabernacle of witness, nor the altar, nor the candlestick crowned though certainly, both on that first solemnity of the dedication, and in that second rejoicing for the restoration, crowning would have been most suitable if it were worthy of God. But if these things were figures of us (for we are temples of God, and altars, and lights, and sacred vessels), this too they in figure set forth, that the people of God ought not to be crowned. The reality must always correspond with the image. If, perhaps, you object that Christ himself was crowned, to that you will get the brief reply: Be too crowned, as he was; you have full permission. Yet even that crown of insolent ungodliness was not of any decree of the Jewish people. It was a device of the Roman soldiers, taken from the practice of the world, – a practice which the people of God never allowed either on the occasion of public rejoicing or to gratify innate luxury: so they returned from the Babylonian captivity with timbrels, and flutes, and psalteries, more suitably than with crowns; and after eating and drinking, uncrowned, they rose up to play. Neither would the account of the rejoicing nor the exposure of the luxury have been silent concerning the honour or dishonour of the crown. So too Isaiah, as he says, "With timbrels, and psalteries, and flutes they drink wine," would have added "with crowns," if this practice had ever had place in the things of God.

Chapter 10. We should use nothing which cannot be in the service of God

So, when you allege that the ornaments of the heathen deities are found no less with God, with the object of claiming among these for general use the head-crown, you already lay it down for yourself, that we must not have among us, as a thing whose use we are to share with others, what is not to be found in the service of God. Well, what is so unworthy of God indeed as that which is worthy of an idol? But what is so worthy of an idol as that which is also worthy of a dead man? For it is the privilege of the dead also to be so crowned, as they too immediately become idols, both by their dress and the service of deification, which (deification) is with us a second idolatry. Wanting, then, the sense, it will be theirs to use the thing for which the sense is wanting, just as if in full possession of the sense they wished to abuse it. When there ceases to be any reality in the use, there is no distinction between using and abusing. Who can abuse a thing, when the precipient nature with which he wishes to carry out his purpose is not his to use it? The apostle, moreover, forbids us to abuse, while he would more naturally have taught us not to use, unless on the ground that, where there is no sense for things, there is no wrong use of them. But the whole affair is meaningless, and is, in fact, a dead work so far as concerns the idols; though, without doubt, a living one as respects the demons to whom the religious rite belongs. "The idols of the heathen," says David, "are silver and gold." "They have eyes, and do not see; a nose, and smell not; hands, and they will not handle." By means of these organs, indeed, we are to enjoy flowers; but if he declares that those who make idols will be like them, they already are so who use anything after the style of idol adornings. "To the pure all things are pure: so, likewise, all things to the impure are impure;" but nothing is more impure than idols. The substances are themselves as creatures of God without impurity, and in this their native state are free to the use of all; but the ministries to which in their use they are devoted, makes all the difference; for I, too, kill a cock for myself, just as Socrates did for Aesculapius; and if the smell of some place or other offends me, I burn the Arabian product myself, but not with the same ceremony, nor in the same dress, nor with the same pomp, with which it is done to idols. If the creature is defiled by a mere word, as the apostle teaches, "But if anyone say, This is offered in sacrifice to idols, you must not touch it," much more when it is polluted by the dress, and rites, and pomp of what is offered to the gods. So the crown also is made out to be an offering to idols; for with this ceremony, and dress, and pomp, it is presented in sacrifice to idols, its originators, to whom its use is specially given over, and chiefly on this account, that what has no place among the things of God may not be admitted into use with us as with others. Therefore the apostle exclaims, "Flee idolatry:" certainly idolatry whole and entire he means. Reflect on what a thicket it is, and how many thorns lie hid in it. Nothing must be given to an idol, and so nothing must be taken from one. If it is inconsistent with faith to recline in an idol temple, what is it to appear in an idol dress? What communion have Christ and Belial? Therefore flee from it; for he enjoins us to keep at a distance from idolatry – to have no close dealings with it of any kind. Even an earthly serpent sucks in men at some distance with its breath. Going still further, John says, "my little children, keep yourselves from idols," – not now from idolatry, as if from the service of it, but from idols – that is, from any resemblance to them: for it is an unworthy thing that you, the image of the living God, should become the likeness of an idol and a dead man. So far we assert, that this attire belongs to idols, both from the history of its origin, and from its use by false religion; on this ground, besides, that while it is not mentioned as connected with the worship of God, it is more and more given over to those in whose antiquities, as well as festivals and services, it is found. In a word, the very doors, the very victims and altars, the very servants and priests, are crowned. You have, in Claudius, the crowns of all the various colleges of priests. We have added also that distinction between things altogether different from each other – things, namely, agreeable, and things contrary to reason – in answer to those who, because there happens to be the use of some things in common, maintain the right of participation in all things. With reference to this part of the subject, therefore, it now remains that the special grounds for wearing crowns should be examined, that while we show these to be foreign, no, even opposed to our Christian discipline, we may demonstrate that none of them have any plea of reason to support it, on the basis of which this article of dress might be vindicated as one in whose use we can participate, as even some others may whose instances are cast up to us.

Chapter 11. Whether warfare is proper at all for Christians.

To begin with the real ground of the military crown, I think we must first enquire whether warfare is proper at all for Christians. What sense is there in discussing the merely accidental, when that on which it rests is to be condemned? Do we believe it lawful for a human oath to be superadded to one divine, for a man to come under promise to another master after Christ, and to abjure father, mother, and all nearest kinsfolk, whom even the Law has commanded us to honour and love next to God himself, to whom the gospel, too, holding them only of less account than Christ, has in the same way rendered honour? Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law? And shall he apply the chain, and the prison, and the torture, and the punishment, who is not the avenger even of his own wrongs? Shall he, indeed, either keep watch-service for others more than for Christ, or shall he do it on the Lord's day, when he does not even do it for Christ himself? And shall he keep guard before the temples which he has renounced? And shall he take a meal where the apostle has forbidden him? And shall he diligently protect by night those whom in the day-time he has put to flight by his exorcisms, leaning and resting on the spear the while with which Christ's side was pierced? Shall he carry a flag, too, hostile to Christ? And shall he ask a watchword from the emperor who has already received one from God? Shall he be disturbed in death by the trumpet of the trumpeter, who expects to be aroused by the angel's trump? And shall the Christian be burned according to camp rule, when he was not permitted to burn incense to an idol, when to him Christ remitted the punishment of fire? Then how many other offences there are involved in the performances of camp offices, which we must hold to involve a transgression of God's law, you may see by a slight survey. The very carrying of the name over from the camp of light to the camp of darkness is a violation of it. Of course, if faith comes later, and finds any preoccupied with military service, their case is different, as in the instance of those whom John used to receive for baptism, and of those most faithful centurions, I mean the centurion whom Christ approves, and the centurion whom Peter instructs; yet, at the same time, when a man has become a believer, and faith has been sealed, there must be either an immediate abandonment of it, which has been the course with many; or all sorts of quibbling will have to be resorted to in order to avoid offending God, and that is not allowed even outside of military service; or, last of all, for God the fate must be endured which a citizen-faith has been no less ready to accept. Neither does military service hold out escape from punishment of sins, or exemption from martyrdom. Nowhere does the Christian change his character. There is one gospel, and the same Jesus, who will one day deny everyone who denies, and acknowledge everyone who acknowledges God, – who will save, too, the life which has been lost for his sake; but, on the other hand, destroy that which for gain has been saved to his dishonour. With him the faithful citizen is a soldier, just as the faithful soldier is a citizen. A state of faith admits no plea of necessity; they are under no necessity to sin, whose one necessity is, that they do not sin. For if one is pressed to the offering of sacrifice and the sheer denial of Christ by the necessity of torture or of punishment, yet discipline does not connive even at that necessity; because there is a higher necessity to dread denying and to undergo martyrdom, than to escape from suffering, and to render the homage required. In fact, an excuse of this sort overturns the entire essence of our sacrament, removing even the obstacle to voluntary sins; for it will be possible also to maintain that inclination is a necessity, as involving in it, indeed, a sort of compulsion. I have, in fact, disposed of this very allegation of necessity with reference to the pleas by which crowns connected with official position are vindicated, in support of which it is in common use, since for this very reason offices must be either refused, that we may not fall into acts of sin, or martyrdoms endured that we may get quit of offices. About this primary aspect of the question, as to the unlawfulness even of a military life itself, I shall not add more, that the secondary question may be restored to its place. Indeed, if, putting my strength to the question, I banish from us the military life, I should now to no purpose issue a challenge on the matter of the military crown. Suppose, then, that the military service is lawful, as far as the plea for the crown is concerned.

Chapter 12. Various meanings of the laurel crown

But I first say a word also about the crown itself. This laurel one is sacred to Apollo or Bacchus – to the former as the God of archery, to the latter as the God of triumphs. In the same way Claudius teaches; when he tells us that soldiers tend too to be wreathed in myrtle. For the myrtle belongs to Venus, the mother of the Aeneadae, the mistress also of the God of war, who, through Ilia and the Romuli is Roman. But I do not believe that Venus is Roman as well as Mars, because of the vexation the concubine gave her. When military service again is crowned with olive, the idolatry has respect to Minerva, who is equally the goddess of arms – but got a crown of the tree referred to, because of the peace she made with Neptune. In these respects, the superstition of the military garland will be everywhere defiled and all-defiling. And it is further defiled, I should think, also in the grounds of it. See the yearly public pronouncing of vows, what does that bear on its face to be? It takes place first in the part of the camp where the general's tent is, and then in the temples. In addition to the places, observe the words also: "We vow that you, O Jupiter, will then have an ox with gold-decorated horns." What does the utterance mean? Without a doubt the denial (of Christ). Albeit the Christian says nothing in these places with the mouth, he makes his response by having the crown on his head. The laurel is likewise commanded (to be used) at the distribution of the largess. So you see idolatry is not without its gain, selling, as it does, Christ for pieces of gold, as Judas did for pieces of silver. Will it be "You cannot serve God and mammon" to devote your energies to mammon, and to depart from God? Will it be "Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and to God the things which are God's," not only not to render the human being to God, but even to take the denarius from Caesar? Is the laurel of the triumph made of leaves, or of corpses? Is it adorned with ribbons, or with tombs? Is it bedewed with ointments, or with the tears of wives and mothers? It may be of some Christians too; for Christ is also among the barbarians. Has not he who has carried (a crown for) this cause on his head, fought even against himself? Another son of service belongs to the royal guards. And indeed crowns are called (Castrenses), as belonging to the camp; Munificae likewise, from the Caesarean functions they perform. But even then you are still the soldier and the servant of another; and if of two masters, of God and Caesar: but assuredly then not of Caesar, when you owe yourself to God, as having higher claims, I should think, even in matters in which both have an interest.

Chapter 13. Various orders of the citizens also are crowned with laurel crowns

For state reasons, the various orders of the citizens also are crowned with laurel crowns; but the magistrates besides with golden ones, as at Athens, and at Rome. Even to those are preferred the Etruscan. This appellation is given to the crowns which, distinguished by their gems and oak leaves of gold, they put on, with mantles having an embroidery of palm branches, to conduct the chariots containing the images of the gods to the circus. There are also provincial crowns of gold, needing now the larger heads of images instead of those of men. But your orders, and your magistracies, and your very place of meeting, the church, are Christ's. You belong to him, for you have been enrolled in the books of life. There the blood of the Lord serves for your purple robe, and your broad stripe is his own cross; there the axe is already laid to the trunk of the tree; there is the branch out of the root of Jesse. Never mind the state horses with their crown. Your Lord, when, according to the Scripture, he would enter Jerusalem in triumph, had not even an ass of his own. These (put their trust) in chariots, and these in horses; but we will seek our help in the name of the Lord our God. From so much as a dwelling in that Babylon of John's Revelation we are called away; much more then from its pomp.

The rabble, too, are crowned, at one time because of some great rejoicing for the success of the emperors; at another, on account of some custom belonging to municipal festivals. For luxury strives to make her own every occasion of public gladness. But as for you, you are a foreigner in this world, a citizen of Jerusalem, the city above. Our citizenship, the apostle says, is in heaven. You have your own registers, your own calendar; you have nothing to do with the joys of the world; no, you are called to the very opposite, for "the world shall rejoice, but you shall mourn." And I think the Lord affirms, that those who mourn are happy, not those who are crowned. Marriage, too, decks the bridegroom with its crown; and therefore we will not have heathen brides, for fear that they seduce us even to the idolatry with which among them marriage is initiated. You have the Law from the patriarchs indeed; you have the apostle instructing people to marry in the Lord. You have a crowning also on the making of a freeman; but you have been already ransomed by Christ, and that at a great price. How shall the world manumit the servant of another? Though it seems to be liberty, yet it will come to be found bondage. In the world everything is nominal, and nothing real. For even then, as ransomed by Christ, you were under no bondage to man; and now, though man has given you liberty, you are the servant of Christ. If you think freedom of the world to be real, so that you even seal it with a crown, you have returned to the slavery of man, imagining it to be freedom; you have lost the freedom of Christ, fancying it is slavery. Will there be any dispute as to the cause of crown-wearing, which contests in the games in their turn supply, and which, both as sacred to the gods and in honour of the dead, their own reason at once condemns? It only remains, that the Olympian Jupiter, and the Nemean Hercules, and the wretched little Archemorus, and the hapless Antinous, should be crowned in a Christian, that he himself may become a spectacle disgusting to behold. We have recounted, as I think, all the various causes of the wearing of the crown, and there is not one which has any place with us: all are foreign to us, unholy, unlawful, having been abjured already once for all in the solemn declaration of the sacrament. For they were of the pomp of the devil and his angels, offices of the world, honours, festivals, popularity huntings, false vows, exhibitions of human servility, empty praises, base glories, and in them all idolatry, even in respect of the origin of the crowns alone, with which they are all wreathed. Claudius will tell us in his preface, indeed, that in the poems of Homer the heaven also is crowned with constellations, and that no doubt by God, no doubt for man; therefore man himself, too, should be crowned by God. But the world crowns brothels, and baths, and bakehouses, and prisons, and schools, and the very amphitheatres, and the chambers where the clothes are stripped from dead gladiators, and the very biers of the dead. How sacred and holy, how venerable and pure is this article of dress, determine not from the heaven of poetry alone, but from the traffickings of the whole world. But indeed a Christian will not even dishonour his own gate with laurel crowns, if so be he knows how many gods the devil has attached to doors; Janus so-called from gate, Limentinus from threshold, Forcus and Carna from leaves and hinges; among the Greeks, too, the Thyraean Apollo, and the evil spirits, the Antelii.

Chapter 14. Much less may the Christian put the service of idolatry on his own head

No, I might have said, on Christ, since Christ is the Head of the Christian man – (for his head) is as free as even Christ is, under no obligation to wear a covering, not to say a band. But even the head which is bound to have the veil, I mean woman's, as already taken possession of by this very thing, is not open also to a band. She has the burden of her own humility to bear. If she ought not to appear with her head uncovered on account of the angels, much more with a crown on it will she offend those (elders) who perhaps are then wearing crowns above. For what is a crown on the head of a woman, but beauty made seductive, but mark of utter wantonness, – a notable casting away of modesty, a setting temptation on fire? Therefore a woman, taking counsel from the apostles' foresight, will not too elaborately adorn herself, that she may not either be crowned with any exquisite arrangement of her hair. What sort of garland, however, I ask you, did he who is the Head of the man and the glory of the woman, Christ Jesus, the Husband of the church, submit to on behalf of both sexes? Of thorns, I think, and thistles, – a figure of the sins which the soil of the flesh brought forth for us, but which the power of the cross removed, blunting, in its endurance by the head of our Lord, death's every sting. Yes, and besides the figure, there is contumely with ready lip, and dishonour, and infamy, and the ferocity involved in the cruel things which then disfigured and lacerated the temples of the Lord, that you may now be crowned with laurel, and myrtle, and olive, and any famous branch, and which is of more use, with hundred-leaved roses too, culled from the garden of Midas, and with both kinds of lily, and with violets of all sorts, perhaps also with gems and gold, so as even to rival that crown of Christ which he afterwards obtained. For it was after the gall he tasted the honeycomb and he was not greeted as King of Glory in heavenly places until he had been condemned to the cross as King of the Jews, having first been made by the Father for a time a little less than the angels, and so crowned with glory and honour. If for these things, you owe your own head to him, repay it if you can, such as he presented his for yours; or be not crowned with flowers at all, if you cannot be with thorns, because you may not be with flowers.

Chapter 15. Keep for God his own property untainted; he will crown it if he choose.

No, then, he does even choose. He calls us to it. To him who conquers he says, "I will give a crown Of life." Be you, too, faithful to death, and fight you, too, the good fight, whose crown the apostle feels so justly confident has been laid up for him. The angel also, as he goes forth on a white horse, conquering and to conquer, receives a crown of victory; and another is adorned with an encircling rainbow (as it were in its fair colours) – a celestial meadow. In the same way, the elders sit crowned around, crowned too with a crown of gold, and the Son of Man himself flashes out above the clouds. If such are the appearances in the vision of the seer, of what sort will be the realities in the actual manifestation? Look at those crowns. Inhale those odors. Why condemn you to a little chaplet, or a twisted headband, the brow which has been destined for a diadem? For Christ Jesus has made us even kings to God and his Father. What have you in common with the flower which is to die? You have a flower in the Branch of Jesse, on which the grace of the Divine Spirit in all its fullness rested – a flower undefiled, unfading, everlasting, by choosing which the good soldier, too, has got promotion in the heavenly ranks. Blush, you fellow-soldiers of his, from now on not to be condemned even by him, but by some soldier of Mithras, who, at his initiation in the gloomy cavern, in the camp, it may well be said, of darkness, when at the sword's point a crown is presented to him, as though in mimicry of martyrdom, and thereupon put on his head, is admonished to resist and east it off, and, if you like, transfer it to his shoulder, saying that Mithras is his crown. And from then on he is never crowned; and he has that for a mark to show who he is, if anywhere he be subjected to trial in respect of his religion; and he is at once believed to be a soldier of Mithras if he throws the crown away – if he say that in his God he has his crown. Let us take note of the devices of the devil, who can often ape some of God's things with no other design than, by the faithfulness of his servants, to put us to shame, and to condemn us.

To Scapula

SCAPULA was Proconsul of Carthage, and though its date is conjectural (A.D. 217), this work gives valuable indices of its time and circumstances. It was composed after the death of Severus, and cites how Marcus Aurelius was helped by Christian prayers, to whom there is an allusion in Chapter 4., after the destruction of Byzantium (A.D. 196), referred to in Chapter 3.

Chapter 1. Not that we fear persecution, but we want justice to be done

We are not in any great perturbation or alarm about the persecutions we suffer from the ignorance of men; for we have attached ourselves to this group, fully accepting the terms of its covenant, so that, as men whose very lives are not their own, we engage in these conflicts, our desire being to obtain God's promised rewards, and our dread for fear that the woes with which he threatens an unchristian life should overtake us. Hence we shrink not from the grapple with your utmost rage, coming even forth of our own accord to the contest; and condemnation gives us more pleas-are than acquittal. We have sent, therefore, this tract to you in no alarm about ourselves, but in much concern for you and for all our enemies, to say nothing of our friends. For our religion commands us to love even our enemies, and to pray for those who persecute us, aiming at a perfection all its own, and seeking in its disciples something of a higher type than the commonplace goodness of the world. For all love those who love them; it is peculiar to Christians alone to love those that hate them. Therefore mourning over your ignorance, and compassionating human error, and looking on to that future of which every day shows threatening signs, necessity is laid on us to come out in this way also, that we may set before you the truths you will not listen to openly.

