A Plea For the Christians

 Chapter I.—Injustice Shown Towards the Christians.

 Chapter II.—Claim to Be Treated as Others are When Accused.

 Chapter III.—Charges Brought Against the Christians.

 Chapter IV.—The Christians are Not Atheists, But Acknowledge One Only God.

 Chapter V.—Testimony of the Poets to the Unity of God.

 Chapter VI.—Opinions of the Philosophers as to the One God.

 Chapter VII.—Superiority of the Christian Doctrine Respecting God.

 Chapter VIII.—Absurdities of Polytheism.

 Chapter IX.—The Testimony of the Prophets.

 Chapter X.—The Christians Worship the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

 Chapter XI.—The Moral Teaching of the Christians Repels the Charge Brought Against Them.

 Chapter XII.—Consequent Absurdity of the Charge of Atheism.

 Chapter XIII.—Why the Christians Do Not Offer Sacrifices.

 Chapter XIV.—Inconsistency of Those Who Accuse the Christians.

 Chapter XV.—The Christians Distinguish God from Matter.

 Chapter XVI.—The Christians Do Not Worship the Universe.

 Chapter XVII.—The Names of the Gods and Their Images are But of Recent Date.

 Chapter XVIII.—The Gods Themselves Have Been Created, as the Poets Confess.

 Chapter XIX.—The Philosophers Agree with the Poets Respecting the Gods.

 Chapter XX.—Absurd Representations of the Gods.

 Chapter XXI.—Impure Loves Ascribed to the Gods.

 Chapter XXII.—Pretended Symbolical Explanations.

 Chapter XXIII.—Opinions of Thales and Plato.

 Chapter XXIV.—Concerning the Angels and Giants.

 Chapter XXV.—The Poets and Philosophers Have Denied a Divine Providence.

 Chapter XXVI.—The Demons Allure Men to the Worship of Images.

 Chapter XXVII.—Artifices of the Demons.

 Chapter XXVIII.—The Heathen Gods Were Simply Men.

 Chapter XXIX.—Proof of the Same from the Poets.

 Chapter XXX.—Reasons Why Divinity Has Been Ascribed to Men.

 Chapter XXXI.—Confutation of the Other Charges Brought Against the Christians.

 Chapter XXXII.—Elevated Morality of the Christians.

 Chapter XXXIII.—Chastity of the Christians with Respect to Marriage.

 Chapter XXXIV.—The Vast Difference in Morals Between the Christians and Their Accusers.

 Chapter XXXV.—The Christians Condemn and Detest All Cruelty.

 Chapter XXXVI.—Bearing of the Doctrine of the Resurrection on the Practices of the Christians.

 Chapter XXXVII.—Entreaty to Be Fairly Judged.

Chapter I.—Injustice Shown Towards the Christians.

In your empire, greatest of sovereigns, different nations have different customs and laws; and no one is hindered by law or fear of punishment from following his ancestral usages, however ridiculous these may be. A citizen of Ilium calls Hector a god, and pays divine honours to Helen, taking her for Adrasteia. The Lacedæmonian venerates Agamemnon as Zeus, and Phylonoë the daughter of Tyndarus; and the man of Tenedos worships Tennes.2    There are here many varieties of reading: we have followed the text suggested by Gesner. The Athenian sacrifices to Erechtheus as Poseidon. The Athenians also perform religious rites and celebrate mysteries in honour of Agraulus and Pandrosus, women who were deemed guilty of impiety for opening the box. In short, among every nation and people, men offer whatever sacrifices and celebrate whatever mysteries they please. The Egyptians reckon among their gods even cats, and crocodiles, and serpents, and asps, and dogs. And to all these both you and the laws give permission so to act, deeming, on the one hand, that to believe in no god at all is impious and wicked, and on the other, that it is necessary for each man to worship the gods he prefers, in order that through fear of the deity, men may be kept from wrong-doing. But why—for do not, like the multitude, be led astray by hearsay—why is a mere name odious to you?3    We here follow the text of Otto; others read ἡμῖν. Names are not deserving of hatred: it is the unjust act that calls for penalty and punishment. And accordingly, with admiration of your mildness and gentleness, and your peaceful and benevolent disposition towards every man, individuals live in the possession of equal rights; and the cities, according to their rank, share in equal honour; and the whole empire, under your intelligent sway, enjoys profound peace. But for us who are called Christians4    [Kaye, 153.] you have not in like manner cared; but although we commit no wrong—nay, as will appear in the sequel of this discourse, are of all men most piously and righteously disposed towards the Deity and towards your government—you allow us to be harassed, plundered, and persecuted, the multitude making war upon us for our name alone. We venture, therefore, to lay a statement of our case before you—and you will learn from this discourse that we suffer unjustly, and contrary to all law and reason—and we beseech you to bestow some consideration upon us also, that we may cease at length to be slaughtered at the instigation of false accusers. For the fine imposed by our persecutors does not aim merely at our property, nor their insults at our reputation, nor the damage they do us at any other of our greater interests. These we hold in contempt, though to the generality they appear matters of great importance; for we have learned, not only not to return blow for blow, nor to go to law with those who plunder and rob us, but to those who smite us on one side of the face to offer the other side also, and to those who take away our coat to give likewise our cloak. But, when we have surrendered our property, they plot against our very bodies and souls,5    [For three centuries the faithful were made witnesses for Jesus and the resurrection, even unto death; with “spoiling of their goods,” not only, but dying daily, and “counted as sheep for the slaughter.” What can refuse such testimony? They conquered through suffering.   The reader will be pleased with this citation from an author, the neglect of whose heavenly writings is a sad token of spiritual decline in the spirit of our religion:—   “The Lord is sure of His designed advantages out of the sufferings of His Church and of His saints for His name. He loses nothing, and they lose nothing; but their enemies, when they rage most and prevail most, are ever the greatest losers. His own glory grows, the graces of His people grow; yea, their very number grows, and that, sometimes, most by their greatest sufferings. This was evident in the first ages of the Christian Church. Where were the glory of so much invincible love and patience, if they had not been so put to it?” Leighton, Comm. on St. Peter, Works, vol. iv. p. 478. West’s admirable edition, London, Longmans, 1870.] pouring upon us wholesale charges of crimes of which we are guiltless even in thought, but which belong to these idle praters themselves, and to the whole tribe of those who are like them.

