Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9: 9.11.02 Apology of Aristides - The Apology - Part 1

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Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9: 9.11.02 Apology of Aristides - The Apology - Part 1

TOPIC: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 9.11.02 Apology of Aristides - The Apology - Part 1

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The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher (Cont.)

The Apology of Aristides.

The Apology of Aristides as it is preserved in the history of Barlaam and Josaphat. Translated from the Greek. The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher Translated from the Syriac Aristides Here follows the defence which Aristides the philosopher made before Hadrian the King on behalf of reverence for God. ... All-powerful Caesar Titus Hadrianus Antoninus, venerable and merciful, from Marcianus Aristides, an Athenian philosopher.1 I. I, O King in the providence of God came into the world; and when I had considered the heaven and the earth, the sun and the moon and the rest, I marvelled at their orderly arrangement. I. I, O King, by the grace of God came into this world; and when I had considered the heaven and the earth and the seas, and had surveyed the sun and the rest of creation, I marvelled at the beauty of the And when I saw that the universe and all that is therein is moved by necessity, I perceived that the mover and controller is God.. world. And I perceived that the world and all that is therein are moved by the power of another; and I understood that he who moves them is God, who For everything which causes motion is stronger than that which is moved, and that which controls is stronger than that which is controlled is hidden in them, and veiled by them. And it is manifest that that which causes motion is more powerful than that which is moved. But that I should make search concerning this same mover of all, as to what is his nature (for it seems to me, he is indeed unsearchable in his nature), and that I should argue as to the constancy of his government, so as to grasp it fully, - this is a vain effort for me; for it is not possible that a man should fully The self-same being, then, who first established and now controls the universe - him do I affirm to be God comprehend it. I say, however, concerning this mover of the world, that he is God of all, who made all things for the sake of mankind. And it seems to me that this is reasonable, that one should fear God and should not oppress man. I say, then, that God is not born, not made, who is without beginning and without end, immortal and self-sufficing, above all passions and infirmities, above an ever-abiding nature without beginning and without end, immortal, perfect, and incomprehensible. Now when I say that he is “perfect, this means that there is not in him any defect, and he is not in need of anything but all things are in need of him. And when I say that he is “without beginning,” this means that everything which has beginning has also an end, and that which has an end may be brought to an end. He has no name, for everything which has a name is kindred to things created. Form he has none, nor yet any union of members; for whatsoever possesses these is kindred to things fashioned. He is neither male nor female.5 The heavens do not limit him, but the heavens and all things, visible and invisible, receive their bounds from him. Adversary he has none, for there exists not any stronger anger and forgetfulness than he. Wrath and indignation he possesses not, for there is nothing which is able to stand against and ignorance and the rest. him. Ignorance and forgetfulness are not in his nature, for he is altogether wisdom and understand- Through Him too all things consist. He requires not sacrifice and libation nor any one of the things that appear to sense; but all men stand in need of Him. ing; and in Him stands fast all that exists. He requires not sacrifice and libation, nor even one of things visible; He requires not aught from any, but all living creatures stand in need of him. II. Having thus spoken concerning God, so far as it was possible for me to speak of Him,2 let us next proceed to the human race, that we may see which of them participate in the truth and which of them in error. II. Since, then, we have addressed you concerning God, so far as our discourse can bear upon him, let us now come to the race of men, that we may know which of them participate in the truth of which we have spoken, and which of them go astray from it. For it is clear to us, O King, 3 that there are three4 classes of men in this world; these being the worshippers of the gods acknowledged among you, and Jews, and Christians. Further they who pay homage to many gods are themselves divided into three classes, Chaldaeans namely, and Greeks, and Egyptians; for these have been guides and preceptors to the rest of the nations in the service and worship of these many-titled deities. This is clear to you, O King, that there are four classes of men in this world: - Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Christians. The Barbarians, indeed, trace the origin of their kind of religion from Kronos and from Rhea and their other gods; the Greeks, however, from Helenos, who is said to be sprung from Zeus. And by Helenos there were born Aiolos and Xuthos; and there were others descended from Inachos and