Chapter 2. You render no real service to your gods by compelling us to sacrifice.

We are worshippers of one God, of whose existence and character Nature teaches all men; at whose lightnings and thunders you tremble, whose benefits minister to your happiness. You think that others, too, are gods, whom we know to be devils. However, it is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions: one man's religion neither harms nor helps another man. It is assuredly no part of religion to compel religion – to which free-will and not force should lead us – the sacrificial victims even being required of a willing mind. You will render no real service to your gods by compelling us to sacrifice. For they can have no desire of offerings from the unwilling, unless they are animated by a spirit of contention, which is a thing altogether undivine. Accordingly the true God bestows his blessings alike on wicked men and on his own elect; on which account he has appointed an eternal judgment, when both thankful and unthankful will have to stand before his bar. Yet you have never detected us – sacrilegious wretches though you reckon us to be – in any theft, far less in any sacrilege. But the robbers of your temples, all of them swear by your gods, and worship them; they are not Christians, and yet it is they who are found guilty of sacrilegious deeds. We have not time to unfold in how many other ways your gods are mocked and despised by their own votaries. So, too, treason is falsely laid to our charge, though no one has ever been able to find followers of Albinus, or Niger, or Cassius, among Christians; while the very men who had sworn by the genii of the emperors, who had offered and vowed sacrifices for their safety, who had often pronounced condemnation on Christ's disciples, are till this day found traitors to the imperial throne. A Christian is enemy to none, least of all to the emperor of Rome, whom he knows to be appointed by his God, and so cannot but love and honour; and whose well-being moreover, he must desire, with that of the empire over which he reigns so long as the world shall stand – for so long as that shall Rome continue. To the emperor, therefore, we render such reverential homage as is lawful for us and good for him; regarding him as the human being next to God who from God has received all his power, and is less than God alone. And this will be according to his own desires. For so – as less only than the true God – he is greater than all besides. So he is greater than the very gods themselves, even they, too, being subject to him. We therefore sacrifice for the emperor's safety, but to our God and his, and after the manner God has enjoined, in simple prayer. For God, Creator of the universe, has no need of odors or of blood. These things are the food of devils. But we not only reject those wicked spirits: we overcome them; we daily hold them up to contempt; we exorcise them from their victims, as multitudes can testify. So all the more we pray for the imperial well-being, as those who seek it at the hands of him who is able to bestow it. And one would think it must be abundantly clear to you that the religious system under whose rules we act is one inculcating a divine patience; since, though our numbers are so great – constituting all but the majority in every city – we conduct ourselves so quietly and modestly; I might perhaps say, known rather as individuals than as organized communities, and remarkable only for the reformation of our former vices. For far be it from us to take it ill that we have laid on us the very things we wish, or in any way plot the vengeance at our own hands, which we expect to come from God.

Chapter 3. Warning signs of God's wrath, if this injustice continues

However, as we have already remarked, it cannot but distress us that no state shall bear unpunished the guilt of shedding Christian blood; as you see, indeed, in what took place during the presidency of Hilarion, for when there had been some agitation about places of sepulture for our dead, and the cry arose, "No areae – no burial-grounds for the Christians," it came that their own areae, their threshing-floors, were awanting, for they gathered in no harvests. As to the rains of the bygone year, it is abundantly plain of what they were intended to remind men – of the deluge, no doubt, which in ancient times overtook human unbelief and wickedness; and as to the fires which lately hung all night over the walls of Carthage, they who saw them know what they threatened; and what the preceding thunders pealed, they who were hardened by them can tell. All these things are signs of God's impending wrath, which we must publish and proclaim in every possible way; and in the meanwhile we must pray it may be only local. Those who ignore or misinterpret these samples of God's wrath, will experience it one day in its universal and final form.

That sun, too, in the metropolis of Utica, with light all but extinguished, was a portent which could not have occurred from an ordinary eclipse, situated as the Lord of day was in his height and house. You have the astrologers, consult them about it. We can point you also to the deaths of some provincial rulers, who in their last hours had painful memories of their sin in persecuting the followers of Christ. Vigellius Saturninus, who first here used the sword against us, lost his eyesight. Claudius Lucius Herminianus in Cappadocia, enraged that his wife had become a Christian, had treated the Christians with great cruelty. Well, left alone in his palace, suffering under a contagious malady, he boiled out in living worms, and was heard exclaiming, "Let nobody know of it, for fear that the Christians rejoice, and Christian wives take encouragement." Afterwards he came to see his error in having tempted so many from their steadfastness by the tortures he inflicted, and died almost a Christian himself. In that doom which overtook Byzantium, Caecilius Capella could not help crying out, "Christians, rejoice!" Yes, and the persecutors who seem to themselves to have acted with impunity shall not escape the day of judgment. For you we sincerely wish it may prove to have been a warning only, that, immediately after you had condemned Mavilus of Adrumetum to the wild beasts, you were overtaken by those troubles, and that even now for the same reason you are called to a blood-reckoning. But do not forget the future.

Chapter 4.

We want to save you from the misfortune of fighting with God

We who are without fear ourselves are not seeking to frighten you, but we would save all men if possible by warning them not to fight with God. You may perform the duties of your charge, and yet remember the claims of humanity; if on no other ground than that you are liable to punishment yourself, (you ought to do so). For is not your commission simply to condemn those who confess their guilt, and to give over to the torture those who deny? You see, then, how you trespass yourselves against your instructions to wring from the confessing a denial. It is, in fact, an acknowledgment of our innocence that you refuse to condemn us at once when we confess. In doing your utmost to extirpate us, if that is your object, it is innocence you assail. But how many rulers, men more resolute and more cruel than you are, have contrived to get quit of such causes altogether, – as Cincius Severus, who himself suggested the remedy at Thysdris, pointing out how the Christians should answer that they might secure an acquittal; as Vespronius Candidus, who dismissed from his bar a Christian, on the ground that to satisfy his fellow-citizens would break the peace of the community; as Asper, who, in the case of a man who gave up his faith under slight infliction of the torture, did not compel the offering of sacrifice, having owned before, among the advocates and assessors of court, that he was annoyed at having had to meddle with such a case. Pudens, too, at once dismissed a Christian who was brought before him, perceiving from the indictment that it was a case of vexatious accusation; tearing the document in pieces, he refused so much as to hear him without the presence of his accuser, as not being consistent with the imperial commands. All this might be officially brought under your notice, and by the very advocates, who are themselves also under obligations to us, although in court they give their voice as it suits them. The clerk of one of them who was liable to be thrown on the ground by an evil spirit, was set free from his affliction; as was also the relative of another, and the little boy of a third. How many men of rank (to say nothing of common people) have been delivered from devils, and healed of diseases! Even Severus himself, the father of Antonine, was graciously mindful of the Christians; for he sought out the Christian Proculus, surnamed Torpacion, the steward of Euhodias, and in gratitude for his having once cured him by anointing, he kept him in his palace until the day of his death. Antonine, too, brought up as he was on Christian milk, was intimately acquainted with this man. Both women and men of highest rank, whom Severus knew well to be Christians, were not merely permitted by him to remain uninjured; but he even bore distinguished testimony in their favour, and gave them publicly back to us from the hands of a raging populace. Marcus Aurelius also, in his expedition to Germany, by the prayers his Christian soldiers offered to God, got rain in that well-known thirst. When, indeed, have not droughts been put away by our kneelings and our fastings? At times like these, moreover, the people crying to "the God of gods, the alone Omnipotent," under the name of Jupiter, have borne witness to our God. Then we never deny the deposit placed in our hands; we never pollute the marriage bed; we deal faithfully with our wards; we give aid to the needy; we render to none evil for evil. As for those who falsely pretend to belong to us, and whom we, too, repudiate, let them answer for themselves. In a word, who has complaint to make against us on other grounds? To what else does the Christian devote himself, save the affairs of his own community, which during all the long period of its existence no one has ever proved guilty of the incest or the cruelty charged against it? It is for freedom from crime so singular, for a probity so great, for righteousness, for purity, for faithfulness, for truth, for the living God, that we are consigned to the flames; for this is a punishment you are not wont to inflict either on the sacrilegious, or on undoubted public enemies, or on the treason-tainted, of whom you have so many. No, even now our people are enduring persecution from the governors of Legio and Mauritania; but it is only with the sword, as from the first it was ordained that we should suffer. But the greater our conflicts, the greater our rewards.

Chapter 5. See our large numbers – and how hard it will be to suppress us

Your cruelty is our glory. Only see you to it, that in having such things as these to endure, we do not feel ourselves constrained to rush forth to the combat, if only to prove that we have no dread of them, but on the contrary, even invite their infliction. When Arrius Antoninus was driving things hard in Asia, the whole Christians of the province, in one united band, presented themselves before his judgment-seat; on which, ordering a few to be led forth to execution, he said to the rest, "O miserable men, if you wish to die, you have precipices or halters." If we should take it into our heads to do the same thing here, what will you make of so many thousands, of such a multitude of men and women, persons of every sex and every age and every rank, when they present themselves before you? How many fires, how many swords will be required? What will be the anguish of Carthage itself, which you will have to decimate, as each one recognises there his relatives and companions, as he sees there it may be men of your own order, and noble ladies, and all the leading persons of the city, and either kinsmen or friends of those of your own circle? Spare yourself, if not us poor Christians! Spare Carthage, if not yourself! Spare the province, which the indication of your purpose has subjected to the threats and extortions at once of the soldiers and of private enemies. We have no master but God. He is before you, and cannot be hidden from you, but to him you can do no injury. But those whom you regard as masters are only men, and one day they themselves must die. Yet still this community will be undying, for be assured that just in the time of its seeming overthrow it is built up into greater power. For all who witness the noble patience of its martyrs, as struck with misgivings, are inflamed with desire to examine into the matter in question; and as soon as they come to know the truth, they immediately enroll themselves its disciples.

Ad Nationes (Apologia for Christianity)

in 2 Books ----- Book 2.

Book 1.

Chapter 1. The hatred of heathens against Christians, is based on ignorance

One proof of that ignorance of yours, which condemns while it excuses your injustice, is at once apparent in the fact, that all who once shared in your ignorance and hatred (of the Christian religion), as soon as they have come to know it, leave off their hatred when they cease to be ignorant; or more, they actually themselves become what they had hated, and take to hating what they had once been. Day after day, indeed, you groan over the increasing number of the Christians. Your constant cry is, that the state is beset (by us); that Christians are in your fields, in your camps, in your islands. You grieve over it as a calamity, that each of the sexes, every age – in short, every rank – is passing over from you to us; yet you do not even after this set your minds on reflecting whether there be not here some latent good. You do not allow yourselves in suspicions which may prove too true, nor do you like ventures which may be too near the mark. This is the only instance in which human curiosity grows torpid. You love to be ignorant of what other men rejoice to have discovered; you would rather not know it, because you now cherish your hatred as if you were aware that, (with the knowledge), your hatred would certainly come to an end. Still, if there shall be no just ground for hatred, it will surely be found to be the best course to cease from the past injustice. Should, however, a cause have really existed there will be no diminution of the hatred, which will indeed accumulate so much the more in the consciousness of its justice; unless it be, indeed, that you are ashamed to cast off your faults, or sorry to free yourselves from blame. I know very well with what answer you usually meet the argument from our rapid increase. That indeed must not, you say, be hastily accounted a good thing which converts a great number of persons, and gains them over to its side. I am aware how the mind is apt to take to evil courses. How many there are which forsake virtuous living! How many seek refuge in the opposite! Many, no doubt; no, very many, as the last days approach. But such a comparison as this fails in fairness of application; for all are agreed in thinking so of the evil-doer, so that not even the guilty themselves, who take the wrong side, and turn away from the pursuit of good to perverse ways, are bold enough to defend evil as good. Base things excite their fear, impious ones their shame. In short, they are eager for concealment, they shrink from publicity, they tremble when caught; when accused, they deny; even when tortured, they do not readily or invariably confess (their crime); at all events, they grieve when they are condemned. They reproach themselves for their past life; their change from innocence to an evil disposition they even attribute to fate. They cannot say that it is not a wrong thing, therefore they will not admit it to be their own act. As for the Christians, however, in what does their case resemble this? No one is ashamed; no one is sorry, except for his former (sins). If he is pointed at (for his religion), he glories in it; if dragged to trial, he does not resist; if accused, he makes no defence. When questioned, he confesses; when condemned, he rejoices. What sort of evil is this, in which the nature of evil comes to a standstill?

Chapter 2. The heathens pervert judgment in the trial of Christians

In this case you actually conduct trials contrary to the usual form of judicial process against criminals; for when culprits are brought up for trial, should they deny the charge, you press them for a confession by tortures. When Christians, however, confess without compulsion, you apply the torture to induce them to deny. What great perverseness is this, when you stand out against confession, and change the use of the torture, compelling the man who frankly acknowledges the charge to evade it, and him who is unwilling, to deny it? You, who preside for the purpose of extorting truth, demand falsehood from us alone that we may declare ourselves not to be what we are. I do you suppose do not want us to be bad men, and therefore you earnestly wish to exclude us from that character. To be sure, you put others on the rack and the gibbet, to get them to deny what they have the reputation of being. Now, when they deny (the charge against them), you do not believe them but on our denial, you instantly believe us. If you feel sure that we are the most injurious of men, why, even in processes against us, are we dealt with by you differently from other offenders? I do not mean that you make no account of either an accusation or a denial (for your practice is not hastily to condemn men without an indictment and a defence); but, to take an instance in the trial of a murderer, the case is not at once ended, or the enquiry satisfied, on a man's confessing himself the murderer. However complete his confession, you do not readily believe him; but over and above this, you enquire into accessory circumstances – how often had he committed murder; with what weapons, in what place, with what plunder, accomplices, and abettors after the fact (was the crime perpetrated) – to the end that nothing whatever respecting the criminal might escape detection, and that every means should be at hand for arriving at a true verdict. In our case, on the contrary, whom you believe to be guilty of more atrocious and numerous crimes, you frame your indictments in briefer and lighter terms. I do you suppose do not care to load with accusations men whom you earnestly wish to get rid of, or else you do not think it necessary to enquire into matters which are known to you already. It is, however, all the more perverse that you compel us to deny charges about which you have the clearest evidence. But, indeed, how much more consistent would it be with your hatred of us to dispense with all forms of judicial process, and to strive with all your might not to urge us to say "No," and so have to acquit the objects of your hatred; but to confess all and singular the crimes laid to our charge, that your resentments might be the better glutted with an accumulation of our punishments, when it becomes known how many of those feasts each one of us may have celebrated, and how many incests we may have committed under cover of the night! What am I saying? Since your researches for rooting out our society must be made on a wide scale, you ought to extend your enquiry against our friends and companions. Let our infanticides and the dressers (of our horrible repasts) be brought out, – yes, and the very dogs which minister to our (incestuous) nuptials; then the business (of our trial) would be without a fault. Even to the crowds which throng the spectacles a zest would be given; for with how much greater eagerness would they resort to the theatre, when one had to fight in the lists who had devoured a hundred babies! For since such horrid and monstrous crimes are reported of us, they ought, of course, to be brought to light, for fear that they should seem to be incredible, and the public detestation of us should begin to cool. For most persons are slow to believe such things, feeling a horrible disgust at supposing that our nature could have an appetite for the food of wild beasts, when it has precluded these from all concubinage with the race of man.

Chapter 3. The great offence of the Christians is merely their very name

Since, therefore, you who are in other cases most scrupulous and persevering in investigating charges of far less serious import, relinquish your care in cases like ours, which are so horrible, and of such surpassing sin that impiety is too mild a word for them, by declining to hear confession, which should always be an important process for those who conduct judicial proceedings; and failing to make a full enquiry, which should be gone into by such as sue for a condemnation, it becomes evident that the crime laid to our charge consists not of any sinful conduct, but lies wholly in our name. If, indeed, any real crimes were clearly adducible against us, their very names would condemn us, if found applicable, so that distinct sentences would be pronounced against us in this way: Let that murderer, or that incestuous criminal, or whatever it be that we are charged with, be led to execution, be crucified, or be thrown to the beasts. Your sentences, however, import only that one has confessed himself a Christian. No name of a crime stands against us, but only the crime of a name. Now this in very deed is neither more nor less than the entire odium which is felt against us. The name is the cause: some mysterious force intensified by your ignorance assails it, so that you do not wish to know for certain that which for certain you are sure you know nothing of; and therefore, further, you do not believe things which are not submitted to proof, and, for fear that they should be easily refuted, you refuse to make enquiry, so that the odious name is punished under the presumption of (real) crimes.

In order, therefore, that the issue may be withdrawn from the offensive name, we are compelled to deny it; then on our denial we are acquitted, with an entire absolution for the past: we are no longer murderers, no longer incestuous, because we have lost that name. But since this point is dealt with in a place of its own, do you tell us plainly why you are pursuing this name even to extirpation? What crime, what offence, what fault is there in a name? For you are barred by the rule which puts it out of your power to allege crimes (of any man), which no legal action moots, no indictment specifies, no sentence enumerates. In any case which is submitted to the judge, enquired into against the defendant, responded to by him or denied, and cited from the bench, I acknowledge a legal charge. Concerning, then, the merit of a name, whatever offence names may be charged with, whatever impeachment words may be amenable to, I for my part think, that not even a complaint is due to a word or a name, unless indeed it has a barbarous sound, or smacks of ill-luck, or is immodest, or is indecorous for the speaker, or unpleasant to the hearer. These crimes in (mere) words and names are just like barbarous words and phrases, which have their fault, and their solecism, and their absurdity of figure. The name Christian, however, so far as its meaning goes, bears the sense of anointing. Even when by a faulty pronunciation you call us "Chrestians" (for you are not certain about even the sound of this noted name), you in fact lisp out the sense of pleasantness and goodness. You are therefore vilifying in harmless men even the harmless name we bear, which is not inconvenient for the tongue, nor harsh to the ear, nor injurious to a single being, nor rude for our country, being a good Greek word, as many others also are, and pleasant in sound and sense. Surely, surely, names are not things which deserve punishment by the sword, or the cross, or the beasts.