Ἡ ὑμετέρα, μεγάλοι βασιλέων, οἰκουμένη ἄλλος ἄλλοις ἔθεσι χρῶνται καὶ νόμοις, καὶ οὐδεὶς αὐτῶν νόμῳ καὶ φόβῳ δίκης, κἂν γελοῖα ᾖ, μὴ στέργειν τὰ πάτρια εἴργεται, ἀλλ' ὁ μὲν Ἰλιεὺς θεὸν Ἕκτορα λέγει καὶ τὴν Ἑλένην Ἀδράστειαν ἐπιστάμενος προσκυνεῖ, ὁ δὲ Λακεδαιμόνιος Ἀγαμέμνονα ∆ία καὶ Φυλονόην τὴν Τυνδάρεω θυγατέρα καὶ τεννηνοδίαν σέβει, ὁ δὲ Ἀθηναῖος Ἐρεχθεῖ Ποσειδῶνι θύει καὶ Ἀγραύλῳ Ἀθηναῖοι καὶ τελετὰς καὶ μυστήρια [Ἀθηναῖοι] ἄγουσιν καὶ Πανδρόσῳ, αἳ ἐνομίσθησαν ἀσεβεῖν ἀνοίξασαι τὴν λάρνακα, καὶ ἑνὶ λόγῳ κατὰ ἔθνη καὶ δήμους θυσίας κατάγουσιν ἃς ἂν θέλωσιν ἄνθρωποι καὶ μυστήρια. οἱ δὲ Aἰγύπτιοι καὶ αἰλούρους καὶ κροκοδείλους καὶ ὄφεις καὶ ἀσπίδας καὶ κύνας θεοὺς νομίζουσιν. καὶ τούτοις πᾶσιν ἐπιτρέπετε καὶ ὑμεῖς καὶ οἱ νόμοι, τὸ μὲν οὖν μηδ' ὅλως θεὸν ἡγεῖσθαι ἀσεβὲς καὶ ἀνόσιον νομίσαντες, τὸ δὲ οἷς ἕκαστος βούλεται χρῆσθαι ὡς θεοῖς ἀναγκαῖον, ἵνα τῷ πρὸς τὸ θεῖον δέει ἀπέχωνται τοῦ ἀδικεῖν. [ἡμῖν δέ, καὶ μὴ παρακρουσθῆτε ὡς οἱ πολλοὶ ἐξ ἀκοῆς, τῷ ὀνόματι ἀπεχθάνεται· οὐ γὰρ τὰ ὀνόματα μίσους ἄξια, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἀδίκημα δίκης καὶ τιμωρίας.] διόπερ τὸ πρᾶον ὑμῶν καὶ ἥμερον καὶ τὸ πρὸς ἅπαντα εἰρηνικὸν καὶ φιλ άνθρωπον θαυμάζοντες οἱ μὲν καθ' ἕνα ἰσονομοῦνται, αἱ δὲ πόλεις πρὸς ἀξίαν τῆς ἴσης μετέχουσι τιμῆς, καὶ ἡ σύμπασα οἰκουμένη τῇ ὑμετέρᾳ συνέσει βαθείας εἰρήνης ἀπολαύουσιν. ἡμεῖς δὲ οἱ λεγόμενοι Χριστιανοί, ὅτι μὴ προνενόησθε καὶ ἡμῶν, συγχωρεῖτε δὲ μηδὲν ἀδικοῦντας, ἀλλὰ καὶ πάντων, ὡς προϊόντος τοῦ λόγου δειχθήσεται, εὐσεβέστατα διακειμένους καὶ δικαιότατα πρός τε τὸ θεῖον καὶ τὴν ὑμετέραν βασιλείαν, ἐλαύνεσθαι καὶ φέρεσθαι καὶ διώκεσθαι, ἐπὶ μόνῳ ὀνόματι προσπολεμούντων ἡμῖν τῶν πολλῶν, μηνῦσαι τὰ καθ' ἑαυτοὺς ἐτολμήσαμεν (διδαχθήσεσθε δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ λόγου ἄτερ δίκης καὶ παρὰ πάντα νόμον καὶ λόγον πάσχοντας ἡμᾶς) καὶ δεόμεθα ὑμῶν καὶ περὶ ἡμῶν τι σκέψασθαι, ὅπως παυσώμεθά ποτε ὑπὸ τῶν συκοφαντῶν σφαττόμενοι. οὐδὲ γὰρ εἰς χρήματα ἡ παρὰ τῶν διωκόντων ζημία οὐδὲ εἰς ἐπιτιμίαν ἡ αἰσχύνη ἢ εἰς ἄλλο τι τῶν μειόνων ἡ βλάβη (τούτων γὰρ κατα φρονοῦμεν, κἂν τοῖς πολλοῖς δοκῇ σπουδαῖα, δέροντα οὐ μόνον οὐκ ἀντιπαίειν οὐδὲ μὴν δικάζεσθαι τοῖς ἄγουσιν καὶ ἁρπάζουσιν ἡμᾶς μεμαθηκότες, ἀλλὰ τοῖς μέν, κἂν κατὰ κόρρης προπηλακί ζωσιν, καὶ τὸ ἕτερον παίειν παρέχειν τῆς κεφαλῆς μέρος, τοῖς δέ, εἰ τὸν χιτῶνα ἀφαιροῖντο, ἐπιδιδόναι καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον), ἀλλ' εἰς τὰ σώματα καὶ τὰς ψυχάς, ὅταν ἀπείπωμεν τοῖς χρήμασιν, ἐπιβου λεύουσιν ἡμῖν κατασκεδάζοντες ὄχλον ἐγκλημάτων, ἃ ἡμῖν μὲν οὐδὲ μέχρις ὑπονοίας, τοῖς δὲ ἀδολεσχοῦσιν καὶ τῷ ἐκείνων πρόσεστι γένει.