Phoroneus, and lastly from the Egyptian Danaos and from Kadmos and from Dionysos. The Jews, again, trace the origin of their race from Abraham, who begat Isaac, of whom was born Jacob. And he begat twelve sons who migrated from Syria to Egypt; and there they were called the nation of the Hebrews, by him who made their laws; and at length they were named Jews. The Christians, then, trace the beginning of their religion from Jesus the Messiah; and he is named the Son of God Most High. And it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with flesh; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man. This is taught in the gospel, as it is called, which a short time was preached among them; and you also if you will read therein, may perceive the power which belongs to it. This Jesus, then, was born of the race of the Hebrews; and he had twelve disciples in order that the purpose of his incarnation6 might in time be accomplished. But he himself was pierced by the Jews, and he died and was buried; and they say that after three days he rose and ascended to heaven. Thereupon these twelve disciples went forth throughout the known parts of the world, and kept showing his greatness with all modesty and uprightness. And hence also those of the present day who believe that preaching are called Christians, and they are become famous. So then there are, as I said above, four classes of men: - Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Christians. Moreover the wind is obedient to God, and fire to the angels; the waters also to the demons and the earth to the sons of men.7 III. Let us begin, then, with the Barbarians, and go on to the rest of the nations one after another, III. Let us see then which of them participate in truth and which of them in error. The Chaldaeans, then, not knowing God went astray after the elements and began to worship the creation more than their Creator. And of these they formed certain shapes and styled them a representation of the heaven and the earth and the sea, of the sun too and the moon and the other primal bodies or luminaries. And they shut them up together in shrines, and worship them, calling them gods, even though they have to guard them securely for fear they should be stolen by robbers. And they did not perceive that anything which acts as guard is greater than that which is guarded, and that he who makes is greater than that which is made. For if their gods are unfit to look after their own safety, how shall they bestow protection upon others? Great then is the error into which the Chaldaeans wandered in adoring lifeless and good-for-nothing images. And it occurs to me as surprising, O King, how it is that their so-called philosophers have quite failed to observe that the elements themselves are perishable. And if the elements are perishable and subject to necessity, how are they gods? And if the elements are not gods, how do the images made in their honour come to be gods? that we may see which of them hold the truth as to God and which of them hold error. The Barbarians, then, as they did not apprehend God, went astray among the elements, and began to worship things created instead of their Creator; (Rom_1:25; Col_2:8) and for this end they made images and shut them up in shrines, and lo! they worship them, guarding them the while with much care, lest their gods be stolen by robbers. And the Barbarians did not observe that that which acts as guard is greater than that which is guarded, and that every one who creates is greater than that which is created. If it be, then, that their gods are too feeble to see to their own safety, how will they take thought for the safety of men? Great then is the error into which the Barbarians wandered in worshipping lifeless images which can do nothing to help them. And I am led to wonder, O King, at their philosophers, how that even they went astray, and gave the name of gods to images which were made in honour of the elements; and that their sages did not perceive that the elements also are dissoluble and perishable. For if a small part of an element is dissolved or destroyed, the whole of it may be dissolved and destroyed. If then the elements themselves are dissolved and destroyed and forced to be subject to another that is more stubborn than they, and if they are not in their nature gods, why, for sooth, do they call the images which are made in their honour, God? Great, then, is the error which the philosophers among them have brought upon their followers. IV. Let us proceed then, O King, to the elements themselves that we may show in regard to them that they are not gods, but perishable and mutable, produced out of that which did not exist at the command of the true God, who is indestructible and immutable and invisible; yet He sees all things and as He wills, modifies and changes things. What then shall I say concerning the elements? They err who believe that the sky is a god. For we see that it revolves and moves by necessity and is compacted of many parts, being thence called the ordered universe (Kosmos). Now the universe is the construction of some designer; and that which has been constructed has a beginning and an end. And the sky with its luminaries moves by necessity. For the stars are carried along in array at fixed intervals from sign to sign, and, some setting, others rising, they traverse their courses in due season so as to mark off summers and winters, as it has been appointed for them by God; and