Chapter 4. Hating the Christians is a crime, like that of the enemies of Socrates

But the sect, you say, is punished in the name of its founder. Now in the first place it is, no doubt a fair and usual custom that a sect should be marked out by the name of its founder, since philosophers are called Pythagoreans and Platonists after their masters; in the same way physicians are called after Erasistratus, and grammarians after Aristarchus. If, therefore, a sect has a bad character because its founder was bad, it is punished as the traditional bearer of a bad name. But this would be indulging in a rash assumption. The first step was to find out what the founder was, that his sect might be understood, instead of hindering enquiry into the founder's character from the sect. But in our case, by being necessarily ignorant of the sect, through your ignorance of its founder, or else by not taking a fair survey of the founder, because you make no enquiry into his sect, you fasten merely on the name, just as if you vilified in it both sect and founder, whom you know nothing of whatever. And yet you openly allow your philosophers the right of attaching themselves to any school, and bearing its founder's name as their own; and nobody stirs up any hatred against them, although both in public and in private they bark out their bitterest eloquence against your customs, rites, ceremonies, and way of life, with so much contempt for the laws, and so little respect for persons, that they even flaunt their licentious words against the emperors themselves with impunity. And yet it is the truth, which is so troublesome to the world, that these philosophers affect, but which Christians possess: they therefore who have it in possession afford the greater displeasure, because he who affects a thing plays with it; he who possesses it maintains it. For example, Socrates was condemned on that side (of his wisdom) in which he came nearest in his search to the truth, by destroying your gods. Although the name of Christian was not at that time in the world, yet truth was always suffering condemnation. Now you will not deny that he was a wise man, to whom your own Pythian (God) had borne witness. Socrates, he said, was the wisest of men. Truth overbore Apollo, and made him pronounce even against himself since he acknowledged that he was no God, when he affirmed that that was the wisest man who was denying the gods. However, on your principle he was the less wise because he denied the gods, although, in truth, he was all the wiser by reason of this denial. It is just in the same way that you are in the habit of saying of us: "Lucius Titius is a good man, only he is a Christian;" while another says; "I wonder that so worthy a man as Caius Seius has become a Christian." According to the blindness of their folly men praise what they know, (and) blame what they are ignorant of; and that which they know, they vitiate by that which they do not know. It occurs to none (to consider) whether a man is not good and wise because he is a Christian, or therefore a Christian because he is wise and good, although it is more usual in human conduct to determine obscurities by what is manifest, than to prejudice what is manifest by what is obscure. Some persons wonder that those whom they had known to be unsteady, worthless, or wicked before they bore this name, have been suddenly converted to virtuous courses; and yet they better know how to wonder (at the change) than to attain to it; others are so obstinate in their strife as to do battle with their own best interests, which they have it in their power to secure by intercourse with that hated name. I know more than one husband, formerly anxious about their wives' conduct, and unable to bear even mice to creep into their bed-room without a groan of suspicion, who have, on discovering the cause of their new assiduity, and their unwonted attention to the duties of home, offered the entire loan of their wives to others, disclaimed all jealousy, (and) preferred to be the husbands of she-wolves than of Christian women: they could commit themselves to a perverse abuse of nature, but they could not permit their wives to be reformed for the better! A father disinherited his son, with whom he had ceased to find fault. A master sent his slave to bridewell, whom he had even found to be indispensable to him. As soon as they discovered them to be Christians, they wished they were criminals again; for our discipline carries its own evidence in itself, nor are we betrayed by anything else than our own goodness, just as bad men also become conspicuous by their own evil. Otherwise how is it that we alone are, contrary to the lessons of nature, branded as very evil because of our good? For what mark do we exhibit except the prime wisdom, which teaches us not to worship the frivolous works of the human hand; the temperance, by which we abstain from other men's goods; the chastity, which we pollute not even with a look; the compassion, which prompts us to help the needy; the truth itself, which makes us give offence; and liberty, for which we have even learned to die? Whoever wishes to understand who the Christians are, must employ these marks for their discovery.

Chapter 5. The inconsistent life of a false Christian does not condemn true disciples

As to your saying of us that we are a most shameful set, and utterly steeped in luxury, avarice, and depravity, we will not deny that this is true of some. It is, however, a sufficient testimonial for our name, that this cannot be said of all, not even of the greater part of us. It must happen even in the healthiest and purest body, that a mole should grow, or a wart arise on it, or freckles disfigure it. Not even the sky itself is clear with so perfect a serenity as not to be flecked with some filmy cloud. A slight spot on the face, because it is obvious in so conspicuous a part, only serves to show purity of the entire complexion. The goodness of the larger portion is well attested by the slender flaw. But although you prove that some of our people are evil, you do not hereby prove that they are Christians. Search and see whether there is any sect to which (a partial shortcoming) is imputed as a general stain. You are accustomed in conversation yourselves to say, in disparagement of us, "Why is so-and-so deceitful, when the Christians are so self-denying? Why merciless, when they are so merciful?" you so bear your testimony to the fact that this is not the character of Christians, when you ask, in the way of a retort, how men who are reputed to be Christians can be of such and such a disposition. There is a good deal of difference between an imputation and a name, between an opinion and the truth. For names were appointed for the express purpose of setting their proper limits between mere designation and actual condition. How many indeed are said to be philosophers, who for all that do not fulfill the Law of philosophy? All bear the name in respect of their profession; but they hold the designation without the excellence of the profession, and they disgrace the real thing under the shallow pretense of its name. Men are not immediately of such and such a character, because they are said to be so; but when they are not, it is vain to say so of them: they only deceive people who attach reality to a name, when it is its consistency with fact which decides the condition implied in the name. And yet persons of this doubtful stamp do not assemble with us, neither do they belong to our communion: by their delinquency they become yours once more since we should be unwilling to mix even with them whom your violence and cruelty compelled to recant. Yet we should, of course, be more ready to have included amongst us those who have unwillingly forsaken our discipline than willful apostates. However, you have no right to call them Christians, to whom the Christians themselves deny that name, and who have not learned to deny themselves.

Chapter 6. Christians are not made guilty, simply by passing unjust laws against them

Whenever these statements and answers of ours, which truth suggests of its own accord, press and restrain your conscience, which is the witness of its own ignorance, you betake yourselves in hot haste to that poor altar of refuge, the authority of the laws, because these, of course, would never punish the offensive sect, if their deserts had not been fully considered by those who made the laws. Then what is it which has prevented a like consideration on the part of those who put the laws in force, when, in the case of all other crimes which are similarly forbidden and punished by the laws, the penalty is not inflicted until it is sought by regular process? Take, for instance, the case of a murderer or an adulterer. An examination is ordered concerning the particulars of the crime, even though it is obvious to all what its nature is. Whatever wrong has been done by the Christian ought to be brought to light. No law forbids enquiry to be made; on the contrary, enquiry is made in the interest of the laws. For how are you to keep the Law by precautions against that which the Law forbids, if you neutralize the carefulness of the precaution by your failing to perceive what it is yon have to keep? No law must keep to itself the knowledge of its own righteousness, but (it owes it) to those from whom it claims obedience. The law, however, becomes an object of suspicion when it declines to approve itself. Naturally enough, then, are the laws against the Christians supposed to be just and deserving of respect and observance, just as long as men remain ignorant of their aim and purport; but when this is perceived, their extreme injustice is discovered, and they are deservedly rejected with abhorrence, along with (their instruments of torture) – the swords, the crosses, and the lions. An unjust law secures no respect. In my opinion, however, there is a suspicion among you that some of these laws are unjust, since not a day passes without your modifying their severity and iniquity by fresh deliberations and decisions.

Chapter 7. The Christians are being ignobly defamed (examples)

How does it happen, you will say to us, that such a character could have been attributed to you, as to have justified the lawmakers perhaps by its imputation? Let me ask on my side, what voucher they had then, or you now, for the truth of the imputation? (You answer), Fame. Well, now, is not this – "Fama malum, quo non aliud velocius ullum?" Now, why a plague, if it be always true? It never ceases from lying; nor even at the moment when it reports the truth is it so free from the wish to lie, as not to interweave the false with the true, by processes of addition, diminution, or confusion of various facts. Indeed, such is its condition, that it can only continue to exist while it lies. For it lives only just so long as it fails to prove anything. As soon as it proves itself true, it falls; and, as if its office of reporting news were at an end, it quits its post: thenceforward the thing is held to be a fact, and it passes under that name. No one, then, says, to take an instance, "The report is that this happened at Rome," or, "The rumor goes that he has got a province;" but, "He has got a province," and, "This happened at Rome." Nobody mentions a rumor except at an uncertainty, because nobody can be sure of a rumor, but only of certain knowledge; and none but a fool believes a rumor, because no wise man puts faith in an uncertainty. In however wide a circuit a report has been circulated, it must have originated some time or other from one mouth; afterwards it creeps on somehow to ears and tongues which pass it on and so obscures the humble error in which it began, that no one considers whether the mouth which first set it a-going disseminated a falsehood, – a circumstance which often happens either from a temper of rivalry, or a suspicious turn, or even the pleasure of feigning news. It is, however, well that time reveals all things, as your own sayings and proverbs testify; yes, as nature herself attests, which has so ordered it that nothing lies hid, not even that which fame has not reported. See, now, what a witness you have bribed against us: it has not been able up to this time to prove the report it set in motion, although it has had so long a time to recommend it to our acceptance. This name of ours took its rise in the reign of Augustus; under Tiberius it was taught with all clearness and publicity; under Nero it was ruthlessly condemned, and you may weigh its worth and character even from the person of its persecutor. If that prince was a pious man, then the Christians are impious; if he was just, if he was pure, then the Christians are unjust and impure; if he was not a public enemy, we are enemies of our country: what sort of men we are, our persecutor himself shows, since he of course punished what produced hostility to himself. Now, although every other institution which existed under Nero has been destroyed, yet this of ours has firmly remained – righteous, it would seem, as being unlike the author (of its persecution). Two hundred and fifty years, then, have not yet passed since our life began. During the interval there have been so many criminals; so many crosses have obtained immortality; so many infants have been slain; so many loaves steeped in blood; so many extinctions of candles; so many dissolute marriages. And up to the present time it is mere report which fights against the Christians. No doubt it has a strong support in the wickedness of the human mind, and utters its falsehoods with more success among cruel and savage men. For the more inclined you are to maliciousness, the more ready are you to believe evil; in short, men more easily believe the evil that is false, than the good which is true. Now, if injustice has left any place within you for the exercise of prudence in investigating the truth of reports, justice of course demanded that you should examine by whom the report could have been spread among the multitude, and so circulated through the world. For it could not have been by the Christians themselves, I suppose, since by the very constitution and law of all mysteries the obligation of silence is imposed. How much more would this be the case in such (mysteries as are ascribed to us), which, if divulged, could not fail to bring down instant punishment from the prompt resentment of men! Since, therefore, the Christians are not their own betrayers, it follows that it must be strangers. Now I ask, how could strangers obtain knowledge of us, when even true and lawful mysteries exclude every stranger from witnessing them, unless illicit ones are less exclusive? Well, then, it is more in keeping with the character of strangers both to be ignorant (of the true state of a case), and to invent (a false account). Our domestic servants (perhaps) listened, and peeped through crevices and holes, and stealthily got information of our ways. What, then, shall we say when our servants betray them to you? It is better, (to be sure), for us all not to be betrayed by any; but still, if our practices be so atrocious, how much more proper is it when a righteous indignation bursts asunder even all bonds of domestic fidelity? How was it possible for it to endure what horrified the mind and affrighted the eye? This is also a wonderful thing, both that he who was so overcome with impatient excitement as to turn informer, did not likewise desire to prove (what he reported), and that he who heard the informer's story did not care to see for himself, since no doubt the reward is equal both for the informer who proves what he reports, and for the hearer who convinces himself of the credibility of what he hears. But then you say that (this is precisely what has taken place): first came the rumor, then the exhibition of the proof; first the hearsay, then the inspection; and after this, fame received its commission. Now this, I must say, surpasses all admiration, that that was once for all detected and divulged which is being for ever repeated, unless, indeed, we have by this time ceased from the reiteration of such things (as are alleged of us). But we are called still by the same (offensive) name, and we are supposed to be still engaged in the same practices, and we multiply from day to day; the more we are, to the more become we objects of hatred. Hatred increases as the material for it increases. Now, seeing that the multitude of offenders is ever advancing, how is it that the crowd of informers does not keep equal pace therewith? To the best of my belief, even our way of life has become better known; you know the very days of our assemblies; therefore we are both besieged, and attacked, and kept prisoners actually in our secret congregations. Yet who ever came on a half-consumed corpse (amongst us)? Who has detected the traces of a bite in our blood-steeped loaf? Who has discovered, by a sudden light invading our darkness, any marks of impurity, I will not say of incest, (in our feasts)? If we save ourselves. By a bribe from being dragged out before the public gaze with such a character, how is it that we are still oppressed? We have it indeed in our own power not to be so apprehended at all; for who either sells or buys information about a crime, if the crime itself has no existence? But why need I disparagingly refer to strange spies and informers, when you allege against us such charges as we certainly do not ourselves divulge with very much noise – either as soon as you hear of them, if we previously show them to you, or after you have yourselves discovered them, if they are for the time concealed from you? For no doubt, when any desire initiation in the mysteries, their custom is first to go to the master or father of the sacred rites. Then he will say (to the applicant), you must bring an infant, as a guarantee for our rites, to be sacrificed, as well as some bread to be broken and dipped in his blood; you also want candles, and dogs tied together to upset them, and bits of meat to rouse the dogs. Moreover, a mother too, or a sister, is necessary for you. What, however, is to be said if you have neither? I suppose in that case you could not be a genuine Christian. Now, do let me ask you, will such things, when reported by strangers, bear to be spread about (as charges against us)? It is impossible for such persons to understand proceedings in which they take no part. The first step of the process is perpetrated with artifice; our feasts and our marriages are invented and detailed by ignorant persons, who had never before heard about Christian mysteries. And though they afterwards cannot help acquiring some knowledge of them, it is even then as having to be administered by others whom they bring on the scene. Besides, how absurd is it that the profane know mysteries which the priest knows not! They keep them all to themselves, then, and take them for granted; and so these tragedies, (worse than those) of Thyestes or Oedipus, do not at all come out to light, nor find their way to the public. Even more voracious bites take nothing away from the credit of such as are initiated, whether servants or masters. If, however, none of these allegations can be proved to be true, how incalculable must be esteemed the grandeur (of that religion) which is manifestly not overbalanced even by the burden of these vast atrocities! O you heathen; who have and deserve our pity, behold, we set before you the promise which our sacred system offers. It guarantees eternal life to such as follow and observe it; on the other hand, it threatens with the eternal punishment of an unending fire those who are profane and hostile; while to both classes alike is preached a resurrection from the dead. We are not now concerned about the doctrine of these (verities), which are discussed in their proper place. Meanwhile, however, believe them, even as we do ourselves, for I want to know whether you are ready to reach them, as we do, through such crimes. Come, whosoever you are, plunge your sword into an infant; or if that is another's office, then simply gaze at the breathing creature dying before it has lived; at any rate, catch its fresh blood in which to steep your bread; then feed yourself without stint; and while this is going on, recline. Carefully distinguish the places where your mother or your sister may have made their bed; mark them well, in order that, when the shades of night have fallen on them, putting of course to the test the care of everyone of you, you may not make the awkward mistake of alighting on somebody else: you would have to make an atonement, if you failed of the incest. When you have effected all this, eternal life will be in store for you. I want you to tell me whether you think eternal life worth such a price. No, indeed, you do not believe it: even if you did believe it, I maintain that you would be unwilling to give (the fee); or if willing, would be unable. But why should others be able if you are unable? Why should you be able if others are unable? What would you wish impunity (and) eternity to stand you in? Do you suppose that these (blessings) can be bought by us at any price? Have Christians teeth of a different sort from others? Have they more ample jaws? Are they of different nerve for incestuous lust? I trow not. It is enough for us to differ from you in condition by truth alone.

Chapter 8. Calumny illustrated in the case of Psammeticus; refutation of that story

We are indeed said to be the "third race" of men. What, a dog-faced race? Or broadly shadow-footed? Or some subterranean Antipodes? If you attach any meaning to these names, pray tell us what are the first and the second race, that so we may know something of this "third." Psammetichus thought that he had hit on the ingenious discovery of the primeval man. He is said to have removed certain new-born infants from all human intercourse, and to have entrusted them to a nurse, whom he had previously deprived of her tongue, in order that, being completely exiled from all sound of the human voice, they might form their speech without hearing it; and so, deriving it from themselves alone, might indicate what that first nation was whose speech was dictated by nature. Their first utterance was beKKOs, a word which means "bread "in the language of Phrygia: the Phrygians, therefore, are supposed to be the first of the human race. But it will not be out of place if we make one observation, with a view to show how your faith abandons itself more to vanities than to verities. Can it be, then, at all credible that the nurse retained her life, after the loss of so important a member, the very organ of the breath of life, – cut out, too, from the very root, with her throat mutilated, which cannot be wounded even on the outside without danger, and the putrid gore flowing back to the chest, and deprived for so long a time of her food? Come, even suppose that by the remedies of a Philomela she retained her life, in the way supposed by wisest persons, who account for the dumbness not by cutting out the tongue, but from the blush of shame; if on such a supposition she lived, she would still be able to blurt out some dull sound. And a shrill inarticulate noise from opening the mouth only, without any modulation of the lips, might be forced from the mere throat, though there were no tongue to help. This, it is probable, the infants readily imitated, and the more so because it was the only sound; only they did it a little more neatly, as they had tongues; and then they attached to it a definite signification. Granted, then, that the Phrygians were the earliest race, it does not follow that the Christians are the third. For how many other nations come regularly after the Phrygians? Take care, however, for fear that those whom you call the third race should obtain the first rank, since there is no nation indeed which is not Christian. Whatever nation, therefore, was the first, is nevertheless Christian now. It is ridiculous folly which makes you say we are the latest race, and then specifically call us the third. But it is in respect of our religion. Not of our nation, that we are supposed to be the third; the series being the Romans, the Jews, and the Christians after them. Where, then, are the Greeks? or if they are reckoned amongst the Romans in regard to their superstition (since it was from Greece that Rome borrowed even her gods), where at least are the Egyptians, since these have, so far as I know, a mysterious religion peculiar to themselves? Now, if they who belong to the third race are so monstrous, what must they be supposed to be who preceded them in the first and the second place?

Chapter 9. Christians are not the cause of public calamities

But why should I be astonished at your vain imputations? Under the same natural form, malice and folly have always been associated in one body and growth, and have ever opposed us under the One instigator of error. Indeed, I feel no astonishment; and therefore, as it is necessary for my subject, I will enumerate some instances, that you may feel the astonishment by the enumeration of the folly into which you fall, when you insist on our being the causes of every public calamity or injury. If the Tiber has overflowed its banks, if the Nile has remained in its bed, if the sky has been still, or the earth been in commotion, if death has made its devastations, or famine its afflictions, your cry immediately is, "This is the fault of the Christians!" As if they who fear the true God could have to fear a light thing, or at least anything else (than an earthquake or famine, or such visitations). I suppose it is as despisers of your gods that we call down on us these strokes of theirs. As we have remarked already, three hundred years have not yet passed in our existence; but what vast scourges before that time fell on all the world, on its various cities and provinces! what terrible wars, both foreign and domestic! what pestilences, famines, conflagrations, yawnings, and quakings of the earth has history recorded! Where were the Christians, then, when the Roman state furnished so many chronicles of its disasters? Where were the Christians when the islands Hiera, Anaphe, and Delos, and Rhodes, and Cea were desolated with multitudes of men? or, again, when the land mentioned by Plato as larger than Asia or Africa was sunk in the Atlantic Sea? or when fire from heaven overwhelmed Volsinii, and flames from their own mountain consumed Pompeii? When the sea of Corinth was engulfed by an earthquake? When the whole world was destroyed by the deluge? Where then were (I will not say the Christians, who despise your gods, but) your gods themselves, who are proved to be of later origin than that great ruin by the very places and cities in which they were born, sojourned, and were buried, and even those which they founded? For else they would not have remained to the present day, unless they had been more recent than that catastrophe, If you do not care to peruse and reflect on these testimonies of history, the record of which affects you differently from us, in order especially that you may not have to tax your gods with extreme injustice, since they injure even their worshippers on account of their despisers, do you not then prove yourselves to be also in the wrong, when you hold them to be gods, who make no distinction between the deserts of yourselves and profane persons? If, however, as it is now and then very vainly said, you incur the punishment of your gods because you are too slack in our extirpation, you then have settled the question of their weakness and insignificance; for they would not be angry with you for loitering over our punishment, if they could do anything themselves, – although you admit the same thing indeed in another way, whenever by inflicting punishment on us you seem to be avenging them. If one interest is maintained by another party, that which defends is the greater of the two. What a shame, then, must it be for gods to be defended by a human being!

