Ad Nationes - Book I - Tertullian
Translated by Dr. Holmes.
Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and
first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional
introductionary material and notes provided for the American
edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.
Chapter I.  The Hatred Felt by the Heathen Against the Christians is
Unjust, Because Based on Culpable Ignorance.
One proof of that ignorance of yours, which condemns  whilst 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; nay 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 sex, every
age'in short, every rank'is passing over from you to us; yet you do not even
after this set your minds upon 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, forsooth,  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;  nay, very many, as the last days approach.  But such a
comparison as this fails in fairness of application; for all are agreed in
thinking thus 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 II.  The Heathen Perverted Judgment in the Trial of
Christians. They Would Be More Consistent If They Dispensed with All Form of
Trial. Tertullian Urges This with Much Indignation.
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 suppose you 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 inquiry 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 inquire
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 suppose you 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
inquire 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 were it
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 needs be made on a wide scale,
you ought to extend your inquiry against our friends and companions. Let our
infanticides and the dressers (of our horrible repasts) be brought out,'ay,
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,
lest 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 III.  The Great Offence in the Christians Lies in Their Very
Name. The Name Vindicated.
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 inquiry, 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 wise: 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, lest they
should be easily refuted,  you refuse to make inquiry, 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 upon 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,  inquired 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
Chapter IV.  The Truth Hated in the Christians; So in Measure Was
It, of Old, in Socrates. The Virtues of the Christians.
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
 inquiry 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 inquiry 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 manner 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, upon 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. Else 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 needs employ these marks for their discovery.
Chapter V.  The Inconsistent Life of Any False Christian No More
Condemns True Disciples of Christ, Than a Passing Cloud Obscures a Summer
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 thus 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 fulfil 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 pretence of its name. Men are not straightway 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 wilful 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 VI.  The Innocence of the Christians Not Compromised by the
Iniquitous Laws Which Were Made 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 touching the particulars  of the
crime, even though it is patent to all what its nature  is. Whatever
wrong has been done by the Christian ought to be brought to light. No law
forbids inquiry to be made; on the contrary, inquiry 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 VII.  The Christians Defamed. A Sarcastic Description of
Fame; Its Deception and Atrocious Slanders of the Christians Lengthily
Whence comes it to pass, 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
"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 rumour goes that he has got a
province; "but, "He has got a province," and, "This happened at Rome."
Nobody mentions a rumour except at an uncertainty, because nobody can be
sure of a rumour, but only of certain knowledge; and none but a fool
believes a rumour, because no wise man puts faith in an uncertainty. In
however wide a circuit  a report has been circulated, it must needs
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; yea, 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 suborned
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 thus 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
ties 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 rumour, 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, forsooth, 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 manner 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 upon 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 thus 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
îdipus, do not at all come forth 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 ye 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 whilst 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 upon them, putting of course to
the test the care of every one 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 VIII.  The Calumny Against the Christians Illustrated in
the Discovery of Psammetichus. Refutation of the 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 upon 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 thus, 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, lest 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 IX.  The Christians are Not the Cause of Public Calamities:
There Were Such Troubles Before Christianity.
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
engulphed 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 upon 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 chastisement 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
Chapter X.  The Christians are Not the Only Contemners of the Gods.
Contempt of Them Often Displayed by Heathen Official Persons. Homer Made the
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, lo, what do I discover but the old order of
things corrupted, nay, 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 manner 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 know not 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 Æmilius, who had made a vow to the god Alburnus. Now
is it not confessedly the greatest impiety, nay, 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 senate's
authority, cast not only out of the city, but out of all Italy; whilst 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 practised 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 quaelig;stor. 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
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 odours 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 forswear 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 Cæsar
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 Cæsar 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 know not to what extent, made sport of Hercules; whilst
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 practise 
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 XI.  The Absurd Cavil of the Ass'shead Disposed of.
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, to say the 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 XII.  The Charge of Worshipping a Cross. The Heathens
Themselves Made Much of Crosses in Sacred Things; Nay, Their Very Idols Were
Formed on a Crucial Frame.