obeying the inevitable necessity of their nature they transgress not their proper limits, keeping company with the heavenly order. Whence it is plain that the sky is not a god but rather a work of God. IV. Let us turn now, O King, to the elements in themselves, that we may make clear in regard to them, that they are not gods, but a created thing, liable to ruin and change, which is of the same nature as man; whereas God is imperishable and unvarying, and invisible, while yet He sees, and overrules, and transforms all things. They erred also who believed the earth to be a goddess. For we see that it is despitefully used and tyrannized over by men, and is furrowed and kneaded and becomes of no account. For if it be burned with fire, it becomes devoid of life; for nothing will grow from the ashes. Besides if there fall upon it an excess of rain it dissolves away, both it and its fruits. Moreover it is trodden under foot of men and the other creatures; it is dyed with the blood of the murdered; it is dug open and filled with dead bodies and becomes a tomb for corpses. In face of all this, it is inadmissible that the earth is a goddess but rather it is a work of God for the use of men. Those then who believe concerning the earth that it is a god have hitherto deceived themselves, since it is furrowed and set with plants and trenched; and it takes in the filthy refuse of men and beasts and cattle. And at times it becomes unfruitful, for if it be burnt to ashes it becomes devoid of life, for nothing germinates from an earthen jar. And besides if water be collected upon it, it is dissolved together with its products. And lo! it is trodden under foot of men and beast, and receives the bloodstains of the slain; and it is dug open, and filled with the dead, and becomes a tomb for corpses. But it is impossible that a nature, which is holy and worthy and blessed and immortal, should allow of any one of these things. And hence it appears to us that the earth is not a god but a creation of God. V. They also erred who believed the water to be a god. For it, too, has been made for the use of men, and is controlled by them; it is defiled and destroyed and suffers change on being boiled and dyed with colours; and it is congealed by the frost, and polluted with blood, V. In the same way, again, those erred who believed the waters to be gods. For the waters were created for the use of man, and are put under his rule in many ways. For they suffer change and admit impurity, and are destroyed and lose their nature while they are boiled into many substances. And they take colours which do not belong to them; they are also congealed by frost and are mingled and permeated with the filth of men and beasts, and with the blood of the slain. And being checked by skilled workmen through the restraint of aqueducts, they flow and are diverted against their inclination, and come into gardens and other places in order that they may be collected and issue forth as a means of fer- and is introduced for the washing of all unclean things. Wherefore it is impossible that water should be a god, but it is a work of God. tility for man, and that they may cleanse away every impurity and fulfil the service man requires from them. Wherefore it is impossible that the waters should be a god, but they are a work of God and a part of the world. They also err who believe that fire is a god. For fire was made for the use of men, and it is controlled by them, being carried about from place to place for boiling and roasting all kinds of meat, and even for the burning of dead bodies. Moreover it is extinguished in many ways, being quenched through man’s agency. So it cannot be allowed that In like manner also they who believed that fire is a god erred to no slight extent. For it, too, was created for the service of men, and is subject to them in many ways: - in the preparation of meats, and as a means of casting metals, and for other ends whereof your Majesty is aware. At the same time it is quenched and extinguished in many ways. fire is a god, but it is a work of God. They also err who think the blowing of the winds is a goddess. For it is clear that it is under the dominion of another; and for the sake of man it has been designed by God for the transport of ships and the conveyance of grain and for man’s other wants. It rises too and falls at the bidding of God, whence it is con- Again they also erred who believed the motion of the winds to be a god. For it is well known to us that those winds are under the dominion of another, at times their motion increases, and at times it fails and ceases at the command of him who controls them. For they were created by God for the sake of men, in order to supply the necessity of trees and fruits and seeds; and to bring over the sea ships which convey for men necessaries and goods from places where they are found to places where they are not found; and to govern the quarters of the world. And as for itself, at times it increases and again abates; and in one place brings help and in another causes disaster at the bidding of him who rules it. And mankind too are able by known means to confine and keep it in check in order that it may fulfil for them the service they require from it. And of itself it has not any authority at all. And hence it is im- cluded that the blowing of the winds is not a goddess but only a work of God. possible that the winds should be called gods, but rather a thing made by God.