Chapter 10. The Christians are not the only ones to despise the old gods

Pour out now all your venom; fling against this name of ours all your shafts of calumny: I shall stay no longer to refute them; but they shall by and by be blunted, when we come to explain our entire discipline. I shall content myself now indeed with plucking these shafts out of our own body, and hurling them back on yourselves. The same wounds which you have inflicted on us by your charges I shall show to be imprinted on yourselves, that you may fall by your own swords and javelins. Now, first, when you direct against us the general charge of divorcing ourselves from the institutions of our forefathers, consider again and again whether you are not yourselves open to that accusation in common with us. For when I look through your life and customs, see, what do I discover but the old order of things corrupted, no, destroyed by you? Of the laws I have already said, that you are daily supplanting them with novel decrees and statutes. As to everything else in your way of life, how great are the changes you have made from your ancestors – in your style, your dress, your equipage, your very food, and even in your speech; for the old-fashioned you banish, as if it were offensive to you! Everywhere, in your public pursuits and private duties, antiquity is repealed; all the authority of your forefathers your own authority has superseded. To be sure, you are for ever praising old customs; but this is only to your greater discredit, for you nevertheless persistently reject them. How great must your perverseness have been, to have bestowed approbation on your ancestors' institutions, which were too inefficient to be lasting, all the while that you were rejecting the very objects of your approbation! But even that very heir-loom of your forefathers, which you seem to guard and defend with greatest fidelity, in which you actually find your strongest grounds for impeaching us as violators of the law, and from which your hatred of the Christian name derives all its life – I mean the worship of the gods – I shall prove to be undergoing ruin and contempt from yourselves no less than (from us), – unless it be that there is no reason for our being regarded as despisers of the gods like yourselves, on the ground that nobody despises what he knows has absolutely no existence. What certainly exists can be despised. That which is nothing, suffers nothing. From those, therefore, to whom it is an existing thing, must necessarily proceed the suffering which affects it. All the heavier, then, is the accusation which burdens you who believe that there are gods and (at the same time) despise them, who worship and also reject them, who honour and also assail them. One may also gather the same conclusion from this consideration, above all: since you worship various gods, some one and some another, you of course despise those which you do not worship. A preference for the one is not possible without slighting the other, and no choice can be made without a rejection. He who selects some one out of many, has already slighted the other which he does not select. But it is impossible that so many and so great gods can be worshipped by all. Then you must have exercised your contempt (in this matter) even at the beginning, since indeed you were not then afraid of so ordering things, that all the gods could not become objects of worship to all. For those very wise and prudent ancestors of yours, whose institutions you do not know how to repeal, especially in respect of your gods, are themselves found to have been impious. I am much mistaken, if they did not sometimes decree that no general should dedicate a temple, which he may have vowed in battle, before the senate gave its sanction; as in the case of Marcus Aemilius, who had made a vow to the God Alburnus. Now is it not confessedly the greatest impiety, no, the greatest insult, to place the honour of the Deity at the will and pleasure of human judgment, so that there cannot be a God except the senate permit him? Many times have the censors destroyed (a God) without consulting the people. Father Bacchus, with all his ritual, was certainly by the consuls, on the seat's authority, cast not only out of the city, but out of all Italy; while Varro informs us that Serapis also, and Isis, and Arpocrates, and Anubis, were excluded from the Capitol, and that their altars which the senate had thrown down were only restored by the popular violence. The Consul Gabinius, however, on the first day of the ensuing January, although he gave a tardy consent to some sacrifices, in deference to the crowd which assembled, because he had failed to decide about Serapis and Isis, yet held the judgment of the senate to be more potent than the clamour of the multitude, and forbade the altars to be built. Here, then, you have amongst your own forefathers, if not the name, at all events the procedure, of the Christians, which despises the gods. If, however, you were even innocent of the charge of treason against them in the honour you pay them, I still find that you have made a consistent advance in superstition as well as impiety. For how much more irreligious are you found to be! There are your household gods, the Lares and the Penates, which you possess by a family consecration: you even tread them profanely under foot, you and your domestics, by hawking and pawning them for your wants or your whims. Such insolent sacrilege might be excusable, if it were not practiced against your humbler deities; as it is, the case is only the more insolent. There is, however, some consolation for your private household gods under these affronts, that you treat your public deities with still greater indignity and insolence. First of all, you advertise them for auction, submit them to public sale, knock them down to the highest bidder, when you every five years bring them to the hammer among your revenues. For this purpose you frequent the temple of Serapis or the Capitol, hold your sales there, conclude your contracts, as if they were markets, with the well-known voice of the crier, (and) the self-same levy of the quaestor. Now lands become cheaper when burdened with tribute, and men by the capitation tax diminish in value (these are the well-known marks of slavery). But the gods, the more tribute they pay, become more holy; or rather, the more holy they are, the more tribute do they pay. Their majesty is converted into an article of traffic; men drive a business with their religion; the sanctity of the gods is beggared with sales and contracts. You make merchandise of the ground of your temples, of the approach to your altars, of your offerings, of your sacrifices. You sell the whole divinity (of your gods). You will not permit their gratuitous worship. The auctioneers necessitate more repairs than the priests. It was not enough that you had insolently made a profit of your gods, if we would test the amount of your contempt; and you are not content to have withheld honour from them, you must also depreciate the little you do render to them by some indignity or other. What, indeed, do you do by way of honouring your gods, which you do not equally offer to your dead? You build temples for the gods, you erect temples also to the dead; you build altars for the gods, you build them also for the dead; you inscribe the same superscription over both; you sketch out the same lineaments for their statues – as best suits their genius, or profession, or age; you make an old man of Saturn, a beardless youth of Apollo; you form a virgin from Diana; in Mars you consecrate a soldier, a blacksmith in Vulcan. No wonder, therefore, if you slay the same victims and burn the same odors for your dead as you do for your gods. What excuse can be found for that insolence which classes the dead of whatever sort as equal with the gods? Even to your princes there are assigned the services of priests and sacred ceremonies, and chariots, and cars, and the honours of the solisternia and the lectisternia, holidays and games. Rightly enough, since heaven is open to them; still it is none the less contumelious to the gods: in the first place, because it could not possibly be decent that other beings should be numbered with them, even if it has been given to them to become divine after their birth; in the second place, because the witness who beheld the man caught up into heaven would not perjure himself so freely and palpably before the people, if it were not for the contempt felt about the objects sworn to both by himself and those who allow the perjury. For these feel of themselves, that what is sworn to is nothing; and more than that, they go so far as to fee the witness, because he had the courage to publicly despise the avengers of perjury. Now, as to that, who among you is pure of the charge of perjury? By this time, indeed, there is an end to all danger in swearing by the gods, since the oath by Caesar carries with it more influential scruples, which very circumstance indeed tends to the degradation of your gods; for those who perjure themselves when swearing by Caesar are more readily punished than those who violate an oath to a Jupiter. But, of the two kindred feelings of contempt and derision, contempt is the more honourable, having a certain glory in its arrogance; for it sometimes proceeds from confidence, or the security of consciousness, or a natural loftiness of mind. Derision, however, is a more wanton feeling, and so far it points more directly to a carping insolence. Now only consider what great deriders of your gods you show yourselves to be! I say nothing of your indulgence of this feeling during your sacrificial acts, how you offer for your victims the poorest and most emaciated creatures; or else of the sound and healthy animals only the portions which are useless for food, such as the heads and hoofs, or the plucked feathers and hair, and whatever at home you would have thrown away. I pass over whatever may seem to the taste of the vulgar and profane to have constituted the religion of your forefathers; but then the most learned and serious classes (for seriousness and wisdom to some extent profess to be derived from learning) are always, in fact, the most irreverent towards your gods; and if their learning ever halts, it is only to make up for the remissness by a more shameful invention of follies and falsehoods about their gods. I will begin with that enthusiastic fondness which you show for him from whom every depraved writer gets his dreams, to whom you ascribe as much honour as you derogate from your gods, by magnifying him who has made such sport of them. I mean Homer by this description. He it is, in my opinion, who has treated the majesty of the Divine Being on the low level of human condition, imbuing the gods with the falls and the passions of men; who has pitted them against each other with varying success, like pairs of gladiators: he wounds Venus with an arrow from a human hand; he keeps Mars a prisoner in chains for thirteen months, with the prospect of perishing; he parades Jupiter as suffering a like indignity from a crowd of celestial (rebels;) or he draws from him tears for Sarpedon; or he represents him wantoning with Juno in the most disgraceful way, advocating his incestuous passion for her by a description and enumeration of his various amours. Since then, which of the poets has not, on the authority of their great prince, calumniated the gods, by either betraying truth or feigning falsehood? Have the dramatists also, whether in tragedy or comedy, refrained from making the gods the authors of the calamities and retributions (of their plays)? I say nothing of your philosophers, whom a certain inspiration of truth itself elevates against the gods, and secures from all fear in their proud severity and stern discipline. Take, for example, Socrates. In contempt of your gods, he swears by an oak, and a dog, and a goat. Now, although he was condemned to die for this very reason, the Athenians afterwards repented of that condemnation, and even put to death his accusers. By this conduct of theirs the testimony of Socrates is replaced at its full value, and I am enabled to meet you with this retort, that in his case you have approbation bestowed on that which is now-a-days reprobated in us. But besides this instance there is Diogenes, who, I do not know to what extent, made sport of Hercules; while Varro, that Diogenes of the Roman cut, introduces to our view some three hundred Joves, or, as they ought to be called, Jupiters, (and all) without heads. Your other wanton wits likewise minister to your pleasures by disgracing the gods. Examine carefully the sacrilegious beauties of your Lentuli and Hostii; now, is it the players or your gods who become the objects of your mirth in their tricks and jokes? Then, again, with what pleasure do you take up the literature of the stage, which describes all the foul conduct of the gods! Their majesty is defiled in your presence in some unchaste body. The mask of some deity, at your will, covers some infamous paltry head. The Sun mourns for the death of his son by a lightning-flash amid your rude rejoicing. Cybele sighs for a shepherd who disdains her, without raising a blush on your cheek; and you quietly endure songs which celebrate the gallantries of Jove. You are, of course, possessed of a more religious spirit in the show of your gladiators, when your gods dance, with equal zest, over the spilling of human blood, (and) over those filthy penalties which are at once their proof and plot for executing your criminals, or else (when) your criminals are punished personating the gods themselves. We have often witnessed in a mutilated criminal your God of Pessinum, Attis; a wretch burnt alive has personated Hercules. We have laughed at the sport of your mid-day game of the gods, when Father Pluto, Jove's own brother, drags away, hammer in hand, the remains of the gladiators; when Mercury, with his winged cap and heated wand, tests with his cautery whether the bodies were really lifeless, or only feigning death. Who now can investigate every particular of this sort although so destructive of the honour of the Divine Being, and so humiliating to his majesty? They all, indeed, have their origin in a contempt (of the gods), on the part both of those who practice these personations, as well as of those who are susceptible of being so represented. I hardly know, therefore, whether your gods have more reason to complain of yourselves or of us. After despising them on the one hand, you flatter them on the other; if you fail in any duty towards them, you appease them with a fee; in short, you allow yourselves to act towards them in any way you please. We, however, live in a consistent and entire aversion to them.

Chapter 11. The absurd rumour about our worshipping the ass's head

In this matter we are (said to be) guilty not merely of forsaking the religion of the community, but of introducing a monstrous superstition; for some among you have dreamed that our God is an ass's head, – an absurdity which Cornelius Tacitus first suggested. In the fourth book of his histories, where he is treating of the Jewish war, he begins his description with the origin of that nation, and gives his own views respecting both the origin and the name of their religion. He relates that the Jews, in their migration in the desert, when suffering for want of water, escaped by following for guides some wild asses, which they supposed to be going in quest of water after pasture, and that on this account the image of one of these animals was worshipped by the Jews. From this, I suppose, it was presumed that we, too, from our close connection with the Jewish religion, have ours consecrated under the same emblematic form. The same Cornelius Tacitus, however, – who, in truth, is most loquacious in falsehood – forgetting his later statement, relates how Pompey the Great, after conquering the Jews and capturing Jerusalem, entered the temple, but found nothing in the shape of an image, though he examined the place carefully. Where, then, should their God have been found? Nowhere else, of course than in so memorable a temple which was carefully shut to all but the priests, and into which there could be no fear of a stranger entering.

But what apology must I here offer for what I am going to say, when I have no other object at the moment than to make a passing remark or two in a general way which shall be equally applicable to yourselves? Suppose that our God, then, be an asinine person, will you at all events deny that you possess the same characteristics with ourselves in that matter? (Not their heads only, but) entire asses, are, to be sure, objects of adoration to you, along with their tutelar Epona; and all herds, and cattle, and beasts you consecrate, and their stables into the bargain! This, perhaps, is your grievance against us, that, when surrounded by cattle-worshippers of every kind we are simply devoted to asses!

Chapter 12. The significance of worshipping the cross

As for him who affirms that we are "the priesthood of a cross," we shall claim him as our co-religionist. A cross is, in its material, a sign of wood; amongst yourselves also the object of worship is a wooden figure. Only, while with you the figure is a huma person, with us the wood is its own figure. Never mind for the present what is the shape, provided the material is the same: the form, too, is of no importance, if so be it be the actual body of a God. If, however, there arises a question of difference on this point what, (let me ask), is the difference between the Athenian Pallas, or the Pharian Ceres, and wood formed into a cross, when each is represented by a rough stock, without form, and by the merest rudiment of a statue of unformed wood? Every piece of timber which is fixed in the ground in an erect position is a part of a cross, and indeed the greater portion of its mass. But an entire cross is attributed to us, with its transverse beam, of course, and its projecting seat. Now you have the less to excuse you, for you dedicate to religion only a mutilated imperfect piece of wood, while others consecrate to the sacred purpose a complete structure. The truth, however, after all is, that your religion is full of the cross, as I shall show. But you are unaware that your gods have originally proceeded from this hated cross.

Now, every image, whether carved out of wood or stone, or molten in metal, or produced out of any other richer material, must have had plastic hands engaged in its formation. Well, then, this modeller, before he did anything else, hit on the form of a wooden cross, because even our own body assumes as its natural position the latent and concealed outline of a cross. Since the head rises upwards, and the back takes a straight direction, and the shoulders project laterally, if you simply place a man with his arms and hands outstretched, you will make the general outline of a cross. Starting, then, from this rudimental form and prop, so to speak, he applies a covering of clay, and so gradually completes the limbs, and forms the body, and covers the cross within with the shape which he meant to impress on the clay; then from this design, with the help of compasses and leaden moulds, he has got all ready for his image which is to be brought out into marble, or clay, or whatever the material be of which he has determined to make his God. (This, then, is the process:) after the cross-shaped frame, the clay; after the clay, the God. In a well-understood routine, the cross passes into a God through the medium of clay.

The cross then you consecrate, and from it the consecrated (deity) begins to derive his origin. By way of example, let us take the case of a tree which grows up into a system of branches and foliage, and is a reproduction of its own kind, whether it springs from the kernel of an olive, or the stone of a peach, or a grain of pepper which has been duly tempered under ground. Now, if you transplant it, or take a cutting off its branches for another plant, to what will you attribute what is produced by the propagation? Will it not be to the grain, or the stone, or the kernel? Because, as the third stage is attributable to the second, and the second in the same way to the first, so the third will have to be referred to the first, through the second as the mean. We need not stay any longer in the discussion of this point, since by a natural law every kind of produce throughout nature refers back its growth to its original source; and just as the product is comprised in its primal cause, so does that cause agree in character with the thing produced. Since, then, in the production of your gods, you worship the cross which originates them, here will be the original kernel and grain, from which are propagated the wooden materials of your idolatrous images.

Examples are not far to seek. Your victories you celebrate with religious ceremony as deities; and they are the more august in proportion to the joy they bring you. The frames on which you hang up your trophies must be crosses: these are, so to speak, the very core of your pageants. So, in your victories, the religion of your camp makes even crosses objects of worship; your standards it adores, your standards are the sanction of its oaths; your standards it prefers before Jupiter himself, But all that parade of images, and that display of pure gold, are (as so many) necklaces of the crosses. In the same way also, in the banners and ensigns, which your soldiers guard with no less sacred care, you have the streamers (and) vestments of your crosses. You are ashamed, I suppose, to worship unadorned and simple crosses.

Chapter 13. The false charge that we worship the sun

Others, with greater regard to good manners, it must be confessed, suppose that the sun is the God of the Christians, because it is a well-known fact that we pray towards the east, or because we make Sunday a day of festivity. What then? Do you do less than this? Do not many among you, with an affectation of sometimes worshipping the heavenly bodies likewise, move your lips in the direction of the sunrise? It is you, at all events, who have even admitted the sun into the calendar of the week; and you have selected its day, in preference to the preceding day as the most suitable in the week for either an entire abstinence from the bath, or for its postponement until the evening, or for taking rest and for banqueting. By resorting to these customs, you deliberately deviate from your own religious rites to those of strangers. For the Jewish feasts an the Sabbath and "the Purification," and Jewish also are the ceremonies of the lamps, and the fasts of unleavened bread, and the "littoral prayers," all which institutions and practices are of course foreign from your gods. Therefore, that I may return from this digression, you who reproach us with the sun and Sunday should consider your proximity to us. We are not far off from your Saturn and your days of rest.

Chapter 14. The calumny about Onocoetes (the image of the donkey)

Report has introduced a new calumny respecting our God. Not so long ago, a most abandoned wretch in that city of yours, a man who had deserted indeed his own religion – a Jew, in fact, who had only lost his skin, flayed of course by wild beasts, against which he enters the lists for hire day after day with a sound body, and so in a condition to lose his skin – carried about in public a caricature of us with this label: Onocoetes. This (figure) had ass's ears, and was dressed in a toga with a book, having a hoof on one of his feet. And the crowd believed this infamous Jew. For what other set of men is the seed-plot of all the calumny against us? throughout the city, therefore, Onocoetes is all the talk. As, however, it is less then "a nine days' wonder," and so destitute of all authority from time, and weak enough from the character of its author, I shall gratify myself by using it simply in the way of a retort. Let us then see whether you are not here also found in our company. Now it matters not what their form may be, when our concern is about deformed images. You have amongst you gods with a dog's head, and a lion's head, with the horns of a cow, and a ram, and a goat, goat-shaped or serpent-shaped, and winged in foot, head, and back. Why therefore brand our one God so conspicuously? Many an Onocoetes is found amongst yourselves.

