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 XXIII.—Opinions of Thales and Plato.

You may say, however, since you excel all men in understanding, How comes it to pass, then, that some of the idols manifest power, if those to whom we erect the statues are not gods? For it is not likely that images destitute of life and motion can of themselves do anything without a mover. That in various places, cities, and nations, certain effects are brought about in the name of idols, we are far from denying. None the more, however, if some have received benefit, and others, on the contrary, suffered harm, shall we deem those to be gods who have produced the effects in either case. But I have made careful inquiry, both why it is that you think the idols to have this power, and who they are that, usurping their names, produce the effects. It is necessary for me, however, in attempting to show who they are that produce the effects ascribed to the idols, and that they are not gods, to have recourse to some witnesses from among the philosophers. First Thales, as those who have accurately examined his opinions report, divides [superior beings] into God, demons, and heroes. God he recognises as the Intelligence (νοῦς) of the world; by demons he understands beings possessed of soul (ψυχικαί); and by heroes the separated souls of men, the good being the good souls, and the bad the worthless. Plato again, while withholding his assent on other points, also divides [superior beings] into the uncreated God and those produced by the uncreated One for the adornment of heaven, the planets, and the fixed stars, and into demons; concerning which demons, while he does not think fit to speak himself, he thinks that those ought to be listened to who have spoken about them. “To speak concerning the other demons, and to know their origin, is beyond our powers; but we ought to believe those who have before spoken, the descendants of gods, as they say—and surely they must be well acquainted with their own ancestors: it is impossible, therefore, to disbelieve the sons of gods, even though they speak without probable or convincing proofs; but as they profess to tell of their own family affairs, we are bound, in pursuance of custom, to believe them. In this way, then, let us hold and speak as they do concerning the origin of the gods themselves. Of Gê and Ouranos were born Oceanus and Tethys; and of these Phorcus, Kronos, and Rhea, and the rest; and of Kronos and Rhea, Zeus, Hera, and all the others, who, we know, are all called their brothers; besides other descendants again of these.”86    Tim., p. 40, D.E. Did, then, he who had contemplated the eternal Intelligence and God who is apprehended by reason, and declared His attributes—His real existence, the simplicity of His nature, the good that flows forth from Him that is truth, and discoursed of primal power, and how “all things are about the King of all, and all things exist for His sake, and He is the cause of all;” and about two and three, that He is “the second moving about the seconds, and the third about the thirds;”87    Pseudo-Plat., Epist., ii. p. 312, D.E. The meaning is very obscure.—did this man think, that to learn the truth concerning those who are said to have been produced from sensible things, namely earth and heaven, was a task transcending his powers? It is not to be believed for a moment. But because he thought it impossible to believe that gods beget and are brought forth, since everything that begins to be is followed by an end, and (for this is much more difficult) to change the views of the multitude, who receive the fables without examination, on this account it was that he declared it to be beyond his powers to know and to speak concerning the origin of the other demons, since he was unable either to admit or teach that gods were begotten. And as regards that saying of his, “The great sovereign in heaven, Zeus, driving a winged car, advances first, ordering and managing all things, and there follow him a host of gods and demons,”88    Plat., Phœdr., p. 246, E. this does not refer to the Zeus who is said to have sprung from Kronos; for here the name is given to the Maker of the universe. This is shown by Plato himself: not being able to designate Him by another title that should be suitable, he availed himself of the popular name, not as peculiar to God, but for distinctness, because it is not possible to discourse of God to all men as fully as one might; and he adds at the same time the epithet “Great,” so as to distinguish the heavenly from the earthly, the uncreated from the created, who is younger than heaven and earth, and younger than the Cretans, who stole him away, that he might not be killed by his father.