VI. They also err who believe the sun to be a god. For we see that it moves by necessity and revolves and passes from sign to sign, setting and rising so as to give warmth to plants and tender shoots for the use of man. Besides it has its part in common with the rest of the stars, and is much smaller than the sky; it suffers eclipse of its light and is not the subject of its own laws. Wherefore it is concluded that the sun is not a god, but only a work of God. They also err who believe that the moon is a goddess. For we see that it moves by necessity and revolves and passes from sign to sign, setting and rising for the benefit of men; and it is less than the sun and waxes and wanes and has eclipses. Wherefore it is concluded that the moon is not a goddess but a work of God. VI. So also they erred who believed that the sun is a god. For we see that it is moved by the compulsion of another, and revolves and makes its journey, and proceeds from sign to sign, rising and setting every day, so as to give warmth for the growth of plants and trees, and to bring forth into the air wherewith it (sunlight) is mingled every growing thing which is upon the earth. And to it there belongs by comparison a part in common with the rest of the stars in its course; and though it is one in its nature it is associated with many parts for the supply of the needs of men; and that not according to its own will but rather according to the will of him who rules it. And hence it is impossible that the sun should be a god, but the work of God; and in like manner also the moon and the stars. VII. And those who believed of the men of the past, that some of them were gods, they too were much mistaken. For as you yourself allow, O King, VII. They also err who believe that man8 is a god. For we see that he is moved by necessity, and is made to grow up, and becomes old even though he would not. And at one time he is joyous, at another he is grieved when he lacks food and drink and clothing. And we see that he is subject to anger and jealousy and desire and change of purpose and has many infirmities. He is destroyed too in many ways by means of the elements and animals, and by ever-assailing death. It cannot be admitted, then, that man is a god, but only a work of God. man is constituted of the four elements and of a soul and a spirit (and hence he is called a microcosm),9 and without any one of these parts he could not consist. He has a beginning and an end, and he is born and dies. But God, as I said, has none of these things in his nature, but is uncreated and imperishable. And hence it is not possible that we should set up man to be of the nature of God: - man, to whom at times when he looks for joy, there comes trouble, and when he looks for laughter there comes to him weeping, - who is wrathful and covetous and envious, with other defects as well. And he is destroyed in many ways by the elements and also by the animals. Great therefore is the error into which the Chaldaeans wandered, following after their own desires. And hence, O King, we are bound to recognize the error of the Barbarians, that thereby, since they did not find traces of the true God, they fell aside from the truth, and went after the desire of their imagination, serving the perishable elements and lifeless For they reverence the perishable elements and lifeless images, and do not perceive that they themselves make these things to be gods. VIII. Let us proceed then to the Greeks, that we may see whether they have any discernment concerning God. The Greeks, indeed, though they call themselves wise proved more deluded than the Chaldaeans in alleging that many gods have come into being, some of them male, some female, practised masters in every passion and every variety of folly. [And the Greeks themselves represented them to be adulterers and murderers, wrathful and envious and passionate, slayers of fathers and brothers, thieves and robbers, crippled and limping, workers in magic, and victims of frenzy. Some of them died (as their account goes), and some were struck by thunderbolts, and became slaves to men, and were fugitives, and they mourned and lamented, and changed themselves into animals for wicked and shameful ends.] 10 images, and through their error not apprehending what the true God is. VIII. Let us turn further to the Greeks also, that we may know what opinion they hold as to the true God. The Greeks, then, because they are more subtle than the Barbarians, have gone further astray than the Barbarians; inasmuch as they have introduced many fictitious gods, and have set up some of them as males and some as females; and in that some of their gods were found who were adulterers, and did murder, and were deluded, and envious, and wrathful and passionate, and parricides, and thieves, and robbers. And some of them, they say, were crippled and limped, and some were sorcerers, and some actually went mad, and some played on lyres, and some were given to roaming on the hills, and some even died, and some were struck dead by lightning, and some were made servants even to men, and some escaped by flight, and some were kidnapped by men, and