Chapter 15. The charge of infanticide rebounds on the heathens

Since we are on a par in respect of the gods, it follows that there is no difference between us on the point of sacrifice, or even of worship, if I may be allowed to make good our comparison from another sort of evidence. We begin our religious service, or initiate our mysteries, with slaying an infant. As for you, since your own transactions in human blood and infanticide have faded from your memory, you shall be duly reminded of them in the proper place; we now postpone most of the instances, that we may not seem to be everywhere handling the selfsame topics. Meanwhile, as I have said, the comparison between us does not fail in another point of view. For if we are infanticides in one sense, you also can hardly be deemed such in any other sense; because, although you are forbidden by the laws to slay new-born infants, it so happens that no laws are evaded with more impunity or greater safety, with the deliberate knowledge of the public, and the suffrages of this entire age.

Yet there is no great difference between us, only you do not kill your infants in the way of a sacred rite, nor (as a service) to God. But then you make away with them in a more cruel manner, because you expose them to the cold and hunger, and to wild beasts, or else you get rid of them by the slower death of drowning. If, however, there does occur any dissimilarity between us in this matter, you must not overlook the fact that it is your own dear children whose life you quench; and this will supplement, no, abundantly aggravate, on your side of the question, whatever is defective in us on other grounds. Well, but we are said to sup off our impious sacrifice! While we postpone to a more suitable place whatever resemblance even to this practice is discoverable amongst yourselves, we are not far removed from you in voracity. If in the one case there is unchastity, and in ours cruelty, we are still on the same footing (if I may so far admit our guilt) in nature, where cruelty is always found in concord with unchastity. But, after all, what do you less than we; or rather, what do you not do in excess of us? I wonder whether it be a small matter to you to pant for human entrails, because you devour full-grown men alive? Is it, indeed, only a trifle to lick up human blood, when you draw out the blood which was destined to live? Is it a light thing in your view to feed on an infant, when you consume one wholly before it is come to the birth?

Chapter 16. Distorted relationships: The Roman youth who became his parents' slave

I am now come to the hour for extinguishing the lamps, and for using the dogs, and practicing the deeds of darkness. And on this point I am afraid I must succumb to you; for what similar accusation shall I have to bring against you? But you should at once commend the cleverness with which we make our incest look modest, in that we have devised a spurious night, to avoid polluting the real light and darkness, and have even thought it right to dispense with earthly lights, and to play tricks also with our conscience. For whatever we do ourselves, we suspect in others when we choose (to be suspicious). As for your incestuous deeds, on the contrary, men enjoy them at full liberty, in the face of day, or in the natural night, or before high Heaven; and in proportion to their successful issue is your own ignorance of the result, since you publicly indulge in your incestuous intercourse in the full cognizance of broad day-light. (No ignorance, however, conceals our conduct from our eyes), for in the very darkness we are able to recognise our own misdeeds.

The Persians, you know very well, according to Ctesias, live quite promiscuously with their mothers, in full knowledge of the fact, and without any horror; while of the Macedonians it is well known that they constantly do the same thing, and with perfect approbation: for once, when the blinded Oedipus came on their stage, they greeted him with laughter and derisive cheers. The actor, taking off his mask in great alarm, said, "Gentlemen, have I displeased you?" "Certainly not," replied the Macedonians, "you have played your part well enough; but either the author was very silly, if he invented (this mutilation as an atonement for the incest), or else Oedipus was a great fool for his pains if he really so punished himself;" and then they shouted out one to the other, He came in to his mother! But how insignificant, (say you), is the stain which one or two nations can make on the whole world! As for us, we of course have infected the very sun, polluted the entire ocean!

Can you cite then, one nation which is free from the passions which allure the whole race of men to incest! If there is a single nation which knows nothing of concubinage through the necessity of age and sex – to say nothing of lust and licentiousness – that nation will be a stranger to incest. If any nature can be found so peculiarly removed from the human state as to be liable neither to ignorance, nor error, nor misfortune, that alone may be adduced with any consistency as an answer to the Christians. Reflect, therefore, on the licentiousness which floats about amongst men's passions as if they were the winds, and consider whether there be any communities which the full and strong tides of passion fail to waft to the commission of this great sin. In the first place, when you expose your infants to the mercy of others, or leave them for adoption to better parents than yourselves, do you forget what an opportunity for incest is furnished, how wide a scope is opened for its accidental commission? Undoubtedly, such of you as are more serious from a principle of self-restraint and careful reflection, abstain from lusts which could produce results of such a kind, in whatever place you may happen to be, at home or abroad, so that no indiscriminate diffusion of seed, or licentious reception thereof, will produce children to you unawares, such as their very parents, or else other children, might encounter in inadvertent incest, for no restraint from age is regarded in (the importunities of) lust. All acts of adultery, all cases of fornication, all the licentiousness of public brothels, whether committed at home or perpetrated out of doors, serve to produce confusions of blood and complications of natural relationship, and thence to conduce to incest; from which consummation your players and buffoons draw the materials of their exhibitions. It was from such a source, too, that so flagrant a tragedy recently burst on the public as that which the prefect Fuscianus had judicially to decide. A boy of noble birth, who, by the unintentional neglect of his attendants, had strolled too far from home, was decoyed by some passers-by, and carried off.

The shifty Greek who had the care of him, or somebody else, in true Greek fashion, had gone into the house and captured him. Having been taken away into Asia, he is brought, when arrived at full age, back to Rome, and exposed for sale. His own father buys him unawares, and treats him as a Greek. Afterwards, as was his wont, the youth is sent by his master into the fields, chained as a slave. There the tutor and the nurse had already been banished for punishment. The whole case is represented to them; they relate each other's misfortunes: they, on the one hand, how they had lost their ward when he was a boy; he, on the other hand, that he had been lost from his boyhood. But they agreed in the main, that he was a native of Rome of a noble family; perhaps he further gave sure proofs of his identity. Accordingly, as God willed it for the purpose of fastening a stain on that age, a presentiment about the time excites him, the periods exactly suit his age, even his eyes help to recall his features, some peculiar marks on his body are enumerated his master and mistress, who are now no other than his own father and mother, anxiously urge a protracted enquiry. The slave-dealer is examined, the unhappy truth is all discovered. When their wickedness becomes manifest, the parents find a remedy for their despair by hanging themselves; to their son, who survives the miserable calamity, their property is awarded by the prefect, not as an inheritance, but as the wages of infamy and incest. That one case was a sufficient example for public exposure of the sins of this sort which are secretly perpetrated among you. Nothing happens among men in solitary isolation. But, as it seems to me, it is only in a solitary case that such a charge can be drawn out against us, even in the mysteries of our religion. You ply us evermore with this charge; yet there are like delinquencies to be traced amongst you, even in your ordinary course of life.

Chapter 17. Christians' proper refusal to swear by the genius of Caesar

As to your charges of obstinacy and presumption, whatever you allege against us, even in these respects, there is no shortage of points in which you will bear a comparison with us. Our first step in this contumacious conduct concerns that which is ranked by you immediately after the worship due to God, that is, the worship due to the majesty of the Caesars, in respect of which we are charged with being irreligious towards them, since we neither propititate their images nor swear by their genius. We are called enemies of the people. Well, be it so; yet at the same time (it must not be forgotten, that) the emperors find enemies amongst you heathen, and are constantly getting surnames to signalize their triumphs – one becoming Parthicus, and another Medicus and Germanicus. On this head the Roman people must see to it who they are amongst whom there still remain nations which are unsubdued and foreign to their rule. But, at all events, you are of us, and yet you conspire against us. (In reply, we need only state) a well-known fact, that we acknowledge the fealty of Romans to the emperors. No conspiracy has ever broken out from our body: no Caesar's blood has ever fixed a stain on us, in the senate or even in the palace; no assumption of the purple has ever in any of the provinces been affected by us. The Syrias still exhale the odors of their corpses; still do the Gauls fail to wash away (their blood) in the waters of their Rhone. Our allegations of our insanity I omit, because they do not compromise the Roman name. But I will grapple with the charge of sacrilegious vanity, and remind you of the irreverence of your own lower classes, and the scandalous lampoons of which the statues are so cognizant, and the sneers which are sometimes uttered at the public games, and the curses with which the circus resounds. If not in arms, you are in tongue at all events always rebellious. But I suppose it is quite another affair to refuse to swear by the genius of Caesar? For it is fairly open to doubt as to who are perjurers on this point, when you do not swear honestly even by your gods. Well, we do not call the emperor God; for on this point sannam facimus, as the saying is. But the truth is, that you who call Caesar God both mock him, by calling him what he is not, and curse him, because he does not want to be what you call him. For he prefers living to being made a God.

Chapter 18. The Christians' scorn for death is also found among heroic heathens

The rest of your charge of obstinacy against us you sum up in this indictment, that we boldly refuse neither your swords, nor your crosses, nor your wild beasts, nor fire, nor tortures, such is our obduracy and contempt of death. But (you are inconsistent in your charges); for in former times amongst your own ancestors all these terrors have come in men's intrepidity not only to be despised, but even to be held in great praise. How many swords there were, and what brave men were willing to suffer by them, it would be irksome to enumerate. (If we take the torture) of the cross, of which so many instances have occurred, exquisite in cruelty, your own Regulus readily initiated the suffering which up to his day was without a precedent; a queen of Egypt used wild beasts of her own (to accomplish her death); the Carthaginian woman, who in the last extremity of her country was more courageous than her husband Asdrubal, only followed the example, set long before by Dido herself, of going through fire to her death. Then, again, a woman of Athens defied the tyrant, exhausted his tortures, and at last, for fear that her person and sex might succumb through weakness, she bit off her tongue and spat out of her mouth the only possible instrument of a confession which was now out of her power. But in your own instance you account such deeds glorious, in ours obstinate. Annihilate now the glory of your ancestors, in order that you may thereby annihilate us also. Be content from now on to repeal the praises of your forefathers, in order that you may not have to accord commendation to us for the same (sufferings). Perhaps (you will say) the character of a more robust age may have rendered the spirits of antiquity more enduring. Now, however, (we enjoy) the blessing of quietness and peace; so that the minds and dispositions of men (should be) more tolerant even towards strangers. Well, you rejoin, be it so: you may compare yourselves with the ancients; we must pursue with hatred all that we find in you offensive to ourselves, because it does not obtain currency among us. Answer me, then, on each particular case by itself. I am not seeking for examples on a uniform scale. Since, indeed, the sword through their contempt of death produced stories of heroism amongst your ancestors, it is not, of course, from love of life that you go to the trainers sword in hand and offer yourselves as gladiators, (nor) through fear of death do you enroll your names in the army. Since an ordinary woman makes her death famous by wild beasts, it cannot but be of your own pure accord that you encounter wild beasts day after day in the midst of peaceful times. Although no longer any Regulus among you has raised a cross as the instrument of his own crucifixion, yet a contempt of the fire has even now displayed itself, since one of yourselves very lately has offered for a wager to go to any place which may be fixed on and put on the burning shirt. If a woman once defiantly danced beneath the scourge, the same feat has been very recently performed again by one of your own (circus-) hunters as he traversed the appointed course, not to mention the famous sufferings of the Spartans.

Chapter 19. If Christians so resemble the noble heathen, do not persecute us

Here end, I suppose, your tremendous charges of obstinacy against the Christians. Now, since we are amenable to them in common with yourselves, it only remains that we compare the grounds which the respective parties have for being personally derided. All our obstinacy, however, is with you a foregone conclusion, based on our strong convictions; for we take for granted a resurrection of the dead. Hope in this resurrection amounts to a contempt of death. Ridicule, therefore, as much as you like the excessive stupidity of such minds as die that they may live; but then, in order that you may be able to laugh more merrily, and deride us with greater boldness, you must take your sponge, or perhaps your tongue, and wipe away those records of yours every now and then cropping out, which assert in not dissimilar terms that souls will return to bodies. But how much more worthy of acceptance is our belief which maintains that they will return to the same bodies! And how much more ridiculous is your inherited conceit, that the human spirit is to reappear in a dog, or a mule, or a peacock! Again, we affirm that a judgment has been ordained by God according to the merits of every man. This you ascribe to Minos and Rhadamanthus, while at the same time you reject Aristides, who was a juster judge than either. By the award of the judgment, we say that the wicked will have to spend an eternity in endless fire, the pious and innocent in a region of bliss. In your view likewise an unalterable condition is ascribed to the respective destinations of Pyriphlegethon and Elysium. Now they are not merely your composers of myth and poetry who write songs of this strain; but your philosophers also speak with all confidence of the return of souls to their former state, and of the twofold award of a final judgment.

Chapter 20. Truth of the Christians faith; pagans should embrace it

How long therefore, most unjust heathen, will you refuse to acknowledge us, and (what is more) to execrate your own (worthies), since between us no distinction has place, because we are one and the same? Since you do not (of course) hate what you yourselves are, give us rather your right hands in fellowship, unite your salutations, mingle your embraces, sanguinary with the sanguinary, incestuous with the Incestuous, conspirators with conspirators, obstinate and vain with those of the selfsame qualities. In company with each other, we have been traitors to the majesty of the gods; and together do we provoke their indignation. You too have your "third race;" not indeed third in the way of religious rite, but a third race in sex, and, made up as it is of male and female in one, it is more fitted to men and women (for offices of lust). Well, then, do we offend you by the very fact of our approximation and agreement? Being on a par is apt to furnish unconsciously the materials for rivalry. So "a potter envies a potter, and a smith a smith." But we must now discontinue this imaginary confession. Our conscience has returned to the truth, and to the consistency of truth. For all those points which you allege (against us) will be really found in ourselves alone; and we alone can rebut them, against whom they are adduced, by getting you to listen to the other side of the question, from where that full knowledge is learnt which both inspires counsel and directs the judgment. Now it is in fact your own maxim, that no one should determine a cause without hearing both sides of it; and it is only in our own case that you neglect (the equitable principle). You indulge to the full that fault of human nature, that those things which you do not disallow in yourselves you condemn in others, or you boldly charge against others those things the guilt of which you retain a lasting consciousness of in yourselves. The course of life in which you will choose to occupy yourselves is different from ours: while chaste in the eyes of others, you are unchaste towards your own selves; while vigorous against vice out of doors, you succumb to it at home. This is the injustice (which we have to suffer), that, knowing truth, we are condemned by those who know it not; free from guilt, we are judged by those who are implicated in it. Remove the mote, or rather the beam, out of your own eye, that you may be able to extract the mote from the eyes of others. Amend your own lives first, that you may be able to punish the Christians. Only so far as you shall have effected your own reformation, will you refuse to inflict punishment on them – no, so far will you have become Christians yourselves; and as you shall have become Christians, so far will you have arranged your own amendment of life. Learn what that is which you accuse in us, and you will accuse no longer; search out what that is which you do not accuse in yourselves, and you will become self-accusers. From these very few and humble remarks, so far as we have been able to open out the subject to you, you will plainly get some insight into (your own) error, and some discovery of our truth. Condemn that truth if you have the heart, but only after you have examined it; and approve the error still, if you are so minded, only first explore it. But if your prescribed rule is to love error and hate truth, why, (let me ask), do you not probe to a full discovery the objects both of your love and your hatred?

Book 2.

Chapter 1. Heathen gods, as described by heathen authorities; Varro

Our defence requires that we should at this point discuss with you the character of your gods, you heathen, fit objects of our pity, appealing even to your own conscience to determine whether they be truly gods, as you would have it supposed, or falsely, as you are unwilling to have proved. Now this is the material part of human error, owing to the wiles of its author, that it is never free from the ignorance of error, from which your guilt is all the greater. Your eyes are open, yet they do not see; your ears are unstopped, yet they do not hear; though your heart beats, it is yet dull, nor does your mind understand that of which it is cognizant. If indeed the enormous perverseness (of your worship) could be broken up by a single demurrer, we should have our objection ready to hand in the declaration that, as we know all those gods of yours to have been instituted by men, all belief in the true Deity is by this very circumstance brought to nothing; because, of course, nothing which some time or other had a beginning can rightly seem to be divine. But the fact is, there are many things by which tenderness of conscience is hardened into the callousness of willful error. Truth is beleaguered with the vast force (of the enemy), and yet how secure she is in her own inherent strength! And naturally enough when from her very adversaries she gains to her side whomsoever she will, as her friends and protectors, and prostrates the entire host of her assailants. It is therefore against these things that our contest lies – against the institutions of our ancestors, against the authority of tradition, the laws of our governors, and the reasonings of the wise; against antiquity, custom, submission; against precedents, prodigies, miracles, – all which things have had their part in consolidating that spurious system of your gods.

Wishing, then, to follow step by step your own commentaries which you have drawn out of your theology of every sort (because the authority of learned men goes further with you in matters of this kind than the testimony of facts), I have taken and abridged the works of Varro; for he in his treatise Concerning Divine Things, collected out of ancient digests, has shown himself a serviceable guide for us. Now, if I enquire of him who were the subtle inventors of the gods, he points to either the philosophers, the peoples, or the poets. For he has made a threefold distinction in classifying the gods: one being the physical class, of which the philosophers treat; another the mythic class, which is the constant burden of the poets; the third, the gentile class, which the nations have adopted each one for itself. When, therefore, the philosophers have ingeniously composed their physical (theology) out of their own conjectures, when the poets have drawn their mythical from fables, and the (several) nations have forged their gentile (polytheism) according to their own will, where in the world must truth be placed? In the conjectures? Well, but these are only a doubtful conception. In the fables? But they are at best an absurd story. In the popular accounts? This sort of opinion, however, is only promiscuous and municipal.

Now all things with the philosophers are uncertain, because of their variation with the poets all is worthless, because immoral; with the nations all is irregular and confused, because dependent on their mere choice. The nature of God, however, if it be the true one with which you are concerned, is of so definite a character as not to be derived from uncertain speculations, nor contaminated with worthless fables, nor determined by promiscuous conceits. It ought indeed to be regarded, as it really is, as certain, entire, universal, because it is in truth the property of all. Now, what God shall I believe? One that has been gauged by vague suspicion? One that history has divulged? One that a community has invented? It would be a far worthier thing if I believed no God, than one which is open to doubt, or full of shame, or the object of arbitrary selection.

