Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IV/Minucius Felix/The Octavius of Minucius Felix/Chapter 28

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Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. IV, Minucius Felix, The Octavius of Minucius Felix
by Minucius Felix, translated by Robert Ernest Wallis
Chapter 28
155916Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. IV, Minucius Felix, The Octavius of Minucius Felix — Chapter 28Robert Ernest WallisMinucius Felix

Chapter XXVIII.—Argument:  Nor is It Only Hatred that They Arouse Against the Christians, But They Charge Against Them Horrid Crimes, Which Up to This Time Have Been Proved by Nobody.  This is the Work of Demons.  For by Them a False Report is Both Set on Foot and Propagated.  The Christians are Falsely Accused of Sacrilege, of Incest, of Adultery, of Parricide; And, Moreover, It is Certain and True that the Very Same Crimes, or Crimes Like to or Greater Than These, are in Fact Committed by the Gentiles Themselves.

“But how unjust it is,[1] to form a judgment on things unknown and unexamined, as you do!  Believe us ourselves when penitent, for we also were the same as you, and formerly, while yet blind and obtuse, thought the same things as you; to wit, that the Christians worshipped monsters, devoured infants, mingled in incestuous banquets.  And we did not perceive that such fables as these were always set afloat by those (newsmongers), and were never either inquired into nor proved; and that in so long a time no one had appeared to betray (their doings), to obtain not only pardon for their crime, but also favour for its discovery:  moreover, that it was to this extent not evil, that a Christian, when accused, neither blushed nor feared, and that he only repented that he had not been one before.  We, however, when we undertook to defend and protect some sacrilegious and incestuous persons, and even parricides, did not think that these (Christians) were to be heard at all.  Sometimes even, when we affected to pity them, we were more cruelly violent against them, so as to torture them[2] when they confessed, that they might deny, to wit, that they might not perish; making use of a perverse inquisition against them, not to elicit the truth, but to compel a falsehood.  And if any one, by reason of greater weakness, overcome with suffering, and conquered, should deny that he was a Christian, we showed favour to him, as if by forswearing that name he had at once atoned for all his deeds by that simple denial.  Do not you acknowledge that we felt and did the same as you feel and do? when, if reason and not the instigation of a demon were to judge, they should rather have been pressed not to disavow themselves Christians, but to confess themselves guilty of incests, of abominations, of sacred rites polluted, of infants immolated.  For with these and such as these stories, did those same demons fill up the ears of the ignorant against us, to the horror of their execration.  Nor yet was it wonderful, since the common report of men,[3] which is, always fed by the scattering of falsehoods, is wasted away when the truth is brought to light.  Thus this is the business of demons, for by them false rumours are both sown and cherished.  Thence arises what you say that you hear, that an ass’s head is esteemed among us a divine thing.  Who is such a fool as to worship this?  Who is so much more foolish as to believe that it is an object of worship? unless that you even consecrate whole asses in your stables, together with your Epona,[4] and religiously devour[5] those same asses with Isis.  Also you offer up and worship the heads of oxen and of wethers, and you dedicate gods mingled also of a goat and a man, and gods with the faces of dogs and lions.  Do you not adore and feed Apis the ox, with the Egyptians?  And you do not condemn their sacred rites instituted in honour of serpents, and crocodiles, and other beasts, and birds, and fishes, of which if any one were to kill one of these gods, he is even punished with death.  These same Egyptians, together with very many of you, are not more afraid of Isis than they are of the pungency of onions, nor of Serapis more than they tremble at the basest noises produced by the foulness of their bodies.  He also who fables against us about our adoration of the members of the priest, tries to confer upon us what belongs really to himself.  (Ista enim impudicitæ eorum forsitan sacra sint, apud quos sexus omnis membris omnibus prostat, apud quos iota impudicitia vocatur urbanitas; qui scortorum licentiæ invident, qui medios viros lambunt, libidinoso ore inguinibus inhærescunt, homines malæ linguæ etiam si tacerent, quos prius tædescit impudicitiæ suæ quam pudescit.)  Abomination! they suffer on themselves such evil deeds, as no age is so effeminate as to be able to bear, and no slavery so cruel as to be compelled to endure.


  1. Otherwise read, “But how great a fault it is.”
  2. “To urge them” is the reading in some text.
  3. “Of all men” is another reading.
  4. Otherwise, “Hippona.”
  5. Otherwise, “devote,” and other readings.