some, indeed, were lamented and deplored by men. And some, they say, went down to Sheol, and some were grievously wounded, and some transformed themselves into the likeness of animals to seduce the race of mortal women, and some polluted themselves11 by lying with males And some, they say, were wedded to their mothers and their sisters and their daughters. And they say of their gods that they committed adultery with the daughters of men; and of these there was born a certain race which also was mortal. And they say that some of the females disputed about beauty, and appeared be- Wherefore, O King, they are ridiculous and absurd and impious tales that the Greeks have introduced, giving the name of gods to those who are not gods, to suit their unholy desires, in order that, having them as patrons of vice, they might commit adultery and robbery and do murder and other shocking deeds. For if their gods did such deeds why should not they also do them? So that from these misguided practices it has been the lot of mankind to have frequent wars and slaughters and bitter captivities. IX. But, further, if we be minded to discuss their gods individually, you will see how great is the absurdity; for instance, how Kronos is brought forward by them as a god above all, and they sacrifice their own children to him. And he had many sons by Rhea, and in his madness devoured his own offspring. And they say that Zeus cut off his members and cast them into the sea, whence Aphrodite is said in fable fore men for judgment. Thus, O King, have the Greeks put forward foulness, and absurdity, and folly about their gods and about themselves, in that they have called those that are of such a nature gods, who are no gods. And hence mankind have received incitements to commit adultery and fornication, and to steal and to practise all that is offensive and hated and abhorred. For if they who are called their gods practised all these things which are written above, how much more should men practise them - men, who believe that their gods themselves practised them. And owing to the foulness of this error there have happened to mankind harassing wars, and great famines, and bitter captivity, and complete desolation. And lo! It was by reason of this alone that they suffered and that all these things came upon them; and while they endured those things they did not perceive in their mind that for their error those things came upon them. IX. Let us proceed further to their account of their gods that we may carefully demonstrate all that is said above. First of all, the Greeks bring forward as a god Kronos, that is to say Chiun12 (Saturn). And his worshippers sacrifice their children to him, and they burn some of them alive in his honour. And they say that he took to him among his wives Rhea, and begat many children by her. By her too he begat Dios, who is called Zeus. And at length he (Kronos) went mad, and through fear of an oracle that had been made known to him, he began to devour his sons. And from him Zeus was stolen away without his knowledge; and at length Zeus bound him, and mutilated the signs of his manhood, and flung them into the sea. And hence, as they say in to be engendered. Zeus, then, having bound his own father, cast him into Tartaros. You see the error and brutality which they advance against their god? Is it possible, then, that a god should be manacled and mutilated? What absurdity! Who with any wit would ever say so? Next Zeus is introduced, and they say that he was king of their gods, fable, there was engendered Aphrodite, who is called Astarte. And he (Zeus) cast out Kronos lettered into darkness. Great then is the error and ignominy which the Greeks have brought forward about the first of their gods, in that they have said all this about him, O King. It is impossible that a god should be bound or mutilated; and if it be otherwise, he is indeed miserable. And after Kronos they bring forward another god Zeus. And they say of him that he assumed the sovereignty, and was king over all the gods. And and that he changed himself into animals that he might debauch mortal women. For they allege that he transformed himself into a bull for Europe, and into gold for Danae, and into a swan for Leda, and into a satyr for Antiope, and into a thunderbolt for Semele. Then by these there were many children, Dionysos and Zethus and Amphion and Herakles and Apollo and Artemis and Perseus, Kastor and Helenes and Polydeukes and Minos and Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon, and the nine daughters whom they called the Muses. Then too they bring forward statements about the matter of Ganymedes. Hence it happened, O King, to mankind to imitate all these things and to become adulterous men and lascivious women, and to be workers of other terrible iniquities, through the imitation of their god. Now they say that he changed himself into a beast and other shapes in order to seduce mortal women, and to raise up by them children for himself. Once, they say, he changed himself into a bull through love of Europe and Pasiphae. 