Chapter 2. The philosophers were unable to discover God

But the authority of the physical philosophers is maintained among you as the special property. Of wisdom. You mean of course, that pure and simple wisdom of the philosophers which attests its own weakness mainly by that variety of opinion which proceeds from an ignorance of the truth. Now what wise man is so devoid of truth, as not to know that God is the Father and Lord of wisdom itself and truth? Besides, there is that divine oracle uttered by Solomon: "The fear of the Lord," he says," is the beginning of wisdom." But fear has its origin in knowledge; for how will a man fear that of which he knows nothing? Therefore he who shall have the fear of God, even if he be ignorant of all things else, if he has attained to the knowledge and truth of God, will possess full and perfect wisdom. This, however, is what philosophy has not clearly realized. For although, in their inquisitive disposition to search into all kinds of learning, the philosophers may seem to have investigated the sacred Scriptures themselves for their antiquity, and to have derived thence some of their opinions; yet because they have interpolated these deductions they prove that they have either despised them wholly or have not fully believed them, for in other cases also the simplicity of truth is shaken by the over-scrupulousness of an irregular belief, and that they therefore changed them, as their desire of glory grew, into products of their own mind. The consequence of this is, that even that which they had discovered degenerated into uncertainty, and there arose from one or two drops of truth a perfect flood of argumentation. For after they had simply found God, they did not expound him as they found him, but rather disputed about his quality, and his nature, and even about his abode. The Platonists, indeed, (held) him to care about wordy things, both as the disposer and judge thereof. The Epicureans regarded him as apathetic and inert, and (so to say) a non-entity. The Stoics believed him to be outside of the world; the Platonists, within the world. The God whom they had so imperfectly admitted, they could neither know nor fear; and therefore they could not be wise, since they wandered away indeed from the beginning of wisdom," that is, "the fear of God." Proofs are not wanting that among the philosophers there was not only an ignorance, but actual doubt, about the divinity. Diogenes, when asked what was taking place in heaven, answered by saying, "I have never been up there." Again, whether there were any gods, he replied, "I do not know; only there ought to be gods." When Croesus enquired of Thales of Miletus what he thought of the gods, the latter having taken some time to consider, answered by the word "Nothing." Even Socrates denied with an air of certainty those gods of yours. Yet he with a like certainty requested that a cock should be sacrificed to Aesculapius. And therefore when philosophy, in its practice of defining about God, is detected in such uncertainty and inconsistency, what "fear" could it possibly have had of him whom it was not competent clearly to determine? We have been taught to believe of the world that it is God. For such the physical class of theologizers conclude it to be, since they have handed down such views about the gods that Dionysius the Stoic divides them into three kinds. The first, he supposes, includes those gods which are most obvious, as the Sun, Moon, and Stars; the next, those which are not apparent, as Neptune; the remaining one, those which are said to have passed from the human state to the divine, as Hercules and Amphiaraus. In the same way, Arcesilaus makes a threefold form of the divinity – the Olympian, the Astral, the Titanian – sprung from Coelus and Terra; from which through Saturn and Ops came Neptune, Jupiter, and Orcus, and their entire progeny. Xenocrates, of the Academy, makes a twofold division – the Olympian and the Titanian, which descend from Coelus and Terra. Most of the Egyptians believe that there are four gods – the Sun and the Moon, the Heaven and the Earth. Along with all the supernal fire Democritus conjectures that the gods arose. Zeno, too, will have it that their nature resembles it. Therefore Varro also makes fire to be the soul of the world, that in the world fire governs all things, just as the soul does in ourselves. But all this is most absurd. For he says, while it is in us, we have existence; but as soon as it has left us, we die. Therefore, when fire quits the world in lightning, the world comes to its end.

Chapter 3. The physical philosophers and the divinity of the elements

From these developments of opinion, we see that your physical class of philosophers are driven to the necessity of contending that the elements are gods, since it alleges that other gods are sprung from them; for it is only from gods that gods could be born. Now, although we shall have to examine these other gods more fully in the proper place, in the mythic section of the poets, yet, inasmuch as we must meanwhile treat of them in their connection with the present class, we shall probably even from their present class, when once we turn to the gods themselves, succeed in showing that they can by no means appear to be gods who are said to be sprung from the elements; so that we have at once a presumption that the elements are not gods, since those who are born of the elements are not gods. In the same way, while we show that the elements are not gods, we shall, according to the Law of natural relationship, get a presumptive argument that they cannot rightly be maintained to be gods whose parents (in this case the elements) are not gods. It is a settled point that a God is born of a God, and that what lacks divinity is born of what is not divine. Now, so far as the world of which your philosophers treat (for I apply this term to the universe in the most comprehensive sense) contains the elements, ministering to them as its component parts (for whatever its own condition may be, the same of course will be that of its elements and constituent portions), it must have been formed either by some being, according to the enlightened view of Plato, or else by none, according to the harsh opinion of Epicurus; and since it was formed, by having a beginning, it must also have an end. That, therefore, which at one time before its beginning had no existence, and will by and by after its end cease to have an existence, cannot of course, by any possibility, seem to be a God, wanting as it does that essential character of divinity, eternity, which is reckoned to be without beginning, and without end. If, however, it is in no way formed, and therefore ought to be accounted divine – since, as divine, it is subject neither to a beginning nor an end of itself – how is it that some assign generation to the elements, which they hold to be gods, when the Stoics deny that anything can be born of a God? Likewise, how is it that they wish those beings, whom they suppose to be born of the elements, to be regarded as gods, when they deny that a God can be born? Now, what must hold good of the universe will have to be predicated of the elements, I mean of heaven, and of earth, and of the stars, and of fire, which Varro has vainly proposed that you should believe to be gods, and the parents of gods, contrary to that generation and nativity which he had declared to be impossible in a God. Now this same Varro had shown that the earth and the stars were animated. But if this be the case, they must be also mortal, according to the condition of animated nature; for although the soul is evidently immortal, this attribute is limited to it alone: it is not extended to that with which it is associated, that is, the body. Nobody, however, will deny that the elements have body, since we both touch them and are touched by them, and we see certain bodies fall down from them. If, therefore, they are animated, laying aside the principle of a soul, as befits their condition as bodies, they are mortal – of course not immortal. And yet how is it that the elements appear to Varro to be animated? Because, indeed, the elements have motion. And then, in order to anticipate what may be objected on the other side, that many things else have motion – as wheels, as carriages, as several other machines – he volunteers the statement that he believes only such things to be animated as move of themselves, without any apparent mover or impeller from without, like the apparent mover of the wheel, or propeller of the carriage, or director of the machine. If, then, they are not animated, they have no motion of themselves. Now, when he so alleges a power which is not apparent, he points to what it was his duty to seek after, even the Creator and controller of the motion for it does not at once follow that, because we do not see a thing, we believe that it does not exist. Rather, it is necessary the more profoundly to investigate what one does not see, in order the better to understand the character of that which is apparent. Besides if (you admit) only the existence of those things which appear and are supposed to exist simply because they appear, how is it that you also admit them to be gods which do not appear? If, moreover, those things seem to have existence which have none, why may they not have existence also which do not seem to have it? Such, for instance, as the Mover of the heavenly beings. Granted, then, that things are animated because they move of themselves, and that they move of themselves when they are not moved by another: still it does not follow that they must immediately be gods, because they are animated, nor even because they move of themselves; otherwise what is to prevent all animals whatever being accounted gods, moving as they do of themselves? This, to be sure, is allowed to the Egyptians, but their superstitious vanity has another basis.

Chapter 4. Mistaken derivation of the word "Theos;” empty speculations

Some affirm that the gods (Theoi) were so called because the verbs Theein And Theisthai signify to run and to be moved. This term, then, is not indicative of any majesty, for it is derived from running and motion, not from any dominion of godhead. But inasmuch as the Supreme God whom we worship is also designated Theos without however the appearance of any course or motion in him, because he is not visible to anyone, it is clear that that word must have had some other derivation, and that the property of divinity, innate in himself, must have been discovered. Dismissing, then, that ingenious interpretation, it is more likely that the gods were not called Theoi from running and motion, but that the term was borrowed from the designation of the true God; so that you gave the name Theoi to the gods, whom you had in the same way forged for yourselves. Now, that this is the case, a plain proof is afforded in the fact that you actually give the common appellation Theoi to all those gods of yours, in whom there is no attribute of course or motion indicated. When, therefore, you call them both Theoi And immovable with equal readiness, there is a deviation as well from the meaning of the word as from the idea of godhead, which is set aside if measured by the notion of course and motion. But if that sacred name be peculiarly significant of deity, and be simply true and not of a forced interpretation in the case of the true God, but transferred in a borrowed sense to those other objects which you choose to call gods, then you ought to show to us that there is also a community of character between them, so that their common designation may rightly depend on their union of essence. But the true God, on the sole ground that he is not an object of sense, is incapable of being compared with those false deities which are cognizable to sight and sense (to sense indeed is sufficient); for this amounts to a clear statement of the difference between an obscure proof and a manifest one. Now, since the elements are obvious to all, (and) since God, on the contrary, is visible to none, how will it be in your power from that part which you have not seen to pass to a decision on the objects which you see?

Since, therefore, you have not to combine them in your perception or your reason, why do you combine them in name with the purpose of combining them also in power? For see how even Zeno separates the matter of the world from God: he says that the latter has percolated through the former, like honey through the comb. God, therefore, and Matter are two words (and) two things. Proportioned to the difference of the words is the diversity of the things; the condition also of matter follows its designation. Now if matter is not God, because its very appellation teaches us so, how can those things which are inherent in matter – that is, the elements – be regarded as gods, since the component members cannot possibly be heterogeneous from the body? But what concern have I with physiological conceits? It would be better for one's mind to ascend above the state of the world, not to stoop down to uncertain speculations. Plato's form for the world was round. Its square, angular shape, such as others had conceived it to be, he rounded off, I suppose, with compasses, from his labouring to have it believed to be simply without a beginning.

Epicurus, however, who had said, "What is above us is nothing to us," wished notwithstanding to have a peep at the sky, and found the sun to be a foot in diameter. So far you must confess men were niggardly in even celestial objects. In process of time their ambitious conceptions advanced, and so the sun too enlarged its disk. Accordingly, the Peripatetics marked it out as a larger world. Now tell me, what wisdom is there in this hankering after conjectural speculations? What proof is afforded to us, notwithstanding the strong confidence of its assertions, by the useless affectation of a scrupulous curiosity, which is tricked out with an artful show of language? It therefore served Thales of Miletus quite right, when, star-gazing as he walked with all the eyes he had, he had the mortification of falling into a well, and was unmercifully twitted by an Egyptian, who said to him, "Is it because you found nothing on earth to look at, that you think you ought to confine your gaze to the sky?" his fall, therefore, is a figurative picture of the philosophers; of those, I mean, who persist in applying their studies to a vain purpose, since they indulge a stupid curiosity on natural objects, which they ought rather (intelligently to direct) to their Creator and Governor.

Chapter 5. Varro's more reasonable physical theory of causality

Why, then, do we not resort to that far more reasonable opinion, which has clear proof of being derived from men's common sense and unsophisticated deduction? Even Varro bears it in mind, when he says that the elements are supposed to be divine, because nothing whatever is capable, without their concurrence, of being produced, nourished, or applied to the sustenance of man's life and of the earth, since not even our bodies and souls could have sufficed in themselves without the modification of the elements. By this it is that the world is made generally habitable, – a result which is harmoniously secured by the distribution into zones, except where human residence has been rendered impracticable by intensity of cold or heat. On this account, men have accounted as gods – the sun, because it imparts from itself the light of day, ripens the fruit with its warmth, and measures the year with its stated periods; the moon, which is at once the solace of the night and the controller of the months by its governance; the stars also, certain indications as they are of those seasons which are to be observed in the tillage of our fields; lastly, the very heaven also under which, and the earth over which, as well as the intermediate space within which, all things conspire together for the good of man. Nor is it from their beneficent influences only that a faith in their divinity has been deemed compatible with the elements, but from their opposite qualities also, such as usually happen from what one might call their wrath and anger – as thunder, and hail, and drought, and pestilential winds, floods also, and openings of the ground, and earthquakes: these are all fairly enough accounted gods, whether their nature becomes the object of reverence as being favourable, or of fear because terrible – the sovereign dispenser, in fact, both of help and of hurt. But in the practical conduct of social life, this is the way in which men act and feel: they do not show gratitude or find fault with the very things from which the help or the injury proceeds, so much as with them by whose strength and power the operation of the things is effected.

For even in your amusements you do not award the crown as a prize to the flute or the harp, but to the musician who manages the said flute or harp by the power of his delightful skill. In the same way, when one is in ill-health, you do not bestow your acknowledgments on the flannel wraps, or the medicines, or the poultices, but on the doctors by whose care and prudence the remedies become effectual. So again, in toward events, they who are wounded with the sword do not charge the injury on the sword or the spear, but on the enemy or the robber; while those whom a falling house covers do not blame the tiles or the stones, but the oldness of the building; as again shipwrecked sailors impute their calamity not to the rocks and waves, but to the tempest. And rightly too; for it is certain that everything which happens must be ascribed not to the instrument with which, but to the agent by whom, it takes place; inasmuch as he is the prime cause of the occurrence, who appoints both the event itself and that by whose instrumentality it comes to pass (as there are in all things these three particular elements – the fact itself, its instrument, and its cause), because he himself who wills the occurrence of a thing comes into notice prior to the thing which he wills, or the instrument by which it occurs.

On all other occasions therefore, your conduct is right enough, because you consider the author; but in physical phenomena your rule is opposed to that natural principle which prompts you to a wise judgment in all other cases, removing out of sight as you do the supreme position of the author, and considering rather the things that happen, than him by whom they happen. So it comes to pass that you suppose the power and the dominion to belong to the elements, which are but the slaves and functionaries. Now do we not, in so tracing out an artificer and master within, expose the artful structure of their slavery out of the appointed functions of those elements to which you ascribe (the attributes) of power? But gods are not slaves; therefore whatever things are servile in character are not gods. Otherwise they should prove to us that, according to the ordinary course of things, liberty is promoted by irregular license, despotism by liberty, and that by despotism divine power is meant.

For if all the bodies overhead forget not to fulfill their courses in certain orbits, in regular seasons, at proper distances, and at equal intervals – appointed in the way of a law for the revolutions of time, and for directing the guidance thereof – can it fail to result from the very observance of their conditions and the fidelity of their operations, that you will be convinced both by the recurrence of their orbital courses and the accuracy of their mutations, when you bear in mind how ceaseless is their recurrence, that a governing power presides over them, to which the entire management of the world is obedient, reaching even to the utility and injury of the human race? For you cannot pretend that these phenomena act and care for themselves alone, without contributing anything to the advantage of mankind, when you maintain that the elements are divine for no other reason than that you experience from them either benefit or injury to yourself. For if they benefit themselves only, you are under no obligation to them.

Chapter 6. Changes of the Heavenly bodies prove that they are not divine

Come now, do you allow that the Divine Being not only has nothing servile in his course, but exists in unimpaired integrity, and ought not to be diminished, or suspended, or destroyed? Well, then, all his blessedness would disappear, if he were ever subject to change. Look, however, at the stellar bodies; they both undergo change, and give clear evidence of the fact. The moon tells us how great has been its loss, as it recovers its full form; its greater losses you are already accustomed to measure in a mirror of water; so that I need not any longer believe in anywise what magians have asserted. The sun, too, is frequently put to the trial of an eclipse. Explain as best you may the modes of these celestial casualties, it is impossible for God either to become less or to cease to exist. Vain, therefore, are those supports of human learning, which, by their artful method of weaving conjectures, belie both wisdom and truth. Besides, it so happens, indeed, according to your natural way of thinking, that he who has spoken the best is supposed to have spoken most truly, instead of him who has spoken the truth being held to have spoken the best. Now the man who shall carefully look into things, will surely allow it to be a greater probability that those elements which we have been discussing are under some rule and direction, than that they have a motion of their own, and that being under government they cannot be gods. If, however, one is in error in this matter, it is better to err simply than speculatively, like your physical philosophers. But, at the same time, if you consider the character of the mythic school, (and compare it with the physical), the error which we have already seen frail men making in the latter is really the more respectable one, since it ascribes a divine nature to those things which it supposes to be superhuman in their sensibility, whether in respect of their position, their power, their magnitude, or their divinity. For that which you suppose to be higher than man, you believe to be very near to God.

Chapter 7. The gods of mythology were invented by the poets

But to pass to the mythic class of gods, which we attributed to the poets, I hardly know whether I must only seek to put them on a par with our own human mediocrity, or whether they must be affirmed to be gods, with proofs of divinity, like the African Mopsus and the Boeotian Amphiaraus. I must now indeed but slightly touch on this class, of which a fuller view will be taken in the proper place. Meanwhile, that these were only human beings, is clear from the fact that you do not consistently call them gods, but heroes. Why then discuss the point? Although divine honours had to be ascribed to dead men, it was not to them as such, of course. Look at your own practice, when with similar excess of presumption you sully heaven with the sepulchers of your kings: is it not such as are illustrious for justice, virtue, piety, and every excellence of this sort, that you honour with the blessedness of deification, contented even to incur contempt if you perjure yourselves for such characters? And, on the other hand, do you not deprive the impious and disgraceful of even the old prizes of human glory, tear up their decrees and titles, pull down their statues, and deface their images on the current coin? Will He, however, who beholds all things, who approves, no, rewards the good, prostitute before all men the attribute of his own inexhaustible grace and mercy? And shall men be allowed an especial mount of care and righteousness, that they may be wise in selecting and multiplying their deities? Shall attendants on kings and princes be more pure than those who wait on the Supreme God? You turn your back in horror, indeed, on outcasts and exiles, on the poor and weak, on the obscurely born and the low-lived; but yet you honour, even by legal sanctions, unchaste men, adulterers, robbers, and parricides. Must we regard it as a subject of ridicule or indignation, that such characters are believed to be gods who are not fit to be men? Then, again, in this mythic class of yours which the poets celebrate, how uncertain is your conduct as to purity of conscience and the maintenance thereof! For whenever we hold up to execration the wretched, disgraceful and atrocious (examples) of your gods, you defend them as mere fables, on the pretense of poetic license; whenever we volunteer a silent contempt of this said poetic license, then you are not only troubled with no horror of it, but you go so far as to show it respect, and to hold it as one of the indispensable (fine) arts; no, you carry out the studies of your higher classes by its means, as the very foundation of your literature. Plato was of opinion that poets ought to be banished, as calumniators of the gods; he would even have) Homer himself expelled from his republic, although, as you are aware, he was the crowned head of them all. But while you admit and retain them so, why should you not believe them when they disclose such things respecting your gods? And if you do believe your poets, how is it that you worship such gods (as they describe)? You worship them simply because you do not believe the poets, why do you bestow praise on such lying authors, without any fear of giving offence to those whose calumniators you honour? A regard for truth is not, of course, to be expected of poets. But when you say that they only make men into gods after their death, do you not admit that before death the said gods were merely human? Now what is there strange in the fact, that they who were once men are subject to the dishonour of human casualties, or crimes, or fables? Do you not, in fact, put faith in your poets, when it is in accordance with their rhapsodies that you have arranged in some instances your very rituals? How is it that the priestess of Ceres is ravished, if it is not because Ceres suffered a similar outrage? Why are the children of others sacrificed to Saturn, if it is not because he spared not his own? Why is a male mutilated in honour of the Idaean goddess Cybele, unless it be that the (unhappy) youth who was too disdainful of her advances was castrated, owing to her vexation at his daring to cross her love? Why was not Hercules "a dainty dish" to the good ladies of Lanuvium, if it was not for the primeval offence which women gave to him? The poets, no doubt, are liars. Yet it is not because of their telling us that your gods did such things when they were human beings, nor because they predicated divine scandals of a divine state, since it seemed to you more credible that gods should exist, though not of such a character, than that there should be such characters, although not gods.

