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 XXI.—Impure Loves Ascribed to the Gods.

But should it be said that they only had fleshly forms, and possess blood and seed, and the affections of anger and sexual desire, even then we must regard such assertions as nonsensical and ridiculous; for there is neither anger, nor desire and appetite, nor procreative seed, in gods. Let them, then, have fleshly forms, but let them be superior to wrath and anger, that Athênâ may not be seen

“Burning with rage and inly wroth with Jove;”68    Hom., Il., iv. 23.

nor Hera appear thus:—

“Juno’s breast

Could not contain her rage.”69    Ibid., iv. 24.

And let them be superior to grief:—

“A woful sight mine eyes behold: a man

I love in flight around the walls! My heart

For Hector grieves.”70    Ibid., xxii. 168 sq.

For I call even men rude and stupid who give way to anger and grief. But when the “father of men and gods” mourns for his son,—

“Woe, woe! that fate decrees my best belov’d

Sarpedon, by Patroclus’ hand to fall;”71    Ibid., xvi. 433 sq.

and is not able while he mourns to rescue him from his peril:—

“The son of Jove, yet Jove preserv’d him not;”72    Ibid., xvi. 522.

who would not blame the folly of those who, with tales like these, are lovers of the gods, or rather, live without any god? Let them have fleshly forms, but let not Aphrodité be wounded by Diomedes in her body:—

“The haughty son of Tydeus, Diomed,

Hath wounded me;”73    Ibid., v. 376.

or by Arês in her soul:—

“Me, awkward me, she scorns; and yields her charms

To that fair lecher, the strong god of arms.”74    Hom., Od., viii. 308 sq., Pope’s transl.

“The weapon pierced the flesh.”75    Hom., Il., v. 858.

He who was terrible in battle, the ally of Zeus against the Titans, is shown to be weaker than Diomedes:—

“He raged, as Mars, when brandishing his spear.”76    Hom., Il., xv. 605.

Hush! Homer, a god never rages. But you describe the god to me as blood-stained, and the bane of mortals:—

“Mars, Mars, the bane of mortals, stained with blood;”77    Hom., Il., v. 31, 455.

and you tell of his adultery and his bonds:—

“Then, nothing loth, th’ enamour’d fair he led,

And sunk transported on the conscious bed.

Down rushed the toils.”78    Hom., Od., viii. 296–298, Pope’s transl.

Do they not pour forth impious stuff of this sort in abundance concerning the gods? Ouranos is mutilated; Kronos is bound, and thrust down to Tartarus; the Titans revolt; Styx dies in battle: yea, they even represent them as mortal; they are in love with one another; they are in love with human beings:—

“Æneas, amid Ida’s jutting peaks,

Immortal Venus to Anchises bore.”79    Hom., Il., ii. 820.

Are they not in love? Do they not suffer? Nay, verily, they are gods, and desire cannot touch them! Even though a god assume flesh in pursuance of a divine purpose,80    [οἰκονομίαν. Kaye, p. 174. And see Paris ed., 1615.] he is therefore the slave of desire.

“For never yet did such a flood of love,

For goddess or for mortal, fill my soul;

Not for Ixion’s beauteous wife, who bore

Pirithöus, sage in council as the gods;

Nor the neat-footed maiden Danäe,

A crisius’ daughter, her who Perséus bore,

Th’ observ’d of all; nor noble Phœnix’ child;

.  .  .  .  .  .  nor for Semele;

Nor for Alcmena fair;  .  .  .

No, nor for Ceres, golden-tressèd queen;

Nor for Latona bright; nor for thyself.”81    Hom., Il., xiv. 315 sqq.

He is created, he is perishable, with no trace of a god in him. Nay, they are even the hired servants of men:—

“Admetus’ halls, in which I have endured

To praise the menial table, though a god.”82    Eurip., Alcest., 1 sq.

And they tend cattle:—

“And coming to this land, I cattle fed,

For him that was my host, and kept this house.”83    Ibid., 8 sq.