13 And again he changed himself into the likeness of gold through love of Danae, and to a swan through love of Leda, and to a man through love of Antiope, and to lightning through love of Luna, 14 and so by these he begat many children. For by Antiope, they say, that he begat Zethus and Amphion, and by Luna Dionysos, by Alcmena Hercules, and by Leto, Apollo and Artemis, and by Danae Perseus, and by Leda, Castor and Polydeuces, and Helene and Paludus,15 and by Mnemosyne he begat nine daughters whom they styled the Muses, and by Europe, Minos and Rhadamanthos and Sarpedon. And lastly he changed himself into the likeness of an eagle through his passion for Ganydemos (Ganymede) the shepherd. By reason of these tales, O King, much evil has arisen among men, who to this day are imitators of their gods, and practise adultery and defile themselves with their mothers and their sisters, and by lying with males, and some make bold to slay even their parents. For if he who is said to be the chief and king of their gods do these things how much more should his worshippers imitate him? And great is the folly which the Greeks have brought forward in their narrative concerning him. For it is how is it possible that a god should be an adulterer or an obscene person or a parricide? Impossible that a god should practise adultery or fornication or come near to lie with males, or kill his parents; and if it be otherwise, he is much worse than a destructive demon. X. Along with him, too, they bring forward one Hephaistos as a god, and they say that he is lame and wields a hammer and tongs, working as a smith for his living. X. Again they bring forward as another god Hephaistos. And they say of him, that he is lame, and a cap is set on his head, and he holds in his hands firetongs and a hammer; and he follows the craft of iron working, that thereby he may procure the necessaries of his livelihood. Is then this god so Is he then badly off? But it cannot be admitted that a god should be a cripple, and besides be dependent very needy? But it cannot be that a god should be needy or lame, else he is very worthless. On mankind. Then they bring forward Hermes as a god, representing him to be lustful, and a thief, and covetous, and a magician and maimed and an interpreter of language. But it cannot be admitted that such an one is a god. They also bring forward Asklepios as a god who is a doctor and prepares drugs and compounds plasters for the sake of a living. For he was badly off. And afterwards he was struck, they say, with a thunderbolt by Zeus on account of Tyndareos, son of Lacedaimon; and so was killed. Now if Asklepios in spite of his divinity could not help himself when struck by lightning, how will he come to the rescue of others? And further they bring in another god and call him Hermes. And they say that he is a thief, 16 a lover of avarice, and greedy for gain, and a magician and mutilated and an athlete, and an interpreter of language. But it is impossible that a god should be a magician or avaricious, or maimed, or craving for what is not his, or an athlete. And if it be otherwise, he is found to be useless. And after him they bring forward as another god Asklepios. And they say that he is a physician and prepares drugs and plaster that he may supply the necessaries of his livelihood. Is then this god in want? And at length he was struck with lightning by Dios on account of Tyndareos of Lacedaemon, and so he died. If then Asklepios were a god, and, when he was struck with lightning, was unable to help himself, how should he be able to give help to others? But that a divine nature should be in want or be destroyed by lightning is impossible. Again Ares is represented as a god, fond of strife and given to jealousy, and a lover of animals and other such things. And at last while corrupting Aphrodite, he was bound by the youthful Eros and by Hephaistos. How then was he a god who was subject to desire, and a warrior, and a prisoner and an adulterer? They allege that Dionysos also is a god who holds nightly revels and teaches drunkenness, and carries off the neighbours’ wives, and goes mad and takes to flight. And at last he was put to death by the Titans. If then Dionysos could not save himself when he was being killed, and besides used to be mad, and drunk with wine, and a fugitive, how should he be a god? And again they bring forward another as a god, and they call him Ares. And they say that he is a warrior, and jealous, and covets sheep and things which are not his. And he makes gain by his arms. And they say that at length he committed adultery with Aphrodite, and was caught by the little boy Eros and by Hephaistos the husband of Aphrodite. But it is impossible that a god should be a warrior or bound or an adulterer. And again they say of Dionysos that he forsooth! Is a god, who arranges carousals by night, and teaches drunkenness, and carries off women who do not belong to him. And at length, they say, he went mad and dismissed his handmaidens and fled into the desert; and during his madness he ate serpents. And at last he was killed by Titanos. If then Dionysos were a god, and when he was being killed was unable to help himself, how is it possible that he should help others? They