Chapter 8. The gods of pagan nations are often a perversion of Biblical themes

There remains the gentile class of gods amongst the several nations: these were adopted out of mere caprice, not from the knowledge of the truth; and our information about them comes from the private notions of different races. God, I imagine, is everywhere known, everywhere present, powerful everywhere – an object whom all ought to worship, all ought to serve. Since, then, it happens that even they, whom all the world worships in common, fail in the evidence of their true divinity, how much more must this befall those whom their very votaries have not succeeded in discovering! For what useful authority could possibly precede a theology of so defective a character as to be wholly unknown to fame? How many have either seen or heard of the Syrian Atargatis, the African Coelestis, the Moorish Varsutina, the Arabian Obodas and Dusaris, or the Norican Belenus, or those whom Varro mentions – Deluentinus of Casinum, Visidianus of Narnia, Numiternus of Atina, or Ancharia of Asculum? And who have any clear notions of Nortia of Vulsinii? There is no difference in the worth of even their names, apart from the human surnames which distinguish them. I laugh often enough at the little coteries of gods in each municipality, which have their honours confined within their own city walls. To what lengths this license of adopting gods has been pushed, the superstitious practices of the Egyptians show us; for they worship even their native animals, such as cats, crocodiles, and their snake. It is therefore a small matter that they have also deified a man – him, I mean, whom not Egypt only, or Greece, but the whole world worships, and the Africans swear by; about whose state also all that helps our conjectures and imparts to our knowledge the semblance of truth is stated in our own (sacred) literature. For that Serapis of yours was originally one of our own saints called Joseph. The youngest of his brethren, but superior to them in intellect, he was from envy sold into Egypt, and became a slave in the family of Pharaoh king of the country. Importuned by the unchaste queen, when he refused to comply with her desire, she turned on him and reported him to the king, by whom he is put into prison. There he displays the power of his divine inspiration, by interpreting aright the dreams of some (fellow-prisoners). Meanwhile the king, too, has some terrible dreams. Joseph being brought before him, according to his summons, was able to expound them. Having narrated the proofs of true interpretation which he had given in the prison, he opens out his dream to the king: those seven fat-fleshed and well-favoured kine signified as many years of plenty; in the same way, the seven lean-fleshed animals predicted the scarcity of the seven following years. He accordingly recommends precautions to be taken against the future famine from the previous plenty. The king believed him. The issue of all that happened showed how wise he was, how invariably holy, and now how necessary. So Pharaoh set him over all Egypt, that he might secure the provision of corn for it, and from then on administer its government. They called him Serapis, from the turban which adorned his head. The peck-like shape of this turban marks the memory of his corn-provisioning; while evidence is given that the care of the supplies was all on his head, by the very ears of corn which embellish the border of the head-dress. For the same reason, also, they made the sacred figure of a dog, which they regard (as a sentry) in Hades, and put it under his right hand, because the care of the Egyptians was concentrated under his hand. And they put at his side Pharia, whose name shows her to have been the king's daughter. For in addition to all the rest of his kind gifts and rewards, Pharaoh had given him his own daughter in marriage. Since, however, they had begun to worship both wild animals and human beings, they combined both figures under one form Anubis, in which there may rather be seen clear proofs of its own character and condition enshrined by a nation at war with itself, refractory to its kings, despised among foreigners, with even the appetite of a slave and the filthy nature of a dog.

Chapter 9. The power of Rome. Romanised aspect of the heathen mythology

Such are the more obvious or more remarkable points which we had to mention in connection with Varro's threefold distribution of the gods, in order that a sufficient answer might seem to be given concerning the physical, the poetic, and the gentile classes. Since, however, it is no longer to the philosophers, nor the poets, nor the nations that we owe the substitution of all (heathen worship for the true religion) although they transmitted the superstition, but to the dominant Romans, who received the tradition and gave it wide authority, another phase of the widespread error of man must now be encountered by us; no, another forest must be felled by our axe, which has obscured the childhood of the de generate worship with germs of superstitions gathered from all quarters. Well, but even the gods of the Romans have received from (the same) Varro a threefold classification into the certain, the uncertain, and the select. What absurdity! What need had they of uncertain gods, when they possessed certain ones? Unless, indeed, they wished to commit themselves to such folly as the Athenians did; for at Athens there was an altar with this inscription: "To the unknown gods." Does, then, a man worship that which he knows nothing of? Then, again, as they had certain gods, they ought to have been contented with them, without requiring select ones. In this want they are even found to be irreligious! For if gods are selected as onions are, then such as are not chosen are declared to be worthless. Now we on our part allow that the Romans had two sets of gods, common and proper; in other words, those which they had in common with other nations, and those which they themselves devised. And were not these called the public and the foreign gods? Their altars tell us so; there is (a specimen) of the foreign gods at the lane of Carna, of the public gods in the Palatium. Now, since their common gods are comprehended in both the physical and the mythic classes, we have already said enough concerning them. I should like to speak of their particular kinds of deity. We ought then to admire the Romans for that third set of the gods of their enemies, because no other nation ever discovered for itself so large a mass of superstition. Their other deities we arrange in two classes: those which have become gods from human beings, and those which have had their origin in some other way. Now, since there is advanced the same colourable pretext for the deification of the dead, that their lives were meritorious, we are compelled to urge the same reply against them, that no one of them was worth so much pains. Their fond father Aeneas, in whom they believed, was never glorious, and was felled with a stone – a vulgar weapon, to pelt a dog indeed,, inflicting a wound no less ignoble! But this Aeneas turns out a traitor to his country; yes, quite as much as Antenor. And if they will not believe this to be true of him, he at any rate deserted his companions when his country was in flames, and must be held inferior to that woman of Carthage, who, when her husband Hasdrubal supplicated the enemy with the mild pusillanimity of our Aeneas, refused to accompany him, but hurrying her children along with her, disdained to take her beautiful self and father's noble heart into exile, but plunged into the flames of the burning Carthage, as if rushing into the embraces of her (dear but) ruined country. Is he "pious Aeneas" for (rescuing) his young only son and decrepit old father, but deserting Priam and Astyanax? But the Romans ought rather to detest him; for in defence of their princes and their royal house, they surrender even children and wives, and every dearest pledge. They deify the son of Venus, and this with the full knowledge and consent of her husband Vulcan, and without opposition from even Juno. Now, if sons have seats in heaven owing to their piety to their parents, why are not those noble youths of Argos rather accounted gods, because they, to save their mother from guilt in the performance of some sacred rites, with a devotion more than human, yoked themselves to her car and dragged her to the temple? Why not make a goddess, for her exceeding piety, of that daughter who from her own breasts nourished her father who was famishing in prison? What other glorious achievement can be related of Aeneas, but that he was nowhere seen in the fight on the field of Laurentum? Following his bent, perhaps he fled a second time as a fugitive from the battle. In the same way, Romulus posthumously becomes a God. Was it because he rounded the city? Then why not others also, who have built cities, counting even women? To be sure, Romulus slew his brother in the bargain, and trickishly ravished some foreign virgins. Therefore of course he becomes a God, and therefore a Quirinus (“God of the spear”), because then their fathers had to use the spear on his account. What did Sterculus do to merit deification? If he worked hard to enrich the fields stercoribus, (with manure), Augias had more dung than he to bestow on them. If Faunus, the son of Picus, used to do violence to law and right, because struck with madness, it was more fit that he should be doctored than deified. If the daughter of Faunus so excelled in chastity, that she would hold no conversation with men, it was perhaps from rudeness, or a consciousness of deformity, or shame for her father's insanity. How much worthier of divine honour than this "good goddess" was Penelope, who, although dwelling among so many suitors of the vilest character, preserved with delicate tact the purity which they assailed! There is Sanctus, too, who for his hospitality had a temple consecrated to him by king Plotius; and even Ulysses had it in his power to have bestowed one more God on you in the person of the most refined Alcinous.

Chapter 10. Disgraceful mythology, honouring infamous characters such as Larentina

I hasten to even more abominable cases. Your writers have not been ashamed to publish that of Larentina. She was a hired prostitute, whether as the nurse of Romulus, and therefore called Lupa, because she was a prostitute, or as the mistress of Hercules, now deceased, that is to say, now deified. They relate that his temple-warder happened to be playing at dice in the temple alone; and in order to represent a partner for himself in the game, in the absence of an actual one, he began to play with one hand for Hercules and the other for himself. (The condition was), that if he won the stakes from Hercules, he should with them procure a supper and a prostitute; if Hercules, however, proved the winner, I mean his other hand, then he should provide the same for Hercules. The hand of Hercules won. That achievement might well have been added to his twelve labours! The temple-warden buys a supper for the hero, and hires Larentina to play the whore.

The fire which dissolved the body of even a Hercules enjoyed the supper, and the altar consumed everything. Larentina sleeps alone in the temple; and she a woman from the brothel, boasts that in her dreams she had submitted herself to the pleasure of Hercules; and she might possibly have experienced this, as it passed through her mind, in her sleep. In the morning, on going out of the temple very early, she is solicited by a young man – "a third Hercules," so to speak. He invites her home. She complies, remembering that Hercules had told her that it would be for her advantage. He then, to be sure, obtains permission that they should be united in lawful wedlock (for none was allowed to have intercourse with the concubine of a God without being punished for it); the husband makes her his heir. By and by, just before her death, she bequeathed to the Roman people the rather large estate which she had obtained through Hercules.

After this she sought deification for her daughters too, whom indeed the divine Larentina ought to have appointed her heirs also. The gods, of the Romans received an accession in her dignity. For she alone of all the wives of Hercules was dear to him, because she alone was rich; and she was even far more fortunate than Ceres, who contributed to the pleasure of the (king of the) dead. After so many examples and eminent names among you, who might not have been declared divine? Who, in fact, ever raised a question as to his divinity against Antinous? Was even Ganymede more grateful and dear than he to (the supreme God) who loved him? According to you, heaven is open to the dead. You prepare a way from Hades to the stars. Prostitutes mount it in all directions, so that you must not suppose that you are conferring a great distinction on your kings.

Chapter 11. The Romans provided gods for every experience, from birth to death.

You are not content to assert the divinity of those who were once known to you, whom you heard and handled, and whose portraits have been painted, and actions recounted, and memory retained amongst you; but men insist on consecrating with a heavenly life I do not know what incorporeal, inanimate shadows, and the mere names of things – dividing man's entire existence amongst separate powers even from his conception in the womb: so that there is a God Consevius, to preside over concubital generation; and Fluviona, to preserve the (growth of the) infant in the womb; after these come Vitumnus and Sentinus, through whom the babe begins to have life and its earliest sensation; then Diespiter, by whose office the child accomplishes its birth. But when women begin their parturition, Candelifera also comes in aid, since childbearing requires the light of the candle; and other goddesses there are "who get their names from the parts they bear in the stages of travail. There were two Carmentas likewise, according to the general view: to one of them, called Postverta, belonged the function of assisting the birth of the introverted child; while the other, Prosa, executed the like office for the rightly born. The God Farinus was so called from (his inspiring) the first utterance; while others believed in Locutius from his gift of speech. Cunina is present as the protector of the child's deep slumber, and supplies to it refreshing rest. To lift them (when fallen) there is Levana, and along with her Rumina. It is a wonderful oversight that no gods were appointed for cleaning up the filth of children. Then, to preside over their first pap and earliest drink you have Potina and Edula; to teach the child to stand erect is the work of Statina, while Adeona helps him to come to dear Mamma, and Abeona to toddle off again; then there is Domiduca, (to bring home the bride;) and the goddess Mens, to influence the mind to either good or evil. They have likewise Volumnus and Voleta, to control the will; Paventina, (the goddess) of fear; Venilia, of hope; Volupia, of pleasure; Praestitia, of beauty. Then, again, they give his name to Peragenor, from his teaching men to go through their work; to Consus, from his suggesting to them counsel. Juventa is their guide on assuming the manly gown, and "bearded Fortune" when they come to full manhood. If I must touch on their nuptial duties, there is Afterenda whose appointed function is to see to the offering of the dower; but fie on you! you have your Mutunus and Tutunus and Pertunda and Subigus and the goddess Prema and likewise Perfica. O spare yourselves, you impudent gods! No one is present at the secret struggles of married life. Those very few persons who have a wish that way, go away and blush for very shame in the midst of their joy.

Chapter 12. Saturn (or Time) was human. Inconsistencies of opinion about him

Now, how much further need I go in recounting your gods – because I want to descant on the character of such as you have adopted? It is quite uncertain whether I shall laugh at your absurdity, or rebuke you for your blindness. For how many, and indeed what, gods shall I bring forward? Shall it be the greater ones, or the lesser? The old ones, or the novel? The male, or the female? The unmarried, or such as are joined in wedlock? The clever, or the unskillful? The rustic or the town ones? The national or the foreign? For the truth is, there are so many families, so many nations, which require a catalogue (of gods), that they cannot possibly be examined, or distinguished, or described. But the more diffuse the subject is, the more restriction must we impose on it. As, therefore, in this review we keep before us but one object – that of proving that all these gods were once human beings (not, indeed, to instruct you in the fact, for your conduct shows that you have forgotten it) – let us adopt our compendious summary from the most natural method of conducting the examination, even by considering the origin of their race. For the origin characterizes all that comes after it. Now this origin of your gods dates, I suppose, from Saturn. And when Varro mentions Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, as the most ancient of the gods, it ought not to have escaped our notice, that every father is more ancient than his sons, and that Saturn therefore must precede Jupiter, even as Coelus does Saturn, for Saturn was sprung from Coelus and Terra. I pass by, however, the origin of Coelus and Terra. They led in some unaccountable way single lives, and had no children. Of course they required a long time for vigorous growth to attain to such a stature. By and by, as soon as the voice of Coelus began to break, and the breasts of Terra to become firm, they contract marriage with one another. I suppose either Heaven came down to his spouse, or Earth went up to meet her Lord. Be that as it may, Earth conceived seed of Heaven, and when her year was fulfilled brought forth Saturn in a wonderful manner. Which of his parents did he resemble? Well, then, even after parentage began, it is certain that they had no child previous to Saturn, and only one daughter afterwards – Ops; from then on they ceased to procreate. The truth is, Saturn castrated Coelus as he was sleeping. We read this name Coelus as of the masculine gender. And for the matter of that, how could he be a father unless he were a male? But with what instrument was the castration effected? He had a scythe. What, so early as that? For Vulcan was not yet an artificer in iron. The widowed Tetra, however, although still quite young, was in no hurry to marry another. Indeed, there was no second Coeus for her. What but Ocean offers her an embrace? But he savours of brackishness, and she has been accustomed to fresh water. And so Saturn is the sole male child of Coelus and Tetra. When grown to puberty, he marries his own sister. No laws as yet prohibited incest, nor punished parricide. Then, when male children were born to him, he would devour them; better himself (should take them) than the wolves, (for to these would they become a prey) if he exposed them. He was, no doubt, afraid that one of them might learn the lesson of his father's scythe. When Jupiter was born in course of time, he was removed out of the way: (the father) swallowed a stone instead of the son, as was pretended. This artifice secured his safety for a time; but at length the son, whom he had not devoured, and who had grown up in secret, fell on him, and deprived him of his kingdom. Such, then, is the patriarch of the gods whom Heaven and Earth produced for you, with the poets officiating as midwives. Now some persons with a refined imagination are of opinion that, by this allegorical fable of Saturn, there is a physiological representation of Time : (they think) that it is because all things are destroyed by Time, that Coelus and Tetra were themselves parents without having any of their own, and that the (fatal) scythe was used, and that (Saturn) devoured his own offspring, because he, in fact, absorbs within himself all things which have issued from him. They call in also the witness of his name; for they say that he is called Kronos in Greek, meaning the same thing as chronos. His Latin name also they derive from seed-sowing; for they suppose him to have been the actual procreator – that the seed, in fact, was dropped down from heaven to earth by his means. They unite him with Ops, because seeds produce the affluent treasure (Opem) of actual life, and because they develop with labour (Opus). Now I wish that you would explain this metaphorical statement. It was either Saturn or Time. If it was Time, how could it be Saturn? If he, how could it be Time? For you cannot possibly reckon both these corporeal subjects as co-existing in one person. What, however, was there to prevent your worshipping Time under its proper quality? Why not make a human person, or even a mythic man, an object of your adoration, but each in its proper nature not in the character of Time? What is the meaning of that conceit of your mental ingenuity, if it be not to colour the foulest matters with the feigned appearance of reasonable proofs? Neither, on the one hand, do you mean Saturn to be Time, because you say he is a human being; nor, on the other hand, while portraying him as Time, do you on that account mean that he was ever human. No doubt, in the accounts of remote antiquity your God Saturn is plainly described as living on earth in human guise. Anything whatever may obviously be pictured as incorporeal which never had an existence; there is simply no room for such fiction, where there is reality. Since, therefore, there is clear evidence that Saturn once existed, it is in vain that you change his character. He whom you will not deny to have once been man, is not at your disposal to be treated anyhow, nor can it be maintained that he is either divine or Time. In every page of your literature the origin of Saturn is conspicuous. We read of him in Cassius Severus and in the Corneliuses, Nepes and Tacitus, and, amongst the Greeks also, in Diodorus, and all other compilers of ancient annals. No more faithful records of him are to be traced than in Italy itself. For, after (traversing) many countries, and (enjoying) the hospitality of Athens, he settled in Italy, or, as it was called, Oenotria, having met with a kind welcome from Janus, or Janes, as the Salii call him. The hill on which he settled had the name Saturnius, while the city which he rounded still bears the name Saturnia; in short, the whole of Italy once had the same designation. Such is the testimony derived from that country which is now the mistress of the world: whatever doubt prevails about the origin of Saturn, his actions tell us plainly that he was a human being. Since, therefore, Saturn was human, he came undoubtedly from a human stock; and more, because he was a man, he, of course, came not of Coelus and Terra. Some people, however, found it easy enough to call him, whose parents were unknown, the son of those gods from whom all may in a sense seem to be derived. For who is there that does not speak under a feeling of reverence of the heaven and the earth as his own father and mother? Or, in accordance with a custom amongst men, which induces them to say of any who are unknown or suddenly apparent, that "they came from the sky?" Hence it happened that, because a stranger appeared suddenly everywhere, it became the custom to call him a heaven-born man, – just as we also commonly call earth-born all those whose descent is unknown. I say nothing of the fact that such was the state of antiquity, when men's eyes and minds were so habitually rude, that they were excited by the appearance of every newcomer as if it were that of a God: much more would this be the case with a king, and that the primeval one. I will linger some time longer over the case of Saturn, because by fully discussing his primordial history I shall beforehand furnish a compendious answer for all other cases; and I do not wish to omit the more convincing testimony of your sacred literature, the credit of which ought to be the greater in proportion to its antiquity. Now earlier than all literature was the Sibyl; that Sibyl, I mean, who was the true prophetess of truth, from whom you borrow their title for the priests of your demons. She in senarian verse expounds the descent of Saturn and his exploits in words to this effect: "In the tenth generation of men, after the flood had overwhelmed the former race, reigned Saturn, and Titan, and Japetus, the bravest of the sons of Tetra and Coelus." Whatever credit, therefore, is attached to your older writers and literature, and much more to those who were the simplest as belonging to that age, it becomes sufficiently certain that Saturn and his family were human beings. We have in our possession, then, a brief principle which amounts to a prescriptive rule about their origin serving for all other cases, to prevent our going wrong in individual instances. The particular character of a posterity is shown by the original founders of the race – mortal beings (come) from mortals, earthly ones from earthly; step after step comes in due relation – marriage, conception, birth – country, settlements, kingdoms, all give the clearest proofs. They, therefore who cannot deny the birth of men, must also admit their death; they who allow their mortality must not suppose them to be gods.