Admetus, therefore, was superior to the god. Prophet and wise one, and who canst foresee for others the things that shall be, thou didst not divine the slaughter of thy beloved, but didst even kill him with thine own hand, dear as he was:—

“And I believed Apollo’s mouth divine

Was full of truth, as well as prophet’s art.”

(Æschylus is reproaching Apollo for being a false prophet:)—

“The very one who sings while at the feast,

The one who said these things, alas! is he

Who slew my son.”84    From an unknown play of Æschylus.

Καίτοι εἰ σαρκοειδεῖς μόνον ἔλεγον αὐτοὺς καὶ αἷμα ἔχειν καὶ σπέρμα καὶ πάθη ὀργῆς καὶ ἐπιθυμίας, καὶ τότε ἔδει λῆρον καὶ γέλωτα λόγους τούτους νομίζειν· οὔτε γὰρ ὀργὴ οὔτε ἐπιθυμία καὶ ὄρεξις οὐδὲ παιδοποιὸν σπέρμα ἐν τῷ θεῷ. ἔστωσαν τοίνυν σαρκοειδεῖς, ἀλλὰ κρείττους μὲν θυμοῦ καὶ ὀργῆς, ἵνα μὴ Ἀθηνᾶ μὲν βλέπηται “σκυζομένη ∆ιὶ πατρί, χόλος δέ μιν ἄγριος ἣρει”, Ἥρα δὲ θεωρῆται “Ἥρῃ δ' οὐκ ἔχαδε στῆθος χόλον, ἀλλὰ προσ ηύδα”, κρείττους δὲ λύπης, ὢ πόποι, ἦ φίλον ἄνδρα διωκόμενον περὶ τεῖχος ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρῶμαι· ἐμὸν δ' ὀλοφύρεται ἦτορ. ἐγὼ μὲν γὰρ καὶ ἀνθρώπους ἀμαθεῖς καὶ σκαιοὺς λέγω τοὺς ὀργῇ καὶ λύπῃ εἴκοντας· ὅταν δὲ ὁ “πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε” ὀδύρηται μὲν τὸν υἱὸν αŠ αŠ ἐγών, ὅτε μοι Σαρπηδόνα φίλτατον ἀνδρῶν μοῖρ' ὑπὸ Πατρόκλοιο Μενοιτιάδαο δαμῆναι, ἀδυνατῇ δὲ ὀδυρόμενος τοῦ κινδύνου ἐξαρπάσαι Σαρπηδὼν ∆ιὸς υἱός, ὁ δ' οὐδ' ᾧ παιδὶ ἀμύνει, τίς οὐκ ἂν τοὺς ἐπὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις μύθοις φιλοθέους, μᾶλλον δὲ ἀθέους, τῆς ἀμαθίας καταμέμψαιτο; ἔστωσαν σαρκοειδεῖς, ἀλλὰ μὴ τιτρωσκέσθω μηδὲ Ἀφροδίτη ὑπὸ ∆ιομήδους τὸ σῶμα, “οὖτά με Τυδέος υἱὸς ὑπέρθυμος ∆ιομήδης”, ἢ ὑπὸ Ἄρεως τὴν ψυχήν, ὡς ἐμὲ χωλὸν ἐόντα ∆ιὸς θυγάτηρ Ἀφροδίτη αἰὲν ἀτιμάζει, φιλέει δ' ἀΐδηλον Ἄρηα. ... “διὰ δὲ χρόα καλὸν ἔδαψεν”, ὁ δεινὸς ἐν πολέμοις, ὁ σύμ μαχος κατὰ Τιτάνων