allege also that Herakles got drunk and went mad and cut the throats of his own children, then he was consumed by fire and so died. Now how should he be a god, who was drunk and a slayer of children and burned to death? Or how will he come to the help of others, when he was unable to help himself? Herakles next they bring forward and say that he is a god, who hates detestable things, a tyrant,17 and warrior and a destroyer of plagues. And of him also they say that at length he became mad and killed his own children, and east himself into a fire and died. If then Herakles is a god, and in all these calamities was unable to rescue himself, how should others ask help from him? But it is impossible that a god should be mad, or drunken or a slayer of his children, or consumed by fire. XI. They represent Apollo also as a jealous god, and besides as the master of the bow and quiver, and sometimes of the lyre and flute, and as divining to men for pay? Can he then be very badly off? But it cannot be admitted that a god should be in want, and jealous, and a harping minstrel. XI. And after him they bring forward another god and call him Apollon. And they say that he is jealous and inconstant, and at times he holds the bow and quiver, and again the lyre and plectron. And he utters oracles for men that he may receive rewards from them. Is then this god in need of rewards? But it is an insult that all these things should be found with a god. They represent Artemis also as his sister, who is a huntress and has a bow with a quiver; and she roams alone upon the hills with the dogs to hunt the stag or the wild boar. How then should such a woman, who hunts and roams with her dogs, be a divine being? And after him they bring forward as a goddess Artemis, the sister of Apollo; and they say that she was a huntress and that she herself used to carry a bow and bolts, and to roam about upon the mountains, leading the hounds to hunt stags or wild bears of the field. But it is disgraceful that a virgin maid should roam alone upon the hills or hunt in the chase for animals. Wherefore it is impossible that Artemis should be a goddess. Even Aphrodite herself they affirm to be a goddess who is adulterous. For at one time she had Ares as a paramour, and at another time Anchises and again Adonis, whose death she also laments, feeling the want of her lover. And they say that she even went down to Hades to purchase back Adonis from Persephone. Did you ever see, O King, greater folly than this, to bring forward as a goddess one who is adulterous and given to weeping and wailing? Again they say of Aphrodite that she indeed is a goddess. And at times she dwells with their gods, but at other times she is a neighbour to men. And once she had Ares as a lover, and again Adonis who is Tammuz. Once also, Aphrodite was wailing and weeping for the death of Tammuz, and they my that she went down to Sheol that she might redeem Adonis from Persephone, who is the daughter of Sheol (Hades). If then Aphrodite is a goddess and was unable to help her lover at his death, how will she find it possible to help others? And this cannot be listened to, that a divine nature should come to weeping and wailing and adultery. And they represent that Adonis is a hunter god, who came to a violent end, being wounded by a wild boar and having no power to help himself in his distress. How then will one who is adulterous and a hunter and mortal give himself any concern for mankind? And again they say of Tammuz that he is a god. And he is, forsooth! A hunter and an adulterer. And they say that he was killed by a wound from a wild boar, without being able to help himself. And if he could not help himself, how can he take thought for the human race? But that a god should be an adulterer or a hunter or should die by violence is impossible. Again they say of Rhea that she is the mother of their gods. And they say that she had once a lover Atys, and that she used to delight in depraved men. And at last she raised a lamentation and mourned for Atys her lover. If then the mother of their gods was unable to help her lover and deliver him from death, how can she help others? So it is disgraceful that a goddess should lament and weep and take delight in depraved men. Again they introduce Kore and say that she is a goddess, and she was stolen away by Pluto, and could not help herself. If then she is a goddess and was unable to help herself how will she find means to help others? For a god who is stolen away is very powerless. All this and much more of a like nature, and even far more disgraceful and offensive details, have the Greeks narrated, O King, concerning their gods; - details which it is not proper either to state or for a moment to remember. And hence mankind, taking an impulse from their gods, practised all lawlessness and brutality and impiety, polluting both earth and air by their awful deeds. All this, then, O King, have the Greeks brought forward concerning their gods, and they have invented and declared it concerning them. And hence all men received an impulse to work all profanity and all defilements; and hereby the whole earth was corrupted.