Eἴποιτε ἂν οὖν συνέσει πάντας ὑπερέχοντες· τίνι οὖν τῷ λόγῳ ἔνια τῶν εἰδώλων ἐνεργεῖ, εἰ μὴ εἰσὶν θεοί, ἐφ' οἷς ἱδρυόμεθα τὰ ἀγάλματα; οὐ γὰρ εἰκὸς τὰς ἀψύχους καὶ ἀκινήτους εἰκόνας καθ' ἑαυτὰς ἰσχύειν χωρὶς τοῦ κινοῦντος. τὸ μὲν δὴ κατὰ τόπους καὶ πόλεις καὶ ἔθνη γίγνεσθαί τινας ἐπ' ὀνόματι εἰδώλων ἐνεργείας οὐδ' ἡμεῖς ἀντιλέγομεν· οὐ μὴν εἰ ὠφελήθησάν τινες καὶ αὖ ἐλυπή θησαν ἕτεροι, θεοὺς νοοῦμεν τοὺς ἐφ' ἑκάτερα ἐνεργήσαντας, ἀλλὰ καὶ ᾧ λόγῳ νομίζετε ἰσχύειν τὰ εἴδωλα καὶ τίνες οἱ ἐνεργοῦντες ἐπιβατεύοντες αὐτῶν τοῖς ὀνόμασιν, ἐπ' ἀκριβὲς ἐξητάκαμεν. ἀναγκαῖον δέ μοι μέλλοντι δεικνύειν, τίνες οἱ ἐπὶ τοῖς εἰδώλοις ἐνεργοῦντες καὶ ὅτι μὴ θεοί, προσχρήσασθαί τισι καὶ τῶν ἀπὸ φιλοσοφίας μάρτυσιν. πρῶτος Θαλῆς διαιρεῖ, ὡς οἱ τὰ ἐκείνου ἀκριβοῦντες μνημονεύουσιν, εἰς θεόν, εἰς δαίμονας, εἰς ἥρωας. ἀλλὰ “θεὸν” μὲν “τὸν νοῦν τοῦ κόσμου” ἄγει, “δαίμονας” δὲ “οὐσίας” νοεῖ “ψυχικὰς καὶ ἥρωας τὰς κεχωρισμένας ψυχὰς” τῶν ἀνθρώπων, “ἀγαθοὺς μὲν τὰς ἀγαθάς, κακοὺς δὲ τὰς φαύλους”. Πλάτων δὲ τὰ ἄλλα ἐπέχων καὶ αὐτὸς εἴς τε τὸν ἀγένητον θεὸν καὶ τοὺς ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀγενήτου εἰς κόσμον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ γεγονότας, τούς τε πλανήτας καὶ τοὺς ἀπλανεῖς ἀστέρας, καὶ εἰς δαίμονας τέμνει· περὶ ὧν δαιμόνων αὐτὸς ἀπαξιῶν λέγειν, τοῖς περὶ αὐτῶν εἰρηκόσιν προσέχειν ἀξιοῖ· “περὶ δὲ τῶν ἄλλων δαιμόνων εἰπεῖν καὶ γνῶναι τὴν γένεσιν μεῖζον ἢ καθ' ἡμᾶς, πειστέον δὲ τοῖς εἰρηκόσιν ἔμπροσθεν, ἐγγόνοις μὲν θεῶν οὖσιν, ὡς ἔφασαν, σαφῶς γέ που τοὺς ἑαυτῶν προγόνους εἰδότων· ἀδύνατον οὖν θεῶν παισὶν ἀπιστεῖν, κἄνπερ ἄνευ εἰκότων καὶ ἀναγκαίων ἀποδείξεων λέγωσιν, ἀλλὰ ὡς οἰκεῖα φασκόντων ἀπαγγέλλειν ἑπομένους τῷ νόμῳ πιστευτέον. οὕτως οὖν κατ' ἐκείνους καὶ ἡμῖν ἡ γένεσις περὶ τούτων τῶν θεῶν ἐχέτω καὶ λεγέσθω. Γῆς τε καὶ Oὐρανοῦ παῖδες Ὠκεανός τε καὶ Τηθὺς ἐγεννήθησαν, τούτων δὲ Φόρκος Κρόνος τε καὶ Ῥέα καὶ ὅσοι μετὰ τούτων, ἐκ δὲ Κρόνου τε καὶ Ῥέας Ζεὺς Ἥρα τε καὶ πάντες, οὓς ἴσμεν πάντας ἀδελφοὺς λεγομένους αὐτῶν ἔτι τε τούτων ἄλλους ἐκγόνους.” ἆρ' οὖν ὁ τὸν ἀΐδιον νῷ καὶ λόγῳ κατα λαμβανόμενον περινοήσας θεὸν καὶ τὰ ἐπισυμβεβηκότα αὐτῷ ἐξ ειπών, τὸ ὄντως ὄν, τὸ μονοφυές, τὸ ἀγαθὸν ἀπ' αὐτοῦ ἀποχεόμενον, ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἀλήθεια, καὶ περὶ “πρώτης δυνάμεως”· ... καὶ “περὶ τὸν πάντων βασιλέα πάντα ἐστὶν καὶ ἐκείνου ἕνεκεν πάντα καὶ ἐκεῖνο αἴτιον πάντων” καὶ περὶ δευτέρου καὶ τρίτου “δεύτερον δὲ περὶ τὰ δεύτερα καὶ τρίτον περὶ τὰ τρίτα”, περὶ τῶν ἐκ τῶν αἰσθητῶν, γῆς τε καὶ οὐρανοῦ, λεγομένων γεγονέναι μεῖζον ἢ καθ' ἑαυτὸν τἀληθὲς μαθεῖν ἐνόμισεν; ἦ οὐκ ἔστιν εἰπεῖν. ἀλλ' ἐπεὶ ἀδύνατον γεννᾶν καὶ ἀποκυΐσκεσθαι θεοὺς ἐνόμισεν ἑπομένων τοῖς γιγνομένοις τελῶν καὶ ἔτι τούτου ἀδυνατώτερον μεταπεῖσαι τοὺς πολλοὺς ἀβασανίστως τοὺς μύθους παραδεχομένους, διὰ ταῦτα μεῖζον ἢ καθ' ἑαυτὸν γνῶναι καὶ εἰπεῖν ἔφη περὶ τῆς τῶν ἄλλων δαιμόνων γενέσεως, οὔτε μαθεῖν οὔτε ἐξειπεῖν γεννᾶσθαι θεοὺς δυνάμενος. καὶ τὸ εἰρημένον αὐτῷ “ὁ δὴ μέγας ἡγεμὼν ἐν οὐρανῷ Ζεύς, ἐλαύνων πτηνὸν ἅρμα, πρῶτος πορεύεται διακοσμῶν πάντα καὶ ἐπιμελούμενος, τῷ δὲ ἕπεται στρατιὰ θεῶν τε καὶ δαιμόνων” οὐκ ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀπὸ Κρόνου λεγομένου ἔχει ∆ιός· ἔστι γὰρ ἐν τούτῳ ὄνομα τῷ ποιητῇ τῶν ὅλων. δηλοῖ δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ Πλάτων· ἑτέρῳ σημαντικῷ προσειπεῖν αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔχων, τῷ δημώδει ὀνόματι οὐχ ὡς ἰδίῳ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀλλ' εἰς σαφήνειαν, ὅτι μὴ δυνατὸν εἰς πάντας φέρειν τὸν θεόν, κατὰ δύναμιν προσεχρήσατο, ἐπικατηγορήσας τὸ “μέγας”, ἵνα διαστείλῃ τὸν οὐράνιον ἀπὸ τοῦ χαμᾶθεν, τὸν ἀγένητον ἀπὸ τοῦ γενητοῦ, τοῦ νεωτέρου μὲν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς, νεωτέρου δὲ Κρητῶν, οἳ ἐξέκλεψαν αὐτὸν μὴ ἀναιρεθῆναι ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρός.