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

For if detestable and god-hated men had the reputation of being gods, and the daughter of Derceto, Semiramis, a lascivious and blood-stained woman, was esteemed a Syria goddess; and if, on account of Derceto, the Syrians worship doves and Semiramis (for, a thing impossible, a woman was changed into a dove: the story is in Ctesias), what wonder if some should be called gods by their people on the ground of their rule and sovereignty (the Sibyl, of whom Plato also makes mention, says:—

“It was the generation then the tenth,

Of men endow’d with speech, since forth the flood

Had burst upon the men of former times,

And Kronos, Japetus, and Titan reigned,

Whom men, of Ouranos and Gaïa

Proclaimed the noblest sons, and named them so,118    i.e., after Gaïa and Ouranos, Earth and Heaven.

Because of men endowed with gift of speech

They were the first”);119    Oracc., Sibyll., iii. 108–113. [Kaye, p. 220, and compare cap. vii., supra. The inspiration of Balaam, and likewise that of the ass, must, in my opinion, illustrate that of the Sibyls.]

and others for their strength, as Heracles and Perseus; and others for their art, as Asclepius? Those, therefore, to whom either the subjects gave honour or the rulers themselves [assumed it], obtained the name, some from fear, others from revenge. Thus Antinous, through the benevolence of your ancestors towards their subjects, came to be regarded as a god. But those who came after adopted the worship without examination.

“The Cretans always lie; for they, O king,

Have built a tomb to thee who art not dead.”120    Callim., Hym. Jov., 8 sq. [Tit. i. 12. But St. Paul’s quotation is from Epimenides.]

Though you believe, O Callimachus, in the nativity of Zeus, you do not believe in his sepulchre; and whilst you think to obscure the truth, you in fact proclaim him dead, even to those who are ignorant; and if you see the cave, you call to mind the childbirth of Rhea; but when you see the coffin, you throw a shadow over his death, not considering that the unbegotten God alone is eternal. For either the tales told by the multitude and the poets about the gods are unworthy of credit, and the reverence shown them is superfluous (for those do not exist, the tales concerning whom are untrue); or if the births, the amours, the murders, the thefts, the castrations, the thunderbolts, are true, they no longer exist, having ceased to be since they were born, having previously had no being. And on what principle must we believe some things and disbelieve others, when the poets have written their stories in order to gain greater veneration for them? For surely those through whom they have got to be considered gods, and who have striven to represent their deeds as worthy of reverence, cannot have invented their sufferings. That, therefore, we are not atheists, acknowledging as we do God the Maker of this universe and His Logos, has been proved according to my ability, if not according to the importance of the subject.

εἰ γὰρ καὶ ὡς ἀπόπτυστοι καὶ θεοστυγεῖς δόξαν ἔσχον εἶναι θεοὶ καὶ ἡ θυγάτηρ τῆς ∆ερκετοῦς Σεμίραμις, λάγνος γυνὴ καὶ μιαι φόνος, ἔδοξε Συρία θεὸς καὶ διὰ τὴν ∆ερκετὼ [τοὺς ἰχθῦς] καὶ τὰς περιστερὰς διὰ τὴν Σεμίραμιν σέβουσι Σύροι (τὸ γὰρ ἀδύνατον, εἰς περιστερὰν μετέβαλεν ἡ γυνή· ὁ μῦθος παρὰ Κτησίᾳ), τί θαυμαστὸν τοὺς μὲν ἐπὶ ἀρχῇ καὶ τυραννίδι ὑπὸ τῶν κατ' αὐτοὺς κληθῆναι θεούς–Σίβυλλα (μέμνηται δ' αὐτῆς καὶ Πλάτων)· δὴ τότε δὴ δεκάτη γενεὴ μερόπων ἀνθρώπων, ἐξ οὗ δὴ κατακλυσμὸς ἐπὶ προτέρους γένετ' ἄνδρας, καὶ βασίλευσε Κρόνος καὶ Τιτὰν Ἰαπετός τε, Γαίης τέκνα φέριστα καὶ Oὐρανοῦ, οὓς ἐκάλεσσαν ἄνθρωποι Γαῖάν τε καὶ Oὐρανὸν οὔνομα θέντες, οὕνεκα οἱ πρώτιστοι ἔσαν μερόπων ἀνθρώπων– τοὺς δ' ἐπ' ἰσχύι, ὡς Ἡρακλέα καὶ Περσέα, τοὺς δ' ἐπὶ τέχνῃ, ὡς Ἀσκληπιόν; οἷς μὲν οὖν ἢ αὐτοὶ οἱ ἀρχόμενοι τιμῆς μετε δίδοσαν ἢ αὐτοὶ οἱ ἄρχοντες, οἱ μὲν φόβῳ, οἱ δὲ καὶ αἰδοῖ μετεῖχον τοῦ ὀνόματος (καὶ Ἀντίνους φιλανθρωπίᾳ τῶν ὑμετέρων προγόνων πρὸς τοὺς ὑπηκόους ἔτυχε νομίζεσθαι θεός)· οἱ δὲ μετ' αὐτοὺς ἀβασανίστως παρεδέξαντο. Κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψεῦσται· καὶ γὰρ τάφον, ὦ ἄνα, σεῖο Κρῆτες ἐτεκτήναντο· σὺ δ' οὐ θάνες. πιστεύων, Καλλίμαχε, ταῖς γοναῖς τοῦ ∆ιὸς ἀπιστεῖς αὐτοῦ τῷ τάφῳ καὶ νομίζων ἐπισκιάσειν τἀληθὲς καὶ τοῖς ἀγνοοῦσι κηρύσσεις τὸν τεθνηκότα κἂν μὲν τὸ ἄντρον βλέπῃς, τὸν Ῥέας ὑπομιμνήσκῃ τόκον, ἂν δὲ τὴν σορὸν ἴδῃς, ἐπισκοτεῖς τῷ τεθνηκότι, οὐκ εἰδὼς ὅτι μόνος ἀΐδιος ὁ ἀγένητος θεός. ἢ γὰρ ἄπιστοι οἱ ὑπὸ τῶν πολλῶν καὶ ποιητῶν λεγόμενοι μῦθοι περὶ τῶν θεῶν καὶ περισσὴ ἡ περὶ αὐτοὺς εὐσέβεια (οὐ γὰρ εἰσὶν ὧν ψευδεῖς οἱ λόγοι), ἢ εἰ ἀληθεῖς αἱ γενήσεις, οἱ ἔρωτες, αἱ μιαιφονίαι, αἱ κλοπαί, αἱ ἐκτομαί, οἱ κεραυνοί, οὐκέτ' εἰσίν, παυσάμενοι εἶναι, ἐπεὶ καὶ ἐγένοντο οὐκ ὄντες. τίς γὰρ τοῖς μὲν πιστεύειν λόγος, τοῖς δὲ ἀπιστεῖν, ἐπὶ τὸ σεμνότερον περὶ αὐτῶν τῶν ποιητῶν ἱστορηκότων; οὐ γὰρ ἂν δι' οὓς ἐνομίσθησαν θεοὶ σεμνοποιήσαντας τὴν κατ' αὐτοὺς ἱστορίαν, οὗτοι τὰ πάθη τὰ αὐτῶν ἐψεύσαντο. Ὡς μὲν οὖν οὐκ ἐσμὲν ἄθεοι θεὸν ἄγοντες τὸν ποιητὴν τοῦδε τοῦ παντὸς καὶ τὸν παρ' αὐτοῦ λόγον, κατὰ δύναμιν τὴν ἐμήν, εἰ καὶ μὴ πρὸς ἀξίαν, ἐλήλεγκται.