1 The superscription seems to be duplicate in the Syriac. It is absent from the Greek as we have it, the Armenian has “To the Emperor Caesar Hadrian from Aristides,” Various explanations are offered. (a) Both emperors, as colleagues, may be meant. In support of this the Syriac adjectives for “venerable and merciful” are marked plural; the phrase “Your majesty” occurring later has a plural suffix; and two Imperatives, “Take and read,” are plural. On the other hand “O King” occurs constantly in the singular and the emperors were colleagues only for a few months in the year a.d. 138.

(b) The longer heading is the true one-the shorter being due perhaps to a scribe who had a collection of works to copy. In that case the word “Hadrian” has been selected from the full title of Antonine, and the two adjectives “venerable and merciful” are proper names, Augustus Pius (Harris).

(c) The shorter heading has the support of Eusebius and the Armenian version; and the translator into Syriac may have amplified.

The Syriac for “Almighty” is separated from the word for “God” by a pause, and is not an attribute which a Christian would care to apply to a Roman emperor. παντοκράτωρ may have been confounded with αὐ τοκράτωρ. Raabe gives the sense “qui imperium postatem habet,” as an epithet of Caesar. If “Renewed, or dedicated again to, . . Antoninus Pius,” could be read, both headings might be retained.

2 The Greek might be rendered, “so far as there was room for me to speak of Him,” i.e., the attributes of the Deity are not further relevant to the discussion-as the translator into Syriac takes it. The Armenian adopts the other meaning, viz., the theme is beyond man’s power to discuss. As translated by F. C. Conybeare, the Armenian is in these words: “Now by the grace of God it was given me to speak wisely concerning Him. So far as I have received the faculty I will speak, yet not according to the measure of the inscrutability of His greatness shall I be able to do so, but by faith alone do I glorify and adore Him.”

3 The “King” in the Greek is Abenner, the father of Josaphat; in the Syriac, as in the Greek originally, he is the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

4 The Armenian and Syriac agree in giving four races, which was probably the original division. To a Greek, men were either Greeks or Barbarians: to a Greek Christian it would seem necessary to add two new peoples, Jews and Christians. The Greek calls the Barbarians “Chaldaeans.” This change of classification is probably the cause of the omission in the Greek of the preliminary accounts of the four classes. The Greek blends the summaries with the fuller Accounts.

5 The Armenian adds, “For that which is subject to this distinction is moved by passions.”

6 Literally: “a certain dispensation of his.” The Greek term οἰκονομια “dispensation,” suggests to the translator into Syriac the idea of the Incarnation, familiar, as it seems, by his time. Professor Sachau reads the equivalent of θαυμαστή instead of τις. In the translation given the word is taken adverbially = aliqumdiu.

7 This irrelevant sentence is found in the Armenian version also, and therefore was probably in the original Greek. It seems to be an obiter dictum. Men fall into four groups, and, by the way, so do the elements, air, fire, earth, and water; and the powers that govern them. One quaternion suggests others.

8 “I do not think it out of place here to mention Antinous of our day [a slave of the Emperor Hadrian], whom all, notwithstanding they knew who and whence he was, yet affected to worship as a god.” - Justin Martyr quoted in Eusebius Hist. Bk. IV., c. 8.

9 Or “and hence the world also gets its name κόσμος.” The Syriac is the equivalent of the Greek “διὸ καὶ κόσμος καλεῖται,” which occurs Chap. IV. in discussing the supposed divinity of the sky or heaven.

10 The passage in brackets occurs earlier in “ Barlaam and Josaphat,” and is restored to its place by J. A. Robinson.

11 Professor Nöldeke’s emendation to “they were reviled” is adopted in the translation given,

12 Cf. Amo_5:26, “Chiun, your star god,” and Act_7:43.

13 Pasiphae’s unnatural passion for Taurus is not in the Greek mythology charged to Zeus.

14 The visit of Zeus to Semele (not Selene) is evidently referred to.

15 Professor Rendel Harris pronounces “Paludus” a vox nihili, and explains its presence as due to a corrupt repetition of the preceding Polydeuces. The Syriac word in the text suggests Pollux-the Latin equivalent of Polydeuces. Clytemnestra is the name required.

16 Adopting Professor Harris’s emendation of the Syriac to equal the Greek κλέπτης instead of = vir.

17 “Tyrant,” seems out of place when connected with Herakles. Perhaps the Syriac equivalent of ebrius, which occurs at the close of the paragraph, should be read here. Cf. also the Greek.