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, whilst with you the figure is a human one, 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 all cross, as I shall
show. You are indeed unaware that your gods in their origin have 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 needs have had plastic hands engaged in its formation. Well, then, this
modeller,  before he did anything else,  hit upon 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,  as it were, 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 upon 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 clayey medium. 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 like manner 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, as it were, the very core of
your pageants.  Thus, 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 like manner 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 XIII.  The Charge of Worshipping the Sun Met by a Retort.
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 on 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. Wherefore, 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 XIV.  The Vile Calumny About Onocoetes Retorted on the
Heathen by Tertullian.
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, <i>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 <i>onocoetes is found amongst
Chapter XV.  The Charge of Infanticide Retorted on the Heathen.
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, nay,
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!
Whilst 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, forsooth, 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
Chapter XVI.  Other Charges Repelled by the Same Method. The Story
of the Noble Roman Youth and His Parents.
I am now come to the hour for extinguishing the lamps, and for using the
dogs, and practising 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; whilst
of the Macedonians it is well known that they constantly do the same thing,
and with perfect approbation: for once, when the blinded  îdipus
came upon 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 îdipus was a great
fool for his pains if he really so punished himself; "and then they shouted
out one to the other, ̔̀Ēlsune eis tḕ n mētéra . 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! Quote, 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 upon 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 paltry 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.  Thither 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 upon 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 inquiry. 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
Chapter XVII.  The Christian Refusal to Swear by the Genius of
CÆsar. Flippancy and Irreverence Retorted on the Heathen.
As to your charges of obstinacy and presumption, whatever you allege against
us, even in these respects, there are not wanting 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 Cæsars, in
respect of which we are charged with being irreligious towards them, since
we neither propitiate 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 Cæsar's blood has ever fixed a stain upon 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 odours
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 Cæsar? 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
Cæsar 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 XVIII.  Christians Charged with an Obstinate Contempt of
Death. Instances of the Same are Found Amongst the Heathen.
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 were 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, lest 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 henceforth 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 needs 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, forsooth, 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 enrol 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 upon 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
Chapter XIX.  If Christians and the Heathen Thus Resemble Each
Other, There is Great Difference in the Grounds and Nature of Their
Apparently Similar Conduct.
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 XX. Truth and Reality Pertain to Christians Alone. The Heathen
Counselled to Examine and Embrace It.
How long therefore, O 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. Thus "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, whence 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: whilst chaste in
the eyes of others, you are unchaste towards your own selves; whilst
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'nay, so far will you have become Christians yourselves;
and as you shall have become Christians, so far will you have compassed 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?
 Compare The Apology, c. i.
 Revincit. "Condemnat" is Tertullian's word in The Apology, i.
 Defendit. "Excusat" in Apol.
 Non licet rectius suspicari.
 Non lubet propius experiri.
 At quin.
 Nisi si.
 Emendari pudet.
 Excusari piget.
 Redundantiae nostrae.
 Bona fide.
 Pro extremitatibus temporum.
 Or perhaps, "to maintain evil in preference to good."
 Pristinorum. In the corresponding passage (Apol. I.) the phrase is,
"nisi plane retro non fuisse," i.e., "except that he was not a Christian
 Comp. c. ii. of The Apology.
 Gratis reum.
 Neque spatium commodetis.
 Quanquam confessis.
 Receptoribus, "concealers" of the crime.
 We have for once departed from Oehler's text, and preferred
Rigault's: "Perducerentur infantarii et coci, ipsi canes pronubi, emendata
esset res." The sense is evident from The Apology, c. vii.: "It is said that
we are guilty of most horrible crimes; that in the celebration of our
sacrament we put a child to death, which we afterward devour, and at the end
of our banquet revel in incest; that we employ dogs as ministers of our
impure delights, to overthrow the candles, and thus to provide darkness, and
remove all shame which might interfere with these impious lusts"
(Chevalier's translation). These calumnies were very common, and are noticed
by Justin Martyr, Minucius Felix, Eusebius, Athenagoras, and Origen, who
attributes their origin to the Jews. Oehler reads infantarioe, after the
Agobardine codex and editio princeps, and quotes Martial (Epigr. iv. 88),
where the word occurs in the sense of an inordinate love of children.