Chapter 13. The gods were human at first; it is foolish to make them divine

Manifest cases, indeed, like these have a force peculiarly their own. Men like Varro and his fellow-dreamers admit into the ranks of the divinity those whom they cannot assert to have been in their primitive condition anything but men; (and this they do) by affirming that they became gods after their death. Here, then, I take my stand. If your gods were elected to this dignity and deity, just as you recruit the ranks of your senate, you cannot help conceding, in your wisdom, that there must be some one supreme sovereign who has the power of selecting, and is a kind of Caesar; and nobody is able to confer on others a thing over which he has not absolute control. Besides, if they were able to make gods of themselves after their death, pray tell me why they chose to be in an inferior condition at first? Or, again, if there is no one who made them gods, how can they be said to have been made such, if they could only have been made by some one else? There is therefore no ground afforded you for denying that there is a certain wholesale distributor of divinity. Let us accordingly examine the reasons for despatching mortal beings to heaven. I do you suppose will produce a pair of them. Whoever, then, is the awarder (of the divine honours), exercises his function, either that he may have some supports, or defences, or it may be even ornaments to his own dignity; or from the pressing claims of the meritorious, that he may reward all the deserving. No other cause is it permitted us to conjecture. Now there is no one who, when bestowing a gift on another, does not act with a view to his own interest or the other's. This conduct, however, cannot be worthy of the Divine Being, inasmuch as his power is so great that he can make gods outright; while his bringing man into such request, on the pretense that he requires the aid and support of certain, even dead persons, is a strange conceit, since he was able from the very first to create for himself immortal beings. He who has compared human things with divine will require no further arguments on these points. And yet the latter opinion ought to be discussed, that God conferred divine honours in consideration of meritorious claims. Well, then, if the award was made on such grounds, if heaven was opened to men of the primitive age because of their deserts, we must reflect that after that time no one was worthy of such honour; except it be, that there is now no longer such a place for anyone to attain to. Let us grant that anciently men may have deserved heaven by reason of their great merits. Then let us consider whether there really was such merit. Let the man who alleges that it did exist declare his own view of merit. Since the actions of men done in the very infancy of time are a valid claim for their deification, you consistently admitted to the honour the brother and sister who were stained with the sin of incest – Ops and Saturn. Your Jupiter too, stolen in his infancy, was unworthy of both the home and the nourishment accorded to human beings; and, as he deserved for so bad a child, he had to live in Crete. Afterwards, when full-grown, he dethrones his own father, who, whatever his parental character may have been, was most prosperous in his reign, king as he was of the golden age. Under him, a stranger to toil and want, peace maintained its joyous and gentle sway; under him – "Nulli subigebant arva coloni"

"No swains would bring the fields beneath their sway;" and without the importunity of anyone the earth would bear all crops spontaneously. But he hated a father who had been guilty of incest, and had once mutilated his grandfather. And yet, behold, he himself marries his own sister; so that I should suppose the old adage was made for him: "Father's own child." There was "not a pin to choose" between the father's piety and the son's. If the laws had been just even at that early time, Jupiter ought to have been "sewed up in both sacks." After this corroboration of his lust with incestuous gratification, why should he hesitate to indulge himself lavishly in the lighter excesses of adultery and debauchery? Ever since poetry sported so with his character, in some such way as is usual when a runaway slave is posted up in public, we have been in the habit of gossiping without restraint of his tricks in our chat with passers-by; sometimes sketching him out in the form of the very money which was the fee of his debauchery – as when (he posed as) a bull, or rather paid the money's worth of one, and showered (gold. Into the maiden's chamber, or rather forced his way in with a bribe; sometimes (figuring him) in the very likenesses of the parts which were acted – as the eagle which ravished (the beautiful youth), and the swan which sang (the enchanting song). Well now, are not such fables as these made up of the most disgusting intrigues and the worst of scandals? or would not the morals and tempers of men be likely to become wanton from such examples? How demons, the offspring of evil angels who have been long engaged in their mission, have laboured to turn men aside from the faith to unbelief and to such fables, we must not in this place speak of to any extent. As indeed the general body (of your gods), which took their cue from their kings, and princes, and instructors, was not of the self-same nature, it was in some other way" that similarity of character was exacted by their authority. But how much the worst of them was he who (ought to have been, but) was not, the best of them? By a title peculiar to him, you are indeed in the habit of calling Jupiter "the Best," while in Virgil he is "Aequus Jupiter." All therefore were like him – incestuous towards their own kith and kin, unchaste to strangers, impious, unjust! Now he whom mythic story left untainted with no conspicuous infamy, was not worthy to be made a God.

Chapter 14. Gods which were confessedly "elevated" to the divine condition

But since they will have it that those who have been admitted from the human state to the honours of deification should be kept separate from others, and that the distinction which Dionysius the Stoic drew should be made between the native and the factitious gods, I will add a few words concerning this last class also. I will take Hercules himself for raising the gist of a reply (to the question) whether he deserved heaven and divine honours? For, as men choose to have it, these honours are awarded to him for his merits. If it was for his valour in destroying wild beasts with intrepidity, what was there in that so very memorable? Do not criminals condemned to the games, though they are even consigned to the contest of the vile arena, despatch several of these animals at one time, and that with more earnest zeal? If it was for his world-wide travels, how often has the same thing been accomplished by the rich at their pleasant leisure, or by philosophers in their slave-like poverty? Is it forgotten that the cynic Asclepiades on a single sorry cow, riding on her back, and sometimes nourished at her udder, surveyed the whole world with a personal inspection? Even if Hercules visited the infernal regions, who does not know that the way to Hades is open to all? If you have deified him on account of his much carnage and many battles, a much greater number of victories was gained by the illustrious Pompey, the conqueror of the pirates who had not spared Ostia itself in their ravages; and (as to carnage), how many thousands, let me ask, were cooped up in one corner of the citadel of Carthage, and slain by Scipio? Therefore Scipio has a better claim to be considered a fit candidate for deification than Hercules. You must be still more careful to add to the claims of (our) Hercules his debaucheries with concubines and wives, and the swathes of Omphale, and his base desertion of the Argonauts because he had lost his beautiful boy. To this mark of baseness you may add for his glorification his attacks of madness, and adore the arrows which slew his sons and wife.

This was the man who, after deeming himself worthy of a funeral pile in the anguish of his remorse for his parricides, deserved rather to die the unhonoured death which awaited him, arrayed in the poisoned robe which his wife sent him on account of his lascivious attachment. You, however, raised him from the pyre to the sky, with the same facility with which (you honour) another hero also, who was destroyed by the violence of a fire from the gods. He having devised some few experiments, was said to have restored the dead to life by his cures. He was the son of Apollo, half human, although the grandson of Jupiter, and great-grandson of Saturn (or rather of spurious origin, because his parentage was uncertain, as Socrates of Argon has related; he was exposed also, and found in a worse tutelage than even Jove's, suckled even at the dugs of a dog); nobody can deny that he deserved the end which befell him when he perished by a stroke of lightning. In this transaction, however, your most excellent Jupiter is once more found in the wrong – impious to his grandson, envious of his artistic skill. Pindar, indeed, has not concealed his true desert; according to him, he was punished for his avarice and love of gain, influenced by which he would bring the living to their death, rather than the dead to life, by the perverted use of his medical are which he put up for sale. It is said that his mother was killed by the same stroke, and it was only right that she, who had bestowed so dangerous a beast on the world, should escape to heaven by the same ladder. And yet the Athenians will not be at a loss how to sacrifice to gods of such a fashion, for they pay divine honours to Aesculapius and his mother amongst their dead (worthies). As if, too, they had not ready to hand their own Theseus to worship, so highly deserving a God's distinction! Well, why not? Did he not on a foreign shore abandon the preserver of his life, with the same indifference, no heartlessness, with which he became the cause of his father's death?

Chapter 15. The constellations are very indifferent gods

It would be tedious to take a survey of all those, too, whom you have buried amongst the constellations, and audaciously minister to as gods. I do you supposer Castors, and Perseus, and Erigona, have just the same claims for the honours of the sky as Jupiter's own big boy had. But why should we wonder? You have transferred to heaven even dogs, and scorpions, and crabs. I postpone all remarks concerning those whom you worship in your oracles. That this worship exists, is attested by him who pronounces the oracle. Why; you will have your gods to be spectators even of sadness, as is Viduus, who makes a widow of the soul, by parting it from the body, and whom you have condemned, by not permitting him to be enclosed within your city-walls; there is Caeculus also, to deprive the eyes of their perception; and Orbana, to bereave seed of its vital power; moreover, there is the goddess of death herself. To pass hastily by all others, you account as gods the sites of places or of the city; such are Father Janus (there being, moreover, the archer-goddess Jana), and Septimontius of the seven hills. Men sacrifice to the same Genii, while they have altars or temples in the same places; but to others besides, when they dwell in a strange place, or live in rented houses. I say nothing about Ascensus, who gets his name for his climbing propensity, and Clivicola, from her sloping (haunts); I pass silently by the deities called Forculus from doors, and Cardea from hinges, and Limentinus the God of thresholds, and whatever others are worshipped by your neighbours as tutelar deities of their street doors. There is nothing strange in this, since men have their respective gods in their brothels, their kitchens, and even in their prison. Heaven, therefore, is crowded with innumerable gods of its own, both these and others belonging to the Romans, which have distributed amongst them the functions of one's whole life, in such a way that there is no want of the others gods. Although, it is true, the gods which we have enumerated are reckoned as Roman peculiarly, and as not easily recognised abroad; yet how do all those functions and circumstances, over which men have willed their gods to preside, come about, in every part of the human race, and in every nation, where their guarantees are not only without an official recognition, but even any recognition at all?

Chapter 16. Mere inventors of useful arts not thereby worthy of deification.

Well, but certain men have discovered fruits and sundry necessaries of life, (and hence are worthy of deification). Now let me ask, when you call these persons "discoverers," do you not confess that what they discovered was already in existence? Why then do you not prefer to honour the Author, from whom the gifts really come, instead of converting the Author into mere discoverers? Previously he who made the discover, the inventor himself no doubt expressed his gratitude to the Author; no doubt, too, he felt that he was God, to whom really belonged the religious service, as the Creator (of the gift), by whom also both he who discovered and that which was discovered were alike created. The green fig of Africa nobody at Rome had heard of when Cato introduced it to the Senate, in order that he might show how near was that province of the enemy whose subjugation he was constantly urging. The cherry was first made common in Italy by Cn. Pompey, who imported it from Pontus. I might possibly have thought the earliest introducers of apples amongst the Romans deserving of the public honour of deification. This, however, would be as foolish a ground for making gods as even the invention of the useful arts. And yet if the skillful men of our own time be compared with these, how much more suitable would deification be to the later generation than to the former! For, tell me, have not all the extant inventions superseded antiquity, while daily experience goes on adding to the new stock? Those, therefore, whom you regard as divine because of their arts, you are really injuring by your very arts, and challenging (their divinity) by means of rival attainments, which cannot be surpassed.

Chapter 17. Romans imperial power does not come from their gods.

In conclusion, without denying all those whom antiquity willed and posterity has believed to be gods, to be the guardians of your religion, there yet remains for our consideration that very large assumption of the Roman superstitions which we have to meet in opposition to you, O heathen, that is that the Romans have become the lords and masters of the whole world, because by their religious offices they have merited this dominion to such an extent that they are within a very little of excelling even their own gods in power. One cannot wonder that Sterculus, and Mutunus, and Larentina, have severally advanced this empire to its height! The Roman people has been by its gods alone ordained to such dominion. For I could not imagine that any foreign gods would have preferred doing more for a strange nation than for their own people, and so by such conduct become the deserters and neglecters, no, the betrayers of the native land in which they were born and bred, and ennobled and buried. So not even Jupiter could suffer his own Crete to be subdued by the Roman fasces, forgetting that cave of Ida, and the brazen cymbals of the Corybantes, and the most pleasant odour of the goat which nursed him on that dear spot. Would he not have made that tomb of his superior to the whole Capitol, so that that land should most widely rule which covered the ashes of Jupiter? Would Juno, too, be willing that the Punic city, for the love of which she even neglected Samos, should be destroyed, and that, too, by the fires of the sons of Aeneas? Although I am well aware that "Here were her arms, her chariot here, Here goddess-like, to fix one day The seat of universal sway, Might fate be wrung to yield assent, E'en then her schemes, her cares were bent." Still the unhappy (queen of gods) had no power against the fates! And yet the Romans did not accord as much honour to the fates, although they gave them Carthage, as they did to Larentina. But surely those gods of yours have not the power of conferring empire. For when Jupiter reigned in Crete, and Saturn in Italy, and Isis in Egypt, it was even as men that they reigned, to whom also were assigned many to assist them. So he who serves also makes masters, and the bond-slave of Admetus aggrandizes with empire the citizens of Rome, although he destroyed his own generous votary Croesus by deceiving him with ambiguous oracles. Being a God, why was he afraid boldly to foretell to him the truth that he must lose his kingdom. Surely those who were aggrandized with the power of wielding empire might always have been able to keep an eye, so to speak, on their own cities. If they were strong enough to confer empire on the Romans, why did not Minerva defend Athens from Xerxes? Or why did not Apollo rescue Delphi out of the hand of Pyrrhus? They who lost their own cities preserve the city of Rome, since (indeed) the religiousness of Rome has merited the protection! But is it not rather the fact that this excessive devotion has been devised since the empire has attained its glory by the increase of its power? No doubt sacred rites were introduced by Numa, but then your proceedings were not marred by a religion of idols and temples. Piety was simple, and worship humble; altars were artlessly reared, and the vessels (thereof) plain, and the incense from them scant, and the God himself nowhere. Men therefore were not religious before they achieved greatness, (nor great) because they were religious. But how can the Romans possibly seem to have acquired their empire by an excessive religiousness and very profound respect for the gods, when that empire was rather increased after the gods had been slighted? Now, if I am not mistaken, every kingdom or empire is acquired and enlarged by wars, while they and their gods also are injured by conquerors. For the same ruin affects both city-walls and temples; similar is the carnage both of civilians and of priests; identical the plunder of profane things and of sacred. To the Romans belong as many sacrileges as trophies; and then as many triumphs over gods as over nations. Still remaining are their captive idols amongst them; and certainly, if they can only see their conquerors, they do not give them their love. Since, however, they have no perception, they are injured with impunity; and since they are injured with impunity, they are worshipped to no purpose. The nation, therefore, which has grown to its powerful height by victory after victory, cannot seem to have developed owing to the merits of its religion – whether they have injured the religion by augmenting their power, or augmented their power by injuring the religion. All nations have possessed empire, each in its proper time, as the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, the Egyptians; empire is even now also in the possession of some, and yet those who have lost their power used not to behave without attention to religious services and the worship of the gods, even after these had become unpropitious to them, until at last almost universal dominion has accrued to the Romans. It is the fortune of the times that has so constantly shaken kingdoms with revolution. Enquire who has ordained these changes in the times. It is the same (great Being) who dispenses kingdoms, and has now put the supremacy of them into the hands of the Romans, very much as if the tribute of many nations were after its exaction amassed in one (vast) coffer. What he has determined concerning it, they know who are the nearest to him.

Gods of the Heathen (fragment)

So great blindness has fallen on the Roman race, that they call their enemy Lord, and preach the stealer of blessings as being their very giver, and to him they give thanks. They call those deities, then, by human names, not by their own, for their own names they know not. That they are demons they understand: but they read histories of the old kings, and then, though they see that their character was mortal, they honour them with a deific name.

As for him whom they call Jupiter, and think to be the highest God, when he was born the years (that had elapsed) from the foundation of the world to him were some three thousand. He is born in Greece, from Saturnus and Ops; and, for fear he should be killed by his father (or else, if it is lawful to say so, should be begotten anew), is by the advice of his mother carried down into Crete, and reared in a cave of Ida; is concealed from his father's search) by (the aid of) Cretans – born men! – rattling their arms; sucks a she-goat's dugs; flays her; clothes himself in her hide; and (so) uses his own nurse's hide, after killing her, to be sure, with his own hand! but he sewed thereon three golden tassels worth the price of an hundred oxen each, as their author Homer relates, if it is fair to believe it. This Jupiter, in adult age, waged war several years with his father; overcame him; made a parricidal raid on his home; violated his virgin sisters; selected one of them in marriage; drove his father by dint of arms. The remaining scenes, moreover, of that act have been recorded. Of other folks' wives, or else of violated virgins, he begot him sons; defiled freeborn boys; oppressed peoples lawlessly with despotic and kingly sway. The father, whom they erringly suppose to have been the original God, was ignorant that this (son of his) was lying concealed in Crete; the son, again, whom they believe the mightier God, knows not that the father whom himself had banished is lurking in Italy. If he was in heaven, when would he not see what was doing in Italy? For the Italian land is "not in a corner." And yet, had he been a God, nothing ought to have escaped him. But that he whom the Italians call Saturnus did lurk there, is clearly evidenced on the face of it, from the fact that from his lurking the Hesperian tongue is to this day called Latin, as likewise their author Virgil relates. (Jupiter), then, is said to have been born on earth, while (Saturnus his father) fears for fear that he be driven by him from his kingdom, and seeks to kill him as being his own rival, and knows not that he has been stealthily carried off, and is in hiding; and afterwards the son-God pursues his father, immortal seeks to slay immortal (is it credible?), and is disappointed by an interval of sea, and is ignorant of (his quarry's) flight; and while all this is going on between two gods on earth, heaven is deserted. No one dispensed the rains, no one thundered, no one governed all this mass of world. For they cannot even say that their action and wars took place in heaven; for all this was going on on Mount Olympus in Greece. Well, but heaven is not called Olympus, for heaven is heaven.

These, then, are the actions of theirs, which we will treat of first – nativity, lurking, ignorance, parricide, adulteries, obscenities – things committed not by a God, but by most impure and truculent human beings; beings who, had they been living in these days, would have lain under the impeachment of all laws – laws which are far more just and strict than their actions. "He drove his father by dint of arms." The Falcidian and Sempronian law would bind the parricide in a sack with beasts. "He violated his sisters." The Papinian law would punish the outrage with all penalties, limb by limb. "He invaded others' wedlock." The Julian law would visit its adulterous violator capitally. "He defiled freeborn boys." The Cornelian law would condemn the crime of transgressing the sexual bond with novel severities, sacrilegiously guilty as it is of a novel union. This being is shown to have had no divinity either, for he was a human being; his father's flight escaped him. To this human being, of such a character, to so wicked a king, so obscene and so cruel, God's honour has been assigned by men. Now, to be sure, if on earth he were born and grew up through the advancing stages of life's periods, and in it committed all these evils, and yet is no more in it, what is thought (of him) but that he is dead? Or else does foolish error think wings were born him in his old age, with which to fly heavenward? Why, even this may possibly find credit among men bereft of sense, if indeed they believe, (as they do), that he turned into a swan, to beget the Castors; an eagle, to contaminate Ganymede; a bull, to violate Europa; gold, to violate Danae; a horse, to beget Pirithous; a goat, to beget Egypta from a she-goat; a Satyr, to embrace Antiope. Seeing these adulteries, to which sinners are prone, they therefore easily believe that sanctions of misdeed and of every filthiness are borrowed from their reigned God. Do they perceive how void of amendment are the rest of his career's acts which can find credit, which are indeed true, and which, they say, he did without self transformation? Of Semele, he begets Liber; of Latona, Apollo and Diana; of Maia, Mercury; of Alcmena, Hercules. But the rest of his corruptions, which they themselves confess, I am unwilling to record, for fear that turpitude, once buried, be again called to men's ears. But of these few (offsprings of his) I have made mention; off-springs whom in their error they believe to be themselves, too, gods – born, to wit, of an incestuous father; adulterous births, supposititious births. And the living, eternal God, of sempiternal divinity, prescient of futurity, immeasurable, they have dissipated (into nothing, by associating him) with crimes so unspeakable.