τοῦ ∆ιός, ἀσθενέστερος ∆ιομήδους φαίνεται. “μαίνετο δ' ὡς ὅτ' Ἄρης ἐγχέσπαλος” σιώπησον, Ὅμηρε, θεὸς οὐ μαίνεται· σὺ δέ μοι καὶ μιαιφόνον καὶ βροτολοιγόν, “Ἀρες, Ἄρες βροτολοιγέ, μιαιφόνε”, διηγῇ τὸν θεὸν καὶ τὴν μοιχείαν αὐτοῦ διέξει καὶ τὰ δεσμά· τὼ δ' ἐς δέμνια βάντε κατέδραθον, ἀμφὶ δὲ δεσμοί τεχνήεντες ἔχυντο πολύφρονος Ἡφαίστοιο, οὐδέ τι κινῆσαι μελέων ἦν. οὐ καταβάλλουσι τὸν πολὺν τοῦτον ἀσεβῆ λῆρον περὶ τῶν θεῶν; Oὐρανὸς ἐκτέμνεται, δεῖται καὶ καταταρταροῦται Κρόνος, ἐπαν ίστανται Τιτᾶνες, Στὺξ ἀποθνῄσκει κατὰ τὴν μάχην ἤδη καὶ θνητοὺς αὐτοὺς δεικνύουσιν–ἐρῶσιν ἀλλήλων, ἐρῶσιν ἀνθρώπων· Aἰνείας, τὸν ὑπ' Ἀγχίσῃ τέκε δῖ' Ἀφροδίτη, Ἴδης ἐν κνημοῖσι θεὰ βροτῷ εὐνηθεῖσα. οὐκ ἐρῶσιν, οὐ πάσχουσιν· ἢ γὰρ θεοὶ καὶ οὐχ ἅψεται αὐτῶν ἐπιθυμία ... κἂν σάρκα θεὸς κατὰ θείαν οἰκονομίαν λάβῃ, ἤδη δοῦλός ἐστιν ἐπιθυμίας; οὐ γὰρ πώποτέ μ' ὧδε θεᾶς ἔρος οὐδὲ γυναικός θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι περιπροχυθεὶς ἐδάμασσεν, οὐδ' ὁπότ' ἠρασάμην Ἰξιονίης ἀλόχοιο, οὐδ' ὅτε περ ∆ανάης καλλισφύρου Ἀκρισιώνης, οὐδ' ὅτε Φοίνικος κούρης τηλεκλειτοῖο, οὐδ' ὅτε περ Σεμέλης, οὐδ' Ἀλκμήνης ἐνὶ Θήβῃ, οὐδ' ὅτε ∆ήμητρος καλλιπλοκάμοιο ἀνάσσης, οὐδ' ὅτε περ Λητοῦς ἐρικυδέος, οὐδὲ σεῦ αὐτῆς. γενητός ἐστιν, φθαρτός ἐστιν, οὐδὲν ἔχων θεοῦ. ἀλλὰ καὶ θητεύουσιν ἀνθρώποις· ὦ δώματ' Ἀδμήτεια, ἐν οἷς ἔτλην ἐγώ θῆσσαν τράπεζαν αἰνέσαι θεός περ ὤν, καὶ βουκολοῦσιν· ἐλθὼν δ' ἐς αἶαν τήνδ' ἐβουφόρβουν ξένῳ, καὶ τόνδ' ἔσῳζον οἶκον. οὐκοῦν κρείττων Ἄδμητος τοῦ θεοῦ. ὦ μάντι καὶ σοφὲ καὶ προειδὼς τοῖς ἄλλοις τὰ ἐσόμενα, οὐκ ἐμαντεύσω τοῦ ἐρωμένου τὸν φόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἔκτεινας αὐτοχειρὶ τὸν φίλον· κἀγὼ τὸ Φοίβου θεῖον ἀψευδὲς στόμα ἤλπιζον εἶναι, μαντικῇ βρύον τέχνῃ, ὡς ψευδόμαντιν κακίζει τὸν Ἀπόλλω ὁ Aἰσχύλος, ὁ δ' αὐτὸς ὑμνῶν, αὐτὸς ἐν θοίνῃ παρών, αὐτὸς τάδ' εἰπών, αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ κτανών τὸν παῖδα τὸν ἐμόν.