 Nam et plerique fidem talium temperant.
 Comp. The Apology, cc. i. And ii.
 Adeo si.
 Si accomodarent.
 Haec ratio est.
 i.e., the name "Christians."
 By the "suo loco," Tertullian refers to The Apology.
 Praescribitur vobis.
 means both "pleasant" and "good:" and the heathen founded
this word with the sacred name .
 Et utique.
 See The Apology, c. iii.
 At nunc.
 Libertatem suam, "their liberty of speech."
 Gravem, "earnest."
 Comp. The Apology, c. iii.
 i.e., the Christian.
 De commercio.
 Unum atque alium. The sense being plural, we have so given it all
 Captivitatis (as if theirs was a self-inflicted captivity at home).
 Omnem uxorem patientiam obtulisse (comp. Apology, middle of c.
 In ergastulum.
 He means the religion of Christ, which he in b. ii. c. ii.
contrasts with "the mere wisdom" of the philosophers.
 Compare The Apology, cc. ii. xliv. xlvi.
 Colata, "filtered" [or "strained"'Shaks.]
 Ut non alicujus nubiculae flocculo resignetur. This picturesque
language defies translation.
 Dum retorquetis.
 Inter crimen et nomen.
 Inter dici et esse.
 Status nominis.
 Compare The Apology, c. iv.
 Ad arulam quandam.
 Cessat, "loiters."
 Literally, "holding the inquiry makes for the laws."
 Per defectionem agnoscendi.
 Sibi debet.
 Justitiae suae.
 Comp. The Apology, cc. vii, viii.
 Aeneid. iv. 174. "Fame, than which never plague that runs Its way
more swiftly wins."'Conington.
 "A plague" = malum.
 Quid? Quod "Yea more."
 Prodigiam. The word is "indicem" in The Apology.
 Disciplina ejus illuxit.
 Damnatio invaluit.
 Aemula sibi.
 Divinitatem consecutae
 See above, c. ii. note.
 i.e., What is the value of such evidence?
 We have inserted this phrase as the sentence is strongly ironical.
 Deferre, an infinitive or purpose, of which construction of our
author Oehler gives examples.
 Si etiam sibi credat.
 Talia factitare.
 We read "quo," and not "quod," because.
 This refers to a calumny which the heathen frequently spend about
 Detrectem or simply "treat of," "refer to," like the simple verb
 The irony of all this passage is evident.
 Diversum opus.
 Subjiciuntur "Are stealthily narrated."
 It is difficult to see what this "tacent igitur" means without
referring to the similar passage in The Apology (end of c. viii.), which
supplies a link wanted in the context. "At all events," says he, "they know
this afterward, and yet submit to it, and allow it. They fear to be
punished, while, if they proclaimed the truth, they would deserve universal
approbation." Tertullian here states what the enemies of the Christians used
to allege against tme. After discovering the alleged atrocities of their
secret assemblies, they kept their knowledge forsooth to themselves, being
afraid of the consequences of a disclosure, etc.
 We have for convenience treated "protrahunt" (q.d. "nor do they
report them") as a neuter verb.
 Even worse than Thyestean atrocities would be believed of them.
 Miserae atque miserendae.
 See below, in c. xix.
 Rudem, "hardly formed."
 Immo idcirco.
 Quanto constare.
 "An alii ordines dentium Christianorum, et alii specus faucium?"
(literally, "Have Christians other sets of teeth, and other caverns of
jaws?") This seems to refer to voracious animals like the shark, whose
terrible teeth, lying in several rows, and greediness to swallow anything,
however incongruous, that comes in its way, are well-known facts in natural
 Compare The Apology, c. viii.
 Cynopae This class would furnish the unnatural "teeth," and
"jaws," just referred to.
 Sciapodes with broad feet producing a large shade; suited for the
"incestuous lust" above mentioned.
 Literally, "which comes up from under ground."
 Tertullian got this story from Herodotus, ii. 2.
 Ipsius animae organo.
 Utpote linguatuli.
 This is one of the passages which incidentally show how widely
spread was Christianity.
 De Superstitione.
 Comp. The Apology, cc. xl. xli. [And Augustine, Civ. Dei. iii.]
 By the "manceps erroris" he means the devil.
 Christianorum meritum, which with "sit" may also, "Let the
Christians have their due." In The Apology the cry is, "Christianos ad
 We insert this after Oehler. Tertullian's words are, "Quasi
modicum habeant aut aliud metuere qui Deum verum."
 See above, c. vii.
 Saeculum digessit.
 Aliter vobis renuntiata.
 Absolutum est.
 Comp. The Apology, cc. xii. xiii. xiv. xv.
 See The Apology (passim), especially cc. xvi.-xxiv. xxx.-xxxvi.
 Perinde a vobis.
 Quibus est.
 Adsolaverunt, "thrown to the ground;" "floored."
 Sactam. [Rather'"A Christian secession."]
 Domestica consecratione, i.e., "for family worship."
 Exactione, "as excise duty for the treasury."
 "In money," stipibus.
 " Victims. "
 Plus refigitur.
 Utut mortuos.
 Rigaltius has the name Proculus in his text; but Tertullian refers
not merely to that case but to a usual functionary, necessary in all cases
 Oehler reads "ei" (of course for "ii"); Rigalt. Reads "ii."
 Denotatior ad.
 Gulae, "Depraved taste."
 Prope religionem convenir, "to have approximated to."
 Credunt, one would expect "creduntur" ("are supposed to"), which
is actually read by Gothofredus.
 Or, "circumstances" (casibus).
 Fortasse periturum.
 Traducit, perhaps "degrades."
 Ut dei praefarentur. Oehler explains the verb "praefari" to mean
"auctorem esse et tanquam caput."
 Tertullian gives the comic plural "Juppiteres."
 Because appropriating to themselves the admiration whjich was due
to the gods.
 Cujuslibet dei.
 Sustinetis modulari.
 It is best to add the original of this almost unintelligible
passage: "Plane religiosiores estis in gladiatorum cavea, ubi super
sanguinem humanum, supra inquinamenta poenarum proinde saltant dei vestri
agrumenta et historias nocentibus erogandis, aut in ipsis deis nocentes
puniuntur." Some little light may be derived from the parallel passage of
the Apology (c. xv.), which is expressed somewhat less obscurely. Instead of
the words in italics, Tertullian there substitutes these: "Argumenta et
historias noxiis ministrantes, nisi quod et ipsos deos vestros saepe noxii
induunt"'"whilst furnishing the proofs and the plots from (executing)
criminals, only that the said criminals often act the part of your gods
themselves." Oehler refers, in illustration of the last clause, to the
instance of the notorious robber Laureolus, who personated Prometheus:
others, again, personated Laureolus himself: some criminals had to play the
part of Orpheus; others of Mutius Scaevola. It will be observed that these
executions where with infamous perverseness set off with scenic show,
wherein the criminal enacted some violent death in yielding up his own life.
The indignant irony of the whole passage, led off by the "plane
religiosiores estis," is evident.
 i.e., the gods themselves.
 Comp. The Apology, c. xvi.
 In The Apology (c. xvi.) the reference is to "the fifth book."
This is correct. Book v. c. 3, is meant.
 In vobis. For "in vos" ex pari transferendorum.
 Comp. The Apology, c. xvi.
 Crucis antistites.
 Stipite crucis.
 Solo staticulo. The use of wood in the construction of an idol is
 Omne robur.
 Antemna. See our Anti-Marcion, p. 156. Ed Edinburgh.
 De isto patibulo.
 In primo.
 Comp. The Apology, c. xii: "Every image of a god has been first
constructed on a cross and stake, and plastered with cement. The body of
your god is first dedicated upon a gibbet."
 Tropaeum, for "tropaeorum." We have given the sense rather than
the words of this awkward sentence.
 Comp. The Apology, c. xvi.
 Ex Diebus.
 On the "Coena pura," see our Anti-Marcion, p. 386, note 4.
 See Lev. xxiv. 2; also 2 Chron. xiii. 11. Witsius (Aegyptiaca, ii.
16, 17) compares the Jewish with the Egyptian "ritus lucernarum."
 Tertullian, in his tract de Jejun. xvi., speaks of the Jews
praying (after the loss of their temple, and in their dispersion) in the
open air, "per omne litus."
 Comp. The Apology, c. xvi.
 In ista civitate, Rome.
 This is explained in the passage of The Apology (xvi.): "He had
for money exposed himself with criminals to fight with wild beasts."
 Decutiendus, from a jocular word, "decutire."
 This curious word is compounded of honos, an ass, and ,
which Hesychius explains by , to act as a priest. The word
therefore means, "asinarius sacerdos," "an ass of a priest." Calumnious
enough; but suited to the vile occasion, and illustrative of the ribald
opposition which Christianity had to encounter.
 We take Rigaltius' reading, "seminarium."
 Tanquam hestenum.
 Comp. The Apology, c. ix.
 He refers in this passage to his Apology, especialy c. ix.
 Unius aetatis. This Oehler explains by "per unam jam totam hanc
 Pignora, scil. Amoris.
 See Apology, c. ix.
 Si forte.
 Parum scilicet?
 Infantem totum praecocum.
 Comp. The Apology, c. ix.
 Adulteram noctem.
 Trucidatus oculos.
 Sive stativo vel ambulatorio titulo.
 Compagines generis.
 "Aliquis" is here understood.
 Utitur Graeco, i.e., cinaedo, "for purposes of lust."
 Or, "is sent into the country, and put into prison."
 Aliquid recordantur.
 Publicae eruptionis.
 Vestris non sacramentis, with a hyphen, your non-mysteries."
 Comp. The Apology, c. xxxv.
 Severus, in a.d. 198.
 These titles were borne by Caracalla.
 Or, "topic"'hoc loco.
 i.e., whether among the Christians or the heathen.
 A cavil of the heathen.
 Festivos libellos.
 A concilio.
 Ex fide.
 Literally, "we make faces."
 Comp. The Apology, c. xxxiii., p. 37, supra, and Minucius Felix,
Octavius, c. xxiii. [Vol. IV. this Series.]
 Comp., The Apology, c. 50 [p. 54, infra.]
 A virtute didicerunt.
 With the "piget prosequi" to govern the preceding oblique clause,
it is unnecessary to suppose (with Oehler) the omission here of some verb
 Tertullian refers to Cleopatra's death also in his tract ad Mart.
c. iv. [See this Vol. infra.]
 This case is again referred to in this treatise (p. 138), and in
ad Mart c. iv. [See this Volume, infra.]
 Eradicatae confessionis. [See p. 55, supra.]
 Non invenitur.
 Eadem voce.
 Utique. The ironical tone of Tertullian's answer is evident.
 Gladio ad lanistas auctoratis.
 We follow Oehler in giving the clause this negative turn; he
renders it; "Tretet nicht aus Furcht vor dem Tode ins Kriegsheer ein."
 Jam evasit.
 Vestiendum incendiale tunica.
 Inter venatorios: "venatores circi" (Oehler).
 "Doubtless the stripes which the Spartans endured with such
firmness, aggravated by the presence of their nearest relatives, who
encouraged them, conferred honour upon their family."'Apology, c. 50. [See
p. 55, supra.]
 Compare The Apology, cc. xlvii. xlviii. xlix. [This Vol., supra.]
 The heathen hell, Tartarus or Orcus.
 Compingite oscula.
 Eunuchs (Rigalt.).
 As the Christians were held to be; coming after (1) the heathen,
(2) the Jews. See above, c. viii., and Scorpiace, c. x.
 Eunuchs (Rigalt.).
 An oft-quoted proverb in ancient writers. It occurs in Hesiod
(Opp. Et Dies) 25.
 Literally, "cease henceforth, O, simulated confession."
 Omnia ista.
 This seems to be the force of the "agnitione," which Oehler
 Quorum reatum.
 Si potestis.
 Si putatis.
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